Kiaransalee Scott’s car sped down the country road in the black of the October night. Her headlights were off, for she did not need them, she knew the road well.
She was on the run.
She stared out of the windshield as if in a daze, her dark green eyes not blinking. Yet her mind was racing. How many times, she could not count, in the past had she been forced to run? Not from the police. NEVER from the police; in fact, she had once, a lifetime ago, worked with the police. That was the past that so often came back to haunt her, and would force her to run.
But this time.. this time had taken such a twist that, even in the years she’d worked as a professional assassin, a career she had given up fifteen years ago, she did not know what to do now. Always before she had been able to come up with an answer for any situation, because she could close off personal feelings. But now, personal feeling were what it was all about. She had found them to be her weakness. She had no battle plan, no knowledge of how to fight them, and the only answer to them was to run.
Since she had abandoned being an assassin, she had moved from town to town, staying in one place until a hint of her past became known to someone, and again she would have to move on. Even though she was no longer a professional killer, she could not afford for anyone to find out about what she used to do. It was still dangerous. It would always be dangerous. And most people would not like the idea of an ex-assassin living in their town. Kia still kept up with all of her training, although until recently, she had not used it.
When Inspector O’Shay had come to her and told her about the situation regarding her friend, she had not a moment’s doubt about agreeing to help. She was living in the quiet little coastal town of Bayport, and had been there for about five years, the longest she had ever managed to stay in one place. Everyone in the little town knew her and loved her. They thought she was a quiet, intellectual writer, living in the little white house on the cliff overlooking the ocean. They knew nothing of her past. Todd was the only person who might even have had a hint, since he had been her best friend since she’d moved to the town. But she took great care to ensure he knew nothing solid. They were very close as friends. There was nothing romantic between them, and Kia had never entertained such thoughts, at least not until about a year ago, when in the middle of a night, a terrible and wonderful dream had jolted her from sleep and she had realized the truth of her feelings.
Knowing the truth brought her only despair. Part of her old life, of being an assassin, still lived within her, even though she had given up the life. Back in those days, she had never allowed anyone to get close to her, and she had never allowed her feelings to get out of control for anyone, as a result of which, to this day she had had only one intimate relationship, which had occurred before she’d begun her murderous career. Since that long ago day, Kia had walked alone, able to make friends, but keep them at a distance.
Often she would feel regret, and she had felt that constantly since having that dream, its sharp stabbing pain wracking her anytime she laid eyes on Todd. Why she could not brush the feelings aside as she had always done, she did not know, and she had started to avoid Todd.
Inspector O’Shay had known of her back when she worked for the police and the FBI, and he had kept track of her through her wanderings since she’d left the job. He had come to her four months ago and told her that Todd was in danger. He had a brother, Eric, who was heavily involved in drugs, and he owed money to a large drug gang ring who had already managed to kill quite a few people, and had given the police the slip. Eric had managed to disappear somehow, and the gang had decided to go after him.. through his brother, Todd.
It was familiar territory to Kia. She had dealt with drug rings many times in her old career. Regardless of what the public thought, the police generally preferred these gangs and their leaders to be caught dead. They always got out of jail too quickly and would return to their old habits of dealing and killing and destroying lives. Kia never had a second’s hesitation about agreeing to help O’Shay eliminate the gang, because they were going after Todd.
She had quietly put her old talents, and a few new ones, to work, and behind the back of everyone in town, including Todd, she tracked down and killed all but one of the seven gang members. The leader eluded her for a little longer.
Kia clenched her hands on the steering wheel as the memories of that night flooded her mind. She had caught the leader in Todd’s house, barely in time to stop him from torturing Todd, who was already tied up. As always she had been masked, but in the scuffle she’d been in with the gang leader, he had pulled her ski mask off her face, just before she delivered a crushing blow to the back of bahis firmaları his skull with the butt of her gun, dropping him to the floor, and had looked up from the limp body to meet Todd’s shocked blue gaze.
