Read What's in a Name? Online

Authors: Terry Odell

Tags: #fiction, #romance, #romantic suspense, #mystery, #romance adventure

What's in a Name? (7 page)

BOOK: What's in a Name?
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I’m fine, but did you
see my Jeep? Have you had any trouble in the park?”

I noticed, ma’am, and
we had some bikers lately who got a bit unruly. Maybe they came
this way.” He crossed his arms across his chest. A gust of wind
spattered rain into the house.

Come in,” she said.
“You’re soaked.”

Thanks.” Decker
removed his hat, brushed water from his parka and stepped inside.
“Yeah, someone had a flat.” He gestured to his wet, stained
trousers. “Playing Triple A is going to cost me in cleaning

Were their tires
slashed too?”

Nope. Normal,
everyday run-of-the-mill flat. But I’ll be sure to let headquarters
know about your … situation.” He pulled a pack of Doublemint gum
from his pocket and extended it toward her.

She shook her head in refusal and tried
to focus. Should she tell Decker about Windsor? Caught between
wanting to get Decker to cart him away and wanting to pretend he
never existed, she decided in favor of the latter. No need to
mention Windsor. Jack knew he wasn’t a handyman. That was

Where’s Peterson?”
she asked.

Looking for some
missing hikers on the north trail.”

That sounded like something Doug
Peterson would do. “I don’t think I’ve seen you before. Have you
been assigned here long?”

Seems like it, but
it’s only been a week. Things have been busy. And I don’t think
I’ve adjusted to this stuff you call air, if you get my drift.
Where’s the oxygen?”

She remembered her first week at four
thousand feet. “Oh, it’s there. You just have to work harder to get
enough of it into your blood cells.”

He laughed and the crinkles around his
eyes deepened. “I like that. You a scientist? Peterson said
something about environmental studies for a camp or something.”

She explained Camp Getaway, and he
seemed genuinely interested in the project, unlike Doug Peterson
who barely tolerated it. Kids encroaching on what he protected as
his land worried him.

She glanced at her watch. How much
longer before Windsor started making noise? Decker seemed willing
to chat forever. “I’m sure this storm must be keeping you busy,”
she said. “Lots of people to check on?”

Oh, not many. As a
matter of fact, just one, if you get my drift.”

Before she processed his words, a loud
crack and a crash resounded from outside. Kelli started, bumping
into Decker’s chest when he stepped toward her.

Sorry,” she said

He took her hands to steady her. “No
problem. As a matter of fact, this works fine for me.”

Decker’s eyes squinted and his grin
turned to a leer. A ball of ice formed in her gut. Visions of
Robert exploded in her head. Decker tightened his grip, laughing
scornfully at her attempts to kick him. “Fighting isn’t going to
help, bitch. You might as well relax and enjoy yourself.” He shoved
her into the bedroom, onto the bed.

Terror flooded her. She scrunched her
eyes closed and squeezed into the tiniest ball possible. No. This
couldn’t be happening. Not again. She told herself to fight. Heard
herself whimpering instead.

His boots clumped across the floor
above the pounding in her ears. He snorted. “Scared, bitch?” He
stomped on the floor. She cringed each time the floor vibrated. She
didn’t care. Didn’t feel. He crouched beside her. She smelled his
minty breath. His hands pulled her arms away, stroked her


* * * * *


Blake groaned at the pounding in his
head. Who let the drum corps into his room? He opened his eyes.
Things blurred and spun, moved back and forth. He tried to rub his
eyes and panicked that his arms were gone. Adrenaline rushed
through his system and his head cleared a little. He remembered the
gun. But the pain in his head told him he was alive.

Slowly, he assessed his body. He could
wiggle his feet but couldn’t move his legs. His stomach hurt where
his belt buckle pressed into it. Okay, he was on his belly. Had to
sit up. His brain sent messages down the line, but they seemed to
get waylaid before they reached his limbs. Christ, she’d put
something in the coffee. It beat being shot, he guessed. He took a
deep breath, coughing as he inhaled sawdust from the cabin floor.
The coughing banged his chin on the floor. That didn’t help his

With supreme effort, he rolled over.
Great. Now he was lying on his hands. A wave of nausea washed over
him. Everything whirled again, got bright, then dark.

