“Where are we going?” I asked. I was hit with a feeling of nostalgia as I climbed into a black BMW. This wasn’t an old car, it appeared new and I wondered if it belonged to Jack or if he’d stolen it.
“Is this your car?”
Jack smiled as he slid behind the wheel. “You ask too many questions, Cotton-Candy.” He reached behind me, pulled the seat belt and secured it in place, his face coming close to mine. He pecked my lips and ran his forefinger over my lower lip lightly. “Your lips are swollen, I guess, I’m partly to blame for it.”
I blushed and looked out the window. “Are you going to tell me where we are going?”
“I have an apartment that was registered with an alias. You’ll stay there for as long as this matter settles once and for all.”
“No.” I said. “Take me home, to my apartment.”
“I wasn’t giving you a choice, Riley.”
“I know you weren’t, but I can’t always let you take decisions for me. This concerns my brother. If he is the killer, I will find a way to end this.”
Jack gave out a laugh, and then his features turned hard. “No amount of sweet-talking is going to stop your brother from doing what he is doing. If he thinks you’re in the way, he will not hesitate to kill you and if Ken lays a hand on you, if he tries to hurt you, then by god help him I won’t stop from putting a bullet in his head.”
I knew Jack wasn’t lying when he said that. I could tell from his expressions that he was dead serious.
“I know the risk of going home, Jack, but I have to. I don’t want to be scared anymore and I don’t want to hide. The killer wants us to do exactly that, and we are not going to give him the satisfaction.”
I think Jack was ready to argue back but closed his mouth and thought better of it, because he knew I was telling the truth. We weren’t going to run our entire lives.
“If Ken wanted to hurt me, he would’ve done it a long time back.”
“He framed you for the murders and put you in a mental facility, what else do you need?” Jack asked furiously.
It was my turn to shut up.
Thankfully, Jack’s phone started buzzing. I hated arguing with him. He looked at the phone and told me it was Ezra. “What’s going on?”
“We have a problem, Jack.” Ezra’s voice boomed from the car’s speakers, his voice was so much similar to Jack’s.
There was silence in the car for second and then Ezra said, “Riley is missing. I received a call from the hospital. They said they found a male nurse lying there, barely breathing and Riley wasn’t in her room. Is she with you?”
I shook my head at Jack. If he told Ezra I was with him, then Ezra would ask me to go back to the hospital again. I wasn’t ready to cage myself back in that dreadful place again, not when there were chances of José coming back for a bit of revenge.
“She is.” Jack said. “That bastard tried to rape her. He deserved what he got and if it weren’t for Riley, I would have done worse. He’s lucky not to be dead.”
“You’re taking the law back in your hands, brother. She is still a suspect.”
“I can hear you.” I snapped at him.
“Yo quiero que la lleves a la estación de la policia.” I want you to take her to the police station. “They will keep an eye on her.” Ezra said the last part in English.
"Eso no va a suceder.” That’s not happening. Jack responded in Spanish.
I couldn’t understand what they were saying, momentarily taken aback by Jack speaking in Spanish. It was the first that I’d seen him talk in that language. All I had understood was the word ′Policia′ which meant police.
“Can you please speak in English so I can understand what you’re talking about?”
“Nosotros podemos protegerla y vamos a ver que podemos hacer sobre el enfermero.” We can protect her, and we will see what we can do about this male nurse.
“Yo creo que he puesto bastante confianza en la policia anteriormente como para saber mejor.” I think I have placed enough trust in the police before to know better. ”I know you can do your job, Ezra, I don’t doubt it but I’ll feel safe when she’s with me.” Jack concluded passing me a glance. “I trust Riley. You can talk in English.”
“Fine. One of the factories in the Wolfe Enterprise has burned down to the ground. It seems to be a short-circuit problem, but we are still investigating.”
“Which department?” Jack asked, his fingers tightening over the steering wheel.
“The clothing manufacturing department. It’s the factory. All the equipment’s and the fabrics are damaged.”
“Are the workers alright?”
“Most of them, yes. Only twenty are seriously injured.” Ezra said.
“I’m not your fucking servant. I have too much on my hands already with the bureau chief literally hounding me every second. You do it.”
“It’s arson.” Jack said.
“What?!” Came Ezra’s shocked response.
