Sean has always been an attractive guy. Always perfectly groomed, tailored and well put together. He could never stand to have even a single piece of hair out of place. The very idea of going out, even to run a simple errand, and not looking his best was a sin against nature in his opinion.
Apparently tonight was the exception to that rule.
I had never seen Sean look so bad before. (Hell, I had never seen him look bad period.) His always perfectly coiffed hair was now in complete disarray and practically standing on end. His face seemed pale and was smudged with dirt and smoke. His eyes were blood shot and unfocused. From what little I could see, his pristine clothes were wrinkled, dirty and even torn in a couple of places.
I had never seen him look so disheveled.
And Sean was a new sort of angry.
Maybe it was the pissed-off-bulldog look he had. Maybe it was the hysterical way his eyes seemed to be spinning in his skull with the touch of crazy that was foaming around his mouth. Either way, Sean was downright scary.
And I was stupidly frozen in place, which was what I blame on why he got the sudden drop on me.
I didn’t think to take my chances and make a run for the road now that the garage door was standing wide open. Just like I didn’t pay attention as Sean got out of the car and beeline straight for me. All I know is that I was suddenly, and quite painfully, jerked to my feet as he stood above me, gripping both my arms tightly before yanking me forward and slamming me against his chest as he shook me violently and rattled my teeth.
Had I been a bobble head, I’m pretty sure my big head would have popped right off.
“This is all your fault!” he yelled (more like spit) in my face. “If you would have just been fucking reasonable and not so damn problematic, none of this would have happened. I tried to be reasonable. I tried to keep you out of it,” (shake, shake, shake), “but you always just have to be so damn difficult.”
It was after the fourth or fifth shake that my brain finally rattled into place.
“I…I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said between shakes.
He threw me back against the garage wall.
The wind was knocked out of me momentarily and the hard steel of the gun was unpleasantly embedded into my spine.
I didn’t dare look to see where Sam had gone. Sean had me in the crosshairs and seemed oblivious to her. I wasn’t about the draw attention to her if I could avoid it.
“Like hell you don’t!” he screamed, throwing up his arms as he took a couple of menacing steps forward until we were almost nose to nose.
“I don’t,” I responded weakly.
He stepped back and laughed.
“I know all about your little boyfriend,” he said as he looked back at me with a renewed look of crazy. “Is he the one who tipped you off?”
I shook my head slowly as I tried to figure out how to communicate with a crazy person. Considering my relatives, I should be a pro at this.
“Honestly Sean, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said, taking a step forward.
Despite all the happened tonight, trying to keep him calm was now becoming my first priority.
“Don’t lie to me!” he screamed suddenly.
I slammed back against the wall in surprise and let out a little yelp.
Sean took a little too much enjoyment in my discomfort if the predator grin on his face was any indicator.
“I never wanted you to get hurt, Addison. I really didn’t. I just wanted it back. I needed it back. But damn it all to hell if you didn’t prove to be annoying and difficult as usual. I would have just walked away from you and you would have never have been the wiser, but no, you had to keep making the situation difficult.”
“Sean, I honestly don’t know what you are talking about,” I replied calmly and slowly.
He shook his head and took a step back, which provided me a with a little more breathing room, though I would have much preferred if he kept stepping back until he fell off the edge of the earth.
“Don’t play dumb Addison. It’s not an attractive look on you.”
“Who’s playing?” I asked defensively.
Mental forehead slap.
Way to prove his point, Addison.
“This whole damn thing would have blown over easily if you had just left the damn thing in your apartment. Winters would have been able to retrieve it without a problem and no one would have been the wiser.”
“The dead guy,” I whispered under my breath. “How the hell do you know about him?”
He put his hands on his hip and shook his head as if he was just starting to realize how little I did know of this entirely screwed up situation.
“Who do you think hired him?”
“You hired him?” I asked in complete shock. “Why?”
He pulled his lips tight over his teeth as he probably debated the merits of slapping me.
“To get it back,” he replied rather calmly.
He sighed heavily and pinched the bridge of his nose. He took a couple of steps back until his back rested against the side of his car.
I quickly scanned the floor, breathing a sigh of relief when I didn’t see Sam anywhere, before quickly turning my attention back to Sean. Now would not be a good time for him to notice that my attention was split.
He was rubbing his eyes and taking deep breaths, and I realized that this was the first time I was really noticing the look of exhaustion that was plaguing him. It had been hard to see in all the desperation mixed with crazy he was displaying just seconds ago.
It was time to play the truth card, no matter how dumb it sounded after everything I had been through.
“I don’t know is going on, Sean. I don’t know what you’re looking for. Whatever it is you think I have, or had, I don’t. What I do know is that there is a group of people with loaded weapons hell bent on trying to kill me and have actually now attempted it on more than one occasion. Whatever is going on, we need to get the hell out of here.
“We’re sitting ducks out here. And I’m guessing from the fact you’re here, you’re trying to get away from them too. We need a plan. A way to escape. A way to call a freaking SWAT team before they find us. Anything that will help us right now.”
He shook his head and laughed softly.
Not a good sign.
“You don’t’ get it, do you,” he said as he looked up slowly. “There is no getting away from them. Once they have you in their sights, you’re as good as dead once you lose your usefulness.”
Great. Another ominous warning I could have lived without.
“Sean, what the hell are you involved with?” I asked quietly.
He laughed again and ran his hands through his hair.
“I’m not involved with anything,” he replied, staring back down at the ground.