How she managed not to break down from the emotions that surged through her at his gaze she never knew. She had cut his bonds, told him to flee, and had fled herself.
She knew she had not killed the gang leader, but she had assumed the police would reach the house in time. But they had not. He was gone by the time O’Shay got there.
She had quickly prepared to leave town, but O’Shay had caught up to her first and told her the situation had changed. He wanted both her and Todd to go into hiding, since her cover was now blown. But there was no way Kia was going to face Todd again, not loving him as she did, and he now knowing she was a monster. She told O’Shay to get Todd into hiding, but she would take care of herself. O’Shay had tried to force her, which of course had not worked; Kia easily gave the inspector the slip and ran.
But someone was on her trail. She knew that. She had seen the tail a couple of times in her mirror on the long ride since leaving town. Both times she had lost it, but that meant nothing; it could pick her trail up again.
She had hundreds of old hideouts from her old life, which no one knew about except Todd, and he knew them as “vacation spots.” And he didn’t know all of them. She would hide until she knew O’Shay had gotten Todd safely hidden, and then she would finish the job.
And then she would leave again, she suddenly realized, and was shocked at the intense, painful wave of feeling that rushed through her at the thought. She almost choked, gripping the wheel hard, and only with great effort, managed to collect herself. She would finish this, she would move on, and she would never see Todd again. In time, it would not hurt so much.
Had she known who was really on her tail, the pain would have transformed into real panic.
Todd watched the tail lights of Kia’s car, far in the distance, careful not to follow close enough to make her suspicious. He knew where she was going, thanks to O’Shay managing to hack into Kia’s computer at her house, finding her hideout locations.
After Kia gave the inspector the slip, O’Shay had found Todd and had sat him down for a very long talk, which Todd would never forget. By the end of it, Todd knew about Kia’s life as a professional assassin. And he knew it was her who had kept him and his brother alive.
Since Kia had moved to Bayport, Todd had enjoyed her friendship immensely. Kia was a good friend, with a good sense of humor, and seemed to know so many things. She and Todd went to the town picnics and gatherings together when he did not have a date. She went alone when he did have one, because she did not date. With her dark green eyes, small, slender figure, and tailbone length cinnamon colored hair, there were many guys in town who pushed to date her, but she turned them all down with good natured grace.
Todd himself had never asked to date her; she was a friend. He felt dating would ruin that. But oddly enough, while he never thought of starting anything romantic with her, he started dating a lot less the more he got to know Kia. His girlfriends did not like the time he spent with her, and the good times they had, and he was more than happy to stop dating someone to keep Kia in his life.
When all the trouble had started, O’Shay had told Todd they had someone working to get the gang arrested or eliminated, of course not telling him who. But until the leader broke into his house and tied him up, he’d never seen this undercover agent, until a black clothed, masked figure crashed through his living room window and attacked the gang leader. When the mask came off and he saw her face, and then saw her crush the man’s skull with the butt of a semi automatic, Todd’s heart had fallen into his stomach, and had stayed there.
After Kia ran, and the inspector found Todd, O’Shay told him everything, and had stunned Todd by asking him to go after Kia.
“The police won’t be able to catch her,” he had said. “She’s the best assassin in the business, even now, and she knows every trick there is to know. But you know her more personally. You might be able to pin her down and keep her in hiding with you. If you don’t, this gang leader is likely to find her and kill her.”
And without a moment’s hesitation, Todd had agreed.
Now, driving the car that O’Shay had provided for him, after covering nearly 150 miles in the chase so far, Todd was still trying to sort through his confused feelings. He had always known there was more to Kia than she told anyone. There had to be more to her than just writing novels and pruning roses in her garden with her hair flowing down her back; she had too much fire and spirit to be only that. For the past couple of years, attempts to get her to talk about her past always failed.
And when, a year and kaçak iddaa a half ago, he’d realized his feelings toward her had changed, he had tried harder, to no avail, to get her to open up. He had never figured out what those feelings for her were, until three nights ago when she had saved him from the gang leader.
