Saint still reeled from Sienna’s departure. She needed the sense knocked into her after the nonsense she threw at him in the garage. Did she really think he was going to give up on her? Saint would set her straight once he found her.
When he moved to find his clothes, his head throbbed but the doctors had cleared him to leave the hospital minutes ago. It only took a few stitches to close up the wound. If Sienna had seen how much blood had come from the small cut, okay not small, she would have been hysterical and thought, he was dying. Now he just needed a ride to find her before she found out what had happened. If she even wanted to be found. He would have called Chris, but his friend was out of town for a meeting with his racing team.
“How goes it Humpty Dumpty?” A familiar voice snickered from the door, as he swung his legs around spotting his pants in the vinyl chair. He looked up as she entered. The face that went with the voice tightened.
“Ha, ha. Very funny, Smarty Pants,” Saint responded with Josephine’s nickname second only to the widely used Jo Jo, in the MOTO circuit.
“You scared the stuffing out of me, Saint.” She scowled her accent, thick with emotion, more than normal.
“I’m fine Jo Jo.” He grabbed his pants and slowly put them on, the push and pull making him queasy.
“Can you take me to the speedway? I need to take care of a few things.” The hospital supplied a scrubs top. Soaked with more blood than he thought possible, his shirt was a lost cause.
“Straight to bed is where you should go, hon.”
“Are you propositioning me Jo Jo?” he quipped trying to lighten the mood.
She blushed a bright pink, wagged her finger at him and said, “I’d smack ya upside your silly head for that one, but then you’d earn another night in this nightmare of a place.” She shivered. What was that all about he wondered. She shook her head coming back from wherever she’d gone. “Come on Humpty. Let’s get.”
“Only if you don’t call me that anymore.” She shook her head and finally smiled again.
Once they arrived, Jo Jo made sure he got in the apartment over the garage, motherly she definitely was, threatening to even tuck Saint into bed. He didn’t have time for her concern even if it was heartfelt. He needed to get to Sienna. She would blame herself for his concussion.
His thoughts were interrupted. “You’ll call me if you need me, right?” Jo Jo asked.
Saint nodded and winced. She took a step forward and he held up a hand to ward her off. “I will Jo Jo. I promise.”
“I’m at the Willmar B & B, like always.”
Once the door shut with a soft snick, he did his best to quickly get changed. He had to steady himself more than a few times to ward off some dizziness. He took a couple painkillers then headed out.
He arrived at Sienna’s in record time to see another vehicle pulled in front of her house. When he saw who it was he was more confused than anything. And then he saw that Sienna’s front door was wide open, remnants of the solid wood door, shattered glass reflected in the moonlight, scattered on the wood plank porch. He ran up the steps ignoring his pounding head only to stop short when Gunner pointed a gun at him. Saints hands went up and his pulse clocked into overdrive. Gunner motioned for him to get behind him when he realized it was Saint. Gunner put a finger to his lips and then with practiced movements aimed his weapon toward the open door and disappeared through it.
“What the hell man!” Saint whispered as the man disappeared through the door. Who the hell was this guy? Saint moved to follow his fear for Sienna gripping him in a choke hold.
“Stay here.” Gunner said as he crossed the threshold just inside the door.
“The fuck I will! He followed the man and sucked in all the air from the room. He walked into a disaster zone.
Gunner’s head swiveled sweeping the area. He moved through the house like he belonged here, which didn’t make any sense. Had he been in Sienna’s house before? When he came back into the living room, Saint finally became unstuck. “Where’s Sienna?” His heart hammered as the struggle that occurred in the room became all too real in his mind. Furniture was upturned, blood splattered the sofa, bullet holes riddled the walls. As he drew a picture of what happened…He just needed her to be okay.
Fueled by his rage, fear and adrenaline, he stupidly grabbed Gunner, and slammed him against the wall. The man grunted, from the force. Saint had a captive audience. A very pissed off captive audience.
“Where’s Sienna?” No answer. He slammed Gunner against the wall and then suddenly he was the one smashed against it. The pain in his head made a mad dash through his nervous system as it returned. Saints stomach rolled with nausea.
“I don’t know. You’ll want to calm dow…” Gunners words were cut down to nothing. Saint could barely see what had caught his attention. It was a small tennis shoe. Gunner suddenly let him go and Saint did everything he could not to slide down the wall.
“We need to go,” Gunner pronounced.
“We? I don’t even know who you are, man. I come up to find a gun pointed at me, Sienna’s house part of the backdrop for the five o’clock news and you think I’d trust anything you said? No. Just no. He turned to leave, to go find Sienna himself, when Gunner grabbed his arm and stopped him. Gunner flipped open his wallet and thrust a business card at him.
