Falling For A Donovan
by AC Arthur
Book 14 in the Donovans Series
When all hell breaks loose…
Bailey Donovan’s family has been dealt a serious blow. While her cousin’s wife fights for her life, a manhunt has ensued for Roslyn Ausby. Bailey’s twin brother’s wedding plans have been halted by his fiancé’s problematic pregnancy. Her father is still recovering from his heart attack and another cousin is on sabbatical for reasons nobody in the family knows. Now is definitely not the time for Bailey to have urges she’s never before experienced. And it’s certainly not the time for her to fall for a man’s hot kisses and tender caresses—especially not this man.
It’s good to have someone to hold onto.
Navy SEAL Devlin Bonner’s dark past races to catch up with him, just in time to throw a monkey wrench in the steamy romance he has going with Bailey. While the word “romance” has never been in his vocabulary, the thought of losing Bailey either in this war her family has going or through a secret threatened to be revealed by someone Dev once called a friend, is not acceptable. And for Dev, the unacceptable must always be eliminated.
Will the chances he’s taken to be with Bailey withstand the storm brewing around them, or will Devlin ultimately regret falling for a Donovan?
**AUTHOR’S NOTE: This book is #14 in a series. While it may not be necessary to read each book that has come before this one, it is highly recommended that HEART OF A DONOVAN, EMBRACED BY A DONOVAN, WRAPPED IN A DONOVAN, IN THE ARMS OF A DONOVAN, and THE DONOVANS UNCOVERED be read before reading this book, as there is a continuing plot in each of these stories. This book ends with a cliffhanger.
The print version of this book is available in the Donovans Volume IV anthology.
Falling For A Donovan
Book 14 in the Donovans Series
Falling For A Donovan
38 years ago
“Tell me what you’re thinking,” he said as if she really had the capacity to do such a thing.
Roslyn wished she did. Sometimes, anyway. She wished that she could say what upset her, process that situation and move on to the next. One of her deepest desires was to finally fit in, to be what everyone else was and to feel their acceptance. A glance at the shrink they’d sent in to determine whether or not she could leave the hospital today had her giggling. He was a short man. Even though he was sitting down she could tell because he’d had to point his toes for his shoes to touch the floor. He acted as if that was deliberate, the way he placed the notepad on his lap and held that pen loosely between his fingers. She wasn’t fooled. People rarely fooled her.
Well, one person had.
She laughed hard, her chest rumbling with the sound, her arms folding over her midsection because the laughter seemed to bubble up from a place deep inside of her. A place not often visited but cherished just the same.
“What makes you laugh, Roslyn?” he asked.
He had lots of questions. Even though he hadn’t written any of her answers on that notepad. That’s what shrinks did. They asked questions. They never answered any. But she’d accepted a long time ago that nobody knew why she thought the way she did, and thus could never truly answer her most pressing inquiries. There was no blueprint to her brain that could be read, deciphered, or understood. So she was stuck like this. It was fine. She’d accepted it. She just wished everyone around her could accept as well.
“You’re funny,” she finally told the shrink when the urge to laugh at what was obviously not comical subsided.
He was tapping the edge of the pen against his bearded chin now. It wasn’t a neat beard, but scraggly and an odd blend of the copper tone of the thick hair on top of his head, a dingy brown and snowy white. She presumed he was dying the hair on his head because his eyebrows were going white as well. His clothes were baggy, the shirt wrinkled. He could also use a new pair of shoes. The ones he wore were scuffed. And there was no great smelling cologne. No shiny gold watch or cufflinks at the end of his shirt sleeves. Of course she didn’t know this for certain but she was almost positive that when Dr. George packed up and left this office for the day, he would not be going into the parking lot and getting into a silver BMW.
That was Henry’s car.
Roslyn clenched her arms tighter around her midsection and licked her now dry lips. She felt chilly and when she closed her eyes, it was dark. Not just in this room but everywhere, even in her soul.
“It’s not funny,” she said slowly. “Nothing is funny.”
Her voice was like an echo through the darkness and she shivered before opening her eyes with a start.
