Escaping too You ~book 3

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Chapter twenty-seven

As soon as the wheels touched the tarmac in New York, that tether between Ryann and I was stronger than ever. I could sense she needed me, that, or I’ve been away from her for too long. Hell, being away from Ryann for twenty minutes is too fucking too long. So, a day and a half feels like a fucking eternity. But when I attempted to get ahold of her after landing, her phone went straight to voicemail. Which only amplified my need to get to the fucking condo, tenfold.

Travis called Samuel to get an update and to find out why Ryann’s phone was off. He assured us that she was sitting in the alcove of our bedroom reading and wished to not be bothered. As for her phone being off, he didn’t have an answer. Which means something happened, and Ryann hasn’t told anyone. I seriously thought about calling or texting Val to find out what the hell happened, but I knew she wouldn’t spill anything if Ryann begged her not to.

With the sound of the ding, I practically force the elevator doors to open. The condo is quiet. The only sound is the soft voices emitting from the television, and I find Ryann curled up on the couch with her teal blanket wrapped around her.

With the sound of the security room door opening, I pause as I see Samuel walking out of the office, waiting for us. And just like Travis, his face is fucking impassive and unreadable. I don’t want to waste any more time away from Ryann to try and figure out what the hell he’s been up to.

“Can we speak?” Samuel asks. The dreaded question I knew would be asked.

Looking back towards the couch, Ryann is still snuggled up and sleeping soundly. “Fine, make it fast.”

Following Travis and Samuel into the security room, Samuel directs me to a series of photos. All of the photos are of Max around random parts of Manhattan, one photo, I think he may be out of the city. Why? I’m assuming that’s why I’m standing in this room instead of gently waking Ryann.

“What is this?“Max up to something no good?”

I watch Samuel’s lip twist off to the side as he looks to Travis, “We still aren’t sure. He’s up to something. But him being across the street from Ryann’s appointment.......” I’m sorry, but what? “I honestly think it was a coincidence. He didn’t see her, and he had no idea I was following him.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Rewind and back the fuck up. What do you mean he was outside of her doctor’s building? Why am I just now being told this?” I’m about to fire everyone in this damn room.

“Sir,” Travis speaks in an even voice. One of a leader. Turning to face his expressionless face, which is only causing me to become even more agitated. “I was informed on Saturday while we were in California. I made the decision not to relay due to ongoing circumstances. Ryann was not in any immediate danger and....”

Cutting Travis off, I attempt to tower over him, “And what gives you the right to withhold information from me? You work for me, not the.....”

“Because I knew dropping this information would not be good for you. Not when you were dealing with Pearl and Dax. I didn’t have any information that would’ve eased your mind. I’ve called some connections to try and find out what Max is up to. He’s not only be tailed by Samuel but by two other informants that owe me a favor.”

I can feel my brow bunch, informants that owe me a favor. What the fuck did Travis do prior to his employment with me?

Looking at the photos, I study each and every one of them, and each one, I want to shatter the computer screen. Send my fist through the glass and destroying whatever it is I’m seeing. “Okay, and what did they find? Anything?”

Samuel points to a screen with a photo of Max heading down an alleyway, “All we know is that he’s meeting up with someone. They’ll talk for a minute or two and go their separate ways.” That sounds just fucking promising. Samuel points to another screen. This one is of Max walking down a busy sidewalk with his hands shoved into his pockets. “And this one, I followed Max. He got on the subway and got out in the Bronx.” Eyeing Samuel, please do not tell me he tracked down Val’s family. “He ended up meeting up with someone named Kevin.” He says, pointing to another screen of Max going inside a rundown house. “He ended up going into this house and stayed for about four hours.”

Running a hand through my hair, okay, it may make a little sense as to why Travis waited to tell me any of this because he’s right. I’m raging mad, and there really isn’t anything I can do about it. They have him going from one point to another with no definite reason as to why.

“From my informants,” Travis continues, “Kevin is a known dealer, but we don’t have any evidence that Max is seeking him out for the drugs. Apparently, digging into Kevin’s past, he attended the same High School as Max and Ryann. Graduated a few years after Ryann. It’s possible Max and Kevin were friends back in the day, but there is no connection that we can find.”

“Does Ryann know him?”

Travis shakes his head, “No. Ryann doesn’t know or remember a Kevin. We questioned Jen about him, and she claims he was in the grade below her and a known druggie. But Jen alleges she didn’t know him to sell or deal anything and that he mostly kept to himself.”

And so did Max.

“Where was Max today. Where was he?” If he’s on the move. Something is telling me he is the reason for Ryann’s phone being off.

I watch Samuel hit a key on the keyboard bringing up another set of photos. This time, I know exactly where Max is. I recognized the surrounding buildings and the fuckin sidewalks. I’m looking at security footage taken by the building the condo is located in. Max is standing across the street, just looking at the building. Almost like a possessed person with this creepy-ass vacant stare about him.

Looking down at the time stamp, I see today’s date.

