Icy water misted over her, soaking her sweatshirt. The dark was losing its battle to dawn, and once there was enough light, he’d know that she’d double-crossed him.
The cold barrel of the gun jabbed at her neck. “Go faster,” Warren snarled.
“You got a death wish, jackass? These are the Straits of Mackinac. If I don’t pilot us carefully, we’ll end up dead on the rocks.”
“I don’t care. If you don’t want me to put a hole in your useless little friend here, you’ll go faster.”
Grimly, Remi gunned the engine and enjoyed watching him stumble back as the boat picked up speed. The barrel of the gun no longer pressed against the base of her skull.
She’d taken Duncan Firth’s boat. The only one she knew for sure that would have a tracking device on it. The entire island knew he kept the key under a life preserver.
Camille had come to just before Warren dropped her unceremoniously in the bottom of the boat. She now sat huddled on the floor of the boat. Barely visible under the orange life jacket Remi had shoved her into as Warren cast off the lines.
Dawn was breaking. She had to time this right. She couldn’t get Camille to safety without knowing Brick could get to her fast.
There was a hand in her hair, yanking her head back sharply. She let go of the accelerator, and the boat slowed, knocking his body into hers.
“Don’t fuck with me, you pathetic excuse for a female.”
“What’s with the ‘female’ thing. You can’t say the word woman? Is it too hard for you, you tiny-dicked son of a bitch?”
He hit her in the jaw, snapping her head back and stunning her for a second. But she spotted what she’d been waiting to see, and it brought a wicked grin to her face.
“Where the fuck are we?” Warren growled. “That’s not the mainland.” The spotlight she’d played ahead of the boat bobbed from water to rock through the fog.
Remi made eye contact with Camille. “Jump,” she mouthed.
Camille shook her head.
“Jump,” Remi mouthed again.
Her friend shot her a “We are going to have words about this later” look. But carefully slid up onto the bench seat.
“Where’s the bridge? This isn’t right.”
It hurt to breathe. Her airway constricted.
Round Island’s decommissioned lighthouse loomed ahead of them out of the mist.
A spotlight caught him in its beam. Red and blue lights flashed out of the fog. The sound of a big boat engine was deafening. Brick. Brick was here.
“Mackinac PD. Hands up, Vorhees.”
When he swung his gun hand up and around toward the light, Remi shouted, “Now!”
The second she saw Camille disappear over the side, Remi hit the accelerator, and the runabout surged forward.
Warren was unprepared for the shift in his center of gravity, and his shot went wide as he fell into the bottom of the boat.
Lungs burning, Remi had one last play. She gunned the engine and headed around the rocks toward the beach. If she could keep him off balance, he couldn’t shoot anyone. And if she could make it to shore, there was a good chance she could get far enough away that Brick could shoot the son of a bitch.
Sweat and lake water dampened her skin as she swung the bow of the boat around in a tight turn. Warren slammed to the side behind her.
Just a few hundred more feet. Just a little bit farther. Brick had to stop to pick up Camille. She just needed to buy herself a minute, two tops.
But the cold barrel found its way to the base of her neck again.
“I will not lose,” Vorhees howled, yanking her hair painfully. Remi released her grip on the accelerator but didn’t pull it back. She didn’t have any tricks left. It was time to fight dirty.
She let out a yelp as he twisted her hair around his fist. He threw her down on the bench and backhanded her across the face.
She sprawled out on her belly and reached into her pocket for her rescue inhaler.
“Is that all you’ve got? A little bitch slap?” she wheezed, taking a hit from the inhaler.
She could hear the engine of the Marine Rescue zooming toward them. Camille and Brick were safe. Her family was safe. All she had to do was live through this.
He raised the gun in her face. Behind him, the mist parted. The rocky outcropping of Round Island loomed in front of them. The beach stretched out to its right. The current worked the bow of the boat toward the little stretch of beach. Any second now. She braced for it.
“You’re going to pay for everything,” he vowed. “You’ll regret ever trying to keep my wife from me. I’ll make sure you regret bedding that Neanderthal cop. You’ll beg me to end you. And when I finally do, when you’re nothing but a stuttering, shuddering shell of a female, I’ll do the same to your entire family.”
“Fuck. You,” Remi enunciated, then dropped to the deck and grabbed on to the base of the bench seat a split second before the boat’s bow dug into the rocky bottom.
Vorhees was knocked off his feet. He fell on his back, hitting his head on the boat’s wheel.
