This story takes place between Deceptions and Absolution in my Obsession Series. I had hinted at it, but there really had not been any fleshing out of what had happened. I was thinking about that and this is what came to me. It’s more about Kirsten and Cody, but I thought it might be of some interest, short that it is. I have longer tid-bits. I’m just not sure if I want to post them yet.
If you haven’t read the Obsession series yet, this shouldn’t give too much away.
A Kidnapping Attempt
It was one of those rare moments Kirsten was left alone when they traveled off the island. Granted she was in the penthouse of one of the most luxurious secure hotels in Italy, but it had already been proven that secure did not necessarily mean safe. That little nugget of information was driven home with gut wrenching clarity.
Kirsten’s hands went to her stomach, gently laying over where her child had once been. Where her body had healed to where she felt no more pain, her mind was far from whole. The doctor had just given her and Alex the go ahead to try for another child, but Kirsten was not ready, and Alex loved her enough that he did not push. To be honest, neither one of them were ready to put their hearts out there again and risk the chance of having it crushed.
Focusing on the vista before her, Kirsten brought herself back to the present. The past was past, and even though memories and grief tried to crush her more than she cared to admit, Kirsten had vowed not to dwell on what could not be changed. Today Alex had an important meeting that would last most of the day, promising to be home by dinner. As one of Alex’s right-hand men, Cody had gone out on some business errands and would be back in the afternoon. Kirsten decided to take the time to recover from her jetlag and catch up on some of her own paperwork. This was not the first time she had been to Italy in the last year, and it probably would not be the last. On this trip they would be staying a full month. Plenty of time to sightsee.
At the moment, she was standing on the enormous balcony enjoying the magnificent view. Sighing, Kirstein leaned against the railing. Closing her yes, she let herself fall into the warm breeze and ocean smells, for a short time forgetting the real reason she was here. Not because it was a choice, or because of work, but because one man decided he wanted her therefore no one else could have her. Something that was part of her past, present and future. Something she could not escape so she was trying to make the best of.
Opening her eyes, Kristen wondered how her mother was. There had been enough tabloid articles and pictures of Alexi Tremmel’s mystery wife that she at least knew Kirsten was alive. That was the only way Kristen could stay calm when Alex would refuse her at least a phone call. Glancing back into the room she knew if she called now there would be no one to stop her. Frowning, she turned back to the vista outside. Maybe she should start being truthful with herself and admit she did not want to call because she was afraid to find out that her mother wasn’t worried about her. That they weren’t still looking for her, or the worst, that Jeremy had given up trying to find her and rescue her from her gilded cage. That he had found someone else to love.
Choking back a sob, Emma blinked back tears as a wave of grief threatened to overwhelm her.
The concern in Cody’s voice was too much. With a sob, she turned and launched herself into his arms.
“Whoa! Hey, what’s wrong?” he asked holding her gently as he stroked her hair, trying to soothe her. When she only continued to cry he started to realize what was wrong. It was not the first time in the last year she had given into her emotions. Cody was surprised it did not happen more often considering all that she had lost. There were times he was barely holding it together. The only solace he had was the woman in his arms. The woman he loved but could never have.
Gently, Cody led Kirsten to the couch. Once he was seated, she curled up in his lap. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she buried her face in the cook and tried to calm down. Holding her legs with one arm, Cody soothingly rubbed her back. Any other time he would worry about Alex walking in on them and thinking the worst, but after the incident at the cabin, both men had agreed when Kirsten was this upset jealousy went to the wayside.
When she began to quiet Cody softly asked, “What happened?”
“I was thinking about my mother and how she was doing. If she still worried about me or had they moved on with their lives without me,” she finished with a sniffle.
They. That was the telling word. It wasn’t so much her mother Kirsten grieved over, but Jeremy. Cody knew the answer to her question and it twisted his gut painfully. While he could not tell her the whole truth, he could relieve some of her anxiety.
“He hasn’t forgotten you,” Cody assured.
“How do you know?” Kirsten hiccupped.
“Because Alex keeps close tabs on his whereabouts so he can make sure to stop Jeremy’s attempts to rescue you,” he answered putting his lips to her hair. He hated lying to her, but it was a necessary evil to keep them both safe. Where he did not want to hurt Kirsten by hurting Jeremy, in his mind Jeremy was the expendable one.
They were silent for a while, each taking comfort in the other. A luxury not often afforded them.
“There’s a little café I have been wanting to take you to. Do you feel up to it?”
Nodding, Kirsten sat up, wiping her eyes as she slid off his lap onto the couch next to him. Cody felt the loss of her heat instantly and it sadden him. More than it should have.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered.
“For what?” Cody asked smiling as he pulled some of the hair that was stuck to her face and tucking it behind her ear.
“I’m not prone to crying fits, yet in the last couple of years they seem to sneak up on me more and more.”
