Locked Away – Bonus Scene
By Lori Matthews
“I know we were supposed to go to dinner but I’m going to be late,” Rush said. “I have something I have to take care of. It shouldn’t take too long but I won’t be able to make our dinner reservation.”
Kat frowned. “Um, is something going on?”
“No. Nothing you have to worry about. Why don’t you head home? I’ll swing by your place later.”
“Sure. Catch you later,” she said ending the call. Her stomach twisted. This was the second time this week he’d canceled on her. She’d tried to poke around a bit and find out what he was doing but he was decidedly vague.
She leaned back in her chair and glanced out the window on her left at the buildings across the street. The view wasn’t the best but so far, she liked the job. One day she was arguing with contractors in Hong Kong, the next, she was buying surfboards in bulk. It was interesting and kept her on her toes, but she reasoned that was probably the whole point. Archer was testing her. Getting to solve these smaller types of problems before lobbing bigger issues at her. She wasn’t sure she was going to like dealing with those things but so far so good. She pretended the Society was like any other business and for the moment that worked.
She glanced at her watch. Seven fifteen. She grabbed her phone, canceled the dinner reservation and then sat in her chair staring out the window. Her stomach growled. Eating would be good but somehow, she just didn’t have the energy. Her mind was on Rush.
Kat tapped her pen on her blotter. She’d thought it had been going well between them. They spent most nights together and even did things on the weekends. They’d gone went (just so you don’t use gone twice in one sentence) to the Catskills last weekend and went hiking. Not something she’d ever thought about doing before but Rush had packed a picnic and they’d had a great time.
Or so she’d thought. When she looked at her calendar it became clear that he’d been canceling on her a lot over the last few weeks. Was he finished with her? Bored that she wasn’t more adventurous? She’d had enough adventure to last her a lifetime down in the Caribbean. Could he not understand that? She blew out her breath. Just the thought of losing Rush made her chest hurt.
“You’re still here?” Archer said from the doorway.
She hadn’t heard him open the door. She never did. It kind of gave her the creeps. “Um, yes. I was just thinking about leaving. Did you need something?”
“I thought you had dinner plans with Rush.” Archer approached her desk.
“He canceled. Said something came up.” She tried to keep her face neutral, but Archer narrowed his eyes slightly, so she was pretty sure she’d failed.
“Do you want to join me for dinner?” he offered.
Oh God. That was the last thing she wanted. She was still adjusting to Archer and the idea of just the two of them spending the next couple of hours eating a meal sounded like agony. “N-no thanks. I think I’ll stay and finish up some paperwork on the Morocco job. The hospital is coming along nicely by the way. It should be ready to open its’ doors around the same time as the rest of the site.”
“Excellent. Thank you for overseeing that. Our space in Marrakesh will be very popular, I have no doubt. Your idea of adding the cosmetic surgery aspect to it was quite brilliant. I’ve already had several inquiries.”
She smiled. “It seemed the prime location for it. A nice environment to recover in but one that wouldn’t be overly popular with the press so if someone needed work done quietly, no one would be the wiser.” She paused. “I’ve had another idea I’ve been mulling over. Do you have a few minutes?”
He cocked his head. “Sure.”
She got up from her desk and went over to the small conference table on the right side of her office. The plans for the hospital were on it. Archer came to stand beside her.
“So,” she started, “I know currently the hospitals on the Society sites are all for internal use only. But if you look at the plans here,” she pointed. “This hospital could be accessed by the outside world by making that emergency exit a real entrance. We have the opportunity to make this a cosmetic surgery center that non-members use at a premium, of course. They would never have to know that the Society exists and could be kept separate from everything else. It would be a way to generate money to keep the Society going as well as allow for some pro bono work for locals in need.”
Archer stared at the blueprints and then back up at her. He grunted. “Let me think about it.”
Kat took that as a win and said no more. Archer nodded at her and left. She spent another couple of hours working at her desk and then headed home. She was almost at her apartment when she got a text from Rush. It was just an address. She asked him what it meant but he went radio silent.
Her heart slammed against her ribcage. Was he in trouble? Was the address all he managed to get out before… She didn’t like to think about it. She quickly headed back to the street hailed a cab and proceeded to give the cabbie an address in Brooklyn.
The drive took too long. Maybe she should’ve taken the subway. She’d tried texting Rush again and even tried calling but nothing. Should she call Archer? Part of her wanted to but the other part was worried. If it was something benign, then both men would be angry. If it wasn’t and Rush really was in trouble, then she wouldn’t forgive herself. Archer probably wouldn’t forgive her either. “Shit.”