The next time he opened his eyes, the
room had stopped spinning. The snare drums had left the corps, but
the basses still pulsed. His shoulders ached and his hands were
numb. He managed to squirm onto his side before another dizzy spell

Please, don’t let me be sick. The
thought of lying in a pool of his own vomit gave him the strength
to work himself into a sitting position. Bands of duct tape secured
his ankles. From the feel of it, he assumed his wrists were bound
the same way. Another MacGyver fan? He inched himself across the
room until, bathed in sweat, he leaned against the cabin wall.
Panting from the effort, he waited until his breathing evened and
his head cleared some more.

Where had Kelli gone? He recalled her
face, her eyes empty, robotic. He knew the look. Hopeless

Shit, why was he wasting sympathy on
her? She had problems. So did everyone. He struggled against the
tape, trying to stretch it enough to work his hands free, but Kelli
had wrapped too many layers.

If only he could get his hands in front
of him to see what he was doing. Short of dislocating his shoulder,
he couldn’t get his hips through his arms. Half an inch more. Might
as well be a yard.

He inched backward to the corner where
his tools lay spread on the floor. He closed his eyes, visualizing
the location of each tool. Again, his father’s voice broke in.

A place for everything, son. Time’s too
precious to waste in the looking.

His fingers located the utility knife.
He’d be as likely to slit his wrists as the duct tape binding them.
Stop. Think. He managed to extend the blade and work the handle
into the back pocket of his jeans. Slowly, carefully, he edged the
tape against the blade. Patience. Little cuts. Test the tape. More
cuts. Try again.

The sound of the tape ripping came a
split second before his hands flew apart. He grabbed the knife and
slit the tape around his ankles. He pulled himself to his feet and
stepped outside. A glance at his watch told him he’d been out for
nearly two hours. And, apparently Kelli had taken his truck. He set
out for the house. The storm had lightened to a gentle shower,
refreshing him as he wobbled along the path. A scream pierced the
air and he broke into a staggering run.

He slowed when he reached the foot of
the stairs. He strained his ears, trying to pick up sounds from
inside the house. After that one scream, there had been silence.
For a fleeting moment, he debated ignoring it. After all, she’d
drugged his coffee and pointed a gun at him. Trussed him like a
turkey. Stolen his truck.

He made a quick circuit of the house,
listening at windows, trying to stay out of sight. And trying to
ignore the pain in his head and the way the world kept going out of
focus. A throaty laugh—a man’s throaty laugh—came from her bedroom.
He rushed to the front porch. His head throbbed as he climbed the
stairs. The front door was ajar. Her bedroom door was closed. He
tiptoed over, tested the knob. Unlocked. The male voice growled
from inside. And a female voice, whimpering. The sound sent bile to
his throat. Much as he wanted to pay Kelli back for what she’d done
to him, this was not what he would wish on her.

He pressed his fingertips to the door
and it creaked open a few inches. He held his breath and peered
inside. A man, hands at his hips, hovered above the bed, his back
to the door. Blake leaned aside enough to reveal what the man’s
body blocked from view.

Blake thought the fear on Kelli’s face
would be forever etched in his mind. She was on the bed, cowering,
her eyes glued to her captor. The man shoved Kelli onto her back.
Why wasn’t she fighting? Resigned to her fate? Afraid he’d hurt her
more if she fought back? Even her whimpering had stopped. The man
reached for Kelli’s waist.

Had she passed out? Blake inched the
door open wide enough to admit his body and took half a step into
the room. The man’s boots and parka were by the bed. His hands
dropped to his waist. He heard a belt being unbuckled, a zipper

Let her go, you
scumbag!” Blake barreled across the room, caught the man by the
shoulders, dragged him away from Kelli. Scumbag, tangled in his
dropped trousers, stumbled and fell backward, bringing them both
down. Blake ignored the pain that shot through his shoulder when he
hit the floor.

