Author’s Note: So this morning I was a bit uncertain about what I’d written to follow Nolan’s scene last night. Nolan’s scene actually went over well with a couple readers, so that’s… good. The bad? Trying to get the next scene done seems to be almost as difficult as getting through the last one.
What is with this stretch of the story? Why must it be so uncooperative?
Well, I suppose I can’t complain too much. I got two scenes done today, and I wasn’t expecting that.
“You can call it stalking if you promise to get some kind of federal or local support out here immediately,” Shaelynn said, looking at Nolan’s rental and tried not to let the emotions running through her get the better of her. She didn’t panic. That wasn’t what she did. She was raised a soldier, maybe even an assassin, and if not that, she was supposed to be someone who could accept being nothing more than a baby maker. That kind of person… She didn’t panic.
Only Nolan wasn’t anywhere near the rental.
While a part of her wanted to be able to gloat somehow about the fact that she’d been right, about the fact that Nolan was still in danger and that her reason for staying was exactly what she’d said it was, she was in no state to do that.
“Someone staged a car accident and took Nolan. He lost me on one of his turns—I knew he’d spotted me so I hung back a bit, but if I hadn’t—it was still fast. He’s gone, and so’s the other car.”
“Damn,” Kaplan muttered. “I’ll start coordinating with the locals, but you need—”
“I need to find him. If this was Monroe—”
“She’s still in custody. She didn’t get bail after her Interpol records came back. There’s an extradition mess going on now that I want no part of,” Kaplan said. “And Raleigh is speaking to Cunningham as we speak. Just stay with the car. We’ll get what forensics we can from it and pair that up with the traffic cameras from the area—”
“And Nolan will be dead by then.”
Kaplan didn’t say anything for a moment. “That is a possibility, but you didn’t see the accident, so you don’t know what kind of car took him. You don’t know who might have done this or why. Your best leads are useless. Stay put. We’ll be there soon.”
Shaelynn lowered the phone, looking back at Nolan’s car. She hadn’t been that far behind him, but that gap was enough for the guy to move in and take him—she was assuming it was a man, since that made sense with the speed of the attack. With Nolan’s door open like that—he’d gotten out to look at the damage, and as soon as he did, he’d either been hit or drugged by the other driver and then dragged to the other car.
Damn it, he had said he was bad at big picture stuff, but he should have known better than to let his guard down like that. He should have listened to her. He should have known that he was still in danger. He shouldn’t have let himself be in this situation.
She was just as angry with herself. She should have been here. That was why she’d stayed, after all. She had wanted to prevent this. She was supposed to be stopping this for good and all, supposed to be keeping him safe, and yet she’d lost him.
Her eyes went to the front of the car, to the bits of broken tail light in the road. Wait. To be able to set this accident up, they had to have been following Nolan, too. He’d been almost home when he’d changed directions, and her best guess was that he’d been about to stop at the store when he changed his mind about that as well. She wasn’t sure if he’d spotted her—he almost drove like he had—but she assumed he had since he’d missed the other car that had been following him.
Still, if there was another car, she should have seen it. She just needed to remember what it was. She took out her keys, running back to her own car. Kaplan and the feds could do the forensic thing. She wasn’t going to wait around—she had to be doing something. She had nothing to contribute to the legal side of things, and she didn’t know that what she was considering doing would make any difference, but she’d feel more like she was being useful if she was on the move.
She opened her own door, climbing inside as she ran through the cars that she’d seen while she trailed Nolan. She’d figure it was something smaller, not too noticeable, probably a sedan with tinted window, at least for the rear windows.
She’d seen one of those, a dark colored one that looked like it belonged to some sort of businessman. That would work for what they’d done to Nolan while keeping a relatively low profile. They wouldn’t have wanted something that drew too much attention to itself, but they’d need a way to keep people from knowing that the person in the back seat was the victim of a crime.
She dug out her phone, pushing the button to call Kaplan back as she pulled away from the rental. “You can have your forensics verify it, but I’m thinking you’re looking for a dark sedan. Possibly a town car. Something with tinted back windows.”
“That makes sense, I suppose, but what leads you to that conclusion? I thought you didn’t see the car or him being abducted.”
“I didn’t see that part. I saw a car when I was following Nolan that fits. I think it’s missing a tail light, now, too.”
“Why do I get the feeling that you are about to do something that you shouldn’t?”
“I’m not going to sit around when Nolan is missing. I’ve told you all I know, and if I happen to see a car with dark windows missing a tail light, I’ll give you another call.”
