Home > The Story of Son(14)

The Story of Son(14)
Author: J.R. Ward

"My baby? My child?"

She nodded even though she was worried now whether telling him was the right thing—

He grabbed on to her and pulled her in so tight her bones bent. As he buried his head in her hair, his voice dropped to a growl.

"Mine," he said. "You are mine. Always."

Claire laughed a little. So much for her worrying about him wanting to experience life without her. "Good. I guess we're engaged. Now move it. We need to get out of here."

"Are you well? First, tell me if you are well?"

"Fine as far as I know. I just found out."

"Are you sure?"

"I can do anything I want. I'm young and healthy." She put her hand on his face. "We need to go. We really need to go."

Michael nodded and released her. Walking calmly, he went over to where the chain around his ankle was anchored to the wall and pulled the goddamn thing out with a vicious yank. A whole hunk of masonry came with it, something about the size of a head, and Michael swung the ball into the wall, shattering it free.

Then he came back to her like it was all nothing doing.

"Jesus Christ! Why didn't you do that before?"

"I had nowhere to go. No better place to be." He looked at his books one last time; then he picked up the chain, coiled it around his arm, and gallantly put his arm around her. "Let us go."

They stepped through the door together. Fletcher was still down on the stone floor, but his eyes were open and blinking slowly.

"Shit," she said as Michael looked at the butler. After running a quick analysis in her head, she muttered, "Let's just leave him here."

After all, considering the man had abducted about fifty women and had unlawfully imprisoned his employer's son for half a century, it was unlikely he was going to try to come after them legally. And asking Michael to kill the guy was too horrific to contemplate. Probably because Michael would do that if she asked him to.

She tugged on her man's arm. "Come on. Let's go . . ." The wake upstairs was a complication. "Shit, there are about a hundred people in the house. How can we—"

Michael snapped to attention. "I know a way out. From when I was a boy. We go this way."

They'd gone about ten yards when she spun around. The needle. Her fingerprints were on the hypodermic needle. In the highly unlikely event Fletcher decided to come after her, it would be harder without that kind of evidence. And her shoe. She had to get her shoe.

Best to cover all tracks.

"Wait!" She ran back. Searched for the thing. Found it still sticking out of the man's arm. He looked up at her as she yanked it out and put it into her shoulder bag. His mouth was moving. Gaping, like a fish's.

After grabbing her shoe, she headed back for Michael, but her legs were like rubber.

"You are weak," he said, frowning.

"I'm fine—"

He scooped her up and started walking twice as fast as she could, his huge strides eating up the distance of the basement corridors. He moved quickly and decisively, which surprised her a little and reminded her that sweet-natured or not, he was a man, a man who had his woman in his arms. And God, he was strong. He was carrying her full weight in addition to however much that chain weighed and none of it seemed to slow him down in the slightest.

When he got to a sturdy door down at the far, far end of the basement's hallway, he leaned to the side and tried the handle. When it refused to budge, he took two steps back, punched his foot flat into the thing and busted it wide.

"Christ," she said. "You make the Terminator look like a two-year-old."

"What's a terminator?"

"Later."

Outside, the cool night air rushed at them and Michael faltered, his eyes peeling wide. He started to breathe heavily, like he was having a panic attack.

"Put me down," she said softly, knowing he was going to need a minute to get orientated.

He gently let her go and looked at the sky and the trees and the vast landscaped grounds of the house. Then he glanced up at the stone monolith he'd been trapped in for so long. She could imagine how lost he must feel, how his emotions must be boiling up, how conflicted he must be at leaving the claustrophobic comfort of his prison. But they had no time for him to acclimate.

"Michael, my car is at the end of the driveway. In the front of the house."

"I can do this," he whispered.

"Yes, you can."

She took his hand, which was clammy, and pulled him forward. Without hesitation, he hiked up the chains and led her around the side of the vast house.

