CHAPTER THIRTY THREE
Nik had been quiet ever since Felicity and the MC guys had shown up. I knew I’d surprised him, but I wasn’t going to apologize for doing it. I didn’t care if he didn’t like it, or if he didn’t approve. I’d done the only thing I could think of to save our child.
To save them all.
The one named Bash had walked into the little room where the others had been, looking to Peterson for guidance, and took immediate charge.
Charles Seller was on the other side of the country, but was supposedly on a plane at that moment. He was directing Peterson and Theo as well as Gabriella’s two remaining guards and Roger. Over the last few hours, we’d found out more than just the roughly estimated location of where Gabriella’s phone was.
Theo had gone with one of Gabriella’s guards to the nail salon she was supposed to have been at. I hadn’t been given the full details, but apparently Stan had been found knocked out in the back seat of a car that had been reported stolen earlier that day. The guard was currently in the hospital where the doctors were trying to figure out what he’d been drugged with. He’d been shot three times with a tranquillizer that had enough drugs in it to put down a horse.
Those tranquillizers were the only reason Sean had been able to ambush Stan. They figured the guy had been out before he even realized what was happening to him.
After Bash had taken charge, Peterson had tried to step in, but I’d told him point blank that his services weren’t needed for this. I wanted Mia back and I wanted her back right that minute. But I was realistic. She might already be dead.
I couldn’t help but tremble at the thought. My baby might already be dead. I may never see her smile, hear her laugh, watch her dance around the house. Jagger would grow up with no memories of what an amazing sister he’d been blessed with. Nik would never get to call her ‘baby doll’ and help me tuck her in at night.
I wanted to cry, but my eyes had gone completely dry. I realized that it was all my fault, that I was the reason Helena had targeted Mia. I’d been the bitch I’d always been when it came to my guys—that I still was—and thrown her out of Shane’s life like I’d done with countless others. Right then that didn’t make much difference, though. I would have to live with that sin haunting me for the rest of my life.
But I was going to make sure the cunt who was doing this paid with her life. Sean too. I hoped the MC guys gutted him, made his death as slow and painful as possible.
“You said that the phone was narrowed down to a fifteen-mile radius,” Bash spoke to the room at large as he studied over the map Peterson had been looking over for the last hour. “What’s in that area?”
“It’s a rural area,” Nik surprised me by telling him. I caught my husband’s ice-blue gaze and realized that he hadn’t been quiet because he didn’t agree with what I’d done, but because he was quietly losing his mind just as I was. “I think there are even a few farms out that way.”
“Okay.” Bash looked at the five other men in MC cuts. “Colt and Spider, take this five-mile area. Raider and Hawk, these five. I’ll go with Jet and check out these five.”
Felicity frowned up at the big man with electric blue eyes. “I think we should take someone that Mia knows with each of us. She’s bound to be scared to death. If she sees any of you, you’re going to frighten her even more. I’ll go with Hawk.”
“I’m going,” Nik bit out. “I don’t care who I go with, but I’m going. She’s my little girl.” His voice broke and he clenched his jaw so hard I knew he was cracking some teeth. His gaze found mine and held it. “I’m going.”
I could only nod. Of course Nik would want to go. Mia was his world as she was mine.
“As you should,” Bash agreed. “You can go with Spider.”
“I’m going,” Liam and Shane said at practically the same time. “Me too.”
“Too many people aren’t a good idea,” Bash told the two men, dismissing them immediately.
I stepped forward, putting my hands on both Shane’s and Liam’s chests. “You two won’t keep your heads. That will only get someone hurt.” Shane opened his mouth to argue but I shook my head at him. “Harper is in good hands with them, Shane. I trust these men completely.” I glanced across the room at Jesse who was watching Jet with narrowed eyes. I knew what he was thinking and couldn’t stop from letting my eyes tell him the truth. I wasn’t the only one who owed Jet Hannigan an unpayable debt. “Jesse, go with the others.”