“I am going to find Nolan. Or at least I will do as much as I can to find Nolan. You already knew that, though.” Shaelynn almost ended the call, but then she stopped. “I didn’t look to see if Nolan’s phone was in his car. You might be able to trace that.”
“If we get a fix on him, I am not giving you his location.”
Shaelynn nodded. She understood that. She didn’t care. She didn’t think that was going to be the answer. She didn’t know that she’d find that car, either, but she knew that she wasn’t going to stop looking, not yet.
Nolan’s head ached as he opened his eyes, trying to identify where he was, though the darkness seemed to want to make that impossible. Without light, he couldn’t be certain of anything except that it was somewhat… damp. He didn’t want to make too many assumptions about where he was, but damp suggested underground somewhere. Basement? He’d go with basement rather than cellar because he should feel more dirt if he was in a cellar—well, that wasn’t a guarantee, but the cellars he was used to always had dirt floors, not concrete.
He was almost certain this was concrete. He didn’t want to think about what else it might be, even though he knew that identifying everything that he could around him meant that he would be closer to finding a way out of wherever he was.
That assumed, of course, that he could move, and his head objected to that idea with a throbbing reminder of how stupid he’d been earlier. He should not have turned his back on the other driver. Remembering the possibility of road rage alone should have kept him more cautious, but he’d been distracted by the car he’d thought was following him—and maybe it was, maybe it meant that he was being set up for that accident in the first place—and he hadn’t thought about the other driver being a threat.
He should have. He should have seen this coming.
Shaelynn had said it wasn’t over, but he wanted it to be, and even if he hadn’t, he’d been so caught up in trying to get over her that he hadn’t even thought about the fact that the person who’d threatened him could still be out there—or that maybe someone different wanted him dead.
He groaned, shifting so that his position stopped hurting his back like it had been.
“You’re awake, aren’t you? I can hear you moving around.”
He lifted his head up, frowning. He needed to see who had spoken. The voice sounded a bit familiar, and he knew he should know who it belonged to, but somehow he didn’t. Maybe that was his headache. Maybe that was the fact that he’d been kidnapped. He’d ignored Shaelynn’s warning, and now he was going to pay for it.
At least it wasn’t Monroe’s voice he heard. He didn’t know what that meant, but he didn’t think he would consider it a great thing, either. Monroe hated him, had set him up to die, but he didn’t know what was behind this. He didn’t know why he was here or what might happen now. If this was about the cult…
He refused to think about that. He wasn’t going to let the cult rule his life. He hadn’t then, and he wouldn’t now. He wasn’t that afraid of them—the worst of them were either imprisoned or dead—and even if the woman was one of Boath’s wives that had succumbed to what she’d been through—couldn’t be, she sounded too young for that—he’d put that slight high pitch around sixteen or seventeen, though he’d never thought Shaelynn’s voice had that kind of squeal to it.
Then again, most girls weren’t like Shaelynn was at seventeen.
He tried not to curse himself for bringing up the subject of Shaelynn again, hating how she was still always on his mind. He was supposed to be getting over her, even if he was now kidnapped and likely to die. He could die over her, couldn’t he?
Yeah, he didn’t think that was going to happen.
He cleared his throat. He should have responded to the girl before now, but he’d blame his distraction on his apparent concussion. “Where are we?”
She laughed. “I don’t know. If I knew that, I think I’d already have gotten out of here and found someway home. Well, not home—I’m never going back there again—but I’d be free and gone if I knew where I was.”
“She’s all talk,” another voice—another girl—said. “She doesn’t know east from west, and she’d never get home even if we could get out of here.”
Nolan rubbed his forehead. He couldn’t hardly think with the fog in his head, with the pain, but he could only come up with one explanation for that. The missing girls. Kaplan’s case. He was with them—they were alive, which was good—but he didn’t understand. He didn’t have any real connection to them. He’d been saying that all along. None of this made sense.
“Why are we here?”
“Because someone opened her big mouth,” the second voice said, annoyed with the first from what he could tell. “She just had to go getting her father all worked up about his indiscretions, and here we all are. Well, she’s not an indiscretion, but she’s indiscreet, so it’s almost the same thing.”
Nolan had missed something here. “Okay, so we’re all here because you know something about your father’s past that you shouldn’t? Am I getting this right? I think I have a concussion—no, I know I have a concussion—but still, that makes no sense. I took one look at his file and knew that he was too much of a philanderer to get elected, but that doesn’t mean I know anything about what he did before that I could prove or that I’d take to anyone or that could be used against him or—”
“You are the proof,” the first girl interrupted. “You’re his son.”