He believed her and knew something terrible was about to go down. He’d brought Evie into an ambush and hadn’t had a clue. Some agent he was. “How many men? What’s the plan?”
Tiffany’s smile was sad. “He said to tell you that you began this way, and so you’ll end this way.”
With that, she tugged on the hook, and a black cloth pulled free. A cloth she spread over her entire body.
This way, she’d said. The shoe. The covering. Blue put two and two together.
Heart slamming against his ribs, he shouted, “Bomb!” and whipped around, diving on top of Evie. They crashed onto the ground just as the shoe bomb detonated.
White-hot heat blasted through the room, lifting him up and ripping Evie from his arms. He landed with a horrible smack, his lungs without air. Smoke was so thick he felt as though he were drowning in it. Debris rained in every direction. Pieces of wall here. Computer parts there. Fires, fires everywhere.
Coughing, Blue staggered to his feet. His leg throbbed. He looked down. His pants had been scorched away. A bone protruded through his skin. Whatever. He stumbled through the smoke. “Evie,” he shouted.
Please be all right. Please be all right.
He found her in the next room and fell to his knees at her side. No. No!
She wasn’t all right.
Her body lay at an odd angle, her spine clearly severed. There were gashes on her cheeks, blood all over her beautiful face. One of her eyes was swollen shut. The other was glassed over as it tracked his motions.
“Blue,” she said, and a crimson river flowed from the side of her mouth. “You okay?”
“Shh. Shh. Don’t talk, baby.” He wasn’t too late. He could fix this. He had to fix this.
He ripped apart what remained of her shirt and flattened both of his hands on her chest, then closed his eyes. In his mind, he saw his very essence sweeping through her, through blood and muscle and bone, trading what remained of his health for every one of her injuries.
Inside, he felt his cells bursting, his tissues ripping, his bones snapping. It hurt. Oh, it hurt. Then his legs went numb. His arms stopped working. His heart stuttered into a warped beat as if it had been nailed into his chest wall by his ribs and couldn’t escape. He fell to the side, barely able to breathe.
Because, a second later, Evie sat up. The swelling had left her face. The gashes had stitched together. She looked over at him and cried out with dismay.
“Blue! No, no, no.” She pressed her fingers into the pulse of his neck. “What did you do? Why did you do it? You idiot! I will never forgive you or myself if something happens to you.”
“Well, I for one am glad he did it.” Tyson Star stomped into the room, the smoke parting as he pointed a gun at her face.
A roar brewed in the back of Blue’s throat, but he was too weak to release it. He tried to gather the strength to put himself in front of Evie, to shield her, but he couldn’t. Frustration and fury battled for supremacy.
“Stand up, Miss Black,” Tyson commanded. He had two black eyes and a cut in the center of his nose.
Courtesy of his last run-in with Evie?
“No,” she said with a shake of her head. She raked her gaze over Blue, as if she meant to start tending him here and now, despite their audience. “I have to—”
“Evangeline,” Blue gasped. “Please. Do what he says.” In a few hours Blue would heal. Maybe faster, if he could get his hands on someone. Someone healthy, that is. Blue could drain their strength, taking it into himself as easily as he’d taken Evie’s injuries. All she had to do was stay alive until then. Once he was strong enough, he would tear Star’s world apart and she would never be threatened again.
Tyson switched his aim, the barrel now pointed at Blue. “Listen to your man before I kill him.”
Evie jumped to her feet. “Okay. Okay. I’m up. But you listen to me, you miserable little worm. Anything you do to him, I will remember and I will revisit upon you a thousand times worse.”
He smiled smugly. “Dead women can’t follow through with their threats.”
Four men marched into the room. One carried an uninjured Tiffany. The other three were empty-handed.
“Where’s the father?” Tyson snapped, the smugness gone. “Michael Black.”
“Either his body is buried under the rubble or he was able to run. Again.”
As he pondered what to do, Tyson flicked the tip of his tongue over an incisor. “Two of you search the surrounding area. If he’s out there, he’s injured. There will be a blood trail. I don’t want to leave anything to chance. Not this time.”
Two of the men rushed out.
To the remaining, empty-handed guard, he said, “Carry the football player to the van.” He glared at Evie and grinned. “I’ll take care of the girl.”
EVIE WOKE UP TIED to a bed.
Her first reaction was confusion. Then memories surfaced. She had been with Blue, and he had been on the phone with Gregory Star. Tiffany had cried, and there had been an explosion. Evie had been hurt, unable to move. Dying. Cold, so cold. Then Blue had loomed over her, and heat had filled her, and the pain had vanished. Yet he’d fallen over, suddenly pallid, his features pinched with pain.
She wasn’t sure what happened. Unless . . . he took her injuries into himself?
Maybe. The wonderful, beautiful idiot!
Then Tyson appeared.
He must have drugged her. She fought as a large male hefted Blue over his shoulder, unconcerned about the warrior’s broken spine. A hard hand pressed a cloth into her nose, and her body went lax. Darkness descended.
Now her fight-or-flight response kicked in, and, as always, fight won. She jerked against her bonds until the skin on her wrists and ankles was shredded and blood dripped from the wounds.
Not helping the situation, girl.
Panting, she sagged against the mattress. Took stock. She was trapped in a room of utter luxury. There was a chandelier overhead, thousands of crystals glinting in the light. The walls were papered with slightly yellowed lace. Clearly an older home. In the Western district, maybe. An affluent “don’t ask, don’t tell” part of town.
The door opened, hinges groaning, and Tyson strolled in. He wore a business suit and had his hair slicked back, not a strand out of place. His gaze immediately sought her. “Good. You’re awake.”
Anger rocked her. “Where’s Blue?”
“What? No worry for your father? We haven’t yet found him, you know, so half of our forces are out there looking. But don’t get any ideas about trying to escape while we’re so divided,” he rushed to add, realizing he’d said more than he should. “As weak and puny as you are, you’ll never be able to take on all of us.”