Conquer Your Love(Surrender Your Love 02)

By: J.C. Reed

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PROLOGUE

JETT

MAYFIELD REALTIES WAS situated on the sixtieth floor of Trump Tower in the bourgeoning business district of New York City. A little after eight a.m. Jett Mayfield sat in his office overlooking the busy street below. The people and yellow taxis looked like ants in constant motion: always hurried, always tense. Like the city, Jett had once been abuzz with life—or his former interpretation of it: live hard, work even harder. Until he met her. There was something about Brooke Stewart that had changed something inside him. It wasn’t her beautiful chestnut eyes, nor the way she moved—confident and yet reserved. She had talked to him on a deeper level, touching something he had thought untouchable. His initial intention had been different though. His agenda had been to make her fall for him, not through words, but through actions and sex, lots of the latter, because he had wanted something she had. Not for himself, but for the man and for the company to which he owed everything. But events took a couple of turns he didn’t expect.

When the plan backfired, she disappeared.

A shadow belonging to the past: gone but not forgotten.

For the past hour he had been staring at the cell phone, leaving him a tangled mess of fury and frustration. And more pain, which caused even more anger.

How stupid of her to go and not listen to him.

How stupid of her to turn off her phone so he couldn’t reach her. And no matter how many times he called and how many messages he texted, Jett knew instinctively none reached her because if they had, she would feel his agony. She would feel just how important it was that she listen to what he had to say. It wasn’t about his feelings. Fuck them. There was something else he needed to tell her; something that had rendered him sleepless at night, always worried for her, for them, for everything he believed in. And if his suspicions were true, then they needed each other just as much as they needed air to breathe.

“Mr. Mayfield—Jett?” Emma’s head appeared in the doorway, jerking him out of his thoughts. He rewarded her with a frown. It wasn’t like him to be rude, but the girl was a receptionist temporarily promoted as his personal assistant until he could find someone more suitable. As such, she wasn’t yet accustomed to his preferences, which included not bothering him when he didn’t want to be bothered.

Wide-eyed like a deer caught in the headlights, she made no sign to get to the point and then fuck off again, leaving him to the darkness clouding his thoughts and the unusual soreness in his chest. He sighed impatiently. “What is it?”

Emma seemed to remember how to speak again, but her wide eyes continued to mirror her insecurity. Jett liked his employees like that. Even if they thought he was a real son-of-a-bitch, they worked harder in order to please him.

“Someone’s here to see you. I told him that you’re busy and to arrange an appointment, but he won’t go away. He’s been here for half an hour.” Emma’s words rained down on him like a waterfall. All he caught was something about a guy being here to see him when he was indisposed.

“Tell him I’m not available.”

“He said it’s important.”

They all did. “Then tell him you came to see me and I specifically told you I’m not available.”

Emma’s eyes widened just a little bit more, if that was even possible. Her frantic glance swept over him in fear. Obviously she wanted to keep her job, but the visitor seemed to frighten her even more than the possibility of displeasing Jett. He had two options: send the girl back out and risk her coming back, interrupting his obsessing about Brooke, or deal with the visitor. In the end, he decided option two was a tad more appealing.

“Show him in.”

Emma’s expression relaxed instantly and she almost bounced out of his office. Glowering, Jett sat back in his chair and began to massage his temples to get rid of the increasing throbbing behind them. If he knew where Brooke was he wouldn’t have to deal with this crap, and everything and everyone else could just go screw themselves. But as things stood, he had to maintain a fa?ade of normalcy before things blew completely out of proportion.

“Jett, my man.” The familiar voice coming from the door jerked Jett back to reality. His attention snapped to his life-long friend, and some of the pressure weighing him down lifted. As usual, Kenny had managed to dodge any dress code and looked like he was about to step into a bar—or jail—rather than into the office of the realty business’s hotshot of the year. Ripped jeans, short sleeved black tee, tattooed upper arms, and pierced eyebrow. Then again, that had been Jett’s style, minus the piercing, for many years before he traded Kenny’s wild lifestyle for his father’s business. He still had the tattoos and the almost faded scars to prove it.

Jett closed the door, briefly registering the curious glances from his employees staring at both him and Kenny. They probably wondered what a man like Kenny was doing in one of the most successful companies in real estate, meeting with no other than the CEO. His employees didn’t know the true Jett. No one did. If they did, they’d run. But not Brooke. She had sensed his dark side and fallen in love with him nonetheless.

“You said you wanted to talk and it was urgent,” Kenny began as soon as Jett had closed the shutters, leaving them sheltered from prying eyes.

“I never said here.”