Like I knew he would, Shane erupted. “I’m fucking going, Emmie. You can’t stop me. That’s my wife out there. My baby.”
“I want to go too. Brie needs me,” Liam snapped. “I’m not going to sit here while she’s out there who-the-fuck-knows-where. She could be hurt. Shot.” The last word came out strangled and his hands clenched into fists.
I squared my shoulders knowing I needed to keep a cool head for both of them. “These men will bring them both back to you.”
“Fuck you, Emmie. Fuck you,” Liam yelled in my face. Spittle sprayed everywhere, but I tried not to flinch. It didn’t make me mad that he was raging at me. I deserved it. This was my fault. None of it would be happening if it weren’t for me. Three people would be safe at home, tucked into bed and clueless of the real monsters of the world if I hadn’t been such a bitch all those years ago. “Fuck you and your nerves of steel. I’m going.”
I tried to swallow but couldn’t. Nerves of steel? I wished. Blinking my dry eyes, I looked at the others. “Go. Bring them back to us.”
They all quickly filed out while I stood there, holding back Liam and Shane when they tried to follow them.
Peterson and the other guards were still in the room with us, along with Rex Brennen. They were all still looking over the map of the area where Gabriella’s phone had been traced to. That was just her phone, though. It didn’t mean that just because her phone was somewhere in that area that she would be too. Helena and her cousin seemed pretty smart, what with the way they had left no fingerprints in the past. They had been calculating and meticulous.
It was too much to hope that they had gotten sloppy and kept a cell phone that could be easily tracked.
“Does this area have any meaning to your wife?” Peterson asked Rex.
The other man shook his head. “I don’t think so. She did use to love to ride horses though, but that was years ago.”
“Fuck this shit.” Liam grasped my hand still pushed against his chest and carefully moved it away before stepping around me. “I’m not just gonna stand around and wait for them to bring her back. I can’t. She needs me.”
He hadn’t even reached the door before Shane was following after him. “I’m coming too.”
I chased after them. “You two are only going to get yourselves hurt and then you will be no good to either of your wives.”
Shane turned on me before we’d even reached the front door. His blue-grays were wild in a way that I would always remember. “I don’t fucking care. I’ll trade my life for Harper and the baby’s. Don’t you know that by now? I don’t matter. But she…” He shook his head, tears filling his eyes. “…She is everything.”
“Okay,” I whispered. I understood that. I would do it in an instant for Mia. There was Nik and Jagger to think about, of course, but right then I couldn’t think about either of them. Mia was out there. She could be wet and cold, scared and crying. I would willingly take her place.
I was the one Helena needed to be terrorizing. Just me. Not my daughter who was an innocent in all of this shit.
“Good. Let’s go.” He took my hand and pulled me out into the rain with him.
Liam was already behind the wheel of Shane’s SUV. I didn’t question him taking me, because it was where I wanted to be. I needed to be out there looking for Mia too. It had taken all my willpower not to ask to go with the MC guys, but I’d thought I would just get in their way.
Now, as I buckled my seatbelt in the back seat of Shane’s vehicle, I knew that it was exactly what I needed to do.
Gabriella had Mia in her arms, but even in the poor lighting I could tell she wasn’t moving.
The fire that was blocking our exit took a poor second to that fact. “Is she breathing?”
“Yes, but her pulse is slow.” I thought I heard fear in the Italian rocker’s voice but tried to igno
re it. If she was scared, then I would get more scared and someone needed to keep their head.
I turned back toward the fire that was standing between us and the outside world. “Any ideas?”
Gabriella arranged Mia in her arms better. “Look around. Try to find a window or something. Maybe the back wall is rotted too and I can kick us a hole out of this damn place.”
We both started looking, but it didn’t take long to realize there were no windows. I started testing the wood on the back wall. It was more sturdy than what had been in the stalls and it would take more strength than either of us had to kick a hole big enough for Mia to get out let alone either of us.
