“Darlin’, if you let me out of these handcuffs I can show you a really good time.” Beauregard Lee Jackson flexed his fingers and rotated his stiff wrists, trying to ease the pain leeching through them at the confines of the metal bracelets he wore. “I’m as much a fan of being tied up as the next man but this isn’t quite fair.”
He sat on the floor, hands behind him securing him to a wall pipe beside an old radiator heater, which thankfully wasn’t running.
Movement from the other room grabbed his attention with the swiftness of a rattler giving a warning about encroaching on his territory. So did the noise emanating from the same space. That was nothing more than the sound of a bullet being chambered into a sidearm. All thoughts of play and sex went out of the window in a flash.
The brunette who’d somehow managed to get him in this predicament peeked her head back around the corner, a smile showing off her overbleached, perfect, straight teeth.
She batted her lashes a few times before she shrugged and glanced down to something only she could see behind the wall. He bet the gun she’d just put a round into. At least it isn’t a shotgun.
“I’ll be right with you, lover. Have you figured out where you know me from yet?”
Looneyville didn’t seem like a good answer so he merely shook his head.
Seriously, I get it, I must have been drugged. But I’m no small man and ain’t no way that little thing carried me up here alone and secured me. She must be working with at least one other person.
Thoughts that didn’t make him any happier. He refocused his attention on the woman who continued to watch him and forced a smooth, sexy smile to cross his features. It’d worked before—he had every belief it would once more.
She clucked her tongue at him and waggled a finger. “Keep thinking. You should know me, easy. I’ll be ready for you in a moment.” A high-pitched giggle, which grated on his taut nerves, escaped her mouth before she vanished from view.
He had a good memory for people he’d met before. However, this one just didn’t seem like anyone whose path he’d crossed. But there were those days in college when he didn’t do much remembering of anything aside from his drink.
Doesn’t matter who she is if her plan is to pump me full of lead and give me lead poisoning. That’s not anything I need. Or want. I’ve still got things to do, women to see and people to kill.
“How about you give me a hint?” he asked, loud enough to cover the sound of him working on loosening the pipe she’d locked him to.
More tittering. She popped back into view. “Well, I can assure you, I didn’t look like this.”
“I would agree. I wouldn’t have forgotten anyone as beautiful as you.” The compliment slipped without thought from his tongue. He tossed them out without care or consideration. Always had, it was part of his nature. He was a flirt.
Her eyes narrowed before she disappeared from his line of sight yet again.
“So beauty is all that matters to you?”
“Not at all, but you are gorgeous.” The bar keeping him there loosened a tiny bit. “Now, come on. At least give me the state I met you in.”
There wasn’t any hint of a foreign accent in her tone so he wondered if she was from this country, but then again, he could have an accent on command so perhaps that wasn’t the best thought.
“I’ve even met our Grams.”
His blood slowed in his veins, much like being turned to tar. Fury raged within him. This psychotic bitch had him handcuffed, was putting bullets into guns, before she went and mentioned his grandmother, Mrs. Maybelle, as if they were discussing the weather? Fuck that. Don’t fuck with family. At least not his.
He swallowed and ensured that his voice betrayed not a single shred of the murderous intent within him. “A lot of people know Grams.”
However, most called her Mrs. Maybelle if they weren’t really close, or preferred to.
“True, but I’ve been in her house. Recently even. We had coffee and pie the other day. I believe it was a chess pie. I got the first slice. At her insistence. She told me she’d not made one in a while. I was glad to have it with her, it was delicious. She’s an amazing cook.”
Five days ago, Grams had made a fresh chess pie. He knew because he’d been on the phone talking to her and she’d mentioned it cooling.
Still not making sense. I’m not even in Georgia right now. I headed out West here to Albuquerque to take my vacation. He had a friend out there who he shared some mutually beneficial bedroom activities with and he’d come out to see her. She was good for a no-strings-attached hookup. And he didn’t want to be tied down with a simpering female who needed more than he cared or was willing to give.
Right, because the one in front of you falls into that category. She wants your blood. He ignored his brain’s unwanted commentary.
“I know you didn’t want to believe me, but Grams was the one who told me you were planning on coming out here. Or rather were already out here.” She glanced back into the room once more. “Are you following a woman? I wouldn’t like that much,” she said, shaking her head, a furrow appearing on her brow.
So she doesn’t know about Candy. “I’m not following a woman. Just taking some time off.”
She pursed her lips and disappeared once more. He coughed and worked the pipe again. A few more times and he’d be free. Thank God she’d not thought to hook him to the radiator itself or he wouldn’t have gotten free until she’d unlocked him. Given the gun in her hand, that wouldn’t have happened until after she shot him.
However, it did let him know who he was dealing with. Whitney Adams. A former girlfriend. One who he’d allowed past his ‘one-time’ rule and had dated. Big mistake.
A fact only expounded upon because I’m handcuffed to an old pipe at this motel.
She strode back in from the bathroom and sat close to him. Beau picked up on the unease in her body. Not that it made him feel any better given she held a Glock 21 in her hand, complete with a silencer on the barrel. But a jumpy person with a weapon didn’t sit well with him, silencer or not, as that wasn’t the part that concerned him.
