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Demi Morgan was good at keeping her identity hidden, so when an attorney found her at a restaurant she owned, she was more than a little angry. Very few people knew how to find her, and she took her privacy seriously. His news that her mother had passed, several months ago, did nothing for her. Her family had never wanted her, and in turn, she didn’t want them either. He knew her family, and he understood her feelings, but the will had to be read.
Reluctantly, Demi made her arrangements to travel back to her hometown in Ohio. Her intentions were to either decide to stay, or to sell the home her grandmother had left her. Living in the same town as her brother and sister didn’t appeal to her at all. When her brother, Nathan, cold-cocked her in the elevator, an unlikely savior came to her rescue, Madden McCray.
Demi wanted to hire Madden to be her bodyguard while she was in town. Madden said as much as he could use the money, he told her he already had a job, but his brother, Lucian could use the work.
Lucian wanted to meet Demi before he accepted the job, and when her scent hit him between the eyes, his bear rolled over him—she was his mate. But reality hit him like a freight train. She had money—a lot of money—and he and his family had always been dirt poor. He wanted his mate too—more than anything, but he’d have to get past his pride first….
Meadow Springs had been locked away in a hospital for several years. At sixteen she was a victim and sole survivor of the mass murder of her family. The ordeal had left her semi-comatose for a long time. Since she was the only survivor and couldn’t talk, the police tried to pen the murders on her, but it didn’t stick.
Josiah McCray was there the day that Meadow was brought to their home to go into hiding. The beautiful blonde in the wheelchair was a shadow of the woman she should be. All Josiah saw was his mate, and he loved her no matter what.
The killer was still out there, and Meadow had his identity locked inside her mind and the killer knew it. Everyone previously in charge of her care were now dead. There was no way that was a coincidence.
Meadow was a loose end, the one that got away. There was no way the killer could let her live….
Melody Austin was afraid of nearly everything, but like it or not, she was a survivor. When she was seventeen, she had survived a harrowing attack that left her mentally and physically scarred. Now, ten years later, her brother, Daniel, repeatedly asked her to talk about the disturbing events, to tell him what happened so that he could understand, but she remained silent. She knew he meant well, but telling him a bear was behind the attack at the school would get her locked up in a mental institution. No one would believe that story, and she couldn’t blame them.
Daniel had taken a job working for the McCrays. He made Mel promise that she’d join him in just a few days, but instead, Daniel received a call that his house was on fire, and Mel had been burned in the process. Daniel took Gannon with him to check on his sister.
Daniel had told Gannon that Mel was a bit skittish before they arrived on the scene. But the moment Gannon caught her scent; he knew she was his mate. He meant to reassure her by telling her that she was his mate and that everything would be all right, but the instant she heard that he was a bear shifter, she went wild, running back into the fire to get away from him.
When Gannon discovered that a bear was the cause of all her fears, he didn’t know how he could get past this. He couldn’t change what he was…. Was this doomed from the start?
Things hadn’t been going very well for Lucy and her two sisters. When their parents died, their uncle had moved in and took over. The girls, apparently, were too much trouble to worry about, so he’d dumped them onto the streets to fend for themselves.
It was just luck that Ian McCray and his family had found Lucy that day. Both Lucy and her sister, Jilly, were in bad need of medical attention. Ian was just thrilled to have found his mate alive. In their situation, it could have been much worse.
Lucy was thankful for the help, but she was just going from one man to another lording over her and dictating what she could and couldn’t do. It was marry Ian or lose her sisters for good. Ian was a nice man, but she was tired of everyone telling her what to do.
Joey wasn’t dealing with the best of news. The phone call informing her that her niece was dead was bad enough, but her great-niece, Becky, was also in danger. Then finding out her twin sister, Margie, had Joey’s office bugged just about sent her over the edge. And now her mother’s life was being threatened for information on Becky. Joey was going to have to kill someone before this was all over with.
Pierce was having a time dealing with stress lately. Trying to please everyone and not giving himself any slack was about to do him in, and no one was helping him at all by telling him he needed to find a mate. Just thinking about that prospect was stressful too.
Pierce was gifted. Not only was he a bear, but he could read the minds of others. He was a great profiler. Meadow sent him to help Joey find the spies in her organization. As soon as Pierce met Joey, he knew he had found his mate at long last, but telling her would have to wait. With everything else she had going on, that information might make her head explode.