“I’m finished,” she continued. “All of this is finished.”
“What’s finished?” Dr. George asked as his eyes narrowed.
It was a suspicious movement, one which she was certain he wasn’t supposed to show. Shrinks were supposed to be non-judgmental, unbiased, and compassionate. They weren’t. That was another lie they liked to tell the ones who ended up sitting on the couch across from them. Roslyn knew that. She’d always known it. So Dr. George and his reactions to her were no surprise. Not like the one she’d received this morning when the nurse had come into her room to see if she was awake.
“I want to live,” Roslyn answered.
After saying the words she pulled her arms slowly away from her midsection, letting each one rest on her thighs. She stared down at them, at the white bandages that now circled each wrist. A scent assailed her and she gasped. It was the tangy aroma of fresh blood. Roslyn did not close her eyes because in place of the darkness she knew she would see red. It had seeped all over the white tile floor of the hotel bathroom instantaneously. One stroke of the razor blade. Then another. Then red, everywhere.
There had been no pain, none other than the heat of betrayal that had stayed with her every second of every day since she’d last seen Henry. His words did not replay in her mind. She’d forbade them from doing so. But the pain remained. It had become a part of her in the last three months, so imbedded in everything she did that she’d signed her name as Roslyn Donovan on the hotel receipt when she’d checked in.
“I want to live for him,” she told the shrink.
“Why does your living have to be for someone else? Do you feel like you are not enough alone?”
“No!” she yelled and shot up from the chair.
Dr. George dropped the pen, the notepad slipping from his lap to hit the floor.
“I’m not alone,” she told him through clenched teeth.
At her sides her fists were balled painfully tight. Her body trembled and she felt the familiar war within slowly beginning to churn into action once more. This is how it always began. The battle between right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, safe and dangerous.
“I am not alone,” she said in a much calmer tone.
It was a deceitful tone, she knew that. Whether or not Dr. George recognized that, she didn’t care. Oh, yes, she did. She had to now. And so Roslyn smiled. She let loose a little chuckle and released her fingers. Moving one hand slowly she placed it on her stomach and the smile grew earnestly.
“I won’t be alone ever again,” she whispered. “Now that I know he’s in there, living and breathing inside of me. I have him to think about how I’m going to take care of him. He’s mine,” she continued. “He’s all mine.”
Her hand stayed firmly on her stomach where the baby she’d just learned she was carrying grew. Her mind, however, circled back to the man. The one who took a vow to be with another woman, but who would always belong to her. Now, they were connected by another life and Henry could not deny her. He would not, she was certain of that fact because the Donovans were all about family.
“He’s all mine,” she said once more, even as Dr. George had stood and helped her back to the chair.
He was saying something, speaking to someone. Roslyn didn’t know who, nor did she care.
He’s all mine. She could hear it in her head even though she was certain her lips had stopped moving. All. Mine.
Four Weeks Later
Las Vegas, Nevada
Donovan Oilwell Headquarters was located in downtown Houston, but Henry had finally convinced his father and uncles that expanding the company to Las Vegas was a viable idea. To be honest, the move hadn’t taken much convincing since his father, Ike Donovan, had already introduced the concept to his father, Rowan, and Uncle Charleston years before. Then, the thought had been for them to open their own refinery so that they would not only be drilling for the oil and natural gas, but they would be able to produce the final products for sale. Henry recalled his father talking about this before they’d gone to The D Ranch to celebrate Gran’s eighty-first birthday. That had been four years ago, and Gran was gone now. Rowan, Henry’s grandfather, had died that following year after suffering a heart attack while in the middle of a business meeting. And while Henry’s great Uncle Charleston was still alive, after his mother and his brother’s deaths, he’d allowed his sons and nephews to take more control of the business. Henry and his cousin Cephus had immediately pushed for expansion. Cephus headed east to Virginia and Henry went west to Vegas. His other cousin, Gabe, decided that global expansion made more sense for him and went to the UK. Now, Donovan Oilwell was a global company. It was still new, but Henry’s cousins and brothers thought they were moving in a good direction.
