TWENTY-THREE

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Skipped chapter twenty-two? It was marked PRIVATE. You must follow me to read private chapters. Please refer to Fine Facts at the front of this book for further details.

Bruce was making his way across the living room, avoiding all potential creaks in the hardwood he was aware of. The bedroom door was open and he made sure he stayed away from any possible line of sight. The pitch of her voice told him all he needed to know—she was terrified.

His training kept him calm, kept him from racing in there and possibly getting her killed. When he reached the wall by the door to the bedroom, he looked through the crack to see Walt's back as he kneeled above her on the bed with the knife up in the air.

Shit! Bruce reached for his, the Swiss dagger he'd owned for years, and brought it up to his mouth, placing the wood handle between his teeth as he got down on all fours. Staying low, he crawled to the entrance of the room.

"You are going to enjoy this!" Walt gritted as he fumbled with his belt.

"I'm pregnant!"

Atta girl, Bruce thought. The dead silence that followed had him wondering if Walt would hear his ragged breathing, so he held it. A bead of sweat ran from his hairline to his chin and he let it fall to the floor, concentrating on not moving a muscle.

Suddenly, Walt laughed, sounding on the verge of lunacy. "Well, I'm going to get to fuck you and Spinelli's bastard at the same time."

Sick fuck. Bruce took the weapon from his mouth, secure in the familiar way it fit to his hand. Holding it with a balanced grip, he waited for just the right opportunity.

It came when Walt put the knife down to focus both hands on his belt, pushing his pants to his thighs. "Patience, Lieutenant, I have to put a glove here too." He reached down and fumbled around in his pocket.

Bruce took a deep breath, stood up, and threw the knife hard with practiced precision, landing it in Walt's lower back. Walt screamed and twisted with a spastic reach before losing his balance and falling on top of Virginia. Bruce rushed in and yanked him off of her, slamming him into the floor face first. He fell to one knee, grabbed the knife handle, and thrust it forward and up, watching with satisfaction as Walt took his last breath.

Fury was still pumping through his veins when he stood and turned to the bed. She looked like an animal stuck in a trap, wide-eyed and in shock. Full-body tremors stretched the restraints, causing a clicking noise as nylon bounced against the metal footboard.

"Fuck!" He leaned down and ransacked Walt's duty belt until he found restraint cutters. Then he lunged over her ankles and cut the ties that bound her feet to the bed rail. With one swoop he hauled her up against his body, pulling the sheet along with her to cover her nakedness.

She did not speak a word as she leaned into him.

He could feel the trembling through the sheet, could hear the muffled sobs as she hid her head in his shoulder, turning away from the body on the floor. As he held her tight, he whispered, "I've got you. You're okay." He repeated the words over and over, feeling otherwise helpless and wishing he could do more.

At least his voice seemed to be helping.

A minute later, Steve came running in, breathless and sweating, his chest pumping from the full-out sprint. There was no need for any explanation. One glance at the cop on the floor with his pants around his knees was all it took.

"She's handcuffed. Find the key," Bruce ordered.

Steve nodded and began his own search of Walt's belt.

"They're mine," she said, a shaky distortion weakening her voice.

They both looked to her.

She lifted her head from Bruce's shoulder. "Over there." She nodded to the pile of clothes sitting at the entrance to the bathroom.

Steve ran over, found the keys, and ran back. Bruce shifted the sheet, keeping her covered while giving Steve access to her wrists. Once the handcuffs were gone, she lifted her arms up to Bruce's neck and hid her head again, holding on tight. Bruce scooped her up and sat down, cradling her on his lap. She kept the fierce grip on his shoulders, sniffling into his shirt like a small child. He found himself rocking gently as if she were one.

"Get that piece of shit out of here," Bruce bit out.

Steve nodded and grabbed Walt's body under the arms to drag him from the room. "Should I call the boss?"

Before he could answer, Virginia had lifted her head again. "No!"

Steve froze. "But—"

"I don't want him to see me like this." Her look was unyielding, even with the swollen, red-rimmed eyes. "I'm fine . . . I just need a few minutes. I'm so tired of being rescued. Please, just give me a few minutes."

Steve looked to Bruce for confirmation.

Bruce nodded. "Call her captain. He needs to get over here and deal with . . ." He was going to say "the body" but thought better of it with her in the state she was in.

Besides, Steve knew what he meant. "Okay," he said, getting back to the job at hand.

Virginia turned away from the sight.

There's not much dignity in being dragged out of a room with your pants bunching around your ankles, but Bruce relished the view, wishing Walt were still alive so that he could kill him all over again.

He stayed as he was, silent and rocking, letting her decide when she was ready to move.

"Why are you being so nice?" She spoke so softly into his shoulder he could barely hear her. "I thought you didn't like me."

He smiled, knowing she couldn't see it. "Well, you are a bitch, but you're my bitch . . . Nobody messes with my bitch." He moved his hand up into her hair. "Besides, you kind of grow on people in your own irritating way."

The shaking altered and a light laugh danced in the air. He closed his eyes, grateful to be hearing it. She released her grip and sat upright in his lap, looking a little more like herself.

Steve returned with a small glass half-filled with amber liquid. "Captain Beal is on his way. Here, drink this."

"What is it?"

"Brandy. I thought you could use one."

She took it from him with a strained smile. "Thank you." Her hand shook as she held onto it.

I'm pregnant, echoed in Bruce's head.

He watched her closely for any signs of acute stress over the next half hour. There were none. She had been right. Time was a healer. The tears dried, the shaking stopped, and with each passing minute she pulled herself together a little more. By the time Captain Beal arrived, Virginia was up and moving around, still wrapped up in the sheet.

But not once did she drink from that glass.    

END OF CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

Sorry for the short chapter. I'm pet-sitting a puppy for a couple of weeks and he's a handful, sucking up my free time. I didn't want to leave you all hanging though.

Bruce made it! And he's discovered her secret, or so he thinks. I wonder what he'll do with that bit of info.


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