Until then, she was sleeping in his arms, against his heart. And for now at least, she was his totally. The Ops didn’t matter, the mission be damned. For now, he was just a man holding his woman, and he wanted every moment that he could steal.
lilly walked through the wide double doors of her family’s home the next afternoon to face the combined disapproval of her mother and her uncle.
“Where have you been?” Her mother was smoking again. This time, she wasn’t bothering to hide it. The cigarette was held between her fingers as she glared at Lilly furiously. “Do you know I was ready to call the FBI? For God’s sake, Lilly.”
Guilt seared her. She should have called, perhaps left a note. Travis had lectured her about that.
“I’m sorry, I needed time to think.” She lifted her shoulders in an uneasy shrug as her gaze shifted to Desmond.
He was furious. His pale blue eyes glared back at her as he crossed his arms over his chest. The muscles beneath his fine cotton shirt bulged, attesting to the anger that flushed his ruddy complexion further.
“Where is your mind?” Angelica turned and stalked back into the family room, her head held high, the sharp odor of tobacco following behind her.
“I would suggest you step into the family room,” Desmond bit out between clenched teeth. “Running and hiding will do you little good this time.”
Lilly arched her brows. “I’m twenty-six, Uncle, not six,” she informed him.
“Then perhaps you should start acting your age,” he retorted as he, too, turned on his heel and followed her mother.
She really wanted to do just as he had told her not to. Run and hide. Facing her mother’s wrath had never been a preferred sport as far as she was concerned.
Blowing out a hard breath, she pushed her fingers through her hair before following the two. Entering the room, she moved toward the bar first, ignoring her mother’s muttered curse as she reach for the whisky.
“That is a gentleman’s drink,” Angelica reminded her. “It is not a drink for polite young ladies.”
“I’m no longer a polite young lady,” Lilly told her.
Pouring a shot, Lilly tossed it back quickly, her eyes fluttering at the pleasant burn that hit her stomach. Come to think of it, she distinctly remembered the fact that a glass of wine normally accompanied any conversation with her mother. Angelica was a dominant personality, and not always easy to get along with, even for her children.
“The least you could do is show me the respect of telling me when you will be out playing your foolish games all night,” Angelica snapped behind her. “It would keep me from informing the FBI that my daughter has been kidnapped again.”
“Kidnapped?” Lilly turned back to her mother. “I wasn’t kidnapped the first time, Mother.”
Angelica tamped out her cigarette in a nearby ashtray before staring at her daughter disdainfully. “And how do you know? Have you remembered the past six years?”
“Why, no, I haven’t,” she stated clearly. “But I think I would know if I had been kidnapped, Mother.”
“I rather doubt you would,” Angelica told her, her voice cold and brittle.
Lilly lifted her shoulders in a shrug. “According to the investigator’s report, I had quite a bit of freedom in the past six years. I can’t see kidnappers allowing their kidnappee to carry a gun. And I don’t remember a mention in that report of a ransom being demanded.”
Lilly propped her elbows on the bar behind her and stared back at the couple.
“I’ll call Dr. Ridgemore first thing in the morning,” Angelica said between clenched teeth. “Clearly you need help that I cannot provide.”
Ridgemore? Lilly stared back at her mother in shock. She was well aware of who and what Dr. Ridgemore was and what he did. He was co-owner and head psychiatrist at Le Fleur in France, a psychiatric hospital where her mother’s cronies often sent their children for evaluations when they were considered unruly.
“Mother, that isn’t a mistake you want to make,” Lilly stated gently. “After all this time apart, do you truly want to make sure that I never return to this family again?”
Le Fleur was the bane of every chil
d’s existence among the social set Lilly had once been a part of. If they disobeyed their parents, they were sent to the hospital. If they became dependent on drugs, tried to marry someone their parents disapproved of, made any decision on their own, then they were shipped off.
It wasn’t every family that practiced such heinous decisions, but there were more than a few. They couldn’t handle their children, so obviously something was wrong with the child, not the parent. In Angelica’s case, the threat and the concern were very real. When one of her family members didn’t conform something had to be wrong with them.
“As you seem determined to get yourself killed, it seems the preferred alternative,” Angelica responded furiously. “You read the report Desmond received on you, Lilly. Did you even consider the repercussions such a life could have on your family should it become known? Do you even care?”