“Well?” he demanded when Hank answered on the first ring.
“It’s set and in place. Leave through the front door. Take her with you. Gabriel and Sanchez are posing as plainclothes detectives downstairs and waiting to arrest you both for prostitution. That’ll get you off the street and back with us. We’ll take the scenario from there and build up the necessary front once you come in.”
Susan’s eyebrow lifted.
“No booking on the records. No mug shots. No—”
“For someone demanding extraction, you’re being awful picky,” Hank snapped.
“This is my wife. I will
have her respected.”
Susan spun away and left.
Dylan clenched his teeth. “Understood?”
Hank snorted. “Yeah. You’re a prick. You know that?”
“From what I understand, that’s the best part of a man.” He ended the call, then wiped the phone down and dropped it into the toilet tank. Water and cleanser would take care of the rest. By the time someone eventually found it, there’d be nothing much left.
Susan sat in one of the chairs at the small round table. She stared at the blue and red swirls on the draperies and didn’t look up when he sat on the edge of the bed.
“It’s time. I’m the john. You’re the hooker. Two of our guys are downstairs waiting to arrest us. All fake. I’ll have you home in a couple of hours.”
“Not far behind.” Dylan would have to go through some debriefing.
“Should I pack? Will we have to leave? What about my job, the family? Dylan…I’m—”
“Shh.” He grabbed her hand and squeezed her fingers. “It’ll be okay. One thing at a time.”
Susan drew in a shaky breath and nodded. Her brown eyes glistened, but were free of tears. “Yes, of course. I’m ready.”
She stood and brushed by him to grab her purse. Despite the shower, the whiff of scent unique to her still drifted his way. He pushed to his feet and pulled her under his arm in their walk to the door. On the off chance anyone monitored them on surveillance, it’d be clear to see their lust was quelled. Still, he and Susan played it just in case. It killed him to see her smile without the dancing glint behind her eyes. To feel the quiver in her fingers when she pressed her palm against his chest.
Reassurances weren’t possible. She had to trust him. She did
trust him, and he sure as hell didn’t deserve it.
The elevators opened on the first floor. Marble tile mirrored every step. The revolving doors were just ahead, ready to spin them back to their lives. Bellmen hovered to escort guests inside. Traffic was light but steady. Taxis would be just out of sight. Valets whisked other vehicles away the minute the drivers stepped out. It was a protected area, away from the public’s prying eyes. Gabriel and Sanchez were most likely waiting for Dylan to step outside. They’d pull up and invite them into the car, after they made it clear to eavesdroppers they were being arrested. No scene. No publicity. No embarrassment for the hotel.
Dylan wished to hell he was armed. He’d had to leave all weapons behind when he went undercover.
They reached the sweep of revolving glass doors. Susan glanced up at him. He offered her what he hoped was a smile of reassurance to go with the squeeze around her waist. They stepped into together.
One…two…three steps and they were outside.
A shiny black limo zipped to a stop at the curb. The back door swung open. Sky blue eyes peeked out from inside. Dread crawled down Dylan’s spine.
Cabot Logan had one paint-splattered sneaker out of the limo. Gabriel and Sanchez were just pulling into the hotel drive and stuck behind three taxis.
“Get in now,” Cabot told him. “Hurry.”
Dylan gently pushed Susan away from him—better to save her than himself—and started for the car.
Cabot’s gaze darted to Susan, widening a bit before he shuttered his expression. “Both of you. Now!”
Dylan braced himself for the rush of bodyguards forcing them inside. Survivor instinct, he supposed, like the muscles bunching to dive if he heard the click of a handgun chambering a round demanding he comply with Cabot’s order. The privacy window between driver and passengers was down. Jorge was behind the wheel. No one else appeared to be inside, only those sky-blue eyes calling him into the vehicle. There was a panicked edge to Cabot’s voice Dylan had never heard before and he couldn’t quite place what it was. Anger would be more appropriate than fear. It was both those…and something more. Hurt?
The possibility cut Dylan to the bone. Still, he imagined Susan lying dead at his feet.
Cabot scrambled out of the car. Dylan pulled Susan behind him, determined to protect her if he’d misjudged this man. Cabot’s gaze swept over her again and his lips twitched. A breath squared his shoulders and shook off visible emotion. It made it damn hard to read the man. The only time Cabot ever let his guard down was when he was alone with Dylan. Though Cabot was a force to be reckoned with in the business world, away from it he was fun, light-hearted, and loving.
“There are cops on their way to arrest you both,” he said in a low voice. “Just get in the car.”
What the fuck?
Anger swept everything else away. There was only one way Cabot would know about that. Okay, several ways. All of which pointed to the fact the investigation was screwed and Dylan along with it.
