Trace was only a few miles from the address Robert had given him for Cassidy when his cell phone rang. At first he wasn’t going to answer it, but some sixth sense made him change his mind. Now he was glad he had.
He was about to disconnect the call when he heard a muffled scream on the other end of the line. It was quickly followed by a loud clatter, then nothing.
Trace felt his chest tighten. Swearing under his breath, he shoved his cell phone in the pocket of his jeans and floored the pedal on the Hummer, running a red light to get through the intersection. The other drivers honked their horns as they squealed to a stop, but he ignored them. There was no way he was going to let Cassidy die.
Five minutes later, he slid into the parking lot outside her apartment, running over an ornamental fence and a flower bed to come to a screeching halt a few feet from the front door. Jumping out of the Hummer, he ran around to the back and grabbed his duffel bag full of gear. Throwing it over his shoulder, he raced up the steps and charged through the door into the building, scaring the hell out of two women carrying laundry baskets.
“Where the hell are the stairs?” he demanded, not wanting to waste time with the elevator.
The women timidly pointed around the corner.
Trace didn’t thank them as he ran in that direction. He hit the steps hard, taking them hree at a time. Once on the fourth floor, he ran down the hall, checking the room numbers on he doors. When he came to the right one, he didn’t even bother to slow down. Instead, he icked the door in as hard as he could, reaching into his bag for his shotgun as the frame splintered and the door flew open.
He looked left and right as he entered the apartment, but there was no sign of Cassidy or Del Vecchio. Trace’s blood ran cold at the scene that met his eyes. The living room looked as if a cyclone hit it. The couch and throw pillows were sliced to shreds, stuffing still floating hrough the air. The coffee table was lying on its side, as were the two end tables, and the lamps that had been on them were smashed to pieces along with practically everything ele in the place. Even the walls had been slashed.
“Cassidy?” Trace called.
Trace followed the sound of her voice until he came to the kitchen. Cassidy was standing in the center of the room inside a wobbly drawn circle of salt, ready to throw a handful of something in his face. She sagged with relief at the sight of him, letting the stuff in her hand trickle out onto the floor. That was when he realized she was holding a big container of oregano.
“Is he gone?” she whispered.
Trace nodded. “Yeah, he’s gone. But I’m getting you the hell out of here anyway.”
He didn’t wait for an answer, but simply slung the shotgun over his shoulder by the strap, then walked into the kitchen and swung Cassidy up in his arms.
She put one of her own around his neck. “Is it safe for me to leave the circle?”
“Yes. I’ll keep you safe. Trust me.”
Apparently she must have believed him because she didn’t resist. She cuddled the container of oregano close to her body and leaned against his chest.
He frowned. “Cassidy, you did great with the salt circle. It saved your life without a doubt. But what are you doing with the oregano?”
She looked up at him with big, blue eyes. “Isn’t it what you used to get rid of ghosts?”
His mouth twitched. “That’s sage and garlic. You can ditch the spaghetti spice.”
“Oh,” was all she said. Resting her head on his shoulder, she let the container of oregano tumble to the floor, then put that arm around his neck, too.
Giving the place one more look to make sure Del Vecchio hadn’t come back, Trace carried her out of the apartment and right passed the alarmed neighbors who had come out into the hallway to see what the ruckus was all about. Trace imagined they got their money’s worth seeing a big guy with a shotgun and a duffel bag slung over his shoulder carrying a beautiful half-naked woman in his arms. He abruptly realized he probably should have taken a few minutes to let Cassidy grab some clothes. But then the lights in the hallway flickered and he decided he could get her clothes later. They were getting the hell out of there.
“Is she being kidnapped?” one elderly woman asked another in a low voice as he and Cassidy passed them.
“If she is,” said the other old woman, “then I want to want to be kidnapped next.”
Any other time, Trace would have laughed, but right now all he wanted to do was get Cassidy someplace safe. Fortunately, he knew exactly where to take her.
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