Read 16 Taking Eve Online

Authors: Iris Johansen

Tags: #Eve Duncan

16 Taking Eve (20 page)

BOOK: 16 Taking Eve

And he
find her. He would pull out all the stops, bring in all the help he needed, tap every source.

Nothing would keep her from him.

He started dialing headquarters again to set up that APB on the truck.

*   *   *

Doane said. “That threat was both crude and violent.”

“And heartfelt,” Eve said. “Joe always keeps his word.”

“So do I. You were hoping to disarm any threat to Jane MacGuire by having Quinn set up extra protection around her. That would free you from the obligation of doing Kevin’s reconstruction.”

“It would help to push away that gun you have pressed to my head.”

He smiled. “But I’ve no gun aimed at you, Eve. I’ve handled you in the gentlest way possible. Anything else would be totally unreasonable. I want you to be free to express yourself without coercion.”

She shook her head. “You actually sound as if you believed that lie.”

“No lie.” He stepped forward with the blindfold he’d taken off her when he’d stopped the truck and given the telephone to her. “It’s important that you and Kevin become one with each other. I’ve heard that’s how you turn out such wonderful sculptures.”

“I’m not going to become one with your son. The idea appalls me.”

“But how will you help yourself?” he asked quietly. “It’s part of your particular magic.”

“Not magic. I’m a professional.” Yet she felt a frisson of unease. She couldn’t deny in the last stages of a reconstruction that she felt as if the soul of the skull on which she was working was whispering, helping her bring that vision to life again. “And I’ll behave as a professional.”

“We’ll see. Give me that phone.”

She reluctantly handed it back to him.

“Time to bid good-bye to this one.” He dropped the phone on the ground, stomped on it with his boot, then ground it into the earth. “That should take care of any signal. I hear those things are real spy machines. I’m not real good with all those fancy gadgets. I don’t like all that technology. I don’t think that Kevin would like it either. Things have changed a lot in the world since I lost him.” His expression was suddenly full of pain. “He made life exciting and right. They shouldn’t have taken him.”


He ignored the question. “Time to put the blindfold back on you.”

She took a quick last look at her surroundings. She hadn’t been able to give Joe a hint other than that vague reference to Doane’s heart of gold, which Joe probably had not caught, but there might be another time. Waterfall cascading to the rocks below. Mountains in the distance. An observation area enclosed in gray rails across the chasm.

Then everything went dark as he replaced the blindfold.

“There we are.” He lifted her back in the truck. “Now we go back and start the reconstruction.” The next moment, she heard the truck engine ignite. “Kevin is waiting for you.”

San Juan, Puerto Rico

“I don’t need you. We tried a few times to make it work, and it never did. Now you pop up and ignore everything that’s gone before?”

“Now that would make me a fool. I’ve always made a practice of building on the past.” He reached out and touched her cheek. “And we have quite a past to build on. Sometimes I’d lie in bed and think about it. Did you?”

“No.” He was looking at her, and she changed the answer. She had always been honest with him, and she wouldn’t change now. “Yes. So we were fantastic in bed together. In the end, it didn’t matter. Sex isn’t why we couldn’t make it together. It was more complicated than that.”

“You were more complicated. I’m just a simple man with all the usual instincts.”

“The hell you are.”

He smiled. “You’re right, I have my own complexities, but I fought to keep them in check when you came into my life. I wanted you enough to do anything to get you. For the first time, I thought that I’d found a woman I wanted to spend my life with. For a while I thought that I’d managed to pull it off.” He stroked her cheek. “Oh, how good we were together. Remember?”

“Yes.” She couldn’t help but remember. Whenever he touched her, spoke to her, it brought back a thousand memories that were both fiery and seductive. He had always held that power over her emotions. Even when she’d been angry with him, she’d known they were only a shade away from passion. “But we agreed to disagree. I haven’t seen you for a long time. I don’t even know why you’re here. How did you know I was hurt?”

“I’d heard you left London with one Seth Caleb.” His smile faded. “That stirred me to action. I didn’t like it.”

“Who told you? We didn’t exactly publish it.”

He shrugged. “I’ve a few friends who have been keeping an eye on you.”

