When I Find You: A Trust No One Novel (9 page)

BOOK: When I Find You: A Trust No One Novel
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“What are you doing?”

“Your cell can be traced. You can use mine to call your folks—after that nice hot shower.”

No use arguing with the man—her phone was long gone. Besides, he was doing all of this to keep her safe. “Okay, but only if you’re going to shower too.” Oh God. She didn’t just say that, did she? She groaned. “I didn’t mean . . . I meant . . . your own shower . . . you need a hot shower too . . .”

He glanced over at her and smiled, but he didn’t laugh or make any comment. She was grateful for that, although she couldn’t possibly be any more embarrassed than she already was.

“No problem. Two hot showers coming up.” He winked when she glanced at him, and when she looked quickly away, a chuckle rumbled from his chest. “I’ll get one room with two beds. I need to be close enough to keep an eye on you. Can you live with that?”

Last night she’d cuddled close to him for warmth and a soft place to lay her head. Granted, she was apparently under the influence of Scotch, but it was a little late for propriety. She nodded her agreement.

“Just for tonight. Tomorrow we’ll be in a house in Gold Beach. You’ll have privacy.”

“What about my parents?”

“It’s too dangerous for you to see them right now. These people we’re dealing with aren’t playing games. You could lead somebody like Grant right to your parents. Think of an excuse—tell them you couldn’t get the time off or you were bumped from your flight.”

She gasped and grabbed the dash. “What if the man who shot Johnny goes there anyway, looking for me, and hurts my parents? I have to warn them!”

“Relax. My boss sent a couple of his guys to watch their house. No one will get near them. You can count on that.”

Darcy let her breath out slowly, sick with dread for endangering her family. Who were these men who watched her parents’ house? Could they be trusted to keep her loved ones safe? It didn’t matter—she had no choice.

She shook her head. “I’m not sure I can do this—all this running, hiding, and lying. It’s just not who I am.”

“This is important. One white lie to protect your parents. It won’t be like this forever. I promise.” He reached toward her and the warmth of his hand covered hers. “Take one step at a time. I’ll be right beside you.”

She studied him for a moment. His jaw set with purpose, his perfect confidence burned through the chill that surrounded her and gave her hope. “Thank you doesn’t seem like enough to cover everything you’ve done for me. I hope someday I’ll be able to repay you.”

“You can thank me by doing everything I say without question until this is over. Can you handle that?”

His earnest expression brought the dread back to her stomach. “I . . .” Her voice broke, and she nodded.

The mountain road met a wider, well-traveled gravel road, which soon turned onto Highway 101. Forty minutes later they entered the small, familiar town of Tillamook. Walker turned west off the highway, then south again and stopped at the first motel they came to—the Beachside Lodge. She waited in the car with the doors locked while he went in and got them a room. When he came back, he handed her the key card, grabbed her bag, and led her halfway down the length of the building to room 132.

Darcy slid the card through the slot and the light turned green. Walker laid his hand on her arm while he pulled his gun from the waistband at his back. “Wait here.” He silently swung the door open, checked the bathroom, and moved quickly the length of the room and back. Then he placed his gun on one of the nightstands and motioned for her to enter. She stepped to the foot of the first bed and stopped.

He dropped her green bag on the bed farthest from the door, then slipped his cell phone from his pocket and dialed. “Hey, Joe. I’ve got Darcy. She’s okay, but there’s something I need you to take care of . . . Yeah, you know me. There’s a car with a body in it on top of a mountain not too far from Tillamook. I was thinking it might be good if the U.S. marshals found it before somebody else stumbles across it . . . Good. I sent you the coordinates from my GPS . . . We’re going to get some rest . . . It’s a long story, but we’ve been up all night . . . I’ll call you when we get to Gold Beach . . . Thanks.”

He tossed the phone onto the table beside his gun and massaged the nape of his neck, then turned to Darcy. “Time for that shower.”

D
ARCY STOOD UNDER
the shower for a long time, letting the hot water wash away her aches and sorrow. When she finally felt clean, she dressed in fresh khaki pants and a brick-red, long-sleeved pullover and ran a brush through her wet hair. When she opened the bathroom door, he wasn’t in the room, but a few minutes later he unlocked the door and walked in carrying his bag. His gaze flickered over her appreciatively, and she busied herself folding her filthy clothes and setting them aside.

