A furrow forms between his brow. “Name it.”
“Stop apologizing for touching me.”
“Er . . . yeah. I’m sorr—”
I reach up and press a gloved finger to his lips. “Stop apologizing altogether.”
A humorless laugh escapes him, and I pull my hand away. “Alright, no more apologies.”
I open the door to a gust of cold Hudson wind. The scent of snow and ice, and the frozen rotunda beyond my father’s back door sends a shiver down my spine. For a split second, I’m back in that greenhouse with Ares, and I’ve forgotten all about freedom, and Maximus, and the hell that is living without my Sir.
Maximus leans into my space to whisper, “Does your friend follow you everywhere?”
I don’t have to turn to know who he’s talking about. Christian’s presence is impossible to ignore. “Everywhere, and when I’m sleeping safe and sound in my room, he’s right outside the door, or his partner is.” I raise my voice so there’s no chance he won’t hear me. “Christian loves it when I torture him. He’s awfully fun to toy with.”
As usual, Christian says nothing. He merely eyes us disdainfully.
Maximus gives him a confident smile that’s allNew York cop losing his patience.“Why don’t you take a load off, buddy?”
“I’m not paid to take a load off.” Christian doesn’t even look at him as he says this. He just continues scanning the tree line for any possible threat. “I’m paid to mind Miss Flynn. I go where she goes.”
“I’m a cop. I can protect her just fine.”
“I’m sure you can, but one hundred and twenty large means I’m not leaving her side long enough for her to even take a shit without my knowing about it.”
One hundred and twenty thousand dollars? Who knew my safety was worth that much to my father? “It’s fine. I’m used to him hanging around like a bad smell. So, what did you come to talk about? Because it’s a long way to go for a social call, don’t you think?”
“It’s not that far.”
“It’s a two-hour drive, Max.”
“Yeah well, I wanted to see you, but Agent Stahl also thought this might be better coming from me.”
I wrinkle my nose at the agent’s name. “What does he want now? To cut open my skull and peer inside?”
Max wets his lips. “They think they found the house.”
I pause and glance up at him. My blood runs cold.Oh god. Ares. My head spins. Do they have evidence? Fingerprints? How did they find it? How did they know where to find his house? Is he in custody?
I never told them where I came from, only that I ran. That I ran and ran until I ran right into Times Square, until Maximus found me. All this time, I’ve kept my mouth shut. I’ve protected him. Stahl had no idea who he was—at least that was what the file he left on the coffee table led me to believe. Do they have my Sir in custody? Will I have to testify against him?
I suck in a breath. A keening cry escapes me, and I sink down into the fresh, powdered snow.
“Shit, Camille. I didn’t wanna come here and ask you this. I told Stahl you weren’t ready, but he just kept pushing. He wants to take you through the house. He thinks it might trigger your memory, give us something more to go off.”
More to go off? Not more evidence to build a solid case against Ares, but more to go off.They don’t know who he is. They don’t have him.
A strangled sob escapes me. Maximus’ strong arms slide around my waist and lift me from the freezing snow. “I’m sorry. You don’t have to do this. Fuck! I knew I shouldn’t have come here as Stahl’s goddamn lacky. You’re not under any obligation to go to that house of horrors, Camille.”
I clutch at his jacket and sniff. The cold bites my skin where warm salt water slides down my cheeks. “I want to see it.”
“What?” Maximus pulls away and scans my face. “You should take a minute to think about this—”
“I need to see it, Max. Please?” I sob. “Please take me there.”
“Are you sure? I’m not taking you anywhere that’s going to make you feel like this.”
“I want to go now. Now, I want to go now.” I pull free of his grasp and head toward the house.