Her car was parked where she'd left it and they hustled across the lawn, staying close to a row of hedges. The grass was damp and springy under her stockinged feet and her lungs ate up the autumn's clean oxygen.

Please, God, let us get away in one piece.

When she was in range of the Mercedes, she hit the remote and the sedan's lights flashed.

"What kind of car is this?" Michael asked, stunned. "It looks like a spaceship." Then he looked at the others. "They all seem like—"

Now was so not the time for him to channel his inner Car & Driver. "Get in."

"Ma'am?"

Claire looked up. The parking attendant, the kid who'd seen her before, was coming down the driveway. He seemed confused, as if he couldn't figure out where she'd come from. Or maybe he was just surprised to see her with a huge man in a red silk robe with a length of chain wrapped around his arm.

"Just leaving," she said with a wave as she hissed at Michael, "Get in the damn car."

The kid rubbed at his spiky hair. "Ah . . ."

"Thanks for your help." Even though he hadn't given her any.

She was beyond relieved as she started the engine and pulled out of the spot—

Another Mercedes appeared right behind her, ready to put the drive to use, preventing her from putting them in reverse and doing a K-turn to get right out onto the street. She had no choice but to head up the ring—around in front of the house where the attendants were all lined up and people were milling around.

Goddamn it.

"Put your head down," she said to Michael as they approached the front door.

Please, oh, please, oh, please . . .

Just as she came up to the mansion, an elderly couple stepped forward to get into their car. With the Mercedes on her ass, and the pair's Cadillac blocking her way, she was trapped.

Sweat broke out between her br**sts and under her arms and she tightened her hands on the wheel.

The front door opened wide and she fully expected to see the butler stumble out.

But it was just another elderly couple, ticket in hand as they approached an attendant.

Claire's eyes bounced to the car in front of her. The man was behind the wheel, but the woman was chatting with the kid who was holding her door open. Move it, Grandma! Of course the woman didn't. When she finally sat down, she fussed with her skirt and seemed to bitch to her husband a little, then turned back to the attendant.

One hundred and fifty-five million years later, the Cadillac's brake lights flashed and the sedan began to move at idle speed.

Heart pounding, hands straining, lungs frozen solid, Claire begged and pleaded with the universe to let them get away.

And then it happened.

The Cadillac went down the hill. And so did she. And then she turned onto the road behind the couple. And then she was going thirty-two miles an hour heading away from the Leeds estate.

As soon as she got a dotted line, she floored the accelerator and sucked the doors off the Cadillac.

Eyes on the road, she fumbled with her bag. She needed her phone. Where was her— She pulled it out and hit speed dial.

As it rang, she glanced at Michael. He was braced in the seat, arms out straight against the door on one side and the armrest on the other, legs crammed under the glove compartment. He was as white as paste and his eyes pinged around his skull.

"Put your seat belt on," she said. "It's to your right. Reach down and pull it across like I've done with mine."

He found the strap and yanked it around himself, then resumed his deer-in-headlights routine, bracing himself for an imminent impact that wasn't going to happen.

It dawned on her that he might well have never been in a car before.

"Michael, I can't slow down. I—"

"I'm fine."

"We're going—" Her call was answered, the man's hello an incredible relief. "Mick? Thank God. Listen, I'm coming to your house and I need some favors. Huge favors that I won't ever be able to rep—thank you. Oh, Jesus, thank you. About an hour. And I have someone with me." She hung up and looked across the seat. "This is going to be all right. We're going to a friend's house in Greenwich, Connecticut. We can stay there. He's going to help us. It's going to be okay."

At least she hoped it was going to be okay. She assumed the butler wouldn't come after them through legitimate channels, but as she drove through the night, she realized there were other ways to get someone. Ways that didn't involve the human legal system. Shit. There was no telling what kind of resources Fletcher had at his disposal, and if he had enough wherewithal to be successful at what he'd done for so long, he was smart.

   
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