My heart is pounding and blood thrums loudly in my eardrums; the alcohol flow-ing through my system, amplifying the sound.
“Is he—” I gasp, unable to finish the sentence and gazing wide-eyed and terrified at Ryan. I can’t even look at the prone figure on the floor.
“No, ma’am. Just knocked out cold.”
Relief floods through me. Oh, thank God.
“And you?” I ask, gazing at Ryan. I realize I don’t know his first name. He’s panting as if he’s run a marathon. He wipes the corner of his mouth, removing the trace of blood, and a faint bruise is forming on his cheek.
“He put up one hell of a fight, but I’m okay, Mrs. Grey.” He smiles reassuringly. If I knew him better, I’d say he looked a little smug.
“And Gail? Mrs. Jones?” Oh no . . . is she okay? Has she been harmed?
“I’m here, Ana.” Glancing behind me, she’s in a nightdress and robe, her hair loose, her face ashen and her eyes wide—like mine, I imagine.
“Ryan woke me. Insisted I come in here.” She points behind her into Taylor’s office. “I’m fine. Are you okay?”
I nod briskly and realize she’s probably just come out of the panic room built adjoining Taylor’s office. Who knew we’d need it so soon? Christian had insisted on its installation shortly after our engagement—and I had rolled my eyes. Now, seeing Gail standing in the doorway, I’m grateful for his foresight.
A creak from the door to the foyer distracts me. It’s hanging off its hinges.
What the hell happened to that?
“Was he alone?” I ask Ryan.
“Yes, ma’am. You wouldn’t be standing here if he wasn’t, I can assure you.”
Ryan sounds vaguely affronted.
“How did he get in?” I ask, ignoring his tone.
“Through the service elevator. He’s got quite a pair, ma’am.”
I stare down at Jack’s slumped figure. He’s wearing a uniform of sorts—coveralls, I think.
“About ten minutes ago. I caught him on the security monitor. He was wearing gloves . . . kinda strange in August. I recognized him and decided to give him access. That way I knew we’d have him. You weren’t here and Gail was safe, so I figured it was now or never.” Ryan looks very pleased with himself once more, and Sawyer scowls at him in disapproval.
Gloves? The thought distracts me, and I glance once more at Jack. Yes, he’s wearing brown leather gloves. Creepy.
“What now?” I try to dismiss the ramifications from my mind.
“We need to secure him,” Ryan replies.
“In case he wakes.” Ryan glances at Sawyer.
“What do you need?” asks Mrs. Jones, stepping forward. She’s recovered her composure.
“Something to restrain him—cord or rope,” Ryan replies.
Cable ties. I flush as memories of the previous night invade my mind. Reflexively, I rub my wrists and glance quickly down at them. No, no bruising. Good.
“I have something. Cable ties. Will they do?”
All eyes turn to me.
“Yes, ma’am. Perfect,” Sawyer says, serious and straight-faced. I want the floor to swallow me up, but I turn and head for our bedroom. Sometimes you just have to brazen things out. Perhaps it’s the combination of fear and alcohol making me audacious.
When I return, Mrs. Jones is surveying the mess in the foyer and Miss Prescott has joined the security team. I hand the ties to Sawyer, who slowly, and with unnecessary care, ties Hyde’s hands behind his back. Mrs. Jones disappears into the kitchen and returns with a first aid kit. She takes Ryan’s arm, leads him into the doorway of the great room, and starts tending to the cut above his eye. He flinches as she dabs it with an antiseptic wipe. Then I notice the Glock on the floor with a silencer attached. Holy shit! Jack was armed? Bile rises in my throat and I fight it down.
“Don’t touch, Mrs. Grey,” says Prescott when I bend to pick it up. Sawyer emerges from Taylor’s office wearing latex gloves.
“I’ll take care of that, Mrs. Grey,” he says.
“It’s his?” I ask.
“Yes ma’am,” says Ryan, wincing once more from Mrs. Jones’s ministra-tions. Holy crap. Ryan fought an armed man in my home. I shudder at the thought. Sawyer bends and gingerly picks up the Glock.
“Should you be doing that?” I ask.
“Mr. Grey would expect it ma’am.” Sawyer slides the gun into a zip-lock bag then squats to pat down Jack. He pauses and partially pulls a roll of duct tape from the man’s pocket. Sawyer blanches and pushes the tape back into Hyde’s pocket.
Duct tape? My mind idly registers as I watch the proceedings with fascina-tion and an odd detachment. Then bile rises to my throat again as I realize the implications. Rapidly, I dismiss them from my head. Don’t go there, Ana!
“Should we call the police?” I mutter, trying to hide my fear. I want Hyde out of my home, sooner rather than later.
Ryan and Sawyer glance at each other.
“I think we should call the police,” I say rather more forcefully, wondering what’s going on between Ryan and Sawyer.
“I’ve just tried Taylor, and he’s not answering his cell. Maybe he’s asleep.”
Sawyer checks his watch. “It’s one forty-five in the morning on the East Coast.”
“Have you called Christian?” I whisper.
“Were you calling Taylor for instructions?”
Sawyer looks momentarily embarrassed. “Yes, ma’am.”
Part of me bristles. This man—I glance down at Hyde again—has invaded my home, and he needs to be removed by the police. But looking at the four of them, into their anxious eyes, I decide I must be missing something so I decide to call Christian. My scalp prickles. I know he’s mad at me—really, really mad at me—and I falter at the thought of what he’ll say. And how he’ll stress because he’s not here and can’t be here until tomorrow evening. I know I’ve worried him enough this evening. Perhaps I shouldn’t call him. And then it occurs to me. Shit .