Not My Lover Ch. 15byJazzMatthews©
After returning their rental car, Gage, Summer and Theo took the first available flight heading to Washington from Houston. Upon landing, they hurriedly jumped into their separate cars and sped toward the J. Edgar Hoover building. As usual, Gage took the imperative to drive, despite the fact that it was her car, but Gage had dared her to even tamper with the dark mood he had been in since the moment he had returned to Theo's motel room. She was relieved to see him, throwing her arms around him, but his hug lacked warmth as his arms wrapped around her mechanically. He hardly said anything except for them to prepare to leave for Washington.
Gage now drove like a bat out of hell, dodging between cars to reach their destination. Summer was terrified, screaming at him to slow down, but Gage was past the point of reason. Even Theo found that Gage was driving too erratically and dropped back behind at a suitable speed.
Summer and Gage gunned it into the parking lot of the FBI building, skidding her car into a handicap place up front. Summer recited a silent prayer for the welfare of her car before she followed his grueling pace from the front doors to the elevator and from the elevator to the office of their director.
Gage wasted no time in pitching the door open, marching in with powerful tension edged in his body. Phillip Stallings was sitting in his chair facing away from them to the window outside. Gage made his way toward him, definitely making his presence known.
"Stallings!" he barked, gaining their boss' attention and he whirled around to face them. Gage determinately crossed the room to grasp a tight hold upon Stallings' collar, nearly choking the man. "Talk, bastard! Why the hell did you set me up?"
Stallings grasped Gage's wrist, gasping for air. "It's not what you think!" he cried.
"Explain then," Gage replied, unrelenting with his hold on Stallings.
"Okay, okay," Stallings conceded, taking a moment to breathe what few breaths he could. "Your assignment, down to the very last detail, was made up, all right?"
Gage's eyes widened before they darkened into a brooding, olive color. "What?"
"You were both sent down to Houston with the expectation of coming back in love or some emotion of that extent."
Now it was Summer's turn to jump into the conversation. "What?" she repeated.
Gage's face twisted into something sadistic, not wanting to hear any more lies. He had had about enough of them since he was a child. This deception was the last straw.
Irritably, Gage began to shake Stallings. "Don't lie to me!"
"It's not a lie!" Stallings reproved and started his explanation before Gage gave him brain trauma. "Harrison and I have been friends for many years. I have family near Houston as well who have attributed something to Harrison Oil. Upon calling him one night a few months ago, I revealed one of your confrontations, as I've always had, and confided in him that I had the assumption that you cared for each other, for I have watched you both carefully. He wagered a bet with me that you two would reconcile before the end of the year and if I found a means to make it happen. Then it was by providence that I received a phone call a few days later from someone unexpected who had constructed a plan of how to unite the two of you but lacked the resources in order to pull it off. But I knew I could."
Gage frowned at the way Stallings grinned almost scandalously; having the knowledge of something Gage wished he had quarter of knowing. "You can't go 'round spendin' the FBI's budget on somethin' that ain't relevant," Gage observed. "The government would have your ass for that."
"I'm completely aware of such actions, which, in any case, weren't necessary," Stallings admitted. "I already had the perfect benefactor for this stratagem. You see, Harrison has always been a betting man and a softy when it comes to romance. So, not only did he agree to be my 'suspect' but also the financial backbone for this operation by supplying you both with the means to become an affluent couple."
Gage's mind was reeling with what was being said. The hell he was put through, the temptation Tyler was throwing at Summer, the threat about the gun... Lord, he had almost forgotten about that.
His anger resurfaced again, feeling enough to breathe fire through his flaring nostrils. "If this was fake, then why in the hell were there real bullets?"
"That particular agent contravened my orders by forgetting to load his gun with blanks. I believe he was in error."
"An error that damn well coulda taken her life!" Gage gritted bitterly, still unable to swallow the pain of nearly losing her.
Stallings' apologetic gaze landed briefly on Summer before returning back to Gage. "Don't think I would have let any real harm come to her," he replied. "She is one of the best agents I got out on the field. At any rate, the agent who was unable to follow instructions was directly fired as soon as I heard of the incident. If he cannot follow those simple commands, I could only imagine if he was on assignment dealing with terrible consequences. He would probably do nothing short of endangering lives. Such an agent cannot be allowed to represent the Bureau."