The minute that mask was off her, Todd had experienced a feeling he had never had before in his life. And what O’Shay had told him made it much worse. She was a hunting cat, and she had blood on her hands, and she had saved his life and his brother’s. Those truths had ignited a raging fire deep inside of him that he knew was not going to go out, and he was desperate to catch her. That she was a killer did not offend him in the least; every time he thought of it, his cock swelled until he thought it would burst. He knew now he had wanted more than her friendship for months, and now he was going to get it from her.
But first he had to catch her, and get her to the safe house O’Shay had provided for them both.
O’Shay had told him of her talents, and they had found the weapons cache hidden in her house, many of which were missing.
“She won’t turn on you,” O’Shay had told Todd. When Todd gave him a skeptical look, O’Shay informed him that there were rules, even for assassins. One of Kia’s rules that she had stuck to no matter what was that she would never hurt anyone she loved, which was why she never let anyone close to her.
“She slipped up with you,” O’Shay said. Todd had been confused at that statement, and O’Shay said, “She said she would never go back to the business except to save someone she loved.”
Todd had not believed that, until O’Shay hacked into Kia’s computer. She had kept a diary. He found out she had fallen in love with him a year ago, and the diary was full of her desperate search to keep it hidden from him.
Todd saw the turnoff that would allow him to circle around to where he now knew she was headed, a deserted warehouse in the middle of nowhere. He took the turn and increased his speed, knowing he had to get there before she did.
Kia arrived at the warehouse on foot, having hidden her car in the nearby woods. The place was still deserted. She quickly checked the surrounding area, then shimmied up the dead telephone pole and swung over to the upper floor window. It was closed and locked, but that was not a problem for someone who could pick any lock ever made. She never went anywhere without her tools.
Once inside, she sighed in relief. This place was safe. It had no power, but the outside moon shone in, giving her barely enough light to see that the place was deserted, except for a few stacks of long forgotten boxes that had always been there.
She eased silently around the catwalk to the ladder that led down to the main floor of the warehouse. There was an office down there. Without a sound she slid down the ladder, not using the rungs.
When she turned around, she couldn’t hold back a gasp of shock and dismay. Standing a few yards behind her, not in reaching distance, was Todd. How the hell had he gotten here ahead of her? How the hell had he known where she was going?
Her blood ran cold as she met his blue eyes, the eyes that had always been light and laughing. They were dark and quiet now, and they stared at her with an intensity that burned straight through her. Her stomach started to do weird things, and she was suddenly afraid, not of Todd, but of the feelings coursing through her. Her assassin’s control seemed to have deserted her. She was not sure how to deal with this.
“What are you doing here?” she said in a very low voice, not quite a whisper. “You should be in hiding.”
“So should you,” Todd replied, also quietly, in a rough voice that she’d never heard from him before.
She narrowed her eyes as a sudden suspicion flowered in her mind. “You can’t be telling me that O’Shay sent you after me.”
She hissed angrily, like a cat. Todd’s lower belly melted. He wanted nothing more than to grab her, but O’Shay had warned him not to use force yet. Todd did not know how to fight like Kia did.
“Fool,” she snapped. “That gang leader could be trailing me. Do you want to get us both killed?”
“No,” Todd replied, still in a calm and quiet voice. “That’s why you’re going to come with me.”
Kia’s eyes widened. She tried to slip into the cold, calm control that was so necessary to her survival, to let animal instinct take over. But something else, also animalistic, was ruling her, and it was not what she would call control. It was something she could not name, something that flared to pain when she looked into his eyes, mingled with fear.
Todd never took his eyes from hers. In the dim light, he could see the struggle she was engaged in. The pain, the burning desire, and intense regret in her eyes could not be denied. But he had to stay controlled.
Before he knew what was happening, Kia had a knife in her hand. She kaçak bahis had pulled it so fast he hadn’t even comprehended it. But he was not afraid. He knew she would not use that knife against him.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” she said, and he heard her voice shake. “Everything I did in the past four months was to keep you safe. Don’t make me.”
