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Between Never and Forever: Part 2 – Chapter 41


“Where the fuck is my wife?” I bellowed, and my voice ricocheted throughout our suite as I swiped a vase off the table and it crashed to the ground.

We weren’t married. I hadn’t gotten to see her walk down the aisle, but she’d always been mine. No one was going to even try to correct me right now.

“Jesus fucking Christ.” Cade typed away as he spoke, trying to track down something with the drones while Izzy sat next to him, typing on her phone. “It’s only been five minutes. We’re going to find her. She’s going to be okay.”

I should have never agreed to let her go alone to her parents’ house in the first place, even though he’d insisted. Now a damn vehicle had picked her up instead of him driving her back. And I’d been stupid enough not to put a tracker on her ring this time.

Fuck. Whoever had taken her had known.

“I’m hacking Trinity and Platinum Casino systems,” I finally said as I sat down, because if the blame had to be on someone, it could be on me.

“Let’s all get in their systems,” Bane announced over the FaceTime Pink had him on. He was fully on board with breaking every law now.

Pink was wringing her hands. “If you guys don’t find her, I’ll—”

But Bane cut Pink off. “We’ll find her, Pink.”

“Pull up all the shareholders,” Dimitri said softly.

Dante shook his head. “It’s not about investments.”

“It’s about who has access, and investors always get access.” He looked at me imploringly. “Do it, Dex.”

It was something in his voice. He knew. Shit, I think I knew. I’d told myself that the man wouldn’t, that I’d threatened him enough, that we had enough on him to put him in prison for decades.

Still, all signs pointed to him. I’d wanted to be sure, to be meticulous, to run everything beyond reasonable doubt. I’d had Cade pulling files on him, Bane confirming with our rival casino, and going through all the yellow tape the right way. I hadn’t told Kee because she didn’t need to know.

I was done doing that now.

I hacked government systems and private corporation files fast. While I was digging, I continued to pull up facial searches of Kee and all my cameras.

“Damn, I think you might be even more fucked-up than I am,” Cade admitted as he glanced at it.

All the screens showed Keelani at different times. I was mapping her face, tracking her whereabouts, figuring out her every move. “It’s my job to be fucked-up. You’d do the same for Izzy.”

“If she was missing, sure. But before I didn’t.”

“Maybe you should have,” I threw back as we all pounded on our keyboards. “Didn’t you get my sister kidnapped?”

“Whoa. That’s out of line. I got myself kidnapped,” Izzy interjected, head down as she worked away. “Give me some credit.”

“Izzy, your brother seems to want to fight.” He said it to my sister but then his eyes cut back to mine. The devil was in them, ready to unleash on me. I didn’t shrink away though like most would have. I lifted a brow and he just grunted out, “You’re looking for chaos, brother. I’m not pissing my wife off tonight by handing it to you.”

“You’re not the one I want to rip apart anyway…” Everyone knew I was volatile in that moment. My voice drifted off as I stared at the different investments on the screen, at what Ezekiel had been doing. Small record labels, different newer businesses we wouldn’t pay attention to, had invested in our rival casino. It’s how he’d probably gotten access to their drone area. Everything he was doing was under private names that weren’t accessible to the public.

Had I just stopped playing by the rules, I’d have found it out before this happened. “Ezekiel invested six months ago.” I was already pulling up facial tracking on him as Cade and Izzy worked alongside me.

“He’s a block away. Motel. Second floor,” Izzy said as she stood up, ready to go immediately. My whole family stood up with her.

“How did you—” Cade looked over, equally pissed and proud that she’d beat him at finding Ezekiel’s location.

“Cade, you should know by now, we don’t send men to do a woman’s job. I’ll always be faster than you.” She kissed his cheek, but I was already getting up to leave.

“Dex, hold on.” Dom stood with me and grabbed my arm. As the oldest, Dom was probably the voice of reason. “Let’s call 911 to—”

“Go home. Call the cops. I’m going there myself now though. This is my fight.” I shook my head, yanking my elbow from him as I headed toward the door. “And it’s going to be messy.”

