Target for Love Ch. 18byJazzMatthews©
Summer Eddington was strolling past Gage Ryan's personal office when she heard the tones of Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi floating from his half-opened door. She still couldn't understand how he was even capable of getting an office.
Of course, Gage Ryan had been at the FBI longer than she has and had a couple of years on her in age and experience, but she worked just as hard as anyone to be promoted. The bastard now had the huge desk to groom his already huge ego.
He had already been in the office for two days and yet he was rubbing his superiority in everyone's face, especially hers. She had wanted it so bad, but he only got it because in his own leisurely way, he got the job done and their bosses liked him. Most of them were biased males and would rather see a man complete the job instead of a woman. But she'll show them. She'll show them all.
That wasn't the only thing that got Summer's temper scorching. The fact that the man flirted with anything in a skirt annoyed her. And he had the looks to back up the arrogant attitude. In reality, besides for the fact that he had the most expressive green eyes, the man was modeled from God's perfect clay. Too bad his attitude was from the devil.
She huffed as the backlash of memories assailed her. That part of their acquaintance was dead and buried for about a couple of years now. Though she hated him like hell, she couldn't help but wonder how things might have turned out if fate hadn't intervened.
Brushing her short, ebony hair behind an ear, Summer peaked into his office and saw no one, but his cell phone vibrating toward the edge of his desk.
An idea developed in her mind that though it was so childish of her, it would be so sweet to pretend she was another of his lovers and tell whoever's calling to take a hike. That should tone down the number of his paramours, even if it was by one.
Summer cautiously looked around before entering. She snatched up the phone, and with a serious face, she answered in her most seductive voice, "Gage Ryan's desk. How may I help you?"
It wasn't a curious feminine voice that greeted her, but a surly growl of a man. "Who the hell is this?" he snapped.
Summer placed a hand saucily on the smooth curve of her hip. "His secretary."
"His secretary my ass," he irritably huffed. "This is his cell phone. What the hell are you doin' answerin' it? Where's Gage?"
For the life of her, Summer could have sworn it was Gage on the other side. The southern burr and intimacy of his voice was enough to give any woman hot flashes.
Furious at her involuntary blushing, Summer caught the sound of a distant toilet flushing. Maybe that was Gage. He wouldn't leave his little phone unattended.
"He's...occupied at the moment. May I take a message?"
"Take my message and shove it, lady," was the vehement reply. "Now, be a good girl and get Gage Ryan before I--"
"What the hell are you doin', woman?"
A bad feeling flew down her spine before her dark brown eyes lifted to see Gage glaring murderously at her from the doorway he filled with his height and girth. No harsh comeback left her mouth before all that power came charging at her with a ferocity that almost made her scream in terror.
However, her feet remained planted as he neared her and his hand enveloped around hers and the phone. The air around them crackled and sizzled at the simple contact for a few seconds before the jerking action coming from Gage jolted her to attention.
The masculine scowl that her eyes traced was real as was the green fire his eyes relentlessly blazed. Still, her hand would not let go of the phone.
His damnable gorgeous face ticked harshly. "Gimme the goddamn phone, woman!"
"The hell I will, jackass."
As they played their own version of tug-o-war, Gage hid well that he was shocked to find Summer Eddington creeping around his office. He wasn't surprised if a woman was there with sexy legs crossed or opened when he walked in, but she was the last woman he would have expected.
There wasn't anything bad about her except the attitude. She gave him healthy servings of that almost a couple of years ago when he had placed all his seductive powers to the test to get her to bend. That blew up in his face.
Now with that experience under her belt, she thought she could rule the world with her contempt of him. But he wasn't fooled by her ample, lovely lips, or those vibrant dark brown eyes that seemed as black as a moonless midnight. Hell, he wasn't even attracted to those full curves of chocolate, womanly flesh her body presented to a man's eyes.
What the hell am I thinkin'? he asked himself angrily as his gripped intensified and nearly crushing her hand, Summer released the phone. Gage turned his back to take the storm of her fists thrashing him on the back. She was considered a pretty strong woman, but it felt like she was giving him a damned good massage.
Turning his attention back to the phone, he lifted it to his ear, but released an oomph of air as Summer jumped onto his back. She attempted to wrap her strong, Amazonian legs around him to hold on, her skirt riding high.