“Exactly what you heard. I thought all the employees were happy doing their jobs. This is the first time I’ve heard of something like this in five years.” Jack said, his voice sounded strained.
“What do you know Jack? You’ve spent the better half of your life in an asylum and then running from the police.”
“Your point?” Jack asked, clearly pissed.
“My point being, brother, that this wouldn’t have even happened if you—”
“Do not even fucking go there, Ezra. I’m warning you.” Jack said in such a menacingly low tone, a chill ran down my spine. “Have you tried to talk with Tobias? Did you ask him the person responsible for making a contract for the factory safety measures?”
“We have a name. It’s a company called—”
“Fire him.” Jack said flatly.
“Fire the man who made a contract with the company. They obviously did a piss-poor job and we don’t need people like that working for us. I’ll get in touch with the construction company and see if we were really lacking for the building to have a sudden ‘short-circuit’ problem.”
In that moment, I knew that Jack was a perfect fit to be an heir to a multi-million dollar corporation. He knew what he was doing, and if I wasn’t aware before, I had no doubt in my mind how truly intelligent and smart Jack was.
“We lost a couple million dollars. If this continues, we are going to face a lot of problems, the bankers and the investors would come asking questions. The company needs you back on the board.” Ezra said.
“I’ll handle everything.” Jack said in a monotone. “When this is all over, I’ll do what’s needed.”
“Which is reclaiming your position as president of the Wolfe Enterprise, and with Brady dead, you don’t have a choice.”
Jack drove me to my apartment as I’d asked him to. Inside, everything was turned upside down. It didn’t look like a home that I had left just for a few days, more like an apartment that had narrowly survived a natural calamity. Jack and I spent the next hour trying to put things back in its original place while looking for some clues. I didn’t miss how he went through every single document or paper that he found lying around the room.
Ken’s room was messy; no doubt it was done by the FBI and the detectives who were here to investigate.
“Where is Ken’s laptop?” Jack asked.
I found the laptop stashed beneath the bed. I pulled it out and handed it over to Jack.
He opened it and the home-screen appeared. “It’s not password protected.”
“Ken never had much regard towards his own privacy. He left his bedroom unlocked whenever he was working at the hospital which is why I’m surprised he’s the killer. I still don’t believe that he is.” I said.
“He keeps it unlocked for the same reason because he didn’t want you to suspect him.”
Jack looked at me with an expression that I knew too well, the wheels in his head were turning fast. We had to think fast before time ran out and there was another innocent victim.
“Jack, do you remember the dream?” I asked while he continued to rustle through the papers.
“When you were in a coma, I dreamed of you. I saw you standing there somewhere in the greater beyond. You gave me strength to keep going.” I smiled at him. “I can never forget that.”
“I did?” He passed me a grin. The first real smile that I’d seen him give me after a long time. I loved the playfulness glimmering in his eyes, the color resembled caramel brown. “Honestly, Riley, I don’t remember where I was or if I even had a dream during that time. I felt like I woke up from a very long nap.”
I nodded, he said he didn’t remember it but I knew what I had seen.
Jack stopped what he was doing, his eyes turned sad. I squeezed his hand. “What’s wrong?”
“When I woke up from the coma, I had this weirdest feeling like something had happened to you. I was so scared to ask Ezra if you were even...”
He lowered himself on the floor in front of me, took my hands in his and kissed them. “I don’t want to lose you, Riley.” His eyes met mine. “If I lose you, I don’t think I’ll be able to live.”
I touched his cheek, “I need you to promise me something, Jack.” I whispered.
“If something were to happen to me, you would go on with your life. Try not to do crazy things, and stay out of the asylum.”
He stared at me disconcerted way, and finally said. “Nothing is going to happen to you because I will always protect you besides...” he smiled, “I want you...no, I need you be in my life to keep me sane. If you’re gone, I’ll be mad as a hatter and I’ll move hell and earth to have you by my side. So do me a favor and live.”
“Oh Jack.” I wrapped my arms around his neck and stayed that way for a while.
“I promise you, Riley. I’ll fight until my last breath to keep us both alive.”
I was shaking because I was scared that something would happen to one of us. If anything happened to Jack, how was I to live?
“You have to promise me something in return.” He said quietly.