Happy Reading ,
The phone ringing pulled her from a deep sleep. Or was it just the beginning of her sleep? Whatever it was, Gabby was as pissed as she’d ever been at being woken up. Pulling the cell to her ear, she took a deep breath to blast the person on the other end when he spoke to her. “Gabby, there’s been an incident.” She sat up in bed, untangling her hair from her face as she asked the officer what had happened. “Hailey is hurt. Badly. She’s been beaten to shit, and the guy she was with is dead.” “I’m on my way. Did you call her dad?” Paul told her she’d asked for her. “All right. Paul, send a car for her dad in about five minutes. That’ll give me— Where is she anyway?” “Shanks farm. Right along the road. It’s bad, Gabby. The kid looks like she’s gone a few rounds with a fighter. But she’s hanging on.” She got outside and into her truck just as she saw an ambulance race by her home. “I’m going to tell her you’re coming.
All right. Hurry. I don’t rightly think she’s going to die right now, but I just don’t know how she’s still hanging onto consciousness as bad as she looks.” “I’m leaving my house now. I’ll be there before you know it. Send someone for Harry. Don’t tell him the way you have me. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t let him drive.” She was pulling up in front of the cruisers that were all over the road. Gabby only had to show her badge to one person, and she was let through. Whoever the guy was, she didn’t know him. More than likely, she thought, one of the guys from the county over. Going to the car, she had to look for her niece. Hailey was sitting on the ground leaning against the car, a bloodied, broken mess of a seventeen-year-old kid.
“Hey, babe. Isn’t it a little cold for you to be sitting in the cornfield like this?” Hailey asked her if it was her. “Yes, honey, it’s me. The medics are here to take you in. You look like hell.” Her eyes were swollen shut, and it looked like her nose had been broken too. With her eye hanging oddly, Gabby figured someone had broken her eye socket as well. “I told him no. Over and over, I told him no. He just kept trying to get me to touch him. His dick, I mean.” She asked her what had happened. “I don’t remember right now. But I told him no. I fought him off like you told me, and he ran off.” Paul just shook his head when she looked at him. “Hailey, the men here want to take you into the hospital. I’ve sent for your daddy and told them not to allow him to drive.” “I kept telling him no, Aunt Gabby. But he kept hitting me. Harder than when he knocked me against the car window the first time.” Gabby could tell her jaw was broken, or at least in terrible shape. Hailey was holding her jaw tight as she spoke to her. “He just kept hitting me and hitting me.” The medics moved in when she stepped back. Them pulling her from the car had her nearly pulling her gun out and killing them for making Hailey scream, but Paul was there to hold her back.
Even as they laid her on the gurney, Gabby could see there was more damage done to her than just what she could see on her face. As soon as they gave her something to knock her out, the medical team assessed her injuries. They were vast and painful looking, to say the least. As soon as Harry was out of the car, he came running to where they were. It was all she could do to hold him back while she told him she was still alive. “What happened to her?” Gabby told her older brother what she knew and what she’d been told by Hailey. “I thought she was home. I asked Rose where she was when I got home, and she said she was in her room. Then when the cop showed up, she wouldn’t even speak to me. This is it, Gabby. I can’t have her treating Hailey like this. Not anymore.” “Keep your voice down.” He looked around when she did. “Do you want everyone running back to her with what you’re saying?
Christ, Harry.” He started crying when he got to the gurney to look at his daughter. The two of them spoke quietly while the medics told them what had happened to her. While they were working on getting her in a position to move her, Gabby went to the other side of the car to look at the dead body. “She didn’t kill him. I mean, she had something to do with it, but she didn’t kill him.” Paul showed her what he’d been able to see that she couldn’t in her position standing by the body. “He got the shit beat out of him too, it looks like. But the only thing she said to me when I got here was that he’d run off when she’d kicked him in his dick. It looks like he got out of the car to do whatever and fell on one of the frozen corn stalks. See here? It caught him right in the throat and severed the arteries. Bled out while she called us to come and get you.” “Have the parents been notified?”
He said they’d not yet, waiting on making sure that Hailey got what she needed before anyone left here. “Good idea. Once she’s on her way, have someone go with you. Wear your body cams too.” “I will. I know this kid, Gabby. I have to tell you, I’m surprised he’s not been killed before now. Or killed someone else. He isn’t the type of person that takes no as an answer. As you can see.” She nodded and asked him if there had been reports from him before. “Ten at least. He’s a twenty-two-year-old senior at the high school. His last year if I don’t miss my bet.” “Are you serious? He’s not graduated from high school, and they allowed him to keep going there? Christ.” Paul told her who he was. “Why do I know that name? Chip Brunswick? It’s not the mayor’s son, is it?” “His nephew. I think he’s been staying with his uncle since the Christmas break. But he does live here. His parents have gone on a cruise or something. We were asked to go by their house a few times a day to make sure Chip here wasn’t having any parties.” She stood up when she’d seen all she could in the darkened area. “This is going to hit the fan, you know that, don’t you? I mean, you being a cop, your brother acting judge on a major case coming up. People are going to have a field day with all this other shit too.”