“I’m not,” he answered. “You won’t use that knife against me, Kia.”
“Don’t be so sure,” she snarled, but she didn’t sound convincing, even to herself. “I’m not going into hiding with you. I don’t need to hide. But you do.”
“We have a better chance if we’re both in hiding,” Todd told her, repeating O’Shay’s words.
“I can lead him away from you,” she said.
“Or he could come right to me,” Todd quickly added. “Do you want to risk that?”
He saw her flinch, and then steady herself. “I know O’Shay has another on the trail. You’ll be safe, if you go in hiding.”
“But you won’t,” Todd said.
“Yes, I will. You don’t know…”
“Yes, I do know,” Todd interrupted her. “O’Shay told me everything. And so did your computer.”
Her eyes widened in shock, and she slowly lowered the knife. “What are you talking about?” she said in a terrified whisper. “What do you know?”
Todd took a step toward her, and she took one back. “O’Shay told me about your old career,” he said. His voice also dropped to a whisper. “And the diary on your computer told me everything else.”
Kia’s heart froze as she realized what he was saying, that all her defenses were gone. He knew she would not hurt him.
He knew she had loved him for over a year.
Kia turned and in two steps was at the ladder. Grabbing hold, she started up, but before she got more than three rungs high, she felt a sharp pain in her right thigh, the pain that she instantly recognized as a needle. O’Shay had provided Todd with a weapon she had not thought of.
And it was fast. Three seconds after the stab, darkness took her completely.
Todd quickly dropped the needle and caught Kia as she fell backwards from her grip on the ladder, saving her from falling to the floor. Holding her tiny frame in his arms, he swallowed hard, trying to control himself. He pulled the black knit cap off her head, and her long braid fell free. He buried his face in her sweet smelling hair, and for a crazy moment, he almost laid her down to do all the things he’d been wanting to do to her.
The moment passed. He would not take advantage of her while she was unconscious. He had to move fast anyway, the drug would not last long, and he had to get her to the safe house before she came around.
Kia woke up, slowly at first, but it didn’t take long for memory to assault her. She sat bolt upright, shaking off the groggy feeling from the drug.
She was lying on a bed in a plain wooden room, and she saw it was a log cabin. There was one window in the room, and she instantly noted it had bars outside the glass. She could see lots of trees outside, in fact, trees were all she could see. The bed she was on was the only furniture in the room.
She was still wearing her black T-shirt and jeans, but her cap was gone and her hair was not in a braid anymore; it flowed freely down her back. She quickly assessed that her gun and her knives were gone. Her boots had been taken off of her.
So this must be the safe house O’Shay had arranged. And then she suddenly realized that Todd had to be here too. The door to the room she was in was closed.
She lay down to think, but her mind was still fuzzy, and she still had the hot feeling in her stomach and weakness in her legs, which got worse when she thought of Todd. She did not want to be here with him. She didn’t want to see him again, the cause of the heat and the weakness, that there was no relief for, that she could not give in to, because it was not safe. She wanted to move on, to another place, and start over. What she really wanted was to track down the gang leader and kill him.
But she had no weapons, even though she knew they were useless against Todd. Damn me and my code, she thought. She had to find a way out of here, but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the window was the only way out, and without her tools, which were also gone, that route was also closed off. It was late afternoon, almost dusk, outside.
It looked like she had no choice but to try and sneak past Todd. Praying he was asleep in another room, and she could slip out, she opened the door.
It opened into a large room, with a table in one corner surrounded by a few hard backed chairs, a fireplace that was dark, and Todd, sitting in a rocker, right in front of the door, reading a book. He looked up, and her hopes of sneaking out died quickly. She noted another door in the wall, just to her right.
“It’s the bathroom,” said Todd, reading her mind. “Don’t bother. There’s no way out from there either.”
She looked back at him and steeled herself. He remained seated, but his eyes were locked on her face, and that frightening intensity was still there, and she didn’t know what it meant. She had never seen him look like that, and she was convinced that he now hated her, knowing her past.