“You can’t make a mess,” Dante warned, but I was already running out and down the hall. I didn’t have time. She’d been gone too long. Minutes felt like hours. Hours could feel like days.

I didn’t stop to see who was behind me, but I heard Cade say, “Let us do the rest. You ladies go home. Keep up appearances.”

And into the night the Armanellis and Hardys went. My brothers walked beside me, as well as Dante and Cade. No one at the motel even questioned us walking in. No one cared with the run-down setup they had going on. The lighting flickered, and the silence of the night felt stifling.

I’d have rather heard her screaming from inside that hotel than nothing at all. I didn’t knock on the thin white door. I kicked it in immediately.

And there stood Ezekiel, pacing back and forth in front of my bride. Her beautiful wedding dress was still on. The color of lilacs. And she looked so peaceful as she slept, as if her stalker hadn’t kidnapped her.

Ezekiel’s eyes were wild when they jumped to mine. The recognition happened quickly, from the dominance he felt to the fear that filled his veins. “Dex. Mr. Hardy… I flew in to see her. She called me. She just… We wanted some time alone—”

“What did you drug her with?”

“Drug?” He laughed maniacally. “Oh, nothing. She’s just asleep.”

I turned to Dante. “Check her vitals.”

My eyes flicked to my brothers and then to Dante and Cade. “Leave now if you don’t want to be involved.”

Not one of them moved. Even Dom, who had said we should call the cops before, didn’t take a step back toward the door.

Cade cracked his knuckles. “Call one of our doctors. We can’t have cops here.”

“Oh, yes. There’s no need for cops.” Ezekiel’s eyes widened. “Like I said, I just… She’s really mine, you know? She sometimes finds herself straying to other men and—”

My first punch to his face to shut him up was fast and hard but not enough. Still, he fell backwards as he screamed, “What are you doing? Do you know who I am?”

I knew exactly who he was. He was a predator and a kidnapper. I knew he was probably more than just that too.

“How did you get the letters to her? The pictures of her? Want to explain?” I murmured close to his face.

That’s when his eyes turned angry, like he knew he was cornered and wouldn’t get out. So, he wanted to dig the knife deeper. “I could take pictures of all your wives. They’d probably like it just like Keelani does.” His eyes darted to her and then back to me. “Money can buy drones and teams to help with just about anything. The drones aren’t trackable from the company I use, and the letters were such a nice touch because you all rely so much on your technology.”

“We tracked down that you bought into the casino that allowed you to fly your drone though, Ezekiel. You didn’t evade us long enough.”

“Whatever.” He spit blood on the ground. “So you can have this bitch. I’ll keep on doing what I want with the other women who are mine.”

Maybe I’d been too meticulous in my life, too Type A. I could put everyone into a category, I knew that. Yet, here, standing in front of this man, I knew right then and there, I was going to stick with putting people in categories.

I’d made up my mind.

There was only one place people like him belonged.

“Women?” I asked quietly because I wanted everyone in the room to understand what I already knew.

“Kee was supposed to be special. I’ve fucked countless of girls under my labels before. They all squirm and act like they don’t like it at first, but they learn. They all belong to me. They can spread their legs for me too, and when I’m done with them—’

It was enough. We’d all heard enough. He wasn’t going to hurt another woman again and he definitely wasn’t going to hurt my future wife anymore.

I punched him harder this time, hoping I delivered enough pain for him to shut up as he wailed on the floor. I stepped over him so I could keep him from rolling on the floor as I continued to punch him, blood spurting from his nose.

When I pulled back for a second, he screamed, “You’re fucking stupid. Do you know who I am?”

I breathed in deep as I looked around the room. My tunnel vision cleared for a moment to take in my brothers staring at me, not one of them with a hint of question in their eyes. They knew.

They were ready. And so was I.

“It doesn’t matter who you are.” I said, my voice devoid of any emotion. I’d felt the rage and the fear at losing Kee because of him. Now, I felt nothing as he threatened me. I’d feel nothing when he begged too. “We’re the men who rule this world. And you attempted to assault the woman I love. For that, you will pay with your life.”

“Please,” he started the begging sooner than I expected.

All I could do was smile.


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