“I’m not going to work on this with you. But I would like to be kept in the loop, quietly if you can.” Paul promised her he would. “I don’t know if what I’m thinking is going to pan out or anything, but do me a favor and pull this kid’s phone records and Rose’s. I have no idea why, but I think she might well have planned this sort of thing. I could be wrong.” “You’re never wrong when it comes to shit like this.” He made himself a note. Paul was old school. He literally wrote it down on a small pad of paper rather than on his phone like most people did. She did the same thing, as he’d been the one that had trained her. “I’ll let you know as soon as I do. Also, I’d like it if you had a burner so I can talk to you without anyone tracing it.” She said she’d get herself one. The body was taken away soon after the coroner arrived. Doc Massey should have retired years ago, but he was the best there was at his job. Being in his late seventies, the man didn’t miss a beat. He used the newfangled equipment, what he called it, like the new kids on the block. He took one look at the car, then at the body, and nodded.
“Couldn’t have happened to a better person if you ask me.” He also didn’t have a filter between his brain and his mouth most of the time. “I got me a couple of reports, Paul, that I’ll make sure you get. Two other girls have been done in by this kind of shit. Who’s the young lady? I’m assuming she made it.” “My niece.” Massey looked at her, shocked. “Yes, she’s been beaten up badly. The medics said she had five broken ribs on her right, as well as two on the left, broken right arm and wrist—a bite out of her ear. You might want to dig around for that while you’re in there, Massey. If you’d not mind.” “No. I’ll find it or know the reason why. How’s Harry taking this? Not good, I’m betting.” She said he was at the hospital now. “That Hailey is a good kid. She’s one of the bravest kids I know, next to you, Gabby. Here’s hoping she comes out on top of this.” The body was turned over, and she could see that his jaw was broken too. Not only that, but it looked like he might have had his hair pulled out in a few places, as well as what appeared to be nail cut marks on his cheeks.
Just as Paul said, the stalk of corn, cut off at an angle when the crops had been brought in, killed him by going through his neck. The medics with Massey left it where it was when the body was turned over and put on the other gurney. “They’ll need to see what happened. I like a little drama when I have to show people how their loved one died. However, in this case, I’m thinking he wasn’t loved all that much.” It was Paul that asked Massey how he knew that. “About six months ago, I heard they were sending him to some kind of military place. To get his head on right. He’d gotten to be too much for him. Hell, I think he was too much for the two of them when they brought him home from that place. He’s not theirs, and I’m betting every day they wish they’d not adopted him. As I said, I’ll get you a couple of files I have that have his fingerprints and DNA all over the body. But old Fussy Ass wouldn’t allow me to use them.” Massey laughed. He sounded like a braying jackass when he was tickled like he was. “I had him sign off on it. For my eyes only, I told him. Hell, if that shit comes back to try and bite me in the ass, I’m going to show it to the queen herself if it’ll get me out of trouble.”
The cleanup wasn’t anything she could help with, as she wasn’t there in a professional capacity. Getting back in her truck, she let the thing warm up this time, thanking her for getting her to Hailey in time. As she sat there, she thought about what Massey had told her. Two bodies. Two young girls that had been killed by this kid. Pulling into traffic, she headed to the hospital. Gabby also thought about how Rose was involved in this if she was. It would be just like her to have someone beat the shit out of Hailey so her daughters would be prettier. It was a sad case of the Little Cinder Girl all over. Except this evil stepmom was going to get her ass in trouble if she was even remotely in on anything that had happened here or in the last two deaths by Chippy. The hospital wasn’t busy this early in the morning. When she got up to the third floor where the operating rooms were, she found her brother still in his robe and slippers. She asked him if she needed to go get him something to wear. “Birdy is going to find me some scrubs to put on. I want you to stay with me.” Gabby asked if there had been any news. “Not yet. She was whisked away to surgery as soon as we got here.
