She froze. Oh God, he was describing Brett. He might have been there to threaten her. Then again, he had it in him to be violent. She’d witnessed his temper tantrums. She wasn’t going to panic.
"Are you all right?" Peter asked. "You’ve gone pale."
"I’m fine," she said. Peter turned to go back to the party, and she called after him, "Tell Giovanni I’ll talk to him later. I’m leaving."
"No need to hurry, Allison. I’m here now." Brett spoke from right behind her.
She started to run for the doors, but Brett anticipated the move and latched onto her upper arm. He jerked her around to face him. They were the only two in the dressing room. Everyone else had gone to the party. There wasn’t anyone to help her.
His eyes glowed with his hatred. "You’re coming with me."
"You have to fix this mess you created. You stole everything from me. I want you to give it back."
"I stole from you?" She was so astonished by his absurd remark she had to pause for a second. "You tried to take my work and pass it off as your own."
He squeezed her arm even harder until she cried out. "I ordered a new car, and now I can’t pay for it, and I bought a condo down in South Beach, but they want the money or the deal is off, and I don’t have any money because of you. You took all that from me, and you’re going to give it back."
She couldn’t believe how he could justify his actions. "You think saying it’s yours makes it yours? I’m not giving you my work."
"It’s mine. I worked on that program for a long time, and you can’t prove I didn’t."
"You’re delirious. You’ll never get away with it."
She could see panic overtaking him. He shook her hard. She was surprised by his strength. "You humiliated me in front of my peers and my investor," he said.
"Do you mean Stiles?"
"Of course I mean Stiles. He’s going to see I followed through on my promise to make us millions. I shouldn’t have gone to him. . . . I shouldn’t have asked him for money, but I didn’t realize how dangerous he was, and now . . . Please, Allison." His bravado was beginning to vanish and now he just sounded pathetic.
"Let go of me," she demanded.
"All I need is the missing code, and you have to give it to me."
Brett was desperate. He’d gotten in over his head and now he was drowning. "No." She tried to peel his hand away, but he wouldn’t let go.
"I already have buyers," he said. "I can make it worth your while. Just let me have the whole program, and I’ll give you a cut."
He looked desperate. "You’re coming with me, and you’re giving me the entire program. He’ll kill me if I don’t get it."
"You’re going to have to drag me out of here, and there are two men outside who aren’t going to let you do that."
"I’ve seen them. You don’t think I haven’t planned a way out?"
"In about five seconds I’m going to start screaming."
"I didn’t want to do this," he said. He pulled a pistol out of his pocket and showed it to her before putting it back, with his hand on the trigger and the barrel pointing at her.
"Where did you get that gun?" She was so shocked she could barely think.
"Stiles gave it to me."
"My God, Brett. You aren’t a killer. You need to get away from him," she said. "And get rid of that gun."
He acted as though he hadn’t heard a word she’d said. "I swear I’m going to shoot you if you don’t get moving. If I can’t have that program, you’re not going to be able to sell it, either. I don’t have any problem killing you."
He pressed the gun into her side and pushed her toward the doors that led to the garden. She opened the doors, took a step through them, and stopped.
"Move," Brett ordered as he gave a shove to her ribs.
"I’m sorry, Brett," she said.
"For what?" he asked sarcastically. "Making my life miserable?"
"No, I’m sorry you’re about to get shot. I imagine it’s going to hurt like the blazes."
Brett took a step forward, and that was when he saw Liam standing outside the door with his gun drawn.
"Get out of my way," Brett shouted. "I’m not going to hurt her. We’re just going to work on our program, and I’m driving her home." He was scrambling for words, his hand still on his gun.
"Let go of her and put your hands up," Liam ordered.
Brett shook his head and pulled Allison closer.
"He has a gun," she warned.
"I know." Liam’s voice was calm and steady. "Put your hands up," he repeated.