In His Keeping

Page 37

She lowered her gaze, unable to bear the scrutiny from a gruff man who resembled Beau. She assumed that he must be Caleb, the other man her father had told her to seek out. In that instant, under his piercing and probing gaze, she was relieved that Beau had been the one in the office and not Caleb. Beau was an imposing figure to be sure, and at first she'd definitely been intimidated by him and extremely nervous. She'd almost changed her mind and fled his office. But despite his outward gruffness, he'd been nothing but exquisitely tender with her.
Caleb on the other hand? He looked hard and unyielding as his gaze raked over Ari in almost an accusing manner as if he didn't appreciate her intrusion into his family.
There was a young woman sitting next to Caleb on the sofa, and Ari once again made the assumption that she must be Ramie St. Claire. Or rather Ramie Devereaux, since she was now married to Caleb. The intimacy between the two was too obvious for the woman to be a business colleague. His fingers were laced with hers and he had her hand drawn over onto his lap, his thumb absently tracing a line along the outside of her index finger.
Ramie had been on and off the news over the years and Ari had followed the reports, often delving further into the stories than just one random article or news sound bite, because she was fascinated by what she considered a kindred spirit. Which was silly given she didn't even know the woman. But in a world where psychic powers supposedly didn't exist, it had given Ari a measure of comfort to know she wasn't a freak-or at least the only freak of nature.

That there were others out there who shared her bizarre gift. Even if their gifts manifested themselves in different ways.
She peeked at Ramie from underneath her lashes, not wanting to be caught overtly staring. She had to bite her lip in order not to beg the other woman to help locate her parents. Ramie had a one hundred percent success record in locating kidnap victims, though two of the kidnappers had eluded authorities, well until last year, when one of them had finally been brought down by the combined forced of the Houston Police and Devereaux Security.
She unconsciously shivered, fear skating up her spine at the idea of someone having to track her parents' killer. She shut her eyes and huddled closer to Beau, seeking his strength and comfort because she couldn't-wouldn't-allow herself to think her parents could be lost to her forever. She held firmly to Beau's assurances-his vow-to find her parents and return them safely. It was all she had in a world where everything else was uncertain. She had to believe in something or she'd simply go crazy torturing herself with the what-ifs and the gruesome possibilities she conjured up every time she thought of her parents out there. Captive. Subjected to God only knew what.
In her worst nightmares, she imagined her mother alone. Separated from her husband, terrified and not knowing if he lived or died.

Beau's grasp on her tightened, his head lowering to the top of her head as if sensing the terrifying direction of her thoughts and he was shielding her in some small-but welcome-manner.
"I'd appreciate it if you and Ramie remained until we return," Beau said to his brother. "There's a lot we need to talk about, but first I have to ensure that Ari is okay and that she doesn't have a brain bleed."
Ramie's eyes widened and she glanced first at her husband and then at Beau, silent question in her expression.
"Psychic bleed. A bad one," Beau said shortly. "Much worse than what you and Caleb have suffered in the past."
Ari's forehead wrinkled in confusion. Did Caleb also possess psychic abilities? Was it something the Devereaux family shared and was that why her father had seemed to know so much about them?
Ramie's features immediately creased in concern but she remained silent, still studying Ari, who was firmly nestled in Beau's arms.
She seemed to be much more interested in the fact that Beau was carrying Ari, which made Ari even more self-conscious. Her fingers curled into Beau's chest in a silent plea for them to go.
Beau simply turned and headed for the foyer. The doctor strode ahead of him to open the door and when Beau got to the opening, he paused briefly and turned his head to look over his shoulder, presenting his profile to Ari, his firm jaw and strong cheekbone. His teeth seemed clenched, whether in determination or worry. Perhaps a combination of the two.
"Start digging, Zack. We need all the info we can get like yesterday. I'll be back as soon as possible unless Ari requires hospitalization."
"On it," Zack said.
Ari made a strangled sound of protest even as Beau walked swiftly to the waiting vehicle.
"I don't need a hospital," she insisted as he settled her into the backseat. "What I need is to find my parents. That should be our priority."
He put a finger to her lips, effectively stanching any further protest.
"You come first," he stated, his tone brooking no argument. "Without you, we have no bargaining power, no leverage and you can kiss your parents goodbye. Because if you die then the people who abducted your parents no longer have any reason to keep them alive. You need to understand that. I know it's hard to hear but you have to face facts. You matter, Ari, and it's only going to piss me off if you say you don't. I am not willing to trade your life for your parents. Period. And I'm damn sure not going to let you do something rash, irrational or hasty. You came to me for help so we do things my way. Got it?"
Rage and helplessness bubbled up, singeing her nerve endings and ratcheting up her pulse. Her breaths were rapid and labored as she sought to control the overwhelming fury caused by his abrasive words and his thoughts regarding the two most important people in Ari's life.