They were ready for her. She coded on the way in, Gabby. I don’t know what I’d do if she were to leave me like this. Christ, I love that kid more than I do myself sometimes.” “I do too. She kept telling me she fought him off like I’d taught her to do.” He hugged her, telling her he was so glad she’d talked him into letting her do that. “I know young boys and their parents much better than you do, Harry. They’re all pieces of shits. You’re the only man in the world I will ever love.” “You’re hard on men, Gabby. I have pointed this out to you before.” She was glad to see her brother smile at that. The two of them were still waiting on news when their parents showed up. She didn’t know who had called them but was grateful that someone had. In all the things going on tonight, she’d forgotten they’d moved to this town a few weeks ago to be closer to them. “The doctor is going to do his best with her.
I know she’s young and strong, so I’m hoping for the best here.” Harry didn’t mention that she’d coded, and Gabby was glad. There were some things you didn’t tell your parents, and she thought this was one of them. They weren’t young, their mom and dad, and had seen a great deal, but no one wanted to know that their granddaughter had died once already tonight. When it rounded up to six hours in surgery, Gabby found herself a quiet place to do something she told herself she’d never do and had told the other person she’d never call on her either. Reaching out into the cold dark night, she called for Gaea, the Mother to All Creatures. “I felt her blood stain the ground, my child.” Gabby cried a little, telling her what Gaea probably knew better than she did. “You know I will do whatever you wish. I owe you so much more than even this, helping a life for you.”
“I don’t want to tap you out, overwork your noddle here, Gaea, but I told you before, I was just in the right place at the right time, that’s all.” She nodded as she did each time the two of them spoke. Gaea was the reason she was such a good cop. The older woman would help her with things when she felt the earth. “She cannot die. Hailey is the best part of her dad and my parents. I love her too, but I’m alone, and they will be should she pass away. Especially from something like this.” “The man, he is dead. It took me a moment to make sure the stalk was in the precise place when he stumbled onto it.” Gabby asked her if she was being serious. “I am. Had I not intervened when I did, Gabriela, he was coming around the car to pull her from it and rape, then kill her. It was in his mind, you see, that she should have suffered a great deal. Be disfigured too. You would not have found the body either without my help. The deed wasn’t finished until there was nothing left of her but a stain on the ground.” “Did Rose help him?” She nodded. “Was she fucking him? I’m assuming she was because that sounds exactly like something she’d do.”
“Fucking. It is a terrible word for making love. But in this case, you have gotten it right. They were fucking. Like little bunnies without a care in the world.” Gaea smiled, but it was far from friendly. “I will help where I can. There are things in motion that will help you along with her as well. Do not be fooled by Rose’s acts, Gabriela. You know her to be evil, but she is so much more than that.” “I don’t know what could be more evil than evil, but I’ll take your word for it. I think Harry has had enough as well.” She told her good. “You’ll help her then? You’ll make sure Gabby doesn’t die?” “Yes.” She started to fade out but came back for a moment as a solid person. “She will no more die than you will, Gabriela Thomas.” Then she was gone. ~*~ Pierce wandered around the halls just as he was told to do. There was going to be a reckoning here soon. Not really that bad, but it had to be taken care of now, or someone was going to be killed. The jail that was just outside of their little town, but still the one they used, was so run down, overpopulated, and in bad shape that he was surprised someone hadn’t mentioned it before now.
“I’ve been taking pictures of the shit I’m finding. I might as well have been using a video recorder for as much is wrong here. What are you doing?” He told Madden he was measuring the walls. “I’m assuming it has something to do with the overall building?” “There are codes that say how large a cell should be, and with that, how many people it can hold. The cells, according to the American Correctional Association, or the ACA, should be seventy square feet per prisoner. With overcrowding, they have been putting in a second bunk for an upper person.” Madden asked him how large these rooms were. “Forty-eight. With three prisoners in the room when they’re in a pinch. Which seems to be happening a great deal.”
“Christ.” Pierce agreed with him. “So we have these overcrowded cells, one shower stall for everyone to share, as well as the worst kind of conditions for the bathrooms. Demi is going to have a cow when she hears how bad this place really is.” “There’s more. From what I’ve been able to find, there isn’t a yard for them to walk in that’s secure. So they’ve been having them walk around the commons area in a circle to give them exercise. Since the kitchens are in such poor shape, they’re bringing in fast food that isn’t fit to eat when they order it, much less when it travels all the way here in the back of a van.” Pierce went over the list he’d been making since he arrived. “This place should have been shut down years, if not decades ago. I mean, just a few minutes ago, I had to go outside to pee. I was terrified of what would befall me if I were to have gone into that room.” They both laughed, but he’d been really worried. He wasn’t a little guy. “My bear curled up around me and seemed to be more afraid of going in there than he might have been on the darkest nights.” “I hear you.” They walked around for a little while longer together, then they parted ways again when they got to the next part of the building. Pierce was finding it hard to navigate through the halls. It seemed to him that someone had blocked off places that should have been halls and closed up rooms too. He was standing in front of what he thought should have been an office when he heard from Joey. I’m going to go and see Margie now.
