Cassidy drove out of Pleasant Pines. Brittney's post had come from an old camp that used to be owned by a church group years ago. In fact, Cassidy had attended the camp during summer vacations as a kid.
She turned onto a gravel road that led up the side of the mountain. The tires kicked up dust. The engine of her old sedan whined as the hill became steeper. Like a toy boat on the ocean, the car rocked as it went up and over large divots in the road.
The temperature gauge climbed until the needle pointed to the red zone. With a squeal, the car shook and then stopped. Cassidy dropped her head onto the steering wheel, her eyes burning. She wanted to cry. Or curse. Or both.
Neither one would do her any good. She turned off the ignition as a cloud of steam seeped from beneath the hood. Fishing her phone from her bag, Cassidy wondered about the cost of getting her car towed from the middle of nowhere.
No bars showed. Great. Somewhere in the woods, she'd lost the cellular signal.
Her eyes began to burn, and her bottom lip trembled. She really was going to cry. Sure, she wanted to find her daughter. Yet, in some way, Cassidy had also been determined to prove something to Travis Cooper. What, though? That she was still capable? That they had dated long ago and their past relationship should still mean something? That his idea to wait for a warrant was stupid? Then again, she was the one in the middle of nowhere, without cellular coverage. Maybe the idea of waiting had some merit.
A cloud of dust rose from the road. Another car was coming up the hill. But who?
Cassidy was all alone. What was worse—nobody knew where she'd gone. As she stared at the rearview mirror, Cassidy's mouth went dry. For the first time, she realized how truly vulnerable she was—and that coming had been a mistake.
The grill of a truck crested the hill. From where she sat, she could see the outline of a lone driver in a cowboy hat. The truck had plenty of room to pass her on the side, yet it stopped only inches from her rear bumper. The driver's door opened. A man stepped out and she laughed aloud. Travis Cooper had come after all.
"Looks like your car overheated," he said. "Pop the hood and I'll take a look."
She pulled the lever and Travis lifted the hood. As Cassidy stepped from the car, she said, "This old piece of garbage always overheats. I carry water with me." She waited a beat before asking, "By the way, what are you doing here?"
"I'm looking for you."
He had come for her. Did that mean he still cared?
Whatever Travis was about to say next was forgotten. Two men came out of the surrounding trees. Both were tall, had full beards and wore leather jackets emblazoned with patches from Los Diablos. Yet, the appearance of the men didn't bother Cassidy as much as the fact that one of them held a gun.
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