Kenny shrugged and slumped into Jett’s chair, propping his legs up on the polished oak desk, expertly ignoring the brown leather couches set up near the door, chosen for such an occasion. Jett’s eyes narrowed but he didn’t comment. “I assumed you needed me and that you knew what you were doing,” Kenny said. “You should’ve specified a place. Not my fault you’re being incautious, bro.”

Fuck it. He was right, of course, but the knowledge didn’t stop Jett from glowering. To hide his irritation, he poured two glasses of double malt whiskey from the carafe on the coffee table and pushed one toward Kenny.

“It’s barely morning,” Kenny remarked, his fingers clutching at the glass with remarkable eagerness.

“Who the fuck cares?”

“Point taken.”

The whiskey tasted like expensive honey. A bit too sweet, with smoky and earthy undertones. He hated it, but it was the beverage that went down best with his clients and as such he always had a bottle available in his office. In his five years working for Mayfield Realties he had never touched it—until today.

“I need you to find someone because my private investigator’s doing a shit job, and you’re the only person I trust,” Jett said, barely noticing his friend’s half full glass.

Kenny didn’t blink. “How urgent is it?”

“Major deal.”

“A good hookup and can’t find her number?” Kenny grinned. He had no idea how close he was to the truth.

“Something like that,” Jett remarked dryly as he retrieved a brown Manila envelope from his cabinet and tossed it to Kenny. “Here’s everything you need to know about her. And there’s something else you need to get me.”

Kenny’s brow shot up as he flicked through the envelope and Brooke’s details. His stare remained glued to Brooke’s sleeping face with her wavy hair spread across the pillow like a halo. The picture had been taken with Jett’s cellphone in his luxurious Manhattan apartment, on the last day they spent together. Jett had been sitting in the chair opposite from the four-poster bed, torn whether to spill his secret because she had opened up to him a few days previously, telling him about her painful past and why she didn’t want a relationship. He felt he owed her the truth, but in the end he decided not to spoil the moment. It had been a big mistake because the next thing he knew they had a fight, and she was gone.

Missing without a trail. And he never had the opportunity to explain things.

“Hey, you still with me?” Kenny said, observing Jett, assessing him. “Why did she leave?”

“I dunno. Ask me something else!” Jett grimaced and refilled their glasses. He swigged down the golden liquid in one gulp while Kenny stared at his, leaving it untouched this time. The whiskey burned down Jett’s throat and probably messed with his brain. The beauty of oblivion. If he couldn’t find her, then that was the state he was aiming for.

Kenny just shook his head and pointed at the now closed envelope, his look devoid of emotion. “She’s pretty.” He had always been good at not saying what he thought. It was the reason why he stayed out of trouble—unlike Jett.

“Yeah.”

“When did you last see her?”

“Twenty-four hours ago.”

Kenny’s pretend frown barely hid the beginning of a sarcastic grin. “That’s a really long time.”

Jett knew what he sounded like. Desperate. But it didn’t matter.

“I’m serious.” His voice was cold. Menacing even. He didn’t like it when people made fun of him. “I need to find her. You have a problem with that?”

“Jesus. What happened to you, man?”

“I fucking messed up. I fucked up. I wouldn’t have called you if it wasn’t important.”

Kenny leaned back. He didn’t seem in the least bothered by Jett’s outburst—they had remained friends through tougher shit than that.

“Do you have any idea where she could be? Friends? Family? An ex or a secret boyfriend?” Kenny asked.

If I did I wouldn’t be here wasting my time with you, would I?

“I was the secret boyfriend.” Jett’s hand shot through his dark hair as he tried to calm down the angry voice inside him. No good in lashing out at the people around him. They weren’t to blame.

“I tried calling her mother who didn’t seem particularly worried, but claimed she had no idea,” Jett said. “The roommate’s gone with her, so I can only assume they both took a road trip. The detective and his team called every hotel in the state of New York.” Jett frowned at the memory. He was no professional, but even he knew no woman and her best friend would move out of their cozy apartment and into a hotel for no reason. Talk about wasting precious hours. “I can only assume she’s staying with her friend’s family.”

“Your guy checked credit card companies?”

Jett nodded. “Last time she used it was at some grocery store across from her building.”

“What can you tell me about her friend?”

Jett shook his head grimly, signaling that was a dead end. “I know nothing about her. Only that her phone’s switched off, too.”

Kenny nodded and for a moment silence ensued. Jett’s heart began to beat a million miles an hour, though whether it was from the amount of alcohol coursing through his blood or from the seriousness of the situation, he couldn’t tell.

“Maybe she’s left the country.” Kenny eventually resumed the conversation.