If he turned and walked away right now, would he get a bullet in the back for his effort? Should he play again and see what he could salvage? The thought made him laugh at the irony. Minutes ago, he wanted to dump it all and leave. Now he was trying to fix it?
Right now he had a much bigger problem. He had to find a way to leave Susan behind and safe. Gabriel and Sanchez would pull her in as planned and get her home.
“The woman’s not a part of it,” he told Cabot.
His lip curled at the corner, deepening the curve bracketing it. “Oh, she’s very much a part.” He jerked his head toward the car. “In. I’d hate to have a scene. I’ve risked a lot to save your ass tonight.”
Not nearly as much as Dylan risked right now. Both his worlds hadn’t just overlapped, they’d collided. Implosion was imminent.
He pressed his hand against the small of Susan’s back, urging her forward. She moved without question, trusting him when he didn’t deserve it. Soon it would all be over. There wasn’t much Dylan could do to stop the train wreck. Not that he’d be alive to see the aftermath. But she would. He’d make sure of that. He’d rather her live out the remainder of her life hating him than to have her killed for his acts.
Susan ducked into the car. Dylan slid onto the leather seat beside her.
“No”—Cabot sat down and shut the door—“I want her between us.”
It was Susan who moved, crawling over Dylan’s lap, then wiggling into the space between the two men. Dylan shifted so his body turned toward them. It gave Susan room to put some distance between herself and Cabot, and Dylan better positioned to protect her, if necessary. She clutched her small purse with both hands, gaze focused exclusively on Cabot. Dylan considered sliding over to the opposite bench seat, but didn’t want to upset him any further.
Cabot leaned toward the driver. “Jorge, could you please take us to the marina?”
“Anything. It is my pleasure.”
“Thank you. Sorry to shut you out, but we need to discuss a few things.”
Cabot closed the privacy window between them as he fished his cell phone from the pocket of his khaki cargo pants, also paint-splattered. He’d been working at one of the houses the Tristan Foundation was renovating. Jorge must have stopped by and offered Cabot a ride.
Dylan tried to make something of the coincidence, but couldn’t. People were constantly checking on the latest projects, offering help when they could. The energy Cabot and his friends put into the charitable foundation was infectious, uniting people from all walks of life.
Cabot hit the number five button—the captain of his yacht. “Sorry to rouse you at the last minute, Skip. Something’s come up. Could you please prep the yacht? I’ll be there within the hour, traffic notwithstanding. And bring your lady. I know how she loves going out on it.” Cabot listened for the response and nodded as if the man could see. “Ah…visiting with her mother. Yes, there seems to be a lot of that lately. I hope they enjoy Wicked
tonight. There will be other times.” He ended the call and dropped the phone back into his pocket.
“I wonder if her mother is as interesting as yours seems to be,” he said.
Dylan fought the urge to wrap a protective arm around Susan and pull her closer. He’d given Cabot the excuse he always did during these monthly trysts—that he was visiting his mother. The soft interior lighting didn’t help Dylan read the man. It cast shadows and highlighted the mix of emotions on Cabot’s face. Cabot was more closed off than ever, all walls firmly in place. Dylan didn’t like it, for many reasons. Guilt and fear were at the top of his list, the horrible knowledge he’d hurt this man—this seemingly good man—deeply.
“Here I thought you wearing the tie I’d given you was to impress your mom.” Cabot reached over and hooked his finger under the blue silk.
A whiff of Susan’s juices drifted Dylan’s way. Cabot couldn’t help but smell it too.
His eyebrow lifted while he absorbed that fact. “Clearly, you found other uses for it tonight.” He dropped the tie and leaned back. “When I heard you were going to be arrested for prostitution, I couldn’t believe it. I thought…” He shrugged one shoulder. “I don’t suppose it matters what I thought. This”—he waved his finger at Susan—“explains so much and leaves so many more questions.”
He traced his finger down Susan’s cheek, down her throat, down to the valley of her breasts. Dylan didn’t know whether he wanted to break it or push it more firmly into place. Her nipples hardened, creating little shadows over her breasts in the passing light. Her breath changed to that little quiver she always got when aroused. Dylan’s cock stirred at the thought.
“She’s very beautiful.” Cabot followed the upper curve of her breasts, then wandered to her collarbone and the slight hollow above.
Her fingers flexed around the purse. Dylan watched her pulse flutter along her neck.
“I presume you have a name?”
“Does is really matter?” she replied.
Dylan applauded the fact she could speak and stay in the character she was supposed to be. Then Cabot curled his hand against her jaw and pressed his thumb on the point of her chin.
“Oh, it matters. It matters very much.”
Goddamnit, baby. Not your real name.
“Wholesome, pure, simple. Not Suzie or Sue?”
She shrugged one shoulder. “Some shorten it to Sue. Some people put nicknames on everyone.”