Black Jack (Elite Ops 4)

Page 89

“Let’s say he’s at the top of the list,” Travis answered. “We’re focusing on him.”
Lilly felt her heart clench at the thought. “Father trusted him. He loved him.”
“The ones we trust the most are often the ones who will betray us first,” he said, gently. “Whoever it is, Lilly, whatever their motive, they meant to see you dead. Today made the fourth attempt on your life, and this one was professionally contracted.”
“How did they find us?” She frowned in confusion, still trying to figure that one out. “My cell was turned off. I didn’t contact anyone. How did they find me?”
“You could have been followed,” he answered softly. “Several of the assailants were in your uncle’s employ. Any one of them could have followed you to the safe house, then returned. It could have taken time to call the others together, to plan a reasonably successful assault. Two days isn’t much time to plan the assassination of four women. One of whom was known to be able to take care of her herself quite well.”
“You could have planned and executed that one within hours,” she pointed out.
“But I’m better than they are.” He chuckled.
Lilly allowed a small smile to touch her lips, but she couldn’t bring herself to laugh.
“They’re my family,” she whispered. “My mother and brother, my uncle. They’re all I’ve ever known for love and security. What the hell happened, Travis?”
He breathed out heavily. “As long as you were the child you were supposed to be, then you were well loved,” he told her. “Perhaps it’s that society, that generation, or just that small clique. I’m more inclined to say it’s a very small clique that believes in committing a child for daring to have free will. Most parents suffer the minor embarrassments and disappointments as a part of life.”
She let her head fall back against the wall behind her and stared up at the dark ceiling.
“Mother never showed me this side of herself. Not to this extent.”
“Or your father never let you see it?” Travis suggested. “He tried to protect you.”
“Maybe.” She moved to swing her legs off the bed but he stretched his arm across her thighs and held her in place.
She was suddenly very conscious of the thin robe and her nudity beneath it. The shower she’d had earlier had done nothing to still the nervous tension racing through her.
She’d wanted to run. She wanted to fight. She wanted to find a place to expend the fury inside her before she was forced to return to the house her uncle had rented for the summer.
“Travis, now isn’t a good time.” She still hadn’t managed to forgive him for his absence.
He chuckled lightly. “Bullshit, Lilly. You have all that energy dying to burst free and I’ll be damned if I didn’t miss you like hell.”
“Oh yeah, you missed me so much,” she mocked him. “All those phone calls, checking up on me, phone sex at one in the morning. It was so much fun.”
She pushed against his shoulder, but not really with enough force to dislodge him. When it came to Travis, saying no wasn’t an easy thing to do.
“There was phone sex? Was it good?” Dark, roughened by arousal, his voice whispered across her senses like a velvety caress.
“It would have been if it had been more than simply in my dreams,” she bit out, clearly remembering the anger and fear that had torn through her when she realized she was only days away from being committed.
“I wouldn’t have allowed you to be taken from me like that, Lilly,” he said gently, as though he knew exactly what she thought, what she felt.
“You couldn’t have stopped it. You weren’t here, remember?” she pointed out angrily.
“Lilly, I didn’t leave you unprotected.”
“I protected myself.” She pushed at his shoulder harder this time. “Let me go, Travis. This discussion is becoming boring.”
“Then get unbored.” His voice was harder, though no less sexy. “I didn’t betray you, Lilly, nor did I let you down.”
“You weren’t there,” she snapped furiously. “You didn’t even tell me you were leaving, Travis.”
“Dammit, Lilly, it was a quick trip out. I should have been back before the next night. My sat phone was damaged or I would have gotten your message and returned faster.”
“So what is this relationship then? Or is it not even a relationship? Friends with benefits? Fuck buddies? What, Travis? Tell me the rules now so I at least know what to expect the next time you decide to disappear for however long.”