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She turns around. That ass of hers, even with the sweater covering her, it still highlights her curvaceous body. I watch her the entire time as she packs her purse and laptop bag. I’m really fucking thankful she understood what I said between the lines, or this could have blown up before I got a chance to talk to her.

“I’m ready.” She appears with her laptop strapped to her back, purse in her hand. My hand molds to her lower back as we head for the door, end in sight of getting us out of here unseen and unheard. That’s all I would need—Robert Sutton to appear. That or Dumb and Dumber. It wouldn’t shock me if those two idiots played some kind of part in this. Shit just isn’t adding up in my eyes.

“Are we okay?” Tinsley whispers the moment we make it into my rented Suburban. As soon as I landed, Slade procured the wheels for me, knowing full well I wasn’t going to use a client’s vehicle.

“We will be. I’m going to take you to your place, have you pack a weeks’ worth of clothes, and go from there. I promise everything’s going to be okay though.” My hand finds hers on the center console. I hold it in my hand, not letting her go as I drive to her place.

The traffic in the state of Washington is a nightmare on its slow days. I miss the ease of the backwoods of Lodgeview the longer I’m away. A part of me wonders if she’d be interested in going back home to Virginia with me. Maybe she could take her courses online for the time being.

“I believe you, Leo.” She shocks the shit out of me while I’m pulling into the parking lot of her apartment. You’d think for the amount of cash her parents doled out for this place, the parking would be more secure. It’s another fucking thing I don’t understand.

“Thanks, beautiful. You ready to rock and roll? This will have to be quick. Slade is going to have a place for us by this afternoon, but we need to get on the road soon.”

“Yeah, am I coming back?” she questions.

“That’s up to you.” I barely conceal my need to say, “No, I won’t ever allow you to step back into the hell you’re in right now,” but I don’t. Tinsley doesn’t say anything. I know I’ll need to tell her everything and bare my soul in the process, but for the first time in a long time I feel at peace. I’m settled, not chasing after what comes next in life.



It took us no more than thirty minutes for me to pack up what I needed. We were in and out of my apartment that fast. I grew up realizing things are materialistic, and I’d rather have less things and more memories to make than the latest fashion trends or the newest handbag. Basically, I’m nothing like my parents. It often makes me wonder if I was adopted. That’s how night and day we are.

The weirdest thing is though, I’m not upset even knowing that Leo hasn’t told me everything that is going down. I trust him as much as I trust my granddaddy. He and Leo are the only ones I’ve ever felt who had my best interest at heart. The way his jaw was set, the firmness in his tone, the clenching and unclenching of his fist that was slung over the steering wheel, I knew Leo didn’t like what Slade had to say when he called earlier.

“Can we talk now?” I ask now that we’re back on the road. I’ve long since kicked off my shoes, and my legs are folded beneath me while his tires eat up the highway.

“Yeah.” Leo’s hand finds mine, holding it in his. “When I called Slade to tell him about your door, he told me your dad cancelled the security contract. His company had a mole, supposedly. I’m not sure I believe that at all. In fact, my gut is telling me something bad is happening behind the scenes. So, Slade told him I was taking you to your place before class this morning. This is where shit gets dicey. Are you able to get a hold of your professors and move your schedule around or do things remotely? Slade wants us to either get home to Virginia or go to a safe house he has set up.”

I close my eyes, tilt my head up, and let out a deep breath. What Leo is saying, it’s so plausible. Things are not adding up.

“I can take all of my classes remotely. All of my professors are laid back. I say we go wherever we need to. I only ask that you keep me informed. Don’t keep me out of the loop, okay?” I tell him. Allowing him to make these decisions isn’t something I’m taking lightly. Things could go from bad to worse, but I know from the very depth of my being that Leo isn’t like my father. Thinking about him causes me to shiver. Robert Sutton has his own agenda—he always has. My mother is just along for the ride, the financial ride, that is. Which doesn’t shock me because my grandparents left everything they owned to me. I have one more year until I’m able to access my inheritance. Being at my parents’ mercy really does suck. The saving grace is college. I busted my tail to get there, and it wasn’t because my parents donated a left arm to get me in.

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