“What did you do with Eve?” Travis demanded. “Where is she? Did you hurt her? Did you kill her like you killed my mother?”
His father’s eyebrow rose. No, he wasn’t his father. He couldn’t refer to him as his father. He was Walt Breckenridge. And he was a bastard of the first order.
“I didn’t kill your mother. Eve did that all on her own. As for where Eve is, she’s in a place where she can get the help she obviously needs. She’s brainwashed you and Cammie both. What did she do, give you some sob story about me abusing your mother and then killing her?”
Travis’s jaw tightened and he raised the gun to point it at his father. It shook in his grasp and despite his efforts to settle himself, the gun still quivered. It pissed him off that Walt noticed and triumph entered his eyes. He didn’t think Travis had the balls to pull the trigger.
“You killed my mother. You abused my mother. You abused Cammie, you sick bastard. You tried to abuse Eve. I don’t need Eve to tell me those things. I have eyes. I have ears. I lived under the same roof. Do you think I’m stupid? Do you think I didn’t see the bruises? Didn’t hear the lame excuses? Now what did you do with Eve? Tell me or I swear to God I’ll shoot you.”
Walt’s lips formed a lazy grin. “If you shoot me, you certainly won’t find out any information on Eve, now will you? So it would seem we’re at an impasse. You want information I won’t give. And if you shoot, you’ll never find out.”
“What is wrong with you?” Travis shouted. “You’re my father! And I’m nothing to you! Why do you even care? Why do you want me and Cammie so badly? Why do you want Eve?”
He broke off, the gun shaking in his hand so badly he nearly dropped it.
“I know what you want with Cammie, you sick bastard. How could you? She’s a baby! And Eve! What has she ever done but care about her mother and us?”
“You all belong to me,” Walt said icily. “You’re mine. And I don’t relinquish control over what’s mine.”
“That’s all it is to you, isn’t it? You’re a psychopath. It’s all about control. You don’t give a damn about me or them. You don’t give a damn about anything but yourself and what you can control. You’re God in your own world and you think everyone is a pawn to do what you want, when you want.”
Walt shrugged. “Think what you will. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m holding all the cards. Now here’s what I will do. You can decide which sister you want to save. You get in touch with your precious Donovan Kelly and do whatever you have to do to get Cammie here. You do that, I’ll tell you where Eve is. You don’t? You can kiss your precious half sister good-bye. You’ll never find her. You’ll never know if she’s dead or alive. Cammie is your real sister. And as you said, she’s a baby. So you decide, Travis. But the clock is ticking on my ultimatum. Better make up your mind fast. But know this. I’ll get Cammie back one way or another. You expediting matters will make me more amenable to giving you information on that weak, spineless, utterly worthless half sister you seem to value so much.”
“Weak? Spineless?” Travis’s mouth gaped open. He was so furious that he couldn’t even see straight. Walt’s features blurred in front of him and his knees nearly buckled.
“You son of a bitch. A weak, spineless, worthless person wouldn’t have stood up to you. She wouldn’t have risked so much to try and get our mother out of your grasp. A weak person would have taken the easy road and let you control her life like you were so determined to do. She would have remained silent and let you continue your abuse. Instead she lost everything. Everything. And she risked it all to take me and Cammie away so we’d be safe. The only weak, spineless, worthless piece of shit in this picture is you and I’m horrified that we share the same blood. I can only pray to God that I never inherit a damn thing from you.”
A spark of rage flashed in Walt’s eyes, the first emotion other than calm smugness he’d displayed.
“You will not speak to your father in that manner,” he seethed. “I own you, boy. And by God, I’ll dispose of you just like I did your pathetic excuse of a mother.”
Frozen by the admission, Travis stared in horror at the man who called himself his father. Yes, he’d known Walt had killed his wife, but hearing him so callously admit it stunned him.
And it was in that moment of inattention that Walt launched himself the short distance that separated the two. Travis barely had time to tighten his grip on the gun when Walt attacked.
They went sprawling, Walt on top, his hand curling around Travis’s wrist, tightening until Travis was certain the bone would break. His father was strong. Much stronger than Travis would have imagined. And in this moment, he realized that Walt would kill him if he was able to wrest the gun from his hands.
They rolled and Travis struck out with his free hand, trying to knock Walt back. Walt grabbed the hand and twisted it high above his head, his other hand locked around Travis’s other wrist until the hand holding the gun went numb.
Triumph gleamed in Walt’s eyes as he lay atop Travis with Travis pinned to the floor.
“Such a sad story this will make,” Walt said. “Overcome with grief over his mother’s death and his half sister’s mental illness, the son takes his own life, no doubt a result of the same mental illness that gripped his mother and half sister. Genetics, you know. It’s too bad I didn’t choose better in my wife. Now it will only be me and Cammie and I’ll garner sympathy for the tragedy that has befallen my family.”
Knowing he was now fighting for his life, Travis rammed his knee between Walt’s legs. A look of agony covered Walt’s face and his grip loosened. Just enough for Travis to shove the gun between them.
Realizing this, Walt recovered and reached down to once again try to wrest the gun from Travis’s hand. But Travis’s hand was on the trigger and when Walt squeezed, the gun went off.
Walt jerked. Travis felt the impact and for a moment he didn’t know if he’d been shot or if Walt had. He was too numb, too shaken. But wouldn’t it hurt?
He felt the warm, sticky sensation of blood. He smelled it. He looked down to see it blooming on both his and Walt’s clothing. But when he looked back up and met Walt’s stunned gaze, he saw the glaze of pain and shock. And he saw death.
