She must trust someone from her past in order to survive her present and experience a future…
Shelly Marie Dixon is a woman with a fearful past. Literally. She’s never able to settle in one place, all because of a man set on tormenting her. After five years of struggling to move on with her life, she goes back to another man. One she left years ago. One with the skills to help her. Hopefully, he won’t brush her aside.
Never in his wildest dreams did Adam Wilder, eldest brother and co-founder of D.A.R.K Cover, Inc, expect to find a lost love sitting in the lobby of his company. Much less, expect to find her terrified.
There’s no way he’s letting her face things alone. If it takes all of D.A.R.K’s resources, he’ll risk it. Whatever it takes to keep her safe. Problem is, will he be able to keep it professional—because one look at her and he wants to go back to how things were, way back when.
The only way that’s going to happen is if she’ll believe him when he says: Trust Me.
“Well, shit.” Shelly Marie Dixon dropped the dishrag as she stared outside at the torrential downpour that had just taken out her power. House swathed in darkness, she gripped the edge of the sink and struggled not to panic. Just hold out for a few seconds.
She clenched her teeth, took deep breaths, and waited on eggshells. Five seconds and the generator kicked on. A deep shuddering breath when the soft lighting pushed back the inky blackness. She stared at her hand, gaze sliding along the faded knife scars in her skin.
Five years. Five years of terror, night sweats, and panic attacks. So much so, she ended up leaving Washington, D.C. to move out to this small town in Colorado in a failing attempt to start over. She gazed out the window, past the herbs growing in their little clay pots, to the deluge creating a river of leaves and grass clippings as they flowed past.
“Hell of a time for my fears to kick in.” She left the dishes in the sink and returned to the corner of her one room studio apartment to dig in the chest of drawers where she swiped three push lights.
“Should have had these out and on beforehand. The second I heard the thunder.” Her hands trembled lightly as she set them in strategic places, turning them to ready. This way if the generator went out, there would still be light. Typically, she had them out but, to be honest, she was attempting to move beyond her fear.
Ensuring her place was lit and would continue to be no matter what the weather threw at her, she made her way back to the sink and finished the remaining dishes. Hands dry, she closed the sheer curtains over the sink and walked to the loveseat against the far wall. She could see out the window and the door from here.
Lifting her journal from the arm of her seat, she clicked her pencil then put down her events of the day. As she finished the last line, the generator cut off. Instantly her emergency push lights popped on. Her heart hammered in her chest and sweat slicked her palms, freeing the pencil to tumble to the floor.
Her mind raced with the numerous scenarios. She’d filled the generator so it wasn’t out of fuel. It had been in perfect working order. Was it intentional and sabotage? Or had it crapped out honestly?
Even with all the years and miles between her and the incident her suspicion remained high and on alert. She needed to check. Fear had her anchored to the cushion. Forcing herself to move, she shoved on her boots—without tying them—grabbed a flashlight and keys, then went to the door. She could be scared later.
A few more deep breaths and she exited her studio apartment, stepping into the rain once she cleared the awning. Soaked in seconds, she shivered and walked around to the small alcove where her generator had been positioned.
The beam from her light shone on the red generator and her heart sank. It had been tampered with and that wasn’t the only issue. Propped in the corner out of the wind sat a single long-stemmed daffodil with a dark purple ribbon in a bow around it. Her light fell to the mud at her feet. She didn’t need to read the card there to know the words scripted.
The bastard had found her. Or his people had. She dropped to her knees, searching for the heavy grey Maglite. One finger shoved hard into it, as her knees grew chilled from the cold mud. The spike of pain from her nail bending back pushed her back to reality.
Stumbling to her feet, she hurried to her door, muddy hand digging for her keys. Panting with exhaustion, she pushed inside and slammed the door behind her. Her legs were shaky at best. Shelly Marie locked her door and shut all the curtains.
“Am I ever going to be in peace?”
She shoved a chair beneath the doorknob then made her way to change clothing, actions automatic and jerky. Dry except for her hair, she dug for her throwaway phone and dialed the one number programmed in the list.
“How are you?”
The voice had its own dose of fear in it as well.
“There was a flower beside my sabotaged generator.” Her words were tenuous.
“Fuck, that’s it. You’re going to this company I know about and if you say no, I’ll come drive you myself.”
Chewing on her thumbnail, she listened to her best friend. The tone was all business. “I’m not fighting you on it. Not anymore. You think they can help, I’ll go.”
Tracey Fillmont cleared her throat. “I want to be there with you so bad. I can hear how scared you are.”
“He’s taken everything from me. I can’t do this anymore.” Her voice wobbled. “I just can’t.”
“Tell me where you are. I’ll catch the next flight.”
“I can’t risk you.” She wasn’t losing anyone else. Of course, Tracey was the only one left in her life. “I won’t.”
“I’ll text the addy. Get there quick so I can come see you.”
“Tracey…” Really, what words could be said? “I—”
“You never have to say it. Love you, Shel.” She hung up.
Tracey had the information to her phone seconds later. Shelly memorized what she needed to and grabbed her keys only to pause by the door. There wasn’t time for her to pack; she had to get out of there. Robert loved people living in fear, he got off on it. Shoving two changes of clothes in her bag, she shouldered it and headed out. Nothing new for her to take her backpack when she left, she didn’t own a purse. She prayed her vehicle hadn’t been messed with. A prayer—hopefully not to be her final one—passed her lips as she headed back out into the downpour.
However, despite the address Tracey had given her, Shelly ignored the destination that would take her to Davidson Protection and went a completely different direction. If one of Robert’s men had gotten to her friend, they would know where she was heading. There was only one place she could go now. A place even Tracey didn’t know about. To the one man who may be able to help her. Who may be able to save her life if he didn’t hate her too much to assist.