Their Virgin Hostage

By: Shayla Black

Chapter One

Kinley Kohl looked at herself in her custom Pnina Tornai white wedding dress with its sweetheart neckline and lacy, glittery bodice…and she wanted something more. More emotion. More excitement. Just more. But she didn’t know what.
Her dress was gorgeous. The elegant hotel, all decorated in wedding regalia, looked stunning. No doubt, her groom-to-be had dressed impeccably for the occasion. The sky above Manhattan was a cloudless, perfect blue. Five hundred of the country’s wealthiest and most influential people waited to see her walk down the aisle in the Plaza’s grand ballroom. It was a dream wedding, but the encroaching panic made it feel more like her nightmare.
Was it too late to run screaming down Fifth Avenue?
“Are you sure you want to wear that dress?” Becks asked, standing behind her and eyeing her critically.
Kinley sighed. It was a good thing her father hadn’t remarried and brought a wicked stepmother into her life. She hardly needed a hypercritical parent when she had her sister. “What’s wrong with it?”
There was always something wrong, according to Beckin Kohl Abernathy. Admittedly, her sister was one of the most prominent fashion plates in New York. Society looked to Becks for style advice, while those same women, along with the tabloids, mostly called Kinley unpleasantly plump.
“Oh, don’t get me wrong, hon. The dress is fabulous.” Becks gave her a little half hug, careful not to crush or ruffle her perfectly coiffed platinum hair. It was longer in the front than the back and had an asymmetry that accentuated her high cheekbones and drew attention to her well-glossed lips.
“It just seems a little…snug.” Becks gave a delicate wince. “Did you and Greg decide to start your family early?”
Kinley turned on her sister, feeling her face flush with humiliation. “I’m not pregnant.”
In fact, what Becks suggested was impossible. She and Greg had never shared a bed. Actually, Kinley had never had sex with anyone. And now, she was about to become a virgin sacrifice to help the family she loved. Of course, it would be easier to feel good about this whole choice if her sister wasn’t quite so judgmental.
“Well, I guess stress eating with such a big wedding is understandable.” Becks sent her a tight smile of sympathy. “But unadvisable. Don’t frown. I’m only saying that for your own good. The press is already unkind to you.”
Tears filled Kinley’s eyes. She had eaten only protein shakes, brown rice, and fish for three weeks. She’d lost thirteen pounds so she could fit perfectly into this dress. She thought it had worked…until now. “I want to be alone, Becks.”
Her sister sighed, brushing imaginary lint from the sleek gray sheath she’d selected for the bridesmaids. Kinley had wanted a soft pink, but Becks had insisted that her choice was much more elegant. Her older sister had a way of getting what she wanted.
“I didn’t mean to upset you on your wedding day when I know you’re already nervous. I’m sorry, Kinley. I’m being a bitch. Don’t mind me. I’m sure Greg will think you look lovely.”
But now she couldn’t look at herself and not see the slight curve of her stomach that no amount of dieting ever eradicated. She wasn’t a size six. Hell, she wasn’t even a ten. The dress had been custom made because it didn’t come in her size. She sniffled a little.
“Don’t cry, Kin.” Becks grabbed a tissue and handed it to her. “This is your wedding day, and you’re marrying the richest guy we know. What could you possibly have to cry about?”
“I don’t love him.” There she’d said it. She was shocked everyone hadn’t guessed. Her father kind of knew, but he was ignoring it. Becks couldn’t possibly think she loved Greg. They had nothing in common, but each had something the other needed.
Becks rolled her eyes and crossed the room to reach for the champagne sitting by her bouquet. “Is that all? No woman I know loves her husband, at least no one in our world.”
That stunned Kinley. She’d always wondered, but… “Not even you?”
“Please…” With a surprisingly unladylike snort, her sister rolled her eyes. “After Brian and I got married, I tossed out my birth control. The key to my future was in spitting out a couple of kids and tying him up legally. Even if he starts thinking with his pecker and tries to trade me in for a younger model, he’s going to pay handsomely for the privilege.”