“Feel better?”

“Like I might actually live.” She frowned. What a stupid choice of words.

Walker smiled slightly as he turned to throw the dead bolt before moving toward her and dropping his bag at the foot of the other bed. He grabbed his cell phone from the nightstand and handed it to her.

“I’m going to jump in the shower. Make your call, but don’t tell them where we are. I know you want to see them, but it’s not a good idea yet.”

She sighed and he seemed to take that as her unspoken agreement.

“When was the last time you ate? There’s a steak house about a block down. I thought maybe later we could get a bite . . . or I can go out and pick something up if you’d rather.”

“I’ll be ready to go whenever you are.”

“Good. I won’t be long. Make your phone call and then try to get some sleep.” Walker disappeared into the bathroom and the sound of the shower turning on came through the door.

Darcy dug through her bag until she found her blow-dryer. She dried her hair and brushed it until it glistened like silk, then pulled it back in a ponytail. When she couldn’t procrastinate any longer, she picked up the phone and dialed.

Her father answered on the first ring, and his familiar voice whisked her back to her childhood. It would be hard lying to him . . . even harder if he’d heard anything about Johnny on the news.

“Dad?”

“Darcy? Where are you?”

The worry in his voice knifed through her. “I . . . couldn’t get away. Something came up that . . . I had to take care of. This is the first chance I’ve had to call. I’m sorry I made you worry. Is Mom okay?”

“Darcy. What were you thinking? You should have called yesterday. Your mother has been up all night, worrying, waiting to hear from you and trying to call you every fifteen minutes. She finally fell asleep and I’m not waking her up. You should have known she’d be beside herself.” His words were tinged with disappointment and anger.

“I know, Dad. I had my phone off. It was . . . necessary.” She couldn’t explain. Couldn’t defend herself. If it was just a matter of forgetting to call, she’d agree with him. It was a terrible thing to put them through. He was only protecting her mother, but frustration made her voice sharper than she’d intended. “Do you think I did this on purpose? I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

He sighed and the anger in his voice disappeared. “You all right, Darcy?”

There it was—the way he used to say her name when she was his little girl. A lifetime ago. How did everything get so messed up? “I’m fine. Tell Mom I’ll talk to her soon. I love you, Dad.”

She hung up without waiting for him to respond and blinked back tears of hurt and grief. His accusing tone and righteous anger drilled right through to her soul. She didn’t blame him for being upset. In his mind, this was just one more slight to her mother. A year ago Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and he assumed his daughter would quit her job and move home to help take care of her. She came home for three months while her mother went through chemo treatment, but that wasn’t enough. Dad wasn’t happy when he learned she put the needs of another man’s family ahead of hers—especially Johnny Fontana’s family.

Darcy stared at the phone and fought to control the tears that stung her eyes. She couldn’t give guilt free reign—not now when she needed all of her determination just to survive.

“Everything okay?”

She jumped and then laughed self-consciously. “Fine. It’s just . . . my father has a knack for making me feel about six and in trouble again.”

“I’m sure they’re disappointed. Your father will understand once he learns the circumstances, and if not, he doesn’t deserve a daughter like you.”

She glanced at Walker in surprise. What a strange thing to say when he knew nothing about her.

He stood near the bathroom door, shirtless, with a towel thrown over one shoulder. His black hair was wet and, freed from its leather tie, hung loose to his wide shoulders. Dark eyes held hers, and she grew warm under his gaze.

“Why don’t you get some sleep? I’ll wake you in a little while.”

“Come and sit over here so I can look at the cut on your head.” Undoubtedly, he could take care of it with far more competence than she possessed, but she was responsible for his injury.

“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”

“Please?”

He turned back toward her, hesitated a moment, then walked to the chair by the window. Darcy tilted his head toward the light and leaned in to inspect the wound. It was an ugly gash, long and ragged. Irrationally angry with herself for hurting him when he was only trying to help, she groaned and swung around.