“What? You, too?” Almost the same answer Caleb had given her, and it struck a nerve.

“Oh, I knew that Caleb had you in his sights. But it was okay as long as he kept his distance. But I had to know where he was taking you, so I checked the flight plan he filed. Then contacted some people I know in this area to make sure you were okay.”

“And to find out what I was doing?”

“Well, that, too.”

“And you found out that I’d been shot.”

He nodded. “And I jumped on the next plane.”

“And now you can jump on the next one and fly back to Paris.”

“I’m not living in Paris any longer. I’m in Barcelona.”

“Wherever.” She had never been sure where Trevor would be at any given time. He’d flown in to see her several times a year and usually from a different home base. His restlessness had caused him to become a jack of all trades. He’d dabbled in gambling, smuggling of precious artifacts, and a dozen other professions, both legal and slightly illegal. Not that he needed the money now. Whatever he touched turned golden.

And he had made her think for a while that their relationship was golden, too.

“I don’t need you. Go back to Barcelona.”

He shook his head. “I’ve been asking questions. They haven’t found the man who shot you.”

“Joe is working on it.” She paused. “It’s a mess, Trevor. I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t think it’s about me at all. Eve has disappeared. She’s been kidnapped, and we don’t know—I have to find her.”

“Eve.” He gave a low whistle. “Not good. But not exactly surprising. She deals with some pretty macabre types.”

“Thanks,” she said sarcastically. “That’s really going to make me feel better.”

“You don’t want me to coddle you,” he said quietly. “We’ve gone way past that in our relationship. You’d sock me if I weren’t dead honest with you.”

He was right. She had been grateful that she could always be open and expect the same from him. “I’m just scared,” she said wearily. “Eve deals with serial killers, child abusers, and scum of the Earth. You just put it into words. I guess I didn’t want to hear it.”

“We’ll find her. We’ll keep away all the bad guys.” He reached down and took her hand. “She’s smart, she’ll survive until we can get her back.”

She felt a sudden rush of warmth as she looked down at their joined hands. Comfort. Tenderness. Not passion. Not sex. So much more important in this moment than any other response. “This isn’t your battle, Trevor. Joe and I will find her.”

“You’re closing me out again.” His lips tightened. “When I get too near to that core that shelters who and what you are, you spin away.” His hand tightened on her own. “But I’m following this time, Jane. I’m following and searching, and you’re never going to get away from me again.”

“I don’t want to hear this, Trevor. I’m searching, too, and it’s only for Eve,” she said shakily. “You picked the wrong time and the wrong woman to—”

“My, my, do we have a visitor?” Caleb was standing in the doorway, his gaze on their joined hands. “You didn’t tell me, Jane. Introduce me.”

There was no expression on Caleb’s face, but she could feel the tension.

No, anger, searing, possessive anger.

She instinctively tried to pull away from Trevor, then stopped. Why should she give in to this subtle intimidation? “He was a surprise guest. Seth Caleb, Mark Trevor.”

“Delighted.” Caleb came toward him with hand outstretched. “I’ve been thinking that I should meet you. I just didn’t think it would be this soon. Let me guess, you heard Jane was wounded and decided to come and see if you could help.”

“That about covers it.” He took Caleb’s hand and shook it. “On the surface level.”

“Oh, yes, I imagine there was much more to explore since you haven’t seen each other for a while.” He smiled. “But I’m sure she told you that you’re not needed here.”

“Yes, but I’m not discouraged. Jane knows that I’m a valuable man to have around in an emergency. This couldn’t be more of an emergency for her. Eve is everything to her. Jane won’t refuse my help once I’m in a position to offer it.”

Jane found herself staring in fascination at the two men with hands clasped in traditional greeting. There was nothing traditional in what was going on beneath that gesture. They were like two sleek, powerful cats, backs arched, ready for the fray. No, much more dangerous than cats, and the only thing similar about them was that air of lethal purpose.

Lightness. Darkness.

Trevor was radiating those brilliant movie-star good looks and charm that had first drawn Jane to him so long ago.

Caleb was all darkness and power and magnetism that held you even while you struggled to get free.

