Saved by a Dangerous Man

By: Cleo Peitsche

The solemness was back in his eyes. “That you won’t tell me… it’s weird.”

“We never really talk about our love lives. You didn’t volunteer how you earned that black eye—” My phone rang, and I gratefully grabbed it.

Henry Heigh’s number flashed. “It’s nothing,” I told Rob firmly. “Excuse me.”

He was still looking at me. I turned away and leaned forward. “Hey. What do you need?”

“Good morning. Are you packed and ready?”

In fact, I wasn’t. I planned to go, but I really didn’t want to, and I’d dealt with that by avoiding preparations. “I’m at work.”

“Butch is giving us a ride, so I’ll pick you up at 3:20 instead of 3:00. You know Butch?”

“Not yet,” I said, “but I look forward to meeting him. Anything else?”

“Don’t forget your bikini,” he said, and hung up.

Rob cleared his throat. “A bikini? Where are you going?”

I turned back around. “Eavesdrop much?”

“Cory taking you away from the snow and ice?”

I thought about not correcting him, but there was a good chance the truth would come out. And anyway, I didn’t like lying to Rob more than necessary. “Not Cory. Henry Heigh. I’m… going to Florida with him.”

He looked flabbergasted. “Henry?” All of the reasons for his confusion were left, thankfully, unstated.

“Um, it’s a long story. And I do need to get home and pack.”

My brother’s baffled expression was heartbreaking. “I feel like you don’t love me anymore.” He watched as I wiggled into my coat. “Are you on drugs? In a gang?”

“I wish.” With that, I heaved myself to my feet.

Rob grabbed my arm. “Audrey. Whatever’s going on, you can trust me. I might not have a solution. Hell, I probably won’t. I’m not full of sage advice. But at the very least, I promise I can listen, and I would never judge you. Ok?”

Tears stung my eyes. I quickly blinked them away. “Maybe I’ll take you up on that.”

But I knew I wouldn’t. I loved him too much to drag him into it.

I checked my toiletry pouch for the third time, then stuffed it deep into my carry on, zipped the bag closed and lugged it to the front door, where I dropped it with a thump. I stared at it. It had belonged to Corbin. Looking at it reminded me that he didn’t want me to do this.

For a long moment I stood there, paralyzed by creeping doubts. It wasn’t too late to cancel. After all, I’d only agreed to go the morning before. Getting on that plane with Henry would mean that I had bulldozed through all of my carefully erected boundaries.

The only person who would be disappointed if I canceled was Henry. And me. But I would also be disappointed if I went, for different reasons.

Sometimes I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Twenty-four years old, 5’4”, dark-haired, green-eyed, that was indisputable. Bounty hunter… when I wasn’t helping my outlaw boyfriend. A liar, apparently. A terrible sister. A spy? A slimy feeling slithered along the inside of my ribs and twisted into a writhing knot. Poor Henry. I was untrustworthy, certainly.

But I clearly planned to go, so why was I dithering? It was weak. I exhaled, tried to visualize the tension fleeing my body.

When that failed, I opted for action. After pacing around the rickety kitchen table—my cramped apartment didn’t have enough room for me to take four steps in any direction without encountering a jutting wall, a corner, an appliance, or a crooked hallway—I poured a glass of water and forced myself to drink it.

Stop thinking. You made your decision.

So I returned to the bag, unzipped it, raked my eyes over the jumbled heap of lightweight clothing and wondered what I might be forgetting for my spontaneous midwinter trip.

The problem wasn’t preparing for a different climate so much as bracing for my travel companion. Henry was hellbent on arresting Corbin—and unfortunately, he had every right to do so. He wanted Corbin for the same two million reasons that I’d set out after Corbin in a blizzard. Two million and one, if you counted bragging rights.

As if it weren’t stressful enough that I was accompanying Henry in an effort to get information on his dirty FBI contacts, I also had to deal with his feelings for me.

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