It’s eerily quiet, but it’s a welcome relief. There’s been a lot of discussion over the last several hours, and my head hurts.

I move over to the window, too antsy to sit. Pulling the sheer curtain back, I peek out over the front yard. There’s a black suburban parked on the street parallel to the house. Inside it is a Jameson employee. I know there’s another hovering somewhere around the backyard. August didn’t think the men were necessary, but he’d told me he was keeping them throughout the night to give me some peace of mind. While I appreciate the gesture, they don’t make me feel any safer.

Leaning forward, I let my forehead rest against the window and wonder when we’ll get some resolution. We left Jameson after watching the video feeds from the Grande Casino, and August drove my father and me to his house. He’d then pulled his parents aside and updated them on what was going on. We decided not to tell Sam just yet because the kid has enough on his plate without adding this worry to it.

Dinner had been a quiet affair. While he hadn’t understood what was happening, Sam isn’t stupid. He’d valiantly kept trying to engage us in funny stories or commit to making plans to do something fun. Eventually, he’d slipped into the same sullen sulk we were all in.

After, Sam settled in to watch a movie with his grandparents down in the basement while August and I cleaned the kitchen. It hadn’t taken us long to get into another heated debate over what to do.

“We should make a run for it,” I’d told August as I wiped the counters. I’d kept my voice low, because even though the door to the basement was closed, I hadn’t wanted Sam to overhear us.

August’s expression had darkened. “You’re good at that, aren’t you? Running, I mean.”

I’d taken a deep breath, not wanting to get stuck on old hurts. “I’m good at running when I don’t think I have any other choice to protect Sam. I didn’t have a choice then, and I’m feeling like I don’t have a choice now.”

August’s eyes had filled with contrition, and he leaned on the counter opposite of me. “I know. And I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought up that past shit.”

I’d sniffed dismissively, scrubbing harder at an already-clean granite countertop.

August reached out and placed a restraining hand on my arm, which forced me to meet his eyes. “I do understand why you ran back then, just as I understand why you’re scared and want to run now. You’re operating from a ‘mom’ perspective, and your instinct is to snatch Sam up and hide him away. But I’m telling you, Leighton, my perspective is different. You can’t run without knowing all the facts. We need to have patience and get more information so we can know the actual danger that’s being presented.”

He’d been right, of course. And his words had actually settled me down for a few hours. We’d joined everyone in the living room, ate some popcorn, and chilled out together. When Sam got sleepy, August had joined me in tucking him in. He’d listened to me tell Sam an off-the-cuff, made-up story, then had given him the same kiss on the forehead I had. He’d left, though, while I stayed, choosing to cuddle with my boy for a while. He’s growing up way too fast, and I know these times aren’t going to last.

Movement out the window catches my eye. Headlights turn into the driveway, and my blood starts to pound through my veins. “Someone’s here.”

August moves quickly to the window to look out. “It’s Rachel.”

Sure enough, Rachel unfolds from the SUV. The Jameson guy in the Suburban steps out, and Rachel says something to him. He merely nods before ducking back inside as Rachel comes up to the front porch.

August meets her at the door, welcoming her inside. He makes quick introductions to his parents, then asks if she wants something to drink. She shakes her head. “I just wanted to stop by on my way home to update you.”

“What did you find out?” August asks.

“DOJ has been able to confirm there’s a few channels of chatter about Mike. They said the men were not able to get any identifying information about Mike or Leighton at the casino.”

“That’s great news,” Brian says with a broad smile.

Rachel shakes her head, her expression somber. “It’s not stopping their enthusiasm. They know he’s in Vegas, so they are dispatching their people in high numbers. Hiring investigators. Probably plying crooked cops with money to keep their eyes peeled. You can believe there will be photos of Mike and Leighton everywhere, and the first place they’ll start questioning people is at the Grande Casino.”

“The only one who knew me was Marilyn,” my dad says sadly. “And she didn’t know that much. My full name, yes, but not where I lived or anything.”

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