Is this woman nuts? Gage thought as she struggled to maintain her balance on him and grab for the phone. Catching one of her outstretched hands, Gage said into the cell, "This is Ryan if you're still on the line."
"Damn straight I'm still here," Grant rancorously grumbled. "Who the hell was that?"
Gage positioned himself where he was able to fling Summer off him and onto his worn, black leather chair. He shifted his body to face her. "Just some woman who's havin' problems in bed."
Those dark eyes of hers shot him a glare that could make the bravest man run for cover. As she attempted to rise from his chair, he instantly reacted by placing a booted foot between her legs. Those long legs revealed inch by beautiful inch of dark skin that felt so hot sheltering his foot. And though he hated her with a passion in itself, something about a pretty woman's spread legs always had him curious. And yearning.
"Hm, maybe it's a problem no man can fix."
For some reason, she just kept looking at him, not throwing a fit nor struggling, which she wouldn't have done with his boot planted only so far from the apex of her thighs. And Gage used that uncomfortable position to his advantage.
Animated emerald eyes gleamed at his quarry as Gage edged his boot's tip beneath her scrunched skirt until it came into slight contact with her panty-covered womanhood. He didn't press into it too hard, but slowly moved his foot up and down in a light caress that was measured and sure. Her eyes glowered and demonstrated her dislike, but it was a time to test whether or not that hate dealt with bedroom issues.
With a tone that purred of intimacy, Gage asked, "What's up, badass?"
"Trouble," the younger said. "I'm on my way up to Washington now. They've made their move too damn early." He paused for a second. "They have Alexa."
Though Gage was in concentration of his guest, the news of his brother's love being taken darkened his handsome features. "When the hell did this happen? And where?"
"This mornin'. I was about to brang Alexa when they stormed the cabin, knocked me out and took her. After I woke, I drove like hell to warn her father right before they called for a deal."
An uneasy feeling settled in Gage's stomach. "Which is what?"
"One life for another."
Gage sighed, his suspicions confirmed. "Hell, don't tell me that you're..."
"I gotta, Gage," Grant broke in passionately. "I love her and I ain't gonna let her die. I need her to live."
Gage transported his gaze to his foot that was still moving against Summer, who was squirming against the boot's touch. "Yet you're gonna be the sacrifice?" No answer, but Gage persevered. "Damn it, Grant, I need you to live too, and I ain't gonna let you die. You wait up and I'll get some reinforcements."
"Will they be able to come in time?"
His eyes redirected to stare at Summer's, who's own gaze was mingled with two different kinds of heat. The tiny fraction of longing in her face that she was trying to overshadow with her anger made him delighted that he could attempt even that much.
He cleared his throat from the desire crawling within it. "With enough work, I'm sure they'll be..." He took this moment to nudge the boot slightly into her. "...screamin' to join ranks."
Grant detected the breathless tone in his brother's voice and a gasp coming from a female. He was already furious, but this was taking it to a new level.
"Did I interrupt somethin'?" He was greeted with nothing but Gage breathing slightly heavy into the receiver. Grant wished he was there to kick his brother in the ass. "God, Gage. There's a damned good possibility I'm gonna die in a few hours and you're up there screwin' around someone!"
"Screwin' is such an unnecessary word," Gage explained. "More like educatin'. Where's the rendezvous?"
"Somewhere in this closed warehouse in a bad district of town," Grant informed. "I should be in the Washington city limits in a couple of hours."
"Meet at my place," Gage allotted. "I'll have a crew who'll be ready."
After getting Grant's promise to be at Gage's apartment, Gage ended his conversation with his brother, the matters of what was about to go down troubling him immensely.
Pocketing his phone, Gage regarded his unwanted guest with an easy, uncivil smile as he placed his foot away from her. The look of her was a Kodak moment. Her nimble claws were buried in the cracking leather of the arms and a look of utter shock possessed her countenance. It was enough to make him chuckle at his success.
"I hope it was as good for you as it was for me, baby," he said, "but you really oughta wear stockings for weather like this. Keep them legs of yours from shakin'. Or was it 'cause of somethin' else made 'em quiver?"
