And I don’t mind losing sleep
Pray the lord my soul to keep
I’ll get plenty rest so when I’m dead but ’till,
‘Till then won’t you share my bed ‘cos,
All I mind’s losing you
All I mind’s losing you
And I don’t mind losing money
There’s nothing this life owes me
I’ve been given more than I can receive
But for, for you there’s no receipt so,
All I mind’s losing you
All I mind’s losing you
“Elliot, we have to go now.” Ethan is standing in the doorway looking at us. I can’t quite take this in, he wants me to go, where? Why? “Jack has been outside in the car park trying to pick up one of the dancers since the bouncers threw him out. They’re still there. If you move your sorry ass we can follow him. Come on.”
Kate lifts my chin, all anger gone, only her loving concern. “Baby, go, I’ll get TJ to take me home.” Whereas before I felt sluggish now my body responds quickly as I make myself stand. Stella and Kate both look as anxious I feel but now I am running on pure adrenalin.
“Stella, I want you to go back to my place. You will be safe there. Tell TJ to stay there until Ethan and I get back. Kate, you need to call Jen and Karen, let them know that there are extras coming back tonight. I will call Jason and tell him what’s happened.” Kate nods acknowledging my instructions. I don’t want to leave her but this is an opportunity to find out more about the connection between Jack and Linc. “Baby, I’m sorry.”
“I know. Me too. Now go.” She presses her lips against mine and I am glad that she isn’t wearing the wig any more. I long for her deep sea green rather than these strange brown eyes that are staring at me. I want my Katie back.
“I love you more than I can say, babe.” Please, believe in me. I need you.
“Laters babe.” This time the kiss is less gentle, her hands gripping my face then moving my hand to her stomach. “We need you home with us soon.”
Ethan and I move at pace, running out to my truck. Jack is striking out drunkenly across the car park to his vehicle. We watch and then follow as he pulls out onto the main road, his car weaving through the traffic. Luckily enough other patrons are leaving so that we can keep a couple of cars between him and us. I call Jason and quickly explain what we are doing.
“Elliot, I have the surveillance team about a block from you now. They are going to cut in and pick him up and then I want you out of there. This is our area of expertise not yours and you need to get back to Kate.” Jason is all business. Not tonight buddy.
“No way, I need to put the fear of God into this little prick tonight.” The thought of pummeling Jack Hyde’s face for what he just did to Kate is high on my priority list of ways to finish my evening.
“Elliot, I need you to stand down. This is our fight, not yours.”
“Jason, he arrived at the club tonight with Linc Lincoln. Jack Hyde has just become very personal.” I hear him suck in a sharp breath.
“Shit. Elliot, you can’t go there. Linc has too much shit on you for this just to lay down and die. Think about Kate and the baby.” Low blow, buddy, they are about all I am thinking about.
“Jason, I am and remember the shit goes both ways. He takes me down and I will damn well make sure that he goes as well. He won’t fuck with another member of my family ever again.” Ethan is sitting next to me with his fists clenched. Fuck, not the way we wanted to tell him he is going to be an uncle. Not now. “Man, I gotta go. I can see the van now behind me. I’ll drop back and let them take the lead but I’m not going home.”
There is a moment of silence. “Okay, but don’t do anything stupid.”
“You know me, Jase, model citizen, sensible as all fuck.” This at least earns me a small chuckle.
The black van pulls up alongside us and the guy riding shot gun signals. I drop back to let them in front and then follow them across town towards Beacon Hill. Finally we slow down outside a run down apartment building and watch as Jack’s car disappears down the drive. We pull up a block past the entrance and everyone piles out of the cars gathering on the street. Four guys in black suits and sunglasses make up the surveillance team. Fucking MIB or what?
“Phil Johnson, Mr Grey, how do you want to handle this?” Phil has obviously been briefed by Jason and I appreciate that he is deferring to me but now that we are here I am feeling out of my depth. Every bone in my body wants to go in and personally smack the living shit out of this guy but suddenly the risks seem too great. It was that kind of approach that landed you up to your nuts in shit last time.
“I want him frightened – scared enough to leave town – but not damaged. And I don’t want him connecting this with the Grey family. He has to believe that the threat is from Linc Lincoln. Tell him that Mr Lincoln is cutting off his resources. Tell him he wasn’t pleased with his behavior at the club tonight with Miss St James. You might also want to suggest that for his own safety, he leaves Seattle, tonight.”
