He lifted his head when we were about five inches from impact.
“Oh!” He skidded to a halt, and his dark eyes widened.
I should’ve moved. I saw him coming, but this wasn’t a normal situation. I was starting to feel like I had to do everything the opposite of normal just to see what would happen—if an opening to run would occur or anything. At least that’s what I told myself. The truth might’ve been that my reactions were slow, really slow, and as I’d tried to move aside for him, my body had begun to shake. A wave of light-headedness had come over me, and I swear I felt my eyes roll to the back of my head.
A thud sounded, and two hands grabbed my arms, keeping me upright as I started to waver.
“She needs to sit down.”
A chair scraped against the floor, and I sat on it. The hands grew gentle, soothing. They felt nice after the shock of everything. He knelt in front of me, and I felt his breath on my face. He lifted one of my eyelids open.
“Tanner,” he said over his shoulder. “I told you to give her something to eat and drink before making her walk through the house.”
The guy was right in front of me, and getting even closer. A light appeared, and he began inspecting my eyes, one after another.
I caught sight of Tanner’s elbow in the air. He was raking a hand through his hair again. His hood slipped off.
“I did. I thought I did? What do you want her to have?”
“Any kind of juice you prefer?” the guy asked.
I realized he was asking me. “What?”
“Juice.” He put the light away and began feeling my neck. “What’s your favorite?”
The fridge popped open. “We have orange juice, apple, prune? Why the fuck do we have prune? And grapefruit,” Tanner said. “We have grapefruit juice too.”
They waited for my answer.
“Oh! Uh, orange juice is fine.”
The guy in front of me, his fingers now pressing over my carotid for my pulse, said, “Give her a piece of toast too. With some honey. She needs her blood sugar up. Are you diabetic, Riley?”
He said my name like he knew me.
He did look familiar…
His skin was a slightly darker tone, but he had the same black hair, dark eyes, and full lips that all of the Bennetts had. His hair had a little curl to it, and he seemed younger. Or maybe it was the gentleness I felt from him. He had a baby face too, with a softness to his skin.
“Jonah?” I asked.
He was the baby.
He nodded, grinning slightly, but with a flash of sadness in the depths of his eyes.
“Hi, Riley. I’m sorry we’re meeting under these circumstances. And especially after last night. The shock of what Kai did, mixed with how much you were vomiting and the fact that you hadn’t eaten or drank much the whole time they were driving you, gave you a seizure—induced by the drop in your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Are you diabetic?” he asked again, picking up a small machine and lifting one of my fingers. He squeezed just beneath the tip and poked the machine into my skin.
He put the machine away, setting it aside. “Your color is coming back, but you’re dehydrated.” When the coffee machine started whirring, Jonah scowled at Tanner. “That’s not for her, is it?”
Tanner had two mugs in front of him. “Uh…maybe?”
Unzipping his bag, he pulled out a stethoscope. “It better not be. She needs liquids. Juice and water are all she can drink, at least for a while. If everything turns out to be induced by shock and not something else medical, she can have the coffee later.”
He moved aside my shirt, just an inch, and pressed the stethoscope to my chest.
“Are you the medic?” I asked, as he put the other end in his ears.
Kai had called for one last night.
Jonah held firm for a second before moving the stethoscope to the other side, and then behind me. He folded it back up and put it away in his bag a moment later.
“No. I’m not.”
Tanner smirked, watching us from the kitchen.
I took in Jonah’s rigid shoulders as he moved in front of me again. “Did I upset you by asking that?”
“Not at all.” But his tone had cooled. He motioned to my shirt. “I’d like to press on your stomach. Would that be okay?” His gaze found mine. “Are you pregnant?”
I blanched. “No!”
Shit. Was I? But no. That was a ridiculous question. There’d been a Tinder date six months ago, but that was the last time I’d needed to fulfill those types of needs. I wasn’t a prude, but I enjoyed sex in a relationship. And because of my job, meaningful relationships were few and far between. Over the last five years, I’d dated two guys, and both relationships had ended after eight months.
I was a good liar. I didn’t feel proud of that, but with the way I lived, I had to be in order to survive. But somehow the lying always put a wall between myself and anyone I might be involved with. I began to feel more and more empty the longer I was with someone, and that meant the only other option was Blade. But the romantic feelings weren’t there with him.
“Okay.” Jonah pressed on my stomach. “Do you feel pain in any of these spots?” He moved and pressed on four areas on my stomach. I shook my head every time.
With a sigh, he sat back and reached for the pricking machine. “Your levels are fine. You’re not diabetic, so I’d surmise your seizure was stress induced, mixed with the havoc your body experienced yesterday. It can happen. It’s rare, very rare, but I’ve heard of it before.” He frowned, hesitating, but reached into his bag again. He pulled out some papers, sliding them to me with a pen on top. “I’d like to request your file. Would you give me permission to do that?” He indicated the papers. “This more protects me, just so you know.”
I got what he was saying. The file was probably already with him. Kai would’ve demanded it, with or without permission, and that was just a way to cover Jonah’s back in case it was needed. With what this family could do, I was relieved to see one member followed the law.
I nodded and reached for the pen.
His mouth pressed in a firm line as I signed. “It wasn’t supposed to be like that.”
He stood, staring at Tanner. I couldn’t see his face, but Tanner didn’t seem fazed.
He shrugged and yawned. “Don’t look at me, little brother. You and I both know we don’t make the decisions.”
“Yeah. Well.” Jonah bent down to pick up his bag, putting the strap over his shoulder. He looked back to me, one of his hands sliding into his pocket. “Drink the juice and have some toast. Tanner will get it for you. Wait with the coffee. You should be fine now, but you’re dehydrated. You need to be replenished before drinking that stuff.”
He gave Tanner one more lingering look. Then he went back out the door and turned down the hallway, not going to the front entrance, leaving me alone with Tanner. Well, Tanner and the guards—two by the door and more I knew were just outside.
Tanner picked up the glass of juice he’d poured for me and stepped away from the counter. He paused, seeing where I was looking.
Motioning to the guards, he said, “Hey, Marco?”
One of the guards inclined his head.
“Take off. She won’t leave, and Jonah will be back. We’re good.”
The guard didn’t move. He didn’t say anything either.
Tanner’s eyes flicked upward. A soft curse slipped out under his breath. “Fuck’s sake, guys. She can’t take me. You all are outside every exit, and there’s no way she can leave the grounds. The girl is helpless, and she won’t attack me either.” His eyes shifted to me. “Or I don’t think she will.”
The guards’ response was to cross their arms in front of their chests and roll their shoulders back, raising themselves to their full heights.
Tanner growled, “Kai is the boss, but you’re forgetting this is my place too. I can make your lives hell if I want to. Get gone. I mean it.”
The two now shared a look, and Marco relented. “We’ll be right outside the front door.”
“Yeah.” Tanner waved at their backs as they turned to leave. “You go stand there.” He moved toward me as they left, closing the door behind them. He placed the juice in front of me. “Drink.”
He stepped back to the counter as two pieces of toast popped up.
“Kai is scary, but so is Jonah if his orders aren’t met.”
I picked up my glass, taking a sip. The juice felt refreshing, and my stomach growled, as if remembering it was beyond the empty mark.
Tanner began to butter the toast.
“Jonah’s a doctor?” I asked.
How did one brother become a doctor when another killed people for a living? I eyed Tanner. He was pulling fruit from the fridge. What did he do? How did he fit into this family?
“Did he kill the others last night?” I asked instead.
Tanner paused, straightening a little, his eyes growing more alert. “They’re alive.”
He picked up the plate of toast and bowl of fruit he’d put together. He walked them over to me.