Kidnapped by the Billionaire

By: Jackie Ashenden

Or at least that had been the old plan, for after he’d taken his revenge and killed Fitzgerald.

Now, though, he’d have to think of something else. A use for his little bargaining chip, a way to bring it all down.

He wasn’t going to let the past seven years all be for nothing. He fucking refused.

It took Violet a while to flag down a cab, and when one finally stopped, Elijah could feel the cold starting to settle down through his skin, going deeper. The gunshot wound ached and so did his hands, and his face was no doubt bruised as well; Zac Rutherford was a mean bastard who knew how to throw a punch.

Shit. He was probably going into shock, which he sure as hell didn’t need right now.

Jerking open the cab door, he pushed Violet inside, following in closely behind her. The driver did a double take—probably due to the bruising on Elijah’s face—but one hard look soon had the man turning right back to the front again. Just as well. Elijah didn’t need any questions at this particular point in time.

He gave the driver the address then leaned back against the seat, keeping the gun jammed against Violet’s side. She sat beside him, unmoving, her head turned away, her attention on the street outside. Her hands still clutched her silly little fringed purse, knuckles white.

He’d probably just shattered her entire world. Well, welcome to the club.

Seven years ago he’d have felt bad about that. Would have regretted giving her the news and would have delivered it at a better time, in a more appropriate setting. He would have comforted her. Certainly he wouldn’t have kidnapped her at gunpoint.

But Marie was dead, and since then nothing mattered much to him anymore.

Except for Evelyn Fitzgerald’s death. The death that he should have taken for himself.

The volcanic rage inside him shifted and he tightened his grip on it, letting its icy heat warm him, using it to combat the effects of physical shock.

Violet remained silent and he didn’t bother to speak either, concentrating all his energy on merely staying upright and keeping that gun right where it was.

New York traffic being what it was, it took them longer than he wanted to get to the West Village address he’d given the cabbie. When they finally stopped and he got out, dragging an unresisting Violet with him, he found the ground unsteady beneath his feet, shivers starting to wrack him.

Fuck. He did not need this. Not now.

Throwing some money at the cabdriver, he tugged his overcoat more firmly around him then pulled Violet close. That musky perfume of hers made his head cloudy and the warmth of her body far more attractive than it had any right to be. But only because he was cold.

He hadn’t wanted a woman in seven years and he had no intention of wanting one now.

Revenge was more important. Revenge had always been more important.

Hustling her down the sidewalk, he debated about whether this was wise, bringing her to his personal little bolt-hole. If he hadn’t been shot and had to grab her on the fly, he’d have brought a blindfold or knocked her out or something so she wouldn’t know where they were. But obviously he couldn’t do that now.

It won’t matter. It’s not like you’re going to be letting her go anytime soon.

Excellent point.

It wasn’t far to the old brick factory that sat next to the river. It had been converted to apartments years ago, and Elijah had bought the entire building back before his world had fallen apart. Back when he’d been the owner of a very successful venture capital company and making shitloads of cash. When he’d been married and desperately in love with his wife.

Christ, he couldn’t even remember what that feeling was like anymore. Being happy. Being in love. Not that he wanted to of course; the more you cared about something, the more it hurt when you lost it. Life was full of interesting little lessons like that.

He’d jettisoned nearly everything of that life after Marie had disappeared, but he’d kept the old factory building. Not because he liked having a big fuck-off apartment all to himself, but because he’d needed somewhere safe to go that no one—especially not Fitzgerald and his operations—knew about.

To keep up appearances, he’d leased out the first couple of floors, but the top floor he’d kept entirely empty so he could come and go as he pleased without any neighbors being nosy.

He got Violet to the front of the apartment building and keyed in his code to unlock the door before pushing her inside.

Her face was a mask as he pulled her over to the elevators and punched the button, her wide, generous mouth gone tight with some kind of suppressed emotion. Grief and shock probably.

The doors opened and he made her go in first then hit the button to the top floor. He resisted the urge to lean against the back wall of the elevator because if he did that, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to stand upright again.

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