Home > Say You're Sorry (Romantic Suspense #22)(2)

Say You're Sorry (Romantic Suspense #22)(2)
Karen Rose

“I wondered about her name. Although she looks like a Gizmo to me.”

Daisy laughed. With her large bat ears, Brutus did look like the little creature from Gremlins. “She does. Before the gremlins turned evil, that is. Gizmo was my sister Julie’s suggestion when Dad first brought her home.”

“If I could find a dog this little and this cute, I might rethink a cat, but I couldn’t bring a dog to work.”

“Well, not where you work now. Which we need to change,” Daisy said firmly. “I couldn’t work in a bar. You’re not being fair to yourself, Trish.”

“I know. I’m looking. I’ve got applications out everywhere. It’s not just having the booze all around me. It’s also the drunken, grabby assholes who do not take no for an answer. I really hate them.”

Daisy frowned at that. “Is somebody bothering you?”

“Not really. There was a guy today who was . . . belligerent. Just wouldn’t take no for an answer. I stopped smiling when he ‘accidentally’ brushed his hand over my ass. Told him that I’d have him thrown out. He got mean after that, insulting me. A real tool, you know?”

Daisy rolled her eyes. “Oh, I know.” Because her cohost at the radio station was the same way.

Trish frowned. “Is Tad bothering you again?”

Daisy shrugged. Trish was the only person she’d told about the smarmy Tad. “Same old, same old. Little digs, meant to throw me off my game. I can handle Tad, for now anyway. If the time comes when I can’t, I’ll report him. Did you report this guy who bothered you?”

“I did. I had to. My manager finally did throw him out. The guy kept baiting me, like he wanted me to react. Normally I’d just wave that off, but I was on edge to start with. I had a big test this morning and I’m not sure how I did.”

“I’ll help you look at the job listings when I’m done at the pet store adoption clinic on Saturday.” A new job for Trish didn’t need to be permanent, just not at a bar. When she finished dental assistant school, she’d be able to get a good job. “I checked again at the radio station, but they’re not hiring right now.”

Which made Daisy wince, because she knew that she’d only been hired because her boss and her father were old friends. It was something that Tad never let her forget. Which was why she hadn’t yet reported him. She didn’t want to give him any more ammunition against her.

“I appreciate you asking anyway,” Trish said. “I’ll—”

A sound behind them had Daisy stopping abruptly once again. It was a shuffle, the scrape of a shoe on concrete. A quick glance over her shoulder showed a familiar-looking man wearing a baseball cap ducking into an alley. Dad’s losing his touch. He used to be able to hire people she couldn’t see or hear.

Trish was frowning again. “What’s wrong?”

Daisy lowered her voice to barely a whisper. “My dad’s having me followed again. I can hear the guy behind us.”

Trish’s frown deepened. “Again?”

“Yeah,” Daisy said grimly. “He hired a guy to follow me when I was backpacking across Europe last summer. Pissed me off so bad that I came back early and Dad and I had it out. He promised never to do that to me again, but I guess he doesn’t trust me after all.”

“He had you followed?” Trish asked, dumbfounded. “Why?”

“He was worried I’d fall off the wagon. That’s what he said, anyway.” Daisy still had her doubts, thinking it was more about her father’s inability to break from a lifetime of paranoia. It had killed her sister. It nearly killed me. It had certainly stolen what had remained of her childhood. She wasn’t going to allow it to ruin her life, no matter how well-meaning her father’s intentions might have been.

Trish made a face. “Pretty ironic seeing as the guy is following you from an AA meeting. Do you know who it is?”

Daisy rolled her eyes. “Yeah. It’s our old ranch hand, Jacob. We grew up together. He’s like the brother I never had, but I’m still going to kick his ass.” Which she’d done when she’d caught him lurking in the shadows of a Paris alley, much as he was doing now.

Trish’s lips twitched. “Can I watch? My cable’s been out for two months.” She made another face. “The cable people apparently like to be paid.”

Daisy patted her shoulder in sympathy. Trish barely made a living wage at the bar. “Go to the diner and put in our order. I’ll meet you there.”

