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Authors: Mitzi Pool Bridges

Find My Baby (6 page)

BOOK: Find My Baby
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He stepped back into the house, his arm at the curve of her back. Somehow, his touch made her feel stronger.

The room was dim and the lights didn’t work so he turned on the flashlight.

She took a minute to be elated. They’d found her jail. The cops would believe her now. So would Luke and the FBI.

“Here’s the room where they kept me,” she said, leading the way to the back room. “There’s a bathroom with two doors. When they came in the second door, they locked mine. See the boarded window. There was no way to get out, though God knows I tried to pry the boards loose.” She glanced down at her hands, tucked them under her arms. She had always been proud of her hands, keeping her nails neatly trimmed and polished a soft, natural color. But she had destroyed all that over the last weeks.

Pulling her arms down, Luke took her hands in his and looked at her ragged fingernails.

“I tried to escape,” she whispered.

He patted her hand as if to comfort her and she was surprised when it calmed her. She knew how desperate she must look, but couldn’t help it.

Luke took the flashlight and studied the room.

“There’s a new lock on the door where I was held.” She led him into the room that was her prison, tamping down the wild rush of fear that came over her. “The windows are boarded from the inside, screwed in, not nailed.”

To Luke’s credit, he searched the small space carefully. He must be a good cop, she thought as he checked the boards over the window, traced the scratch marks she’d made with her nails with a pen from his pocket.

“What do you think?” she asked, her voice shaky.

“I believe you,” he said simply.

Pulling a cell phone out of his pocket, he stepped outside.

This was it. He was reporting that they had found the house to his boss. The cops would come now and they’d believe her. They had to.

When he came back inside she was sitting on the worn couch.

“I’m going to look around some more. Will you be all right?”

She looked up at him, couldn’t stop her eyes from tearing. “Nothing will be all right again until I find Sam. But no, I can’t stay here. I’ll wait in the car.”

****

“You missed the exit to Aunt Nester’s,” Kayla said a short while later, as Luke failed to take the turn.

“We’re going to check in at headquarters. Then I’ll take you to Nester’s.”

Kayla gasped. “You can’t.”

“I have to.”

The firm set of his mouth told her that no amount of pleading would change his mind. “I can’t search for Sam if they keep me.” She tried to make him understand, tried to tamp down the sudden burst of fear.

“Trust me, Kayla. You need their help. We can’t do this alone.”

Trust him? Maybe. Trust the cops? She didn’t think so.

Thoughts of escape leaped through her head. Luke was big, and the steely look in his sea-green eyes told her he was determined. How could she possibly get away? She had to try. She couldn’t be imprisoned again. Couldn’t bear to have that powerless feeling again, of not being in control of her life, of her very self.

She thought of jumping from the car and running. But they were on the freeway going seventy miles an hour. She was desperate, not stupid. She’d wait. She’d learned how to wait.

When they were off the freeway, she saw her chance. A traffic light. Let it be red when we get there, she prayed.

Like an answer to her prayers, the light turned red just before they got to the intersection. In a heartbeat, she unlocked her seatbelt, opened the door and ran.

Luke wheeled to the curb, slammed out of the car, and took off down the alley after her.

He caught her as she doubled back and out of the dead-end.

“I won’t be kept prisoner again,” she said with tears in her voice. “I have to find Sam.”

“I should handcuff you,” he warned. Taking her arm, he led her back to the car and made her get in on the driver’s side.

Her breath came in short gasps. It took a minute to get herself back under control and by then they were in the parking lot at HPD.

“Don’t run again,” Luke cautioned. “One word is all it will take for the cops you see, plus some you don’t, to be after you. And it won’t look good.”

“They didn’t believe me. Oh, they know I had a baby all right. They also think I killed him.” She glared at him. “I won’t go in there again—be accused again.”

“We’ll make them believe you.”

He motioned her out on his side of the car, led her up the stairs and straight to Captain Mark Jensen’s office.

The captain nodded his approval when they walked in. “So you caught her, Garrett. Did you see her picture on the news? Figured someone would.”

Luke seated Kayla in a chair, stood behind her. “Didn’t catch her. She came in to clear up a few things.”

Captain Jensen leaned back in his chair, looked closely at the belligerent young woman who glared at him with her arms crossed over her chest. “Good job, Garrett. Where did you find her?”

