Series: Standalone Novel
Published by Self Published on 3/4/19
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon
There were always whispers about my roommate at Hillcrest Academy.
The wealthiest of the wealthy sent their kids to our boarding school, and Brooke Bennett had been at the top, though I never quite knew why. She was fun and outgoing, but she kept quiet about her family. The only things she showed me were photographs of her brothers.
I became fascinated with her second-oldest brother. Kai Bennett.
He was the most of them all. Smoldering. Hypnotic. Alluring.
Kai had eyes that pulled me in and a face that haunted my dreams.
Then I met him.
He came to our school with their father, and that’s when I learned what kind of family Brooke came from. They were mafia, and Brooke’s oldest brother was dead. Her father said accident, but Brooke said murder.
Three months later, her father died, and Kai became the head of the Bennett Family. Brooke left Hillcrest for good, and that was the last time I saw her.
Fourteen years later, I’m staring at her face on the television. Brooke is missing.
Two days later, Kai Bennett kidnaps me.
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Once our vehicle stopped, both the guards got out and opened our doors.
Tanner put his phone away and sighed. “Don’t try anything, Gone Girl.” He gestured outside. “See all those guys?”
Ten of them got out of the cars and took up positions around the gas station.
“They will surround the station so you can walk free in there, but if you try to make a run for it, they’ve been approved to shoot you.”
My eyes flew back to his.
He seemed smug. “With that said, have fun peeing. Pick anything you want inside and put it on the counter. We’ll foot the bill.” He whistled as he got out on his side. His door closed, and the guard followed him as he went toward the building.
The guard on my side was still waiting. My stomach clenched, but I got out too.
I needed a camera—just one connected online would be enough. As I crossed the parking lot (empty except for our vehicles), I spotted a camera at the corner of the building.
I raised my head so it could get a positive ID.
“It won’t work,” Tanner called from the door. He waved to the camera. “They’re offline. It’s why we come here.”
But there’d be video, at least. Some proof that I’d been here. Blade would find it, eventually.
I stepped inside, and as if hearing my thoughts, Tanner added, “The whole system was shut off before we even pulled in. We called ahead.”
He stopped to look over the magazine rack, pulling out an issue of something that had Brooke’s face on the cover
His mouth tightened. “Go to the bathroom, Riley. I’ll still be here when you’re done.”
He pulled out his phone, so I went ahead. I felt like collapsing on the toilet.
They’d taken my phone. I had no clue if they’d taken my bag too or left it behind in my car. I still didn’t really know how far away we were, but they were driving back roads for a reason.
They were smart, damn smart.
I left the bathroom, and even though I knew they had guards outside, I poked my head around for any escape routes.
There were none. The door that led to the rear of the gas station was kitty-corner to the front desk, and three guards stood in front of it. The clerk was a gangly teenager, standing off to the side by the register. Tanner had placed some water bottles, food, and a few other things on the counter, but the kid wasn’t ringing anything up.
A second later, the bell over the door jingled and an older man entered. He nodded to Tanner and walked around the counter, then did the same to the kid, who looked relieved as he slipped out the front door.
They’d called in the owner, or the manager. Whoever he was, he moved with purpose and familiarity as he began ringing everything up.
Tanner looked over as his phone began ringing. “Get whatever you want, Riley.”
My neck was stiff as I moved toward the beverage aisle. I needed water, food, but I didn’t move far so I could eavesdrop when he answered the phone.
“Yeah?” A pause. “We are.” Another pause. “Will do.”
Well, that was informative.
I shook my head and went to grab everything I needed. I brought a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant, along with water and a couple pieces of fruit, up to the front.
Tanner moved aside as I put them on the counter. “We have all of that for you where we’re going.”
“You didn’t tell me that.” I still pushed them ahead.
It was small, but it was my only way to resist. I didn’t think a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant would break the Bennett bank. They were billionaires.
The owner/manager didn’t meet my gaze as he rang my items up and bagged everything.
Tanner said something to one of the guards, gesturing to me. The guard nodded and moved toward me as Tanner went to the bathroom. I realized the guards were slipping into the bathroom through a back door I’d missed. They were coming in and out in pairs.
They had coordinated all of this to help them as well.
I went to the front door to wait. Two guys moved with me, and it was eerie how two other guys from outside came to stand near the door at the same time. I knew they were talking into mouthpieces, but it just showed how prepared and professional they were. A whole new level of helplessness washed through me, but a surge of anger came right after it too.
I didn’t like this feeling.
My father was powerful too, dangerous, and he’d never had a setup like this. He couldn’t have afforded it. He also didn’t have the need for it. I hated him, but he didn’t have the enemies the Bennett family did. Owning his trucking business wasn’t profitable enough to put him at the billionaire level. Not even close.
“Okay.” Tanner emerged from the bathroom, putting his phone away as he walked toward me. “We’re ready to go.”
I spied one of the men handing an envelope to the owner before picking up all the bags.
I had to admit, I was surprised they didn’t just go in, take what they wanted, and leave. The owner wouldn’t have done anything. No one went against the Bennett family, but he seemed happy as he skimmed through the envelope.
Tanner waited for me outside the vehicle, one of the guards holding the door for me.
I hurried my pace, then cursed myself for doing that. I could walk the speed I wanted to walk. There was a slight breeze in the air. It was usually in the twenties in June around here, but I shivered. The temperature had dipped lower as the sunlight began to wane.
I’d forgotten to look at the time inside.
I’d been so consumed with thinking of escape routes, then watching how the guards were operating, that I completely forgot. But, thinking back, I had taken a step toward the counter, and two guards had moved to intercept me.
They’d planned for that.
It wouldn’t have made a difference.
There had been no clock in the gas station, or I know I would’ve noticed it.
My throat started burning.
They really were prepared for me.
“How many girls do you kidnap?” I yelled to Tanner.
He glanced to me before rounding the back of the SUV. I could see him through the windows.
I snorted as a guard opened the door for me. “Is it a regular thing? Monthly? Bimonthly? Every week? Every few days?”
I didn’t expect a response as I got inside, but I was expecting Tanner to get in with me. I was going to keep taunting—another small point of resistance, the only thing I had going for me at this point.
But he didn’t get in.
His door closed abruptly, and so did mine. My leg had barely cleared the door before it slammed shut, then locked.
I looked around in alarm. I was the only one in the SUV, but they’d locked me in.
“Hey!” I banged on the window. My voice was probably muffled, but they could hear me. Or so I assumed. “Hey!”
No one looked.
Tanner had disappeared from his side.
A complete wall of guards came around my SUV, blocking everything except the little I could see through the gaps between their necks and heads. I moved around, trying to get a better look at what was going on.
I could see Tanner walking toward an empty section of the parking lot. Four guards trailed him, but stood a respectable distance back.
Something was coming.
Someone was coming.
And we didn’t have to wait long.
Three SUVs sped down the highway and turned into the parking lot, parking in front of Tanner with a swirl of dust.
I half expected all the doors to open and guards to emerge, since those looked like the same SUVs as we were traveling with. But they didn’t. The only door that opened was the back door of the second SUV.
Kai Bennett had arrived.