Her kick landed exactly where it had been destined to. Right in his balls.
“That’s for Camille, you stupid son of a bitch.” She took his head in her hands and brought her knee to his face. “And that’s for me. I’ll leave the rest of it up to Brick. And you’ll wish you’d never been born.”
She sprang out of the boat, landing in frigid waist-deep water. The adrenaline, the fear, the rage, kept her moving toward land as the sky lightened all around her. She heard a splash behind her. Knew he was coming after her. He had nothing left to lose. But she had everything.
Her legs felt numb as she dragged herself toward shore. She couldn’t afford to slow down.
Finally, she dragged herself to shore and started a labored jog on numb feet.
“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” This wasn’t a nightmare where she couldn’t run. Couldn’t scream. This was real life. Light was turning the sky from black to the palest blue. It would be a beautiful sunrise, and damn it, she wanted to see it. She wanted to see a few thousand of them with Brick. Sunsets, too, and everything in between.
She ran as fast as she could even as she heard him closing the gap between them. Even as his ragged growls got closer and closer. She ran even as his hand closed around her hair, yanking her backward.
“No!” Her scream wasn’t loud enough. Her lungs burned. Her heart ached. She couldn’t see the boat. Was Brick close enough to watch? She couldn’t let him see this.
With her last bit of strength, Remi yanked the palette knife out of her back pocket and jabbed it into his leg.
“You bitch!” he howled. “You fucking little bitch!”
He dragged her head back again, and this time, when the barrel of the gun pressed against her cheek, she knew it would be the last. She braced for it.
“Brick,” she whispered. If that was the last word she said in this world, it was enough.
She could sense the tension on the trigger and braced.
Two gunshots fired in rapid succession, and the weight on her shoulder lifted.
She stayed exactly where she was for a heartbeat and then another. She was alive.
Brick. Her Brick. She spun on her knees in the sand and stones and watched her hero, his gun drawn, rush forward. He was soaked from the thighs down. The look in his eyes was unlike anything she’d ever witnessed. Blue fire burned from an icy rage.
Warren Vorhees was sprawled faceup in the sand, two neat holes in the dead center of his chest.
Brick was on him in an instant, fisting Warren’s shirt pulling him up. Brick’s fist plowed into his face once, twice, three times. Warren’s head snapped back limply each time.
“It’s enough,” she said, grabbing Brick’s arm.
“It’s never going to be enough,” he rasped.
She sprang for Warren’s gun and wrestled it out of his grasp. “I’ve seen too many movies where the dead bad guy comes back to life.”
Brick took the weapon from her and holstered his own.
Behind him, three more officers and Special Agent Brice sloshed through the water.
And then he was picking her up and cradling her against him. She broke then. But he only held on tighter. “It’s okay. I’ve got you.”
“She told me,” he confirmed, stroking a big hand over her abused hair.
“Camille is wrapped up in rescue blankets and furious with you. I told her to get in line.”
“Did I do good?” she asked between sobs.
“Baby, you saved the day.”
“You shot the bad guy,” she pointed out.
“Yeah, but you got to kick him in the balls.”
“You saw that?” She smiled against his chest.
“After I recovered from the heart attack you caused. Hurling Camille overboard. Beaching the boat like that. I saw him hit you, Remington.”
She could hear it in his voice. Knew it would be a memory that would haunt him forever.
“I knew you’d find me. I knew you’d get him.”
“You’re damn right you knew,” he whispered against her hair.
“Your dad, Brick,” she stiffened at the memory. “He was trying to help me pull White inside, and Warren shot him.”
“I know. He’s going to be okay. He’s being ferried to the mainland for surgery but he’s awake and alert.”
“It wasn’t his fault,” Remi pressed. “I’m the one who opened the door.”
“Vorhees was preying on your heart. He tried to use your humanity against you, and look where it got him.”
“Is he dead?” she asked.
“He is,” Brick promised.
She blew out a breath. “Okay. I think I want some breakfast now.”
His laugh was a low rumble in his chest. “Baby doll, you’re just going to have to let me hold you for a few years first. I don’t think I’m going to be ready to let go of you long enough for breakfast.”
“I’m okay with that.”
“You’re a hell of a girl, Remington Honeysuckle.”
“I’m your girl,” she reminded him as he slowly picked his way down the beach. “Where are we going?”
“Back to the boat so I can examine every inch of you and make sure you’re really okay.”
“We’re not having boat sex in front of a bunch of cops, perv.”
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