Additionally, Henry was ecstatic about the path his life had also taken. Beverly was due to have their first child in about two months. Married life, even though it had only been three months now, was everything he’d known it would be. He was sitting in his office, behind a rich mahogany desk on the tenth floor of one of several high-rise buildings they owned in the Donovan Corporate Center located in downtown Las Vegas. He wore a black turtleneck beneath a charcoal gray suede Halston jacket, and slacks in a lighter shade of gray. On his desk were stacks of papers, a lamp, a telephone and his wedding picture, with him and Beverly smiling as if it were the happiest day of their lives.
Soon, there would be another photo. One of his first born. He was anxious to know what the sex of the baby was even though Henry was already certain that he couldn’t love another human being more than he did this child. It was because it was his and Beverly’s, a result of the love they’d shared since day one. The love they’d fought for even when distance, time, and other relationship interests threatened to tear them apart. Yes, the battle had been hard, but they’d won. Thank all that was holy that they’d won.
Henry smiled at the thought and was just about to delve into the next set of contracts Al had sent by overnight mail for him to review. There was an opportunity for some offshore drilling they needed to consider. He’d read only the first paragraph of the first page when there was a commotion and the door to his office swung open.
Jalissa, his secretary, pushed past the woman in front of her and rushed to say, “She would not wait, Mr. Donovan. Would you like me to call security?”
Henry had already looked past Jalissa’s usually jovial freckled face to see the woman now standing a few feet from his desk. She looked better than she had the last time he saw her.
“No,” Henry said after another moment’s hesitation. “That won’t be necessary. I’ll handle this. Hold my calls and close the door on your way out.”
His voice was stilted and distant, he knew because he hadn’t been prepared for this interruption. Still, he knew he should remain professional as well as personable. His mother would not have been pleased had he done anything less.
With a smile towards his assistant, Henry continued, “And if you’re finished editing those last charts I put on your desk this morning, you can have the rest of the day off.”
Jalissa had given him a tentative smile in return. That was before she glanced at the other woman in his office and frowned. “Thank you, Mr. Donovan,” she said finally, before leaving.
“Yes, Mr. Donovan. Thank you, Mr. Donovan,” the woman mimicked Jalissa’s tone. “I’ll just bet you love hearing that subservient voice all day, every day.”
Henry frowned, not giving another thought to how his mother would have wanted him to react to this particular woman.
“What are you doing here, Roslyn?”
“I’m visiting Mr. Donovan,” she replied sweetly.
“You shouldn’t be here,” he told her, determined to get through to her once and for all. Hadn’t he thought he’d done that three months ago?
Regardless, Henry stood and pulled his jacket together, fastening the two double breasted buttons. “We had a discussion about this and I thought it was clear that we would not see each other again.”
She nodded and pressed a hip against the rich mahogany desk before sitting on the edge. She wore a burnt orange sweater dress with a gold chain link belt at her waist. Henry paused for a moment, then disregarded the thought he’d had and looked Roslyn in the eye.
Her hair was different. Slicked down in deep waves that touched her forehead and curled around her ears. Her eyes seemed brighter, her ruby painted lips fuller. She looked, for lack of a better word, happier.
“I know what you said three months ago, Henry,” she told him. “But things have changed since then.”
Henry shook his head. “Yes, they have. I’m a married man now. My wife is expecting our first child in a couple of months and—”
“What?” she asked, the light he’d just noticed in her eyes dimming.
“I’m going to be a father,” he stated simply.
He was about to walk around the desk to escort her out of his office, when she spoke again.
“I know you are,” she told him. “Because I’m pregnant.”
If she had smacked him across the forehead with a brick, Henry would not have been more stunned.
“Pregnant,” she said with a shrug. “Sixteen weeks today.”
She rubbed a hand over her stomach. The roundness of her in that area was what had caught his attention when he’d first looked at her. Yes, Henry thought as he looked down to her brown painted nails. Roslyn had a stomach. It was a little pouch, but it hadn’t been there before. He knew that for a fact because the last time Henry had seen Roslyn—in that hotel room just weeks before his wedding—he’d touched her there, he’d kissed her there.