I’m right. This is why Ryann’s phone is off. He’s contacted her. But what I need to know, did Ryann speak to him. And if so, I need to know what was said.

“Did Ryann asked to go to another appointment today or talked with Carl or Teresa?” Samuel shakes his head. Frowning, I turn my attention to Travis, “I need you to contact Teresa. She was Ryann’s sobriety coach back in Indiana.” I can tell Travis already knows who Teresa is. I’m sure he knows her past better than Teresa herself. “Call Jen. She’ll give you her number. Fly her out to New York, and have Val set up her plane tickets and hotel room.”

Travis nods, “Sir.”

Pointing to the security screens, “And that, that needs to stop. If he’s standing out in front of the condo building again, I will not hesitate to beat him to an inch of his life on the sidewalks of New York.” I warn. “Find out what the fuck he is up to, and then get him on the next fucking flight out of here. I don’t need him hindering Ryann any further. Clearly, something happened today for her to turn her phone off. I’ll stake my life, that he called her, and they talked.”

Samuel frowns as he starts to hurriedly type on the keyboard, “Sir, the only incoming calls are from her sister, Jen.” Looking to the screen, Samuel has all of Ryann’s incoming calls pulled up. He points to one that shows the call lasting thirty minutes, “This is the only one she answered, with the rest going unanswered before she turned her phone off.”

Looking to Travis, “Find out if that was Jen calling her.”

“You thinking Max stole her sister’s phone?”

Looking over the phone records, I bite the inside of my lip, “That or we’ve been played like fucking fools, and Jen is working with her conniving husband.”

Samuel, once again, shakes his head, “I thought that too and looked into her sister’s whereabouts. Her and Betty were mostly in the Time Square area and Broadway today. It looks like they saw a couple of shows. Mean Girls and Frozen. I also found this....” Samuel trails off as he brings up another document onto a different computer screen. “It looks like Jennifer has filed for divorce. If she’s given Maxwell the papers, that’s another question.”

I arch a brow as I look at the documents, searching for the date, but my eyes are so heavy with exhaustion that words are starting to blur together. “How old are these forms?”

“Almost two months,” Samuel answers.

“And it hasn’t been finalized or anything?” I ask with slight confusion.

“No, sir. As I said, I’m not sure if Maxwell has been served the paperwork. But from the way he was acting when I was following him, he is paranoid and seems to be a man who knows his marriage is in trouble.”

Great, nothing is more dangerous than a paranoid man. And I know I’m to blame for some of the paranoia because I am the one who told him his wife found the flash drive. Now I’ve probably given him the push he needed, and he’s officially jumped off the deep end.

“Get all the damn information you can. I need to know what the fuck this fucker is up to, and I want to talk with Jen in private. Ryann cannot know.” Both men nod in understanding, “Anything else?”

Samuel shakes his head, “No, sir.”

“Good, now unless the building is burning down, do not disturb us.” Both Samuel and Travis nod their heads in understanding, “And where are Jonathan and Heather?” I ask, suddenly realizing that I’m down two members of my team.

Samuel looks at the time on his phone, “Heather is asleep in the spare bedroom, and Jonathan left for the apartment as you and Travis were pulling in.”

I arch a brow, I know we were technically on the premises, but Samuel was the only one protecting both Ryann and Val for five minutes.

“I gave the order for Jonathan to leave. With Samuel tracking, Max, both he and Heather have been up for over twenty-four hours.” Travis explains. “I wanted them to get some rest before tomorrow, and I knew with Heather sleeping in the spare bedroom while you were away that if something were to arise, she’d be able to react.”

“While asleep?” I challenge.

“I can assure you, Heather is trained in combat and will wake at the slightest of sounds. Not to mention, she has an alarm that will sound if Samuel were to press a button.” Travis states.

Well, next time, just lead with that little bit of information.

Without another word, I leave the security room and still find Ryann fast asleep. Slowly, I make my way towards the couch as the soft voices emit from the television as an episode of FRIENDS plays out. And, of course, it’s the classic PIVOT episode. Squatting down beside her, I place a soft kiss to her lips. Ryann moans out as I feel her tongue trace along my lips, and I allow her to slip in. Her arms wrap around the nape of my neck as the kiss deepens further. And with each stroke of her tongue and the fact that she tastes absolutely like heaven, my dick stirs. But I have to talk him down because I know Ryann is still not healed enough, not even for a soft round of sex.

“Missed me?” I ask against her lips.

Ryann hums as I feel her fingers play with the soft strands of my hair, “So much. Please tell me you won’t have to leave anytime soon.” Ryann knows the answer to that question because she’s been stalking my schedule to see if she’ll have to prepare herself for a weekend without me, again. But, as of now, I’ve been able to have Val rearrange everything citing the accident as an excuse. The only thing I wasn’t able to get out of was this past carpet event.

Unsympathetic fuckers.

Smiling, “Babydoll, I don’t plan on leaving your side anytime soon.”

