Aware that Liam is just outside the vehicle and could return at any moment, I’m left with limited time to think through all the ways every next step I take could go wrong. I open my purse and dig for a pen, my gaze landing on the leather holster, and the weapon nestled in its depths, I say a silent thank you to Liam for the protection it offers. It also tells me he is protecting me. He is not a part of the hell I’m running from.
Shutting my purse, I decide to leave Liam the note from Meg so he knows exactly what is happening. I know Liam will come after me, and he needs a way to find me. If only I had a phone. I inhale and start to write.
I don’t know if Chad is alive. I only know that there is a clear threat to your life in this note. I’m leaving the note so you see you are in danger. I know you will look for me but don’t get killed doing it. Losing you would destroy me.
I hesitate only a moment, reminding myself life is too short for regrets, and I add,
I love you,
I fold the note, write Liam’s name in big bold letters and with great regret, drop it on the mattress. Inching to the edge of the truck, a ball of pressure forms in my chest when I find Liam to my right with his back to me. Nothing would please me more than to run up and hug him and I vow that moment will be sooner, not later. I eye the two police officers who are talking to him, and consider cutting to my left and out of sight around the edge of the truck. But without a view of what awaits, I risk running into Tellar or Derek.
My gaze settles on some sort of mini fire truck with hoses directly ahead of me and I decided it’s my best coverage. Confirming Liam’s broad shoulders and wide stance offers adequate cover from the cops, I draw a breath and decide to just go for it. Calmly, careful not to bring attention to myself, I climb out of the truck and start walking. And I keep walking, moving past the mini truck and to the gate, then straight toward the exit where the gates remain open with nothing but orange traffic cones as a deterrent to those coming and going.
I’m on the street with not so much as a question asked of me, and I scan for the cab, finding it to the left of the gate. Glancing over my shoulder, some part of me hopes Liam will come charging after me, while another is relieved he is not. More of that regret burrows deep in my gut, but I know I have to do this. Darting across the street, I slip my hand in my purse, unsnap the case around the gun and slip it free. My hand is on the handle when I stop at the cab, and yank open the door, giving myself a split second to register that it’s really Meg inside.
“Amy.” She breathes out my name like it’s relief when it feels dangerous on her tongue, wrong.
“Hurry,” she urges. “Before you’re seen.”
I don’t move. I can’t seem to make myself get in the car.
She shoves a photo at me and I stare at it, then gasp at the image I haven’t been able to fully form in my mind of my brother’s face, staring back at me, his arm wrapped around Meg’s shoulder. He’s with her. I can’t breathe all over again.
“Not for long if we don’t do something. Help me save him, Amy. Please. I beg of you. Help me save him.”
Chad is alive. Chad is alive! I get into the car and slam the door shut.
“Go!” Meg shouts at the driver and I cannot help but think of the moment at the Denver airport with Liam chasing after me. When I’d been running from the wrong thing and the wrong person.
The cab pulls away from the curb and Meg throws her arms around me. “Thank God you’re okay.”
Reluctantly I return the hug that seems meant more for family than virtual strangers, unable to fight my unease. Shifting away from her, I take the photo she holds, staring at the image, thankful for the city of passing lights that allows me to soak in the way Chad’s blue eyes are lit up with a smile and how his longish blond hair curls just a bit at his forehead and brows.
My gaze lifts to Meg’s, her pale blonde hair a shade not so unlike my brother’s, and I see no discomfort at my intense inspection, just more sympathy, though I’m not sure for what. Pain, maybe? Fear? Confusion? Do these things I feel so completely in this moment radiate off of me the way control and confidence do with Liam?
Her hand covers mine where I’m holding the photo and I don’t miss the obvious symbolism of the choice. “I have more pictures of him. He’s alive, Amy,” she vows. “We have to keep him that way.”
My lips part and there is a burn at the back of my throat and in my belly. I’m not ready to believe yet and risk the heartache of loss all over again. “Tell me everything. I need to know everything.”
She glances at the driver and back at me. “Not until we’re alone. I don’t trust anyone. I just don’t.”
I sink down on the cushion and flatten the picture onto my chest. Don’t trust anyone. The same lesson my handler—my brother?—had given me quite effectively without any real conversations, but then, actions speak louder than words.
Meg sinks down next to me to me, close, too close I think. She laughs without humor. “Ironic, right?”
My brows dip. “What?”
“I just told you I don’t trust anyone and now I want you to trust me.”
Ironic. Yes. Very. “I just want Chad back.”
“Then we want the same things.”
No. If that were true, Liam would be here. “I have questions. Lots of questions.”