She dropped on her knees beside Brody. A little moonlight came through vents near the roof of the van, just enough for her to see Brody’s outline. How badly was he hurt?
Hannah’s voice stirred Brody. What happened? His body felt like someone had beaten every inch of it with a stick. He tried to open his eyes, but they were crusty.
Blinking hard, he forced his eyelids open. Was he blind or was it dark? “Hannah?” His voice sounded hoarse, even to his own ears.
“I’m here.” Her lips found his face, and she kissed him on the mouth.
“Is it dark?”
“Thank God.” His head pounded. He remembered the bridge blowing, the car rolling . . . His hands were tied behind his back. He tried to move his arms. Pain blasted through his shoulder. “I can’t move. Where are we?”
“Back of a moving truck. Mick and Sam Arnette are in the front.”
If Brody got his hands on them . . . He stopped himself. That didn’t look likely. “Are you injured?”
“No,” she said, and a small amount of relief coursed through Brody. Moonlight filtered through small vents in the top of the van. He squeezed his eyelids shut and opened them.
“How badly are you hurt?” she asked.
Brody took stock of his body. “My vision is blurry, my head feels like it’s stuffed with C-4, and I’m pretty sure I have a couple of broken ribs. Are you tied up, too?” Brody blinked hard again. Still blurry, but better.
“Yes, but I’m working on that.” Hannah was on her butt, her legs stretched out in front of her. Her face was tight with concentration.
“What is that?”
“A piece of rearview mirror.”
“Nice.” He rolled. Pain slammed through his head and chest. His hands and feet were numb.
“How do you feel?” she asked.
He tested his limbs. Despite the pain and limited movement, everything also seemed to work. “I don’t think anything is broken except some ribs. I can move.” And if his injuries were more serious, he’d deal with it later.
“Good.” She leaned forward, kissed his temple, and pressed her forehead to his for a few seconds. Emotion flooded his throat. He could not deal with these men hurting her. They could kill him, but he couldn’t bear the thought of them raping or killing her. His mind went to Joleen Walken’s pummeled corpse.
With a shaky breath, she lifted her head. A tear rolled down her face.
“How are you doing with that shard?” he asked.
“It isn’t my father’s KA-BAR.” Her shoulders moved as she worked her hands behind her back. “We should have a plan,” she said with conviction.
The corner of Brody’s mouth pulled. Hannah would be proactive to the end. She was a fighter. She would never give in, and no matter what happened to their relationship, he could count on her. She would have his back until the bitter end.
She was one of a kind.
“Have I ever told you how much I love and appreciate your stubborn streak?”
Her head tilted. “What?”
“Nothing.” He shook his head. “You’re right. We need a plan. Tell me everything you saw.”
“They’re both armed. They had their own guns. Plus, they took ours.”
“If that was Sam who ran from the back of Joleen’s house, he also has a rifle,” Brody remembered.
“Mick has a knife . . .” As Hannah continued to describe their abduction, Brody’s hope sank. He and Hannah were still bound. They had one semi-sharp piece of glass. Their kidnappers were skilled and well armed with at least four semiautomatic pistols. How could he and Hannah possibly survive?
Mac stopped at the traffic light in town and speed-dialed Hannah’s number. Again. No answer. Again. Where was she? Hannah practically kept her cell phone superglued to her hand, but he’d been calling her for an hour, and she hadn’t picked up.
He looked at the photo she’d messaged him. CR 268. What the hell was that? But damn it! There was something familiar about the image. Something from his life a long time ago. The Dark Days, as he called that period of his youth.
He pulled over, a memory nagging at him. Picking up his phone, he opened his messages and stared at the picture.
It popped into his head. He knew where this was taken. He shifted into drive and gunned the gas, trying Hannah’s phone again with his thumb. The call went to voice mail. Something had happened to Hannah. He knew it in his soul.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
His sister had needed him, and once again, he’d been unavailable. What the hell? His timing was always crap. He dialed the police station. “I need to speak to Detective Brody McNamara.”
“Hold, please.” Silence. Then, “Detective McNamara is unavailable.”
“I need to speak to someone.”
Screw this. Mac turned toward the police station. He was still holding when he turned into the lot and parked behind the building, another place in Scarlet Falls filled with bad memories. Nothing good ever happened here. He ended his call and went inside. The place was bustling, and not in a good way.
He went into the reception area and approached the counter. Thick glass separated him from the old cop manning the desk.
“Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for Detective McNamara.”
The cop said, “Hold on.”
He disappeared. A few minutes later, he came back with another uniformed cop, but this one didn’t look like any cop who had ever arrested Mac. She was tall and slim, with black hair coiled in a severe knot at the nape of her neck.
“I’m Officer Dane. Can I help you?” she asked.
“I’m Mac Barrett. I’m looking for Detective McNamara and my sister.”
“Can I see some ID?”
Mac pulled out his wallet and passed his driver’s license through the gully under the glass.
“What’s going on?”
She scrutinized his ID.
Mac ran a hand over his two-month beard. He hadn’t shaved or had a real haircut since he left the States, not that he was exactly diligent about those things when he was home. He probably looked as civilized as one of the otters he studied. “I know. I look like a bum. I’ve been in Brazil, out in the rain forest. I’m a wildlife biologist. My passport is out in my Jeep.”
Officer Dane passed his license back. “Come with me, please.”
A lock clicked open on a solid door on the other side of the room. Mac went through into the police station. He knew what bad vibes felt like, and the cops in the station were putting them out like radio waves. For all the activity, there were precious few bodies in the station.
“Officer Dane, where are we going, and what the hell is going on?”
She led him to a conference room. Her frown marred her otherwise perfect face. “Have a seat. I’ll be right back.”
A minute later, a middle-aged man in a fancier uniform came in. He held out a hand. “Mr. Barrett.”
At the Mr. Barrett, Mac almost looked behind him. He shook the man’s hand.
“I’m Police Chief Horner.” He gestured to a chair. “Please have a seat.”
The chief’s somber tone was enough to spin the drive-through burrito in Mac’s stomach.
“Just tell me.”
“Your sister was with Detective McNamara on their way to the county administration building. They disappeared.”
“What do you mean by disappeared?”
“Someone blew up a bridge, and we found the vehicle rolled down the embankment. Neither Detective McNamara nor Ms. Barrett were inside.” The chief buttoned up. There was more he didn’t want to say.
“What else? There’s more, isn’t there?”
“There was blood in the front seat of the vehicle.”
“Shit.” Mac jumped to his feet. “Earlier today, my sister sent me a picture and asked me if I knew where it was taken. I think I do.”
The chief stood. “Where?”
Mac took out his phone and opened the message. “CR 268. I think CR stands for Conrail. This looks like part of the markings on the side of a freight car.”
The chief rushed to the door. “The rail yard.”
The truck came to a stop. Brody lay still on his side, his ankles pressed tightly together, his hands behind his back. Hannah sat next to him. Their eyes met.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
The door rolled open. Brody’s heart slammed against ribs he suspected were broken. Every deep breath he drew felt like a knife slicing him from the inside out. He closed his eyes almost all the way.
“Hello, sweetheart.” Mick climbed into the truck. Gun at his thigh, he prodded Brody with the toe of a boot. Brody let his body roll limply.
“Is he dead?” Mick asked.
Hannah sniffed. “I don’t think so, but I think he might have some internal injuries. He needs to get to a hospital. Please.”
“In a short while, it isn’t going to matter much.” Mick laughed. He leaned over to grab her arm. “Get up.”
Watching through his lashes, Brody wanted to kill him right there and then, but he waited. They had a plan. Hannah wasn’t injured. Brody needed to trust her.
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