“You’ve got it, Sir.” We stand and watch them walk inside the building. Waiting for them is agony but after half an hour they emerge with the kind of swagger that says ‘mission accomplished’. They head back to the van except for Phil who comes over to us.
“All done Sir. He was scared enough to start packing as we were speaking so it may pay for you to make yourself scarce. I think he is going to leave tonight. We will follow him out of town and let you know where he is through Mr Taylor.”
“Thanks, Phil.” Ethan and I climb into the truck and leave. The drive back is relatively quiet as Ethan lets me calm down.
“I had lunch with your sister today.” What?
“I wasn’t aware that you knew her.” And I’ve seen you in action in Barbados, so don’t fuck with Mia.
“Don’t go the double standard with me Elliot. As I understand it you’ve knocked up my sister.”
“Don’t start Ethan. This isn’t the same.”
“Really? Are you going to do the right thing or are you going to cut and run?”
“I love her. I will marry her but she isn’t ready to make that decision yet. I’ve been waiting as patiently as I can for her to come around to the idea but it is fucking killing me. So please, don’t make this any worse by trying to have this conversation with her.”
“Okay?” I can’t believe that he is letting this drop so easily. Pussy.
“Look, I’m not exactly over the moon. As her big brother I feel an obligation to say something. But I know that you love her. Hell, by anyone’s standard, you’re totally whipped.”
“Yeah, I am. Are you going to tell me how you know Mia?”
“Nope.” Tight-lipped fuck.
“None of your business. Get a ring on Kate’s finger and we’ll talk.” Ah, now I understand. Well, best of luck buddy. If you can wrestle the crouching tiger that is Mia Grey, good fucking luck to you.
“Done. Just remember, blunt knife…”
“Yeah, yeah. The Kavanagh code…” He chuckles and then goes quiet which suits me fine.
The lights are on in the treehouse as we sweep up the drive. Kate swings the door open and throws herself into my arms before we even make it inside. Her lips fix on mine and I can feel Ethan’s discomfort beside us.
“Elliot, I was so scared.” Tears are in her eyes and I bend down to look at her pretty face, wiping them away with my thumbs.
“Baby, it’s okay, I’m here.” Her arms wrap around my waist and she ushers us inside. Everyone is still awake and standing around anxiously. TJ has a crying Stella hugged into his body. I walk over to her. “Stells, it’s okay. We will work this out tomorrow. Right now Linc won’t be coming after you, TJ took care of that.”
“Listen everyone,” Karen’s husky voice cuts through. “Tonight it is too late to analyze this. Stella, you are down the hall from Elliot and Kate. TJ, you can have the room next door to hers. Ethan you know where you are. Can I suggest that everyone gets some sleep?”
She’s right. It’s 3am and we all need to rest. The morning will be soon enough.
The next day everyone wakes late. Karen and Jen have brunch ready when we all wander out at different stages of the morning. Kate and I move around each other in a gravitational orbit, not daring to be out of each others sight. I am glad it is not just me who feels this way. Eventually we hear from Jason. Phil’s surveillance team followed Jack south to Portland where he checked into a motel. He was back on the road again and heading south by 9am but then they lost him about an hour out of Portland. Johnson’s team will monitor both Linc’s place and Jack’s apartment to ensure that he hasn’t doubled back to Seattle.
James calls from Miami to let us know that he is in transit with the boys and they will be in Seattle by 9pm. Kate hasn’t pressured Stella to talk for which I am thankful. Stella needs Will here to support her more than she needs to divulge anything about her past. Instead Kate and I are cuddling on the couch.
“Babe, we are meant to be arriving back from Barbados today. Ana will be expecting me to call her soon.” I know how much she doesn’t want to move from the couch but she is also excited about seeing Ana. At least she has only thrown up once today but I can feel the exhaustion in her body. I have this overwhelming urge to lock her up in our room and simply hold her for the next few days but my girl won’t allow herself to be pinned down by a little pregnancy discomfort. We have talked this morning already about her starting work on Monday. She’s excited at the prospect while I am worried about Linc or Jack working out who she is and how I can keep her safe. This little glimpse inside Christian’s psyche is doing my head in.
“The Barbados flight gets in at 4pm so you can pretend to call her from the airport and arrange to meet her after work tonight.”
