Authors: Shady Grace
If they were the kind of women he preferred then maybe she should go home and forget about her feelings. Shut herself off from the world. Get lost on the trapline and become like her father. Right at this moment she had more doubts than ever before.
Why did I come here? Does Terry even want me here?
She shoved through the side exit and breathed a sigh of relief. But when the heavy metal door slammed shut behind her and locked her out, she realized with a cold clinch of dread, the door had led her out to a dark alley running parallel with the building.
The stench of piss and garbage hit her forcefully, nearly making her vomit. She covered her mouth and headed toward what looked like a main street up ahead at the front of the club, where the light was brighter.
Club music pounded inside the old brick building as she made her way toward the street.
A glass bottle smashed somewhere behind her, followed by a faint rustling sound. With her heart pounding and nerves jumping, she spun around. Nothing but a garbage bin and a street light beyond the darkness were in view. Taking a shaky breath, she turned back toward the street and continued, holding her purse tight.
She should’ve stayed in the club. No matter how upset those girls made her, this situation was much worse. Anything could happen out here.
Right at that moment two men walked into the light at the main street, a few yards ahead of her. She paused when they paused. They stared at her with a gleam in their eyes that would make any sane woman want to run. Facing a grizzly bear would be easier for Mary then what the look on their faces meant.
“Perfect timing. We were wondering when you’d show up.”
Mary sucked in a sharp breath, her heart pounding. She looked behind her, terrified there were others with them, but still only darkness and that one street lamp was behind her.
If anything she’d read in the papers about city life should be believed, then being alone in an alley with two strange men staring at her was the worst possible place to be.
The men stepped into the alley and inched their way closer. One of them was the guy she saw standing by the washrooms.
She clutched her purse. “W-what do you want from me? I don’t have any money.”
The other one chuckled. “We don’t want your money, honey. But you’re coming with us.”
Mary took a step back. They stepped forward.
Having no other options, she spun around and ran back toward the side door she had exited, screaming at the top of her lungs.
She heard them behind her, so close they would reach her any second now. But she refused to give up. Just as she reached the streetlight, somebody’s hand grabbed her shoulder and viciously yanked her back.
Both of them grabbed her arms preventing her escape. She screamed and kicked, trying to break free, but she wasn’t strong enough. As they tried to pull her back into the darkness beyond the streetlight and the club side door, Mary heard Terry’s voice.
She pushed against one of the men and saw the club door held open and Terry looking outside. “Mary, are you out here?”
“Over here,” she screamed, before a hand clamped over her mouth.
His face turned toward her voice, and when he saw the two men holding her down, he immediately ran toward them. The club door slammed shut behind him. “Get your fucking hands off her.”
While one man held her back, the other charged at Terry. She held her breath as Terry was blinded by the sudden light of the street lamp and took a hard shot to his jaw. He stumbled back, but shook it off and managed to block a second punch. He grabbed the man’s arm, twisting it hard behind his back. A bloodcurdling scream echoed through the alley as Terry yanked his arm out and jabbed his hand up under his elbow.
Mary cringed at the disgusting sound of bone snapping. She watched, stunned by Terry’s quick moves and his strength.
As the guy stumbled back, crying, and holding his arm, Terry smashed his fist into his face and shoved him to the ground. The guy jumped back up, his face white as a sheet, and took off without looking back.
Terry turned around, shifting his gaze to the man holding Mary.
“Stop right there.” Her captor pulled out a knife and Terry halted.
He lifted his hands. “Okay. Okay. Let her go and we’ll forget about this.”
Mary whimpered as the man lifted the knife and pointed the tip to her throat.
“Oh, there’s no forgetting, Terry McCoy. This is just the beginning.”
Terry’s eyes narrowed. “What did you say?”
The club door burst open again. This time Gabe and Sam hurried out. Obviously the boss had been gone too long.
“Stay back!” The knife pinched her skin. Wet heat slithered down her neck as he pulled her back with a rough jerk.
Gabe and Sam made their way closer despite his warning. Mary knew she had to try and do something. It didn’t matter if it was three against one. He had a knife to her throat and she knew, without a doubt, that he would use it.
She shut her eyes tight and hoped to God she would make it through this. As fast and as hard as she could, Mary jammed her foot down on the toe of his shoe. The knife slit along her throat as he stumbled back. But before he could grab onto her again, Mary threw herself onto the ground and watched in horror as Terry lunged at him.
“Be careful,” she shouted, terrified he’d be stabbed trying to save her.
Gabe and Sam rushed up and helped her to her feet as Terry danced around the man with the knife, narrowly escaping the sharp blade.
Mary clutched her neck to stop the blood flow. Already she felt weak in the knees and faint.
The bloody knife sliced through the air. Terry jumped back, moving his head to the side as it slit through the air an inch away from his cheek and eye. As the man rushed forward, Terry gave him an uppercut and sent him flying backwards. He hit the ground hard. The knife flew out of his hand, landing near Terry’s feet.
The raw animal hatred in Terry’s face scared her, but Mary knew he wasn’t a monster. He was doing what he had to do, and he had to protect her. Hope swelled in her heart. She grabbed Gabe’s arms and held onto him tight, unsure of her trust in Sam, as Terry picked up the knife and walked over to the other guy.
Blood seeped out of his nose. He crawled back and lifted his hands in defeat. “Please. Please don’t kill me. I was just doing what I was told. I swear.”
Terry set one booted foot onto his ribs and put his weight on the guy’s chest. He rested one elbow on his knee and held the knife in his other hand. “And what were you told to do?”
The man whimpered like a scared little boy. “If you promise not to hurt me, I swear I will tell you.”
