“What are you thinking?” he murmured as a cool breeze ruffled around them. It might be July, but being surrounded by water on all sides, there was a constant flow of air.
“I’m wondering if you’re going to kiss me or not.”
“I know what I did at the condo earlier and I swear I’m not trying to give you mixed signals. I just don’t want to take things too fast between us. Not until…” Sighing, he trailed off and looked away from her for a moment.
The line of his jaw was hard, clenched. She wanted to reach up and trace it with her finger, but resisted the urge. She had a feeling she understood what he wasn’t saying out loud. He didn’t want to cross a line until he knew what he wanted between them. Which she actually understood. But it didn’t mean that it hurt less. She couldn’t change the past, couldn’t change her decision. Knowing what she did now, she wasn’t so sure she’d have made the same decision. Probably not, considering how much she ached at the moment. She’d tried for so damn long to get over him and she never truly had. She’d just compartmentalized. Unfortunately that wasn’t working anymore.
When he’d ordered her out of his home in Miami it had been cutting, but she’d been prepared to deal with it. Now that he’d followed her, her emotions were a mess. “Let’s just get out of here,” she muttered, not wanting to stand there a second longer, her body and heart craving what they couldn’t have.
“Hold on.” His voice was low and harsh and his body had gone suddenly rigid.
Peering around him, she spotted a driver covered from head to toe in all black gear riding a moped. It was strange considering it was July, but the person had on a long-sleeved T-shirt, a helmet with dark tint and…what the hell?
Jordan blinked, not sure what she was seeing. It almost looked as if flames were coming up on the other side of the bike. Was it on fire? Wanting to help, she shoved away from the wall, but Vincent held her in place.
She started to ask him what he was doing when she realized the bike wasn’t on fire. The driver was holding a bottle and it had flames rolling off the top. It was a freaking Molotov cocktail. The driver hauled back an arm, poised like a pitcher, ready to throw it right at them!
Her body tensed, her heart rate going into overdrive, but before she could react, Vincent cursed and tackled her to the ground. All the air whooshed out of her lungs as an explosion of fire and glass crashed against the wall above them. Shards rained down on them as Vincent rolled them away, taking the brunt of the falling pieces just as a second explosion of fire shattered lower against the wall.
The sidewalk was unforgiving against their bodies as Vincent kept rolling them until they ran into a parked car. Though adrenaline was raging through her system, she wasn’t hurt except for a few scrapes on her elbows.
Vincent pushed off her before she could take stock of him. He jumped to his feet, every line of his body pulled taut as if he was ready to take off after the attacker on foot. But the squeal of tires had him cursing. Heart thundering, she started to follow his lead, then he crouched down to where she sat on the edge of the sidewalk.
He gently cupped her cheek as he assessed her face then scanned her body. “Baby, are you hurt anywhere?”
She swallowed, struggled to find her voice. “No, just…stunned. Did someone actually throw a Molotov cocktail at us? That’s insane.”
His jaw was tight as he nodded. “They took off but I got the license plate.” He glanced around again at the sound of footsteps pounding the pavement behind them.
“Are you guys all right?” Two college aged boys with dark tans wearing only board shorts and flip-flops hurried down the sidewalk toward them.
“We’re good, thanks.” Vincent said as he helped her to her feet.
An uncontrollable shake rippled through her.
“We called the cops,” one of them said. His blond hair was spiked and messy.
“Thanks,” Vincent murmured.
Jeez, the cops. Of course. She wasn’t even thinking straight. Wasn’t thinking at all. She looked up at Vincent. “Did you get hurt?” She realized she hadn’t even asked him that.
His expression was soft as he shook his head. “No, baby. I’ve been in worse scrapes than this.”
She knew he had. Still, she stepped back and ran her hands down his arms then over his chest, inspecting him, needing him to be okay. What if one of those bottles had hit him? Or both of them? God, they would have been—
“Stop.” That one word was a harsh order.
“What?” Even her voice trembled. She inwardly cursed herself. He was being so stoic and she felt like a shaking mess of nerves.
“I can see you’re playing the ‘what if’ game in your head. Don’t do it. We’re fine and unharmed. No one’s ever going to fucking hurt you.” He spoke with such authority that some of the fear pulsing through her dissipated.
