Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(88) by Susan Mallery
“You always say no,” he told her. “Then you give me the money anyway. It’s a little game we play. You like playing games with me.”
“You’re so wrong,” she said, disgusted and afraid at the same time. “Neil, you need to go to your place and come down from whatever you’re on.”
“I’m flying, baby, and flying is the best.”
“Get out before I call the police.”
He laughed. “I’ve done nothing wrong. That’s how good this is. You pay me to stay away. Nothing wrong with that.”
“You threatened me,” she said, remembering her baseball bat and inching toward the kitchen. If she could get the bat, she might be able to force him to leave. “I’m done paying you. You’re not going to threaten me anymore.”
She turned and lunged for the broom cupboard but before she could get there, Neil grabbed her by the arm and spun her toward him. Then he punched her hard in the face.
Pain exploded. She staggered, then collapsed against the couch and tasted blood.
“Mommy, Mommy!” Zoe flew to her side. “Go away! Don’t you hurt my mommy. Stop it. You’re a bad man and I’m telling Walker.”
Neil grinned, but there was no humor or joy behind the movement. He looked dark and evil and the fear inside of her exploded until it consumed her.
“Now look at you,” he said to Zoe. “Aren’t you a pretty little girl. Do you know who I am? Do you want to come play a game with me?”
WALKER CONCLUDED the meeting and returned to his office. He’d thought about discussing his new ideas for employee profit sharing, but then had decided to wait until everything was in place. He would make a general announcement at that time, then implement the plan as each employee came to his or her anniversary date. Restaurants worked better without a lot of staff turnaround.
He also wanted to do something special for the corporate staff. Although he’d managed to convince them there wouldn’t be executions at dawn, they still jumped every time he walked into a room. Gloria had sure as hell played out her quest for glory with a lot of innocent people. He was starting to think it would be better if she never came back.
He crossed to his desk and tossed down the folder, then considered what that meant. If Gloria didn’t come back, was he willing to take over the company? Was this how he wanted to spend the rest of his life? Working for the family business?
He didn’t have any answers and he wasn’t sure this was the—
The skin on the back of his neck prickled. While he hadn’t felt that since returning stateside, he was familiar with the sensation. It meant trouble. Bad trouble. More than once that uncomfortable feeling had saved his ass.
He turned slowly in the office, half expecting to find a sniper hiding under a table or lurking behind a desk. But there was no one. No guns, no grenades, no mines, no danger. Did that make the feeling more or less real?
He walked to the window and stared out at the city. The prickling increased and with it came a fear. Not for himself but for…
“Elissa,” he breathed.
He grabbed the phone and dialed her number. A quick glance at his watch told him she should be home from work now. He hadn’t seen her in a couple of days. Not since Penny had her baby, when Elissa had had to leave to go take care of Zoe.
He let the phone ring until the machine picked up and tried to tell himself she was fine. Only he didn’t believe it and suddenly he had to know for himself.
The drive was the longest forty minutes of his life. He wove in and out of traffic as he crossed the bridge. Going south on the 405, he blew past seventy and watched his speedometer hit eighty before he took his exit. He ignored two red lights and a stop sign, then parked directly behind an unfamiliar, beat-up red van.
He ran toward Elissa’s door and found it standing open.
“Elissa?” he yelled as he let himself inside.
There was a sound from the kitchen. A moan that made his blood freeze in his veins.
He burst into the room to find Elissa in a heap by the wall. His battle-trained gaze took in the scene in less than a second. The baseball bat by the back door. The blood on her face and the way she cradled her obviously broken arm against her body. Zoe crouched by her mother, a dark bruise already forming around Elissa’s right eye.
Walker felt more than saw the movement to his left. He sidestepped the first punch easily and used the second to grab his attacker’s arm. Rage filled him, but it was a calm, honed rage used against a thousand enemies. It gave him strength and direction.
He twisted the man’s arm behind his back, hit him in the stomach, then tripped him as he started to go down. The man turned and Walker saw the dilated pupils, smelled the stink of something gone bad.
“Neil, I presume,” he said, easily wrestling him to the ground and fighting the urge to snap his useless neck like a twig. “You should know better than to mess where you don’t belong.”
Elissa roused herself. “He’s got a knife.”
Walker quickly bent his wrist until he released it. “Not anymore.”
The drugged-out loser lay on the ground, mewling like a kitten. Walker thought about killing him. It would be so easy. A quick twist of his head and Elissa would never have any trouble with him again.
The need grew until one of his hands reached for Neil’s throat and tightened slightly.
“I told you Walker would save us,” Zoe whispered as she huddled next to her mother.
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