Struggling to her unsteady feet, Summer reared back her hand and it met with an unshaven cheek hard. It stung her hand from the force of it, but he deserved. "You bastard. How dare you? You made me feel like a whore!"
Gage wasn't undaunted by the slap. Especially not from her. He remembered vividly the night he had received his first from her and how he threateningly warned her about slapping him again. This time, he decided to let it slide.
"Wasn't too hard. You liked it and want me to finish what I've started."
Summer shot him a hot look. "Go to hell."
"Plannin' on it," he replied, "but I gotta make a stop along the way. Now, I would just love to sit here and chat about your sex life, but I got somewhere to be."
Gage began to walk out of his office until the agile body of Summer blocked his exit. She was very quick, considering his office wasn't tidy to begin with. His eyes browsed her bitterly. "Honey, I know you want me to stay, but now ain't the time."
She crossed her arms neatly beneath her lush breasts. "Where are you going?"
"To hell, remember?"
She frowned. "If it's to fool around with one of your women, then..."
"My foolin' around ain't none of your goddamn business," he interrupted fiercely.
His face altered as he took a step toward her, towering over her by inches. Summer's sight was full of this giant of a man. "It was my business two years ago and you've always been so damned open about it. You don't even try to hide that you have a black book the size of the Bible."
Meditative eyes flashed. "Why, have you gone through that too?" He didn't give her a chance to give a direct answer, but quickly continued on. "I don't even know why you're here, Eddington. You got no business snoopin' around my thangs for your own enjoyment. Unless it's a particular fetish of collectin' personal items of mine, be my guest, but never touch my phone. That phone call was damned important and I don't want some stuck up bitch pryin' into somethin' that ain't her affair."
Summer shrugged indifferently and if she would have known better, she would have kept the words she was about to say in her mouth. "It was a guy so I'm guessing it's one of your literal booty calls. I knew you were strange, Ryan, but I didn't count on you having too much fruit mixed in the cake."
Thinking she had the last word, Summer turned on her heels to leave him with that thought, but she was suddenly seized by the upper arms and shoved hard against a wall. He breathed harshly, the force of it pushing her ebony hair from her face.
"Just shut up for once, woman, and hear every damn thang I gotta say," he muttered gravely. "If you're finished with your condescendin' comments, I can explain that there's a possibility I could lose a brother tonight and I wanna do my damnedest to save him." He witnessed how the emotions of her eyes changed but didn't comment on it. "Now I got a handful of hours to pick a team and I ain't gonna waste them fightin' with you."
Gage gave her a slight shove before he backed off. Summer tried to distant herself and straightened her clothes. Her guilt was getting the best of her. It wasn't him but his brother that drew on her sympathy and she felt that she owed him that.
"Who are you going to ask?" she inquired.
Gage was heading for the door, but stopped in his tracks and turned to regard her with eyes that had turned to a discerning, olive color. "I don't know," he confided, relieving a heavy sigh from his lungs. "There's a few who know Grant that are willin' to go after him, but I ain't sure. When it comes to puttin' your life on the line, opinions change."
Summer sighed, feeling the bitter taste of eating crow. "Then count me in."
Gage blinked before a smile creased his lips in a dark smile. "Did I hear right? Summer Eddington volunteerin' to help me?"
Summer blew a strand of hair out of her face. "Look, jerk-off, I might have a few things against you, but not your brother. The comment I made about you and him was out of line and I'm the only one available on such short notice."
He observed her silently for a few seconds and his scrutiny made her uneasy, but he finally agreed and moved aside from the door. His hand gestured for her to lead the way. "You first, darlin'," he ushered. "We ain't got much time."
Grant glared at the warehouse that supposedly held Alexa captive. The way it stood ominously against the backdrop of dark sky made it seem like a place of doom. But what would happen within it would determine the whole outcome of the night.
Though it was a few hours after dusk, after meeting with his brother, Grant was aware that there was a huge chance that everything could still go wrong. The "plan" they devised wasn't failsafe. One timely bullet to his head could change the whole result of it.
