The woman looked up and an odd look flashed in her eyes like an unpleasant memory. “Sometimes. He likes to make traps. Set up things to trigger them.”
“Dear Lord.” Sam squeezed her eyes shut and placed a hand on Michael’s arm.
“Shit.” Michael hit his speed dial.
Lacey stared at the familiar outline in the dim light. She’d seen him before. It was the helpful neighbor in the Molalla neighborhood who turned out to be a killer. Bobby DeCosta.
“Kelly. It’s good to see you again. It’s been a long time.” His voice was disinterested but polite, like he’d bumped into a dull acquaintance.
Lacey turned to stare at her friend. Her two biggest suspicions were right. DeCosta and Kelly knew each other. And Kelly had left Chris and her daughter of her own free will.
Kelly’s lips moved silently as Lacey looked at her. Trust me.
Lacey’s lips opened to ask a question, but turned into a gasp of shock as Kelly shoved her forward, sending Lacey hurtling toward the dirt floor and slamming into DeCosta’s legs. An explosion of light splintered in her brain as her knees and wrists caught her weight. She couldn’t breathe.
“Oww! Fucking bitch!” The man shouted.
Kelly had swung her oversize flashlight like a tennis racquet at DeCosta’s head, catching his temple as he tripped over Lacey. He fell and Kelly vanished out the door.
DeCosta scrambled to his feet, stepping on Lacey’s hair and shoulder. He took three angry steps after Kelly, froze and turned to see Lacey thrashing on the floor for breath. “Oh, no you don’t.” He strode forward and kicked her in the ribs with a heavy boot, tossing her onto her side and slamming her bruised head again. She felt the bile rush up her throat and she vomited on the floor.
“Jesus Christ!” He’d stepped up for another kick but stopped as vomit spread toward his boots. Disgusted, he kicked at her head. She saw the boot coming and twisted away to catch it on the back of her skull. Knifelike pains drove through her waves of nausea. He swore at her again and flew out the door. Lacey heard the bolt slam into place.
She descended into blessed numbing darkness.
The cops weren’t going to let him near the scene. Jack knew this. Making a snap decision, he told Alex to take a sharp right turn and hung on as the tires spun on the slick pavement. Jack had patrolled this town and its outskirts. A faint memory of back roads was coming to him. He’d find a different way in to the cabin, avoiding the cops. His cell rang.
“What?” He hit the speakerphone again, temper in his voice.
“Harper?” The connection was shitty.
“Who the fuck is this?” It wasn’t Callahan or Lusco.
“Brody. What the hell is going on out there? Where’s Lacey?”
“I don’t know,” Jack snapped back. “He’s got her holed up somewhere. We’re on our way.”
There was a long pause. “You’re going too? You’re with the police?”
“Look,” said Michael. “I’ll tell you the same thing I just told Callahan. The creep’s mom says he likes his toys. Any kind of gun or knife, or things that create fire. And he likes to set traps, deadly explosive ones. You could be walking into a war zone. You’ve got to be careful. The mom said he spends lots of time up there. Months at a stretch. There’s no telling what kind of shit he’s got rigged up in the place.”
Alex suddenly pulled over and hit the brakes on the deserted dirt road. The two friends stared at each other, Michael’s words sinking in. They couldn’t go rushing into an unknown situation without thinking it through. And clear thinking was at the bottom of Jack’s list of abilities right this second. He felt Lacey fade away from him. His chances of getting her back were dwindling rapidly.
The place might be booby-trapped?
Her legs hurt. The rough jolting of her feet bouncing over the ground pulled Lacey out of her oblivion. Someone was dragging her with hands under her armpits.
A laugh barked at her tentative question. “Your friend’s gone. Some good friend, taking off and leaving you behind.”
DeCosta still had her. The realization smothered Lacey, cutting off her breath, and she nearly wept. Kelly had left. Would she get to the police in time? No one else knew where DeCosta had taken Lacey. She was alone. Alone with him. What was he going to do to her?
The empty eyes of Suzanne’s skull floated through her mind, those sad abandoned bones. Would someone stumble across her own bones one day? Lay her out on a blue tarp to try to reassemble? Get frustrated because so many pieces were missing?
At least someone who had loved her had identified Suzanne. Tears tracked down Lacey’s face as she remembered the video of Suzanne. And her baby.
“Where’s the baby?” Her words shook.
“What baby?” DeCosta dragged her into the main room of the cabin, backing toward the fireplace.
“The baby. Suzanne’s baby.” He turned her to the fire and she stared at the perky crackling flames. She nearly cried again at the blessed warmth on her face.
“Ohh. That baby. She’s not a baby anymore.” He grunted, maneuvering her beside the fireplace with her back to the wall. Lacey took her first good look at the man who’d kidnapped her. He was slender but his arms were strong. She had an impression of a lot of trim muscle hiding under his jacket. His eyes were pale, pale blue, striking with his dark hair. Those eyes had been helpful and kind back at the roadblock, but now they were angry, full of hatred and frustration. Hints of Dave DeCosta floated about his face, but Lacey would have never pegged them as brothers if she hadn’t known. This man clashed with her memory of a straggly-haired, skinny teenager who’d never lifted his head during the trial.