“Becks, how could you think like that?” Children weren’t to be used for a payday.
Then Kinley started imagining her own children. Panic engulfed her again. She couldn’t imagine being pregnant by Greg. She couldn’t even imagine sleeping with him, like married people were supposed to do. And by sleeping, she was sure that Greg expected something more active than snoring.
Kinley gulped back her nerves. He was good-looking, but she wasn’t attracted. Did that make any sense? How could she have babies with someone she had no interest in touching intimately?
Becks gave her a dazzling grin. “It was hell for a few years, but the nanny certainly helped. My personal trainer whipped my body back into shape, and it was bye-bye pregnancy pounds. Then when the kids turned six, I shipped them off to boarding school. Now, life is grand again. My two angels are practically my retirement fund.” She chuckled. “If Brian wants a divorce, he’ll have to pay through the nose before he sees his kids again. That’s how I’ve kept my hand wrapped firmly around his balls. Oh, his dick probably runs around on me, but as long as I have his testicles, he’s not going anywhere. You should take a page out of my book.”
“No.” That parody of marriage wasn’t at all what Kinley had in mind. Shouldn’t “'til death do us part” be about commitment and devotion? “That’s you, Becks. Mom loved Dad.”
Kinley wished her mother were still here. Mom would never have allowed either of her daughters to marry someone they couldn’t give their hearts to. Her father was a wonderful man, but…he was weak. Though the situation wasn’t entirely his fault, he’d put her in a position that basically forced her to marry Greg. If she didn’t, they would all be ruined.
“Not in the beginning,” Becks said. “You have this silly, white-lace ideal of their marriage, but Daddy married Mom because Granddaddy told him that if he didn’t, Daddy was getting cut off. Aunt Mayrene gave me the whole story. Daddy ran off to become an artist and ran right back three weeks later and proposed. He liked the art part, but apparently he didn’t love the starving.”
“Neil and Sharon Landry are in love.” They were the sweetest couple she knew. They sent out the loveliest Christmas cards with all four of their kids dressed in red sweaters while Neil and Sharon held up mistletoe and kissed. She’d looked at that last card and wondered if she would ever be so in love.
“He’s fucking his barely legal nurse, Kins,” Becks said, wrinkling her nose. “How did you not hear about that? It’s all over town. And for a highly respected obstetrician, I’ve heard he’s rough on that girl’s vagina, if you know what I mean. You would think since he’s got his hands shoved up them all day that he would be a little more tender.”
But Neil and Sharon had looked so happy. Blinking mutely, Kinley gaped at her sister, trying to process this ugly underside to marriage. “That’s horrible.”
Becks held her glass of champagne up in an ironic toast. “That’s life, sister. The love thing is for people without money. Two nobodies without a cent to rub between them are perfectly free to fall in love and get married and have a cluster of children because nothing is at stake.”
Kinley turned slowly because her dress was still a teensy bit tight and grabbed her phone like a comfort object. “Hello, Ms. Hypocrite. I’m a nobody without any money now. Or have you forgotten?”
Their father had lost everything in a Ponzi scheme. For two hundred years, the Kohls had acquired money, property, and political power. Her father had lost it all in the blink of an eye. Then he’d gotten sick, and the need for money had become critical.
“No, you are not.” Becks wagged a finger at her. “You’re an heiress. You inherited a majestic and vastly respected name that’s valuable to a man like Greg. Because of you, the doors to every old-money house on the East Coast will be open to him.”
Her name was all she had, and she was basically selling it. “I don’t have to do this. I could get a job.”
“Doing what? You have a degree in art history.”
It had seemed like a good idea at the time, but then she’d never thought she would need an actual job. “I could work for a nonprofit. I’ve run our charities ever since Mom died.”
And now that money was running out rapidly. The economy had gone south, and demand for assistance among the poor had grown. Greg said he’d endow the charity her mother had started with fifty million dollars after their honeymoon. He’d already started making business connections for her, including several manufacturers willing to donate clothes for the organization at cost. He had also instituted some changes in the way the charity ran that he swore would make them more efficient so she could get more aid to the people who needed it. And he was willing to pay for her father’s medical treatment and support her whole family. All she had to do was marry him and become his smiling hostess.