“Here, take her.” Gabriella handed Mia over to me and I held her with her head on my shoulder, relieved when I felt her breath on my neck. “I think I saw a board…” Her voice trailed off as she picked up what looked like a two-by-four. “Here it is.”
Quickly, she moved toward the front of the barn and started hitting at the burning door with the board. “Ouch. Shit.”
“What?” I cried.
“I burned my arm,” she called back. “It’s not bad. Just stay back. Keep Mia safe.”
Soon she had a small hole in the enflamed door, but the flames were rising and there was no way we could crawl out. Gabriella pulled off her shirt and used it to try and smother the fire around the hole. “Come on, pregos. I won’t be able to do this for long.”
My eyes watching the flames, I moved forward and dropped to my knees. There was just one little problem with Gabriella’s plan. I couldn’t fit me and Mia through at the same time. “You go first and I’ll hand her to you,” I told Gabriella, taking the shirt from her.
“What? No way. You have to go first,” she tried to reason.
“No. You go first, and I’ll hand you Mia. Then you can help pull me out.” I started slinging the shirt at the flames that were trying to consume the hole again with one hand. “Go.”
Cursing in Italian, Gabriella crawled through the small opening with no difficulties. I quickly handed her Mia and waited until she was safely through before trying to crawl through myself. But even as I started to crawl forward I knew that the opening was too small. Violet made it impossible to get out.
“Harper…” Gabriella’s face appeared on the other side of the opening. “Harper, come on.”
“I can’t,” I called to her, feeling another contraction taking hold of me. “Find something to break the door down. I can’t get through the hole. My belly is too big.”
She disappeared, but right then I didn’t care. I was too busy trying to breathe through the contraction that felt like it was twisting my entire body with pain. I fell to my hands and knees, as the pain in my back made it impossible to stay upright. Holy crap. Violet was definitely trying to make her entrance into the world and didn’t seem to care that it was inconvenient right then.
“Stand back!” I heard Gabriella yell.
I barely had enough sense to crawl back before something came crashing through the barn door. When an old tractor pushed the burning door down, I was shocked speechless. This was such a crazy day. Any other time I would have laughed myself silly at the sight of Gabriella Moreitti Bryant driving a tractor in nothing but a bra and jeans. That was just a combination that made absolutely no sense.
“Come on,” Gabriella screamed as she jumped down. “I saw a house up on the hill, but it’s about a half mile away. I bet that cunt is up there.”
I got unsteadily to my feet and stumbled outside. Mia was lying on the grass a few yards away from the still-burning barn. Gabriella picked her up, holding her protectively against her chest. “We have to get this kid some help. And you. Dear Lord, Harper. You really are in labor.” She stared in gaped-mouth surprise when she got a good look at me. With the fire illuminating us, now she could see me clear as day.
I followed her gaze and nearly threw up at the sight of my maternity pants. My water had broken, but that wasn’t the only thing flowing freely down my legs. I was bleeding and bleeding bad.
“Fuck,” I whispered.
CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR
I wasn’t a hero. I didn’t have the personality for it. I didn’t want to be the fucking hero.
Right then, however, I was Harper and Mia’s only hope.
One wasn’t even conscious, while the other was having contractions more often than not, and bleeding profusely.
What a fucking nightmare.
My gaze went back to the house in the distance and realized that we had no other choice. The house was our best bet. Maybe I could sneak in and find a phone. Although from the looks of the place I wasn’t too hopeful that there would be a landline anywhere.
Maybe I could flash that fucker, Sean, my tits and daze him long enough to get his cell. Seeing as I was now only in my bra and jeans, the idea held merit and I wasn’t likely to have a choice about flashing him anyway.
Yeah, a definite nightmare.
For the second time, I handed Mia over to Harper. “You stay here.” They would just get in my way and distract me. It was safer for them both if I went alone.
Harper looked like she could barely stand as it was. I helped her sit on the ground a good distance from the still-burning barn and made sure Mia was safely tucked against her before taking off at a dead-on run.
