“I suppose we owe it to you. You did lead him right to us.” One of the men holding Julian chuckles. “He’s all yours. We’ll take his wife as payment.”
I shake my head profusely, my hair sticking to my tear-stained cheeks. All I want to do is wake up from this nightmare, but this isn’t a nightmare—it’s reality. Blinking, I watch Lucca move toward Julian.
Time stands still for one brief second, and then he pulls his own gun from his holster, a wicked smile spreading across his face, a glint of hate in his eyes.
Squeezing my eyes shut, I say a silent prayer.
I’m shattering, breaking into a million pieces knowing that I cannot stop this from happening. The gun goes off, and time comes to a standstill.
Another shot rings out, then another. Each sound as deafening as the next, making me gasp with pain. Each pull of the trigger rips my chest open a little bit more until there is a huge gape, and I feel like I’m bleeding out.
“Open your eyes, Elena,” Julian’s gravelly voice meets my ears.
My eyes fly open, and I’m greeted with the familiar pale-blue eyes of my husband. Julian is kneeling in front of me, and all I can see is him. I’m only vaguely aware of Lucca untying me from the chair.
As soon as I’m free, I fall into Julian’s arms. He tugs me into his chest, pulling me close into his protective hold. I bury my nose into the crook of his neck, inhaling deeply, unable to get my breathing under control, partially thinking this might be a dream.
“I was so worried about you,” he whispers into my hair.
“I was worried about you,” I murmur back. “And the baby too.”
Julian pushes me away a few inches so he can look at my face. “Baby?”
“Yes, baby. I was going to wait until tomorrow morning to tell you. It’s hard to give a man who has everything a Christmas gift. I bought some blue baby shoes and wrapped them up.” I sniffle.
“Congratulations,” Lucca interjects, reminding me of the fact that he is still here.
Julian pulls me to my feet but keeps his arm around me. We both look at Lucca, standing a few feet away, his hands in his pockets like he didn’t just kill a room full of men.
“Thank you,” I tell him. Julian simply grunts. I give him a little side look, telling him without words he should be thankful too. He rolls his eyes, and I know it’s going to take him a moment to get himself in order. He almost died in front of me.
If it wasn’t for Lucca…
“You betrayed me…but you did save us today,” he finally says. “We both owe you.”
Lucca grins. “I was kind of hoping you’d say that. Because I could really use your help with something.”
“Is that so?” Julian huffs, clearly not happy about this development.
“Yes. Like I told you earlier, I only betrayed you because Lev’s family had someone I cared about. I’ve been protecting her ever since. Unfortunately, she just ran away from me.”
Ran away from him?
If he was protecting her, why would she run away?
“What do you need help with?” Julian asks.
“I need help hunting her down.”
Did he just say hunting her down? Oh boy…