“Okay. I won’t hurt you.”
“It was Montesano,” he blurted. “We were hired to kidnap your girl. That’s it, I promise. Please, let me go. You’ll never see me again.”
Terry glanced over to Gabe and Sam and gave a single nod before he turned back to the guy beneath him.
“You’re right. I won’t.”
Mary shook as Gabe turned her around, held her close, and guided her back to the club.
“You promised!” She heard him scream.
Mary released a startled cry when she heard the man beg, “Please!” His next words abruptly ended.
* * * *
Terry eyed the four men surrounding him in the study. Their first official meeting since Colton’s death was somber but necessary. They needed to form a plan and end this bullshit before Mary or somebody else gets killed.
Terry, for one, was already doing his part, and he hated every minute of it.
He strummed his fingers on his father’s huge and highly polished mahogany desk. One of the few things that survived his tirade when he first returned home. Broken bookshelves, shattered glass, and scattered books still remained, along with a few broken pictures of Colton McCoy in his younger days and various business acquaintances. The only picture which remained untouched, unmarred, was a picture of Terry’s mother. She was the only whole piece in a room of broken promises and dreams. For now this room was off limits to housekeeping.
Terry probably looked like he hadn’t slept in days, and it sure felt that way. Every night he had been plagued by dreams of how his father was strangled to death and of his faceless killer. No matter how hard or soft or how swift or slow he made love to Mary, he still couldn’t get a decent sleep.
“How’s Mary?” Gabe asked.
“Shaken, but okay. She’s not to go anywhere by herself until this mess is cleaned up.”
Everybody nodded in agreement.
Having everyone gathered around the famous McCoy desk while he made decisions, brought back many memories for Terry. Memories they all had in their own way. More times than he cared to count they’d held meetings here—some good, some bad. Now it was Terry’s turn to run the show. He knew he could handle it, but from the beginning he never wanted this life.
“So we know the Montesano family is behind this. I suspected as much, but I’m confused why the old man would risk a war between us. He may have more money, but we have more reach. Adolfo’s death was strictly business, and he knows that. Is there another family member we don’t know about? A cousin, a brother?” Terry ran a hand through his hair. He wanted to walk away right now. “Whoever this other person is could be in the goddamned house for all we know.”
John Covington, the moneyman, glanced up from his notes. “I’ll look through the records today, Terry. See if I can make a connection somewhere.”
“Considering how Colton was killed, right here in the house, it has to be somebody from the inside,” Gabe added. “Somebody who knows where we are at all times, and how to get around without being noticed.”
Buck Johnson, the estate manager, shrugged. “I haven’t seen anything out of sorts. The usual people have come and gone. The housekeeper does her job as usual from nine to five. Wanda sleeps all morning and shops all day. I’m as confused as everyone else.”
John looked at Terry directly. “Your father discovered some information recently, but as far as I know he hadn’t yet told anyone. It was good enough reason to consider changing his will.”
That got everyone’s attention. “Change his will? Do you know why?” Terry asked.
John shook his head. “I’m not his lawyer, just the bookkeeper, and his longtime friend.”
Terry nodded although inside his hackles were screaming. His father hadn’t mentioned at all wanting to change his will. “I guess we’ll have to find that out ourselves, or maybe we’ll never know.” He paused. “What about the housekeeper? Does anybody know anything about Cassandra?”
“Wanda hired her over a year ago. She was recommended by a family friend.” Buck chuckled. “Your father took a real shining to her, and especially the escort Taffy.”
Terry shook his head in disgust. “Really? I don’t think I want to know any more.” How could his father do that to Wanda? After all these years of her taking care of him, he had the nerve to sleep with other women. Did he cheat on his mother, too?
Sam cleared his throat and spoke up. “Taffy was already found dead by a single stab wound to the chest. Her death came across as most others would in her edgy field of work—according to our police sources.”
Terry shook his head, feeling more weight on his already-taxed shoulders. “Jesus Christ. As far as I’m concerned, everyone is a suspect around here,” he concluded.
Sam shifted his gaze around and Terry watched him sharply. He should’ve informed him immediately about this Taffy broad and what role she had played. As far as Terry was concerned, his men should tell him every goddamned thing.
“Make sure my stepmother is safe, Sam. I don’t want anything to happen to her, especially since Mary has already been attacked. Both of them have been through enough already.”
Sam nodded. “I’ll keep an eye on her. No worries.”
“Where were you when Dad was killed?”
Terry’s fingers rapped on the desk, echoing through the room like a ticking bomb.
Sam shifted on his feet. He looked very uncomfortable. “I was sent on a job. You’ll have to trust I’m doing it right, like I always have.”
Terry sighed heavily and rubbed his forehead. “Okay, Sam. I’m sorry.” Fuck he felt beyond tired and disoriented. Sam had always been his dear friend. He’d never betray his trust.
Sam cleared his throat, his gaze burning into the closed study door. Terry knew he was itching to leave and he felt a sharp and sudden sense of foreboding. He eyed him sharply. Something wasn’t right with his longtime friend.
“You guys go ahead and finish this meeting without me. I have shit to do.” Sam left the room, unaware of all the suspicious eyes trained on his back.
Terry and Gabe shared a glance, and he knew he was right to be suspicious.
The Montesano’s ranch spanned across a small valley in Southern California, although Terry knew the family had emigrated from Columbia over thirty years ago.
Terry and Gabe set down on the private airstrip south of the ranch, ready to put an end to this rivalry. Having met the old man, a long time business acquaintance and friend of his father’s, Terry was sure Antonio Montesano would listen to reason.