Home > Damage Control (Dirty Money #2)(9)

Damage Control (Dirty Money #2)(9)
Author: Lisa Renee Jones

Finally, the doors open again, and I hold my breath, half expecting to be greeted on the other side, relieved when there is nothing but empty space. Exiting into the deserted hallway, and following the signs leading me to the gym, I spy the stairwell I feel certain won’t have a camera. I could go into the gym and maybe get a change of clothes, but that seems like time I can’t afford. Change of clothes. A daring idea hits me and I head for the stairwell. Even if the hallway is recorded, they’ll expect me to go to the garage. I’m going where they won’t expect me to go, and where I can change clothes. Shane’s apartment.

Entering the narrow corridor, I seal myself inside, leaning against the door, nerves jumping around in my belly at the craziness I’m about to undertake, but I see no other option. Glancing toward the lower levels to confirm I’m alone, and then upward to do the same, I find the empty space quiet and empty, a taunt telling me this is what awaits me after my escape.

My cell phone begins to ring in my purse where it rests at my hip and I hope this means he’s only now realized I’m missing. Maybe he’ll think I’ve already slipped past Seth and his security team, who, after tonight’s bombshell, I have no doubt are watching me. Worried about time, I start up the steps, unzipping my purse and glancing at Shane’s number on the caller ID. Inhaling, I decline the call and then place my phone on vibrate before slipping it back inside my purse. I’ll call Shane when I’m out of here, and detach myself from the assumptions he’ll be making about me and his family, before I find a cheap hotel to hole up in where I can figure out what comes next.

Pushing onward, I jog up the next few levels, slowing at the ninth floor, but not stopping. By the time I reach the fifteenth floor, and my destination, my chest is heaving and I’ve ignored two more calls, no doubt from Shane. Cautiously, I crack open the door, glancing through the split to survey the hallway, then widen the gap to confirm my coast is clear. Exiting into the hallway, I don’t walk. I run around the corner and down the hallway toward Shane’s apartment, digging out my key as I go. Once I’m there, I don’t second-guess myself. It’s too late for that. I unlock the door, step into the foyer, and quickly shut myself inside. The familiar scent, all warm spice and masculinity, overwhelms me, twisting me in knots. An array of memories flickers through my mind, some intimate, some fun, while others are intense, emotional even, and I can’t take it. This is gutting me.

Running across the pale bamboo floor, I cut left and up the wooden stairs leading to the second level and Shane’s bedroom. It could have been my bedroom too had I continued to foolishly play house, without considering these monsters of mine would surely find our window and break it open. The frightening image of Shane being ripped through broken glass has me shivering and shaking. I blink back to the present and I’m standing at Shane’s door, gripping the frame. Nothing is going to happen to Shane. I won’t let it.

Shaking off the sense of foreboding trying to overtake me, I dash into the dark bedroom, that masculine spicy scent of Shane’s is stronger here, encasing me. My gaze lands on the massive king-sized bed that I’ve shared so very intimately with Shane. I jerk my attention away and dash past the wall of windows to my left, before cutting inside the bathroom. I flip on the light and the sparkling white of the stunning bathroom with a sunken tub comes into view. I set my purse on the counter and squat next to the bags of gym clothing Shane had delivered for our run a few days back. Rifling through the various items, I grab a pair of boyfriend-style baggy black sweats, a black T-shirt, and tennis shoes. Quickly undressing, I pull on my selections and then hide everything I was wearing inside the bags. Looking to hide anything that seems like me, I slip my purse over my head and chest cross-body style, pull a black hoodie over it, and zip up.

Preparing to leave, I tug the hood over my head and face the mirror. Immediately upon focusing in on my image, I shove the hood back down. No one wears a hood up inside a hotel. Pretty sure I know where Shane keeps several beanies he wears when he runs, I flip off the light and hurry into the bedroom and through the inky shadows to the closet on the opposite side of the bed. Flipping on the light, I pause for several beats, my gaze flickering over Shane’s shirts and jackets. Some unidentified emotion pinches in my chest. Refusing to name it or allow it to control me, I move to the built-in dresser to the right and start pulling out drawers, managing to find a black beanie that I quickly put on and then stuff my hair underneath.

My phone starts to buzz again, and with a new surge of adrenaline, I exit the closet and rush across the room, flying down the stairs, and I don’t stop until I’m in the foyer, standing next to the coatrack, with one last thing to do before I leave. Certain Seth, who is ex-CIA and resourceful, will track my phone, I unzip my purse and remove the cell that he and Shane know about, but I keep my spare that I can use to call for help and to contact Shane. I stare at the three registered messages. I want to listen to them, the urge nearly unbearable, but that would require time and torment I can’t spare. I turn the volume back on and shove the phone into my coat pocket, where Shane will think I left it earlier.

Task complete, I inhale and walk to the door, knowing once I open it, I will never return. That very idea is a knife slicing right through my heart, bleeding guilt. I yank open the door, almost expecting to see Shane, disappointed and relieved all at once when I do not. I start down the hallway and contemplate the stairs but I think that would be an easy way to get trapped. No. I have to be bold here and get on the elevator. I round the corner and punch the button, praying when it opens that Shane or Seth are not standing there.

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