“I’ve got my cell on me. I’m going after him.”

Heedless of the detective’s protests, he raced back toward the front of the restaurant. The sound of squealing tires spurred him on.

As he rounded the building, he saw a dark blue sedan speeding out of the parking lot. Keys already in hand, he sprinted for his truck. If he couldn’t keep up with this guy, the cops would never get to her in time. Maybe they’d never find her at all. And she’d be—no! He was going to get to her.

He jumped into the front seat of his vehicle and burned rubber as he tore out of the parking lot.

Instead of heading down Main Street, he hooked a sharp right onto a side street, then made a left onto Livingston which ran parallel to Main Street.

The guy wasn’t stupid. He was heading out of town. It was his only choice. But if he saw Adam following, there was no telling what he’d do. He might get nervous and throw Izzy from the vehicle. The thought of Izzy alone and scared with this maniac did something foreign to his entire body. He’d been in some of the worst shit holes in the world, but nothing prepared him for the terror he now experienced.

He felt so damn helpless without a weapon, but given the chance he’d rip the guy’s throat out with his bare hands.

As he passed under a green light, he glanced down a side street and saw the car speeding in the same direction. He allowed himself a brief breath of relief. If he could keep them within his sights, he knew he could save Izzy.

His cell phone buzzed in his pocket. Trying to keep his eyes on the road, he fished it out without glancing at the caller ID. “Yeah?”

“It’s Jack. Why didn’t you wait? I’ve already put out an alert.”

“I’m tailing the guy right now. He’s heading out of town so you better tell your guys not to try and pull me over for speeding.”

“You don’t have a weapon! What the hell are you going to do if you do catch up to him?”

“I’ll figure that out when that happens.”

Livingston was coming to an end so he turned a sharp left onto a side street and headed back toward Main Street. He was nearing the edge of town.

Jack cursed, then said, “Keep them in your sights, but wait for backup. I’m seconds behind you.”

At the light, he made a right onto Main Street and his heart skipped a beat. “Shit!”

“What is it?”

“The road forks and he’s not anywhere in sight.” He had two choices. One road led toward a stretch of beach. The other led toward Jacksonville and away from town. He tried to think what he would do if he wanted to kidnap someone.

“I’m taking the route to Jacksonville.” He glanced both ways, then sped through the red light. He needed to catch up to the guy before he hit the highway. Once that happened, it’d be impossible to track him.

“I’ll head the other way and alert everyone of the situation. I’ll call you back.”

They disconnected and Adam fought the bile rising in his gut. If anything happened to Izzy, he’d never forgive himself. He didn’t know how this had happened. He should have been with her, protecting her. Not on the phone with her father.

Guilt ate at his soul as he sped down the road.

Trees flew past him at increasing speed. The road stretched far enough in front of him that he should have been able to see any other cars but there was nothing.

He clutched the wheel and slowed the vehicle enough so he could execute a U-turn without killing himself. Silently, he sent up a prayer and hoped someone was listening.

The man who had taken Izzy wanted her for a reason. A sick reason. He wouldn’t want to take her far. No, he’d take her somewhere close and without witnesses. If he’d attempted to take the highway, he’d risk Izzy overtaking him or causing a wreck.

He pulled his phone back out and started to dial Detective Dennis when his phone buzzed again, flashing the detective’s number.


“I don’t think he’s headed toward the highway.”

“I agree. I’ve already turned around.”

“This guy used to obsess over this girl who stayed every summer with her family. I just got off the phone with the station. They finally got her old address.”

“Let me guess. She’s got a place on the beach?”

“She did—or rather her family did. It’s not theirs anymore”

“It’s a stretch.” Even Adam knew that. He knew the area Jack was talking about. Where the road forked in the other direction, there was a long stretch of houses. Huge beach houses with about half a mile in between each. Most of them were only used during the summer months by their wealthy owners. Finding the right house would be like finding that proverbial needle in a haystack.

“It’s the only lead we have.”

“Where is it?”

He rattled off the address and Adam cringed.

He didn’t know the area well, but he knew how long it would take him. “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

“I’ll be there in ten,” Jack said.

“Keep your damn siren off,” he growled.

“I planned on it. Call me when you get close.”

