I ’d just shot a man , with a gun that wasn’t even mine.
This gun belonged to a dead woman.
Blood stained my hands, literally, as I bent to retrieve the flash of gold dropped by the fleeing man I’d shot. Precious seconds ticked away, ones I shouldn’t be wasting on trinkets. But the intruder was already halfway across the deck and blending into the darkness beyond the swath of light from the motion sensors, the sharp shouts between him and his partner melding into a single blast of sound. Then, nothing.
Nothing but me crouched in the doorway of the home I now owned, another man’s blood staining my fingers as I stared at my best friend’s cuff link.
The heavy H for Hollister in a circle was hard to forget, especially since I had a cuff link like this in a glass bowl at my own residence. One Jack had lost some time or another and I’d yet to return. Now this particular emblem would be seared into my brain for eternity.
“Blake. Oh my God, Blake.”
Grace’s voice snapped me out of my stupor. I shoved the gun in my waistband, then jerked to my feet and tucked the cuff link—fuck, the evidence —in my pocket before reaching out to grip her with my bloody fingers. I cursed and swiped them on my trousers, then reached for her again, drawing her against me as I turned toward the French doors. As one, we moved toward them, and I kicked open the still cracked door to step out on the deck. Already I could hear the sirens in the distance.
“You called them?” I asked her, pleased that my voice gave nothing away. Not even a hint of a quaver.
This was my first shooting, after all. First time I’d pulled the trigger at anything other than a target, first time I’d ever had another man’s blood on my hands.
Definitely the first time I’d had to grab hold of the woman I’d just made love to, in order to keep her from sprinting after the burglars who’d just attempted to rob the home we both loved.
“Who the fuck were they? What did they want?”
“Calm down? Calm down?” She whirled on me and jabbed a finger into my chest. “You were shooting at people. They broke in.” She gasped and grabbed my hand. “You’re bleeding.”
“Not my blood.” Was that truly me, sounding so dispassionate as I recounted another man’s injury? One I’d shot?
One who’d broken into Grace’s home— my home, goddammit—and had been so close to her when she’d been in a vulnerable state. Naked and soft from sleep…and me. Her eyes dreamy and her cheeks flushed and her warm curves pressed to mine in the narrow confines of that pile of bricks she lovingly called a bed.
And that bastard had been rifling through her home, looking for who knows what. Bastards, plural. I’d only gotten the briefest glimpse of the other man as he disappeared into the darkness, moving a hair faster than the accomplice I’d shot. How badly I didn’t know. He’d trailed blood, but he’d been moving awfully fucking quickly.
I still probably could have caught him. If only I hadn’t been distracted by the gleam of gold, and that quiet ping that had seemed louder than the shot I’d fired.
Jack’s cuff link shouldn’t be on this property. He had no reason to have ever been there. I’d told him briefly about my new acquisition, but I wasn’t sure I’d even shared the exact address with him. He was as familiar with Marblehead as I was. We’d lived in the area for a while, though we hadn’t met until we’d become acquaintances in business circles some years ago. He’d come to work for me at Carson Covenant Inc., the glass empire I’d built, not long after we met. Friendship had taken longer, but he was truly one of the only people I trusted.
I hated that my trust was wavering now.
“Oh, well then, no worries. It wasn’t your blood, so it’s fine you’re covered in it. Fine that someone—someone…” She stared off into the night and cupped her elbows, warding off a shiver. “This wasn’t
Josh Lanyon, Ginn Hale, Astrid Amara, Nicole Kimberling