Authors: Clara Bayard
By Clara Bayard
One Night of Danger, #3
Copyright© 2013 by Clara Bayard
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All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
I screamed and spun around, arms up to protect myself or fight back or both. But instead of rage and evil, the face in front of me displayed surprise and a hint of amusement.
“Get the hell away from me, Sam,” I ordered, voice shaky and weak.
He put his hands flat on the door behind me, trapping me between his thick, strong arms. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Leaving.” I crossed my arms across my chest and frowned, struggling to keep the fear building in me from overwhelming me. “Step back and let me go.”
“Are you insane?”
“I must have been, to ever trust you.”
He snorted and stepped closer, his big, wide body making me feel small. To think that once I found that comforting, safe. Now all that bulk was a weapon against me.
“Get away.” I was trembling now, and could feel the terror seeping into every part of my body. It chilled and paralyzed me.
“Carly, what the hell? Talk to me.”
I could barely hear his voice. Shutters were closing in my mind, hiding me away from the truth I couldn’t handle. I thought I’d changed so much. Become smarter and stronger. Capable. But this was too much. The man who’d protected me, cared for me, laughed with me. The man I thought I was falling in love with was a lie. Once again I’d given my trust to a monster hiding behind a beautiful face.
A sob that turned into a wail burst from my mouth and with the last ounce of strength left in me I shoved at him. Sam obviously hadn’t expected that and he stumbled back. I might be tall and thick, but in no way was I ever a physical threat to him. But surprise was enough to get me a tiny bit of leverage and I took it. I slapped him across the face and pushed him again. This time he went down on one knee, staring up at me, mouth agape in the dim light coming through the window and under the door.
My instincts told me to flee, put some space between us. And so I ran in the opposite direction of the exit he guarded, back to the bathroom. I slammed the door behind me and flipped the latch. Only when my back was pressed against the locked door did I take a second to breathe and turn on the light.
Still shivering in just a t-shirt, I scanned the small room for anything that could help me. I still had the burner cell phone in my hand, but there was no one I could call. No one I could risk getting pulled deeper into the mess I’d created.
The tiny window in the bathroom was barely three inches high and tucked away almost against the ceiling. Too small to crawl out of and it faced the back of the motel, so yelling for help would be pointless. Sam would be able to break the door down and get to me long before anyone came to my aid.
“Shit.” I sank to the floor, keeping my back flat against the door as if that would be enough to keep him out. As the endorphins form our confrontation started to decrease, a bone-deep weariness came over me. I wanted to close my eyes and sleep away this nightmare.
But the all too real danger on the other side of the door reminded me it was no dream.
“God damn it, Carly. What the hell are you playing at?”
I bit down on my lower lip to keep from responding. Better he wonder what I was up to.
“Come on, talk to me. Did you have a bad dream or something? Come out here, let me hold you. Let me make it all better.”
Deep in my heart I wanted to do just that. But I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. Never again would I deliver myself into the arms of a man who wanted to harm me. It killed me, but I wouldn’t let denial overcome what I now knew was true.
“Baby, please. You’re scaring me. Just tell me you’re all right in there.”
The sound of his pleading voice was like a dagger to my gut. “Slide the key under the door and leave the room. Then I’ll be all right.”
He paused for a long moment. “What? Where do you expect me to go? It’s the middle of the night.”
“Get in your car and drive straight to hell for all I care.”
“You don’t mean that.”
He was right. There was no hell for sneaky, slimy men who cajole and seduce. Who pet and pretend to care while all the time they’re waiting to strike. No, hell is saved for victims of men like that. Stupid girls like me.
I jumped and then froze as his hand slapped the door behind me, but he didn’t try to come in. There was a dull thud higher up like his forehead landing against the cheap wood.
“You’re killing me. Please open the door.”
“I will kill you, Sam,” I choked out. “If you touch me I’ll kill you, I swear. It might take me hours but I will find a way to beat you. I won’t let you hurt me.”
“I don’t want to hurt you. I just want to know what’s wrong with you.”
are what’s wrong with me. All your sweet words and comforting embraces. Lies to keep me weak. Make me dependent on you until you could get whatever it is you want from me.”
I could hear the sigh through the door before he spoke. “Baby, I don’t have any idea what you are talking about. I don’t want anything but you. I thought we were in this together? What changed?”
“I found the truth. The thing I always knew in the back of my mind. Tell me why, Sam. Did you know who I was the night we met at that club? Did you seduce me to find out about Mitchell’s operation?”
“Operation? The club? You think I was undercover there? And that you’re part of my cover? Don’t you understand what’s happened here? We’re both in huge trouble and you’re in danger. The people your boss worked for are seriously connected in the drug game. I don’t know why they kidnapped and threatened you, or tried to run us off the road tonight. But I’m going to find out. I’m going to keep you safe from all this, no matter what it takes. My case, my career, they mean nothing if you get hurt.”
Again, he had all the beautiful words. The ones I’d believed when we were in bed together. But I wouldn’t be swayed by pretty words anymore. I didn’t know why he’d done it, or when it started. But he was involved somehow and that’s all that mattered.
