He was totally in the dark. But that was nothing new to Braden; he’d felt that way for far too long. Totally in the dark about whoever was sabotaging his team. Totally in the dark about whoever on his team wasn’t who he thought they were.
But what about the most recent note?
The one that had led him to a stretch of forest along the Oregon coast. Had someone actually kidnapped Sam? Was she really being held hostage? The note hadn’t requested a ransom, just told him where he could find his bride.
Did she regret that they hadn’t had a big wedding like some of the other hotshots were planning? Was she happy that they’d just had Charlie, the guy who owned the local pub, The Filling Station, officiate their ceremony in their backyard with the team and her dad present? Her brothers hadn’t had time to show up because Braden hadn’t wanted to wait. He hadn’t wanted to give Sam time to change her mind, so he’d rushed her to the altar.
He’d rushed her to commit, even knowing that being in Northern Lakes could make her vulnerable. She’d caught the arsonist, so the saboteur had to be worried Sam would catch them, too. Had they taken her first?
Branches snapped beneath Braden’s feet as he moved as quietly as he could through the forest. It was so dark that he could see only the shadows of the trees now, but he didn’t want to turn on a flashlight or his phone and announce his presence to whoever had lured him out here.
Another snap echoed out of the darkness, another broken twig. From the weight of an animal? Or a person?
He heard no howl of coyotes, no scurry of paws or pounding of hooves. He didn’t think it was an animal that was moving through the woods with him.
It was a person. A hunter…
For the first time, Braden wished he carried a gun. While he was strong and could defend himself against a physical attack, he couldn’t fight a bullet, especially if one was fired in this darkness. But the person would have to have night vision goggles to see him.
Because Braden couldn’t see anything in this all-encompassing black night. But he could hear. So he stopped moving and he listened and waited as the sounds of snapping twigs and rustling branches came closer and closer.
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