Not a good sign.
She shifted in the chair, crossing and uncrossing her legs, as if she was striving to find a comfortable seat yet was unable to accomplish the search. Whitney swallowed a few times but the determined set in her eyes was his concern.
“And I know where I remember you from,” he ventured.
“Where?” True curiosity lined her tone and she leaned forward a slight space, the tremble in her hand stilling.
Her over sweet perfume scent hit him and he blinked to keep any and all tears from his eyes.
Another cough while he readjusted and worked to bring his freedom even closer. “We met in Frankfurt, Germany. You had much lighter hair then compared to how you have it now. Back then it was the color of dark caramel but not black. You had some deep gold highlights in it along with a slight curl. We met at a concert and went back to your place for the night.” He leaned closer, his perpetual grin turning up his lips. “You have a small dotted heart right above your pussy. And your name is Whitney Adams.”
I did take her to Grams’ and introduce them. Shit, I forgot about that.
“You remembered.” Her intense gaze softened and pleasure spread over her features.
“Undo the cuffs.”
Indecision flared until she shook her head. “I want to, but no, I can’t.”
“You can’t? Sure you can. You have a key. Just unlock me.” Invitation dripped from his words. An invitation he had no intention of fulfilling. This was about getting free and nothing more.
“You know you broke my heart when you left me. More to the point, when you told me we were better off as friends.”
She tapped the bottom of her shoe on the threadbare carpet. The flash of the red-lacquered sole gave him Louboutin as the maker, but these shoes weren’t new, nor were they in great condition.
“That was nearly ten years ago, Whitney.”
She gasped and glared at him. “What does time mean when you are missing the man you loved? The one who was your first!” She pointed the gun at him, the end wavering as she blinked away tears that pooled and began to drop from her eyes.
First? By God’s grace alone he was able to keep that shocked expression from his face. No way in hell he had been her first.
“And I apologize for hurting you. I didn’t mean to. I wasn’t ready for a long-term commitment.”
The tears dried up and a wobbly smile took their place on her face. “So, tell me you are now and we can end this. Pledge yourself to me, me alone, and I can let you go. We can go and get married and start a family.” Her gaze softened and a dreamy look spread over her narrow features. “I’ll become Mrs. Jackson and we’ll have five kids. Three boys and two girls. Live in your big house and have big family dinners every Sunday with the entire family. It will be perfect.”
The fuck that’s going to happen.
Outside, the thunder cracked and the deluge began. Leave it to the desert to get those flash rainstorms. He used the noise as cover to finish freeing himself from the rusty pipe. Sure, his hands were still locked, but he could move. Which meant he could run and get the fuck out of there.
She glanced to the window and he shifted his legs to get the blood flowing in them once more. No good ever came from trying to escape on legs that wouldn’t work from not being on them in a while.
Whitney snapped her gaze back to him and lifted the Glock. “What are you doing?”
“Stretching my legs. You’ve had me down here for a while now and I’m getting stiff.”
A perverse smile turned up the corners of her mouth. “I always liked you stiff.” The smile morphed into a frown. She shook her head and swore. “Stop trying to tempt me.” Her hands caressed the weapon in her lap.
“How am I tempting you? You’re the one who tied me here. How long have I been here anyway?”
“One day. I brought you here, well, with help from the taxi driver. I told him you were drunk and he helped me carry you back. You’re a big guy, you know.” That wickedness reappeared. “In many areas.”
She pushed to her feet and began pacing, scratching her head, chewing on the nails of her left hand while her right remained curled around the Glock. As if it were her shield.
“Why am I locked up, Whitney?”
She swallowed as she refocused on him. “That’s easy.”
Beau waited but she never said anything else. “Whitney? You were telling me why I’m locked up in here.”
She blinked and looked at him as if just coming back and realizing where she was. Her expression showed how lost and confused she was. Then everything sharpened.
“Because I have to teach you a lesson.”
The words fell from her lips in a calm and controlled manner. Whatever the uncertainty and unease had been prior, that had vanished. And he knew that whatever shit was on the menu for him was about to go down. She’d hit that plateau of acceptance—nothing mattered anymore. There wasn’t any talking herself out of it, or him convincing her to release him. She’d gotten to the point of action.
“What lesson is that? I think keeping me handcuffed to the pipe here for a day is a lesson in itself. What else can I learn?”
Beau gathered his legs beneath him and prepared to move.
“Fair enough question. I guess you deserve an answer.” She tapped the gun against her cheek. “Very well. Here is your lesson. It’s to teach you that the world isn’t your playground. That you don’t get to go around doing whatever the hell you want. That there are consequences to how you behave.”
“And how is me being here supposed to teach that?” He kept his eyes on her the entire way, watching her for a tell of action.
“It’s a short lesson. You learn because I am the teacher.”
Her expression went colder than the assassins he knew when they were out on a mission. She raised the gun. A momentary flash of sorrow before it was wiped away.
“I have to kill you.”
He lunged out of the way as the first shot rang out. Glass shattered and he swore as he rolled once he hit the ground from jumping out of the window. Bullets peppered the ground around him as she took more shots, pinging off the asphalt and ricocheting somewhere else.