The door swung closed and Kit Gavin sighed as she wiped her forehead, she hoped she didn’t look as tired as she felt. She pushed her black curls back under her headband and turned the sign. She clicked the lock on the door and leaned against it breathing a sigh of relief. She knew they would be back but couldn’t do anything else but figure out what to do about when it happened. She swept her hands down the front of her wide skirted dress and felt her three inch heels in every part of her body. She breathed hard stifling a sob, her husband had been missing for three months and now Tommy Townsends men were hitting her up for the money he owed them. Well apparently the money “They” owed him. She was terrified and wasn’t sure what to do but couldn’t show it, except when she was alone. It was almost a relief to not have to pretend to be terrified for once. The amount Tommy’s thugs said her husband had borrowed from him had so many zeroes attached to it that she’d almost fainted.
She wrapped her arms around herself and rubbed her arms through her black short sleeved dress as she headed for the kitchen. Kincades had opened to great reviews but had slowly gone downhill despite the addition of her grandmother’s sour cream pound cake. She had put all of herself into it and even though Rick was flighty and she was sure cheating with every dame who walked in the door, she thought they might make it. He’d never been a great husband but she’d believed he wanted to make it to. She had no idea why the business was going under until the night three months ago that she’d caught her husband bleeding all over her new kitchen floor with Tommy Townsend’s beefiest thugs dripping blood on the tiles. She slapped the butter and other ingredients on the counter and wiped away a tear of frustration before it could hit the counter. She did what she did every time they came to visit, she drank and baked.
Her hands trembled as she pulled the bourbon down off the shelf and poured some in a glass. She wanted more than anything to say to hell with it all, jump on her white Indian motorcycle and take off. Rick had never liked that adventurous streak in her, but that was too damn bad. She creamed together all the ingredients but found herself drinking more than baking. She took a deep gulp and almost missed the footsteps behind her. She slid her hand to counter and picked up the knife laying there. She knew that when she’d cut her last aged bone in ribeye of the night with its kona coffee and porchini powder glaze that she’d never thought she’d have to use it like this but she was damned if that creep Townsend was going to harass her twice in one night. She’d thrown them out before but now, this time of night she knew it meant trouble. She grabbed the knife from the block and turned, blade shinning in the dim light.
The man in front of her jumped back, both hands raiding in surrender. His black hair was everywhere and his green eyes showed his dismay. His white sleeveless undershirt was stretched across well-defined muscles and he looked tired too, well tired and surprised. Jake Gavin, her brother in law gave her a comforting smile as he slowly approached. Kit felt her stomach drop and then tighten again as he moved closer. She and Rick had been separated for months, with years of arguments and cheating before that and she had been tired of it, ready to move on. She and Jake had been on the verge of something sweet when Rick had come back. She’d known it was wrong, but something about the way his eyes sparkled and the way he didn’t hesitate to call her on her mistakes made her want him in a very unfamily like way. She knew she’d hurt him when she’d given Rick another chance but she couldn’t do anything else.
“Are you okay” Jake asked softly as he walked toward her. He smiled, his mouth quirking up at the corners and Kit felt her heart melt. She really shouldn’t have let Rick come back, but she was a good catholic girl and she had to give it a try. Lord she wished she hadn’t
She laughed softly and put the knife down. She wiped her hands on her apron and picked the bowl and spoon back up. She began beating the hell out of the cupcakes she was making, suddenly fascinated with getting just the right amount of air into the batter. “Sure” she said shakily “I’m good.”
She felt the fingers before she saw them and she stopped dead. She looked up into Jake’s amazing eyes and smiled because they both knew she was lying.
“You are such a horrible liar,” Jake said with a chuckle as his hand traced her jaw “You never could lie.”
Kit shivered as his finger slid along her face and found herself leaning into him, forgetting why she was drinking and baking, for a moment nothing else mattered but this man and what she wanted, what they’d both wanted for years if they were honest. He slid his hands down her arms making goose flesh rise in their wake. She shivered again as he leaned in, their lips inches apart.
“Well isn’t this a pretty picture, too bad old Rick isn’t here to see this.”
Kit and Jake jumped apart as a large man in a dark suit stepped out of the shadows. He loomed in the murky light and Kit found herself pissed that she was afraid. Here was the man himself, he hardly ever came out on a job unless it was BIG. Kit didn’t want this to be BIG. She just wanted him to go away, or at least to leave her and the business alone.
Two men grabbed them and held them fast so quickly that Kit and Jake Barely had time to make a sound. Gaggs were slapped on their mouths and Kit struggled furiously to get free. Tommy Townsend stepped toward them and chuckled as he smiled evily at them. He lit a cigar and pulled deeply on it, blowing out a smoke ring. “Or maybe, this is why he’s not here to see this?”
His eye brow arched and Kit stamped her foot in frustration as the goon holding her pushed her towards his boss. Tommy took her roughly by the shoulders and pulled her against his bulk. Jake struggled too, muscles bulging eyes wide, but the man held him tight. Tommy laughed and gave Jake a look that said he knew exactly what Jake wanted.
“Can’t see as there is much to fight over but I think she’ll do.” He pulled her headband off and her riot of black curls tumbled to her shoulders. Tommy gripped one of her arms in his and with the other wrapped a long strand of curls around one hand. He pulled tight and Kit felt the tug all the way to the roots. She found herself mumbling a few words that she was sure would make a sailor blush through the gag.
“What’s that sweetie?” Tommy asked as he pulled her lips closer to his ear “you have something to say? Well I guess it couldn’t hurt to hear, don’t worry though I won’t make Rick’s mistake, I’ll make sure you are trained properly now that you belong to me “ He pulled the gag down and smiled at her with an evil perfect toothed grin.
“I don’t belong to anyone!” Kit snarled as she whipped the heavy mixing bowl up and onto Tommy’s head with a loud crack. His eyes rolled up in his head and he fell like a dead weight.
The room erupted into chaos, Jake head-butted the man holding him and kicked the other goon when he rushed to help. Kit pushed Tommy away and stomped on the foot of the goon who had held her. Both men crouched on the floor whimpering as Kit untied Jake. They stumbled out into the darkness and Kit heard the backdoor slam. Jake crushed her into his arms and held her as Kit began to shiver.
Tommy didn’t stir and Kit peeked down at him. She wished she hadn’t, he pool of blood was growing around his head and she had a growing fear of what that meant. Jake looked too and she could feel him gulp quickly. He didn’t want her to see but she knew he was afraid, knew what all that blood meant.
“He’s dead, Jake. What am I going to do now?” Kit hid her face, unable to face the fact that she was now a murderer.
“Hey” he said softly lifting her chin so she could meet his eyes “You mean what we are going to do?”
Kit smiled and nodded biting her lip but she felt the late night darkness, smelled the blood and knew that this was far from over.