Luke ignored the question. “Whose case is it?”

“Wagner’s.”

“Is she in?”

“As a matter of fact, she is.”

“Call her. She needs to hear this.”

Jensen didn’t pause. He punched in a number, “Need you in here.”

Detective Molly Wagner walked into the office, took one look at Luke, another at Kayla. “So you decided to come back.”

“Yes she did,” Luke answered for Kayla. “Just remember she came in on her own. And, as you know, we found the house where she was held captive.”

Wagner nodded. “A car is there now.” She turned to Kayla, “Are you going to tell us what you did with your baby?”

“I gave birth,” Kayla replied, her chin jutting out. “Isn’t it your job to find the person who stole him?”

“So you’re sticking to your story?”

“I’m sticking to the truth. Have you put out an Amber alert? Did you call the FBI?” Kayla fired at her.

Wagner’s eyes narrowed, then turned to Luke. “What’s your stake in this?”

“Just happened to run into her. Talked her into coming in for a little chat.”

“So, do you have anything different to tell us?” Wagner asked, turning to her.

“No. Nothing,” Kayla said. “It’s like I told you last night. I don’t know who took me or where they took Sam. But you have the sketch of the kidnappers. Do you have any idea who they are?”

Luke stared at his captain and his co-worker. “Well...do you?” he asked.

“No we don’t,” Wagner admitted. “But that doesn’t mean we’re not trying.” She motioned Luke to a corner of the room while the captain shuffled through the paperwork.

The detective wasn’t happy. Kayla strained to hear what they were saying.

“What the hell’s going on?” The detective asked. “Last night I had the feeling she was telling the truth. When she ran, I had a change of heart. You prance in here with her on your arm like she’s the victim.”

“Wagner, you know innocent people run all the time, besides, she’s telling the truth.”

“Did you give her a lie detector test? How about truth serum?”

“Stop being sarcastic. If you want to give her a test, give her one. Just stop accusing her of hurting her child without a shred of proof.”

Wagner wiped a hand over tired eyes. “How many of these cases have you had, Garrett?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “Well, I’ve seen way too many. And most of the time, the mother’s guilty.”

“Not this time,” he all but snarled, surprising them both.

She held up a hand. “Enough. I don’t want to hear anymore. Just remember, it’s my case.”

“The cops on the scene will confirm her story.”

“Let’s hope so.”

Kayla’s heart did a leap in her chest. Luke had told her he believed her earlier. Now he was taking up for her with the hard-nosed detective and with his boss. Even if no one else here believed her, Luke did. It was a comforting feeling.

Luke came back over and stood behind Kayla’s chair once more. “She’s told you all she knows, Captain. Have the cops check the woods behind the house for shells. She heard several bullets thump into trees.” He picked up Kayla’s hands. “Have you seen this? Have Forensics pull DNA off the wood boarding the window where she was held prisoner. If you do, you’ll find she’s telling the truth.”

Detective Wagner gave Captain Jensen a quick look. “Believe me, every ounce of evidence will be brought in and every scrap will be checked.”

“In the meantime, you’ll be able to reach her through me any time you want.”

“Who’s looking for Sam? You or the FBI?” Kayla demanded.

The question hung in the air.

No one answered.

“Can’t you tell me at least that much?” Her voice choked.

“Both,” Detective Wagner said. “But we can’t give you a time-table. We have no idea how long it will take.”

Which didn’t mean much, Kayla thought to herself. They didn’t have a clue to go on.

“Take her to the lab. Let’s see if her DNA matches what we find in the house,” Wagner said.

“I saw them scrub it down,” Kayla said. “I doubt you’ll find anything.”

Wagner exchanged another glance with the captain.

Luke took Kayla’s arm and led her out of the office and started down the hall, Kayla beside him. Wagner followed.

“You have to find him,” Kayla told Detective Wagner.

“Could someone have taken him for ransom?” Wagner asked.

Kayla looked doubtful. “I don’t see why. I have no money.”

“Maybe it’s not money they’re after.”

“What then?”

The detective shrugged. “Do we have your address?”

“I’m staying with my aunt,” she said, giving her the address and phone number.

Wagner turned to Luke. “What’s your opinion?”