Now, he rubbed a hand down the back of his head and frowned. Before she could even say it, Henry wanted to dispel the thought.
“I’m not the father of your baby, Roslyn,” he told her.
She arched a brow and slid slowly off the desk. He watched as she walked around his desk and stopped in front of him. His mind screamed for him to back up, to put distance between them and keep it that way. His body remained still. Even when she lifted a hand to rub across his chest. She watched her hand moving. Henry kept his gaze settled on her face. When she lifted the lapel of his jacket and leaned in, taking a deep inhale as if she were actually smelling him, Henry spoke again.
“You should not be here. There is nothing for you here anymore. It seems as if that’s hard for you to comprehend, so I’ll just keep saying it until you finally get the message.”
She didn’t appear to hear him because she continued, now with her eyes closed, sniffing him and shaking her head.
“Roslyn,” he said sternly.
Henry put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her away. He also took a step back, leaving the span of his arm’s length between them. “Are you even listening to me?”
“No,” she replied and continued to shake her head. “It doesn’t matter what you’re saying, Henry. Those words just don’t matter.”
“Those words are the truth,” Henry insisted, dropping his hands from her. “They are the undeniable truth. I am married to Beverly. We are starting a family. What you and I had is over.”
“Oh Henry,” she continued, and was now smiling up at him. “You and I are starting a family. We’re going to have a son. Isn’t that wonderful?”
“No, Roslyn. That’s not true,” Henry told her. “It cannot be true.”
She tilted her head then, as if she really didn’t understand what he was saying. “Are you sure about that, Henry? Because just a few months ago, you met me at that hotel and what we did…everything we did proves that what I’m saying is true.”
The one word filled the entire room as Henry began to lose his patience.
This did not happen to him often. He wasn’t the volatile Donovan brother. That was Bernard and Everette. He wasn’t as mellow as Albert, or as vocal as Reggie and Bruce, but when Henry was pushed, the end result was always the same. Not good.
“It’s not possible,” he continued. “I was there, remember? I know what we did. More importantly, I know what I did.”
He did know. He remembered it clearly even though he’d done a damn good job of pushing it out of his mind for the past months he’d been married.
She’d stopped shaking her head, but was now rubbing the small pouch perched over the gold belt she wore. Henry looked away.
“Oh, you think because you made an attempt to not share your release with me, that you dodged the pregnancy bullet.” She made a tsking sound. “Come on, Henry, you know better than that. Pulling out is not a reliable form of birth control.”
Henry almost yelled his frustration at that moment. How many times had his father told him that very same thing? Ike Donovan had made sure to have “The Talk” with each of his sons on the day they turned ten years old. While Henry’s mother had thought they were too young to know about men and women at that point, Ike was insistent. His boys were to be respectful to women, loving and generous. They were also supposed to be responsible and protective of any woman they deemed worthy enough to sleep with. The mere thought that he’d done less than what was expected of him had Henry trembling with anger.
“That is not my child!” he told her, this time as he stared directly into her eyes. “I don’t care what you’ve decided in your mind, that child will never carry my name. I can promise you that.”
“Please don’t make promises, Henry,” she said, her demeanor once again changing. She was no longer smiling, no longer rubbing her stomach. Now, she’d taken a step back and was staring at Henry as if he were possibly one of her biggest enemies. There was clear detestation in her glare, even when she lifted a hand to smooth down the side of her hair.
“You’re one of those men that aren’t good at keeping their promises,” she continued. “But that’s alright. I hear what you’re saying and I’m going to leave because it was never my purpose to come here and cause a scene. Before I leave, however, you should probably know that my son will definitely carry your name. At least part of it anyway.”
“What the hell are you talking about? Why are you doing this, Roslyn? I don’t know how else to say this but to just say it, I don’t want to be with you anymore. There is no future for us no matter what you say or think. There’s nothing. It’s done!”
This was the first time Henry noticed the small black purse in Roslyn’s right hand. Her fingers clenched it so tight, it made a noise.