Fifty million dollars bought a lot of clothes and coats for inner-city and rural kids. People were counting on her, and all this wanting “more” and pining for love was hopelessly selfish.
“It’s a sweet thought,” Becks said. “But working at a nonprofit wouldn’t pay enough. This is the only way. I’d help if I could, but since I’m already married, walking down the aisle with a really rich, handsome guy falls to you. Poor Kins.” She winked. “Brian’s business does okay, and you know I’ll kick in what I can, but…times are tough all around. You understand, don’t you?”
Becks had a point. Kinley just didn’t like it. She sighed and forced herself to face reality. “Sure.”
“Good. For a minute there, I thought you were going to be unreasonable.” Becks sipped her champagne. “Are you waiting on a call?”
She glanced down at her phone again, just like she did every couple of minutes. “No. It’s just habit.”
Becks’s eyebrow rose. “Really? Who’s Michael?”
Someone I’ve been wishing I could talk to all morning.
“He’s a business contact.” Becks didn’t have to say anything. Kinley felt herself withering under her sister’s judgmental stare. “I’m telling the truth. I’ve never even met the man. How do you know his name?”
“Because I saw it on your phone earlier. He’s sent you a lot of texts. And he’s either called you or you’ve called him at least once a day for the last week. This sounds like more than business. How do you think it would make Greg feel to know his fiancée is consorting with another man?”
“You spied on me?”
“I’m your sister. When, in all of the years you’ve known me, have I ever respected things like privacy? It’s a sister’s right to snoop.” She grinned. “So are you fucking him?”
“No! Like I said, I’ve never actually met him. He’s starting a charity on the West Coast. He contacted me for some advice, and we started talking. He’s a nice guy. That’s it.”
No way was she going to admit that she thought about Mike from California way too much. And yes, she’d been looking down at her phone, hoping he would call. Hearing his voice had become something she looked forward to everyday because it made her smile. God, she was pathetic.
Becks shook her head. “Don’t screw up the chance to be rich again for some guy you’ve never met. You know how much Daddy is depending on you.”
And that was why she still stood here instead of giving into the impulse to fly out to California and meet Mike. Everyone was counting on her. She couldn’t abandon the future she had planned for a man she’d only known a week. Mike seemed wonderfully down-to-earth, and Kinley enjoyed talking to him—but that had to be it. Somehow, she had to stop hearing his gravelly, rough-and-tumble voice in her dreams. Heck, she didn’t even know what the man looked like, but she got a little giddy every time he called. Mike always put her at ease. With him, she felt interesting—and oddly cared for. Their relationship didn’t mean anything and it was fleeting. Once his charity was up and running, she would have no more reason to talk to him.
She wasn’t looking forward to that day.
“I know. I’m not screwing anything up.”
“Well, that’s good to hear. Keep it that way.”
A knock sounded on the door adjoining her suite with the one next door.
Becks ignored it. “I’m going to call the caterers and make sure the cake is ready. Is that all your luggage? It needs to be ready since you’re not coming back here after the ceremony.”
“Yes. I’ve got it.” Kinley made her way across the suite in her heavy wedding gown and opened the adjoining door.
Her best friend Annabelle, who had stayed next door last night, walked in—or tried. She was wearing the sheath Becks had selected, too. While the gray looked lovely against her café au lait skin, unfortunately Annabelle possessed curves like Kinley’s. The dress didn’t camouflage a thing.
“Hi. How are you holding up?” Her friend’s pretty round face, framed by dark curls, softened with an encouraging smile.
“Hey. I’m...” Having really cold feet and wishing my sister would shut the hell up. “Fine.” Kinley forced herself to grin back.
No sense in dragging Belle into her misery. Besides, her friend would only pounce on it.