Of course, now it all made terrible sense. The ease with which I was taken from my apartment when he just happened to leave. The mole inside the police department. The way they
found us. The two warehouses. I was no expert in criminal enterprises but I’d seen enough movies and television shows about dirty cops. Maybe Sam had started out as he said. A cop who looked young and rough enough to get in with drug dealers. Maybe they offered him money or power. I knew he came from a difficult upbringing and could almost understand giving in. The city had a river of crime running right under the surface and nothing anyone could do would ever stop it. Certainly not a single police detective.
So yeah, I could almost forgive him being dirty. But I could never forgive how he used me. My body, my feelings, my safety. I put my own best friend in danger because I thought it might help Sam. I felt bad about how my accidental discovery of my boss’s real business might affect his career. It all sickened me now.
“Carly, are you still there? Please say something. I’m so worried about you.”
“Why? Am I in danger in here? The only person who could hurt me is you, Sam.”
“Just tell me what you’re afraid of. Tell me what happened.”
I stood up and tapped the cell phone against the door. “I found your secret phone.”
“Huh? Oh, you mean the burner. So? I’ve explained about those.”
“Yeah, you sure did. You explained a lot of things.”
“So then what’s the problem?”
“I read your text messages. I saw what you said about me.”
There was a long silence before he replied. Trying to come up with another lie, I assumed.
“Baby, I don’t know what you think you read, but if you just open the door we can talk about this. All I want to do is protect you.”
“Fuck off, Sam. I don’t believe a word you say. And I never will.”
A fist hit the door and it shook. I jumped back.
“Damn it. Carly, I’m trying to be understanding here. We haven’t known each other that long and you’ve been through so much. But I have never given you a reason to doubt me and your accusations are making me crazy right now.”
“Oh, I get it. This is all
fault, then. Whatever you do is on me now, right? You don’t want to hurt me but you have to. I’m driving you to it. That sounds familiar.”
“Jesus, woman. I am not your piece of shit ex-boyfriend.”
“No,” I replied, all emotion drained from my voice. “You’re worse.”
There was silence on the other side of the door. It both thrilled and horrified me to think I might have actually hurt him with my words.
I went to the sink and splashed some cold water on my face and looked in the mirror. My long, curly hair was a mess of tangles. My face was pale and drawn as if I’d been out in the cold for days. Even my lush, long body looked smaller and weaker. Like the life was being sucked out of me. And, I supposed, this new betrayal had done just that. Bled away what I’d been so carefully rebuilding. What I told Sam was true. Maybe he’d never laid a hand on me in anger like Phillip. But he’d destroyed me just the same.
“Look,” Sam said finally. “I don’t know exactly what’s going on here, but I’m not going to argue with you. As long as you promise not to go back into the city I’ll leave you alone for the rest of the night. Is that sufficient?”
“No. If you want me to trust you, do what I asked. Slide the keycard under the door and go get in your car. Honk the horn so I know you’re out there.”
“Why? Where are you going?”
“Away from you.”
“Fuck. Fine, whatever. I don’t know why I’m trying so hard to protect you when you seem set on getting yourself killed.”
I didn’t rise to that bait. “Keycard.”
After a few seconds I heard him rummaging around and then heading back towards the bathroom door. I braced myself, hands and weight against the wood in case it was a trick, but Sam just slid the two keys under the door without saying a word.
I pressed my ear to the door and then heard the motel room door open and slam shut. I waited a little while, wondering if he was still in the room, but there was only one way to know for sure. I pushed the bathroom door open a crack and peered into the dark room beyond. From that limited view it seemed empty, so I stuck my head out and scanned the space. Sam was gone, though his bags were still on the floor.
I crept out and headed towards the window. A car door shut and a horn honked briefly. Through a tiny slit in the cheap, thick curtains I saw the overhead light on in Sam’s car and his shape behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, now that he’d done what I had asked, I wasn’t sure what came next. I couldn’t stay in the motel room. If he wanted to come back all he had to do was ask the front desk for another key.
I knew I had to get back into the city. Go to the police station or somewhere. Now that I knew who the enemy was, I could save myself. It was the thing he’d kept me from doing all this time, and now I knew why.
Still formulating a plan, I grabbed some of my clothes and pulled them on, keeping my eyes on Sam’s car. He just sat there for a long time, facing forward. Probably trying to see if I would come out. But eventually he leaned over into the passenger side and disappeared from view.
Like I flash I grabbed my shoes and purse and was out the door. I sprinted as fast as I could around the corner and down the row to the front office. I didn’t look over my shoulder to see if he was following, there wasn’t time.
When I reached the office I slipped inside, heart pounding and my breathing heavy. The guy behind the desk was in his late fifties I’d guess. He was pudgy and very pale, mostly bald and wearing thick glasses, reading a newspaper. He glanced briefly in my direction and went back about his business.
“Excuse me, can you help me?”
“It’s after midnight, checkout is still noon. No discounts.”
“Oh, no. I don’t need a room. Just some information.”
At that he finally looked up at me. “What is it?”
“I just need to know the number of a cab company out here.”
“You from in town?”
He snorted. “Figured. Ain’t no taxi gonna come out here this time of night.”
“Is there a late bus or something?”
“There’s a greyhound terminal a couple miles up the road. Next bus won’t be for hours though.”
“Shit.” I chewed on my lower lip, trying to figure out what to do. I cast a glance over my shoulder at the front door, half expecting Sam to come in any second.