“His last name will be Donovan,” she stated evenly. “Just like his father’s.”
“Roslyn,” he began but she put a hand up to stop his next words.
“Ask your brothers, Henry. Call Bernard and Al and ask them how it’s possible that I will be giving birth to a Donovan son. Go ahead,” she said. “I dare you!”
Henry spoke carefully and slowly, “Get out of my office.” His entire body was shaking, his head had begun to throb. “Get out of my building. My town. My life!”
She’d already begun walking, a slow and sultry swagger that spoke volumes about the mistake Henry had undoubtedly made.
“Words, Henry. That’s all you are spouting is words. They mean nothing to me,” she insisted as she approached and opened the door to his office. “Your words mean absolutely nothing to me. I will have this baby and he will carry the Donovan name. You can’t change that fact. None of you can.”
Henry fell back in his chair the moment she was through the door, dropping his head into his hands. He tried to take deep breaths, to keep from either passing out or jumping over that desk and running after her to…to what? What was he going to do about the bombshell Roslyn had just dropped on him? How was he going to tell Beverly? And his brothers? What the hell had she meant by saying “ask your brothers”? Henry didn’t know and he shouldn’t care. He shouldn’t give a damn about Roslyn or whoever’s baby she was carrying. He just shouldn’t.
But he did. Damn it all, he did care. Because if what she said was true, if she was in fact carrying his child, Henry’s life—the life he’d planned for, the one that his parents had expected him to have—was over.
It was all over.
Big Bear Lake, California
“Medics are on the way,” York yelled across the room. “ETA fifteen minutes. Calling Linc, like you told me to, now.”
He’d hurried over to the doorway where Jaydon had fallen after he and Dev had fired at her. “She’s got a pulse. It’s weak, but it’s there,” he told them
Dev nodded to acknowledge York’s words. In his arms he held a trembling Bailey. As Tia had slid to the floor, taking Trent down with her, Bailey had screamed “No!” and Dev had immediately gone to her. She’d tried to run to Trent and Tia, but Dev held her firmly in his arms until she’d finally turned away to bury her face in his chest. Now, she was shaking. Not crying or speaking, but definitely upset. They all were.
“Stay with me Tia,” Trent was saying. “Please, baby, just stay with me.”
Dev’s longtime teammate and friend was cradling his wife in his arms. York was moving, Dev could hear his footsteps. Seconds later light flooded the room and when Dev looked toward the opposite corner he saw York slipping a lighter into one of the front pockets on the jacket he wore and setting a kerosene lantern down on the table.
“Look at me, Tia. Just look at me,” Trent was saying now.
“She can’t die.”
It was a whisper and Dev might not have heard it if he wasn’t holding Bailey against his chest.
“She just cannot die. They can’t win. They can’t,” Bailey continued.
“They won’t,” Dev told her as he kissed the top of her head. “They definitely won’t.”
“What the hell happened?”
Dev turned his attention to the doorway once more and Bailey lifted her head at the sound of the newcomer’s voice.
“What are you doing here?” Dev asked him as Bailey turned and eased out of his arms.
“I own this cabin. You’re on my property and I want to know what the hell happened to her!”
Dane had knelt down then, touching Jaydon’s forehead and then her neck as he searched for a pulse the way York had done moments ago.
“You wanna know what happened?” Trent yelled. “Look what she did! Look what that bitter bitch did to my wife!”
As if for the first time Dane looked over to where Tia lay on the floor. He stood and took a step toward them but Dev was faster. In seconds he had a hand to Dane’s chest stopping the guy’s movement.
“You should leave now,” he said. “Before things get worse.”
“How can they get worse?” Dane asked. “People are dying.”
“Because of your mother and your sister,” Bailey said. “They kidnapped me. They planned to kill me and Trent. They’re nuts!”
Dane looked past Dev, but he didn’t try to move. He was a tall man, almost as tall as Dev, but not quite surpassing Dev’s six feet four inch stature. Dane also had a thick frame, like a man who definitely worked out. But none of that mattered. Dev was certain he could kill this guy in a split second if he even looked like he was going to cause more trouble here.