Kinley glanced back at the Louis Vuitton vintage luggage that had been a gift from her fiancé. It was beautiful, and she’d gasped and teared up a little when he’d first given her the two trunks, two roller bags, and a brand new oversized shoulder bag that had a name, the Metis. She’d liked the jeans and blouses he’d sent along with them, although it wasn’t what she normally wore. Someone with an ass her size didn’t need to draw attention to it with a bunch of bling all over the back pockets. But her trunks and cases were all packed up and lined in a row. The Metis had a little stowaway in it, too.
“Yes, everything’s packed and ready to go,” Kinley answered dutifully. She’d spent an enormous amount of time packing. Greg had left her a list and then there was Gigi to think about. Gigi had a very sensitive stomach. She wasn’t about to hope a tropical island had the food her dog was used to. If Gigi missed a meal, the world knew it.
“And you’re taking everything Greg asked about?” Becks asked with a frown. “You don’t want to disappoint him on your honeymoon.”
Her husband-to-be had given her a list of essentials that he expected her to pack. “I’ve got everything. I’m a good girl.”
“Yes, you are. Ta-ta, sister.” With a jaunty little wave, Becks slipped out and closed the door behind her.
“You know I call her Skeletor behind her back,” Belle said with a grimace.
Repugnance shone in her dark eyes, hidden behind chunky librarian glasses. She tucked back a strand of her raven black hair. “I would say it to her face, but I tend to avert my stare. I’ve heard some Medusa-like stories about looking into your sister’s eyes.”
“You are so bad, Belle.” She held her hands out, and Belle took them immediately. Becks might be her sister by blood, but Belle was the sister of her heart. Since they’d been little girls, Belle had stood beside her. Even though Kinley’s family had been Belle’s mother’s employer, class hadn’t meant anything to either one of them.
“She’s the mean one, Kinley. You’re just too good to see it.” She stood back and shook her head. “You look so beautiful. If your mama could see you now, she would have cried.”
Kinley had really needed to hear that today. “Thank you. I have to admit, I’m going to be really happy when this whole wedding thing is all over.”
“I would be happier if we left and headed for Vegas right now. Come on. Let’s Thelma & Louise this sucker.”
“And drive off the side of the Grand Canyon?” The thought horrified Kinley.
“It would be better than marrying Greg Jansen. Before you do this, I really wish you would just meet with the private investigator—”
“No! I’m getting married in less than an hour. Don’t bring this up again. I’m marrying Greg.” She had to.
Belle sighed. “Has Mike called lately?”
She should never have told Belle about him. “He’s just a work peer. Sort of.”
“You talked to him for three hours one night, and I doubt it was all about tax exempt status and donation channels. I think you like him.”
She did. “But that’s no reason to call off the wedding, Belle. Come on…”
Her rapport with Mike had started out all business with a few calls. She’d talked about how her mom had set up Hope House and what it had meant to her to help her mother with a cause so meaningful. Before long, Mike told her about his military service and his desire to start a charity with his brothers for wounded soldiers and their families. After a couple of talks that strayed more into the personal, she’d begun looking forward to hearing his voice over the line.
One night she’d spent three hours on the phone with him, rapt and fascinated. He’d admitted that he wasn’t married or even dating now because what he really wanted was a woman to share with his brothers.
Kinley had been shocked. And utterly intrigued.
And she couldn’t even think about this again. She had to marry Greg. Her father’s chemo bills were stacking up, and he didn’t need the added stress of wondering where the money was going to come from. He was so embarrassed by his weakness and distressed about it all that he wouldn’t even allow her to go with him to his therapy sessions. And with her charity about to go belly up, Kinley needed the money, too. She couldn’t allow years of her mother’s good work to end.
So she had to sacrifice and do what thousands of women had done before her. She had to keep her chin up and make the best of things. “I love Greg.”
She couldn’t tell Belle that she was basically prostituting herself. Besides, if she said it enough, maybe she could make it true. Kinley was a great believer in affirmations. If that didn’t work…maybe Becks was right, and no one was really happy in marriage. Maybe all a woman could do was put on a smile the same way she affixed her makeup.