I wanted to let you know so that if you feel me getting angry at her, you’ll know the reason for it. He told her she’d do fine. I do hope so. All I’ve been thinking about is how this is going to be coming to a head soon, and she’ll be out of our life. Did you hear about the kids found not far from where you are in the jail? The girl and the boy out on a date? Yeah, the cops here are telling us that this little bitty thing of a girl beat this guy to shit, then lived to tell about it. I guess it was touch and go for her for a while, but she’s going to pull through. She told him she was one of their nieces’ age. Yes. I can’t imagine what would be going through my head if anything were to happen to one of my nieces. I guess the cop that works here part-time is her aunt. I’ve never met her, have you? No. Her brother is acting judge until Barker gets back from vacation. He’d not known that part. Okay, I’m here. I have her things that I told her that I’d bring, and I’m going to make a big deal about how this is going to work out for her.
Also, I’ve got a list of things I’m to ask her about. But not in an I’m-needing-more-information sort of way. Whatever the hell that means. He was still laughing about her when he stared at the door again. Or where the door should have been. Looking around, he shifted himself to his big bear and slammed his body against the wall. Pierce felt it budge, and some of the drywall crumble, but it was still blocked. The voice behind him told him he should have been paying more attention than he had been. “I tried that before. Not as a bear, but that is a good thing to use. I only got as far as using a reciprocating saw. As you can see there, I got it in before the whole place shut down because I blew the single fuse that covers here. Not a good thing to happen in a place full of criminals, I’d think.” Turning slowly, he regarded the woman standing there. “Gabby Thomas. I’m assuming you’re with the pretty lady in the office screaming at the mayor and the captain.”
He nodded. While Pierce knew he could shift and dress at the same time, he wanted to get this doorway open. She asked if she could help him. When he nodded again, she came at him with her hand out. Pierce noticed that not only was it not trembling, but she didn’t seem to care overly much that he outweighed her by about three hundred pounds. Biting gently into her hand so they could talk, she asked him if he’d hit the wall again. After the third try, not only did they have the wall knocked down, but it showed him that there were several such doorways along this hall. They were on the fourth door when he heard from Demi. I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep it up. You’re scaring the hell out of the men I’m in here with. They think I’ve opened up the gates of hell and am bringing the devil himself down on them. I love it. Pierce told her what they were doing and who he was working with. As his bear. Good job. And so you know, Gabby needs to take this place over. The moron that works here thinks a good day at the office is not showing up at all.
I’m about to go to prison for killing the lot of them. There are several rooms here, cluttered with boxes of things I’ve not had a chance to look into. Gabby is. But she is sort of just taking glances and mumbling a great deal to herself about penmanship or something. They look to me like old evidence. But then, I’m not the type that would know anything about that. Also, these rooms look a great deal like classrooms, all the way to the chalkboards on a couple of walls. She asked him if she could find him easy enough. I don’t know why not. I mean, if I’m thinking this is laid out right, I’m right behind the captain’s office. Or thereabouts. If there is so much overcrowding, why aren’t they using these rooms for something other than collecting dust? I don’t know, but I plan to find out. She said she’d be there in about half an hour and for him to find a place to shift. You might want to tell Gabby to take off too. Someone has a real hard-on for finding her. She’s in trouble about something that occurred last night. Apparently, she was at the scene where her niece was hurt, and the boss is giving her shit about it.
By the way, you found the rooms like they are now. I don’t want us getting into any shit about breaking down walls. Pierce told Demi about the accident and how her niece was hurt. After shifting and dressing, he told Gabby what was going on. She took off before he got a chance to thank her for her help. He had no idea where the thought came from, but he’d bet anything she knew more about these rooms than anyone did. And he’d bet she was able to get in and out of them without anyone noticing too. Standing at one of the windows when Demi arrived, he was immediately asked what the fuck he was doing there. If not for Demi, he was sure he would have been arrested. He was also glad that not only had Gabby left, but he’d had the forethought to wipe up her shoe prints. ~*~ Gabby held onto her brother’s hand as the surgeon told them what he’d done to ensure there wasn’t any permanent damage done to Hailey. Mostly it was to her face, but her entire body had been beaten badly, he told them.
