Reb snuck another glance at Stacey across the darkened cab of Chad’s truck. It wasn’t Elvira, but it would do in an emergency. And this was. He had watched his woman shrink since the moment they crossed that county line, but this scared the shit out of him.
She was back to that wild-eyed doe that he had met that night in the casino. Frightened, timid, almost trembling. And quiet, much, much too quiet.
He knew they needed to talk, but there was no time now. They had to get to the other woman. The question was – would she be alone? And if she wasn’t? If Kerr were there? What then? He wanted to believe that he would do the ‘right’ thing. Call Tyler and have the man arrested. But would that be enough? Enough to take that haunted look from Stacey’s eyes once more.
He tried to focus on the road. These country dirt roads could be dangerous, especially at night. But his mind was all over the place. He was too old for this shit. Maybe they should have called Ryan or Jack? But what if Wanda wasn’t at this cabin? What if she was, but the man was not? What would be the point of keeping the others from their beds?
“Here. Turn right here.”
That was all she had said since they left the trailer almost half an hour ago. Directions. Something about the flat tone of her voice, the slight tremble occasionally. Was she reliving her nightmare? How she even knew about this place bothered him. And taking her back, well, that was something he wished like hell he did not have to do.
But sometimes, you had to face the worst to move beyond it. Could coming back here be the key to the prison that Stacey’s mind had lived in for most of her life? Or would he lose her?
Hell, no. He was not losing her. Maybe this was the fire in his dream? Perhaps the flames were her memories and not actual fire at all?
He was pondered that as he took a curve just a bit too fast. He would have known precisely how to maneuver Elvira, but he focused more on the road with Chad’s truck. But the gasp from Stacey alerted him that there was something besides the bumps and holes in this dirt road to worry about.
He caught of glimpse of it then. Elvira. She sat on the side of the road, next to an even smaller dirt path that disappeared into thick foliage and trees. The driver’s side door and back were left open. But he saw no signs of the woman.
He killed the headlights. Though it made driving even more challenging. Was it even necessary? Had he done it in time? Or had they already announced their presence to whoever was here?
He came to a stop a reasonable distance from his truck. He was thankful that Chad’s vehicle came equipped with a gun rack too. Of course, Stacey had her Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum Special. But they had no idea what they faced.
Just like he had not that night in Torreon. As he had not so many places before. But he would not lose this woman. He could not.
They got out of the truck but did not bother to close the door fully in case of the noise. Neither spoke as they crept slowly through the shadows to Elvira. There was more moonlight tonight than there had been in Mexico. But whether that worked in favor or against was the question.
He stayed behind Elvira as he reached inside the darkened bed. He did not dare even whisper the woman’s name. He felt around for her but nothing. Reluctantly, he crawled inside, but the only thing he found was Chad’s M40. Someone had pulled it from its hiding place but had not taken it from the case.
He opened the case and took out the gun. This would offer a more extended range than the shotgun or Stacey’s handgun. He dug deeper into the case and found what he was looking for. He quickly added the night sight. They could use it to see as well as to sight their target.
Then he felt the tug on his jeans. He turned to see Stacey, those eyes perhaps even wider as she pointed to something on the ground. He backed out of the truck to see what had frightened her. At first, he did not notice anything, then he saw them. Tracks. Drag marks, actually. Someone had been dragged from the truck.
He nodded to Stacey and motioned for her to follow him. They took to the trees, though none of them were large enough for them to hide behind. Stacey placed her hand on his shoulder and motioned with her head from them to head left. He nodded and lifted the gun, using the night sight to see the ground ahead.
He could see an old shack up ahead. The damn thing looked like it was ready to fall down. And almost directly in front of it was a black SUV. Its back was open as well, filled with wooden crates. He could guess what was in them.
He wished like hell that Chad had gone with thermal sensors rather than mere night vision because he had no idea who or how many were in that cabin. At least two, though. Likely the Kerrs, but did the man have others with him? Hell, had the woman betrayed them all along? He did not think so. If she had, the woman deserved an Oscar.
What did they do? It would be safest to go back to the truck. Call Ryan, have him get ahold of Tyler. Maybe call Jack too. But it had taken them half an hour to get here. How long would it take even the feds to assemble a team? Would the man even be here by then? The back of the vehicle looked pretty packed like the man was ready to leave.
And if the woman had been telling the truth, did she have time for anyone else to get here? Hell, was she even alive? He’d bet that she was. Kerr was a sick fuck. He got off to fear. He would want to savor his wife’s fear. Prolong it for as long as he dared.
Reb considered sending Stacey back to the truck. She could make the calls and stay safely away from this shit show. But she was only holding onto her shit by the merest thread. She was almost as volatile and unpredictable as Wanda Kerr. No, probably better to keep her where he could see her.
The scream rent the night air. Stacey tried to move past him, but Reb stuck out an arm and shook his head. They sneaked a few feet closer. Did he charge the place? What if one or both of the women were caught in the cross-fire? That had been a cry of pain, a wounded animal cornered and capable of anything.
He did not get the chance to make that choice. A moment later, Earl Kerr appeared in the doorway. He dragged his wife by the hair. The woman half-covered his body. Even if Reb wanted to, Wanda was too close to take a kill shot. This was one collateral damage he was not accepting as ‘just the cost of war.’
He could not see a gun. The man liked his head fucks. Controlling the woman with his bare hands and fear was more the style of a bully, but most domestic abusers were. Still, from this distance, with trees, the woman, and a vehicle in the way, he did not have a clear shot. He’d only get one chance. Once the man knew they were here, Reb would lose the element of surprise.
As Kerr tugged the woman by her hair towards the SUV, Reb had it. His one shot. He did not hesitate to pull the trigger.