Gage brooded in silence, his eyes locking on to those of his boss, barely blinking. His thoughts were scattered in differently directions, thousands of questions screaming in his mind, but he narrowed down to the few that were important for him to hear. "You said that someone called you about a plan," he recalled. "Who was it?"
The composed director seemed extremely reluctant to reveal those details. Gage could tell by the way the man turned a different color.
"He told me if this didn't turned out well, you'd kill him," Stallings admitted.
So, it was someone he knew. Gage felt an unsettling feeling residing in his gut as his hold on Stallings' collar tightened. "I'll do that to you if you don't talk."
Stallings swallowed awkwardly, licking his lips in a nervous fashion before disclosing the initiator of the operation.
"It was your brother, Graham."
Shock tore through Gage at the bomb dropped upon him. No, there was no way that could be true. Graham knew better than to stick his nose into Gage's business. He had warned his baby brother enough of the consequences of such actions.
His face temporarily displayed his skepticism, his grip slipping before he regained his senses. His visage contorted into something so dark, it even made Summer recoil at it.
"If you value your life, I would suggest you take back your accusation," he darkly advised. "But it's true," Stallings affirmed. "He plotted it all."
Gage went numb. From the honest expression on Phillip Stallings' face, he was telling the truth. His own blood had plotted against him. He knew that his family, especially his grandmother, was concerned about his love life. They had really become interested in his business when Summer was introduced into the mix. Now his younger brother had taken it upon himself to dictate Gage's life?
Gage reacted to his thoughts by shaking his boss hard again. "Why?" he bellowed.
"He never disclosed the reason, so I would suggest you ask him yourself."
Gage's emerald green eyes flickered with indecision. "Then what about my family? Were they in on it too?"
Stallings was fearing for his life for an answer, but replied, "Yes."
"Even my granny?" Gage pressed, his face etched with pain.
Stallings nodded. "I'm afraid so." His eyes turned to Summer, who was watching Gage's reaction to what was revealed. "Even yours."
Her eyes flashed. "My grandmother?" Summer squawked as Gage finally released Stallings and walked away, his head hanging low with shame. "I don't understand why."
Betrayed was exactly how Gage felt. A plot of this magnitude wasn't beneath his brothers or even his granddaddy, but this could never be suspected of Susanna Ryan. She had always been the benevolent, serene matriarch of the Ryan family, never possessing a devious bone in her body. Alas, Gage found out he was wrong in assuming he knew his grandmother well.
Just then, Theo entered the room, quietly closing the door behind him and leaning patiently against the far wall to even be noticed until Gage lifted his eyes and targeted him. "Were you in on this too?" Gage asked without preliminary, assuming Theo already knew what they had been told.
Theo sighed, his chocolate brown eyes penitent. "I'm sorry, man," Theo apologized, "but it seemed like a good cause at the time."
Step by step, Gage nonchalantly closed the gap between Theo and himself, but not enough to spook Theo into moving. "Considerin' the consequences, you still lied to me, which is a good enough excuse to for me to whoop your ass."
Just as Gage reached a couple of feet away from Theo, Stallings stood to indicate his position as director and peacemaker. "There's no reason to get angry with him, Gage. This wasn't his idea."
Gage turned back to Stallings, his eyes glittering and menacing. "I could understand ya'll pullin' a stunt like this, but my own goddamn family plottin' against me ain't exactly what I call fair."
"I'm sure that their reasons for interfering are rational if you'll only ask them," Stallings offered.
"Then what are your damn reasons for meddlin' in thangs that ain't none of your concern?" Gage asked.
"I wanted some peace around here. As I've said before, I don't know what made you at war with each other, but I cannot have the constant squabbling that disrupts the order that goes on around here. I had the honest impression if you both realized how you felt for each other, then some kind of tranquility would be restored."
He took a moment to shift his gaze between the two of them, who refused to look at each other. His own eyes seemed distraught by what he saw. "Has any feelings developed between you?"
Feelings had developed between them. They were always there and they quickly evolved from hardcore lust to full-blown love. Gage knew that one day he would have to tell her he loved her, but revealing those sentiments in front of a crowd wasn't exactly the way he wanted it done.