“Wait,” Dev said as if just processing Bailey’s words. “She’s your sister?”
The noise of the medevacs arriving caught everyone’s attention and Trent immediately began moving.
“No,” Dev told his friend. “Don’t move her. Let them come in and get her.”
“I don’t like her lying on this filthy floor,” Trent said, shaking his head.
Bailey knelt beside her cousin then and placed a hand on his shoulder.
“I know,” she said. “But the paramedics are going to come in here and get her and they’re going to take good care of her.”
Trent looked at Bailey and nodded. “She has to live. She just has to.”
“She will,” Bailey told him. “She will, Trent. Let’s get ready to let the paramedics do their job.
“I’m going with her,” Trent said.
“Yes, you’re going with her. We’re all going,” she told him.
Dev looked to York who told him, “Just got a text from Linc, the jet’s in the air now.”
Dev nodded just as four paramedics carrying bags of supplies hurried through the door. They immediately began shouting orders as two went to Tia and the others to Jaydon. There was a flurry of movement after that and Dev took that time to walk through the cabin once more. He wanted to make sure he remembered everything. He was going to the hospital in the jet. That was the first priority. The second was to find Roslyn Ausby. That bitch had orchestrated the events that had transpired tonight. It was going to be the last time she shed blood under Dev’s nose. Of that he was positive.
When he returned to the front room where Tia and Jaydon had lay, it had been to see that Jaydon was already gone. Tia was on a stretcher with Trent still standing close by.
“Let’s move,” one of the paramedics said.
The other nodded and on the count of three they lifted the stretcher and headed out the door. Trent moved behind them but turned before going through the door. He looked at Dev and Dev stared at him. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t have to. Dev knew exactly what his friend was thinking.
“I’ve got this,” he told Trent. “You go and handle your family. I’ve got this.”
Trent only nodded and then he was gone.
They had words just hours earlier. Trent didn’t like that Dev was sleeping with Bailey. Dev understood. He wasn’t completely sold on the sensibility of the situation himself. But even that didn’t matter at the moment. The concern was for Tia’s life. Dev was no doctor. He was a soldier. A trained fighter…and killer.
As his fists clenched at his sides he could think of only one name, one target—Roslyn Ausby.
This wasn’t the first time Dev had been onboard the Donovan jet. The soft white leather seats and plush beige carpet weren’t new to him. Neither were the other opulent features—the many HD flat screen televisions, top shelf stocked bar and refrigerator full of food. The newly designed Gulfstream G280 with its sleek wing and high-thrust engines had earned best-in-class for fuel efficiency. It also possessed state-of-the-art flight and navigation systems and had autothrottle and autobraking components that were reportedly setting new standards for aircraft control and handling. To put it quite simply, it was a beautiful and magnificent aircraft. One which Dev was counting on to get them to the hospital as quickly as possible.
In the chair beside him Bailey sat with her seatbelt fastened, her gaze forward, hands clenching the arms of the seat. That was the only sign that gave away how she was feeling.
She’d walked out onto the front porch of the cabin watching as Trent boarded the medevac behind the stretcher carrying Tia.
“She can’t die,” Bailey had said once more.
Dev stood behind her, staring at the medevac as it took off. In his mind he’d recited the same words. He hadn’t dared to speak them.
“The jet will be here in a few minutes. We’ll follow them then,” he’d told her instead.
She hadn’t responded.
The second medevac had taken off at that moment and it dawned on Dev that Jaydon was on that one. The sound of an engine starting grabbed his attention at that point and Dev looked across the way to where a black Suburban was backing up slowly. Dane Donovan was driving that vehicle. Dev made a mental note of the tag number even though he was positive that the truck either belonged to Dane or was a rental. The man lived in New York, but had houses in several other cities where his company had physical locations. One of those places was San Francisco. So he was close enough that he could have already known his mother and sister—Dev was still trying to get a handle on that little tidbit of news—were at the cabin. He also could have known that they were there because he’d been in on the plan to hurt Bailey and Trent.
“Why was Dane here?” she’d asked while they’d waited for the jet.
