My instinct was to lie and tell him I hadn’t come running in the first place. But I couldn’t. Because that’s exactly what I’d done. It didn’t matter how much I liked last night . . . I had been weak. But I wasn’t going to delude myself into considering the possibility of there being more.
“Well, I guess this is good-bye, then,” I said, but he didn’t move from the doorway.
“Talk to me, Emma.” He uncrossed his arms and skimmed his palms down my arms. My stupid body instantly responded and goose bumps broke out.
“Please,” I whispered. “Let me by.”
I watched his chest rise on a deep breath as he stepped aside.
“Thank you,” I whispered and my hand reached out to skim across his stomach as I passed.
As I walked away, I felt his gray eyes watch me and something very sharp, very hollow jabbed my chest from the inside. And it stung more than that damn blade Castor had stabbed me with ten years ago.
“Want a refill, sweetie?” the bartender screamed over the loud booming music of the club. It was packed. The flickering lights and headache-inducing bass were almost more than I could stomach after the day I had had.
“Yeah, one more.”
He set about to make me a fresh drink as I looked around for the millionth time, searching for Ben. He should be here by now.
After leaving Rhys, I spent the next several hours packing and cleaning up the apartment. I left a message for Megan, letting her know I’d be out of town. She was somewhere between Greece and Rome, so I didn’t expect to hear back anytime soon.
I also called Adam to check in. He seemed preoccupied and I was grateful I didn’t have to go into more details other than that I was “traveling” again. I had packed a bag back at the apartment, leaving it by the front door, ready to go. I just needed to get my money and, if my luck held out, I would be on the next flight to anywhere but here before Mase even caught on.
“Here you go. It’s on the house.” The bartender winked and I tilted my glass in thanks.
Taking a sip, I looked around again. Seriously, where the hell was Ben? This place was equal distance between the apartment and his office. Not my ideal place to meet, but crowds meant safety and huge crowds made it easy to weave in and out unseen.
I took another sip and — damn these drinks were strong. I was only on my second and felt way more drunk then I should.
My cell beeped with a new text message. I pulled it out of my pocket and read it. From Ben, telling me he couldn’t make it after all tonight.
Which meant no money.
Just as I tried to form a plan B, black dots covered my vision and the feel of total inebriation flooded me full force.
“This isn’t right,” I mumbled to myself. I could hold my liquor better than most men. Something was off . . .
My head snapped up and scanned the room. Wall-to-wall people, dancing, laughing. Their faces blurring together until all I saw were sets of eyes. My vision wavered a little and I looked down at my drink and brought it to my nose to smell it.
“Oh God . . .”
I blinked wildly and spun in my stool. I scanned the room and saw . . .
On the other side of the club, sitting in a booth and merely watching me. Waiting. Like a vulture. His dark angry glare zeroed in on me as a sick smile spread his face. Slicked-back hair matched his black goatee and weathered skin. He rose from the booth and slowly made his way toward me.
My brain refused to clear, instead, the haze that was engulfing my senses only took me under further. I was slipping. Losing my mind. My ability to function. The need to close my eyes, to fall asleep, for just a second, overwhelmed me.
The ass**le had roofied me.
Panic was rising. I did the one thing I hadn’t done since I was young. I called out for help.
No one spared me a glance. I palmed my throat, wondering if the music was too loud or maybe I wasn’t screaming enough? So I tried again.
I attempted to move, to stand, but my legs wobbled and my head spun. All I saw were flashes of Mase. Coming closer.
Soul-shattering fear spread from my chest to every part of my body. This was it. Soon, he’d be right next to me, grab me, take me. And I couldn’t fight. Could barely keep myself awake.
The chase was over and he would win. What he would do with me, though, had yet to be determined. The thought of what he was capable of sent another slap of fear racing, giving me enough of an adrenaline boost to try one more time to run. But instead of fleeing, I stumbled and some woman cursed at me for being a drunk bitch and stepping on her shoe.
“Not drunk,” I said. “Need help.” I tugged her arm and she pushed me off.
I gripped the bar to support myself.
Large hands closed around my shoulders and I screamed, at least I tried.
With the last alertness I had, I looked up to find Rhys, holding me.
“Please!” I gripped his shirt in my fists and faced him so he could see my lips move. I might not have been making much sound, but I used the last consciousness I had to speak. “Please, Rhys. He’s coming for me. Don’t let him take me . . . he’ll kill me.”
I clutched Rhys the best I could and his fierce gray eyes were the last thing I saw before my whole world went dark.
My head was pounding and my body hurt like I had the world’s worst hangover.
The club — Mase — came rushing to my memory.
My eyes shot open despite the screaming in my skull, and I patted down my body. I was dressed in the same clothes and lying down on “the cloud.” The same one I remembered waking up on before. Second time this week I’d ended up in Rhys’s bed.
“Rhys?” I called out, but my throat was scratchy and dry and it came out more as a whisper.
“I’m here, Emma.” He sat on a chair near the edge of the bed. His big palm was warm as it enclosed mine.
I sat up and he handed me a glass of water. I took it, my hand shaking as I drained the contents.
Wiping my lips with the back of my free hand, I couldn’t get a handle on my trembling body. That had been so close. Too close. Mase could have stashed me anywhere in God knew what kind of condition.
Tears burned behind my eyes but thankfully, the ducts wouldn’t produce enough for me to cry. That didn’t stop a painful sob from trying to sneak up and break open my throat.
“Shhh, it’s okay,” Rhys said, sitting on the bed. He wrapped me in his arms. “You’re safe.”
“I called out for help,” I whispered, so ashamed because I knew better. No one had listened.