“I would like to go back to my apartment, just to make sure everything is okay and to get some more clothes.” Ethan offers to take Kate back to her apartment and go with her to meet Ana. I need to check in with my parents after all, my mother still thinks I’m in Barbados. It is also a chance to check in with my baby sister about her new friendship. In the meantime Kate goes off to our room for a nap.
Around 3pm I go up to check on her. She looks so peaceful and beautiful when she is asleep so I lay on the bed next to her and just look. Her hair is a tussled mass of blond curls, her dark, thick lashes lay against her flushed cheeks, her pink lips pout and I notice that she has dribbled on the pillow which is kind of cute. I blow on her cheek gently tracing a figure eight across her face. She stirs, rolling onto her back with a sexy stretch. Her body must still be aching from the workout she has had this week and she groans. Her eyes don’t open.
“Hi.” She smiles but doesn’t look at me so I lean in and kiss her eyelids as softly as I can.
“Hi.” Slowly she lifts her arms up to grasp my head and pull my face down to hers. We kiss, soft and chaste at first and then her tongue teases my lips and I open up for her. I can’t describe how much I love the way she kisses, as if I am the most delicious thing she has ever tasted. She bites my lip and I groan.
Pulling back she looks into my eyes. Her thumbs trace the contours of my face as she examines me thoroughly. I touch her nose with mine, breathing in her lilac scented skin. I love the way she smells, the way she feels, the way she looks at me like I’m some fucking fairytale prince.
“You wanna make out?” Her voice is a husky whisper, probably as a result of last night’s efforts. The timbre gets me in the groin but I don’t want to make her tired again so I pull back.
“Honey, you know I do but you have a big night ahead of you with Ana. How about I stay with you at your place tonight?” As if I would give her any other choice.
“Oh, I don’t know. I think my master wouldn’t approve.” She places her hand to her neck and I notice that she is still wearing the collar from last night.
“You know that is a $12,000 dollar necklace you have just worn to bed Miss K.” Immediately she sits up with a yelp.
“Fuck, Elliot! You never told me that. Oh my God.” Her hands fly to the back of her neck as she tries to unclasp it. I reach out and still her hands with a smile.
“Kate, don’t. If this is the closest thing to a ring that I am going to get on you at the moment then I will take it. Please don’t take it off.” Her eyes are drilling my skin like lasers. Uh oh, Miss K is about to blow.
“You know, I was fine with this while it was meant to keep me safe. But I don’t like the implication that it means you are paying for me to be submissive to your will.” Fuck, this.
“Kate, you were fine with it a moment ago. You don’t like the implication that I spent a lot of money on it. Admit the truth, for Christ’s sake. This is because it is getting too close to being a fucking engagement ring and you still don’t want to get married do you?”
This time she manages to get the clasp undone and she throws it in my face as she storms off to the bathroom. “What, Kate? Nothing to say?” I follow her in as she strips off and turns the shower on. The most she can do is glare at me and give an exasperated grunt. I turn around and go back out to the bedroom and she follows me.
“What I don’t like is that YOU seem to think this is something close to an engagement ring. I don’t like that you got me to wear it under duress and now it is supposed to mean something other than keeping me safe in a difficult situation. I resent that the message it sends is that I will honor and obey you in all things when you know that I am totally incapable of that and I REALLY, REALLY resent that you haven’t even fucking asked me!”
Immediately I sink down on to both knees and throw my arms out to the side in supplication. “I’m fucking asking you, Kate. I’ve been fucking asking you for weeks. I will continue to fucking ask you until you fucking well say YES!”
Then she does the only thing that she can do. She giggles. And as she giggles her tits jiggle and we both realize how ridiculous this argument is. Her buck naked, berating me in one breath and giggling like a school girl in the next. Me, prone on my knees, yelling expletives at her. She grabs the necklace off the bed and comes down to the floor, kneeling in front of me. Placing the necklace in my hand she turns around and holds her hair up. I fasten it around her neck and then kiss her soft skin just under her earlobe.
“I’m sorry I yelled but I am not going to stop asking you.”
“I am sorry for making a big deal out of this and, while this is not a definitive yes, because quite frankly this is not a proposal’s armpit, Mr Grey, I will wear this so that, for now at least, the world will know that I am spoken for.”
