Dance With Me
Author:Hayden Braeburn

chapter SIX



“Tyler PD offered little help. He has only been out of touch for a few hours, and we can't even prove he's missing,” Alec explained.

“You can't prove he's missing?” Kat jumped from her chair, her voice shrill. “Sean said his phone and keys were on his desk and his car was in the lot. How is that not missing?”

“He's an adult. We can only prove he arrived at work before eight and wasn't there at at eleven when Sean and Black arrived.”

“But it's after one now, Alec,” Kat protested. “Has anyone gone looking for Priscilla?”

“Sean and Black are on her trail. She wasn't at her home or office, but again, the police aren't willing to help because as far as they're concerned she's an upstanding citizen.”

“And I'm a drug trafficker,” Kat added, her tone flat.

“They seem to think so.”

She grabbed Alec's arm. “She's got him. Oh, God, she's got him.” She jerked away to resume pacing, her nervousness coming through her feet, even if she wasn't dancing. “I want to do something.” She turned to her stoic bodyguard. “Let me help. Please, give me something—anything—to do.”

He handed her his phone. “Text Ross Trent for me. Have him get Girard on Priscilla's phone GPS. See if we can track them that way.”

“Yessir.” It was only a text message, but it would help. “How have you been looking?” she asked before what seemed like a brilliant thought dawned on her. “She drives a Mercedes. Don't those have a chip or something to talk to a home office when there's an accident?”

He nodded. “That they do. Girard is working that angle now. I thought we might have better luck with the cell, but he'd have to backtrack the number.”

“I'd bet Mason's sister Cassidy has her number.”

“Call her after we talk to Ross.”

She keyed a quick message into Alec's boss. Evidently Girard was a genius, and she hoped that meant he would come up with something fast. The call to Cassidy wasn't helpful in the slightest, however. Cassidy was not in the office, her assistant refused to give Kat her cell number, and laughed when Kat relayed a message about Mason. So much for the easy way. Langston Girard had better be good.

~*~

Mason's head was pounding when he woke up yet again. He didn't know how many times he'd been drugged, but he tried to clear the cobwebs and contemplate his surroundings. He was in a cabin, likely in the mountains somewhere. That didn't help much, since the mountains started just outside of Aylesford and continued on through West Virginia and into Kentucky. They could be anywhere. Ignoring the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, he tested his tingling limbs. His wrists were bound to the bed frame that housed the mattress cushioning his back. His ankles were similarly bound. He wondered if he had any hair left where he'd been taped and re-taped, almost thankful for whatever drugs she kept injecting into him. He didn't know how many hours had passed since she initially grabbed him, didn't know how he was going to get away, didn't know if Kat was still safe, but he made a silent vow. He would get out, and he would find his way home.

Priscilla had Mason in a safe place. After a stop, leaving evidence to throw off anyone on their tail, they were finally in a cabin that couldn't be traced to her. She'd switched vehicles, upped Mason's sedative, and changed clothes as well. She smoothed the nightie she wore, checked her stockings and stepped into the room.

Oh shit. Priscilla stood in the doorway, dressed in black satin, thigh highs, and skyscraper heels. He was helpless, and he did not like where this was going. He chose not to acknowledge her attire, instead saying, “Just kill me and be done with it.”

She pouted. “But if I kill you, what will happen to Christian and Catherine?”

Who? “Christian and Catherine?”

“Our children.”

He jerked off the bed as far as his bonds would allow. “Our what?” How had she kept a pregnancy and children away from him this long? “We have children?”

“Not yet we don't,” she answered with a shake of her head. She crossed the room, the swing in her step causing the negligee to fly up and reveal the g-string beneath. She stopped within a foot of the bed, her blue eyes flashing in the semi-darkness. “You're going to give them to me.”

Was she really going to rape him? His mind was screaming at him to stall, to keep her talking, to redirect. He couldn't let her touch him; he'd have no way of controlling his body if she started... He slammed his eyes shut. No, he wasn't going there. He would fight. “We'll have two children?”

Her face softened. “They will be perfect.” She smiled before turning away, her voice taking on a dreamy quality. “Christian will play tennis like you did. He will be offered scholarships everywhere, but will ultimately follow in your footsteps and go to UVA.” She crossed to him again, laid a hand on his chest. “Catherine will be like me. Beautiful and smart. She will win more pageants than even I did, become Miss America and go to Brown.”

Keep her talking. “Brown is up north. Are you sure you want her to go to a Yankee school?”

Her fingers clenched in his t-shirt. “Brown is Ivy League. She needs to go Ivy League.”

“Why? Why shouldn't she also go to UVA? Or William and Mary?”

“William and Mary!” she screeched.