Trish shook her head. “I don’t care if he is your friend. I’m not leaving you alone.”

“I’ll be fine. Jacob is like a cuddly lamb. A six-foot-two-inch, two-hundred-pound lamb. Seriously, he wouldn’t hurt a fly. Go on. I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”

Daisy briefly considered confronting Jacob in the alley, but annoyance had her following the path Trish had taken, then veering off to quickly duck into an alley of her own. Jacob deserved to have the shit scared out of him for following her again. He’d promised to let her live her life independently, just as her father had.

She ground her teeth. Damn them both. She was not a child. I wasn’t allowed to be one. She was twenty-five years old, living on her own and doing just fine, all by herself. Well, not by herself, but with the support of people she’d chosen for the job.

She heard Jacob’s footsteps seconds before he passed by. Leaping from the alley, she grabbed a handful of his bulky padded jacket and yanked him back. He spun around in surprise, the brim of his baseball cap hiding his face.

“The Giants?” she mocked. “That’s the best disguise you could manage? You thought I wouldn’t notice you because you’re wearing a Giants cap?” Because he’d never be caught dead wearing a Giants anything. They were both Oakland fans.

She reached up and snatched the cap from his head, realizing only a millisecond later that she hadn’t had to reach up far enough. He was too short.

Because he wasn’t Jacob.

She took a step back, the gasp stuck in her throat, her pulse instantly going supersonic as the man glared down at her, his dark eyes barely visible behind the nylon stocking covering his face. Distorting his features.

She turned to run, but it was too late. His arm wrapped around her throat, yanking her to her toes, cutting off her air. Instinctively her hands went for his forearm, trying to sink her nails into his flesh, but there was too much padding in the jacket. She panicked, black dots starting to dance in her vision.

And then cold steel was pressing against her temple and he was dragging her into the alley where she’d waited for him. “You’ll be sorry you did that,” he rasped in her ear. “You’ll be begging my forgiveness before I’m done. They all do.”

Sharp barking cut through the fog in her brain. Brutus.

Her panic abruptly vanished, her focus clearing as muscle memory kicked in and she heard her father’s voice in her mind, directing her movements.

Releasing her hold on the man’s arm, she twisted her torso, gaining as much momentum as she could before striking his belly with her elbow. Hearing his surprised grunt, she sucked in a breath and grabbed the pinkie finger of his gun hand, yanking it backward. Ducking under his arm, she gripped his hand, digging her thumb into the fleshy area between his thumb and forefinger, just as her father had trained her to do. Ignoring his cry of pain, she shoved the gun away with her free hand.

Then she ran. She’d drawn enough breath to scream when he grabbed her again, covering her mouth with his hand before pulling her against his chest, back into the alley.

“No, no, no.” She tried to scream the words, but they were too muffled to be heard. She tried to kick back against his knees, but he was stronger than she was and she couldn’t get a grip on anything.

Brutus continued to bark, but nobody came. Nobody heard.

He shoved her hard, her back hitting a brick wall, knocking the breath out of her. He leaned into her space, his forearm pressed into her throat once more, cutting off her air.

“You are too much trouble,” he hissed. He put the gun to her head, but paused, looking around in irritation. “Where the fuck is that goddamn dog?” His gaze dropped to Brutus’s bag, which she still wore across her body. “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” he muttered. He hesitated for the briefest moment, then seemed to stiffen as he pointed the gun at her bag.

Brutus. “No.” Grabbing handfuls of fabric at his throat, she yanked him forward with all of her might. His hand skittered, the gun discharging with a soft pop. Silencer, she thought, as shards of brick rained down on her head. Brutus. But her dog was still barking. Fueled by desperation, Daisy brought her knee up sharply, connecting with the man’s groin.

She barely heard his curses over the pounding of her heart. She shoved him away and ran for the street. For safety.

“Daisy? Oh my God, Daisy!” Trish was suddenly there, her hands on Daisy’s face. “What happened? Oh my God. Your throat. It’s red.”

“Mugger,” Daisy panted, crumpling to her knees. “He was going to shoot Brutus.” Her dog poked her head out of her bag and began licking Daisy’s still-clenched fist.

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