I stand up, pulling her with me and turn her around in my arms. Stepping into my embrace I feel her give in. She is submitting to me on so many levels, but she is right, I won’t kid myself that this is an agreement to get married. And I can’t ask that of her right now with the threat of Linc ever present in our lives. There are some things I won’t do to her.
“Kate, when I am certain that I am not going to be dragging your name through the courts, I will ask you properly. And by God woman you had better be ready to say yes this time around otherwise I swear I will go caveman on you and drag you off to Vegas for a quickie wedding.” Her body has stilled and I know that she is not concentrating on my poorly timed attempt at humor.
“I wish you would just tell me what Linc has on you.” She gazes up into my eyes with the start of tears in hers. I wipe them away with my thumbs before she can start.
“I will babe. But…”
“I know, I know. I won’t ask again. In the meantime I am going to wear this very expensive bondage collar into the shower. Care to join me?” My cheeky, sexy Kate is more temptation than I can bear and so I nail her good and proper against the cool, tile walls while the water rains down on us. Nothing feels more like home than being inside her and I make sure that she cums at least three times before I find my release.
Arriving home to Bellevue usually has an instant comfort feeling for me. There has always been something about family that makes me feel safe and relaxed but home now is Kate and she is back at her apartment with her brother getting ready for a night on the town. I can’t explain why but I miss her already. My mom greets me at the door and gives me a big welcome home hug and I feel just a little guilty that I have been lying to her over the phone all this week. Dad gives me a knowing look over her shoulder but it is obvious that he has been maintaining the lie, albeit uncomfortably.
Mia has cooked up a storm for my homecoming and there is way too much rich food. She knows how to spoil a man which makes me wonder about her intentions with Ethan. At some point I am going to have to have a conversation with her. She has crushed on most of my or Christian’s friends over the years, including Jason and James, and I have a fairly good idea of how her mind works. She likes to go in both guns blazing, demand all or nothing for a month or so and then the fireworks start. While I am sure Ethan can handle her, I am not convinced that we need that kind of complication in family relations between the Greys and the Kavanaghs.
Kate calls in the middle of dinner to let me know their plans and I promise to get there as soon as I can. Of course, Mom would like me to stay longer and I feel guilty about letting down my best girls but Kate takes priority now. I stall a bit longer hoping that Mom won’t feel too disappointed when I have to leave. I am making plans to feign tiredness from a day of travel when my phone rings.
“Elliot, we have a problem.” Jason sounds tense and I wonder if Jack is back in town or Linc is making moves. Walking through the french doors I go outside the house.
“What’s wrong man?” I almost don’t want to hear. My father is standing at the door looking at me with some concern. Luckily Mia and Mom are in the kitchen preparing dessert.
“It’s Christian. He and Ros took Charlie Tango and flew to Portland this morning.” Shit, have they had a run in with Jack? “Charlie Tango disappeared off the radar about twenty minutes after they left this afternoon to return to Seattle. We have no idea where they are.”
Fuck! I stare at Dad, sure that the blood must have drained from my face. Not Christian, not now.
“How long have they been missing? What are we doing to find them?” By this time Mom and Mia have moved to the door wanting to know what is happening. Fear chills my body.
“It’s been four hours and we are doing everything we can but the GPS is down on his phone and there is no signal from the chopper either. Listen, we can’t keep this out of the press for much longer. We are about to call in search and rescue and that means the police. The media will get hold of this soon after. I haven’t called Ana or your parents. I figure it would be better coming from you.”
“I’m with my parents now. Tell Gail to expect everyone in the next hour. I will call Ana.” I thank God that Kate is with Ana right now. This is the worst thing I have ever had to do in my life. I quickly relay the conversation to everyone. Dad quickly hustles them out the door and heads to Escala. I get in the truck and then I call Kate.
“Hey baby. Listen, I need to talk to Ana.” The noise from the bar cuts through in the background and I can hear the confusion in Kate’s voice but she doesn’t question me.
“Hello.” Ana’s voice is quietly curious.
“Ana.” My voice chokes. Fuck, not now. Hold it together.
“What’s wrong?” Shit, shit, shit. Don’t cry. Don’t fucking cry.
“It’s Christian. He’s not back from Portland.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“His helicopter has gone missing.”
“Charlie Tango?” Her voice is no more than a whisper. “No!”