“She’s in recovery now, which I have to say surprised me somewhat. But I also know Hailey was in good shape and that her being young played a big role in her coming out of the coma so well.” Harry nodded. Gabby knew why she was out of the coma but hadn’t told Harry. She wasn’t sure if she ever would. “I know you’ve heard this list before, but I want you to know the extent of her injuries. The only reason I can think she’s lived through this is the reasons I said—being young and in good health. Harry, she’s going to need a lot of physical therapy as time goes by. Not just to walk, but to use her right hand.” “You said it had been broken.” Doctor Montrose said that it had been crushed. It appeared to him that it had been crushed by the glove box over and over before she’d been able to free herself from it. “She’s been taught by the best on how to take care of herself. If not for Gabby here, she’d be dead, I’m thinking.”
“By all accounts, she should be.” Both of them knew that. Even before Gaea had gotten to her that night, Hailey had coded again. It was only magic that had kept her from staying dead. “You should thank your sister daily for what she did. You’re right. This would be a different scenario altogether without that. As I was saying. She had a crack in her skull that concerns me a great deal, but her memory and skills at recalling things are still intact. I would say her head was banged against the closed window on her side at least ten to fifteen times before it was stopped. Her jaw is broken as well but has been wired closed to heal. I think the fact that she was able to speak that night shows again how resilient the young are. The left ankle is broken but set in a cast. Eight ribs are broken, another three are cracked. Her right lung is healing, as well as the damage that was done to her liver. I’m thinking that with her broken hip, she was jerked against the lap belt with enough force to have sliced into her leg and displace the bone enough that it cracked under the pressure. She’ll walk, but it might be a long time before she can do so without a limp.”
He went on to tell them of the cuts and the number of stitches that had to be used to put her back together. Her eyes were still swollen shut, but he said that was a good thing. It had protected her eyes from whatever damage might well have been done to them. She was going to live. That was all she was going to let herself think about now. And the last words Gaea had said to her as she left that night. They would never die. When her brother poked her, she looked around. They were alone again, in the room they’d been using as a place to rest and to gather themselves together. He asked her where she’d gone. “I don’t know that I could tell you what I might have been thinking about.” He told her he’d been feeling the same way for the last couple of days. “Did you get the locks changed on the house?
And an attorney for you?” “I did before coming in here yesterday on both things. Rose had taken her daughters to the zoo. She couldn’t be bothered to come here to see my daughter, but she could go to the fucking zoo? Doesn’t she know it’s like twenty-five degrees outside?” She cocked her brow at him. “All right, I’m better now. Anyway, I changed the locks, hired that pack like you said, and have an off-duty hanging around the house until further notice. Do you really think she hired Chip to kill my daughter, Gabby?
That is just so…I don’t have words for it.” “I’m not the investigating officer, but she and Chip have been having an affair for the last year and a half. They called each other a total of fifty times right up until he picked Hailey up. Then nothing from him afterwards. She made four to his cell phone that we’ve been able to trace back to her phone.” Harry asked her if she knew why Hailey was with the man. “You know her friend Jolie? Well, she had called Hailey to tell her she was on her way to get her. Asked her if she’d wait outside her house for her, as they were running late for the meeting with the other girls on the project they’d been assigned. There wasn’t a date between Chippy and Hailey, but Hailey going to the library before it closed to get a start on the project that was due in a month. Sounds like her, doesn’t it?
Getting started on it the same day.” “Yes, she would have treated it like they were behind right up until they were finished with it. No last-minute things for my girl.” Harry asked her why she’d gotten in the car with him if she knew. “I mean, I know for a fact she didn’t like him. She thought him a pest when he came around the house to do chores. I’m guessing now he wasn’t getting paid with cash.” “Don’t go there, Harry. You know, as well as I do, that’ll only make you insane. Well, in your case, insaner. But no, she didn’t like him.” Gabby knew he wasn’t going to like this next part at all. “Rose helped him get her into the car. The neighbor across the street had called the police and told them they thought someone was being kidnapped. When they arrived at your home about twenty minutes later, Rose assured them it was a little joke, that Hailey was on a date with a nice young man. He picked her up at about six-thirty, an hour before the library closed up.” “Why did it take until three in the morning before anyone knew anything?” She knew the answer to that as well.