“Sure you do.” Belle rolled her eyes, then looked around the room. “Where’s Gigi?”
Her little Yorkie baby had shown her deep disdain for the proceedings by crawling into Kinley’s Louis Vuitton bag and settling down for a nap. Gigi had taken an almost instant dislike to Greg and everyone on his side of the wedding party. At first, Kinley had thought it would be fun to include her little dog in the ceremony, but Gigi had refused to go anywhere near her fiancé. “She’s asleep. She had a rough night.”
“Yes, she did. She growled at Greg all through the rehearsal dinner. Your dog is very smart.”
Kinley wanted to cry. She was utterly and completely alone, and arguing with her best friend in the world sent her into a tailspin. “I wish you could accept that Greg is going to be a part of my life.”
Belle leaned in. “Are you doing this because you need a man? I can get you one. If you’re not interested in California Mike, I can find you the hottest man who will rock your world. Then you will forget you ever heard the name Greg Jansen. As a matter of fact, I could find you two or three amazing guys. I could get them here really fast, too.”
She wondered what Mike and his brothers looked like and wished she could see them just once and indulge in a moment of fantasy before she had to face reality again.
Kinley turned back to the mirror because she couldn’t stand to look at Belle when she was lying through her teeth. “I only want Greg.”
Two or three hot guys might light up her world for a night, but all her responsibilities would still be waiting the next day. She just had to accept that sexual desire wasn’t in the cards for her.
“Kinley, I don’t understand. When we were kids and we were planning out our weddings, I ask you to describe your groom. Do you remember that?”
“I remember that you wanted to marry Leonardo DiCaprio.” They had watched Titanic about a hundred times that year and she’d cried every single time. What would have happened to Rose and Jack if he’d lived? Would she have regretted leaving the money behind? Would Rose have been able to live with the ruin it would have brought her family?
Or would she have been happy to have lived with her soul mate?
There were tears in Belle’s eyes as she forced Kinley to turn. “Yes, I was very picky back then. But you weren’t. You only had one requirement. Do you remember?”
“I said it didn’t matter how he looked or how much money he had as long as he was a good man.” Which just showed how young she was. Na?ve. God, she wanted to be that little girl again.
“Greg Jansen is not a good man, Kinley.” She whispered the words as though they had some kind of power, as though she prayed they would make their way into Kinley’s heart.
She couldn’t let them in.
Kinley broke away and turned back to the mirror, forcing down the need to cry. She didn’t want to lose Belle, but it looked like she might. “The feds cleared Greg of all charges. And I don’t care about how good he is. He’s going to be my husband. Have you seen all the gifts he’s already given me?”
A long sigh came from Belle and her oldest friend hugged her from behind. “I’m not stupid.” She put her head on Kinley’s shoulder. “I wish I was more than a secretary so I could bail you out of this mess.”
Relief swept over her. Maybe she didn’t have to tell Belle a thing. “You understand?”
Her best friend’s face softened. “I know you feel like you have to marry him. I think it’s wrong and you deserve better.”
“Then why are you here?” She sniffled a little. It would be horrible if Belle walked out.
Belle took her hand, giving it a hearty squeeze. “Because we made a promise. I will love you forever. You are my best friend and that will never change. I will forgive you for the stupid things you do and I will be there to help you hide the bodies. God, Kin, call me when you need to bury Greg. I will come with a shovel and a bottle of tequila.”
She laughed a little but shook her head. Once she said “I do,” she was in it for life. No matter what Becks or Belle said, Kinley was going to make her marriage work. Even if she worried that her husband was a major douchebag.
Belle peered closer at her. “You look pale. You’re not eating, are you?”
“I had a light breakfast.” Of course it was almost three o’clock now, and all she’d had today was a grapefruit. With a little bit of sugar, and she’d felt guilty about that.
“I speak Kinley so I know what that means. You had next to nothing. I’m calling room service.” Belle moved toward the phone.
“Don’t. I’m getting married in an hour. I can’t eat.”
“Eating is normal. You have to do it or you’re going to pass out.”