“Believe me, whoever has her baby isn’t after money. Could be a woman who just wanted a baby,” he volunteered.

They were at the door.

“Don’t leave town,” the detective warned.

“I’ll keep an eye on her,” Luke said.

“If she disappears again, Garrett, I’ll lay the blame at your feet,”

“Don’t worry about it. If you want her in again, let me know.”

“Where did you start your search?” Kayla asked.

“We start with the Amber alert. And maybe we’ll get something at the house.”

Kayla wasn’t encouraged. What if they were too late for an Amber alert? And she seriously doubted if they’d find anything at the house.

Whoever they were, the kidnappers were professionals.

Chapter Five

After a stop at the lab for a blood sample, Luke took Kayla to her aunt’s house. “I’ll be back after I catch up on a few things for Mom. Don’t go anywhere.”

He stared deep into her eyes and it made her nervous.

“I’m serious, Kayla. No more disappearing acts. I mean to keep my promise to Captain Jensen. If HPD wants to talk to you again, you
will
be available.”

She nodded. “I will be. I’m sorry I ran. I thought they’d keep me. You have to understand. There’s no way I can handle being locked up.”

“I’ll be back,” he promised.

Kayla was more shaken by her trip to the police station than she wanted Luke to know. But he was right. They hadn’t kept her and she was grateful.

Alone with her aunt for the first time since she’d arrived last night, Kayla walked into the small living room and looked around while her aunt checked on a pot of soup. The house was small and tidy. No expensive furnishings, just simple pieces, some old, some a little newer. All well cared for.

Kayla admired the old-fashioned room. The walls were painted soft beige, the carpet, though far from new, still held its rosy color. Pictures on the wall were family ones. She recognized her mother when she was a young girl, as well as one of her in her teens. A studio portrait of a smiling couple had to be that of Kayla’s grandparents, another of Aunt Nester and her late husband on their wedding day.

Kayla looked closer. Aunt Nester looked happy then. From the lines around her eyes and mouth now, Kayla wondered if she was happy now or just getting old.

Less than two weeks until Christmas, there were no decorations anywhere. Maybe Aunt Nester didn’t celebrate Christmas. But Kayla remembered her mother telling her of the festive times they’d had during the holidays, how they trimmed the tree, wrapped gifts, even baked and decorated sugar cookies. Did Aunt Nester stop decorating when her husband died?

“He was a good man,” Aunt Nester said from the doorway.

“What happened?” Kayla asked without turning around. She liked the look of Aunt Nester’s husband, wished she’d known him.

Her aunt came to stand beside her. “Paul died ten years ago. Heart attack. Sometimes it seems longer, others like yesterday.”

Kayla nodded. She could relate to that with both her mother’s and David’s death and to Sam’s abduction. She turned to her aunt. “Will you help me?”

“You couldn’t stop me. But you’re in more trouble than I thought if the police want to talk to you.”

“Thanks to Luke, that’s been taken care of. I’m not sure they totally believe me, but they will once they run some tests and find the bullets the man shot at me. I don’t know who took Sam, or why they want me dead, but I can’t find him by hiding.” Kayla swiped at her eyes. “I have an idea. I don’t know if it will work, but I have to try.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“First, I’m going to need some things and I’m not comfortable asking.”

“Such as?”

“Money for one, wheels for another. I have to be able to move around.” At the look on her aunt’s face, she added, “If you don’t have money, I’ll manage, but I really need a car.”

Aunt Nester took Kayla’s hand and led her to the sofa. “First we need to talk. You don’t know why your mother and I stopped talking, do you?”

Kayla shook her head. She’d often wondered, but after the age of sixteen stopped asking. When her mother didn’t want to answer a question, she simply changed the subject. And she didn’t want to talk about the split between the sisters.

“I didn’t hate your mother, Kayla. I adored her. From the moment she was born, I thought the world of her.”

“Then what...?”

Raising her hand, she continued, “Let me tell you our story. Your mother was pretty and I’ll admit, a little spoiled. She was five when our parents died. I was in college at the time. I wanted to be a lawyer, but with no money I had to quit and take a job. I wanted to give Meri everything I could to make her happy, so I went to work in a law office. At least there, I would be close to my dream. They were good to me and I was able to give Meri all the things she asked for, plus a lot she didn’t.

BOOK: Find My Baby
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ads

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