Fuck. He hadn't meant to set her off, just keep her talking. Calmly, he offered other options, “Harvard? Yale? Princeton? Corne—”

“They are all good schools,” she interrupted, “but our Catherine will go to Brown, and she will win Miss America.”

Well. “And what will she do after that?”

“Broadcast journalism.”

“What will our boy do?”

“Oh, he'll be President,” she answered breezily.

Was she making up a life for her children or her dolls? “Wow.” He tried to cover his jubilation at working an ankle almost free by asking another question. “If our kids are off running the free world, who will take care of our businesses?”

She shrugged. “It won't matter. Your father already sold the bank. I can sell McClaren as soon as my father dies.”

She seemed almost gleeful when she spoke of her father dying, and that rattled him. Here he was, trussed up a like a Christmas turkey, dressed in nothing more than underwear, and she was almost salivating over the hypothetical death of her father. His blood chilled. What if it wasn't hypothetical? What if she'd already murdered her father? “You won't inherit for a long time.”

“Next year.” She grinned. She would get everything she deserved, everything she wanted, everything she'd worked and planned for in the next year, starting with Mason. “He decided to retire and leave it to me.

Bad move. “You'd just sell it?”

“Not at first.” She returned to his side to run her fingers through his hair. “I wish you'd just make love to me like you used to. I wish you didn't make me hurt you.” She laid her mouth over his then, biting his lower lip when he didn't respond. “You will love me again, Mason,” she demanded.

Stall! Grasping the only tactic that came to mind, he said, “You don't have to hurt me,” as suggestively as he could. “Let me free, Priscilla.”

She took a step back, measuring her captive. As much as she wanted his hands on her, she couldn't let him free. There wasn't anywhere for him to go if she released him, but she knew he would run. He might even try and kill her in the process. “No. I can't let you out, Mason. You might hurt me.”

There was no might about it. “Why would I do that?”

Her face changed, instantly going hard. “You chose some dirty little Russian dancer over me. You don't care about me.”

Not even a little bit. “She's American,” he corrected instead, despite the fire in Priscilla's eyes.

“She needs your money and your name.”

Again, he knew better but engaged in the conversation. “Why?”

“She was in danger of losing her itty-bitty studio, so you bought it for her,” she accused. “I don't need your money. I just need you.”

He thought for a moment, tried to find a better topic. “Why drugs?” He mentally kicked himself. What the fuck was he thinking?

She grinned at the question, pleased with herself. “It was a brilliant plan. Your kitten will go to prison for years and years for that, where she can't get to you.”

“I'll still love her.”

That earned him a swift blow to the abdomen. “The hell you will!” she screamed. “You will love me and no one else!”

“What if I don't?” He winced as soon as the words rolled off his tongue. His mouth was going to get him murdered before he had a chance to escape.

She ran a finger over the delineations of his abs through his shirt, stopping at the elastic band of his briefs. “You will love me. You just have to remember.”

His muscles tensed under her hands, and his skin crawled. “That was so long ago, Priscilla,” he said between clenched teeth.

She stomped her feet, her heels clattering against the wooden floor. “It doesn't matter!” She leaned down to the bed to look him in the eye. “It's me or death, Mason. Take your pick.”

Death was sounding better and better. He didn't want to die, but the alternative was worse. “I don't like those options.”

She ran her hand down his jawline. “No one will find you here, Mason. I don't care how long you want to play this game.” She kissed him again, this time pressing her tongue against his lips for entry. When he denied her, she let out a frustrated squeal and slapped him hard across the jaw, throwing his head to the side. “I can out wait you.” She crossed the room, turning just before opening the door. “I'm leaving you alone to think about what you've done."

Now his jaw throbbed along with his head, his ass, and his arms and legs. Although he knew he was playing with fire, he couldn't help but ask the question, “Just what have I done?”

She made a tsking sound. “You have deprived me of my children—our children—long enough. I'll leave you here to think on that.” She looked at the slim white gold watch on her left wrist. “I'm coming for you in one hour, Mason. You'd best make a decision.”

An hour? He had an hour to decide whether or not he would comply with her or die? “I love Kat. That will never change.”

She brandished her small handgun. “Are you so sure?”

“Yes.”

“I'm giving you that hour, Mason.” She turned on her stiletto and sauntered out of the tiny room.

He wasn't worried about waiting. It was after the waiting that scared him shitless. He didn't move for long minutes after she left the room before he began to work at his taped appendages. He had to get out of there. Now.

~*~

“We've got a location on the car,” Sean told Dylan as they drove out of town.

“Where we headed?”

“Motel outside of Aylesford.”

“There's no way they'll be there,” Dylan predicted with a shake of his head. “She ditched the car and either had another waitin' or stole one from the lot.”

Sean tapped his thumbs on the wheel. “I can't believe it'd be this easy either.”

“Drive on anyway. Maybe we'll find a trail to follow.”