Her fingers come up and trails along the outline of my jawline sending a chilled warmth to take over my body, “Good.” Ryann shifts slightly into a sitting position, and I join her on the couch, pulling her into my side and covering her with the blanket. Ryann rests her head against my chest, and I feel her immediately relax. Almost as if her stressors have melted away.

The tips of my fingers trail up and down the softness of her arm, goosebumps ignite from my touch as Ryann melts further into me and lets out a deep calming breath. “Babydoll, what’s on your mind?” I need to know what happened. Why her phone is off, and why she seems to be in somewhat of a shutdown mode. I can practically feel Ryann crawling into an unknown depth of her mind in an attempt to get away from any and everything.

“You already know,” she tells me softly.

Slipping my fingers under her chin, I urge her to look up. Her bright hazel eyes are dull and filled with the glossiness of her impending tears. “Maybe I do. Maybe I don’t, babydoll, but I need you to tell me.” I can tell she’s smelling my bullshit from the look she’s giving me. I’m a shit actor with her.....but then my mind goes off track. Maybe the true reason Ryann’s phone is off is because of me. “Are you regretting me announcing our relationship to Allison?”

She shakes her head, and I find a small smile gracing her delicate lips, “No, I love that you did that.”

“Good, now tell me what’s really bothering you.”

A single tear rolls down Ryann’s face as her breathing becomes shaky, “Max called me from Jen’s phone.” My jaw sets into a hard line as I feel my teeth begin to grind. “He wanted to get lunch and talk.”

Well, I know that didn’t happen because I know Val wouldn’t have allowed it, and neither would our security detail. “And did you?”

Ryann eyes me as if I just asked a moronic question that could set the world on fire, “You know the answer to that question.” She states evenly. “Do you think I’m that foolish?”

“I’m sorry,” I say, surrendering instead of fueling the fire that’s raging inside her. “I know you didn’t have lunch with him. Did he say what he wanted to talk about?”

She shakes her head, “No, but when I told him I wasn’t feeling well to go out, he kept insisting on coming to the condo. I told him no, and that with you away, I didn’t want any visitors. He started yelling. Calling me selfish and self-absorbed, and that I needed to remember where I come from. Who my family is and to stop turning my back on them.” Her body starts to vibrate from her frustrations. “I’m not, Thomas. I’m not turning my back. I’m happy. Why can’t people let me be happy? With you?”

Pulling her tightly into my chest, I place a kiss to the top of her head, “Shh, it’s okay, babydoll. It’s okay. You’re not turning your back to your family.” I say gently as Ryann cries into my chest. “You are not turning your back. You are finally doing what you need to do to be happy. Remember that. If they cannot be happy for the achievements that you have accomplished, they don’t deserve to be in your life.”

“But why do they feel like they get to pick and choose aspects of my life they want to be in? My sister....she, I know I tried to protect her from my addiction, but she took it to a whole new level of hatred and bitterness.” Ryann says between her angry sobs. “Dad ignored me and thought I was lying. Why now? Why do they get to decide to be in my life now?”

I have the answers she’s craving, but I’m not sure I should be the one to tell her. Especially since Ryann is still fighting to remember, and I’m not sure springing the whole, your sister found the flash drive, thing right now is a good idea. But she’s right. Why now?

Taking a deep breath in, I let it out as I attempt to think of a roundabout way to explain the change of heart that both her sister and her father seem to be having. “I think Jamie attacking you in Cali was kind of the catalyst for their sudden change in heart. And I also think you need to have a sit-down and talk with your sister.” I tell her softly. I feel Ryann shift slightly in my hold, and I know she’s about to protest. To argue against the heart to heart, “When you’re ready.” I clarify. “But something has shifted with Jen, and for you to know, you’ll need to talk to her.”

“And if I don’t want to?” She asks with an almost defiant tone, “What if I just want to marry you and start our family? What if I don’t want to talk to her? What if I just want to live my life and be done with it all.

Forcing her out of my hold, I hold her face with my hands, forcing her to look at me. Her hazel eyes are red from her tears, and she’s angry. Pissed off. I want her to feel all of these emotions. I don’t want her to shut down like she was just moments ago. I need her to feel everything she is feeling and release those feelings. Not bottle them up and tuck them away into the darkest depths of her mind.

“That is your choice, and I will back you one hundred percent. But if you do that, I think you’ll regret it. Not at first but in the long run, you’ll end up regretting your decision. Out of everyone in your family,” Betty excluded because I know Ryann will never shut her mother out of her life. Not after everything Ryann’s mom has done for her. “I think Jennifer is the one person you should give a second chance to.”

I watch hot fast tears fall down Ryann’s face. Bringing a finger up, I trace away the tears and cup my hand to her cheek. I watch her lean into my touch as her eyes close. Slowly, I bring my lips to hers and gently kiss her lips that are coated in the saltiness warmth of her tears.

And as the kiss deepens, Ryann swings her legs over and straddles me. The hem of Ryann’s nightshirt rides up her thighs as my fingers flex and knead against her flesh with a possessive passion that has been forced to stay at bay.

Tonight, I may not be able to keep that need at bay.

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