Run, Hide(76)

By: Carol Ericson


J.D. pumped his hand and slapped his shoulder. “I’d keep an eye on Beth Warren if I were you.” He cocked his head. “And ask her about those scars.”

Cade tossed a couple of bills on the table. Yeah, right. He was going to ask Beth Warren about the scars on her back, or lack thereof.

He dropped onto the driver’s seat of the car he and Jenna had dubbed Old Faithful, and cranked on the engine. His phone buzzed. Had J.D. found something out already?

He lifted the phone from his pocket and stared at the display, his mouth dry. Speak of the devil. “Hey, Beth. Is everything okay?”

“No, no.” Her voice cracked and she ended on a sob. “They’ve taken Jenna and Gavin.”

* * *

CADE CAREENED DOWN THE highway, his jaw tight, his eyes burning. He’d left them. He’d left his family again and they’d been snatched.

Beth hadn’t been able to tell him much. They’d put Gavin to bed. She and Jenna had watched TV and had a glass of wine. They both fell asleep on the couch and when Beth awoke, Jenna and Gavin were gone.

How could that happen? Nobody woke up Beth? Nobody injured her? Or would she have another bump on the head?

His tires squealed as he took one of the exits to Grenfield. He knew Beth was no agent, but how did she end up bungling every assignment?

He steadied his hands on the wheel and took a deep breath. He couldn’t run in the house accusing her of anything. He knew how it felt to believe nobody trusted you.

He swung into the one-car driveway to the house, rolling over the curb. He threw the car into Park and was halfway out the door before it even stopped.

Beth met him on the porch, her hands trembling, her face blotchy with tears. “I’m so sorry, Cade. I don’t know how it happened.”

He ran his hands along her arms, strangely warm. “Did they hurt you?”

“N-no. I told you. I was sleeping.” She pushed open the door and backed up over the threshold.

“Someone broke into the house while you were all sleeping and managed to abduct my wife and son, and you didn’t hear a thing? You didn’t wake up?”

Her dark eyes welled with tears. “I’m so sorry. It was the wine. We drank quite a bit and both of us passed out more than fell asleep. It was stupid, but I never dreamed they’d find us here.”

“Neither did I.” He circled the room, taking in the two empty wineglasses on the coffee table. One chair had been upended. He followed the hallway to Gavin’s room, his fists curling as he saw the empty bed.

His gaze tracked across the windows, shut against the night air. “How did they get in?”

Beth waved her arms. “I have no idea. I haven’t looked around yet.”

He glanced at the half-full wine bottle on the kitchen counter and his gut knotted. His gaze tracked to a pair of shoes by the door, blades of grass sticking to the wet toes.

Cade strolled to the front door and stood with his back against it. Then he pulled out his weapon. “Show me your back...Beth.”

Her eyes widened, glowing with some internal fire. “Your wife and son are missing and you want me to take off my clothes? Like father, like son.”

Releasing the safety on his gun, he growled. “Show me your back.”

She turned slowly, gripping the edge of her blouse and glancing over her left shoulder, a small smile playing over her lips. She yanked up the blouse to reveal a smooth swath of skin.

His muscles coiled and his grip tightened on his gun. “Who are you?”

“Funny.” She dropped her blouse and spun around, gripping the weapon he’d left in the cupboard. “I could’ve sworn Beth said she never told you about her lovely scars.”

“Who are you and where are my wife and son?”

“They’re safe...for now.” She took a step forward and extended her left hand. “I’m Abby, Abby Warren, Beth’s older and stronger twin sister.”

Cade clenched his jaw so his mouth wouldn’t drop open. He ignored her hand, no longer trembling. “Where’s Beth?”

“Dead.”

“Did you...”

“Yes, I killed her. I tried before, you know, when we were twelve. I threw scalding water at her. I was aiming for her head, but it hit her back instead.” She shrugged. “Then I decided it was better to keep her around and live vicariously through her.”

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