Sean did just that, arriving at Night and Daze Motel before three. A quick scan of the lot revealed Priscilla's cherry red convertible Mercedes in all its glory. The two made an imposing pair as they emerged from Sean's SUV and strode into the tiny office.

Dylan stifled a laugh at the expression on the face of the young woman behind the counter. Her eyes were so wide, he couldn't help but imagine her eyeballs actually falling out. He mimed tipping his hat to her, playing up her obvious fascination. “We need your help, darlin'.”

“Anything, anything,” she stammered, smoothing a hand over her frizzy brown hair.

Sean was impressed with his impromptu partner. He adopted what he hoped was a sexy smile. “Have you had any guests today?” he asked.

She stood still for a moment, apparently unable to speak. When she finally opened her mouth, it was to say, “Yes. Guests.”

Dylan graced her with another smile, this one apologetic. “We really need to find a blonde woman and a dark haired man. Did you see them earlier? They would've arrived in the red Mercedes parked outside.”

The girl nodded vigorously. “I don't know about a man, but there was a blonde woman. Real pretty. She was super skinny, and dressed in a beautiful suit. I think it was silk. Or maybe it was linen, or... hell, it was expensive, I can tell you that.”

Great. Once she started talking, she didn't stop. Not quite what he'd been aiming for, but it would have to do. “What room did you give her?”

She pulled a key from the bank of hooks. “Eight.” She nervously licked her lips before she went on. “Before you ask, I didn't have her sign in or nothin'. I know I should, but she paid extra.” She crossed her hand over her mouth in secret-telling fashion. “I think she was here just for sex; she left after a couple hours.”

He mentally cringed at the thought. “Can we see the room?”

“Sure.” She turned to leave the office before abruptly coming to a stop. “Wait. Shouldn't I ask for a badge or somethin'?”

Sean stepped forward, ID in hand. “No badge, but this should work.”

She took it from his fingers, touching him far longer than was necessary. “You're a close protection agent?” Her brows furrowed. “What does that even mean?”

He genuinely smiled at that. “You'd probably call it a bodyguard.”

She nodded before shooting a look at Dylan. “You a bodyguard, too?”

“Bounty hunter,” he answered with a lift of one shoulder.

Her hazel eyes rounded, her mouth dropping into a perfect O. “Like Dog?”

“Not quite.” He was done flirting for information. “The room please? His client might be in there.”

That snapped her to attention. “Oh, no! Someone is in danger? Why didn't you say anything?”

Because you wouldn't have helped us any faster, and we had to compel you to do it on your own since we aren't law enforcement? He gestured with his right hand. “Lead on.”

She stood up a little straighter. “Oh, right.”

She walked them to the end of a two-story building, opening the last door. “This is it. Doesn't look like anyone is in there.”

“We'll take it from here,” Sean dismissed their young companion.

“If you need anything, anything at all, you just let me know.” She closed the door behind her, opening it less than a minute later. “Anything. Oh, and bring the key back before y'all leave.”

~*~

Cassidy stopped for a quick lunch before making her way back to her office on the sixth floor of the Ayles County courthouse. She was still mad at her irresponsible ass of a brother, and she knew work would take her mind off everything. What the hell was he thinking, marrying the scheming, drug-dealing daughter of an embezzler? She physically shook her arms out when she stepped off the elevator. Mason could do whatever he wanted. She laughed aloud at her thought. No, he couldn't. She would just have to try another time.

“Any important messages for me, Rochelle?” she asked her assistant-slash-paralegal-slash-right-arm when she arrived at her office.

“Just one. Katerina Nemecek called asking for Priscilla McClaren's cell number. It seems Mason has disappeared and she seems to think Miss McClaren has something to do with it.”

“Why would I give her Priscilla's number?” What was this woman's angle? First she's a dancer, then a drug dealer, and now she's worried he's with another woman?

“That's what I asked her, and she said he was in danger.” She handed Cassidy the pink note. “I took down the number anyway. It's for an Alec Cartwright with Trent, McKenna and Buchanan.”

Why would an operative for a top-rated protection and security firm be looking for Mason? “Did she say why that was the number she gave you?”

“Just that he was working on finding him. She did sound, I guess I'd call it, distraught.” She paused. “I know she's up on charges and all that, but if Mason is stepping out on her, he should be hung out to dry.”

Cassidy lifted the phone off its receiver on Rochelle's tidy desk. “Dial Priscilla for me. I want to find out what's going on.”

Rochelle did as she was asked and the two women waited while the phone rang six times before clicking over to voice mail. Instead of leaving a message, they called McClaren Properties, and finally Priscilla's parent's home before Cassidy handed Rochelle the note back. “Let's call this Alec Cartwright.”

