The night was silent and still. The air, thick and
humid, held a feeling of expectancyâ€”as if aware that rescue
had finally arrived. Stooped behind a low brick wall, his
eyes narrowed into a squint behind powerful binoculars, LCR
operative Dylan Savage surveyed the perimeter of the
massive property owned by Stanford Reddington.
The house in front of him held Jamie Kendrickâ€”a young
woman whoâ€™d been abducted by a maniac and then sold to
Reddington. Purchased for what purpose, Dylan didnâ€™t even
want to consider. Their mission was clear: rescue. Their
plan: a soft entry. Grabbing Jamie and getting the hell
out, hopefully without firing a shot.
â€śEveryone in place and ready?â€ť Noah McCall asked
quietly. The Last Chance Rescue leader kept his voice calm
and low, his tone revealing none of the tension Dylan knew
he must feel.
On missions, McCall acted as though ice ran through his
veins. That was an attitude Dylan had adopted long before
heâ€™d joined LCR. Never let them see you flinch. Heâ€™d
learned that lesson as a child. Staying expressionless had
saved his ass more than once.
Dylan answered with a soft â€śReady.â€ť
Adrenaline surged as the three other people on the op
answered in the affirmative. Any second nowâ€¦
â€śGo,â€ť McCall whispered.
Staying low, Dylan and McCall ran toward the back door
that their informant, Raphael, had promised would be
unlocked. Noah eased the door openâ€¦Dylan peered inside.
Scanning the large kitchen, he briefly noted that not only
did the room look like a pigsty, it stank of old food and
stale alcohol. The room had one thing in its favor: no
Dylan entered first, McCall behind him. Dim light
filtered from a greasy bulb over the stove revealed the
remains of last nightâ€™s dinner and four dirty plates on the
counter. Four here, including Jamie?
In the middle of the kitchen, the men stoppedâ€¦waitedâ€¦
listened. On cue, a loud, thudding knock sounded at the
front door. A moment of dead silence, then lights came on
as someone stomped toward the door. The instant the front
door opened, Dylan and McCall moved.
Guns at the ready, their steps silent, they made their
way to the next room. At the entrance to the living room,
McCall went one direction, Dylan the other. Sticking his
head into a small den and a bathroom, Dylan found nothing
other than furniture and more evidence that slobs lived
One minute later, they met in the middle of the living
room. The loud protestations coming from the front of the
house reassured them that the homeowner would be occupied
for several more moments.
Black eyes glittering with cold determination, McCall
mouthed silently, â€śAnything?â€ť
Dylan shook his head.
Both men turned and headed up the stairway. Halting at
the top of the stairs, they assessed the area. Bright
lights from the first floor allowed them to see three rooms
to check on this floor. McCall jerked his head at the
stairs to the third floor.
With a quick nod, Dylan headed upstairs. At the top of
the small landing, he stopped and listened. The only sounds
were the distant mumblings of Reddington as he argued with
the Spanish police. Two rooms to check here. The door to
one of the rooms stood open. Easing his head in, he looked
around. A storage room, filled with furniture and boxes.
Swiftly, silently, Dylan moved across the hallway,
toward the closed door of the other room. His ear to the
wood, he listened and heard a soft, trembling sigh.
He put his hand on the doorknob. Locked. Pulling a small
tool from the belt at his waist, he inserted it into the
keyhole. At the sweet sound of a click, he twisted the
knob, eased the door open and stepped inside. The room,
midnight dark and deathly quiet, held the musky scent of
sour sweat and felt heavy with fear, confirming what he
already knew: she was here.
The softest whisper of sound put him on alert; half a
second later, a small body leaped on his back. Not wanting
to hurt or frighten her further, Dylan dropped to the floor
with Jamie Kendrick hanging onto his shoulders.
She ground her knee into the small of his back and spoke
in a harsh, raspy voice, â€śTouch me and Iâ€™ll kill you.â€ť
Admiration and compassion slammed into him. She was
tough. Good. She would need to stay that way. â€śIâ€™m here to
rescue you, Jamie.â€ť
With a soft, laughing sob, she said mockingly, â€śYeah, my
knight in shining armor.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m with Last Chance Rescue.â€ť
After a long pause, she whispered hoarsely, â€śWhatâ€™s
â€śA rescue organization.â€ť
Another long pause. Finally, a shaky, tear-filled voice
asked, â€śAre you for real?â€ť
â€śYes.â€ť He waited two heartbeats, giving her time to
absorb the information. Then, since time was of the
essence, he said, â€śWe need to get out of here.â€ť
Her slight weight eased off his back, and he felt her
shift away from him.