“Had a feeling this was a mistake.” He caught her hand and pulled her back toward him.

Off balance, she braced herself against his chest, but her injured arm folded under her weight and she fell into him. His hands circled her waist and held her in place while his eyes searched hers. Something in his expression kept her from looking away.

“Are you going to be consumed with remorse the whole time?”

“I’m not . . .” She laughed and felt some of her tension ease. “Okay—guilty as charged.”

A smile slowly transformed his features, which wouldn’t have been so disconcerting if he hadn’t been staring at her lips. She flattened her hands against his chest and tried to push away. He cleared his throat and set her back on her feet, holding her for a second longer than necessary. The warmth of his touch lingered after he removed his hands, as did a pulsing sensation deep within her.

“Don’t beat yourself up over this little scratch. It’s nothing. Besides, I had it coming, sneaking up on you like I did. There’s some antibiotic cream in my backpack. If it’ll make you feel better, you can slather some on my head.”

His teasing words belied the sudden tension in his voice, but she retrieved the ointment anyway and dabbed some gently on the wound.

“I really am sorry, Walker.”

He took the ointment from her hand, stood, and turned his back. “We’re even now. Go to sleep and let me get dressed.” His gruff tone dismissed her.

Darcy didn’t think she’d be able to sleep with her mind in such turmoil, but it felt good to lie down on the soft bed and close her eyes. So much had happened in the past day and a half. Her life would never be the same. Then she sighed heavily as she silently chastised herself for being so self-centered when it was likely Nick and Eddy would grow up without their father.

“D
ARCY, WAKE UP.
Come on . . . enough sleep. Let’s get some food in you.”

Someone shook her roughly. Finally, the words sank in and she opened her eyes. She’d slept? How long? Walker sat beside her. Light from the bedside lamp illuminated his face. Her gaze flickered to the windows behind him. It was dark outside? Impossible. She couldn’t have slept all afternoon and into the evening.

“What time is it?” Her throat felt raspy and dry.

“It’s after seven, sleepyhead. Are you hungry?”

“You should have woken me hours ago.”

“You needed the sleep . . . but now you need food and so do I, so get up. Let’s go. I’m starving.” He stood and pulled her up beside him.

“You should have gone on without me.” Guilt made her defensive.

“And leave you alone? Not on your life. Not as hard as it was catching up to you the first time.” He smiled before he turned her away and nudged her toward the bathroom. “Fix your hair. It’s come out of your ponytail.”

Darcy closed herself in the small bathroom, washed the sleep from her eyes, then released her hair from its tie and ran a brush through it, leaving it down around her shoulders. When she came out, Walker stood by the door to the parking lot with his hand on the knob.

He wore a hunter green cotton shirt and jeans. His long black hair was again secured in its tie, and his dark eyes followed her as she stepped into the room. His easy smile brought a corresponding grin from her and, if for only a second, made her feel safe. He hooked his cell phone on his belt and slung his backpack over his shoulder before opening the door. As she tried to walk by him, he stopped her.

“Do you own a jacket?”

“It’s not that cold and we’re only going a block.”

“Get a jacket.”

He was probably right, although she’d never tell him that. After what she’d been through yesterday, it wouldn’t be a good idea to get chilled again. She pulled a light fleece jacket from her bag and put it on. Then she grabbed his canvas coat from the bed and held it out to him.

“You were in the same icy cold river. If I need a jacket, so do you.”

His smile widened, and his gaze followed her as he took the jacket and slipped it on. “You’re getting a little bossy.”

“Yeah, I saw you do it and thought it was all right.” She walked through the open door without waiting for a response. He laughed softly as he closed the door behind them and knelt facing the jamb.

She peeked curiously over his shoulder as he applied something that looked like thin, black electrical tape between the door and the frame. She shivered, and the lighter mood they’d created moments ago receded to make room for anxiety.

He didn’t have to tell her—the tape was meant to warn them if someone entered their room while they were gone. The thin strip bridged door and frame so it would break or come loose if the door opened. The thought she might need such a safety measure brought her up short.

BOOK: When I Find You: A Trust No One Novel
3.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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