been nonthreatening, but there was indeed a threat just below the surface.
“Yes,” Sophie mumbled. She looked up at Royce, and he knew she was about to do something stupid. Or rather she’d try.
“You’re not going with him,” Royce let her know. “Yeah, I know he agreed to pay off your father’s debts, but that’s not worth your life.”
“Deputy,” Travis said. His tone was now placating. “I love Sophie, and her life isn’t in danger as long as she’s with me.”
Royce went with a little placating attitude himself. “Someone hired two men to kidnap her. And those two men then fired a boatload of shots at her. Now, if you didn’t hire those men, then who the hell did?”
Travis’s mouth quivered, threatening to smile, and he hitched his thumb to the door just as Stanton tested the knob and then knocked.
“Why don’t you ask them that question?” Travis insisted. “Because if you want to pin the blame for this on someone, both of them have a much bigger motive for kidnapping Sophie than I do.”
Oh, he didn’t like that smug look or the sound of this. “What motive?” Royce demanded.
“Ask Eldon.” And this time, Travis didn’t fight the smile. He grinned like a confident man. “I’m sure if you press Sophie’s father as hard as you’re pressing me, he’ll tell you all about it.”
* * *
S WEET HEAVEN. T HIS WAS exactly what Sophie had been trying to avoid, and yet here was her father at the sheriff’s office, and he was on a collision course with Royce.
She had to stop it.
Sophie hurried to the door ahead of Royce and unlocked it so she could let in her father and Stanton. Her father immediately pulled her into his arms.
“Are you all right?” he asked. “Were you hurt?” Before Sophie could answer, he eased back and examined her face.
“I’m okay,” she assured him.
She was far from okay, but her father was already worried enough without her adding the details of the attack. Still, it would take her a lifetime or two before she stopped hearing the sounds of those bullets and how close they’d come to killing Royce and her.
Her father let go of her, and with his hand extended, he made his way to Royce. “Thank you for saving her.”
Royce had his gun in one hand, Travis’s in the other so he didn’t return the handshake. Didn’t look too friendly, either. Probably because of Travis’s accusation about her brother and father. An accusation that had to be a lie.
It just had to be.
Stanton had an equally bristled expression on his face. “What exactly happened?” he asked her.
Sophie decided to keep it short and sweet. “Travis and I broke up last night. This morning, an FBI agent called to warn me that someone was going to kidnap me. I ran, and Royce stopped two armed men from taking me. And from killing me,” she added in a mumble.
Royce tipped his head to Travis. “He says you know something about those gunmen.”
“He doesn’t,” Sophie argued.
But her father didn’t exactly jump to agree with her. In fact, he shook his head and blindly fumbled behind him until he located the chair next to Maggie’s desk. He practically dropped down onto the seat.
Oh, God .
Sophie started to go to him, but Royce latched on to her arm and held her back. “Just listen to what he has to say,” Royce advised her.
Sophie didn’t want to listen, and she didn’t want her father to blurt out anything incriminating about those papers she’d found. Royce would have to arrest him then. Besides, she couldn’t believe her father actually had anything to do with this.
When her father just sat there, shaking his head, Sophie looked at Stanton for some kind of explanation.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” her brother muttered. But it seemed as if he did know something .
Sophie silently cursed. Stanton and she hadn’t been close, not since her mother, Diane, had died a year ago in a car accident and had cut Stanton out of the will. Of course, maybe Stanton
Mark Logue, Peter Conradi