Getting to his feet, Dylan took a flashlight from his
utility belt and clicked it on. His heart thudded and
crashed as he got his first glimpse of the slender, petite
Jamie Kendrick. Perched on the edge of a bed, sheâ€™d snagged
a sheet to cover herself. Untamed, golden-brown hair draped
over her bare shoulders. Gray-blue eyes shimmered with
tears, white teeth bit at her lips as if to control their
trembling. The thin sheet covering her nude body shook
uncontrollably. Despite his reassurance, she was terrified
that this was a trick.
â€śFound her,â€ť he whispered softly into his mic.
â€śGet her out,â€ť Noah answered softly. â€śReddingtonâ€™s still
at the door, arguing. Iâ€™ve got one bastard down, two more
on the run.â€ť
â€śAffirmative,â€ť Dylan answered.
There was no time for more reassurance. They needed to
get their asses out of hereâ€¦now. He took a step toward
her. â€śLetâ€™s go.â€ť
She lifted her hands to tighten the sheet around her
body and he saw a handcuff dangling at her wrists. Pulling
a standard key from his belt, he reached for her hand.
Admiration grew in him as he watched her stiffen, but
refuse to back away. He unlocked the cuff from her bruised,
raw wrist and then let her go. The last thing she probably
wanted was for a man to touch her. Unfortunately, he was
going to have to do more than just touch her if they were
to get out of here in one piece.
With a sweep of his flashlight over the room, Dylan took
another quick scan. No clothing. He pulled his black cotton
T-shirt over his head and handed it to her. â€śPut this on.â€ť
Giving her privacy, he went to the door to peer out. Still
At the sound of a small, relieved sigh, he glanced over
his shoulder. She was ready. Her feet were bare and her
body swayed as she tried to stand. The T-shirt swallowed
her, landing just above her wobbling knees.
â€śItâ€™ll be easier for both of us if you let me carry you
out.â€ť He wasnâ€™t asking for permission, but he didnâ€™t want
to scare her by just lifting her without warning.
â€śI can walk.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re barefoot and weak. We need to get out of here as
fast as we can.â€ť Giving her no time to argue, Dylan reached
for her and scooped her into his arms. Her body was shaking
with terror, but she didnâ€™t fight him and that was all he
Making a rapid exit from the room, he strode quickly
toward the stairway. Halfway down the stairs, the distant
blast of gunfire ramped up the tension. Shit! No way was he
not getting her out of here alive. Holding her tighter
against his chest, he whispered, â€śHang on, sweetheart.â€ť
Lowering his head, Dylan ran like hell.
One month later
Charles de Gaulle Airport
â€śLadies and gentlemen, flight 231 to Atlanta,
Georgia, USA, will begin loading in ten minutes.â€ť
A bright, sunny smile plastered on her face, Jamie
turned to her sister, McKenna. This stiff upper lip thing
was a lot harder than she thought it would be. This wasnâ€™t
goodbye forever, but stillâ€¦. â€śIâ€™ll see you soon againâ€¦I
McKennaâ€™s face, so similar to Jamieâ€™s own, revealed the
same turmoil. â€śYouâ€™re sure you donâ€™t want me to go with
you? Itâ€™s not too late for me to buy a ticket.â€ť
The lump grew in her throat at the offer. McKennaâ€™s
anxiousness was sweet but unnecessary. She wasnâ€™t nervous
or worried. After everything that had happened the last few
months, she felt insulated from the trivial stuff. And
sheâ€™d been given a miracleâ€”her sister. Her biggest concern
was being separated from McKenna again.
â€śIâ€™ll be fine. I just want to get this behind me so I
can move forward.â€ť
â€śWill you have to see him?â€ť
Funny, even the thought of seeing her ex-husband again
didnâ€™t cause the thud of dread it once had. â€śI donâ€™t think
so. My attorney assured me Iâ€™d just need to appear before a
â€śYou know Iâ€™ll be there for you, if you need me. Right?â€ť
She hugged McKenna again. After her rescue, theyâ€™d spent
almost a month together, and had gotten even closer than
theyâ€™d been as kids. Having both survived their own hell,
being together again made them appreciate each other so
Pulling away, she smiled through her tears. â€śYou need to
go see Lucas.â€ť
At the mention of Lucas Kane, a breathtaking expression
came over McKennaâ€™s face. Never had she seen anyone more in
love. And just from the short amount of time Jamie had
spent with Lucas, she knew he felt the same way. Other than
her parents, she had never seen anyone love each other like
â€śYou promise to come back to Europe soon?â€ť
â€śCross my heart. And if not, you can always come see
me.â€ť She gripped McKennaâ€™s hand and held tight. â€śWeâ€™ll
never let each other go again.â€ť
Tears sparkling in her eyes, McKenna nodded
fiercely. â€śNever. I promise.â€ť
They both whirled around at the sound of the familiar
masculine voice. A gasp escaped Jamie before she could stop
it. She hadnâ€™t thought sheâ€™d ever see him again and yet,
here he was. Dylan.
