Kidnapped by the Billionaire

By: Jackie Ashenden

“I had to do something.” She sat up slowly, rubbing her trembling hands together, her palms stinging. “Can’t blame a girl for trying.”

He shifted, the fabric of the overcoat he wore parting and giving her a glimpse of bronze skin.

How odd. What the hell happened to his shirt?

“A girl could get herself killed if she’s not careful.” He gestured with the gun. “Get up.”

“So, no rape then?” She had no idea why she was talking like this. She was clearly being stupid.

Something flickered over his impassive features. Yeah, definitely disgust. “I’m a cold, hard bastard and I’ll kill you if you try that little stunt again, but no, I’m not going to rape you. That’s not why you’re here.”

Perhaps it was the ice in his voice that eased the sharpest edges of her fear. Ridiculous when there was a gun pointed right at her and he was threatening to kill her. As if death was better than rape.

Slowly, she got to her feet, her heart thumping around inside her chest like a bird throwing itself against the unyielding glass of a windowpane. “Then why am I here? And what did you mean about Dad being dead? Why would you say that?”

“All in good time, princess. Right now I need you to do something for me.”

“Why the fuck would I do anything for you?”

“Because if you don’t, I’ll put a bullet through you.” He reached over to the door frame and hit a button on the control panel next to it. Some lights on the panel flickered. Then he lowered the gun and smiled, a terrifying, cold smile that only seemed to make the black holes that were his eyes even darker. “Now, before we get to anything else, you have to understand that there is no way out of this apartment. You can only open this door with the code and only I have the code. The windows are bulletproof, so there’s no way you can smash them. Are we clear?”

The brief thoughts she’d had of somehow rendering him unconscious, grabbing his gun, and smashing her way out of the apartment died stillborn.

Not that she would have gotten far anyway. Apart from those self-defense classes, she had no fighting skills to speak of and she’d never even touched a gun let alone fired one. She’d probably end up shooting herself rather than him. Not to mention the fact that he was a trained bodyguard who probably knew how to kill people with his bare hands.

A bodyguard with an apparently deep bank account.

She didn’t take her eyes off him, but she’d caught a glimpse of the apartment as he’d shoved her inside all the same. Lots of exposed brick and wood floors, a high ceiling crossed with heavy, dark beams. A West Village loft this size had to be horrendously expensive, which was surely well above his pay grade. Then again, who knew? Her father was a man of many secrets and maybe he paid Elijah shitloads of cash.

“We’re clear.” She tightened her jaw against an incipient wave of panic. “Am I going to get any explanations then?”

“Not yet. You’re going to do that little task I mentioned first.” He inclined his head. “Behind you. Head through the door and into the bathroom.”

“Why? What do you want me to do?” She was being an idiot continuing to push him. What the hell was she thinking?

Maybe that you don’t have anything to lose?

But no, that was stupid. She had plenty to lose. Her life being the main thing, but also the first lead she’d had on Theo since she’d gotten back to New York two months earlier.

Sixteen years ago her brother had disappeared, ostensibly a suicide into the Hudson, his body never found. A verdict she’d never accepted, no matter what the coroner said.

And then fifteen years later, while she’d been living in Paris, she’d gotten the first sign that maybe she’d been right all this time. That Theo hadn’t died. That he was alive. She’d scoured Paris trying to find information—any information—as to his whereabouts, and yet had come up with nothing.

So she’d come back to New York to see if she could turn up anything there. And today, just before she’d gotten on that wretched subway, she’d finally found the lead she was looking for.

The high-security storage facility where Theo had stored some of his belongings before his supposed death had gotten in touch with her, informing her that someone had accessed his storage locker. She’d left instructions and a hefty bribe with them years before, when she’d tried to access it herself and been refused, that should anyone come and try to get in, they were to let her know.

And now they had. And there could be only person who’d accessed it.

Theo himself.

At least that was the only person who’d had authorized access according to them. Only the owner of the locker was allowed in, not even family members.

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