I stood up slowly and turned to face what was behind me.
Three men. Two strangers, one of them with a gun pressed to Donovan’s head. Yeah—like that was going to stop me. The guy could blow his head off for all I cared. The only thing in the world that mattered was lying on the floor behind me.
Something was wrong though. Out of place. A disturbance in the power play that prickled down my spine.
The other stranger stood just apart enough to mark a separation between him and the others. Was he the one in charge, carefully trying to conceal it behind hunched shoulders and downcast eyes?
I caught sight of the phone in his hand when it slid from inside his sleeve and into the palm of his hand. A phone?—for what? He pressed a button and the phone in my pocket vibrated silently a second later.
What the hell? This was the mystery man? Was this his trap, or had he been dragged into the cage as well?
“Now then, Derek,” the one holding the gun drew my attention back to him. “Let me welcome you to my home. My name is Filipe Ruiz. I must say, I’ve been looking forward to meeting you for quite some time.”
“I’m afraid I can’t say the feeling’s mutual.”
He laughed. Or was it a cackle? He stepped closer, forcing Donovan with him. It was strange though that he made no effort to have me pat down for more weapons. Did he really think that gun was the only one I had?
Yes, I realized, he did. It was clear in the surety in his stance. And that was interesting information, indeed.
“Come, you can sample my slaves later. For now, let us have a drink and get to know one another better. James has told me so much about you. He was so determined to have you to himself, but I’m sure you understand I can’t have that.”
Was this asshole for real? There was no fucking way I was letting Scar out of my sight ever again.
I forced my shoulders to relax though and loosened my limbs. Outwardly, I was the pinnacle of calm.
And then I reached for it. I had the other gun out of its holster, in my hand and cocked so fast, the stranger didn’t have time to switch his aim from Donovan to me. The bang of my gun reverberated off the stone walls around us, but Filipe Ruiz didn’t make a sound. He couldn’t. I’d shot him dead center between the eyes. He fell to the ground in a heap of worthless flesh.
The phone in my pocket vibrated against my chest. Another signal?—for what?
“Get away from my merchandise, Derek,” Donovan demanded as he aimed the gun he must have been concealing behind his back.
That’s what mystery man had been trying to signal. The whole fucked up mess crashed down on me in that second. It had all been a lie. The bastard I’d just shot had been nothing more than a decoy. Donovan had known exactly where Scar was from the moment I’d called him because he was the one who had her put here. His own daughter, for fuck’s sake. Maybe not by blood, but it shouldn’t have fucking mattered.
“How could you, you sick fuck?” I seethed as I inhaled rage and it seeped into my cells.
“She’s the spawn of a whore and a traitorous bastard. What other future was there for her? I’d intended to turn her into Marcos’ slave before you came along and fucked up my plan. When he’d used her body in every vile way imaginable…then I was going to reveal the truth to him—that it was his own daughter he’d tortured. Unfortunately, you beat me to it, and Marcos has been resting in hell for some time now, hasn’t he?”
He raised the gun higher and I stared down the barrel. I was going to die, but with my finger on the trigger, so was he. I had to trust that the mystery man who’d helped me get to her would help her get out.
“I loved you,” Scar’s voice spoke from behind me. She was no longer on the ground. It sounded like she was right behind my shoulder. And though her voice was hoarse, it wasn’t weak.
“After the horrible way you treated me, the hell you put me through, I still loved you,” she continued.
And then she shocked the fucking hell out of me.
“I love you,” she whispered, and then the gunshot reverberated off the walls.
With his face contorted in fear and surprise, he fell to the ground. And then so did she.
She wasn’t shot. Donovan hadn’t shot her. His gun had discharged, but the bullet had hit my arm, on the opposite side of where she stood. It hadn’t hit Scar.
She was on her knees, bent over with her arms pressed against her stomach. My heart soared at the demonstration of her strength while at the same time, her hoarse sobs threatened to tear it apart.