What am I going to do?
Well I know one thing. I’m staying the hell away from Walker McManus.
My men know to be most scared of me when I speak quietly.
And I’m speaking very, very quietly right now.
Rage steels my muscles. The likes of which I’ve never known. I’m not sure what I’ve walked into here, but I don’t like it. I don’t like the sputtering man sitting on the floor with his hands zip tied behind his back. I don’t like the way the receptionist looks so nervous. I hate that Meadow isn’t here where I left her. Yeah, that’s going to be a huge problem for someone.
Someone is going to pay.
“What the fuck do you mean, ‘she’s gone’?”
Gregory, the man I trusted to guard Meadow, one of my most reliable employees, shifts in his size fifteen loafers. “It happened fast. I wasn’t sure whether I should stay with him.” He points to the short, sniveling guy on the floor. “Or go after the girl. She wasn’t injured much, so I knew she’d be okay. And I suspected you’d want to question this—”
I hold up a hand, my voice emerging choked. “She wasn’t injured much? MUCH?” I bellow. “You better not be serious.”
“I’m not sure what happened, boss,” Gregory says quickly. “I carded him. Randall Tate. He checked out as the owner. Next thing I know, the receptionist runs out telling me to come quick. When I make it inside, the girl—Meadow—was on the floor trying to get away from Tate. I put a stop to it, but she ran…”
Denial sweeps me, leaving volcanic lava in its wake.
Meadow. On the ground? Attacked?
I’ll never forgive myself for leaving her in danger. If I’d known she had to fear her boss, I would have taken a wrecking ball to this building—with him still inside of it—before I ever let her return here. The fact that she spent a single second afraid has woken a beast inside of me and he’s scratching, wanting to explode out. To wreak havoc and seek vengeance.
Tate immediately silences when I train my focus on him, his skin turning a chalky pale. “You,” I whisper. “You’re already dead.” Without taking my attention off of him, I point at the receptionist. “You. The story. Now.”
It pours out of her, like she’s just been waiting for her turn to speak. “He—Randall—never leaves Meadow alone. He’s always hitting on her and…she hates it. She can usually avoid him, but today he followed her into the hallway and I heard them arguing. Randall found some check in her pocket and he was under the impression it meant…well, that she was—”
“Your whore,” Randall spat. “That’s what.”
My almighty wrath makes me shake. I’m always calm. Always keep a clear head. But I swear I could breathe fire right now. Unwanted thoughts careen against the walls of my skull. My Meadow. In fear. Disrespected. Not here for me to confirm she’s okay. I can’t stand it. And my rage propels me toward Randall where I knock him out cold with a right hook to the side of his head.
He falls to the side. I wish he was still conscious, so I could hit him again.
“He ripped up the check…” the receptionist finishes in a hushed tone.
Inconsequential. Meadow will never want for a dime as long as she lives. The check was a mere formality. I’ll write her a hundred more of them if it makes her happy.
“Bring him to the den,” I manage around the pressure in my throat. “I’m not done with him.”
Gregory moves fast, obviously grateful for the reprieve, though I’m far from done with the bodyguard, either. I would be sending a message to everyone in my employ that if Meadow was ever put in peril again, heads would fucking roll.
As soon as Randall’s body is dragged out the exit of the spa, I carefully place a flattened palm on the receptionist’s desk, well aware that it’s shaking but unable to do anything about it. I’m going to be a wreck until Meadow is back in my arms. Or for however long it takes to forget my fear when I walked into this place and heard the words she’s gone.
My hand curls into a fist and I barely resist slamming it down. “Meadow’s address. I need it. Immediately.”
“Already wrote it down,” she says, handing me a slip of paper.
Taking the note, I open my mouth and close it. “How…hurt was she? Is she really all right?”
“Yes.” The girl nods. “Meadow might be short, but she’s a badass, Mr. McManus. If you don’t mind me saying so. N-not a mark on her.”
I let out an unsteady breath and stow the address in my pocket, but not before I see my future wife lives in the shittiest of shitty buildings. As if I need any more years taken off my life today.