The Rebel Bride
The Rebel Bride
C hicago, Illinois
V ICTORIA JO CARRINGTON paced her tiny dorm room at DePaul University. She paused at the unkempt bed on the opposite side of the room and wrinkled her nose at the mess. Her roommate, Hannah, had disappeared less than a month ago, and Victoria didn't have the heart to clean her side of the room.
Both girls rented studio space in the historical building where Hannah was last seen-Hannah for dance, Victoria for photography. Because of that fact, Victoria was now a potential witness in Hannah's disappearance-and possible target. Much to her frustration, the FBI hovered, offering protection that Victoria didn't really feel was necessary. As she stood staring at her backpack, she debated whether or not she would go for a run after her session. She sighed.
Fifty miles might blow off some steam.
Gathering her camera equipment, she carefully packed the body and lenses into her backpack. As she moved things around in the bag, she noticed the medical supplies neatly sitting at the bottom. Along with extra batteries, she kept a small canvas bag containing rubbing alcohol, a sewing kit, and bandages. She carried them everywhere, for no specific reason, just a premonition of sorts that she would need them one day.
November in Chicago was guaranteed to be cold, so she grabbed her warm jacket and stuffed one of her hoodies in her bag. She threw in her cell phone and running shoes along with an extra water bottle, grabbed her keys, and strode out of her dorm room.
"Miss Carrington?" A large man, well over six feet, pushed away from the wall and towered above her. He smiled, and straight white teeth gleamed through full lips. His Latino charm covered her like a warm blanket, and the heat in his gaze made her heart race.
Victoria stalled, unable to help her attraction to the man. Trying to keep her voice even, she said, "Agent Arellano. How are you?" She turned her head, to find the familiar sight of his shorter, stockier partner standing by the dorm building's front door. "I see you brought Agent Schultz with you. What a lovely surprise! Have you been waiting outside my room the entire time?"
Agent Benjamin Arellano let out a quiet sigh. "It's for your protection, ma'am."
Victoria and Ben had had this conversation several times in the past, and Victoria was getting a little irritated with his habit of ignoring her assurances, choosing to listen to the long arm of her family. Truth be told, she was irritated with his penchant to do his job, rather than forget about it and take her out. He'd mentioned his policy not to mix business with pleasure, and she'd just as soon forget the business part of this whole debacle and move straight to the pleasure.
"Bless your heart. You certainly know how to protect a girl." She placed her hand over her breast but kept walking. "I feel so safe ."
Ben captured her arm. "I'm sorry to disturb you, Miss Carrington, but we have a few additional questions. A possible suspect."
Victoria whipped around, momentarily stunned by the kindness in his chocolate brown eyes. Shaking off her attraction, she asked, "Suspect?"
He nodded. "Yes, ma'am, a person of interest."
Victoria stepped closer. "Do you think Hannah was kidnapped?"
"We're looking at every angle." The agent nodded to his partner in silent direction, and waited for him to leave the hallway.
As soon as she heard the door click closed, Victoria stepped closer to him. "Ben," she whispered, "do you really think this suspect would come after me?"
His eyes softened, even if his expression didn't. "The mayor doesn't want to take any chances."
Daddy's connections reach all the way to Chicago, it seems.
Victoria dragged her teeth over her lower lip. "Oh, really? His concern wouldn't