Colt folded his muscle-bound arms across his wide chest. “Start talking. Now.”
“Colt, don’t be an ass. Give her a minute.”
Ellie let it all out. She told them about taking the job in Beckwith, New Jersey at Bear’s Tow and Go because it paid so well and she had lots of bills to pay after her mother’s death. She went on to tell them about the crooked cops, the large amounts of cash being exchanged, then she took out her phone and showed them the video.
When she was done, she stared at her feet. A hand shot out and grabbed her arm. When she looked up, Colt’s eyes were filled with emotion. “I’m sorry I was so hard on you. I had no idea what you went through.”
Warmth flooded through her body, as the intensity of his gaze knocked her off kilter. “You didn’t know. And anyway, I lied.”
“You lied because you were scared, Ell. Not because you’re a liar. Those are two very different things.” She turned to Chief Cooper. “What do we do now?”
“We?” Ellie sighed. “We don’t do anything. I’m leaving. Tonight.”
“Like hell.” Colt spat.
Ellie’s head snapped up.
“Yeah, that’s right.” Lizzie punched her fists onto her hips. “Like hell. You aren’t going anywhere. You’re staying right here. It’s where you belong.”
The sound of motorcycle engines roaring to life had Ellie trembling from head to toe.
“My men are outside. They’ve been having a nice, warm heart-to-heart chat with the Barracudas, letting them know they are not welcome here and it’s time for them to move on. Until we sort all of this out, I’d like to post an officer with you around the clock.” Chief Cooper handed Ellie a card. “And if you would send me the link to the video, I can get started on ways to shut this down.”
“I’ll send it to you right now.” Ellie took the card. “But I still think the best thing for me to do is to leave town. It’s the only way to keep Lizzie safe.”
“There is another way.” Colt nodded at the chief.
“I’m all ears.”
“I’ll stay with Lizzie and Ellie. Won’t cost the taxpayers a cent. And you know I’m good with a gun.”
Ellie’s heart did a freefall. “I don’t think…”
“Perfect!” Lizzie clapped her hands. “I’ll go to Sam’s Hardware and get some cameras.”
“I’m going back to the station to make some calls. And I’ll add some extra patrols to the area. If you need anything, you call. Day or night. Understood?”
The chief was an imposing figure, due to his size, but the kindness he exuded brought tears to Ellie’s eyes. “Thank you.” She whispered.
“Promise me you won’t leave.” Lizzie pulled Ellie into a hug. “Please promise me.”
“I promise.” She wrapped her arms around Lizzie and held on tight. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”
“I’m sorry you had to carry all that.” Lizzie kissed her forehead. “We’ve got you. You’re safe now.”
Ellie looked over at Colt. He was a shark. And even though she knew it was dangerous to swim in shark infested waters, she was going to go for a swim. That much she knew. The only question was, would she make it out in one piece?
After spending a week living above Sugar Beat, Colt was certain that when this was all over, he was never going to eat sweets again. It wasn’t that he didn’t like them. He did. It was not having the ability to go for a run or work off the extra calories in the gym that was driving him crazy.
Then there was Ellie.
That woman was either looking at him like she was planning on sending him to death row or she was going to shove him into a closet and rip off all of his clothes. Of course, he craved the latter. But the chances of her losing the Hannibal Lector vibe she’d been giving off for days, didn’t seem promising.
“Do you have to be so close?” Ellie bumped into him, as she rushed past the counter, carrying a tray of coffees and donuts.
“Yes. I have to keep you safe.”