The after effect of whatever drug that Sean guy had used on me was still making my head throb, but I tried to put that out of my mind as I neared the house. From what I could see of the area around me, we were in the country and there were no neighbors close by. Otherwise they would have been more careful about setting a fire.
Thinking about them, how they must be laughing their heads off as they pictured me and the others burning alive, only pissed me off more and I ran harder. I was seriously going to end that bitch. First she shoots me, now she tries to burn me alive. That was one of the worst deaths anyone would have to face. Yeah. That cunt-canoe was dead.
As I got closer to the old house, I saw that there were lights on inside. I slowed my pace and moved around to the side of the house, searching for a window so I could check the place out. The first one I came to was in a kitchen but was empty, so I moved on to the next one. The living room. A small old-style television was playing some static-filled channel. Looking up at the side of the house, I noticed and old-school satellite and grimaced. The rain was affecting the reception.
I heard someone laugh, and almost instantly recognized it as Sean. I was going to kill him too. I wasn’t sure how or with what yet, but I’d probably start with his balls. I’d cut them off and shove them down his throat. I’d laugh when he choked on them and then would shove his dick down to make the balls go farther. He’d quit breathing and I’d find a sweet kind of peace knowing that he was dead.
“Turn that stupid shit off,” a feminine voice called to him from somewhere else in the house. “Go make sure the barn is still burning. That fucking rain has messed up all my plans. I don’t want it to stop burning before it gets to the good parts.”
Sean stood from his chair and stepped out of the room. “You’re a twisted bitch, cousin.”
“Who cares? I paid you well for helping me,” I heard the chick say. “Now go do as I said. It shouldn’t take too long before the thing starts falling. When it does, call me so I can come watch.”
I heard him stomp through the house and waited a minute to make sure I couldn’t hear the woman before trying the window. Like the house, the window was old and heavy. It made a loud scraping sound as I moved it up enough so that I could climb through.
I waited, ready for the chick to appear and blast me with a few bullets, but I didn’t hear anything. Thinking that it was safe to move, I climbed through and glanced around the room. Like I’d expected, I couldn’t see any signs of a land line. I hurried through the room, looking for a cell phone, anything that I could use to call for help.
The living room came up empty as di
d the little library across from it. But in the kitchen I found something I hadn’t been expecting. My cell. I had figured Sean had gotten rid of it. Didn’t he realize Emmie would have realized something was wrong when Mia didn’t show up as I’d promised, and would track it?
I grabbed for the phone, my eyes narrowing when I saw that I had thirty-six missed calls from Liam. Damn, he wasn’t going to be happy.
“Sean?” the chick called out. “Are you back already?”
Clutching the phone in my hand, I made a run for the back door just as a beautiful strawberry blonde entered the room. I caught one quick glimpse of her and nearly fell on my face in surprise. That birthmark. I would have known that oddly shaped brown mark anywhere.
“You!” she cried out in surprise. “I’ve had enough of you.”
I turned to glare at her. “Same here, bitch.” I was going to destroy this cunt.
She reached for something behind her and I barely had time to register the sight of the gun before I froze up. “Fuck,” I breathed. Another gun.
I was starting to really hate the sight of those damn things.
“I’m going to end you once and for all, Moreitti,” the cunt who had shot me all those months ago promised as she stepped toward me with that gun pointed right at my head.
That caught my attention and unlocked my muscles so I could move again. “It’s Bryant now, bitch.” I turned and started running, knowing that I would be no good to Harper and Mia if I had another bullet in me.
The ground outside was wet and I slipped and slid down the little hill as I hurried back to where I’d left the other two. As I ran I swiped my thumb over my phone’s screen, calling the only person I could think of in that moment. The only person whose voice I wanted to hear.
It rang twice before his voice filled my ear. “Brie!”
“Help,” I screamed. “Mia is sick. Harper’s in labor. Help me, Liam.”
There was the smallest of pauses before he was back. “I’m coming, baby, I’m coming. Where are you? Do you know?”