Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 90

“I would have moved on eventually, I suppose. The fact that I could see cracks in your relationship gave me hope, although I never wanted you to be hurt, Rose.”

“I know.”

“And I regret not being a better brother to Savannah. Maybe if I’d been there for her more she wouldn’t have made so many bad choices.”

“Mason, I’m sure you were a great brother. Look what you did after she was murdered. You found the guy and beat him up.”

“And you know I regret that too…”

“Enough regrets,” I sighed. “We can’t change the past. We can only look toward the future.” I turned my head and gave him a soft kiss.

“If something happens to you…” His voice broke. “My biggest regret of all will be that I never got the chance for a future with you.”

I grabbed his face with both hands and kissed him, showing him how much I regretted that too.

Suddenly, the closet door flew open and sunlight flooded the small room. I jerked backward, edging behind Mason as I tried to make out who was in the doorway.

“Hello, my sweet Rose.”

I nearly passed out from fright.

It was Daniel Crocker.

Chapter Twenty-Six

“Getting her warmed up for me, Mr. Assistant DA?” Crocker asked with a laugh. His smile fell as his gaze landed on me. “Aren’t you going to say hello, Rose? Be careful or I’ll think you aren’t happy to see me.”

He looked different from when I’d last seen him up close. His dark brown hair was shorter and he had several days’ growth on his face that had more gray in it than I remembered. He had more lines on his forehead and around his mouth too, but the change in his eyes struck me the most. They had been hard before with a bit of madness, but now they looked flat-out crazy.

I struggled to catch my breath, my body shaking with fright.

“Crocker, listen to me,” Mason said, using his professional voice. “You haven’t even been to trial yet. I can work out some kind of deal for you.”

He cocked his head with an amused grin. “What kind of deal?”

Mason paused. “We can drop the racketeering charges and one count of attempted murder.”

Crocker started laughing. “You’re kidding me. That’s all she’s worth to you?”

Mason flinched.

I wrapped my fingers around his arm and rose to my knees. “He’s not dropping anything. You deserved every one of those charges.”

A demented grin lit up his face. “I plan to earn a few more before I go back.”

“I’ll drop the murder charges,” Mason blurted out. “You’d be left with the drug charges, nothing more.”

My grip on his arm tightened. “Mason, you can’t do that!”

“And I’ll make sure you don’t face any charges for escaping.”

Crocker turned his head to study Mason. “Hmm…”

Could Mason get away with doing that? The entire state was watching this case. He’d ruin his career. For me.

“It’s very tempting,” Crocker said, his index finger stroking his chin as he looked at me. “But I’d still be in prison for a very long time. Without the comfort of a woman. And we both know how much I love women.”

I shuddered.

“There’s nothing keeping you here,” Mason said, insistent. “You can escape and find all the women you want. Rose and I will even misdirect the state police. I give you my word.”

“But there’s something you’re not taking into consideration,” Crocker said, all amusement falling away from his face. “There’s only one woman I’m interested in right now.” He held out his hand to me, beckoning.

I shrank back and Mason scooted away from the wall, trying to shield me. “The state police are on their way, Crocker. If you leave now, you might still have a chance to escape. Otherwise, you’re sure to be captured.”

Crocker shook his head. “You’ve been in here for nearly half an hour. The way the state police have canvassed this county, they would have been here by now if they were coming. You’re bluffing.”

My heart sank. He was right. They should have been here by now. That meant Joe really hadn’t called them. Now we’d be killed and it was all because of my temper.

“Come on, Rose,” Crocker growled. “I’m tired of waiting.”

I reached down, my fingers brushing the shorter wooden pole. I had no delusions of escaping three men, but I wasn’t about to make things easy for them.

Crocker stepped into the closet and Mason tried to block his path, distracting his attention. I swept up the pole as I stood, shoving it into Crocker’s stomach with all my strength.

He stumbled, letting out a whoosh of air and a growl.

I raised the pole to strike him across the back, but he grabbed it and jerked it from my hands, shoving me across the bed. I rolled off the edge and landed hard on the floor, releasing a grunt.

Crocker walked back to the closet and kicked Mason in the chest.

I rushed forward. “No! Stop!” I grabbed Crocker’s arm as he kicked Mason again. “Stop! I’ll do what you want. Just leave him alone. Please.”

Mason’s eyes grew wild with fear. “Rose! No!”

I was still clinging to Crocker’s arm when he turned to look at me. “You’re telling me you’ll cooperate? With everything?”

Squaring my shoulders, I stared into Crocker’s wild eyes. “Yes.”

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