Violence and anger blossomed inside of him. Ever since he’d first seen her, possessiveness had rushed through him, one that rivaled anything else he had ever known.
He ran a hand over his mouth as he watched her step out of Millian’s embrace and look over her shoulder. Their eyes locked, and once again, he felt heat course through him, along with a need to protect her and keep her safe.
He tried to clear his erratic thoughts, knowing they would only end up causing them both a lot of grief in the end.
“Mr. Mack, Mr. McCarthy would like to speak with you privately,” one of the security guards for Edward’s estate said.
He stepped inside and followed the guard, watching as Theo steered Neeka in the other direction. He gritted his teeth as he watched Theo’s hand press against the small of her back. She looked over her shoulder again, but it was short lived as Theo turned to look at him, urging her forward.
The smile he gave Gage had this tightness setting in his spine.
He willed himself to stay steady, knowing that Neeka and he had been explosive together, that something like that couldn’t be ignored. But he also needed to remember this was all a mission and she wasn’t his.
They rounded a corner and disappeared from his vision, and he clenched his fists at his sides. He turned his attention forward again and followed the man into the same bedroom he’d met with Edward that very first day.
“Charles, please leave us. I’d like to speak alone with Mr. Mack,” Edward said to the guard. Once alone Edward breathed out. “I want to thank you personally, Mr. Mack. Although I didn’t doubt your abilities, I always had that fear inside of me that I would never see my daughter again.” He reached for his handkerchief and coughed into it before continuing.
“It took longer than it should, sir.”
Edward shook his head. “I’m grateful. She’s home, and that’s what matters. You brought my daughter back, and for that I can’t thank you enough. I will eternally be in your debt.”
Gage watched as Edward McCarthy reached a skinny hand toward his bedside table and pulled out a thick, white envelope from the drawer. He held it out, and Gage walked closer, taking the envelope and looking at its contents.
Hundred dollar bills lay inside, so many that Gage didn’t doubt there were thousands upon thousands of dollars within it.
“I can’t take this, Mr. McCarthy. You’ve already paid an exorbitant amount to my organization.”
“That isn’t for them. It’s for you.”
Gage shook his head and laid the envelope on the desk. “I thank you, Mr. McCarthy, but no extra payment is required. It was my duty to bring your daughter back.”
Edward looked like he might argue, but then his frail shoulders slumped and he nodded.
“Well, once again, I can’t tell you how thankful I am. I know I can speak for everyone here when I say that. I know Theo is ecstatic to have Neeka back.”
“He seemed like it.” Gage hadn’t meant to say anything, and certainly hadn’t meant to have the annoyance dripping from his words.
“Yes, well, Theo loves my daughter very much.”
“Does he?” Gage should have just kept his mouth shut, but when it came to Neeka, it seemed he couldn’t keep his fucking mouth shut. It was like it was instinct.
“Yes, well, I’m sure you are a busy man and have other things to do, but once again, I owe you my life for bringing her back.” Edward paused a moment before his face turned like stone. “I want to know who took my daughter and why so I can have them killed.”
Gage would have no problem telling Edward everything, and the fact he’d been betrayed by Rye.
Gage showed himself to the front door, gripping the handle and standing there for a suspended moment. McCarthy had wanted to know everything, and Gage had obliged him. It didn’t make a difference, anyway.
If he or his organization couldn’t immediately locate Rye’s coordinates, there was no way McCarthy would.
He could hear Neeka’s soft voice murmuring through the foyer, could practically smell her intoxicating scent surround him. Just as he was about to pull the door open, her voice stopped him.
“You’re leaving without saying goodbye?”
He turned and looked at her. “I didn’t want to interrupt you.” She smiled up at him, but it didn’t really reach her eyes.
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you, Gage.” She moved closer to him until they stood toe-to-toe. He wanted to touch her, but he clenched his hands at his sides and didn’t move. But she shocked the hell out of him by wrapping her arms around his waist, and laying her head on his chest.
She lifted her head and looked into his face, her big blue eyes gazing at him with such intensity.