Fiance by Friday(116)

By: Catherine Bybee


“Gwen Harrison, I presume?” the colonel asked.

Gwen turned around and offered her hand. “Gwendolyn MacBain,” she corrected. Damn if Neil didn’t love the sound of his name attached to hers.

“Mrs. MacBain, you have five minutes before you need to call your brother back.” A nervous looking sergeant who’d walked into the room with her was waving a cell phone in her hand. She noticed the colonel and immediately saluted her superior.

Gwen shooed the woman off. “I’ll not call anyone until I know I’m leaving with my husband.”

Neil pushed Gwen away so he could see her eyes. He ignored the bruise on her cheek that brought a wave of rage over him. She was tougher than she looked. “He’s calling a press conference in what…four minutes, Piper?”

The other woman nodded, still standing with her right hand to her forehead. “I tried to stop her. I was told she could leave.”

“Press conference?” Montgomery asked, returning the sergeant’s salute and putting her at ease.

“That’s right,” Gwen began. “You know…the one where I tell the world that a major in the US military took me hostage after using a military man to search me out to kill my husband. And how now the same military was holding my husband prisoner.”

Neil lifted a hand to Gwen’s mouth and kept her from saying more. “Is Blake awaiting your call?”

Gwen gave an innocent smile. “Four minutes…give or take a couple. Right Piper?”

“Colonel, sir. What she said is true. I don’t know her family, but if half of what she says is true, sir…we might want to…It doesn’t look good, sir.”

Montgomery twisted around to glare at Neil and Gwen. “Lieutenant?”

Neil couldn’t help the self-satisfied smile that fell on his lips. “Lady Gwen and I know quite an influential list of people. Do you know of a Governor Carter Billings? His uncle Senator Maxwell Hammond?”

Gwen sat her tiny ass on his lap and linked her arm around his shoulders.

“Colonel? That’s a high rank…right?” Gwen asked all innocent. Neil knew she wasn’t that dense.

“It is.” He kissed her cheek.

“You’ll forgive me for being less than impressed, Colonel. But your Major Blayney had held me against my will for the better part of two days. He handcuffed me, gagged me, and didn’t provide me with food or water, not to mention his threat to kill me.” She touched her cheek. “I simply want the right person prosecuted here and not the one who rescued me.”

Montgomery stared at both of them. “How can I be assured you won’t go to the media?”

Gwen glanced to her lap. “I rather liked Charles’s wife, Ruth. She doesn’t need to know how awful her husband really was. I want my husband and me to go home.”

Neil met Montgomery’s eyes. “We won’t go to the media. Gwen’s family, on the other hand, will think nothing of it.”

“I don’t like being blackmailed,” Montgomery said.

Neil felt the muscles in his neck tighten. “I don’t like being held hostage.”

Everyone was silent for a moment.

Sergeant Piper spoke up. “One minute.”

Gwen kicked her leg in Neil’s lap as if she were a schoolgirl on a bench awaiting a city bus. Reminded him of her wearing cheap high heels and skintight shorts outside of a No-Tell Motel.

Good Times.

Neil knew they had the colonel over the fence. He also knew the US military didn’t take kindly to threats.

“Call your brother. You can both go.”

Gwen smiled and took the phone from Piper’s outreached hand. She dialed a number and waited. “It’s busy.”

Everyone tensed.

“Just kidding.”

Neil wanted to laugh. The pain in his stomach from holding it back felt dire.

“Hi, Blake. No, we’ll be there in fifteen. Both of us. Yes…please and a hot bath. I’d kill for a warm tub and food. Love you.”

Gwen jumped off Neil’s lap and handed Piper’s phone back. “A pleasure to meet you, Colonel,” she said as she walked by him. “Oh, and by the way. Buried in the Blayney library you’ll find pictures of Charles’s daughter and the man I believe Neil told you was Mickey. There was another picture of Neil’s team…and another man. I’m not sure how it will help with your investigation but I thought you should know.”

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