Where would she take them? Where would she go so that she could buy time for everyone she cared about to get safe?
I put my hand on the door handle and swore long and loudly. “I know where she’s taking them.” It was the exact same place I would go if I wanted the rest of the world to be unable to find me. “I own a cabin out in the woods in the middle of nowhere. That’s where I took her when we dropped out of sight for the weekend. I’ll call the state patrol and tell them to haul ass there but the woods are thick and there aren’t any real landmarks, so the chances are I’ll find her before they do.”
“These guys are dangerous, Jackson. They were armed and had every intention of taking both Darcy and me out and setting the house on fire as soon as they heard from the guys that have Avett.”
I stiffened as I heard something behind me. In the reflection of the glass on the driver’s side window, I saw the man dressed head to toe in black moving up behind me. I let out a slow and steadying breath through my nose and told Brite, “I’m aware how dangerous the men are and how critical the situation is, Brite. I’ll text you a general location as soon as I’m on the road.”
I ducked and spun out of the way as the man behind me reached for me. I slid to the side and caught the arm he had raised to grab me by the wrist and used his surprise and my leverage to my advantage. I wrenched the wrist up behind his back and between his shoulder blades with enough force that I heard the distinct pop as bone slipped out of the socket. I slammed his face against the window on the side of my vehicle and leaned in close so that I was talking directly into the assailant’s ear.
“You better hope your buddies don’t touch a single hair on her head. If you hurt her in any way, jail will seem like a vacation compared to what I’m going to do to you and your friends.”
The man gasped as I put even more pressure on his arm. “I wanted to ask you to use your phone. I have a flat and I forgot mine at home.”
I grunted and leaned farther into him. I used my free hand to give the man a quick pat-down and turned out the pockets on his coat; I wasn’t surprised when a switchblade fell out of one and when I found a gun in the other. I took the snub-nosed revolver and tucked it into the back of my pants, under my suit jacket, and shoved away from the man, who turned around and immediately groaned and listed to the side as his injured shoulder was released.
He blinked at me through a scowl as I kicked the knife under the truck.
“I thought you were some kind of suit. The guys said you were an attorney, not a fucking commando.”
I pushed him out of my way and reached for the door handle once again. “I wasn’t always an attorney. The guy that pays you should have done more research.” I wanted to tell him that he could pass that message along to his co-workers, but I didn’t want the men that had Avett to have any kind of heads-up that I was coming after my girl and that I would do whatever needed to be done in order to make sure she was safe and returned to her parents unharmed.
The truck started with a growl and I was pleased that the state patrol already had people on the highways and interstates looking for the SUV. I gave them directions to the turnoff and tried to explain the best way to get to the cabin, but I knew that it would eat up too much time as they combed the dense wilderness that surrounded the homestead. I was the only one that was going to get to Avett before something unthinkable happened.
I sent a haphazard text to Brite giving him the general vicinity I was sure that Avett had directed the men to take her and wasn’t surprised at all when he told me the men that had freed him were already on the road. No one was going to let Avett fight this battle on her own, even though that was what she had set out to do. Her actions might seem brave and heroic to some, but I knew her well enough to know that she was once again surrendering herself when she didn’t have to. Avett wasn’t planning on leaving those mountains alive if that meant the people she loved were safe. I wanted to throttle her for being so noble and so stupid. When I got my hands on her, she would never again be able to doubt that she was the most valuable thing in my life and that if she sacrificed herself for the greater good I would be left with nothing.
A car honked at me as I drifted lanes because I was focused on my phone instead of my driving. I put the device away and floored the big truck, making it jump and speed up to miles per hour the big beast wasn’t ever made to see. The body vibrated around me as the engine roared. I kept my eyes locked on the road as I weaved dangerously in and out of city traffic on my way to the interstate that would take me out of town. I hoped no one called the cops on me, and if they did, I had no intention of stopping until I hit the turnoff that led to the cabin. The cops were going to have to follow me into the mountains, that was all there was to it.
The drive typically took a little over three hours. I made it in two and was amazed I didn’t get pulled over. The truck was screaming and my nerves were shot when I rounded the last turn with gravel kicking up and the tires barely sticking to the road, but I saw the turnout and the black Yukon. I also saw the guy that was sitting behind the steering wheel perk up and take notice as I came to a skidding halt in a cloud of dust and exhaust in front of him.
It was a less than subtle entrance, but when he reached for his phone, presumably to call in a warning that I had joined their party, my foot found the gas pedal and before I could fully think about what I was doing the truck lurched to life again and raced hard and fast for the front end of the Yukon.
Metal shrieked against metal, and the air bag knocked me stupid when it deployed, but when I was able to shake the fuzzy from my vision, when I adjusted to the ringing in my ears, and the tang of blood on my tongue, I noticed that the entire front end of the SUV had crumpled up like an accordion up to the windshield and the driver was slumped over his own deployed air bag and steering wheel, limp. His face was covered in blood, and he didn’t appear to be moving. Smoke billowed up from the front end of both the vehicles and it was obvious that neither was going to make it back down the mountain without some help.
I was wobbly on my feet as I climbed down from the cab, and when I touched my fingers to my forehead where something was burning, I wasn’t too surprised they came away smeared with crimson. I’d knocked my own head pretty hard in the collision but not hard enough that I was going to go into the woods without making sure the driver couldn’t get away, in case the state patrol showed up.