Bailey’s question seemed like another echo from Dev’s mind, but instead of answering he’d gone back into the cabin.
“There’s nothing left here,” York had told him when he entered the living room once again.
“Go find the other team,” Dev told him. “And Apollo. Find out where he is and why he didn’t know someone had broken into Trent’s house?”
“Apollo’s good at what he does,” York told him. “Something had to happen.”
Dev was thinking the same thing.
“Something did happen,” Bailey had said. “Tia was shot. Jaydon was shot. And we still have no idea where Roslyn is. A lot happened and a lot stayed exactly the same.”
Those were the last words Bailey had spoken. A few minutes later the jet arrived. Dev and Bailey boarded while York re-traced the steps they’d taken to get to the cabin, heading back to the vehicles they’d parked on the road. He would look for the three members of the team that Trent had assigned to guard the perimeter. The three that hadn’t warned them that Jaydon was coming back to the house.
Now, Bailey was silent and so was Dev. His mind was rolling through facts, playing out the scenario as it had unfolded and compiling another list of questions. They’d been set-up, just as Bailey had told them when they’d rescued her. Roslyn had known they would come for Bailey so they’d left her there like bait. They’d taken that bait. After the information had come in that they were at the cabin, they’d acted immediately. Dev wondered if they should have waited. Maybe they should have scouted the area first, somehow figured out how to get eyes in the cabin so they would know what they were dealing with before entering. That’s what they would have done on any other mission. The plan would have been rehearsed and all scenarios considered.
Unfortunately, this hadn’t been like any other mission. This one involved Bailey and for Dev, that was personal.
“We’ve been cleared to land,” the pilot announced on the overhead speaker. “We’ll be on the ground in ten minutes.”
Bailey re-checked her seatbelt. Dev watched her hands as she did. They were steady. No rings on her fingers. She wore no jewelry, not at the tender lobes of her ears or around the sleek line of her neck. Her hair, the two-toned mass of it, was pulled back into a messy tail. A smudge of blood was on her light blue shirt.
“Are you hurt?” he asked feeling his temples begin to throb.
He should have checked her first. Jaydon had been firing and so had Dev and York. Bailey was standing behind Trent and Tia, so she could have easily been hit. Why hadn’t he thought of that when the paramedics were at the cabin?
“No,” she replied and then looked down at her shirt. “It’s Tia’s. When I knelt down next to Trent I must have rubbed against her arm.”
Dev’s teeth clenched, even as a wave of relief washed over him.
“She was shot in her arm, close to her shoulder. Another bullet to her chest. That’s the one,” she said. “That’s the—”
Dev leaned over and took her hand then. He held it tightly as he spoke, “Tia’s strong,” he told her. “Since the first day I met her she’s been fighting for one thing only and that’s to be with Trent and her son. She won’t leave them. Don’t worry. She won’t.”
When her eyes shifted to him, their gazes locked.
Dev did not hold hands. He did not console people. And he didn’t wish for anything. Ever.
Yet, here he was, doing those very things.
He hated seeing Bailey like this. Without the edge to her voice and the energy to face the next situation head on buzzing beneath her skin. Those were things that had always drawn him to her. Probably because he possessed those same traits himself. It had been like kindred spirits meeting the second he saw her on Sansonique Island over a year ago.
Dev held Bailey’s hand as they walked down a long hallway in the hospital. A nurse was leading them to a private waiting room.
“When they radioed in to say who they were bringing in and her condition, we knew we’d better have a space for you all to gather,” the nurse was saying.
She was walking quickly, her short cap of gray hair the only part of her body not moving. Around them other things were going on. Someone was being paged. Another nurse wearing a black top with white snowflakes, walked past them pushing a cart full of supplies. As they passed a nurse’s station, two women sat, both staring at computer screens. Another woman dressed in a white coat instead of the scrubs the nurses wore, stood reading a chart. Bailey’s fingers tightened in Dev’s hand.