She did feel a little faint, but... “I will after the ceremony. It’s just…Becks said the dress looks too tight. I don’t want to be the fat bride.”
“You’re not. Becks planted that idea in your head because she’s a heinous bitch. You’re perfect the way you are. Seriously, you have a whole ceremony and pictures to get through. It could be hours before you get to eat again, so I’m going to make sure you do it now.”
“Belle, I—”
“Damn it. I’m your best friend. I’m going to watch out for you.” She picked up the phone. “Yes, we’re in suite 2010. That’s right the Presidential Suite. We need a couple of burgers.”
“A salad.” If she ate a burger, she would split her dress open. But a burger sounded so good. “No dressing.”
Belle rolled her eyes. “A salad with grilled chicken and vinaigrette on the side. And a burger, medium with fries, and two Diet Cokes.” She hung up. “I will get some of those fries down your throat.” She stopped for a moment. “You know I love you, right?”
“I know.” She counted on it. Sometimes the only thing in the world she could count on was Belle’s friendship. “Please understand that we all have to do what we feel is best.”
Her lips turned down in an almost sad expression. “That’s true. I just need you to know that I want only the best for you.”
Belle’s cell trilled.
“You should answer that,” Kinley said. Belle called herself “just a secretary,” but Kinley knew that she valued her job—and the three lawyers she worked for. She ran their office like clockwork and had for the last year.
“It’s Kellan,” Belle said apologetically. “I’m sorry. We’re working on a big murder case. Do you mind? I’ll probably have to run back to my room because my files are there.”
“Go.” She was glad Belle had a career she loved.
The door closed behind her best friend. Someday one of those three lawyers she worked for was going to wake up and see what a huge catch Belle was. She’d met Kellan, Eric, and Tate. They were gorgeous and smart, and any one of them would be a great husband for Belle.
Or all three.
Kinley let her head fall back. She had to let that notion go, but the idea of those three hot lawyers just played in her head. It wasn’t that she thought they were right for her—they had their eyes on Belle—but the idea of being surrounded by strong men just did it for Kinley.
She loved her dad. She really did, but she’d watched her mom have to be the strong one all her life. Certainly, it wasn’t wrong to wish for something more…
Was Greg capable of loving and protecting her? She worried about that…
Staring at the woman in the mirror, Kinley acknowledged that she was his entrée into old-money society, a second chance for Greg Jansen. His first wife had been a model. Carrie Anthony had been beautiful and successful. As far as Kinley could tell, she’d become a star. Then mental illness had tragically cut her life short.
Two months after their marriage, she’d killed herself.
But Kinley wasn’t that girl. She was strong. She didn’t run away from her responsibilities. Once she said “I do,” she would be there forever.
Kinley turned back to the mirror and straightened her dress. It was almost time to start the rest of her life. Nothing could save her from it now.

* * * *


Through the hidden cameras they’d planted in the suite the night before, Dominic Anthony stared at the blonde in the wedding dress on the screen. After a few minutes of surveillance, he knew that the gorgeous bride had a pretty heart-shaped face and a juicy hourglass figure. Too bad she was a money-grubbing whore.
“There. I think I fixed the audio. Is the sound in the suite back on?” Riley asked, looking up from his computer, already dressed in the black and white uniform of room service staff.
“I think so.” Dom nodded.
“Good. Shitty that it crapped out through that whole conversation with her sister,” Riley groused.
Dominic didn’t care. He’d doubted they’d missed much. Everything was in place now. Years of planning was finally coming together. So why did he have a deep pit in his stomach, a feeling of gnawing anxiety as he listened.
“Oh, the audio is definitely working again. She’s talking about how much she loves the creep.” And Dominic couldn’t stand it. Somehow hearing her say she loved a hardened criminal made his skin crawl.
He almost wished Riley wasn’t so good at his job. To be honest, he’d enjoyed just watching the blonde. She was so freaking beautiful. Her seeming innocence made her look like a girl who would appreciate a man’s—or men’s—comfort and protection. But the second Riley had restored the sound, the words that had come out of the bride’s mouth proved the image was all false.