“What the hell is this,” he looked down and could just make out the card. “Anderson Investigations. I thought you said your name was Gunner Phillips?”
“My name’s Gunner Anderson. I’m a private investigator.”
Saint opened his mouth to speak, but Gunner interrupted. “I’ll explain on the way. We need to leave now.” Gunner moved and Saint was frozen in place by all that had happened.
“Paulson, let’s move.” Jolted by Gunner’s underlying growl, Saint moved.
As soon as the gravel at the end of the drive kicked up, Gunners words poured out of his mouth. “I’ve been working in Danny’s bitch of a mother’s father’s organization for over two years to gain their trust, to get close enough to the inner circle for the intel I needed to bring the organization down. That fucker Marco was the prize though. What he did to my sister…he’s either going to jail for a long time or I’m putting a bullet in his head.”
Saint watched Gunner as his words trailed off sister. His fingers gripped the steering wheel tighter and tighter as if it would bend by raw anger alone.
“What did he do to your sister?” He dare ask. Gunner’s eyes flashed on him and he would have missed the pain in that swift glance if not for the clearing that let the glow of the moon back into their ride.
“You don’t want to know,” Gunner said flexing his fingers as he guided the vehicle around a turn.
“Fuck!” Saint’s breathes burned in and out of his nose as all kinds of scenarios danced in his head. “Fuck, go faster.”
Gunner ignored him and spoke on. “Sienna’s mother is mired in her own shit, buried to depths that no one escapes from. Once Marco decided that her debt was owed…She’d been racking up debt, and Marco, who is Danny’s mother’s enforcer called her debt due. But, surprise, surprise, she didn’t have the money.” Gunner looked over at Saint. “Sienna is the next best thing. And Marco will do whatever it takes to extricate Sienna from her money.” Saint swallowed hard, the ache in his throat threatening to choke him. “Anything. Top that shit off,” Gunner continued, “I think Marco has Danny too.”
“The shoe. Christ!” He rubbed his face. His head hurt more than ever. “Why didn’t you get Danny out of that damn house? You could have gotten him away from his mother. Called social services. Something.”
“I couldn’t help him man. It would have blown my cover. I did the best I could to distract them each time they went after him, but you’ve seen Danny. It doesn’t always work. The good news is I was able to hand over some intel to the FBI. Tonight they arrested the bitch and her father. Their empire is crumbling. FBI’s on cleanup duty. That’s where I came from tonight. But Marco slipped their notice on roundup. I went straight to Sienna’s once I found out.”
The man sighed like he’d had to carry the weight of Atlas’s world. But Saint didn’t give a shit about him. All he cared about was Sienna. Her time was running out if the scene at her house said anything at all. “Where are we headed?”
Gunner looked over at Saint and then back to the road. “You’ve gotta keep it together man. What you’re probably gonna see isn’t gonna make you feel anything close to hearts and rainbows.” Saint watched as the guy’s teeth ground down onto each other. “The place is a shack. A place close to Danny’s house.” He cleared his throat and blew out a breath. “ We just found out about it. Had my guys known about it we would have taken care to clear it too. We think it’s where he’s been keeping Sienna’s mother. I think it’s where he’s taken Sienna.”
“You don’t know for sure? What if she’s not there? How are we going to find her?”
Saint’s words grew louder with every question. “Shit!”
“You need to be prepared.” Saint’s hands started to sweat. “This isn’t your normal little shack. He uses it for all sorts of work.” Gunner looked over again. “You do what I tell you when. No questions. You got me?”
“Yes,” Saint said. He didn’t like it, but he wasn’t going to disagree on the off chance that Gunner wouldn’t let him out of the damn vehicle.
They approached an overgrown turnoff and Gunner turned off the headlamps. He slowed down too, which put Saint on edge. They needed to go faster. And then he saw it. A small out building with a single window. Gunner pulled over a little way off from where he wanted to be. Sienna was in there and who knows God what was happening. Gunner got out of the car and signaled for Saint to follow. Saint didn’t take his eyes off the small building until he heard Gunner open his trunk and lift something out of a small compartment that Saint knew shouldn’t be there. Gunner handed him a gun.
“You know how to use one?”
“Yes.” Saint pulled back the safety and had it ready to fire in the next second.
“Good. Follow my lead and don’t go off all halfcocked. You’ll put us all in jeopardy.” Saint wanted to tell him to shut the fuck up, but kept his mouth shut. Sienna was his, and he’d do whatever necessary to get her back.
With each step bringing them closer to her, Saint’s mind spun with what he might see. But he couldn’t do that. Focus he told himself, focus.