But not completely. What the hell was wrong with people? After living seven years in fear for her life, this random act of violence stunned her so deeply.
She was vaguely aware of the two surfer looking guys talking a couple yards down in hushed tones, but she kept her focus on Vincent and nodded. “Okay, we’re safe. That’s what matters.”
Instead of responding, he pulled her into a tight embrace and she wasn’t sure if it was her imagination, but it almost felt like he trembled when he hugged her.
* * * * *
That had gone perfectly. Gauging the reaction time of Jordan’s friend had been a plus, but terrifying that bitch had been even better. This was going to be so much fun.
And so worth it when Jordan finally got what was coming to her. Unfortunately the man with her had reacted quickly and expertly, moving with an impressive speed as he’d quickly gotten both of them to cover. He’d also been very protective of Jordan. After this attack, her friend—or more likely lover—would probably be vigilant in keeping her protected.
Even if they assumed it was a random attack, their guards would be up, especially the man’s. It wouldn’t matter in the end because Jordan would die.
The manner of her death was still undecided, however. Killing her with a simple bullet would be too easy for Jordan. No, she needed to suffer. Hopefully by fire. Curtis’s favorite method. But drowning could work too.
Figuring out who Jordan’s friend was first, had become a priority though. Well, a priority after ditching the stolen moped. Key West had enough CCTV’s that losing the bike and changing clothes was a necessity.
Then tomorrow the next steps in terrifying Jordan would begin. There was no guarantee she’d be staying in Key West for long. She might go back to Miami with the unknown male, making another attack more difficult. No, that bitch was going to die right in Key West.
“I’ll be right back,” Vincent murmured before dropping a quick kiss on Jordan’s forehead.
She just nodded, stress lines bracketing her mouth. He didn’t like leaving her, even for a second, but she was sitting safely in a detective’s office and he could see her through the open blinds of the window while he stepped out into the bullpen of the Key West police department. It wasn’t as loud as he’d expected, though there was a quiet buzz of constant movement as people did their jobs. This was the last place he wanted to be, but there was no way around it. They’d had to make an official statement, which meant paperwork. Luckily the chief knew of Red Stone Security and had worked with a bunch of different government agencies before so he was cooperative.
That attitude had clearly been adopted by his subordinates as well. Or at least the men and women Vincent had come in contact with tonight, including Detective Leon Hough.
Hough was talking to a uniformed officer next to a community coffee station, but nodded and broke away when he saw Vincent step out. “You or Ms. Alvarado want any coffee or water?” he asked as soon as he reached him.
“No, we’re good, but thanks. She just wants to get out of here. I appreciate you talking to me privately.” He’d asked for a moment of the man’s time before they left in the hopes that he could garner some insight into why they’d been attacked. If this type of thing had happened before in the area it would actually make him feel better. But if it had been a targeted attack…that brought up new concerns.
The dark haired man nodded. “I understand. So what’s up?”
“I know you can’t talk about ongoing investigations and I’m not asking because I want to take the law into my own hands, but have there been any similar incidents lately? Any racially motivated crimes?” Though he’d dealt with his share of racism, he’d found those types of crimes to be rare. Still, he wanted to cover all bases.
The detective snorted and shook his head. “Not down here. At least not with the locals. We all have a live and let live attitude, but with tourists you never know. But no, we haven’t had any reports of someone using firebombs as a weapon. That kind of attack is strange.”
“Yeah, I know.” He’d doubted the race angle, but had wanted to check. In his broad experience, people generally killed for similar reasons; love, revenge and money. People were simple like that. Obviously there were other reasons, especially with hate motivated crimes and religious nuts, but in the civilian world things tended to be simpler. And what had happened tonight had felt almost personal. That kind of attack just wasn’t normal.
“Wish I had more for you.” The detective sounded sincere.
Sighing, he scrubbed a hand over his face. “Me, too. Thanks though.You’ve got our contact info and where we’re both staying. Call me day or night if anything pops up.” He hoped what had happened was just a random act of violence and they could move past it, but he still planned to be careful.
Something had shifted in him tonight and it was all because of Jordan. He still felt so damn shaky he was surprised no one else noticed. His heart rate was higher than normal and his fucking palms were actually sweating. Vincent always kept his cool, but the thought of anything happening to Jordan—especially on his watch—made him fucking crazy.