Surrogate Escape

By: Jenna Kernan

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Jake Redhorse—The newest hire on the Turquoise Canyon tribal police force. Nothing matters to him more than his duty to protect his people.

Lori Mott—A nurse in the tribe’s health clinic who was Jake’s steady girlfriend in high school until a personal tragedy tore them apart. She wants only to heal the sick of their tribe and avoid the pain of seeing Jake.

Jack Bear Den—A Turquoise Guardian, the tribe’s only detective and Jake’s idol.

Ty Redhorse—Jake’s troubled elder brother who has gang ties and a criminal past. He currently works as a mechanic detailing and repairing muscle cars. He and Jake rarely talk.

Kee Redhorse—The eldest of Jake’s brothers and the family golden boy, he’s a physician at the tribe’s clinic.

Colt Redhorse—Jake’s youngest brother, recently back from Iraq and suffering from PTSD.

Dr. Hector Hauser—The director of the tribe’s health clinic and the mentor of Kee Redhorse.

Betty Mills—Longtime administrator of the tribe’s health clinic.

Minnie Cobb—A gang member whose cooperation with tribal police sent her boyfriend to federal prison and earned her both a reduced sentence and the need to prove her loyalty to her gang.

Earle Glass—A gang member on Turquoise Canyon reservation and Minnie’s new man.





PROLOGUE

Why did the cramping continue even after she had delivered the baby? She waited out of sight, watching the road for the return of Officer Redhorse. It was cold, so she kept the wiggling girl inside her jacket against her skin, allowing her to suck. That was what babies liked, to be on their mother’s skin. Only, she wasn’t its mother. She’d seen enough of her brothers and sisters come home from the hospital to know that Apache babies did not have blond hair.

Finally, she spotted his squad car as he made the turn toward their street. Even in the predawn, she could make out the familiar dark, round image on the white panel of the door that she knew was the tribe’s great seal. There was no time to reach his front step now. He was driving too fast, and she’d never make it back to cover before he spotted her. So she rushed from the tree line only as far as the back of his pickup, intending to wrap the baby in her own coat.

Climbing up onto the bumper was difficult with the use of only one hand. She glanced to the road. He was nearly here. She saw something in the truck bed, a garment, and she snatched it up, then bundled the little girl inside the fleece and laid her gently on the bed of the truck. If he didn’t see the baby, she’d come back and get her, leave her on his doorstep, knock and run.

Why hadn’t she thought of that before?

She draped one sleeve of the men’s fleece jacket over the gate of the pickup bed and jumped down. The jolt of the landing made her hurt all over and she gave a sharp cry. She grabbed her middle with both hands as she hurried back to cover just as he made the turn into his driveway.

In the brush between the two houses, the girl pressed a hand to her mouth. Something was happening. Her body was clenching again as if she were still in labor. The cramp went all the way around her middle.

The door to Officer Redhorse’s squad car opened and he stood, glancing around and then straight at her. She sank back. He’d seen her. Any second now he’d come over here and arrest her. She whimpered, choking the pain back far in her throat. Something issued from between her legs. She glanced down at the quivering purple thing. What was that? She poked at it and then stood. The umbilical cord that had still been attached to her body between her legs was fixed to the thing. It looked like her liver. She wondered if she would die without the organ. Clearly something inside had torn loose. But the bleeding was slowing.

She wasn’t stupid. She knew how girls got pregnant, and she knew she’d never done anything like that with a boy. Yet she’d given birth to a baby. Could someone have done that to her while she was sleeping?

No, that just wasn’t possible. Was it?

She looked back toward the driveway. Redhorse carried something in his arms as he disappeared into his home.

The girl staggered out once more and checked the truck. The baby was gone. She breathed a sigh and then turned toward home, her insides cramping, her legs trembling from the effort of bringing the baby into the world.

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