As he shut the front door behind all of them, he noticed one of Zoe’s small pink overnight bags by the coffee table and a small, black toiletry travel case sitting on top of it. Definitely not hers. He frowned. “Who’s here with you?” He knew Zoe dated but it didn’t mean he had to like it. And he definitely didn’t want to think about her having some guy over for a weekend getaway.

Zoe’s eyes widened at the question and for a brief moment, what looked like guilt flashed in her gaze. “No one is here. And you still haven’t answered anything.” Swiveling, she looked directly at Jordan who appeared like a deer locked in headlights as his sister zeroed in on her.

She held out a friendly hand. “Since my brother hasn’t introduced us yet, I’m Zoe.”

Jordan cleared her throat nervously and gave her a tentative smile as she returned the handshake. “My name’s Jordan Alvarado.”

At that, his sister snapped. He could see it in the tense lines of her body before she let her temper fly free as she turned back on him. “The bitch who broke your heart?”

Vincent inwardly cringed at her words, his own anger exploding at that word. “Don’t ever call her that.”

“Why not? She is!”

In that moment he wanted to kick his own ass for ever telling Zoe about Jordan. He’d been shitfaced and feeling sorry for himself one night and had decided to unload everything on her. His sister had been giving him grief about his player lifestyle and he knew she’d been right. So he’d just laid everything out to her. To give her credit she’d never told the rest of the family, but damn her long memory. Vincent turned to Jordan who looked as if she’d been slapped. He hated seeing pain on her face but he could only deal with one problem at a time. “Will you wait in the kitchen? It’s through there.” He gestured with a hand, trying to curb his impatience with his sister.

Nodding, Jordan hurried out and Vincent had to rein in his anger. He reminded himself that Zoe loved him and if some guy had hurt her, he’d kick their ass. “I don’t have time to explain everything to you right now. The only thing I can say is that I’m handling a tricky situation at the moment. I need you to go back to Miami tonight. It’s not safe here for you. Please don’t tell the family about this either. I can’t afford to have mom running down here and getting caught in the line of fire.” The drive back would be over three hours and he felt bad about that, but he needed his sister gone.

At those words, it seemed as if most of Zoe’s steam dissipated. “There’s really a dangerous situation?”

“Yes. And I can’t explain it all to you.”

“Fine, I literally just got here anyway.” She pulled out her phone, sent off a couple texts, then slid it into the back pocket of her shorts. “Seriously, what’s going on?” she whispered. “Why do you have her here? I thought she split on you years ago?”

He scrubbed a hand over his face, feeling exhausted. “It’s complicated and I can’t get into this right now.”

“Fair enough, but I’ve got questions and you’re going to answer them when I call.” She shot him a warning look he recognized all too well.

“Good, then you can tell me who that travel case belongs to because I know it’s not yours.”

She just snorted, picked up the two bags and started to head out.

“Wait, where did you park?” There was only room for one vehicle in the garage and his was in it. But if she’d just arrived, she likely wouldn’t have seen it yet. And there was no car in the driveway.

“I didn’t, I was dropped off because my friend had to pick up…something. And now my friend is picking me up, but I’m not leaving town.”

“Damn it, Zoe—”

“No, I’m giving you the place and I won’t argue with you about how stupid you are to be helping that woman with whatever she’s dragged you into, but I’m not messing up my plans.”

Vincent wanted to argue with her but knew it would be pointless. She was the most stubborn woman he’d ever met. Besides their mother. “Fine, just…be careful.”

At that, she gave him a kiss on the cheek then hurried out. He followed her, watching as she left through the gate and got into an idling black SUV. He memorized the license plate as it drove away because whatever his sister was keeping from him, he was going to find out.

After locking the front door, he found Jordan sitting at the center island. Copper pots and pans hung from the rack and even without the lights on, the room was flooded with natural light from the skylights above them.

He ran a hand over his hair. “I’m sorry about my sister. She didn’t mean what she said.”

Jordan laughed, the sound strained. “Yeah she did. And it’s fine, seriously. I understand why she’d feel that way about me.”

No, it wasn’t fine, but he wasn’t going to get into that now. His sister was gone and he could focus on keeping Jordan safe. “Listen, I’ve got to make some calls. I’m going to show you to your room. You can get settled in, then we’re going to sit down and go over a few things, okay?” He still needed to contact Lizzy and he was asking another friend for backup because right now he wanted Jordan to have as much protection as possible.