“If I’m dead, you will marry any other guy except my brother.” He said it with a serious face.
We stared at each other for a while in silence until I burst out laughing. He was grinning.
I was still laughing when I waved my hand, “that’s not going to happen, don’t worry, Ezra is not my type and I believe the feeling is quite mutual.”
“But you did kiss him once, didn’t you?”
I froze. I was taken aback by that question because I hadn’t seen it coming.
I watched as his features darkened as he continued to look at me.
“I...it was...it was a misunderstanding, Jack. I thought it was you when I kissed him but he was unresponsive and I realized that it wasn’t you.”
He gave me a nod, his face stoic and it kind of frightened me, “Does he kiss you better than I do?”
“I don’t think so, at least not for me. It was more like we just touched our lips to each other, kind of like a hug. Nothing special. There were no sparks flying for me, my heart wasn’t beating faster, I wasn’t turned on like I’m when you do those things to me.”
“Is that true?” He asked in the same monotone.
Finally, Jack’s face cracked into a smile and he laughed, “I’m supposed to feel flattered, huh?”
“Did you even look at your face? You were scared out of your wits.” Jack said between laughing, he was having a blast at how uncomfortable he’d made me with that question.
What had he expected? He had scared me with that brooding look on his face and I’d thought he was really furious. I had started to imagine Jack killing me slowly and then burying a black trash bag deep into the forest that contained my body parts.
As if reading my mind, he said, “I will never hurt you, Riley, no matter how angry I become. Always remember that.”
I gave him a nod and he pecked my lips. “You look tired, go take a nap. It’s three a.m. already. I’ll look through all of this in the meantime.”
I shook my head. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep. I don’t want to waste any more of my time sleeping when I could just keep looking at you.”
“Well, not just look. You have my full permission to do as you please with my body.”
“Really?” I asked him excitedly.
“Of course. I’m yours. Heart, body and soul.”
I giggled and took the file out of his hands. “This can wait for a few more minutes...” I took his mouth in a full kiss and said. “Who knows what will happen to me in the next twenty-four hours. Come to bed with me, Jackson.”
“Hmmm...now that’s an invitation hard to turn down.” He said in a sultry voice that made my body tingle. “I missed hearing you say my full name, Nurse Riley.”
“Give me a few minutes to get ready.” I whispered.
He gave me a teasing smile. “You’re one horny girl, aren’t you? That’s okay, I guess. Can’t really complain.”
Laughing, I quickly walked into my bedroom and threw open the drawers. I had bought a set of sexy lingerie from Victoria’s Secret a year back and never even used it. It was bright red and lacy. I almost felt like a naughty school girl. I stripped off all my clothing and wore the lingerie, ran my fingers through my hair and popped in some lip-gloss. The bra sure made my breasts look big.
I quickly fixed my bed and slid beneath the cover. “Jack, you can come in.”
He didn’t waste time and walked in without a shirt. He dived straight in bed and pulled the cover off, flinging it towards the floor. Hastily I reached for his denim button and undid it. Jack didn’t give me a chance to pull his jeans down, his hands slid to my waist and he pulled me possessively against him, his mouth devouring mine completely. He groaned deep in his throat and I smiled in satisfaction. My fingers threaded through his soft hair, I liked the prickly feeling of his gruff jaw brushing against my cheeks.
He pulled one side of the bra strap off my shoulder, licked and suckled there savagely. Then he pushed me down onto the bed, trailed kisses down the valley of my breasts, his other hand reaching my panties. I could feel the hardness from through the thick fabric of his jeans. I was almost dying of anticipation. He touched my panties and began peeling them off my body when my phone started ringing.
“Ignore it.” Jack whispered in a voice laced with desire.
I ignored the phone but it continued to ring for the third time and the fourth. I pulled away from the kiss and said. “I’ll just see who is calling me.”
“There better be a fucking emergency like a hurricane or something, or I’m going to kill whoever it is that’s cock-blocking me.” Jack said as he handed me the phone.
I looked at the screen. “An unknown number.”
“Put it on speakers.” Jack instructed.
I pressed the answer. “Hello.”
“Riley, it’s me.” He sounded desperate.
Jack and I exchanged looks.
“Ken, what’s going on?” I asked. “Are you alright?”
“I need your help.”