Charging to the foot of the bed, Julia lifted the ends of the comforter. In one swift motion, she tossed it into the air and pulled herself underneath.
Pressing her body down, she held her breath. Instantly she grew hot, and her vision became about as good as it might have been on a rainy night in the woods. She could barely breathe, and the hefty down comforter on top of her was causing her to sweat profusely.
Two sets of footsteps sounded against the floor. The door to the room was shut from the inside.
“Tonight? How in God’s name do you expect me to take care of this tonight?” a man, who sounded even more afraid than she was, asked.
A deep-toned reply ignited goose bumps along her arms. “That’s your problem. Not mine.”
Heart pounding so hard she could feel it in her throat, Julia shifted her body. She urged herself to sink as low into the mattress as possible.
“I can’t possibly—I’m not sure you understand—”
A harsh reply came like crackling thunder. “What I understand is that if you don’t rectify this situation within twenty-four hours, there’s going to be a serious change to the status of your employment. Understand that?”
“Yeah.” The owner of the softer voice seemed to swallow. “Sure, boss.”
“Yeah, I understand you!”
“For your sake, you had better mean it,” the man, whom Julia was certain had to be Colin Westwood, growled.
The knob jangled, and the door to the room was opened.
Colin, presumably, spoke in a hushed voice. “Keep this to yourself. I want no one to know that Dyson is missing.”
Julia gasped, forgetting to put a hand over her open mouth. She’d been completely right in coming there. Colin Westwood had kidnapped her father!
She had been doing all she could to convince herself that this wasn’t happening. That Colin might be a criminal, but that he couldn’t possibly be responsible for her father’s disappearance. She was going to be sick. And then she was going straight to the cops, getting a SWAT team to raid that mansion, and dragging Colin Westwood out of there on his billion-dollar ass!
Sliding forward so she could breathe a little, Julia urged her forehead against the cool air. Colin, who seemed almost as anxious as she was, was standing in the doorframe.
She should have ducked, but a mix of fascination and fury kept her in place as he shut the door, enclosing the two of them inside the room. Watching him take off his jacket, Julia almost forgot she wasn’t invisible. He seemed deeply troubled, as though he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Taking something from the dresser, an object she couldn’t quite make out, Colin clenched his hand into a fist. Failing to flick the light switch, he sat on the sofa and rubbed his tired-looking eyes.
Colin stared at the object in his hand. He remained that way for several moments, deep-blue irises lost in the contents of his hands. Slipping whatever it was he held into his pocket, he closed his eyes again and leaned forward, massaging his temples.
He seemed so strong and confident, even in spite of how stressed out he appeared to be. Watching him, Julia found herself imagining how his arms would feel around her body. Wondering whether his large, shapely hands had murdered her father, she stared at them. That was, until Colin turned in the direction of the bed.
Heart slamming hard against her rib cage, Julia ducked beneath the covers. Footsteps thundered toward her with a quick stride.
“Who sent you here?” As though it weighed no more than a feather, Colin tore the cover from the bed. “Damn it, woman, answer my question!”
Julia was paralyzed. She wanted to move but couldn’t. She shifted sideways, nearly sliding off the bed. But before she could get one foot on the ground, Colin dove on top of her, locking her between his legs.
Arms that felt like steel pillars held her in place. She fought to move as her wrists were pinned against the mattress.
“No one sent me,” she exclaimed, fighting with all of her might to break free of his hold. “I sent myself!”
“You sent yourself,” he repeated in a mocking tone, as though it wasn’t possible.
She narrowed her gazed. “Yes.”
“You came here on your own?” he persisted. “There’s no one you’re protecting?”
Julia pried one tender wrist free. “Guess you’d better double-check your memorandum of enemies. Last time I checked, I’m on no one’s payroll.”
“Think so?” She smiled cleverly. “You must really have an onslaught of nemeses if you think a woman who can barely balance her checkbook is trying to shake you down.”
“Enough!” he roared. “Tell me who you are and who you’re working for. Assuming you cooperate, I might decide to handle you with kid gloves.”
“Isn’t that sweet of you? I guess this is how you get all of your enemies to back down—crush them until there’s no air left in their lungs. You’ve been warned. I’m not that easily broken.”
A sinister smile formed on Colin’s lips. With his free hand he snatched hold of her chin, smoothing his thumb across its surface. “There are easier ways to break a woman than by crushing the air from her lungs.”
Did he mean…did he intend to… Julia shook her head furiously. Just because his words were laced with sensualism and he was staring at her lips as though they were coated in cinnamon glaze, it did not mean he was going to kiss her.
Or did it…