“What’s the prize?”
She swallowed hard. “What do we do? How do we prove that he’s behind all of this?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know what the next step is, but we need to talk to Sam and get a few cops over to your place.”
“Tanner said something about cameras. I think he might have put some around your house.” Her hands started trembling, and I took hold of her. “It’s okay. We’re going to figure this out. Everything is going to be okay.”
A team of cops came over to my house along with Sam and his father, and they searched the whole house for cameras.
Eight were found, including the final one, which was placed inside of my jeep.
I’m going to be sick.
They were the same tiny cameras Sam had told me about when he’d first changed the locks in my house. “I can’t believe this. God dammit, Elizabeth, I’m so sorry,” Sam said, rubbing his brow. “Tanner was the only person in town we sold these new cameras to.”
“How many did you sell him?”
He swallowed hard. “Eight.”
“How could he do this? How could he get the cameras in here? He’s been watching us this whole time?” I asked the cops, who were collecting the cameras.
“It’s hard to say how long he’s been doing this, but we will find an answer. We’ll run his fingerprints and see if anything comes up. We’ll figure this out, ma’am.”
After everyone headed out, Tristan wrapped his arms around me. “We should go get Emma. You should be with her.”
I nodded. “Yeah, we should.”
Tristan put his finger under my chin and tilted my head up so I could stare into his eyes. “We’re going to figure all of this out, Lizzie. I promise you.”
For the whole ride over to Kathy and Lincoln’s house, I prayed that we would figure it all out.
“Liz, what are you doing here?” Lincoln asked, opening the front door. Tristan waited in his car for me.
“I know Emma’s supposed to stay the night, but I would really feel more comfortable if she was home with me tonight.”
Lincoln raised an eyebrow as Kathy walked over to greet me. “Liz, what’s going on?”
“Just picking up Emma.” I smiled. “I’ll explain everything later, I promise.”
“But Tanner just stopped by to pick her up. He said you were having car trouble and wanted him to drop her off at your house.”
Oh my God.
I turned to look at Tristan. The worry in my eyes must have been clear as day because he pumped his fist against his mouth as I hurried back over to him. “Tanner has her.”
“Call 911,” he ordered as I hopped into the car and he drove off. I spoke with the cops and they said they were on their way to my house to meet us.
I couldn’t stop shaking. My mind was shutting down on me and I couldn’t see through my tears. My head was growing more and more dizzy as each second passed. I was going to faint. I was going to pass out. I was going to—
“Lizzie,” Tristan said sternly as he gripped my hand in his. “Lizzie! Look at me. Now!” he ordered. I sobbed, unable to stop as I turned his way. “I need you to take a breath for me. Okay? I need you to breathe.”
I inhaled deep.
But I wasn’t certain that an exhale followed.
“Can you think of any place he might have taken her?” a police officer questioned me.
“No. No.” His partner stood by side him, taking notes. The process of everything was slow, and I didn’t understand why they were taking their sweet time when they could’ve been out there searching. “I’m sorry, when are you going to actually start looking for her?”
Tristan handled calling everyone. He made sure everyone was up to date with all the information, and it wasn’t long before Faye, Sam, Kathy, and Lincoln were standing in my living room, and Mama had already hit the road with Mike to be there soon.
“Ma’am, I know you’re worried, but there is a process we have to go through when a child is missing. We’ll need the most updated photos you have of her, and we’ll need to know more details about her—hair color, eye color. Did she have any reason that maybe she ran away from home?”
“Are you kidding me?” I huffed, unable to believe the words that had just left his mouth. “We just found cameras hidden in my house, and then you have the nerve to question if maybe just maybe my daughter ran away instead of being kidnapped? Tanner Chase has my baby, so how about you just do your damn job and find her!” I screamed at them, not meaning to take it out on the officers, but having no one else to blame. I felt so helpless. I did this. This is my fault. My baby could be hurt, or even worse…
“Lizzie, it’s okay. We’ll find her,” Tristan whispered against my ear. “It’s okay.”
But we didn’t find her that night. The search went on and on, and we checked every inch of town, every inch of the wooded forest, but there was nothing to be found. Nothing at all. Mama and Mike showed up, but weren’t exactly sure what to say other than, ‘They will find her.’
I wished the words brought more comfort, but they didn’t. Everyone seemed just as terrified as I was.
I told everyone to go home, but they all refused and fell asleep in the living room. When I finally made it to my bedroom, Tristan was there to hold me. “I’m so sorry, Lizzie.”
“She’s just a baby… Why would he hurt her? She’s my world.”