Home > Love and Let Die (Masters and Mercenaries #5)(11)

Love and Let Die (Masters and Mercenaries #5)(11)
Author: Lexi Blake

He knew the moment he’d gone too far. Even in the moonlight he could see how she paled and her hands started to shake. She couldn’t fake that reaction. When her hand came out to connect with his face, he let it, holding still for her.

He deserved it. Guilt gnawed in his gut, but he wouldn’t apologize. He wouldn’t back down. “Go home, Charlotte. There’s absolutely nothing for you here.”

He closed the door between them, locking it again. Tomorrow he would redesign his whole security system because he obviously wasn’t paranoid enough. But for tonight, he had a bottle of Scotch calling his name.

And he knew just what he wanted to listen to.

* * * *

Charlie bit back a cry as she watched the door slam shut.

And then she forced herself not to walk right up to it, beat it down, find her asswipe husband, and tear the balls right off his body.

That would teach him not to call her a whore again.

Damn it. Except by definition she had been one before. She’d agreed to distract Ian Taggart in exchange for her and her sister’s safety, and she’d taken the money Nelson had given her afterwards. She hadn’t used it quite the way he’d wanted her to, but she’d used it all the same.

She didn’t feel like a whore. She felt like a woman who had just had the world ripped out from under her.

How could he say those things about her father? Tears welled, a crushing sorrow drowning out the rage. Ian had been the only person on the planet she’d told about what her father had done to her. She’d hidden much of the truth even to her sister. She’d trusted him, and he’d thrown it right back in her face.

Could she have been wrong? She’d been so sure that once she’d helped out his friends and brought him good intelligence that he would sit down and listen to her.

Her phone trilled. She sniffled, trying to banish the tears. There would be time for them later. When she was safely in her room high above the city, she could cry and wail and let it out, but she wasn’t safe now. She flipped the phone to answer. “Chelsea?”

“You’ve just had a mega shit ton of hits on your personal information. Someone is looking for Charlotte, not Kris.”

Well, she’d known they would figure it out sooner or later. She’d left a few threads undone that a smart man could follow.

“I’m sure it’s Adam.” Adam Miles was Ian’s computer guy and a very smart man. She knew it had only been a matter of time before he tracked her down. “He’s the one who’ll be looking.”

“Then he’s the one I’ll be sending in circles. Again.” There was a wealth of satisfaction in Chelsea’s voice. She did enjoy a challenge. She and Adam had gone a couple of rounds during the Florida op.

“He’s good.” Adam had worked with her on the Michael Evans takedown. He didn’t know it yet, but he’d already tangled with Chelsea.

For all the good it had done her.

“I’m better,” Chelsea said.

Charlie sighed. “Let him in. It doesn’t matter now. They’ve figured it out. I bet they finally found the recording of the night I downloaded their copy machine.”

It was how she’d figured out everything about them. It had been an operation she’d been more than happy to complete.

“Why didn’t you erase it?”

Because she’d always kind of hoped he would come looking for her. “It doesn’t matter now. It looks like we won’t use the new IDs the way I planned.”

She’d had new identities crafted for both of them. Her uncle had been quiet for a while. She wouldn’t have come after Ian if she’d thought there was a ton of heat on her. Her plan had been to come into town and try to work things through with Ian. Then she could hide here under a new identity and she would keep her nose clean and her uncle would lose interest in punishing her.

“What are you saying, Charlotte?”

She didn’t want to go over all the ways she’d screwed up. “I have to hike back to my car and then I’ll come home.”

“Are you done stalking the big guy? Because we need to move on.” Chelsea wasn’t exactly on board with Charlie’s plans to win Ian back. Since her sister had come into her own, Chelsea seemed to think they didn’t need men.

Charlie looked back at the house. Ian had done well for himself. His house was big and sturdy, like the man himself. She’d expected him to be in a condo like hers. No fuss. No muss. But no, Ian Taggart’s home had a big yard and trees. It looked like a family could live there.

But it wouldn’t be her family.

She felt like he’d just ripped her heart out. Was this the way he’d felt when he’d discovered her betrayal? She’d worked so hard to become a woman who was worthy of him, but maybe there were some things she couldn’t come back from.

“Charlotte? Shit. You saw him, didn’t you? What did he do? Because I’m three keystrokes away from getting him institutionalized. I can have him put down like a rabid dog.”

“Don’t you dare.” As mad as she was, she understood. If he’d done the same thing to her, she might have called him all sorts of names, too.

Chelsea’s voice softened. “Charlotte, I know you loved the man, but we can’t stay here forever.”

“The condo is secure.” She’d made sure of it.

“Nelson has eyes everywhere, and he would love to slit your throat, big sister. He isn’t the only one. If Taggart isn’t interested in a reunion, then we should head out. Why don’t we sell the Florida condo and go to Europe for a while? Or the Caribbean. I could use a tan.”

“No, don’t sell the Palm Coast property. Put it in Alex’s name. Alex and Eve McKay.” They had fallen in love again at her condo on the beach. She’d watched them and they had given her so much hope. Just because she’d fucked up didn’t mean they should lose out.

It was over. He was too stubborn, too brutally slavish to his own code of conduct. He’d broken his rules for her once, but he wouldn’t again.

Maybe it was time to move on.

And then she heard it. A familiar wail of guitars and drums and Axl Rose’s voice blaring from inside the house.

One single memory flared to life. Ian spreading her wide and taking her for the first time, his face so serious as he worked over her. She’d held on to him for dear life, and when he was done, she’d known that she’d been caught in her own trap. She’d lain in his arms, this one song echoing from the club below.

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