She pulled up Archer’s number in her phone, but something stopped her from touching the button. What if…what if Rush was bringing her out here to dump her? Who knew why he would do that, but it was a possibility if she was being honest. All the canceled dinners and late nights. Hell, he’d even skipped coming over several nights in the last few weeks. Maybe he wanted her far away from her apartment so he could get his stuff out while she was otherwise occupied and avoid a scene.
They never went to his place. That thought settled heavy in her chest. He’d said it was because he lived in a crappy studio apartment in the Village. He didn’t spend much time there, so he didn’t care but it wasn’t a place for them to spend time. Was that a lie? Did he lead a double life? That wasn’t a stretch. He operated outside the law in lots of ways, two-timing her would not be a stretch.
She tucked the phone back in her purse and got out her wallet as the cab stopped in front of the warehouse on the waterfront. She glanced around. It looked…scary. The street was empty and very few streetlights seemed to be working.
“You sure you want to stop here, lady?”
“Um, yeah,” she said with more confidence than she felt. Why did Rush want her to come here? Fear had turned her stomach sour as she handed the driver the money. Crawling out of the cab, she closed the door and stood on the sidewalk in front of the building. She took another look around. A metal door on her left had no windows but it was the only entry point in sight. The warehouse was large, a third of a block long. She had no idea how deep it was, but she was pretty sure it was directly on the water. The sidewalk was cracked, and weeds were showing through. The city noise was a soft din around her. It all seemed muffled.
Taking a deep breath, she walked to the metal door and stopped dead. It was locked using an electronic number lock on it. How in the hell was she supposed to open it? Was there another door? Her phone dinged. Another text.
Zero Eight Two Nine.
Door code? Must be. She glanced around again. Nothing. No movement. She bit her lip. Of all the stupid things she’d done, this had to rank close to the top. She typed in the code and yanked open the door. It made a horrible screeching sound. Not sneaking up on anyone then.
The foyer was about ten feet by ten feet and smelled abysmal. The only thing in the space was an old freight elevator. There were two doors on the right. One had a small window. Glancing in she realized it was the staircase. She pulled on the door, but it was locked.
The second door was solid metal, and it was also locked. Great. It was the old freight elevator or nothing. She squared her shoulders. “Fuck it,” she said and walked on. Turning, she reached up and pulled the gate closed then she hit the number two.
The old elevator lurched and swayed and made all kinds of sounds as she slowly rose to the second floor. At least, she reasoned, if it fell, chances were good she’d only end up with a broken leg at most. She snorted to herself. Her life had changed so much these days that she didn’t recognize it. A broken leg would have been horrifying a few short months ago. Now it was the least of her worries.
The elevator came to a stop. She pulled up the gate and stepped out into the darkness. The space was just one big wide-open room. She’d been right. It was directly on the water and the view of Manhattan was amazing.
A sound off to her right had her turning when a hand touched her shoulder. She screamed and lashed out.
“Babe, it’s me,” Rush said as he tried to calm Kat down. “It’s me,” he said again as she half ran a few steps to the left.
“Rush?” she asked in a quiet voice. It was so dark inside, that only the ambient light from the city broke up the inky blackness.
“Babe,” he said and then pulled her into his arms. He bent to kiss her.
Kat stood a step back and whomped him on the chest. “What the fuck is wrong with you? You scared the shit out of me! I thought you were hurt or dead! Why didn’t you answer my texts?” she demanded and then hit him again.
He paused. “Kat, I wanted to surprise you.”
“Surprise me? I damn near called Archer and told him you were in trouble. You should have answered my texts and calls.” She was yelling now. The desire to kiss him was only marginally being beaten out by the desire to kick his ass. “You scared me. I thought…” her breath caught in her chest.
“Shit. Kat, I’m so sorry. I didn’t think.” He moved forward and wrapped her in his arms. “It never occurred to me that you would think I was hurt. I…shit. I’m not so good at the normal stuff. I told you that. I…just didn’t think.”
“No, you didn’t.” She wanted to drive the point home, but it was hard to be angry when he was holding her tight. Even harder when he was kissing her. Her insides melted and heat pooled between her legs.
Finally, she broke off the kiss and stepped out of his arms. She didn’t think clearly when he was that close. “What are we doing here?” she asked, “and why aren’t there any lights?”
“I wanted you to see the view first.”
“It’s amazing, I have to say. Manhattan looks fabulous all lit up at night.”
“Not as amazing as you,” he said as he came to stand behind her, putting his arms around her waist.
“Nice try. I’m still pissed at you.”