Gabby had been going to the office off and on for the last several days. Mostly to just hear something different than medical terms, the police ones weren’t all that much different—but the smell was an improvement over the hospital—the information she was giving her brother from the reports copied for her every day. “I mean, that’s a good eight hours. What the hell did he do in all that time?” “She killed him sometime between ten and midnight. It’s difficult to get a good reading, as the ground he was on was frozen. But that’s about what Massey has estimated.” Harry said it was still a few hours. “I’m going to tell you something that you cannot repeat, Harry. If you do, then it’s all over. Got it?” He nodded. “Is it Rose? Did she have more to do with this than just helping him get her into the car? She was drugged, wasn’t she?” She slapped her palm to his forehead and told him to stop finding shit. “I can’t help it.
I just don’t see that Hailey would have willingly gotten into the car with him.” “I already told you she was helped into the car, didn’t I? Now listen. Hailey was being drugged. Over a long period of time too. Not only is Rose complicit in her being hurt, but it looks like she’d been feeding her arsenic for the last year. Little bits at a time, but that had nothing to do with the four hours.” He let the tears fall as she sat there with him. The room was the only place she trusted to talk to him in. She went over it daily with the little extra that Gaea had given her some years back.
“You know I have friends in weird places, right?” He nodded, then looked around. “Gaea told me she’d tried her best to intervene on Hailey’s part by getting Chippy lost on the way to the cornfield he took her to. Once they were there, Rose was waiting on him. I have no way of proving this, so I’m just letting you know so you watch your back. All right?” “Does she know what happened while they were there?” Gabby nodded. “Do I want to know? Am I going to lose my shit once I find out?” “You will. Suffice it to say that the two of them together are two of the sickest fucks I’ve ever heard of.” He sat there for several seconds, then jumped up. Barely making it to the trash can, he threw up three times before he simply slid to the floor, looking up at her. “You have a little puke on your lip there, Harry.” “Fuck you.” She nodded and waited for him to speak again. “They had sex right there where they wanted my daughter to die, didn’t they?” She nodded again. “More?” “Yes. Are you sure you want to hear it?” He said he didn’t but thought that he should. “They put her on the hood of the car while they fucked each other over her.
Not only that but there was semen on Hailey that didn’t come from Chippy.” “Christ.” He was sick twice more when he told her no more. But she knew that in a couple of minutes, he’d be asking her for the details. “Who was it?” “His uncle.” Nodding, he stayed where he was. She knew this was hard on him. It had made her sick as well. All these people conspiring against a teenager for no other reason than she was pretty. “There is a new group of people coming into the station house. They’re all bears. I’ve met one of them. Pierce McCray. I think you might have met some of them today in the courtroom. I’m thinking as soon as they get in the house, things are going to start coming to light. Like the back rooms.” “Do you still think they’re using those rooms for sex?” She said she didn’t know, but that was high on her list. “Why would they do that? In a police station, of all places.” “Why would anyone look there? I mean, think about it, Harry. What better place to make movies than to do it right there in the station house? The room Pierce and I were able to get into was window dressing. Nothing in there.
Dust out the ass, and all the windows were opened for anyone to look into. I’ll get to the other rooms now that I have help. Having a bear help means there aren’t any fuses to blow that alert them that I’m snooping around again.” He asked her if she was being careful. “Yes. More than I ever have been in my life. But I have to tell you that you need to be more careful than me. They’ll get to you or Hailey to get to me. Don’t let that happen. I’m begging you.” “I’ll be on the lookout for them.” She nodded. “You think I should start carrying a gun again? I know I told you it went against everything I believed in. But this isn’t anything that I signed up for.” “Yes. And like I’ve told you before, Harry, shoot to kill, not maim. Hurt people are dangerous people, and they can come back. Kill them if it means you live.” He told her he loved her. “I love you too. Please, you have to believe me when I tell you, this is going to be dangerous for everyone until we get this taken care of.”
“I believe you.” He finally stood up with her help. “You’re stronger, aren’t you? I haven’t wanted to ask you this, but is Hailey—?” “Yes. I asked for help with her.” He nodded and hugged her. Gabby hadn’t realized how much she needed him until then. “I’ve taken some leave time, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be in the loop. Stay with me. You can stay in my apartment rather than being cornered at the house. All right?” “Yes. I like that. It’s closer to the hospital too.” There was so much she could tell her brother. So much he needed to know. But for now, they were being watched over. Then tomorrow, she was going to meet with Gaea and figure out what she could do now that she’d not been able to do before. ~*~ Madden didn’t care for the police chief. Nor did he care for most of the people in the station house. They were lazy and pissed off that cameras that should have been put in place months or even years ago were being installed. He was Pierce’s backup man, but he was also keeping an eye on the shit going on around them. I’ve been thinking about a couple of things I’d like to run by you. He smiled when his mom spoke to him. This is purely something I’ve been thinking of, but I’m not sure I can figure it out on my own. You’ve always been my most supportive child. I see. Who else did you ask before I became the most supportive? I’m thinking Lucian.
