Her closets had been ransacked and her clothes scattered about the room. She had to maneuver around her mattress, which was thrown to the floor, to get to her dresser. A chill shook her as she picked up her underwear. Someone had pawed through her panties and bras.
The thought of putting them on after some sicko fondled them turned her stomach. She knew it was irrational, but she’d rather buy new ones than wear those.
Most of her clothes were covered in broken glass from where the thieves had destroyed her mirror and picture frames. The only items to escape unscathed were a pair of jeans and a T-shirt that were in the dryer. Every suit, sweater, dress and jacket would have to go to the cleaners to make sure all the slivers of glass were removed.
Hot tears trickled down her cheeks. Why would someone do something like this to her?
“Ma’am, if you’re ready I’ll walk you out.” A young, female officer waited for her by the door.
Jane wiped her eyes with her hands and took a quick, shaky breath to get herself back under control. “Thanks.”
The officer walked her to the door. Jane waved her off and headed to her car. As she drove out of the parking lot she began to make a list. Tomorrow she’d have to go shopping and replace some of the basic necessities like underwear and—
A hand clamped over her mouth.
“Don’t say a word. Just drive.”
Luther “Lex” D’Angelo watched in the review mirror as his neighbor’s eyes widened. There was a fifty-fifty chance that she’d panic and drive them straight into a tree, but he had to take the risk. If someone had found where he lived, they’d recognize his car too and follow him.
He didn’t know what the hell was going on, but he understood when someone was after him. What they’d want with his uptight neighbor, he had no idea.
The emergency recall came to him twenty-four hours ago and he’d come out of deep cover immediately. Changing four planes and two time zones without any sleep or information left him tired, grubby and more than a bit pissed off. He needed a shower, sleep and answers. Not necessarily in that order.
“I’m going to take my hand away, don’t scream or you could get us both killed.”
The whites of her eyes showed as she widened them even more. Christ, if she got any more panicked she’d freaking hyperventilate. He dropped his hand, but didn’t sit back in the seat. No, he wanted to be nice and close in case she decided to turn around and report him to the cops.
“Who are you? What do you want?” she asked, her voice tight.
“What? You don’t recognize your own neighbor? I’m crushed.” He made eye contact with her in the rearview mirror.
She slammed on the brakes and he almost flew over the seat.
“Jesus, lady! Be careful, you almost killed us both!”
Her hand left the steering wheel and fluttered around her face. “What are you doing in my car, scaring me like that? I almost had a heart attack when you wrapped your hand over my mouth.” She turned to look at him. “Do you know your place was broken into? We should go back and talk to the police—”
“No! No police.” He loomed over her, trying to intimidate her. “Get moving. Now.”
Her hands flitted like startled butterflies.
For a brief second he felt bad about freaking her out, but got over it. They needed to get the hell out of here and if it took him scaring the bejeezus out of her, then so be it.
“Where do you want me to go?”
“Just drive, I’ll let you know when to turn.”
When they merged into traffic, Lex hauled his exhausted body into the passenger seat and pushed the bags occupying it on the floor. He made sure his gun was still in place under his jacket before leaning back against the seat. It wasn’t his usual weapon, but he hadn’t had time to get his SIG through customs so he’d had to abandon it.
“Where were you headed?” he asked.
“I was going to find a hotel for the night.”
Her eyes kept darting towards him as if waiting for him to attack her. Every time he moved she jumped. Good. If she stayed scared she wouldn’t argue as much. Maybe.
Lex didn’t know how much longer her fear would keep the broomstick out of her ass, but he’d enjoy it while it lasted. It wouldn’t be long before she returned to looking down her snooty nose at him again. Abject terror could only do so much.
“That works for me. I could use some sleep. Make sure you get a room with a big bed. I like to spread out.” He pretended to close his eyes and ignored her as she sputtered. His head ached with fatigue and he wasn’t sure how much longer he could stay awake.
The car slowed as she drove into a Holiday Inn. He grabbed the bags he’d dumped and got out of the car. She flinched when he wrapped his arm around her shoulders but he ignored it.
“Don’t get chatty with the guy at the desk. Do nothing to stand out in his mind, just get a room.”
“I don’t understand why you’re doing this. I’m sure the police want to talk to you about the break-in at your place.”
“They probably do, but I don’t have time for that now. Just get the damn room and remember what I told you.” He took her hand and wrapped it around his back so she could feel the gun under his shirt.
Her face went white and her strangely colored hazel eyes practically bugged out. Little Miss Debutant wasn’t expecting that now was she?
Lex chuckled under his breath and nuzzled her ear. When the desk clerk glanced up from his book, he’d see just another couple ready to bed down for the night. Nothing out of the ordinary. That is if he could get Janey here to relax a bit. “Try not to make a scene.” He ran his hand down her arm and felt her shiver.
He silently deliberated the intelligence of using her credit card to get a room but decided it was a manageable risk. As far as he knew, Jane was a fine, upstanding citizen who got caught in the cross-fire of his job. No one should be tracking her. Until he got more information from his boss, he had to go on the assumption that whoever trashed their condos was after him and he couldn’t use his ID.
God, he hated making assumptions. They always came back to bite him on the ass.
Lex stroked her arm again and tried to act like a guy about to get lucky. Jane stiffened up even more. Instead of looking like a woman about to settle in with her lover, it seemed like she was on her way to her execution.
No wonder she never had any guys at her place. She was probably frigid. Figures. Of all the women in the world he had to get stuck with her. This day couldn’t get much worse.