Sean grimaced. “A little of both. All I know is they were flying to Wasco, Oregon. There are several small airstrips and we don’t know which one, not to mention we can’t fly a jet the size of the Kelly jet into one of them. It’s not far out of Portland. You can get there, but from there you’d have to do the legwork, split up and cover as much territory as possible.”
“Our best bet is to get in the air and figure out where the fuck Breckenridge has a place there,” Donovan bit out. “We’re wasting time, time that Eve doesn’t have, by sitting here with our thumbs up our asses speculating. We’ll do our search in the air. And goddamn it, I’m going to have to call in a favor to Resnick. I need a full background on Breckenridge. Resnick has better access to information than we do.”
“I agree,” Sam said firmly. “Let’s get the fuck out of here. Nathan, you flying?”
Nathan shot him a look that suggested it was a dumbass question.
“Then let’s get the fuck in the air,” Donovan said. “We’ll figure it out on the fly. The longer Eve is in that bastard’s hands, the worse she’ll be. I can only pray the son of a bitch hasn’t hurt—or killed—her before we get to her.”
“Put it away, man,” Ethan said quietly. “It doesn’t do you or her any good to torture yourself with the possibilities. Focus on getting her back where she belongs. If you start entertaining worst-case scenarios, you’ll lose your sanity, and what she needs is for you to have a clear, level head. Those kids need you. Eve needs you. Now pull it together and let’s get the fuck in the air.”
“There’s one more thing you should know,” Sean added quietly. “One of Frank’s guns is missing from his gun case. Travis must have taken it and used it to hijack the plane. How else would he have gotten the pilot to agree to take him where he’s going? If and when this is all resolved, there’s a shit-ton of legal issues to be resolved. Eve will go down for armed robbery, and Travis will go down for kidnapping plus a whole host of other federal charges. You’ve got yourself one giant clusterfuck.”
Donovan closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead wearily. Desperation. All acts of desperation. He could only assume that like Eve, Travis had overheard parts of a conversation. Hell, Rusty hadn’t exactly been quiet when she’d jumped down Donovan’s throat. He could well believe, as Eve did, that Donovan had betrayed her. Or perhaps he’d learned that his father had Eve and he’d do anything to save her. Who knew more than Travis just what his father was capable of?
“Fuck it. We’re going to have to call in a shit-ton of favors by the time this is over with. I’m going to end up owing a kidney and all of yours as well. We’ll be in debt to our eyeballs and you can bet every single person we involve will call in those markers.”
“I don’t give a fuck,” Sam said, resolve marking every word. “No price is too high to pay to save your family, Van. Just like no price is too high to pay for any of our family. We’ll get it done. We always do. Now let’s go get your family back.”
“Christ, we’re already hours behind,” Donovan said in disgust. “They both have too far a head start and we’re flying blind.”
“All the more reason not to waste another single minute,” Joe piped in.
Donovan glanced up at his brother and his team. All at the ready. Silent until now. But answering resolve was in each of their faces. He’d worried they weren’t ready even though they’d proved themselves capable.
“This is the single most important mission you will ever go on,” Donovan said, addressing Swanny, Skylar, Edge, Nathan and Joe. “Nothing you will ever do will be more important than what you’re doing now. I need you to know that. You also need to know that I trust you—I am trusting you. With the most important things in my life. Eve and those children—my children.”
Every single member of the team was instantly on alert. They recognized this important step in their progression in KGI. This wasn’t just any mission. It was the mission. And Donovan was trusting them to pull it off. He could see their resolve. No, they wouldn’t fail him.
Some of the horrific terror that had gripped him by the throat for the last hours eased. If this were anyone else, a client, Donovan would be the first to reassure them that KGI was the best and they would get the job done. And now he had to tell himself that. Place his trust in the team he’d had a hand in training from the ground up. It was time to let them go. And hope to hell that they were as capable as he believed them to be.
“We won’t let you down,” Skylar said softly. “We’ll do this, Donovan. It’s a mission, yes. But this is more than that and we all realize it. It’s personal for all of us. And we’ll get your family back or die trying.”
Just like that. Answering determination was etched in the faces of every single member of her team. They’d all put their lives on the line for Donovan. For Eve and Travis.
“You will never know what this means to me,” Donovan said quietly.
“Let’s go kick some ass,” Edge growled.
“That gets a hooyah from me,” Ethan said.
This time there was no good-natured ribbing from his non-Navy brothers and team members. Everyone gathered up their bags, their rifles. Donovan grabbed the laptop, Hoss 2, as it was termed. A more portable version of Hoss, the mainframe computer that ran KGI. And then they all hurried from the war room and sprinted double time to the airstrip, where the jet was already fueled and ready for takeoff.
DEFEAT tugged mercilessly at Eve. It was over with. It was done. She was done. She stared up at her stepfather, shivering at the calculated way he looked at her. There was no mistaking the lust in his eyes. The triumph. He knew he’d won and he was relishing every moment of her helplessness.
“Ready to concede defeat, Eve?” he asked mockingly. “Are you ready to give me what I want?”
“Go to hell,” she bit out.
He backhanded her, dropping her in her tracks. She hit the floor as pain washed over her body. He kicked her, knocking the breath from her. Agony splintered through her ribs as he kicked again. God, he’d kill her. She knew it. Even embraced it.
Only the thought of Travis and Cammie in his hands gave her the courage to continue. Made her want to live to ensure that they’d be safe.
“Poor Eve,” he murmured as he bent to haul her roughly to her feet. “Did you know your lover was prepared to hand you over to me in exchange for backing off of Cammie and Travis?”