~*~

Mason didn't know how long he spent working his ankles free, and he never wanted to see another roll of duct tape in his life, but he had succeeded. Now he just had to free his hands. He prayed he had enough time before Priscilla came back. He didn't want to die, but he wasn't going to let her rape him. God, he'd never even thought about a woman raping a man before, but if he couldn't work his way out of this mess, he was likely to experience it firsthand. At least she hadn't drugged him again. No, she had wanted him lucid and able to... He stopped himself. Failure was not an option—that was his mantra in business and it more than applied here. He continued sawing the tape against the bed's iron frame. He could do this. He would not fail.

Priscilla prepared the final syringe of the day. This one was not a sedative. Oh, no, this was an injectable prostaglandin. She grinned in the mirror. This little needle would make Mason hard and aching in minutes and he would have no choice but to give her their children. Tonight.

~*~

Kat jumped when Alec's phone almost vibrated itself off the desk. She handed it to him, but stayed right next to him to hear the conversation.

“Hello?”

“Mr. Cartwright? This is Cassidy Everett. You called earlier today.”

“Yes. We were hoping you could help us locate your brother.”

“And how do you think I can help you do that?”

“We have reason to believe your brother was abducted. We feel your friend Priscilla McClaren might be involved.”

“How the hell would she abduct him? He's a grown man, Mr. Cartwright.”

“True enough, but there are plenty of ways to obtain a victim's compliance, Ms. Everett,” Alec calmly rebutted.

“And why should I believe he's missing?”

“Believe what you want, Ms. Everett, but you said yourself you couldn't find him, even though his car was in the lot at Tyler Central Banking. His jacket, keys, and phone were in his office as well. We know he left his home at seven fifteen this morning, yet when you arrived before eleven he wasn't there, no one has been able to reach him all day, and it's now nearly four. You're an officer of the court, what would you conclude based on the evidence presented?”

The other side of the phone was quiet for a moment. “The evidence is compelling, but why assume Priscilla's involvement? Mason is from a wealthy family, is wealthy in his own right. He may have been grabbed for money.”

“Yet no one has contacted Kat nor your family for ransom. Step back from the situation and assess it as you would a case you were prosecuting. Set aside what Kat is accused of doing, and just think through everything you know. Who is the most likely suspect?”

She rattled off a cell number. “There.”

“Thank you, Ms. Everett.”

Immediately after hanging up with the skeptical Cassidy Everett, he texted Priscilla's number to Girard. If her GPS was activated, it would take no time to triangulate her location. If it was only activated for emergency services, Girard would have to work a little harder.

~*~

Dylan laughed at Priscilla's obvious clue planting. “Ya think she wants us to head towards Dulles?” he asked Sean as he gestured toward a map with a neatly drawn red circle around the international airport.

“Aside from that, is there anything useful?” Sean took two steps away from the map before stopping abruptly, the “clue” sinking in. “Who circles the airport on a map?”

“Crazy bitches, apparently.”

“Indeed.”

The two men scoured the room for anything giving the next location and found the desk chair duct taped to the floor. That was interesting. Priscilla's suit the clerk had rambled on about and a pair of heels lay in a corner with the matching pants to Everett's own suit, along with his bone white dress shirt. Dylan worked hard to swallow his panic at finding Mason Everett's clothing. At least Priscilla's clothes were also there and could tie her to his disappearance. He was pulled from his guilt by the sound of Sean hollering from the bathroom. “Find somethin'?” he asked as he made his way across the small room.

“Syringes. She drugged him.”

Dylan nodded as his assumption was confirmed. “Only way she could grab him, that's for sure.”

Sean scooped one up, leaving the other on the counter. At Dylan's cocked eyebrow, he lifted a shoulder. “One for me, one for them. Gotta leave the cops something to work with.”

Cops. Now, there was an idea. “You callin' the Aylesford cops or the Tyler cops?”

“Both. First, I'm calling Alec.”

Sean had just pulled his phone from his back pocket when it began to vibrate. He tossed Dylan a look and slid his thumb across the screen to answer it. “Tell me something helpful, Cartwright.”

“She's in the middle of nowhere.” Alec's frustration was apparent in his brittle tone. “Or, her phone is, at least.”

“The middle of nowhere? We're less than half an hour away from Shenandoah National Park. How nowhere do you mean?”

“I mean, she's forty miles away from you.”

“Send me the GPS coordinates. We're going after him.”

“I'm sending them now.”

“Call local PD for me, too. We've got a crime scene here. If Tyler won't listen, call Aylesford. If Ayleford won't listen, call the Park Rangers.” He paused. “No, call the Park Rangers anyway. Fill them in and give them the coordinates.”

“Sean, please find him.” Kat's voice was faint, laced with pain.

“We will, Kat, don't worry.”

He heard her snort. Not worrying wasn't on the table. “Just find him.”