She told him to behave. What is it, Mom? I’m here for you. The jail that is being put in. Is it going to be larger than the one there? I’m looking over these blueprints, and I can’t make heads nor tails out of it. It seems to me the place is about half again as big as I think they’re using. He told her what Pierce had figured out. That makes sense. I found some entries from the books I got from Meadow and the others. That jail wasn’t built to be a jail at all but a home for the homeless. I don’t know where things changed around yet, but after a few months of building the home, someone got the idea to use it as a jail. To me, that seems like something you’d have to figure out from the beginning. You know, for security purposes. I don’t know.
But did you happen to figure out when this place was built? She told him what she’d found. The late forties? That seems dangerous. I mean, we’re talking decades of no upgrades or any kind of security for the place. Well, not only was the place built back then but there is a building someplace that holds more evidence than what you found in that storage locker the other day. Mom asked him to wait, and she’d get him the address. It says here that it’s on Maple Avenue. The building number is blurred. It’s four numbers, and the first one is a nine. I’d say it’s not much in the way of a large building. The places along the area, I’m thinking, are just run-down houses that need a good kick in the bottom to get cleaned up. Does it tell you what the building was built for? I mean, there couldn’t have been enough evidence when it was first built to warrant the need for an entirely new building. She told Madden what the entry said. So they were going to use this place as a hideaway for women that were hurt in some way. All right. Very forward thinking for the times, but was it ever used for that?
Not that I can see right now. She said she loved this kind of sleuthing. I’m going to see what else I can find. There is something afoot here, and I need to solve it. Oh, before I forget to tell you, I’ve filed my bid to get to be mayor, and your dad is gathering up people to help me campaign. I think I can make a good dent in some of the things that are going on without even leaving the house. Madden told his brother what he’d been talking to Mom about. And about the building she had found. Pierce told him they’d take a drive by there when they were finished up. “It could be that the building or whatever has long since been torn down or even used for housing or something.” For some reason, Madden thought it was being used for just what it said, evidence. “I’m trying to be positive for a change. I just heard from Joey. Margie is going to prison for life without parole. And all the money and properties that had been signed over to Joey are now going to be used for the city, with the exception of what is set aside for Becky. The red tape, I’m to understand, for a corporation to build something like this is a nightmare.
I guess Meadow and Mel are working through it.” “The adoption paperwork has gone through for Becky too. She is excited to be living with her grandma close to her aunt.” That made his brother smile. “You’re all sappy again. Do you suppose that ever wears off?” “Christ, I hope not. I love my wife.” As his brother came down off the ladder he’d been on, Pierce told him he only had two more to go. One of them was in the chief’s office. “I’m thinking I’m going to run into trouble with that one. So be ready for anything.” They were ready, he supposed. Madden was carrying a gun now, and he didn’t hide the fact that he was. Even Pierce was carrying one. They had come in by order of the state of Ohio to do this project. If anyone were to try and detain or stop them from doing their duty, they were told to shoot to kill. Madden thought the man was kidding when he told him that. “I don’t kid about shooting someone, Mr. McCray.” He told the governor he was sorry.
“Don’t be. I’m just glad your sister-in-law was able to spare the two of you for this. I’m also looking into a few other things while I’m working on things here.” Without any trouble from the men, they set up the cameras in the last two places. No one here would have access to the recordings, but it would be manned all the time. They were driving down Maple Avenue around five when they realized the building could have been one of a dozen homes and buildings in the area where Mom told them it was. “None of them scream the year time frame. But that doesn’t mean much. Put some siding on a home, and it will hide all kinds of things from a person.” Madden agreed. “I say we get back to the house and see what else Mom has— Look there, Madden.” The man going in and out of the building was none other than the mayor. He was with two other people, both of them dressed in black. They were carrying what looked to him like boxes and also some camera equipment. Madden recorded what they were seeing on his phone while Pierce called Demi.
She said someone would be there in five minutes, but for them not to engage. They didn’t want to, so that was an easy thing to follow. Within minutes not only had the FBI shown up, but SWAT was pulling in as they watched. While he hadn’t any idea what was going down, he thought his mom was going to be mayor before the election. Things were surely moving in her favor.