Detained: Chapter 22

ZARA

As soon as I’m through security, I pull down my aviators and keep my bag tight under my arm. I spent the entire flight knocking back whiskey, trying to numb the pain.

I was part of another murder, and I feel zero remorse over it.

I’m terrified of myself, but even more so, my feelings for Frankie. At every turn from leaving his home to arriving here, I expect him to turn up and drag me back kicking and screaming.

Yet, every time he didn’t, I’m almost disappointed.

Stepping off the escalator, I unexpectedly bump into a guy, his chest solid and unyielding. I instinctively lift my arms and take a step away.

“I’m so sorry,” I rush out.

With a swift motion, the guy’s tattooed hand glides through his hair.

“It’s okay, miss.” His eyes travel down my body. His thick Russian accent has me taking a further step back.

I give him a sweet smile before swiftly ducking around him.

Just as I arrive at the taxi stand, a cab pulls up with a screech of brakes. I take another look behind me and see the guy I bumped into leaning against the railings, his eyes fixed on me. With a shiver down my spine, I quickly throw my bag into the back of the cab.

“Hotel?”

I nod again, another Russian accent. The guy’s piercing blue eyes appear in the rear-view mirror. I tell him the address for the hotel I booked for two nights on the way here. It should be long enough for me to work out my plan.

I feel a surge of unease as the driver’s phone punctuating the air before he responds in a flurry of Russian speech as he weaves in and out of traffic. The locks click on the door, making my heart rate spike. Vegas has recently been taken over by the Bratva. Is that what’s going on here?

I grab some cash out of my bag. He smiles at me and holds out his palm.

He has the same skull tattoo spanning the front of his hand as the guy from the airport.

“Thank you. Enjoy your stay.” One tooth in his wide grin reflects gold in the dim light.

“Thanks.”

As he unlocks the cab, I quickly grab my bag and get out, exhaling with relief.

Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.

I head in, not wanting to stay out in the crowds for too long. I hand over my passport to the blonde check-in lady.

“I have a two-night reservation. Under Zara O’Reilly.”

She nods and chews on her pen. “Could you give me one second?” she asks.

I frown. “Is everything okay?”

“Umm, yes. I just need to make arrangements for your room. If you’ll excuse me.”

I pull the sleeves of my leather jacket down. Something doesn’t feel right.

She slips into the staff room, before the door closes, a large hand prevents it from latching. A hulking man dressed in a dark suit steps out and towers over me. His dark eyes meet mine, his face is completely masked with a black balaclava. He pulls his suit jacket and does up the button before breezing past me.

My stomach churns when I see he has the same tattoo on his hand as the last two guys.

Shit.

I pick my bag up off the floor. Just as I turn to leave, the receptionist re-appears, wearing a smile.

“All taken care of for you.” She scans my passport and credit card, then hands them back to me.

“I’ll show you to your room. You are room 554. We’ve upgraded you to one of our suites.”

I let out a gush of air, maybe I am over thinking. “Thank you.”

She leads the way to the elevator and presses the button as I step in. “Are you here for business or leisure?”

“Oh, I’m moving here. Start my new job next week.” It’s the first lie that rolls off my tongue.

Her bright red lips flatten into a practiced smile. “That’s cool. What do you do?”

“I’m a hairdresser.” It seems safer to say than “cop”.

Her eyes flick to my dark locks, and she raises one brow. “Awesome.”

Entering the hallway, the sound of our footsteps echoes against the walls as she guides me towards the door. I slip the key card in and push into the room.

“Have a lovely stay.” She pivots on one of her tall black heels and clicks away down the tiled hall.

I drop my bag to the ground and shut the door.

Wow.

She wasn’t joking about the upgrade.

I walk over to the window, gripping the ledge, and take in the breathtaking views of the strip below. I watch the world go by. Even now, I can still feel him on me. It’s as if he’s here with me.

As the girl who has spent the last six years trying to be someone else entirely, I’m getting tired of it. Repressing my true self to please my father is getting harder, and I fear pointless, with what he’s been doing.

That pivotal moment when Frankie accepted me, after seeing what I had done to Chad, is where I became who I was meant to be.

With Frankie by my side, I could hold on to that feeling forever.

How can I trust a man as cold and ruthless as him with my life?

Trusting only myself, I struggle to reach a conclusion that doesn’t leave a painful ache in my chest. There is more to him, far more beneath the surface than anyone else sees. Yet, he let me in, even if it was just for a glimpse of him.

You don’t turn off your emotions to the level he has for no reason.

He wants me as much as I need him, yet why isn’t he here?

He would have been alerted that I left. He let me catch this flight.

Opening my luggage on the enormous bed, I reach in and feel the smooth fabric of my black dress and matching heels. If I’m in Vegas for however long, I deserve a break. I’m not sure I’ll ever be allowed to step foot in New York again, so this better be worth it for answers.

I’m not stupid enough to start strolling the streets of Vegas this late at night, so it looks like I’m heading to the bar.

Maybe there I might be able to clear my head and work out my next move.


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