Capture Me Slowly(10)

By: Joya Ryan



“Is this your area of expertise?” I asked. “Gaining information and supplying aid?”

There was something very haunted behind his eyes. As though he went somewhere else, to a different time or memory, right in front of me.

“Something like that,” he admitted. “People break into places looking for things to steal or a place to hide. Whatever is going on with you, I would never want you in danger. Especially if I could prevent it.”

“I’m not your duty, Rhys.”

He didn’t say anything. The look on his face was one I’d seen many times. And it was enough to chill the achy heat that had been building up for the past several weeks.

He was a goddamn hero and I was the pathetic little victim in need. A position I refused to be placed in. Especially by him. I didn’t want to be someone’s obligation, even if I had a criminal after me.

The less Rhys knew, the better. Tomorrow I’d try Ben again, hopefully get my money, and be on my way, hiding out somewhere else until the parole hearing. For now, I’d stick to my words and whatever kind of front I could put up.

“Good night,” I mumbled and turned on my heel, heading back to the bedroom. I had a feeling sleep wasn’t coming anytime soon.

~

The dull blade sank in like a hot knife into cold butter . . .

“No!” I shot up in bed, breathing hard, a cool sweat covering my face.

I gripped my stomach. Just a nightmare. The same one I’ve had for years. The same one that had kept me from sleeping lately.

I glanced at the clock. At least I’d gotten a good three hours of rest before this newest dream awoke me.

It was another two hours of staring at the ceiling later, I tossed around in the massive bed, hating how cold I felt. In nothing but panties and one of Rhys’s T-shirts, I could smell him, but not feel him. The nightmare weighed heavily on me, but not as much as Rhys’s earlier comments.

He looked, acted like he cared. Genuinely wanted to help. Which was impossible because we had no real history. Right? I had to be seeing things. Yet here I was thinking of him more than any other man I had ever known before.

I closed my eyes and tried for the millionth time to sleep. But every time my lids closed, I saw him: Castor James. He was behind bars. Couldn’t hurt me anymore. I knew that. But his brother Mase could.

Mase James was big and mean and would do anything to get his baby brother out on parole. Including taking me out. When I got the summons for my appearance, it was the first time a ping of fear went through me. But when Mase found me in Chicago, hanging out by Adam’s workplace, I knew I had to get out of there.

I was the only witness from that night, and the James brothers knew as well as anyone that without a witness, the case was less solid. It had happened over ten years ago, but I could still hear the screams — feel the pain slice across my stomach —

Forcing my thoughts to stop and running a palm over the raised scar just below my bellybutton, I pushed my hair out of my face and took a deep breath. There was only one thing that felt right. The only thing that could calm my nerves. And he was on the couch.

I walked quietly to the living room.

A sad smile hit my face, taking in the sight. Rhys was well over six feet of chiseled muscle and all of it was smushed onto a narrow five-foot-long couch. Shirtless, one arm thrown over his eyes while the other rested on his stomach. Easy breathing, up and down. I watched the hard ridges of his torso move gracefully with every exhale. The blanket was covering his lap. A massive man in dog tags, boxers, and a knitted throw was a hot sight.

I reached out to touch the tags around his neck —

His hand snapped around my wrist like a cuff. Sleep quickly cleared from his eyes as he looked up at me.

“Hi,” I whispered.

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