Adam’s hands tightened around the wheel as he sped along the pavement. There was only one road in and out of where he was headed. If it was the last thing he did, he was going to kill this son of a bitch.

Chapter Twelve

Izzy opened her eyes and bit back a groan. She tried to move, then realized her hands were tied behind her back. Her head throbbed and her movements seemed muted as she shifted on the floor.

Rolling onto her back, she tried to take in her surroundings. It looked like she was in…a child’s playroom? What the hell? The walls were bright pink. Some sort of monstrous Barbie castle sat in the corner. She tried to move again and saw that she was splayed on a Dora the Explorer rug. From where she lay, she could only see one door.

Which meant there was only one way out of here.

Wherever here was.  “Damn it,” she muttered.

“Hello? Is someone there?” a female voice whispered.

Izzy’s head whipped around. She ignored the pain fracturing through her skull. A couple feet behind her a petite woman was blindfolded and tied to a chair. “I’m here. Where are we?” she whispered back.

“I don’t know, but he’ll be back soon.”


“I don’t know who he is, but he said you were going to watch me die,” she whispered again, her voice cracking.

Izzy’s throat seized up as the woman’s words sank in. Shapes and shadows swam in front of her but she forced herself into action. She’d been kidnapped before but she wasn’t a kid anymore and she wasn’t helpless this time. “Hold on.” With effort, she fought through the cobwebs in her brain and struggled to get up on her knees. Izzy half crawled, half scooted toward the girl, careful to keep her movements as silent as possible.

Luckily she was on carpet. If the girl was right and someone was coming back, they needed to get free. Her ears were still ringing a little, but at least her equilibrium wasn’t too screwed up.

When she was right next to the girl she leaned close to her ear. “I’m going to pull off your blindfold with my teeth. Don’t freak out.”

She nodded. “Okay.”

“Can you lean forward a little?” She was too weak to get on her feet just yet.

“I’ll try.” Despite having her hands fastened behind the chair, the girl did as Izzy asked.

Using her teeth, she tugged at the blindfold.

When it fell around the girl’s neck, Izzy jerked back in surprise. It was the girl she’d helped the other night. “Andrea?”

Andrea’s eyes lit up in recognition. “Where are we?”

Izzy shook her head. “I don’t know, but we’re getting the hell out of here.”

“These ties are impossible to break. I’ve tried.”

A few tears slipped down the girl’s face.

Izzy shifted so she could look behind her.

Andrea’s wrists were bloody and raw. She bit her lip. The only way they had a fighting chance was if their hands were free. She tried pulling the restraints herself and grazed something in her back pocket.

The guy had taken her apron with her cell and keys, but he hadn’t gotten to her lighter. “I have an idea, but it’s going to hurt.”

Eyes wide, the girl nodded. “Okay.”

She dug into her back pocket and freed her lighter. Next she wiggled and shifted so that her restrained hands were in front of her. She was flexible, but if it wasn’t for the fact that her arms and legs were so long, she wasn’t sure if she could have maneuvered that way. When Andrea saw the lighter, her jaw clenched, but she nodded in understanding.

“Don’t make a sound,” Izzy whispered.

Izzy moved behind her and started to burn through the plastic flex cuffs. The damn things were nearly an inch thick. Andrea started to whimper so she stopped. The girl’s head whipped around. Tears streamed down her face, but her words were clear. “Don’t stop. Whatever he’s going to do to us is worse than this.”

Izzy nodded and flicked the flame back on. The rancid smell of the burning plastic smelled almost like an electrical fire. She prayed he wouldn’t smell it before they were free. After a few seconds it snapped open.

When Andrea’s hands were free, she gave her the lighter. With bleeding, burned wrists and hands, the other girl fumbled with it until she managed to hold it steady under Izzy’s hands.

Burning, searing pain ripped through her as the plastic melted onto her wrists. The cuffs were tight, giving very little wiggle room. The agony was so acute, it was as if her hands were actually on fire. She bit her lip hard. The acrid taste of blood filled her mouth, but somehow she restrained from crying out. Andrea was right. No matter how much it hurt, anything he planned to do would be a hundred times worse.

After what felt like an eternity, but was probably only twenty seconds, her hands snapped free. She batted away the involuntary tears running down her face. “He’s going to smell this soon.”