He chuckled. “Maybe this will make you forgive me.” He clicked something in his hand and the lights came on. Small wall sconces. They were placed between the windows and along the wall. At the far end was a huge bed. It was on a platform. High enough up so that whoever was lying in bed would be able to admire the view. It was covered in white pillows with a deep navy duvet.
“I don’t understand.” She turned and looked at him.
He grinned. “This is our place.”
She frowned. “What do you mean?”
His grin faltered. “I mean I bought this for us. I thought we could redo it together. Make it your dream apartment. That’s why it’s empty. You can do whatever you want. My only stipulation is that the bed stays where it is. I want to see the view when I wake up.”
Her heart pounded and her mouth went dry. Was he asking her to move in with him? She’d purposely avoided the topic before because she was nervous about it. She wasn’t sure she wanted that level of commitment. It was a big step. Was she ready for that? They hadn’t been together that long.
Rush’s eyes narrowed. “What are you thinking?”
“You don’t want to live with me?” He crossed his arms over his chest and stared at her with a blank expression on his face. She hated it when he did that. It was hard enough to know what he was thinking at the best of times. Now it was impossible.
“It’s just that…” how did she explain? “You’ve been canceling our plans a lot lately and working to all hours. You’ve even stayed away some nights. Plus, I’ve never seen your place. I don’t know, it all made me think…”
“Think what?” he growled.
“Think that maybe…” she shrugged. “That maybe you were done with me. I thought maybe you brought me out here so you could pick up your stuff from my place without any kind of a scene, not that I would make a scene if you wanted to dump me, but I thought maybe you were just not interested…” her voice died.
His eyebrows drew down and his lips tightened. “Not make a scene…I’m telling you right now, if you tried to break up with me, I’d be making a hell of a scene. And I would expect the same from you. As to be being not interested?” He took a step forward until he was inches from her, “I thought I’d made myself perfectly clear. You’re mine. There’s no going back. You have no other options at this point.” He put his hands on her waist. “And as for the late nights and canceled plans, it took a lot to get this deal done. I had to pull some all-nighters to take care of some Society business.” He pulled her in, so his lips were inches from her. “Kat, I will never be done with you. Ever. Stop even thinking that’s possible. Now, we can move here or keep staying at your place. The choice is yours, but you will not be living anywhere without me.”
Her lungs froze. He loved her. He was telling her that in the only way he knew how. But did she love him? Yes! She had no doubts. He was hers. No other man would measure up. She knew it in her bones.
“Kat,” his voice was dangerously soft “I’m waiting for an answer.”
“Here,” she croaked. “I want to live here. With you.”
“Okay then. Here it is.” He let her go and grabbed her hand walking her towards the bed. “Call your brother in the morning and find out what he’s doing on Friday.”
“Because I think we should get married. Then you won’t have to worry. We can do it down at the registry office on Friday morning.”
She stopped dead. He turned to look at her. “I told you, you’re mine. You’re not getting out of this.”
“But I want a real wedding.”
“Fine,” he gritted his teeth. “But no more than fifty guests. And it has to be soon.”
She grinned. “Deal. Now how about we christen the bed, and you can show me just how much you love me.”
His smile was slow. “I need to hear you say it first Kat.”
“What? That you love me?” she teased.
He whirled and picked her up, tossing her through the air so she landed on the bed. Then he came to stand over her. “Kat,” he growled. “Say it.”
She met his gaze. This man was so broken, so full of darkness and so very much hers. “I love you, Rush. I can’t wait to marry you. Now come here and let me show you.”
Rush lowered himself down on top of her. “I like the sound of that.”
Rushton Fletcher, one of the Society’s elite enforcement team, faces the grim reality of enforcing the Society’s darker edicts and meting out punishments. Tasked with handling a new member who has broken the rules, he arrives on the island only to encounter the sexy and beguiling Kat. Despite evidence suggesting her guilt, Rush finds himself drawn to her, unable to believe she could be the killer he seeks.
As Kat races against time to rescue her brother, she finds herself walking a treacherously thin line between bending the Society’s rules and succumbing to her growing feelings for Rush. Preserving the Society’s well-guarded secrets may force Rush to make an unthinkable choice – to eliminate Kat. The stakes soar as they engage in a dangerous game of cat and mouse, with the coveted bounty and their lives hanging in the balance.
Available in Kindle Unlimited
The New Series : LOCK & KEY
The security team of the Lock & Key Society spend their days wrangling the monsters in the dark. There’s not much time for love but soon they’re going to find out, life happens, even in the shadows. They’ve committed their lives to the Society but what happens when love gets in the way?
Follow the adventures of the Lock & Key Society elite security team where danger lurks around every corner and they risk not only their lives but their hearts.