Saved by a Dangerous Man

By: Cleo Peitsche


As if our relationship didn’t already set a new standard for surreal, Corbin held the top slot on the Most Wanted list. He was worth two million dollars. Yet he had exposed himself to bounty hunters to help me. It was… crazy. Appreciated, but crazy.

I couldn’t get a read on him. Or I could, but I couldn’t reconcile everything I knew. He’d saved my life. He’d proven himself to me, and I trusted him. Corbin would never hurt me (though what transpired between us in the bedroom was a different matter entirely).

But then there was what he’d told me the morning before. The details hadn’t been graphic, but it had kept me awake well past my bedtime. When I finally drifted off, I dreamed that I was twenty years younger, that I was asleep, and that a noise woke me. I’d carefully climbed out of my bed, gripping my favorite rag doll in one hand. My bare feet slapped on the cold floor and the hallway stretched forever. A moment passed, and I was suddenly walking down the stairs, my small hand clutching up at the banister as I descended into inky darkness.

And then I saw my parents’ bodies. Even now, hours after waking, the memory—my mother’s bloody arm flung wide on the carpet, my father’s sightless eyes and slack mouth—made the skin on the back of my neck crawl.

The dream had been so vivid. The large man who loomed over their bodies cocked his head. Four-year-old me had gone stiff with terror. The man turned slowly, his shoulders hunched, but his strength and power were undeniable. I whimpered. He looked at me, those electric blue-green eyes intense despite the murky shadows. He took a step toward me, holding out his hand. “Come here,” he’d said in his growling deep voice. “I won’t hurt you.”

Though he sounded sincere, I knew he was going to kill me. Because I was a witness.

But instead of running, I continued down the steps, unable to resist his order. His lips tightened as I slowly approached him. Regret and determination in his eyes, he compelled me closer, and I knew that at least he would end my life quickly and mercifully.

The moment he touched my shoulder, I’d jerked awake. My thoughts were jumbled, confused. I’d gasped my brother’s name, wanted to reenter the dream so that I could keep the murderer from hurting him.

As reality settled in, I realized that I’d thought of him as a murderer, not as Corbin.

Sleeping after that was impossible, so I got up and started browsing the internet for information on Corbin’s dead wife. Digging up answers was a skill I’d carefully honed, but I couldn’t find a single word about the woman. Corbin was thirty, and she’d been dead for five years. That, plus her first name, should have given me something. Round and round I went.

Aw, crap. I was doing it again… obsessing.

I sighed and wrote in the report that Hoboken Syre had given himself up. It was partially true, anyway.

There was a noise outside, then beeping as someone started to punch in the code for the already disabled alarm system.

Rob walked in. His red hair was mussed, and glasses enlarged the black eye some jealous boyfriend had given him a week earlier.

“What are you doing here?” we asked simultaneously. Hard to say who was more shocked. Rob wasn’t known for his work ethic on a good day. And he thought I was off with “Cory,” Corbin’s hat-rocking, glasses-wearing, alter ego.

“Figured I’d get a jump on the week,” Rob said.

I narrowed my eyes. “Woke up in a strange bed and took off?”

He smiled.

“You’re such a dog.” I held out Syre’s folder. “Did everything but the surrender.” I hadn’t gone to the station to deliver Syre to the authorities, so I couldn’t fill that bit out.

“Be glad you missed it. Syre started ranting about how he was tricked. The man has an interesting sense of fairness.” Rob raised an eyebrow as he accepted the folder. His brown eyes sparked. “So tell me about Cory.”

I shrugged because my mouth had gone dry. “Nice guy,” I managed finally.

“Seems like it. Though Syre didn’t think so.” He grinned, and I knew he hadn’t read anything deeper into it.

Rob sat, and I started looking through the new files.

My mind drifted, though. There wasn’t anyone I could tell about Corbin. Rob, though… I trusted him. And I wanted to talk about it to someone. Needed to. Even if it had all been rainbows and sunshine, it was too big to keep inside. My feelings for Corbin… I’d never experienced anything like it. It was consuming me.

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