Grant was greeted by more men uniformed in black. With an unceremonious shove, he was guided inside with his usual cool demeanor. He lifted a brow as his inquisitive eyes cruised over the surroundings. The building was fairly new which made him wonder why it was even shut down. There were few lights, covering a number of places in darkness. That could mask any who'd wish to hide in the shadows.
They stopped him in the space that was opened. Grant glanced up and saw how the second level had a platform with railing that reached around on all sides. There were also windows that had plenty of opportunity for his brother to try out the new rifle Grant had gotten him for his birthday.
Though some of the men surrounding him were trying to act busy, many of them had stopped to see who was brought in for show and tell.
"I was beginning to worry whether or not you'd show up."
Grant turned gradually to see the man who had spoken. His former employer, Lionel Prescott, stood confidently before him. His pondering green eyes sparkled in the light as amusement surfaced on his twisted features. His fingers toyed with his beard, speckled with red and gray.
Grant wondered about Olivier and why he wasn't present. He was probably hiding his pompously large ass behind his desk, gripping onto his money like it'll protect him. Grant knew that for people like them, there would be no signs of mercy.
Grant's eyes narrowed with an imperturbable bearing. "And I'm surprised to find you here at all. You're a powerful man in business and politics. Why are you here watchin' over your own operation and not hidin' out like your partner? This just ties you to the crime more now that you're participatin' in it."
Prescott chuckled which could have sent chills up the spine of Satan. "I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity of meeting you, Ryan. I wanted to be the one to introduce you to the bullet that could prove fatal to you."
Grant remembered that this was the first time he had ever seen Prescott. Their business took place across the phone when he persuaded Grant to meet with Olivier. The man, though pathetic compared to the strength Grant possessed in one arm, had presence and power, which was a helluva lot more than Grant had at the moment. And this very man held his life and Alexa's in the balance.
A cynical corner of Grant's mouth raised. "Well, I wouldn't want to disappoint it."
Prescott's eyes gleamed in feral consideration as a small smile appeared on his own. "Are you alone?" he asked slowly. "I know you have a brother in FBI and another brother who's a detective in the Philadelphia. I'm sure you would have warned them of your meeting here."
If he wanted the guarantee of watching Grant flinched, he wasn't going to. Grant merely responded in a smooth voice, "Did you think I'd be stupid enough to brang them here? You've won, I'll acknowledge that, so what's the point of me strugglin' to overturn somethin' that's outta my power?"
Prescott paused to think for a bit. "Though I figured that you wouldn't give into something so easily, you're not as stupid as your appear."
"I was about to say the same about you."
Prescott flashed a cold smile, his eyes glittering hatred. "Search him," he ordered.
Out of the corner of his eyes, a burly black man with more muscles than shirt came to Grant's side, trying to chop Grant down with a hard glare. The guy looked as if being a bouncer at a club wasn't good enough.
Grant lifted his arms as large hands pounded against him in a routine search, if it could be called that. While Grant was being pushed and bruised, he had a cocky grin slapped on his face, his eyes comically watching Prescott.
"Stop it, sweetheart," he teased. "You're givin' me a hard-on."
The man stepped closer into Grant's personal space, sizing him up in a threat to fight.
"That's enough," Prescott ordered.
The man stepped down, anger planted deep into his dark eyes as he scowled at Grant murderously. "Watch your step, white boy, 'cause I'm gonna kill ya."
"Would love to oblige you, honey," Grant enamored again in that saccharine voice drenched with the purest sarcasm, "but I'm afraid your boss has the first pleasure of blowin' me off." His eyes searched the large man up and down before dismissing him with the turn of his head back to his host. "Have a nice day."
The man, with a huff of irritation, stepped away and blended in with his surrounding colleagues. The smile then vanished from Grant's handsome countenance, his approach taking on a serious, businesslike manner. "I'm here and I'm clean. Where is she?"
Prescott signaled with a nod for someone to bring her out before his gaze returned to Grant. "This is the first agreement you've kept, which quite took me by surprise. But I am a man of my word." His eyes diverted suddenly to look behind Grant.
Grant instantly turned around to view Alexa being dragged out. She still appeared the same she had that morning, unscathed and as beautiful as a sunrise. Seeing her alive made the love within him throb. She appeared to be all right, but she was obviously unhappy as her gaze remained in a depressing position staring at the floor.