Soar (Page 52)

Toby

Things would work out. They needed to. Casey hadn’t given me much of a reason for why she suddenly pulled back, but I had my suspicions. His name was Jared.

I’d heard he was back in New York, but thankfully he hadn’t showed up in my office. I hoped he wasn’t back just for her. I could make myself swallow the thought of her wanting a fling with Jared, but the thought of them developing a relationship longer than that hurt like hell. I refused to accept it.

Luckily, the attacks had died down, but it felt more like the calm before the storm than any real resolution. Both Murphy and Bryant had disappeared without a trace.

I’d opened myself up to Casey just to have the door slammed in my face. I probably should have moved on, but I couldn’t. Everything reminded me of her, even coffee. I refused to make it easy on her. I’d give her space because she seemed to want it, but I wasn’t giving up. I showed up at Coffee Heaven every day.

“You want your usual?” She smiled at me, but it wasn’t the kind of smile I was looking for. She was back to pretending I was just one of her customers.

“No. I’ll have something different today.”

“Oh?”

“A double espresso.”

“Coming right up.” She turned around, and I felt a sense of loss. I missed looking at her face.

She set the espresso down on the counter. “Are you doing all right?”

“Yeah. Missing you though.”

A sad expression crossed her face. “It’s not me you’re missing.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I picked up my cup.

“Never mind.” She moved on to help another customer.

I was still thinking about our conversation when I sat mindlessly flipping through the channels on the TV later that night. The only logical explanation was that she thought I was still into Allie. How could she possibly believe that after the time we’d spent together? We might not have had sex, but there was something special about the night we spent in New Orleans. I only wished she’d felt it too.

My phone rang, and I picked up half expecting it to be her. I missed her voice. “Hello?”

“It’s Cody. Someone dropped off something for you. Should I bring it up?”

“What is it?”

“Just some manila envelope with your name on it.” Cody was never very forthcoming with details.

“And who brought it?”

“The bear who works with Casey. I think his name is Eric.”

“Send it up.” I hung up and headed to the door. It wouldn’t take Cody long.

I heard him before he knocked so I opened the door. Cody handed over the envelope before turning and stepping back into the elevator.

I sat down on the sofa and tore open the flap. Inside, I found two sheets of off-white paper. The first one was a handwritten note addressed to me.

Toby-

I thought it was time you learned the truth. I can’t protect her on my own, and I thought this might help shed some light.

-Eric

Unsure of what to expect on the next sheet, I glanced at it.

The red text on the top had my attention immediately: Confidential-Paternity Results

“Paternity results?” What the hell did this have to do with anything?

The name on the next line didn’t surprise me, but it still made my chest clench. Casey Morgan Bates.

I scanned over several paragraphs about authorizations and where the test was administered before I finally looked at the bottom of the paper. Robert Laurent. The name froze me in place. Her father was Robert Laurent? Shit. Casey was Levi’s sister?

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Casey

Jared didn’t fly me home until after ten o’clock. Neither of us were in a particularly big rush to say goodnight, but a phone call from Levi snapped us back to reality. Jared had work to do, and I needed sleep.

An hour later, I stood under the lukewarm spray of my shower, thinking back on an entirely different shower experience from the night before. Usually I kept my showers short, because even the mildly warm water would turn cold, but getting out of the shower meant moving on from the single most incredible twenty-four hours of my life.

When the water neared the icy level, I stopped fighting the inevitable. I shut it off and reached out for a towel.

I thought I heard a noise outside the door. “Jared?” I called, hoping he’d finished his work and had come by to visit. The thought of anyone else being in my apartment sent shivers through my body.

No one answered. I pulled on my clothes, glad I’d brought them into the bathroom with me. I was used to living with a male roommate.

I opened the door carefully. “Hello?”

Once again, no answer. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. Something was off.

I tiptoed down the hall to my room.

“Hello, Casey.” Two strong arms grabbed me from behind.

My heart dropped as soon as I heard Murphy’s voice.

After a moment, I regained the capacity for speech. “What are you doing here?”

“Tonight seemed like a good night to give you a little lesson.” He put a cloth over my mouth, never letting go of my arms. I struggled, but it did nothing. I was so tired of feeling weak around these paranormal creatures. He easily bound my arms together.

Murphy pulled me from my apartment and dragged me down the stairs. I tried to scream, but for the second time in a month, a gag prevented me from getting a sound out. I hoped someone would randomly come out of their apartment, but no one did. Moments later, Murphy shoved me into the backseat of an unmarked car.

The drive seemed endless, but it was probably only ten minutes. As soon as the car stopped, Murphy pulled me out and dragged me to a service entrance of the Empire State Building. If I had use of my hands, I would have pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The nightmarish experience needed to end.

He inserted a key in the elevator and we shot up to the 102nd floor. From there, he dragged me up another two sets of stairs before opening a door to the outside. We were on the roof.

He untied my hands and ungagged me. “Have a nice trip?”

“What are we doing here?” I wanted to scream and fight, but staying calm seemed like the best plan. I had to find a way to get past him and back to the stairs.

“You’ll see.”

“That’s not good enough. You kidnap me and drag me to the Empire State Building in the middle of the night, and you tell me I’ll see?”

He laughed. “You’re always asking questions, Casey. How about you find your own answers for once?”