Eve closed her eyes, hurt welling up in her soul. A hurt far more agonizing than the physical pain she endured at his hands. This was soul deep. Her heart hurt. Yes, she’d known of Donovan’s plan, but hearing it from her stepfather’s lips, getting confirmation of what she already knew, sent pain to the deepest recesses of her soul.
“You must have been lousy in bed if he was so willing to give you up,” Walt mocked.
He walked around her in a tight circle, pacing the living room of the cabin he’d taken her to. Her knees wobbled but by sheer grit alone she managed to remain standing. Defiant.
He paused and let a finger trail down the curve of her cheek. She turned away, not wanting him to touch her, and he issued another slap.
It wasn’t as hard as the last. She stumbled back but managed to regain her footing before she hit the floor again.
Her entire face ached. It was on fire from his repeated abuse. But this she could manage. It was only pain. What she couldn’t face was him touching her. Him being intimate with her. Nausea curled low in her belly and her mouth watered. She swallowed, choking it back.
He wouldn’t break her. He wouldn’t!
“Are you prepared to give me what I want?” he asked.
Her gaze snapped to his, fire in her eyes. “Go to hell.”
Rage burned a trail though his eyes, and then they turned cold.
“You don’t learn,” he said softly. “But you will, Eve. You’ll learn that you will pay for defying me. I can be a patient man. You will agree to what I want.”
He smiled then, and it chilled Eve’s blood. “We’ll see how quickly you change your mind when I make a vegetable out of you. Perhaps after a few days in the institution you’ll see the error of your ways. It’s an honor I’m bestowing on you. You’re a fool to continue with this resistance. You won’t win. I’ll have you, Eve. And I’ll have Travis and Cammie.”
“You’ll never get near them,” she hissed. “He’ll never allow it. He’ll kill you.”
Walt’s eyebrows went up. “The lover who fucked you over? Your faith in him surprises me.”
“Go to hell.”
His eyes narrowed as fury reddened his face. “No, Eve, but you will. You’re going right to hell. Before I’m finished with you, you’ll welcome my attentions. You’ll beg to get in my bed.”
The quiet vow fell between them. She lifted her head, staring at him through painful, swollen eyes.
His lips thinned and tightened, and then he lifted his hand, motioning for someone beyond her.
Fear and panic exploded through her veins as another man advanced on her, a syringe in his hand. She whirled, looking for an escape. Some way out of her circumstances.
Walt wrapped his hand in her hair and yanked her up short. His breath blew harshly over her face. His eyes glittered with sick arousal. The bastard was getting off on what he planned to do to her.
Realization settled over her like a suffocating fog. Once drugged, she had no power. He could do anything he wanted, even rape her, and she would be helpless to prevent it.
She fought back wildly, surprising him with her strength. Desperation lent her more than she possessed. She broke away and ran for the doorway. She was nearly there when she hit the floor, pain blistering through her.
Walt’s heavy body pinned her, his chest rising and falling with exertion. And then he laughed.
“I like a good fight,” he murmured. “Your mother never fought. She was too weak, too spineless. But you, Eve? Ah, I look forward to having you in my bed. I have a feeling it will always be a fight with you.”
She felt the prick of a needle. Felt the surge of medication forced into her body. Tears burned her eyelids. There was no escape. He could do anything he wanted with her.
“Get her up and get her out of here,” Walt bit out, the words seemingly coming from a mile away. “She’ll learn soon enough that she’ll do exactly as I want or suffer the consequences.”
TRAVIS paced the floor of his father’s cabin, wondering for the hundredth time if he’d been wrong. What if his father didn’t come here? What if he was hundreds of miles away? What if he’d been so arrogant and so sure of himself that he had taken Eve back to California?
His father didn’t even know that Travis knew of this place. Or that he had the security codes to access the gate and to disarm the security system. No, his father thought him an inept idiot. At one time Travis had been bitter over that fact. Devastated at first and then bitter. And then finally resigned. He realized he no longer cared. He’d stopped craving his father’s approval when he was old enough to understand what a monster he was.
He saw how his father treated Eve, who was the sweetest person Travis knew. Eve had more integrity in her little finger than Walt could ever dream of. And it appeared Donovan as well.
Grief welled in his heart, spreading until his entire chest ached. How could he have been so wrong about Donovan? How could he have done what he did to Eve? How could he have lied, said he wanted them to be family when all along he never had any intention of loving and caring for Eve? No matter that he cared for him and Cammie. How could Travis ever be happy in a family that didn’t include the one person who loved him more than anyone did or ever would? Who’d sacrificed so much for him and Cammie?
The accusations Rusty had hurled at Donovan still rang in Travis’s ears. He winced, hearing them over and over, the shock of them still paralyzing him. He drew in a deep breath, pushing aside his grief.
He wouldn’t let Eve down. Not when she’d risked everything for him time and time again.
He froze when he heard the sound of a door opening. His grip tightened on the gun he carried and he rested it against his thigh, prepared to do whatever was necessary to defend himself but more importantly to get Eve out of his father’s grasp.
His father strode into the room and blinked in surprise when he saw Travis standing there. Then his eyes gleamed and Travis could see him calculating. Coming up with an excuse, a story. Bullshit was his specialty. Travis had learned that at a very young age and he could spot it a mile away.
“Well, well, well,” his father said in a dragged-out fashion. “What a surprise. I’d ask how you got here, how you even knew to get here, but it doesn’t matter. It merely saves me the trouble of getting both you and Cammie back.”