Black Jack (Elite Ops 4)

Page 69

Lilly breathed in slowly and deeply before returning her attention to the boot. She unlaced it, pushed it from her foot, then removed the socks she had donned with them.
Standing, she pulled the T-shirt off, then the jeans, leaving herself dressed only in the light lacy white camisole and panties she wore beneath.
She suppressed the chill that tried to race up her spine, and the sense of cold, depressive despair. Her mother had never spoken to her in such a way. She was reputed to be brutal to others, even friends. She had heard her parents argue through her life and her mother had been like sharpened steel slicing through melted butter.
Lilly could feel the wounds herself now, and they sliced to the bone.
“It must be because it’s your mother,” Travis stated as he moved into the room. “Anyone else and your tongue would have sliced them to the bone.”
She turned and stared back at him. “If you can’t respect your mother, you can’t respect yourself,” she said sadly. “I should have kept my mouth shut.”
Why hadn’t she? She used to. Lilly remembered that. The lectures were always lovingly tolerated. She had never snapped at her mother.
Travis shook his head, his hands settling on her shoulders. “She was wrong. Lady Victoria Lillian Harrington didn’t die six years ago.” His head lowered, and the ice that had been forming inside her began to melt. “Six years ago, she was reborn, and knowing the before and after, I have to say I much prefer the version in my arms now.”
His hand smoothed down her hair, his arms held her close. And Lilly realized that in the months since she had awakened with six lost years, no one had held her. No one had hugged her. And no one had said, “Welcome home.”
Chapter 13
she was going to break his heart. Travis had never before seen such tormented emotion on Lilly’s face as when her mother had raged at her.
He’d seen concern in Angelica Harrington’s eyes at other times. He’d seen love on her face. She cared for her daughter, but not to the exclusion of her pride evidently. Or the exclusion of the paparazzi.
Holding Lilly close against him, he couldn’t help but wonder what the hell had truly happened that night in England at the fateful party when Lilly had lost everything important to her.
It had been by sheer luck that Noah had been outside that night and had seen the masked figures loading Lord Harrington and his daughter into the Harrington car.
They hadn’t been able to stop the assailants, and by the time Travis and Noah were able to catch up with them, the car had been flying off the cliff, the explosion ripping through the darkness.
The suspects had raced away, and attempting to save Lilly and her father had been more important than chasing after their murderers.
Hypnosis had gotten them nowhere with Lilly in her attempt to remember who killed her father. As her mother said, she was hardheaded, stubborn. She was willful, but she was a damned good woman and a hell of an agent. She was a woman that cared enough about injustice to fight against it.
“When I was younger, we dressed the same,” Lilly whispered against his chest. “My mother would have my dresses made to match hers for our shopping trips, luncheons. The Queen Mother once told me that I was the perfect lady, and that she was proud to know me.”
Travis bent his head over hers and held her tighter. There was such pain in her voice.
“Jared was always very jealous,” she said. “But he loved me. He and Father would take me hunting and riding with them. They allowed me to go on walks with them in the evenings. We were such a close family. Before Father died. Before I died.”
She pulled away from him and moved toward the bathroom. “I need a shower.”
“I have to connect with Nik tonight,” he told her. “Come with me.”
Surprisingly enough, she shook her head. “I need to shower.”
She needed to think, perhaps.
Travis didn’t want to leave her alone. He could see the emotions tearing through her, feel the tension inside her.
“Santos and Rhiannon met with you and Senator Stanton, Nik, and Noah Blake tonight as well as Jordan Malone,” she stated as she moved to the bathroom. “I was rather surprised that a senator would associate with two high-priced pimps.” She walked into the bathroom and closed the door behind her.
Hell, how had she known about that meeting, and who else knew about it? Travis’s jaw tightened. Seconds later he pushed into the room while she adjusted the water in the shower.
Lilly turned to him, suspicion still roiling through her as she watched the set expression on his face.
“Why don’t you simply tell me what I need to know?” she asked, hearing the chill in her own voice.
She watched as he leaned against the counter, his eyes narrowed on her while the water ran full blast in the shower.