Their nurse pushed open a door and Dev let Bailey go first. The hugs came quickly, severing the connection of their hands as Beverly Donovan pulled her niece into her arms. When they’d been at Trent’s house earlier today, Linc had talked about the family obtaining a second jet, and that after their newest list of specifications were met, that jet would be ready to take flight. Apparently, the oldest of Henry Donovan’s children had made that happen sooner, rather than later, as now Henry, Beverly, Linc and Jade were sitting in the waiting room, having arrived from Las Vegas before Dev and Bailey.
She went from Beverly to Henry, then to Linc and finally to Jade. All of them held her tight, tears streaming down the women’s faces. They were happy to see her alive and well. Dev had been too. What he wasn’t happy about was seeing Trent sitting in a corner, legs spread, elbows propped on his thighs, and his head down. He went to him. Trent looked up before Dev could even consider taking a seat.
“She’s in surgery,” he said, his voice low and gruff.
“She’ll come out of this,” Dev told him. “You believe that.”
Trent only nodded.
“Jaydon?” he asked.
Dev shook his head. “Don’t worry about any of that. Your head needs to be here with Tia. I’ll take care of the rest.”
“How did Dane know?” Trent asked about two seconds before the door to the waiting room was pushed open.
“Mr. Donovan, who shot your wife?”
“Is it true this shooting is connected to the fire at the Donovan estate in Las Vegas?”
“Henry Donovan, do you have a secret son? Is he the one who shot Tia Donovan?”
Reporters came into the waiting room with microphones extended, cameras with lights glaring, voices sounding over each other and a rapid fire of questions being aimed at all of them.
“You’re Bailey Donovan, is that correct?” one reporter asked. “How did you escape your kidnappers? Or was that all a ploy to keep our attention off the Donovan Secret Son?”
“Where is the Secret Son? Will he take his place at Donovan Oilwell? Or will he join you, Lincoln, at the Gramercy?”
Linc frowned as he now stood right next to his father.
Dev immediately moved from where Trent was seated to stand in front of Bailey, shielding her from the reporter that had noticed her.
“Who are you? The bodyguard? Why didn’t you stand in front of Tia Donovan to keep her from being shot?”
They were everywhere and Dev was pissed the hell off. This is not what the family needed. It wasn’t what Trent or Bailey needed. Not right now.
“No comment,” Henry had begun saying. He’d moved Beverly back to stand beside Bailey while he faced the reporters.
At that point Trent also stood and glared at the reporters.
“There will be no answers to your questions today or any other day,” Trent said, his voice anything but calm or cooperative.
“Get back!” Dev began yelling. “Get back! All of you get the hell back!”
He’d received help from the deputies that to Dev’s estimation were a bit late to the party as the press should not have been allowed in this private waiting room at all. He began herding the reporters out of the room, pushing two of the cameramen until one actually fell to his knees, clutching his camera. Dev didn’t give a damn, a part of him had wanted to grab the camera and toss it out the window. He didn’t, only because the four deputies that had come in seemed to gain some control as they began threatening to arrest anyone who didn’t leave right away.
“I want officers outside of this room and my daughter-in-law’s room twenty-four seven,” Henry announced once the room was clear of reporters. Two of the four deputies stayed. “Only family in or out,” Henry insisted.
One of the deputies nodded, the other cleared his throat before saying, “You’ll have to run that request by Sheriff Summit. He’s on his way up here to get a statement. For now, we’ll be right outside.”
A statement of what had happened in that cabin. Dev and Trent locked gazes as Jade helped Beverly and Bailey to chairs along the wall. Henry frowned and said, “We need lawyers before we talk to anybody. I’ll call Ben and Victoria.”
“They’re probably already on their way,” Beverly said. “I called Alma when we landed.”
Trent had gone quiet, but slowly slid back down into the chair nearest the window. This time he lay his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. Henry was walking toward his son when Dev’s phone vibrated.
“I’ll go outside to make sure they know you’re not talking until your attorneys arrive,” Dev told them while digging into his pocket to retrieve his phone.
He was out in the hallway, nodding as he moved past the two deputies that had just left the waiting room, before he finally looked down at his phone to read the text message he’d just received.
Another shooting. seems just like old times.