“Yeah, well, excuse me if I call bullshit on that. Whatever it is you’re into, they think I’m in on it too and they’re trying to kill me because of it. Can’t you call them off?”
“You can’t call them off!” he screamed suddenly, pushing off the car and slamming me against the wall once again. “You don’t listen very well, do you Addison? They aren’t going away until you’re dead.”
“And you?” I asked in a quivering voice.
A not-very-assuring-but-very-much-crazy smile spread across his face.
“Me? I’ll be rich for giving them exactly what they want.”
Well shit. That did not sound like it was going to bode well for me.
Time to break out my crazy to normal dictionary and try to talk some sense into him before he was too far gone.
“Sean, you said it yourself. Once they finish with you, you’re dead. Handing me over to them isn’t going to solidify your place or get you in their good graces. They’ll eventually find some reason to get rid of you. Permanently.”
I had no idea who “they” were, but considering “they” blew up the front yard and had then engaged in warfare in a residential neighborhood, I think it was safe to say “they” were not the nicest, or most rationale, of people.
“As long as I don’t cross them, they never have reason to worry. Unlike you, I’ve made them a lot of money in unconventional ways. You’ve caused nothing but problems. If I hand you over to them, I’ll get a slap on the wrist and take a vacation to the Cayman Islands to lick my wounds.”
Hmm. Yup. It was official. The elevator was not reaching the top floor with this one.
Desperate times and all that jazz.
Time for me to figure out how to overpower him because clearly talking to a crazy person wasn’t working to my advantage, though this came as no sudden revelation considering I’ve never been able to communicate with my parents in a normal and healthy context. Clearly I did not excel when dealing with crazy.
The gun pressed against my back was a constant reminder that I did have the upper hand, but the real question was for how long? Sean was bigger than me, most likely faster, and fueled with this sudden bit of crazy desperation that most people would think was inhuman. It probably wouldn’t take much for him to turn the tables on me, so pulling out a weapon I wasn’t a hundred percent certain on how to use was best left as plan B, maybe even C.
I didn’t know where Sam was but I prayed to God she was thinking of ways to get me the hell out of dodge. Her options were limited obviously, but she still had the advantage of complete surprise.
“Where’s Sam?” Sean asked, taking a sudden step forward.
Well hell. First Kade, now him. Was he learning to read my mind too? Did I have my thoughts stuck to post note on my forehead or something?
“I don’t know,” I stammered, momentarily caught off guard by the sudden switch in topic.
“Bullshit. She wasn’t in the house either and I know one of you would never leave without the other. My guess is she’s hiding nearby, probably trying to use the element of surprise. Right Sam?” he yelled over his shoulder.
The garage remained silent with the exception of my pounding heartbeat and Sean’s manic breathing. If she was here, which I could only assume she was, she was quiet as a church mouse.
“Think it through Sam,” he said, his attention focused on the shadows behind him. “I know all about your self-defense training. Hell, I’ve been doing some training too. And with poor Addison standing here, I’m certain you wouldn’t try anything crazy like trying to overpower me or get the drop on me. I would hate for poor Addison to get hurt in the midst of everything, wouldn’t you?”
Damn. He was playing to her biggest weakness: me.
“I know you care about Addison and I know you have no intention of leaving here without her. So I’m willing to make you both a deal.”
Say what now?
His attention turned to me and an eerie calm settled over his features as the Sean I knew seemed to suddenly grab hold of the crazy demon in his head.
“I’ll let you both walk out of here unharmed. But in order for that to happen, you both have to disappear. Change your names. Move somewhere else. Who you are now doesn’t exist after tonight.”
He looked at me, as if wanting me to be the voice of reason and to call Sam out of hiding.
“Bullshit,” I spat out.
He shrugged his shoulders casually and put his hands in his pockets.
“I’m trying to be a nice, reasonable guy. You’re involved in this because of me, and for the past few weeks I’ve been nothing but concerned about saving my own ass. You came here tonight because you thought you could trust me. I may be able to convince them to leave you alone because you don’t know anything, but I can’t promise anything. But if you two disappear, and don’t interfere again, I’ll leave you alone. I won’t promise they will, but I promise I’ll at least be one less threat.”
It was like watching a tennis match. His demeanor was changing so fast that my head was starting to spin and I was getting an uncomfortable kink in my neck watching it all play out.
I had learned a long time ago that Sean really only cared about Sean, so I wasn’t buying into his latest spiel of horse manure. Letting us leave meant he wouldn’t have to get his own hands dirty. He would eventually send his friends after us to do it for him.
“Do we have a deal?” he asked me.
He was trying to get me to call Sam out of hiding. Too bad for him I wasn’t falling for it.
For the first time ever, I remained silent.
“Come on, Sam!” he yelled, looking over his shoulder. “Addison is proving to be stubborn and I can promise this is a limited time offer. Surely you will be the voice of reason.”
Good girl, Sam. Keep quiet.
“It’s a shame,” he said, taking a casual step towards me. “I was really hoping we could be civil about this whole thing.”
I did my best to shrug casually.
“I’ve never really considered myself civil,” I replied in a rather steady voice.
“Tonight would have been the smartest time to start,” he replied with another step. “But since being reasonable doesn’t appear to be an option, I’m going to have to go with extreme.”
I opened my mouth to respond, but words failed me.
Probably because they froze with fright on the tip of my tongue.
But in all fairness, having a gun pointed in your face tends to have that affect