The Redemption of Roan (The Syndicate #2)(9)

By: Kathy Coopmans

“No, it’s not. They only have the best cherry glazed donuts I have ever had.” Her tone is growing serious now.

“You’re kidding me? Those are my favorite” I say in astonishment. I thought I knew a lot about her. I had no idea she loved the same kind of donut as I do. We both stand there staring at each other for a few beats, our expressions stunned before she turns her head toward the door of the shop, the flush in her cheeks matching the light pink shade of her glossy coated lips.

“Come on.” I take her helmet along with mine and guide us to the door.

The place isn’t as packed as you would think it would be on a Saturday morning. Jeffrey, the owner, looks up at me after waiting on a customer. I hold up two fingers, indicating two of my usual, then directing us toward an open booth in the back. I wait for her to take a seat first before I slide in on the opposite side of the booth.

“I love this place.” She grabs a napkin and starts fiddling with it as if she’s all of a sudden nervous. “My dad used to bring these donuts home a lot when I was growing up,” She’s keeping her eyes focused on the napkin.

“There’s something we have in common then. My dad used to bring them home to us too,” I say casually. She looks up to me then, her mouth quirking a slight grin.

I place my hands over hers to stop her fidgeting.

“Alina. Relax,” I say.

“Sorry. It’s just . . . ” She stops and looks back down. I know she doesn’t go on dates. Even if I hadn’t done my research on her, I would be able to tell just by the scared look on her face.

“I just want to get to know you is all. Today will be fun. I promise.” Before I get the chance to tell her where we are going, Jeffrey shows up with two cups of coffee and two cherry glazed donuts.

“How have you been, Alina? I haven’t seen you around here in a few weeks.” His attention is solely focused on her. I take a sip of my coffee and wait for her response. The two of them start a casual conversation. I’m enthralled with listening to her talk about the children at the hospital. Her entire face lights up when she speaks. Even Jeffrey seems to be enchanted under her spell.

“Well, maybe Diamond will bring you around a little more often.” He then turns to me. “Maybe,” I say with a mouthful of donut. I shouldn’t feel jealous that the two of them know each other, but damn it, I do. “You two have a good day.” “You too, Jeffrey,” both of us say in unison.

“Where are we going after this?” She takes a bite of her donut and the sweet hum coming from her mouth has me staring.

Clearing my throat and my perverted mind, I finish off the last bite of my donut.

“The zoo.”

“Really?” She laughs again, her shoulders bouncing.

“You don’t like the zoo?” I ask, sounding shocked.

“In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never once been to the zoo.”

“Never?” I question.

“I’m not sure how you perceive me, Roan, but I’ve led a very sheltered life growing up. Overprotected by my entire family. I wasn’t deprived of love from my parents, don’t get me wrong, it’s just...” Her eyes lift to mine. “With all the enemies my dad has, he rarely let me out of his sight. I had to beg him to let me play soccer. One of my brothers had to be at every single practice. Every single game. I couldn’t go anywhere without one of them.”

“Did you have a bodyguard in England?” She doesn’t seem pissed when I mention I know about her schooling. “Of course I did. It wasn’t Hugo. I . . . he . . . Well, let’s just say he doesn’t work for my family anymore.” Her eyes divert to a spot on the other side of the shop. I’m not pushing the issue any further. I know her old bodyguard Troy was killed shortly after she came home. I also know everyone suspects my brother did it. Which is why she is so heavily guarded. If he did kill Troy, then that means Royal is or has been in New York. Knowing him like I do, he’s targeted her. Hell, he may even know I’ve been following her. Which is a good thing for me. I want him to know. I want him to come after me. This time I will be ready for him. I have one sub-sonic bullet in my 9 mm pistol. That’s all it’s going to take for me to snuff the life out of him, then make him disappear like he never existed. Done wasting time on him for today, I look up into her sad blue eyes, knowing full well she had to have been close to Troy. For almost ten years, he protected her with his own life, only to have it be taken from him the minute he stepped foot back into the United States.

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