I was vaguely aware of Liam calling my name over and over, his voice panicked when I didn’t answer. Gretchen and I stared each other down, the barrel of her gun and the promise in her eyes was crystal clear. My jaw tightened as I read that intent.
“Liam, I love you,” I said, hanging up and cutting off his questions. Tears stung my eyes, my throat tightened as I thought of the idea of never seeing him again. I had a feeling this time wouldn’t be like the others. She wouldn’t just hold me captive and I wouldn’t just escape. No. She was going to kill me now.
“How sweet,” she crooned, taking in my miserable expression. “Then again, goodbyes are always bittersweet, aren’t they. That sting you feel, that tightness in your chest? That’s how I felt when Liam chose you over me. Me. I’ve loved him all this time and he wanted you. ” I was frozen as she took a deep breath, steadied herself, and met my eyes with a gaze so cold she could’ve frozen Hell. “But I’m going to make it all better tonight. There’s no escaping me now, Yvonne.” And after those words, she fired the gun right at me.
He had found Yvonne’s location. The man who could locate anyone or anything had finally found her. Liam was a bundle of nerves. He knew Gretchen was already with her. And he knew Yvonne was in danger. And he knew he had to protect her. It was his job to stand in between her and whatever danger forced itself her way. Even at the price of his own life.
The whole team was there, walking through the woods and looking for the old house Yvonne had described.
“How long?” Liam asked the man.
“Five minutes,” the man replied, never looking back as he led the way quickly. Five minutes. All he needed was five minutes. He prayed Yvonne could hold on until then. He continued through the forest, the two men who were like brothers at his side as Yvonne’s face and the panicked way she’d said she loved him before she hung up ripped through his mind like a hurricane.
I dodged the shot she fired at me, using the counter where the phone sat as my cover. By now I knew Liam, Lucas and maybe even Ryan were on their way. I just had to hold my own a little longer. Lucky for me, my father had taught me the basics of self defense. If I could just get the gun away from Gretchen I knew I’d have a better advantage over her.
I could hear the sound of her shoes clacking softly on the polished wooden floor. I stayed crouched, not even daring to breathe as she got closer.
“I already know you’re there, Yvonne,” she said mockingly. “Don’t you know you’re just prolonging the inevitable? If you come out now, I promise you it’ll be quick.” And then her leg came into view. I grabbed it without hesitation, earning a surprised shriek from her. I yanked her leg, knocking her off balance. The sound of the gun skidding across the room and out of Gretchen’s hands was like music to my ears.
I scrambled to get to my feet, making a run for the gun. Gretchen grunted and stumbled to her feet. I was almost to the gun when Gretchen tackled me, knocking both of us to the ground. I reached for the gun. It was only a few inches away. Gretchen was reaching for it too. I stopped reaching and threw my elbow back, hitting her in the nose. She fell back, her weight on my back removed. I hurriedly grabbed the gun and turned quickly to face her, pointing it directly at her.
“What are you gonna do, shoot me?” she asked, holding her nose. Blood was seeping from her nose and dripping onto her expensive coat.
“I will if I have to,” I responded calmly, getting to my feet slowly. She laughed, her eyes gleaming with malice.
“Why don’t you, then?” Gretchen asked.
“I don’t kill people for no reason,” I told her, still holding the gun steadily. “I’m not you.” Her eyes gleamed and then they focused on something behind me. I was tempted to turn around, but then it occurred to me she was probably trying to trick me.
Then, there was a hand on mine, lowering the gun. My heart leaped at the familiar warmth that spread through my body. I knew who was standing next to me without even looking at him. But still I had to see his face. My eyes met eyes so blue, I felt like I could drown in them.
“Liam,” I whispered, leaning forward. He wrapped his arms around me and everything around us seemed to melt away. He held my face in his hands and kissed me. A kiss so full of passion and longing, I was breathless. When we finally broke the kiss, he hugged me tightly. My eyes met Gretchen’s. She was handcuffed and being shoved into a police cruiser. She was clearly crying as she was loaded into the car. Twenty percent of me felt bad for her, the other eighty percent wanted to flip her off. As Liam held me closer, I knew I was finally safe again.