She tore her gaze from them and grabbed the arm of the chair to lever herself to her feet. “I’ve had enough. Stop talking about me as if I weren’t here. Both of you get out of here and let me get dressed.” She looked at Caleb. “You’ll still take me to Atlanta?”

“Of course, nothing has changed.” He glanced at Trevor. “Has it?”

“Everything has changed.” Trevor smiled. “You’re going to the lake cottage?”

“I don’t know. I have to do a sketch rendering of the suspect at Rome hospital.”

“Then I’ll be in touch. Would you like me to smooth the way to get you sprung from this place? You don’t look like you’re a candidate for the discharge list.”

“I could arrange—” Why fight him over such a small thing? She needed her strength for the trip. “If you like, it would be a help.”

“I like.” He didn’t move. “And would you let me help you dress? It would be quicker.”

“I can manage.”

“Sure?” he said softly. “It’s not as if I haven’t done it before. Though I’m better at taking them off.”

She could have slapped him.

She was sure that he had a double purpose in that remark. He wanted to stir intimate memories, which he’d done, and he wanted to score off Caleb.

Which he’d also done. She wasn’t looking at Caleb, but she could sense the stiffening, the animal tension.

She turned her back on both of them and took a step closer to the bed and reached for her bra. “Really? I always thought you were a little clumsy. I guess I forgot to tell you.”

She heard Caleb chuckle as he left the room.

But Trevor was laughing, too. “Oh, Jane, how I’ve missed you, my love.”

She kept her eyes on the bra. “I’m not your love.”

“Yes, you are. I’ve dodged the word, and so have you, but it’s time to come to terms with it.” She heard him move toward the door. “Don’t sleep with Caleb. I thought I could be civilized about it if you decided to do it, but that was before I met him. He’s different, he wouldn’t let go. I’d end up by having to kill him.”

“For heaven’s sake, I’m only interested in finding Eve. I’ve no desire to sleep with either of you. But if I were, it would be my choice.”

“Theoretically. But I’m not good at theory. See you in Atlanta…”

*   *   *

I’ll have that blindfold off you in just a minute. I know it’s uncomfortable.”

Eve heard Doane close and lock the front door behind them.

“It’s like coming home, isn’t it?” He unlocked her handcuffs and took them off. “Just the three of us.”

“You’re crazy, you know,” she said, as he took the blindfold off her. “You can’t get away with this. Joe will find us.”

He chuckled. “For a moment I thought you meant I was crazy because I think Kevin is part of our little family. But then you wouldn’t find that unusual. You think of all your reconstructions as having a certain life of their own.” He added softly, “A life you give them. I regard that as a wonderful gift.”

“I don’t give them life. I’d have to be God to be able to do that. I give them a chance to bring solace to the people they’ve left behind and perhaps to get vengeance for what’s been done to them.”

“Vengeance. Yes, that’s an important part of what you’re able to do.” His expression was suddenly shadowed. “It’s sad that those victims all cry out for vengeance. It causes me pain.”

She stared at him skeptically. “And you’re saying you don’t want some form of vengeance for the death of your Kevin? I find that hard to believe.”

“And rightly so. But I prefer to call it justice.” He turned away. “Let me make you a cup of coffee while you examine the lab I created for you. You take it black, don’t you?”

“Yes.” She again felt that chill at the evidence of the extent of his knowledge about her. “How did you find out so much about me?”

“Articles. TV documentaries. You’re very famous, Eve. I collected an entire scrapbook devoted to you. I like scrapbooks. They bring back memories that warm the heart.”

“Touching. But that’s not all, is it? What else did you do?”

He put coffee in the coffeemaker. “No, that’s not all. When I found out about you, I had an insatiable thirst for information. I managed to put a few bugs in your cottage when you were away searching for your Bonnie. They’re still there.”

Her eyes widened. “How did you get around the security alarm?”

“With great difficulty—it’s a fine system. Blick knew a few experts. I felt it necessary to have more details than those I could gather from public means.” He took down a large mug from the cabinet. “I found out a great deal about you.” He added soberly, “I did try to ignore the more intimate transmissions between you and Quinn. It really had nothing to do with what I needed to know and wouldn’t be fair to you.”

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