Jett had thought about it and discarded the option quickly. “How could she have paid for it without her credit card? I need you to dig deeper than that.” He looked down at Kenny who remained silent, his displeasure clearly visible in the frown line on his forehead.

“I’m out of the business, Jett. You know that.”

“I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important,” Jett whispered.

“You’re my best friend and I’d do anything for you, bro. But last time I barely got away with it. I vowed to stay out of trouble.”

Kenny’s hesitation reflected in his dark eyes, and for a moment Jett was sure his friend would leave him hanging. And then his gaze met Jett’s and Jett knew he had won.

“You like her, don’t you?” Kenny asked.

“More than I care to admit.” It was the truth.

“Then I’ll do it. Just promise to have my back if the wrong people come knocking on my door.”

Jett smiled, and for the first time since the fight with Brooke he almost felt enthusiastic. Hopeful. Because Kenny always knew what to do. He wasn’t one of the most feared hackers for no reason.

“Thanks, man. I appreciate it,” Jett said.

“I’ll call once I have a lead.” Kenny stood and Jett walked him to the door.



***



At 11.45 a.m the cell’s screen buzzed to life with an unknown caller. Jett had been stuck in a meeting for the last two hours, barely paying attention to his father’s endless rambling about a few new acquisitions and the consequent profits the company could make.

Jett excused himself and shot out of the room, pressing the cell to his ear but not speaking until he reached the men’s restroom. The faint scent of roses wafted past as Jett peered into each cubicle, making sure it was empty.

“She boarded a plane to Europe,” Kenny said as a means of introduction.

Had the private detective missed the credit card charge?

“Wait until you hear the next part,” Kenny coaxed. “You sure you were the only secret boyfriend? Because it looks like someone else paid for the tickets.”

Brooke wasn’t like that. And yet did he really know her?

“Who?” Jett’s voice was a layer of ice.

“Ken Clarkson. He’s a lawyer from London. Owns a successful firm. Not married.”

Why the heck did he need to know the last part? Was he supposed to feel better about the fact that Brooke might be seeing a not married guy? When did they meet and why did she trust him enough to let a stranger whisk her away on vacation? Could he be an ex?

“Jett?” Kenny’s tone was strained with something. Certainly not worry. More like humor.

“Give me a sec.”

The pressure behind Jett’s eyes intensified at the thought of Brooke in the arms of another man, claiming what should be Jett’s. He moistened a hand under the cold water tap and ran it over his feverish nape. The cool moisture provided enough diversion to help him gather his thoughts through all the brain fog. And that’s when he began to put two and two together. A lawyer. Paid-for tickets. Europe.

“Where exactly in Europe?”

“Let me check.” The sound of flicking papers carried down the line an instant before Kenny said, “Some place called Bellagio. Never heard of it.”

He had found her in—

Bellagio—Italy.

Fuck!

That wasn’t good. On a scale from one to ten, this was a hundred. A disaster.

“When?”

“Last night,” Kenny said. “She landed earlier this morning.”

Jett’s heart began to thump just a little bit harder. If he jumped on a plane now, he’d be there in eight hours. The actual work would begin now but he wasn’t worried about that. He’d never been scared of giving his best—be it working at his job or getting a woman. What worried him was that he could be too late. He had to get to her, and quickly.

“Do you need me to find out more about the lawyer?” Kenny asked.

“I need something else.” Jett paused as he looked around to make sure no one could hear him. The restroom was still empty, but he lowered his voice nonetheless to be on the safe side. “Find me a gun dealer in Bellagio.”

A pause then, “You’re not going to kill her? Or the lawyer?” He could sense Kenny’s doubt.

What the fuck?

Jett had done many stupid things in his life, but he had never been even remotely inclined to harm a woman. He took a deep breath to steady the waves of anger rushing through him. “Just find me the right guy, Kenny.”

“I was just—”

“Don’t,” Jett said, interrupting him. He had no time for questions. It was getting late and he had to get the company jet ready. “Just do what I said.”

His father’s meeting was still going strong as Jett returned to the conference room. He wasn’t keen on wasting any more time, but as a CEO he couldn’t just leave without notice—or without anybody noticing. It wouldn’t bode well with his reputation. As Jett slipped back into his seat, Robert Mayfield’s stare fell on Jett and his brows shot up. The old man didn’t like to entertain the idea that something else might be more important. Jett scribbled ‘business meeting in Europe—critical’ on one of the notepads carrying the company logo and pushed it across the table toward his father. Signaling Emma to approach, Jett instructed her to gather his stuff, get the company pilot on the phone, and cancel all appointments for the week. He drove home to change and get his passport, then straight to the airport where the company’s private plane would take him all the way to the place he visited not that long ago. With her.

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