Run, Hide(9)

By: Carol Ericson

“Nothing like getting right to the point.” His gaze flicked to Gavin, picking slices of pepperoni off his pizza and lining them up on his plate.

“I’ve been with you for almost an hour, and I still don’t have answers—not that I expect many.”

“I can’t give you the details, Jenna. Just know you and Gavin have been on my radar ever since...”

“Ever since you left us.”

He hunched over the table and whispered, “You know I didn’t have a choice.”

“I guess that’s my fault. Should’ve never run off to Vegas with a drunken SEAL.”

Cade’s pasta slid down his throat the wrong way and he choked. He chugged half his bottle of water to wash it down. “I was not drunk. I knew exactly what I was doing.”

Her lip trembled and she dabbed at a strand of cheese hanging from Gavin’s chin. “That makes it worse. You knew you could never have a wife...a family, and you went ahead and married me, anyway.”

“I didn’t realize the full extent of the danger. When Jack Coburn recruited me...”

She smacked the table and the salt-and-pepper shakers jumped. “If I hear Jack Coburn’s name one more time, I’m gonna puke.”

Gavin had jerked when Jenna hit the table, but now a big smile split his pizza-stained face and he giggled. “Mommy’s gonna puke.”

This time Cade snorted water out of his nose. Eating with these two was hazardous to his health...almost as hazardous as his job was to theirs.

Smiling, Jenna swiped a napkin across Gavin’s face. “Not really, silly.”

She wiped the smile off her face just as quickly. “Why now, Cade? Did they step up their efforts to find us or did they just get lucky? Is there a fresh, new reason why we’re back in their sights, or have we always been there?”

“It’s not safe to tell you, Jenna.”

“You mean it could actually get worse than living on the run, looking over my shoulder, being separated family?”

Her words stung, but in a way she’d been right. It was all his fault. If he hadn’t met her in Coronado, if he hadn’t fallen for her harder than he’d ever fallen for any woman before, if he hadn’t wanted to make her his wife, she’d be living a normal, happy life with some other guy. A safe guy.

She sighed and tossed her napkin onto her plate. “If you’re not going to come clean, let’s blow this joint.”

“Okay, I suppose we should stop and get Gavin a car seat before we head to our next destination, right?”

“Next destination? And where would that be?”

“Someplace safe.”

“We can’t get a car seat at this time. Any store here that would have them is too far away and probably closed.”

“I guess we’ll have to keep him hidden.”

She shoved back her plastic chair so hard that it almost hit the floor. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”

They dumped their trash in the can and stacked their trays on top. Nobody gave them a second look—a typical family on a ski vacation.

The light flakes of snow had dissipated, and the night sky had cleared to a deep midnight-blue so sharp it looked as if it could shatter into a million pieces.

Jenna opened the back door and tucked Gavin into the corner of the seat, snapping a seat belt around his waist. “Just this once you go without a car seat because we don’t have one and it’s too late to buy one.”

Gavin yawned and nodded.

Jenna hung on the car door. “Am I sitting up front this time?”

“Not a great idea just yet. Why don’t you snuggle up with Gavin in the back? I have a couple of blankets in the trunk.”

She gave an exaggerated sigh, but he didn’t believe for a minute she would be all that comfortable riding out of town shotgun.

He gathered one of the blankets from the trunk and tossed it onto her lap.

Cranking on the engine and the heater, he adjusted his rearview mirror. He hoped he hadn’t made a mistake hanging around town.

He turned back onto the one highway in and out of Lovett Peak and the car rolled smoothly over the newly plowed asphalt. Traffic began to back up, and he slowed down, trying to peer ahead at the commotion.

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