They reached the side of the building and the first thing he saw through a small window made him bite his tongue. A small figure was curled up on the floor. It wasn’t moving. Fuck! his mind screamed. Then he breathed through his fear. That wasn’t Sienna he thought. The figure was too small, too thin. Was it Sienna’s mother? Was she dead? Where was Sienna? And then he heard footsteps. It sounded liked someone was pacing. And then the sound stopped.
“Where the fuck is the money?”
Was that moaning? Sienna? Moving at the noise to go around Gunner the man caught Saint’s shoulder and forced his back against the wall.
“There is no money,” Saint heard Sienna say. She was alive. Then Sienna screamed.
“Stay here,” Gunner whispered.
“Fuck that!” he bit out through clenched teeth.
Gunner kicked in the door and Saint followed. Instinct took over. Shots were fired and Saint dove to the side. Gunner grunted and hit the floor but then rolled when Marco fired his gun. Saint’s eyes scanned wildly for Sienna and saw her in the corner on a dirty mattress. The sight of her had his eyes filling with relief and then he looked closer. While chaos echoed throughout the shack Saint raced to get to Sienna. He tripped and fell. He groaned when he realized he’d fallen on Sienna’s mother, her eyes open staring blankly up to the ceiling. His stomach took a dive and it was all he could do to keep from vomiting. He couldn’t control his need to touch Sienna and took a rough hold of her arms and she screamed.
“It’s me baby. It’s me.” She stilled. He reached to unknot the blindfold that was too tight around her head. She started to struggle. “Sienna, hold still. Hold still baby. I’ve got you.”
She started to cry “Saint? You’re not dead. Oh, God. You’re not dead. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I love you. I love you.”
“I know, baby.” She rocked back and forth making it more difficult to release her bindings that cut into her wrists and ankles. When he finally got the last one undone she fell into his arms. “I love you too,” he said. “Come on we need to get you out of here,” but he was stopped as she grabbed his face with shaking hands.
“I’m sorry I was so hateful. I didn’t mean what I said. I was scared.” Sienna kissed him and pulled back quickly when she hissed from the contact. He was about to look at the cut on her lip when she looked up at him with frantic eyes. “Danny? Where’s Danny?”
“I don’t know.” Saint looked around and saw that Marco was dead, Gunner nowhere in sight. “We thought he was with you.”
“He…he was.” She started to shiver, the shock of what she’d endured taking hold. “But, but, then Marco took him outside. He was screaming and yelling at Marco, telling him to leave me alone.” She grabbed onto his shirt. “Marco said he was going to teach Danny a lesson. Did you see him outside? He was already hurt so badly. He couldn’t have withstood anymore, Saint.” More tears stained her cheeks and Saint wiped them away and kissed each one as they continued to fall.
“We’ll find him.” He lifted her chin and saw that her lip was swollen and encrusted with blood that had cracked open again from their kiss. She had a bruise on her head to match his own. And who knows what else. “Can you walk?”
“I think so.” She started to get up and gasped. “Marco kicked me in the ribs.” Saint wished the asshole was still alive so he could kill him all over. When they came to the door Saint giving all his attention to Sienna, she moaned. He thought he’d somehow hurt her. But when he saw Sienna’s stricken face he looked up to see Gunner carrying Danny from a narrow path in the woods at almost a run.
“I need to get Danny to the hospital,” Gunner yelled. When he reached the porch he set Danny down, his body like that of a rag dolls. “I’m getting my ride. Make sure he stays awake. His pulse…” Gunner stopped speaking and swallowed hard. He shook his head and took off running.
“Danny?” Sienna said as she moved to look down at him. His breaths were erratic and his eyes were glassy.
Danny looked up to Sienna. “You…okay?” the small voice asked. Saint came up next to Sienna and looked over her shoulder. When Danny saw Saint, his eyes widened.
“She’s okay Danny. Everything’s okay.”
“She was, yes. So was your grandfather.”
Danny closed his eyes.
“Danny! Open your eyes. Open your eyes honey,” Sienna said through her tears. The boy did as she asked but Saint could tell it was difficult.
“We’re going to get you to the hospital.”
“Okay,” the whisper was even smaller now. He closed his eyes again and exhaled.
“Danny?” Sienna said. “Danny!”
Gunner just hit the porch when she started to scream. He grabbed the boy up and raced to the open door of his SUV crawled into the back with the boy. Saint did his best to get Sienna in too and propped her up as close to Danny as possible. “You drive,” Gunner said, and threw his keys at Saint, never taking his eyes off the boy while Saint hit the accelerator and gunned it toward the hospital. He only hoped they made it in time.