He tried to subdue the creep with a
forearm to his throat. The man squirmed away, kicking and flailing
and managed to reverse their positions. Blake’s head crashed back
onto the floor and stars shot across his field of vision. He shook
his head to clear it, realizing immediately it was a stupid idea.
When he focused, Scumbag had shaken free of his pants and was
leaning over him. The guy was wearing boxers with yellow happy
faces. Blake was
going down to a man who wore smilies on
his shorts.

He scissored his legs, caught Scumbag
around an ankle with one, and kicked out with the other. While the
man struggled to regain his balance, Blake flipped over to his
knees. The room spun. Before he could rise, he suffered a powerful
kick to his back and went down again. He rolled, brought his legs
over Scumbag’s. Both men tumbled on the floor, exchanging blows
with elbows, knees and fists. Blake stopped keeping track of where
Scumbag’s blows were landing and concentrated on connecting with
his own. Something sliced across his ribs. Pain built on pain. His
reflexes were off and he searched for Scumbag’s weaknesses. At the
moment, all the weakness seemed to be on Blake’s side. Dazed, he
gasped for breath. Scumbag hovered over him, an evil grin on his
face, a knife in his hand.

Time for you later,”
Scumbag said. “After I finish with the girl, if you get my drift.
You get to watch.” Blake heard a dull thunk, saw Scumbag’s eyes
widen. The man’s mouth hung open and he crumpled.

Blake got to his knees, taking a moment
to suck air, fighting the pain. Then he looked up and saw Kelli
standing behind Scumbag’s inert form, clutching a Maglite.

Good night,” she
said. “If you get my drift.” Then she collapsed. He caught her
right before she hit the floor.

Kelli?” He supported
her across his knees, stroked her face. “It’s okay.”

Eyes wide with terror, she looked down
at herself then back up at him. Pulling away, she dropped, hands
raised as if to ward off a blow.

Hey. It’s over. I
won’t hurt you. Promise.” He kept his voice soothing, but Kelli’s
eyes stared past him into nothingness. He’d kept Scumbag from
raping her—hadn’t he? Crap, he didn’t know how long he’d been out,
or how long the creep had been there. Had he interrupted a
second—or third—attack? “Kelli. Come back. Please?”

One hand clutching the waistband of her
jeans, she scooted backward on her bottom until she leaned against
the bed. His adrenaline was wearing off and he fought a wave of
nausea. Already, his shoulder talked to him and a burning sensation
built in his belly.

He sat with his head on his knees. His
ragged gasps were the only sound. He dreamed of a long sauna
followed by an eon in a Jacuzzi. Half-dazed, he heard his father’s

The pains of a job well done are part
of the reward, son. Take some pride that you’ve put your whole self
into the work.

His mind drifted to the time his father
had pulled him and his older brother out of school to help meet a
deadline. The three of them had worked until after dark, his father
shrugging off all their whines and complaints. Few words were
spoken until they got home and had cleaned and put away every
blasted tool to the old man’s satisfaction.

Good work, boys. You were true men

And then he’d sent them in to take a
long hot bath and had rubbed the knots out of their aching muscles
until they’d fallen asleep.

Regret and remorse at never thanking
his old man layered themselves above the aches and pains and some
of the fog lifted.

A moan from Scumbag snapped him back.
Blake grabbed the man under his shoulders. A knife clunked to the
floor. He stuck it in his belt. Despite the pounding in his head,
Blake dragged the man across the house and shoved him into his tiny
bathroom. Too bad he didn’t have any duct tape here—and he wouldn’t
leave Kelli long enough to get some from the cabin. He cut the cord
from his bedside lamp and tied Scumbag’s wrists and ankles.

Dizzy, dripping sweat, he rushed back
to find Kelli. Her eyes were open and she sat on the bed. Holding
the effing thirty-eight. The knife dropped from his fingers.

Another wave of nausea swept through
him. “Go ahead. Shoot me. Just let me pass out first, okay?”






Chapter Five


Kelli watched Windsor collapse to the
floor as if someone had removed all the bones from his body. Her
memory was full of holes, but an all-pervading fear clung like pond
scum. Had she killed again? Knowing the memories would return, yet
not sure she wanted them to, she stared at the body lying at her
feet. And at the knife on the floor beside him. A bloody knife. In
a moment of rage, she kicked it across the room.

BOOK: What's in a Name?
13.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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