I don’t care about how good he is. He’s going to be my husband. Have you seen all the gifts he’s already given me?
And to think he’d mooned over her for even a second. He was a stupid ass. He’d seen Kinley Kohl’s picture and half fallen in love with her sweet face and banging body on the spot. Blonde curls and caramel brown eyes, and that husky voice that went straight to his cock.
But she couldn’t wait to jump into bed with Satan, so she was pretty much on the “no touch” list.
Still, he was going to do what he must in order to save her life. She wasn’t going to die like his baby sister had. Greg Jansen was going to pay for his crimes—and Kinley Kohl was the key.
Law Anders stepped up and looked at the screen. He was wearing the same starched uniform as his brother. It was almost go time. “Does that mean she’s stopped talking about how fat she is?”
“What?” Dominic scowled.
“Yeah, just before all that crap about loving Jansen.” Law made gagging sounds. “I heard everything she said to both her sister and Annabelle. I don’t get it. She’s gorgeous. How can anyone think she’s fat? I swear, my hand is itching.”
Law liked to spank women, especially pretty women who mouthed off about how unattractive they were. Kinley Kohl was practically his perfect woman. Fuck, she was practically all of their perfect woman, if only her heart was half as sweet as her looks. But no. She was willing to marry a violent killer because he bought her some luggage.
“Focus, man,” Dominic barked. “She’s talked a lot about how much shit Jansen’s bought her.”
Law frowned, his eyes never leaving the screen. “I’m telling you, it’s an act. She’s scared. She needs us.”
“You’re insane, Law. Delusional.”
He stared at his friend. Law Anders was supposed to be the surly one. He mostly communicated in growls and snarls, but ever since Dominic had put him on the surveillance of Kinley Kohl, he’d been all complete sentences and smiles. Oh, his lips didn’t curl up much, and he looked a little like he was in pain, but for Law, that was a brilliant grin.
Riley stared at his older brother. “This isn’t like you, Law. You know who she is.”
So they’d had conversations. Dominic had wondered about that. Riley and Law Anders were the closest thing he had to a family because he’d more or less grown up with the brothers.
He’d helped Riley get into Harvard and they’d attended the Ivy League institution together for a time. When patriotic duty had called, Dominic had gone off to the military. Law had joined up, too. Before it was all over, Law had taken an IED and lost function of his legs, so Dominic had left the service to come home and help the men he considered his brothers. Law was a tough son of a bitch. Even after the doctors had told him he would never walk again, he was up and running eighteen months later. Now Anthony Anders was one of the premier investigative firms in the country. They worked for law firms and police departments.
But this case was personal.
“She’s the target,” Dominic said in no uncertain terms. “She’s the woman who’s going to give us all the ammunition we need to finally prove what kind of a man Greg Jansen is.”
The kind willing to kill a woman for money, Dominic thought in a rage. Even a woman as sweet as his sister.
The time had come to avenge Carrie by beating Jansen at his own game. And Kinley Kohl was his sledgehammer. He had everything he needed with the singular exception of a witness. After today, problem solved. He’d do whatever it took to make Kinley spill everything she knew until she practically sang. What he didn’t need was Law falling in lust with her.
Even though it would be a really easy thing to do.
“You guys haven’t been watching and talking to her the way I have.” Law’s eyes never left the screen. “She has little tells. She smiles a little too brightly when she’s lying.”
“She has different smiles?” Riley asked with a frown.
“Yep,” Law replied. “And she’s using her fake smile now. Watch the difference between the one she uses on our little Benedict Arnold and her sister.”
“Hey, she’s trying to help Kinley.” Dominic wasn’t going to let Law throw Annabelle Wright under the bus. She was a hell of a woman, choosing to do something brave and save her friend’s life. “If Annabelle hadn’t agreed to intervene, do you really think Kinley would have come back from her honeymoon alive?”
“I’m not saying we should let her marry the fucker,” Law replied. “I just wish you would let me talk to her instead of carrying through with this crazy plan. She’s a smart woman. She’ll listen.”
