She? The baby had been a girl? An image of a frilly toddler danced before Lacey’s eyes. Was she blonde and beautiful like her mother?
“She’s in a good home,” Bobby sneered.
“Where? Where is she? Who has her?”
“At least I thought it was a good home. I’m not so sure anymore. The mother seems to be having some issues.” He fastened new ropes in complicated knots at her ankles to an iron ring in the floor. Lacey stared at the ring. It looked like something a horse would’ve been tied to a hundred years ago. Her vision scooted to the left. There was another ring in the floor three feet away. Then another and another.
They were for restraining people.
Oh, dear Lord. What’d gone on here?
She closed her eyes, fighting against the horrid pictures that swarmed her mind. What’d he just say? The mother?
“What’s wrong with the mother?” She needed to keep her mind off the rings.
Bobby frowned as he stepped away and poked at his fire, tossing another fresh piece of cut wood on the flames. “Well, to start with, she just nailed me in the head with a flashlight.”
Kelly? Kelly had the little girl? Lacey gasped softly.
Jessica was Suzanne’s daughter.
Now she saw it. The beautiful girl had Suzanne’s eyes. Had it been instinct that Lacey loved her so much? She’d adored Jessica from the first time she’d seen her.
Did Kelly know who the little girl was?
Of course she did.
Lacey sagged against the rough wall of the cabin. Relief and despair swamping her feelings at the same time. The little girl had been safe all this time.
Why would Kelly do it? And how could her husband, Chris, go along with it?
Chris had to know where Jessica had come from. Lacey squeezed her eyes shut, trying to remember that jumbled year after Suzanne had disappeared. It was hard to keep things straight. Lacey had been suffering with depression and was often heavily medicated. She’d left school for a term, avoided her friends. And Kelly and Chris had broken up.
And got back together many months later.
The perfect couple had gone through a difficult time. Kelly had headed to the East Coast to put some space between them. She’d returned with an infant. Jessica.
Chris must have assumed Jessica was his. And Kelly’s.
But there were still too many unanswered questions.
She opened her eyes. He was smiling, studying her closely, enjoying her confusion and watching the revelations change her expressions. His pale gaze seemed to look right into her ripped-up heart.
“Did Kelly know? Did she know about Suzanne? About what you did to her?”
His face closed off. He stood, kicked at her tied ankles and strode out of the main room, slamming the door behind him.
Lacey cringed as she stared at the fire, the jabbing bursts of pain from her ankles shooting up her legs. Her wrists throbbed in her lap, still tied with their original swollen knots. The only light in the room came from the fire, casting a warm orange and golden glow. She sucked in a shuddering breath and tried to focus.
Now what, thought Mason.
One hundred yards away through the dark night, dense evergreens, and boulders bigger than cars, a killer was holding Dr. Campbell.
They had to get her out of there before DeCosta killed her. If he hadn’t already.
Mason pulled his coat tighter against the icy snow pellets and focused the conversations around him. Under the generator-powered floodlights, he stared at the rough map spread on a truck hood. Captain Pattison from county SWAT drew a finger across the map as he talked. Pattison was a former marine, always prepared for whatever situation the police threw his unit’s way. Satellite imagery showing the terrain in the rough hills was being passed around in the small group of body-armored men as they listened to Pattison. In the dark and snow, the surrounding area looked completely different. Mason glanced at it, shook his head, and passed it on. Pattison’s own precise sketch was more helpful. It showed the cabin, the grounds around it, and three circled Xs where snipers with night vision trained their rifles on the small building.
“The negotiators will work first. See if we can settle this without going in.” Pattison shook his head. “I wish I knew what was inside that place. He’s a weapons freak, you say?”
Mason nodded silently. A growing sense of lack of control swirled in his chest like something was about to go wrong. Very wrong.
“Likes explosives too,” added Ray.
“Shit!” Pattison eyed his men. “Jensen’s not here yet? No one else has explosives experience, right?” Negative mutters went round the group.
“Seen Harper?” Mason spoke low to Ray as he scanned the area, squinting against the bright lights, trying to see into the dark.
“Who?” Pattison stopped his lecture with a frown.
Crap. Mason pressed his lips together. “Civilian. Dr. Campbell’s his girlfriend.”
“And he knows about this place? You told him?” Pattison straightened, snarling as he did his own scan of the area.
“Not like that,” Mason grumbled. “Former cop. Our guy snatched Dr. Campbell out from under his nose. I know he’s gonna show here somewhere. Earlier on the phone our killer offered to trade his hostage for Harper.”
“What? You just decided to tell me this now?” Pattison looked ready to use his weapon on Mason. “Do the negotiators know about that?”
Mason’s temper shot hot. “I’ve been here all of sixty seconds. You’ve been blabbing about maps, snipers, and hostages since we walked up. When did you want me to say something?” He leaned toward the shorter man, using his height, but Pattison didn’t back down. He shoved his nose closer to Mason’s.