Locking his reflexive jade eyes upon her, Gage watched her as numerous emotions crossed her face until it resided upon anger, which he could understand why. She had been betrayed as well and didn't appreciate being the butt of a joke.
Throwing Gage a disinterested look, she scoffed. "Hell, no. I still hate the bastard."
Truthfully, a response like that from Summer wouldn't have hurt Gage, but the circumstances now had changed. As he reviewed quickly in his mind everything that had occurred, he realized that the mission had succeeded in one aspect. Thanks to Harrison Tyler pointing a gun supposedly full of blanks at Summer, Gage wouldn't have realized that he loved her. In another aspect, this whole operation failed to get Summer to realize that same truth about him.
Finding the situation painfully ironic, Gage began laughing. He drew attention from everyone in the room, silencing Summer while she was carrying on with her ranting.
She turned fully into his direction, a hand saucily placed on her hip. "Why the hell are you laughing like a damn fool?"
Gage barely managed to get himself under control, wiping the tears from his eyes. He found one revelation after the other, and after reviewing the process of his wedding day, Gage came to one conclusion.
"I find it all damned funny," he chortled, holding onto his stomach. "He lied, hellfire. This whole assignment wasn't made up. That so-called weddin' he forced us through sure as hell wasn't fake."
Summer's moonless brown eyes broadened as she whirled back to Stallings. "That can't be true!" she cried.
Stallings winced at the shrieking denial, but slowly shook his head. "I'm afraid so. The license you signed was real and binding."
"Oh, to hell with that," she replied as she marched right up to Stallings' desk. "I want an annulment. Now."
The chuckles had died down, but Gage was still wheezing slightly with laughs. "You ain't gonna get it," he informed her.
She stared at him, shocked by his audacity. "And why not?"
"'Cause our relationship has already been consummated, darlin'," Gage revealed without qualms. "Numerous times, in fact, and I really had a damned good time with each ride, baby."
Summer gasped at his retort, surprised by his casual straightforwardness and how he just confessed it in front of their boss. However, this confession of Gage was short lived when his wife came up to him unexpectedly and punched him hard in the jaw. Gage reeled slightly from it as Summer shook her hand. She always figured he was hard-headed. She just didn't figure out how hard.
She headed back to stand in front of Stallings, her pretty mocha-hued face livid with rage. "I'll have you know that because of this, you'll have my resignation on your desk tomorrow morning, and pray to God you don't have to deal with my lawyer," she threatened before she left the office, leaving Stallings sputtering after her.
Summer strode as fast her legs could carry her. She was so angry, she could just spit! How dare he just lay out their business like that and made it sound like she was just a run-of-the-mill lover of his! Despite the circumstances, Summer had to come to grips that she was really Mrs. Gage Ryan for the time being and the least her husband could do was to respect that what business happened between them stayed between the sheets.
She didn't look behind her until Gage barked her name. Summer ignored his call but went faster, praying that she was far enough to reach the elevator before he did. And she would leap into it to make it if she had to.
Unfortunately, Gage possessed the leg span far greater than hers and was able to catch her. Summer felt his sure hand upon her arm and whirled her about to force her into his broad chest. His other hand grasped her other arm, giving her a solid shake.
"Slow down, damn it!" he grated.
Summer struggled against him, her fists pummeling his chest. "Get the hell away from me!"
That was something Gage wouldn't do, and instead of releasing her, he dragged her into an office, which she soon realized was Tony's, and slammed the door. Gage shoved her hard against it, shielding her only exit with her body He was breathing hard, his harsh pants wafting through her short, curly hair, his muscled body hard against her.
"What the hell's your problem?" he demanded.
Summer glared at him beneath long, ebony lashes. "How can you ask me that? Don't you get it? We're married for real and you declaring that we've slept together wasn't very helpful!"
"Hell, like they didn't figure out that lil' tidbit themselves," Gage argued. "Theo and Tyler had a very good idea of it. Dontcha think that they woulda told Stallings about it?"
Now that was true, but still, it was the principle of the matter. "I don't see why you're in such a good mood. You're a married man now, which I know you despise being one. It'll take a while to get a divorce than an annulment."