Dominic seriously doubted that. “Like she’s been listening to Annabelle all this time? She’s a socialite who takes lunches and goes to charity balls. How fucking intellectual can she be?”
“She’s raised millions of dollars for the homeless. And those lunches she takes are usually about her charity.”
He hated to burst Law’s bubble because the guy so rarely had a positive outlook on anything, but he had to do it. “Her charity is on the brink of ruin.”
“Because of her father.” Law could also be a little like a pit bull with a nice hunk of meat when he decided something. He never fucking let go.
But Dominic needed Law on his side. “Her gambling father who’s run the whole family into the ground. Yeah, and she just keeps feeding him money. She’s giving him funds earmarked for warm coats and shoes for poor children. She’s probably hoarding some herself for shopping sprees.”
“You’ve got her all wrong.” Law’s jaw squared, and Dominic just knew he wasn’t going to like what his best friend was about to say. “I think she’s the one for us.”
“Fuck.” Riley put a hand to his head, shaking it as though he couldn’t believe what his brother had just said.
Dominic felt his blood pressure tick up. “Are you fucking crazy?”
Law held out his hands in defense. “Just listen to me. She’s not what you think she is. I don’t know why she’s marrying him.”
“For his money,” Dominic shot back.
Law ran a frustrated hand on top of the dark stubble of his buzz cut. “Yeah, but the money isn’t for her. I think she’s trying to save her family. You should know something about that.”
“I never spread my legs to save my sister.” What he didn’t say was that he would have. He would have done anything to save Carrie. “This isn’t the same thing at all. She’s marrying for money because her father gambled everything away. You are willfully misjudging her because you want to fuck her. Do I need to take you off this case? You’re either with me or against me, brother.”
He wasn’t sure what he would do without Law. Riley was the computer genius, but Law was really smart muscle. He’d come to rely on the man’s instincts, his training, his sheer tenacity. His friendship.
But he owed it to Carrie to succeed. He couldn’t allow Law’s obvious attraction to Kinley Kohl to stand in the way of justice.
He could still hear his sister’s whispers on his voice mail.
Dom, I need to talk to you as soon as possible. Please call me back. It’s all going wrong. I’m leaving Greg. I think he’s…I have to go. He’s here. Call me.
He’d been off with Riley and Law, screwing some brunette he’d met at a bar while his sister was being murdered.
Law’s face cleared, becoming a polite blank. “Of course not. I know how much this means to you. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
He turned away from the monitors, all excitement gone. Law was a predator again, cold and unfeeling. Exactly what Dominic needed. So why did he feel like he’d just taken something precious from his friend?
Riley leaned in. “He’s fine, man. We’re both here for you. She’s just his type, that’s all.”
Pretty, blonde, and stacked was just about every man’s type, but he’d never seen Law react so fiercely to a woman. What had he learned about her that Dominic hadn’t?
It didn’t matter. Getting her isolated and making her talk did.
“We’ve got movement. Annabelle just rang for room service. That’s our cue. She’ll make sure Kinley is alone in that suite for the next fifteen minutes.” Riley turned back to him. “Who’s ready to roofie a blonde? This guy. Come on, Law, you can stare at her boobs up close.”
Law sent his brother his happy middle finger. “Let’s get this done.”
Dominic put a hand on Law’s shoulder. “We’re not going to hurt her. We’re saving her.” She might not thank him for it, but… “You know that.”
Law nodded, but Dominic wasn’t convinced. “Sure. We need to go. See you at the extraction point.”
Sometimes Law sounded like he was still in the military. He and Riley walked out.
Dominic turned back to the screen. Kinley was a gorgeous woman, and he had a wistful, fleeting thought that it would have been nice if she had been the one woman who could love all three of them. The woman who could become the center of their world.
She turned, her face so sad, so beautiful that he nearly reached out and touched the screen.
He growled a little as he turned away and started wiping the room clean. He didn’t have time for bullshit. He had a killer to catch.
And a hostage to nab.

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