Chapter Sixty Two
“What will it take?” Adam asked desperately. “What do I have to do to get you to leave her alone?”
Ali looked pityingly at him. “There’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing else that will hurt you quite this much and we both know it. Don’t worry,” a hand patted his cheek, “it’ll all be over soon.”
“Wait,” Adam begged, beyond pride. “Wait, just wait!” His voice cracked.
Ali paid no mind.
Blood began to trickle down Adam’s wrists. He’d been pulling so hard to try and get free that the ropes holding him had worn away at his skin.
The unmistakeable sound of a gunshot echoed from up the stairs.
Adam went rigid, his heart in his throat.
He bared his teeth viciously. No.
She wasn’t dead. She couldn’t be.
He felt the ropes holding him begin to slacken and hope kindled in his chest.
Ali had wanted to kill her in front of him, he reminded himself. There was still time.
He leashed the terror and panic crippling him. Iman needed him and she needed him ready for a fight.
Adam had no illusions about what was about to happen. He had never been able to beat Ali Cassim. It didn’t matter. If he could get her out, it would be worth it.
His life for her safety was a more than fair price.
He prayed that she’d be able to run.
A crash from upstairs stopped him dead for a moment, relief so powerful it weakened his knees flowing through him. She was still alive. And she was fighting.
It took him a moment to realize that someone had spoken outside his own head.
Adam turned his head to the side, bracing himself. He pulled out the gun that still rested against his skin, preparing himself to fire it. He strained his ears, more concerned with what was happening above him.
Kat held a gun in her own hands. But not pointed at him. Instead, she held it flat in her palm, extending it out to him. An offer?
“Let me help,” she mouthed. “I’ll go in front of you.”
Adam didn’t know what game she was playing, nor did he particularly care. “Don’t get in my way,” he replied in kind.
He felt more than heard her fall into step behind him.
Iman grimaced in pain. Aasia, her stepfather, training with James. Nothing had prepared her for this. She’d never been in so much pain before. And it wasn’t likely to end soon. She knew sadists, and this one was the worst she’d ever come across. He’d hurt her until she couldn’t remember anything but pain and enjoy himself every moment of the way.
He was still playing with her.
The fingers on her right hand ached. She’d held a mad hope that the gun she’d found in one of the drawers would help her damage Cassim at least enough that he wouldn’t get back up again.
But he’d been too fast. She’d hardly gotten one shot off before he’d wrenched it from her and tossed it away.
He’d been smirking the whole time.
That smirk was gone now, replaced by a ferocious scowl. “Enough,” he hissed. “No more playing.”
Iman automatically took a step back and flinched as her back hit the wall with a thump.
She looked around, desperate to find something – anything – to defend herself with.
But she’d run out of time.
Hands closed around her throat. “I’m not going to kill you yet,” Cassim told her pleasantly. “I need you to help me break my son. But you’ve lost any chance you had of a painless death. If only you hadn’t decided to fight.”
He looked at her reprovingly. “I suppose it’s not entirely your fault. Adam does turn heads. Even Kat – my most loyal of all – decided to come and warn him. I wonder how she’ll react when she learns that she’s the one who brought me here… But that’s not important. Now, where were we?” He grinned. “Oh, yes. I was about to do this.”
He began to squeeze and Iman choked. Tears began to stream from her eyes and her lungs burned. She couldn’t breathe!
A gun fired and the pressure eased. She could breathe again! She gulped in air greedily, gasping when a heavy weight fell on her chest.
Adam rushed past Kat, shoving Ali’s prone body off of Iman and lifting her into his arms. “Where are you hurt?” he demanded. He couldn’t see blood on her. Where had she been shot?
She tried to speak then winced.
“Never mind. Don’t talk,” Adam cautioned.
She was alive. They were both alive.
He held her to him for a long moment, hardly able to believe it. They were both alive!
Movement behind them broke the little bubble they’d been in and Adam felt a sense of foreboding.
He looked up and straight into the barrel of a gun.
Kevlar. Ali had been wearing Kevlar. He wasn’t dead, just winded from the impact of the bullet.
His own gun was on the floor, too far to reach. He’d dropped it without a second thought.
“I really thought there was hope for you,” Ali told him sorrowfully. “But now I see otherwise. You’re a lost cause, Adam. There’s nothing I can do but put you out of my misery.”
They’d run out of chances.
Adam looked down at Iman, seeing his own horror and despair reflected on her lovely face. She was going to watch him die. And there was nothing he could do to stop it.
At point blank range, it would be a messy death, Adam thought clinically.
Close your eyes, he willed silently, shutting his own. Don’t see this. You have enough nightmares.
A shot rang out and he braced for the pain.
But there was nothing.
He could still breathe.
Adam opened his eyes and saw Ali Cassim’s corpse crumpled on the floor in front of him like so much garbage.
Kat. He’d forgotten she was even there.
She let go of the gun, letting it hit the floor. Her eyes were glued to Ali. “I killed him,” she whispered. “I really killed him.” She began to shake.
Adam met her eyes. “Thank you.”