â€śHey, what are you doing here?â€ť McKenna asked.
â€śI heard Jamie was headed back to the States. Iâ€™ve got
some business to take care of there, so I thought Iâ€™d tag
along.â€ť His emerald gaze turned to Jamie. â€śThat okay with
It had been almost a month since sheâ€™d seen him. Dylan
had been the one to carry her out of that house, the one to
rescue her from hell.
Her rescue had been as dramatic as any television drama,
with Dylan and the other LCR operatives, swooping down in
the dead of night and rescuing her from Stanton Reddington
and his vile son. Jamie barely remembered the event other
than Dylanâ€™s gruff, reassuring voice, his strong arms
carrying her out of the house and his words of â€śYouâ€™re safe
now, Jamieâ€ť as heâ€™d handed her over to the EMTs.
Then sheâ€™d been lifted into a helicopter and taken to
the hospital. Sheâ€™d gone from abject misery and terror to
comfort and safety in a matter of seconds. And she had
thought Dylan was the most wonderful of heroes.
For the first couple of days after her rescue, heâ€™d been
kind and wonderfully attentive. Then something had happened
and for the life of her, she didnâ€™t know what. The day of
her release from the hospital, Dylan turned noticeably
cooler. Sheâ€™d tried to tell herself she was just imagining
it, but when heâ€™d given her a barely perceptible nod when
sheâ€™d thanked him once more for her rescue, she had known
it wasnâ€™t imagination.
Those words of thanks were the last ones she thought
sheâ€™d ever get to say to him and now, here he was, going to
the States with her.
Realizing that both McKenna and Dylan were looking at
her strangely, Jamie knew a deep blush covered her fair
skin as she stammered, â€śYesâ€¦of course, thatâ€™s okay with me.â€ť
â€śLadies and gentleman, flight 231 to Atlanta is now
As the airline personnel gave boarding instructions,
Jamie forgot everything other than the knowledge that she
was saying goodbye to her sister. Throwing her arms around
her neck, she whispered in her ear. â€śI love you, Kenna.â€ť
Her voice thick with emotion, McKenna answered
softly, â€śI love you, too. See you soon. Okay?â€ť
Unable to speak for the huge lump in her throat, Jamie
nodded and tightened her arms around her sister one last
timeâ€¦then made herself let go. McKenna didnâ€™t need to see
the uncertainty and dread that suddenly swamped her. After
everything sheâ€™d been through, what was there to fear?
McKennaâ€™s eyes glittered with emotion. â€śCall me as soon
as you land. Okay?â€ť
She nodded again. â€śI will.â€ť
She wasnâ€™t surprised to see McKenna hug Dylan--he seem
to have an affectionate rapport with her sister. Something
that was sadly missing with her.
Carry-on gripped tightly in her hand, Jamie headed to
the ticket agent. At the door, she turned back for one last
glance. McKenna waved and blew a kiss. Jamie gave her the
best smile she could muster and turned to walk down the
narrow tunnel to the plane.
â€śWant me to take your bag?â€ť Dylan asked.
Despite the massive willpower she thought she had, tears
were flooding her eyes. Not looking at him, she shook her
â€śYeah, just hate saying goodbye.â€ť She straightened her
shoulders, determined to get past her weepiness. â€śWhere are
â€śFirst class, row two, seat A.â€ť
Startled, she jerked her head up. â€śIâ€™m in row two, seat
B. Howâ€™d you manage that?â€ť
He shrugged like it was nothing and stopped at the
entrance to the plane, allowing her to go first. As she
passed by him, his closed expression told her he wasnâ€™t
going to explain anything. Not why heâ€™d arranged to sit
with her, and probably not why heâ€™d just shown up, out of
the blue, to travel with her. Telling herself she didnâ€™t
need an explanation, Jamie settled into her seat and
watched as the most handsome and infuriatingly mysterious
man sheâ€™d ever known dropped into the seat next to her.
Would nine hours of sitting beside him give her any
insight? Like why heâ€™d made the effort to travel with her,
but still treated her as though sheâ€™d done something to