Chapter 3

Evangeline hugged the steaming mug of tea to her chest. The escapade on the expressway rattled her nerves. She always believed herself capable of handling anything. But attempted murder went beyond her coping skills. Another shudder shook her from head to toe as she remembered the SUVs closing in around her 4-door sedan. Cristian warned her about helping him. She never imagined Hessler sinking this low.

Kevin returned with a fuzzy blanket, which he carefully draped around her shoulders. He squatted beside her chair and glanced into her mug. "You've hardly touched your tea. Would you like something stronger?"

She shook her head. "I don't know what I'm doing here. I should be at home. I've imposed on you enough."

"You're hardly an imposition." The impenetrable stare of his dark eyes softened. "I asked my security team to bring you here. Uncle Bo will be here soon to take your statement."

Her eyes widened. She appreciated Kevin's help, but this was going too far. "He's the Commissioner! I'll go to the precinct and file a report."

"He's also your friend." He brushed a stray hair from her cheek. "When I told him what happened, he said he'd come right over."

The touch of his fingers on her face sent a strange sizzle of sensation through her. Her body swayed toward him until common sense kicked in. She sat upright and inhaled the cinnamon and herbal medley of the tea. "I feel weird about this."

"You shouldn't." Kevin stood.

"How soon will he be here? I need to get home."

"You don't have to leave. I'd rather you stayŚ"

"I can't stay here," she argued. She placed the mug on the end table beside her. She moved to stand and he placed his hands on her shoulder, holding her in place. "Kevin..."

"You were almost killed. Do you really want to be alone tonight?"

An involuntary shudder rocked through her. Kevin frowned. "I didn't think so," he said softly. "Nigel is already preparing a room. You'll have peace and quiet tonight and you won't have to think about what happened. In the morning, I'll drive you home."

"What about my car? I should be able to drive by then."

He gave her a faint smile. "On the off chance that you'd rather not, I can drive you or you can have one of our drivers at your disposal."

All this attention embarrassed her. She couldn't remember anyone, other than family, being so attentive to her needs. Not even John.

"I feel like I'm taking advantage of your generosity."

"You're not. I like having you here."

The doorbell sounded. He glanced toward the entryway. "That's probably Uncle Bo. Would you like for me stay while he talks to you?"

To her surprise, she nodded. "Yes. That'd be fine."

He smiled again and left to greet his uncle. Their voices drifted to the sitting room. The masculine rumble of their familiar tones calmed her. She sank back against the comfortable, stuffed chair and considered her professional predicament. No one knew about Cristian's true identity. How much could she divulge to Bo without risking Cris's life and getting John fired?

"Hi, Evangeline," Bo said. He greeted her with a gentle smile as he crossed the room. "Kevin gave me a brief overview of what happened. I'd like to get the details from you."

"Of course." She released the blanket and sat up straight in the chair. Interrogation was familiar ground, but she wasn't used to providing the answers. "What would you like to know?"

Bo began his list of questions. He took note of her answers, pausing to give her time to formulate a response. As the minutes ticked by, anger replaced the shock that had held her still. She used her hands to punctuate her words. From the interested gleam in the eyes of both Buchanan men, she knew she had their full attention.

"I've never had anything like this happen to me before," she said. "They were closing in on both sides. They were trying either to scare me or to kill me. Either way, I don't like it. I want them caught and punished."

"They will be," Kevin said quietly. "My men noted the make and models of the vehicles as well as the license plates."

Bo nodded. "They've probably switched cars, but any lead helps."

Their words reminded Evangeline that the men had gotten away. They were still out there and maybe they'd come after her again. Fear crept along her spine. She clenched her hands together to keep them from trembling.

Kevin moved behind her chair and gently touched her shoulder.

"They were professionals," she said in an oddly calm tone. "They won't stop until the job is done."

"You're safe here," Kevin said.

"I'll assign officers to protect you," Bo added. "You've defended high profile cases before, Evangeline, but no one's ever tried to harm you. Why now? Was this attack personal or professional?"

She hesitated. Yes, her life was on the line, but so was Cristian's. If Carlo Hessler sent the men after her, what would happen to Cris behind bars? Could Bo help or harm Cris' tenuous situation?

"I can't help you if you don't let me."

"Listen to him," Kevin said. "This is your life."

"I know that." She ran a hand through her hair. Everything made sense only a few hours ago. Until a group of mad men tried to kill her. A sob lodged in her throat. She swallowed it down and inhaled a quick breath. "Death is always personal."

"Whose case are you working on?" Bo's stare was unwavering.

"I found proof that Cristian Vega isn't dead. He's alive and serving a life sentence at Statesville Prison as John Doe."

"What?" Bo asked. "What proof? Why didn't you come to me first?"

"I couldn't. I had to be sure. I went to Cristian and he confirmed it."

Bo stood and moved to stand near the blazing fireplace. "Besides, Cris, who else knows about this?"

"Bo, I'm working on his caseŚ"

"I'm trying to save your life," he countered. "Who knows?"

She sighed. "John...and maybe Carlo Hessler."

"John knew?" Bo sounded like a man, betrayed. "For how long?"

She didn't feel comfortable answering that. "Cris warned me about Carlo today. He's been making threats and insinuations. It's possible he hired the men who tried to run me off the road. If so, Cris is in grave danger. Please tell me there's something you can do to get him away from Hessler."

"I'll see what I can do." Bo headed for the door. Once there, he paused and looked back at her. "I'll do my best for both of you."