“I think you have had ample reason to have more than a few breakdowns, Kirsten,” he frowned. “We haven’t made your life easy.”
“Someone looking in from the outside would think my life is ideal. I have a husband who adores and spoils me. I have friends who are there for me and would give their lives for me as I would them.” Kirsten took Cody’s hand in hers and squeezed it. “Friends I cannot lose,” she whispered.
“Kirsten.” The word was a silent plea for understanding, for forgiveness. It was filled with a longing that Kirsten understood all to well. Slowly, gently, she extracted her hand from his. They are walking for a very fine line. One that could get them both killed.
“But my life isn’t ideal,” she whispered hoarsely, the tears once again threatening to fall.
“No, it isn’t.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes, each lost in their own thoughts, each comforted by the other’s presence because they knew that was all that was asked. There was no hidden agenda, no jealousy, no expectations.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out shakily, Kirsten wiped her hands up and down her thighs.
“You said something about lunch.” The cheerfulness she was trying to exclude fell flat, but Cody understood. Time to put on their game face and move on.
“They have a sandwich I know you will love,” he said standing when she did.
“Better than the one back home?” she asked doubtfully.
“I’ll let you decide,” he smiled.
An hour later:
“What do you think?” Cody asked as he watched Kirsten chew her bite of sandwich.
“It’s good,” she answered thoughtfully, hold one hand over her full mouth so she would not flash her half-chewed food.
“Just good, huh,” Cody frowned. Taking his Pastrami on Rye in both hands, he took a bite, chewing thoughtfully.
Swallowing, Kirsten followed it with a sip of her wine. “I really like it,” she assured looking at her club sandwich. “It’s just not…better,” she offered looking at Cody with a small smile.
“Hmmm,” Cody answered frowning as he chewed. Shaking his head, he reached for his wine. “You’re wrong,” he declared before taking a drink.
Kirsten choked on her sandwich. “What do you mean I’m wrong?” she rasped indignantly.
Cody shrugged. “Your wrong,” he repeated as if it was a known fact. “What is complicated about that. You just are.”
Kirsten started at him with wide-eyed disbelief as he continued to eat as if she were not there with her jaw on the table. Glancing to her right, she spied one of their security detail doing his best not to smirk. When Kirsten narrowed her eyes on Taylor, he lost the battle. When she stuck her tongue out at him, he burst out laughing. Mica, a newer addition who took his job guarding Kirsten very seriously, was sitting on the other side of the table from Taylor on the phone frowning at him in annoyance.
“Jackass,” Kirsten muttered turning her attention back to her sandwich. She would have reprimanded him for not doing his job, but she knew he could not help it. Along with the fact he was the best of the best and that they had extra men posted around the café, Taylor was quick to laugh and enjoyed teasing Kirsten unmercifully when Alex was not around. Since so few would even attempt to talk to Kirsten, she did not mind and usually encouraged him by bantering back and forth.
When he heard her call him jackass, his grin widen. “I live to be the blister on your….”
“Taylor,” Mica snapped as he pulled his phone from his ear, stopping what Kirsten knew was something very inappropriate.
“What?” Taylor asked with mock innocence.
Growling at the man with narrowed eyes, Mica turned to Cody and Kirsten, who were both smiling. “We need to leave. Now,” he emphasized by standing abruptly and throwing money down on his table.
All humor fled as Taylor followed Mica to his feet, his eyes scanning the crowd for signs of danger.
“What happened?” Cody demanded as he and Kirsten pushed to their feet.
“We got a tip there was a kidnap attempt about to happen,” Peter’s explained as he and two others who had materialized out of nowhere surrounding them. Taking Kirsten’s arm Cody directed her towards the street.
“Do you know by who?” Cody asked as they dodged tables, chairs, and people.
“Whoever called had a voice distorter. They said it was Bannatyne,” Peter’s answered as he followed, gun drawn but discreetly hidden down by his side. No need to scare the public just yet. It would just make his job of getting his two charges to the safety of the car that much harder.
“Shit,” Cody hissed under his breath.
They had reached the sidewalk when the first gunshot rang out, shattering a cup on the table near Kirsten. Instinctively ducking, the men around her showed their hardware as they headed for the car that had screeched to a halt a few feet away from them, pushing through the screaming and running mob.
Once Kirsten was safely in the car, Cody turned to Peter’s. “Find that bitch and bring her to me,” he snarled.
“With pleasure,” Peter’s grimaced as a bullet whizzed past them.
Following Kirsten into the car, Cody slammed the door shut, barking, “Go!” Pulling his phone from his pocket, he hit speed dial and put the phone to his ear.
“I still say it’s better,” he commented calmly into the silence.
Kirsten frowned at him, not understanding what he was talking about and having a hard time making her brain work after the near miss they just experienced. When it finally dawned on her he was talking about the sandwiches, she burst out laughing. That is what Alex heard as he answered his phone to find out that Annalisa Bannatyne was once again trying to kill his wife.