Travis shoved at him, frantic to get him off. He pushed the heavy body aside and scrambled up, panicked at the blood coating his clothing. It was all over the floor. God. Walt’s chest was covered with it.
Oh God. Oh God. What was he going to do? He hadn’t meant to kill him! He only wanted to threaten him. Make him tell him what he’d done with Eve. He scrubbed his hands over his shirt, but all he did was smear more of the blood on his hands.
Oh God. What could he do? He was in enough trouble for what he’d already done and now he’d killed his own father! What would Eve do? And Cammie? They needed him. And now they’d be left alone. And he didn’t even know if Eve was alive! If she was, he had no way of finding her now.
The front door burst open and Travis’s heart sank. It would be the police. They would have heard the gunshot. There was no defense. He was covered in his father’s blood. His fingerprints on the gun.
But when Donovan Kelly burst into the living room, his brothers and others he had no idea who they were on his heels, Travis burst into tears.
DONOVAN and his brothers along with Nathan and Joe’s team roared up to the cabin just outside Wasco. It was their last resort. The only place they hadn’t looked for Walt, and if it weren’t for the fact that Resnick had come through for them, they’d still be chasing their goddamn tails.
There was a vehicle parked out front and Donovan’s pulse accelerated. The arrogant bastard had driven here in his own vehicle.
Two goddamn days. Two of the longest days of his life they’d spent uncovering every rock in Walt Breckenridge’s life. He’d called in every favor ever owed him. Resnick had been working around the clock, pulling every string available to him and then some. And with each passing hour, Donovan’s sense of fatalism had grown until he’d resigned himself that he’d lost Eve and likely Travis as well.
They got out, guns drawn, and then they heard a gunshot.
Fear seized him and he discarded every single thing he knew about caution and he ran.
Ignoring the angry shouts of his brothers to wait until they cleared the area, Donovan burst through the front door, but nothing could have prepared him for the sight of Travis standing, pale, bloody and obviously in shock. And on the floor, lying in a pool of blood, was Walt Breckenridge.
Travis’s gaze lifted to Donovan’s, and then he burst into tears. He was still holding the gun and he was shaking like a leaf.
“Holy fuck,” Sam breathed as he caught up to Donovan.
“Travis,” Donovan said in a soothing tone. “Everything’s okay, son. I need you to put down the gun before you hurt yourself. Can you do that?”
Travis looked down as if only just now realizing he was still holding the gun. Then he dropped it and Donovan’s brothers and teammates scattered, afraid the gun would discharge. When nothing happened, they slowly rose and Donovan cautiously approached Travis.
“What happened, son?” he asked gently.
“I-I s-shot him,” Travis stammered out. “I didn’t mean to, Donovan. Oh my God, I killed him but I didn’t mean to! I just wanted to threaten him. To make him tell me what he’s done with Eve. I didn’t mean to kill him! He jumped at me and we struggled. We were on the floor and he said that he was going to make it look like I’d shot myself. That I had the same mental illness Eve has and that grief-stricken over the death of my mother and the loss of Eve, I killed myself.”
Donovan’s blood ran cold when Travis said “the loss of Eve.” But for now he had to put it aside. He had to fix this and fast.
“Listen to me,” Donovan said in a harsh voice.
Travis jumped at the ferocity in Donovan’s voice, but Donovan needed his full attention.
“You did not shoot your father. You understand? You did not do this. Your father was trying to kill you and we burst in and one of us shot him. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Travis blinked and shook his head. “No. I can’t let you do that. I killed him, Donovan. I killed him.”
“You aren’t understanding,” Garrett said, coming to stand beside Donovan. “We need you to get ahold of yourself. I know you’re upset. I know you’re in shock. But this is important, son. Tell me you understand what I’m saying.”
Slowly Travis nodded.
“Now, it went down exactly like I said,” Donovan said in a gentle tone in an effort to calm Travis. “You had nothing to do with shooting him. You never saw this gun. You didn’t have a gun. You never touched this gun.”
“But my fingerprints,” Travis said helplessly. “The blood.”
Even as he spoke, he glanced sideways to see Skylar wiping down the gun and then handing it to Sam, who holstered it.
“Strip,” Donovan ordered.
As he issued the command, Joe stepped up and thrust a pair of fatigues and a T-shirt toward Donovan.
“Don’t move. Not even an inch. Strip where you stand. We’re going to wipe you down before you put on other clothing. Now hurry. We don’t have much time.”
After they’d taken care of Travis and led him over to the couch to sit before he fell, Donovan sat across from him to ask what he’d been dying to know ever since Travis’s words about the loss of Eve.
His tongue was thick and swollen in his mouth. The words knotted in his throat because he was afraid of what he’d hear. It took every ounce of self-control not to break down and to try to sit there calmly when every part of him was screaming that he’d lost Eve forever.
“What did he mean by the loss of Eve?” Donovan demanded. “Where is she? Did he tell you anything?”
Tears filled Travis’s eyes again, and he stared accusingly up at Donovan. “How could you have done it? How could you betray her that way? She loved you. You said you wanted us all to be a family. But you traded her for us? Do you honestly think Cammie and I could ever be happy knowing we were free because you handed Eve over to that son of a bitch? I trusted you. She trusted you.”
Donovan leaned forward and grasped Travis’s shoulders, frustrated that they couldn’t get to the heart of the matter. Eve. He needed to know about Eve. But he also had to reassure Travis that he’d never betrayed Eve, or Travis would likely be reluctant to hand out any information where his sister was concerned.
“Listen to me, son. I love your sister. She is my life. She overheard a conversation between me and my brothers about a trap we were setting for your father.”
“Don’t call him that,” Travis choked out. “Never call him that.”