Gage suddenly frowned. "Who said anythang about a divorce?"
Now it was Summer's turn to frown. "I did!" she screamed. "Do you think I want to stay married to you?"
Gage shifted his weight to his other foot, his eyes pensive for a second. "I don't see why not," he replied slowly.
Now that was a shocker. Gage wanted to stay married to her? Clearly he couldn't be serious. Marriage, especially to her, was the last thing he ever wanted.
"You might be blind, but I'm not," Summer replied. "We fight, Gage. We disagree over every little thing."
His body came more into her private space until she could breathe in nothing but his delightful, masculine scent that was enough to get a rise out of her. His nearness and his scent wrapped around her like a comforter would, and she felt at peace with that. If Gage was so sincere is wishing for them to remain wedded to each other, Summer believed that she would shock her own self by agreeing upon it.
Gage's lips lifted into a slight smile. "But we share somethin' in common," he burred warmly, wrapping an arm around her waist to pull her into him. "Our bodies are compatible, baby." He paused briefly. "Yours is tremblin' now 'cause mine is near."
God, even though it was almost impossible, she had to resist. Summer could feel her resolve slipping with each second. She took an awkward swallow. "But sexual-based marriages never work, Gage. Besides, I want to be with someone I love and who appreciates me for what I mean to him. That's the kind of marriage I want."
Gage's face darkened. "You ain't gettin' a divorce, do you hear me?"
Summer had had just about enough of his ultimatums and him telling her what to do. She was her own woman. She didn't have to take anything from him.
"To hell with you, Gage," she spat. "I might be your wife for now, but you can't tell me what to do. And I will contest for that divorce."
Gage stared at her silently, his eyes were concentrated like the tension that filled his body, looking as if he really wanted to hit her. Summer was past caring. She was filled with betrayal and pain that Gage would want her only to fill his bed. It would be better for the both of them to just go their separate ways instead of continuing on with the illusion they were forced to live.
"Come on," she goaded, tears building in her eyes. "Hit me if you want to. I know you want to after the hit you took from me back there, but let me warn you that it'll be easier to bring up abuse charges against you."
Gage's eyes cut into her hard, his mouth pressed into a hard line. "The hell you will."
Summer lifted a finely arched brow. "Try me."
Again, Gage's glare locked in tough conflict with hers, and she witnessed the hesitancy that took hold of him. That was when she was starting to fear for her life, for she knew that he was deciding on how to handle her. However, Gage didn't waver long in indecisiveness and he placed himself quickly into action. He took a step back from her, and Summer's form straightened against the door. But then her wrist was grabbed and she was jerked forward, and hefted over his shoulder. Gage exited the office with Summer screaming and squirming fitfully, trying her best to be released.
"What are you doing?" she screeched. The building was full of hundreds of FBI agents. Summer was praying that she could catch at least one. But she knew very well that when it came to their matters, people often stayed clear of Gage.
Gage kept walking on determinately to the elevators, but his hand reached up and slapped her upon her bottom. "Quit all that squirmin' up there, hellfire, or you'll lead me to do somethin' I don't wanna do too soon. I'm tryin' my damnedest to get you outta this buildin' before I do somethin' I might regret like hell later on. We need somewhere more private to continue our lil' chat and where you'll have no choice but to listen."
As Gage passed a hallway, he was unable to catch a glimpse at Tony turning the corner since Summer's luscious body was blocking his peripheral vision. Tony's features went from surprise then anger after spotting Gage manhandling Summer in such a way. He straightened into a defensive posture to come to her aid.
"Gage? What the hell are you doing? Put her down!" he demanded in a hard voice.
Gage kept walking, throwing over his shoulder, "Keep outta this, Tony. This is between me and my wife."
Tony's feet felt like cement and he was unable to move them. He looked after their fleeting forms, his face twisting up in confusion.
Gage wasted no time taking Summer to his truck, which was still in the same place they had left it before leaving for Houston. He tossed her into the backseat before he placed the child safety lock on one of the doors. Seeing what he was doing, Summer raced to the other side, but he had gotten there first and placed the child lock on that one as well before slamming it, shutting her up inside.