She worriedthat she’d imagined the whole scene. Had Ryder just come to her rescue. The last thing she remembered was being so cold that it was hard for her to focus and stay awake. Dante left her in that cold barn, partially exposed, and scared out of her mind that he wouldn’t come back. That was crazy—wanting her capturer to come back so that she wouldn’t freeze to death. What he promised to do to her should have scared the shit out of her, but the colder it got, the more she feared death.
Tatum fell in and out of sleep and when she saw Ryder’s face, she was sure that she was dreaming, right up until he cut her bindings and freed her. It felt so good to be in his arms, so warm and safe, she didn’t want him to ever let her go again.
She peeped one eye open, almost afraid to see where she was or who she was with. Tatum was finally warming up and she worried that Dante had just moved her and her mind was playing tricks on her, making her believe that Ryder had come for her.
“Hey, Baby,” Ryder crooned. She was snuggled against his body, wrapped in a warm blanket. The look of concern that greeted her when she fully opened her eyes made her heartache.
“I was so worried about you, Ryder,” she croaked, her voice sounding hoarse.
“Here, drink this,” A tall man with dark hair handed her a bottle of water.
“Who is he?” she whispered to Ryder. She looked around to see where they were and realized that they must be on his plane. “Where are we?” she questioned.
“He’s a friend of your brothers,” Ryder said.
“You can call me Wilson,” the guy said, offering his hand.
“Is that your last name?” she croaked.
“Yes, why?” the guy asked.
“She has a thing about calling people by their last name. Tatum hates that I call her brother Hart,” Ryder assessed.
“Sorry,” the guy breathed. “Um—you can call me Scott but the only person who still uses my first name is my mother. She also uses my middle name when she’s upset with me,” he teased.
“Good to meet you, Scott,” she said. “Are we flying home?” she asked Ryder.
“Not yet, Baby,” he said. “We have to wait for your brother. He was just tying up some loose ends at the cabin,” he said.
“By loose ends, you mean Dante, right?” she croaked.
“Yeah,” Ryder said. She remembered hearing gunshots while he was rescuing her from the barn.
“There was gunfire,” she said, trying to sit up. She needed to find a cell phone and call her brother. Tatum worried that Jackson had been shot trying to save her. “We need to call him.”
Ryder pushed her back down, “No, we don’t. Your brother is highly trained and damn good at his job. He’ll get Dante, and Hart will come out of this just fine,” he promised.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Jackson said, walking onto the plane. “Means a lot. How’s my sister?” he asked.
She sat up some and forced her smile, “I’m okay,” she said weakly. Jackson crossed the cabin and kissed her forehead. Tatum didn’t miss the look on her brother’s face when he looked at Ryder. The last thing she wanted or needed was for him to blame Ryder for what happened.
“This wasn’t his fault,” she said, suddenly feeling overly protective of Ryder. “He was trying to do something nice for me because I’ve been so upset about being cooped up in that cabin. Ryder was just trying to make me feel better.”
“I don’t need for you to cover for me, Honey,” Ryder said. “I fucked up—I left you alone and gave Dante a window of opportunity to get to you. I’m so sorry.”
“No,” she spat, “none of this is your fault. I promise you that I’m going to be fine. He didn’t touch me. I’m fine.” She wished she could make him believe her but she saw it in his eyes—he didn’t.
“You got Dante?” Wilson asked.
“Yes,” Jackson said. “But he put up a fight. He’s dead and so is his bodyguard.”
“Thank fuck,” Ryder breathed.
“So, this is over then?” Tatum asked. Relief flooded her and she couldn’t help the tears that followed.
“For now, yeah. We’ll have to keep our ears to the ground and watch for any of the Anarchy Kings or Dragons to retaliate. But right now, you’re safe and that’s all that matters, Tatum,” Jackson said.