“I have the rest. Once I get your promise that she’s safe.”
“I’ve already told you I have no interest in hurting her.”
“And once I get your promise that you won’t loan her any more money.”
That earns me a dark laugh. “You drive a hard bargain.”
“You understand that I could break my promise.”
“And you understand that I could tear that pretty dress from your curves and retrieve the diamonds myself. I wouldn’t mind doing a full-body search.”
I struggle to hide my shiver. “That’s also possible. I’m hoping you behave honorably.”
“God. When’s the last time someone expected me to behave honorably?” He glances at one of his muscle-bound men in tuxes, as if they might have the answer, but they stand there stone-faced, still in their plain black masks. “Fine. You have my promise.”
“On both counts.”
“On both counts. Though you should know that I’m not the only person she borrowed money from. Nor am I the most ruthless. Your sister has a slight drug problem.”
It’s my problem now. I won’t let her face this alone. She’s been doing well enough without the drugs—though in a sudden flash of insight, I realize she might be procuring them when she goes on walks. She needs a real rehab center, not a string of hostel beds.
That’s something to figure out later. The deal here is complete. Any other debts will have to wait for another day. I reach down to pull out the rest of the diamonds. I’m bent over, exposed, defenseless, when I hear the cock of a gun.
Adam faces the four of us with a pistol in his hand, no fear in his cold gray eyes. He looks taller than I remember him, stronger than I remember. “You’re under arrest.”
The two men on either side of Ian Taggart already have their weapons drawn. They point at Adam. Adam points at them. We have a standoff, and I’m right in the middle.
Ian Taggart speaks in rapid Italian. “Are you AISE?”
“He’s not really Interpol,” I say. “He’s corrupt.”
“You know him?” Ian’s eyes narrow on me. “You fucking brought him?”
“No! I swear! I had no idea he was even here.”
Ian stands, as calmly as if there were no fingers on triggers in the room. I wonder if I’ll ever have his casual self-possession in the face of imminent death. If I have any more dealings with Adam and Elijah, it just might happen. Either that or they’ll make me insane.
“I’ll take this as interest,” he says, holding up the small diamond to the low light. The light refracts in even the tiny surfaces, showering glitter across my gold dress. “And you can be assured I’ll be back to collect the full payment.”
“Where do you think you’re going?” Adam asks.
“Back to the party. Unless you want her pretty dress splattered with blood.”
Then Ian strolls out of the room, the two men following, their guns trained on me until the last possible moment. I whip around to see Adam put his gun away, looking fierce, a warrior thwarted. “Hell,” he says. “How did you get mixed up with that thug?”
I glare at him. “And you’re so much better than him.”
He gives a short laugh. And then inclines his head as if conceding the point. “I agree that you haven’t seen me in exactly the best light.”
“Kidnapping can do that.”
“I came here tonight to help you.”
“Well, you didn’t. I was about to pay off a man who’s been threatening my sister.”
“Using stolen property.”
“You mean the diamonds? Of course you mean the diamonds.” I have to admit, if only to myself, that I’m disappointed it was Adam who found me. Adam, the man who entangled me in this terrible business. Not Elijah, the man who saved me. “You want them.”
“Yes. I want them. A lot of people want them.”
Frustration feels like boiling water beneath my skin. “You could have them, you know. I don’t care about them. No, it’s worse than that. I hate them. I despise them. Why someone is making such a fuss over rocks, I have no idea.”
“Why do I get the feeling you’re not about to hand them over?”
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