She looked as if she wanted to say more, but just nodded, the strain around her eyes and mouth killing him.

As she slid off the chair and started to pick up her bags, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. Though she returned his embrace, sliding her arms around his neck and laying her head on his chest, she was still stiff. As if she was trying to pull back from him. Whether literally or emotionally he wasn’t sure. He didn’t care. He wouldn’t let her pull back from him either way.

Right now wasn’t the time to push her though. She was probably trying to come to terms with being targeted again. She’d lived for seven years in a state of fear, whether muted or not, and had left a safe program because she’d assumed she didn’t have any enemies left. Two violent attacks almost back to back, then to get ambushed by his sister, yeah, she would definitely be feeling the strain. He wouldn’t add to it.

Kissing the top of her head, he murmured, “Come on, let’s get you settled.”

* * * * *

Jordan shut the door behind Vincent and pressed her forehead against the door. Having a breakdown right about now seemed like an awesome idea. Unrealistic and totally weak, but still, awesome.

It shouldn’t have hurt so much that a relative stranger called her a bitch. She’d been called worse before and by people that had actually held significance in her life. Not some random woman. But…Zoe Hansen wasn’t exactly random. She was Vincent’s sister, so she mattered.

On a big level. Vincent loved his family more than anyone she knew. Back when they’d been dating he’d tried to protect his sisters even when he’d been living in a different state. It was that protective streak in him.

Jordan wasn’t exactly worried she’d come between him and his family because she wasn’t sure she would ever be important enough to do that. Things were still new and tentative between them and with all the bullshit going on right now, it hurt more than Jordan could have imagined that his sister basically hated her. Not that she blamed the woman. Well, she could just add that to the big pile of things she didn’t want to deal with right now.

Sighing, she sat on the edge of the platform bed and rubbed the back of her neck. A gauzy, almost sheer peach canopy draped above it, a perfect accent to the light pink and orange hibiscus patterned comforter. A richly colored throw and eclectic pillows adorned the bench at the foot of the bed and the rest of the room was similarly bright without being garish. It was like something out of a showroom. Whoever had decorated it had a good eye.

Standing, she started back for the living room. She didn’t need to settle in and didn’t want to waste time when she could be helping Vincent figure out who was behind her attacks. More than anything, that was eating at her.

Why, when she’d just started to feel normal again, did some psycho have to emerge from out of nowhere? And why, when she was inadvertently putting someone else in danger? Not just anyone, but the man she was pretty sure she was falling in love with again. Or had never truly stopped loving. When she’d left him, it had ripped a piece of her heart out and it had never fully healed.

Now she just felt raw and vulnerable around him. The man wielded so much power over her even if he didn’t realize it.

“Enough,” she muttered to herself. She could feel sorry for herself later. As she started to open the door her cell phone rang.

Snagging it from the dresser, her heart rate increased when she saw Edith’s familiar number. She answered immediately. “Hey.”

“Hey, hon. How are ya?” she asked, her voice holding true concern. In her mid-forties, of average height and very slim, the blonde-haired US Marshal looked so unassuming, but Jordan had seen the woman in action before. Before she’d been moved to New Mexico permanently, Edith had stayed with her in a safe house for a month. They’d gone running, worked out together every day and she’d shown Jordan numerous self defense moves. The woman could kick ass when necessary.

“Ah, okay. Stressed out, but okay.” Not really, but now wasn’t the time to complain. She knew Edith had to be calling for a reason. “What’s going on? Have you found out something?” Please say yes.

“Yes, I just wish we’d known this a long time ago. Is Mr. Hansen with you?” Now she was all business.

“He’s out in the living room.”

“Go find him and put me on speaker. I want to tell you both at the same time what our team has discovered.”

“Do you know who’s after me?” Jordan asked as she hurried down the hallway, barely able to contain the panic humming through her.

“I do and it’s un-fucking believable.”

Chapter 10

“How did you even get this?” Vincent asked Lizzy quietly, though Jordan was still in the guest bedroom. He stared at the various feeds popping up on his laptop screen. Lizzy had taken over his computer remotely and given him access to video feeds from local CCTVs she’d hacked into in Key West.