"I don’t understand,” Paul Prentiss murmured as he stared blearily up at Ben from where he leaned against the wall of the hospital corridor. “What happened?”
Ben repeated the story. “Hopefully the nurse will wake up and give up the identity of the person who hired him.”
Paul shook his head and repeated, “I don’t understand...why Ellie? Why would someone hire someone to kill her? None of it makes sense.”
“No, it doesn’t,” Ben agreed as he peered through the partially open door into the hospital room where the doctor examined her. Finally.
How long had she not been breathing when he’d come into her room? Long enough to damage her brain? Her lungs? Her heart?
The medical staff had been more concerned about their injured coworker than they’d been about her. He didn’t trust a damn one of them now. Not even the doctor...
“And who would have money to pay someone like that?”
Paul Prentiss had money. Enough of it that he’d hired an around-the-clock bodyguard for his daughter, enough that he chartered a plane to go back and forth between this town on Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and his home in Chicago. But if he’d wanted to harm his daughter, why would he have hired a bodyguard for her?
“Ellie says she doesn’t have any,” Ben remarked, and he watched the man’s pale face suddenly flush with color.
“She would...if she’d take it...” He shook his head. “But she’s so damn determined to make her own way.”
Ben respected that—more than Paul knew. He’d been offered things, but he’d learned young how many strings came with the things he’d been offered. He’d chosen instead to cut them all and make his own way.
“She can’t now,” Ben murmured.
“Even though I was out of it, I heard what you told the detective,” Paul said. “That the only way to keep her safe is to find out who’s after her.”
“You probably don’t think that’s my job,” Ben began, since the detective certainly hadn’t.
But Paul waved away his concerns. “No. I’d like that to be your job. That and continuing to protect her.”
“Are you sure?” Ben asked.
“Because I have some tough questions for you...”
Paul stood up straighter as if bracing himself. “What do you mean?”
“Could someone be going after her to get to you? To threaten you?” he asked. Back in River City, his friend Tyce had been assigned to protect a judge’s daughter because a killer was threatening her life in order to get to her father.
Paul shook his head. “I haven’t received any threats.” He ran his hand over his face, his fingers trembling. “I don’t think this has anything to do with me.”
Ben hoped it didn’t—because he’d seen the love between the father and daughter. He wanted to believe it was genuine—that love truly existed. He’d never personally experienced it. But then Ellie turned in her bed, and through that crack in the door, their eyes met. And his heart shifted in his chest, swelling with an emotion he dared not identify.
Not until he’d identified her assailant...
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