Natalia awoke in Trent’s arms. She was still unsure of what she was going to do. What if Trent no longer wanted her? What if Toby was really still alive?
The questions raced through her mind. The appearance of the letter had destroyed her emotionally. She’d thought that all that was behind her. Yet, there it was.
Every ounce of pain and humiliation had come back in a single instant. The nightmare of what had happened was relived in a few short seconds, followed by the sense of betrayal and guilt. She felt dirty. Like she had done something very wrong.
She wouldn’t blame Trent if he left her now. She deserved it. She had kept a secret from him. A secret she’d hoped would stay buried.
But with all other secrets, this one had been bound to get out. No amount of hiding it would have kept it buried for long. She knew that now. now, all she wanted to do was cry.
She looked up at Trent. He wore a worried look on his face. A sad look. Seeing him like that made her want to cry even more.
She snuggled into him and found no resistance. Did he not know? Did he not care? Why wasn’t he saying anything?
Trent had closed his eyes for just a second. When he reopened them, she was looking up at him. the pleading look in her eyes haunted him. He could never let her go, not now. But that was what her eyes seemed to be asking.
He kissed her on the top of the head. “Everything will be alright, Baby.” His voice was little more than a whisper.
She fought back the tears. “How can you love me, knowing what you do?”
He smiled kindly at her. “Because love does not judge. It accepts. What happened to you was not your fault. The guilt lies upon the hearts and souls of those who did the deed.
“We will make it through this. I will not give up on you, on us. I cannot give up. I love you.”
He kissed her again, gently. She melted into him. “Thank you, baby,” was all she could whisper.
Kendrick Wells had been watching over Natalia since she left Des Moines. She never knew of his presence, which was the way he wanted it. He’d pulled strings to get Toby French and his gang sent to the most dangerous zone at the front. He had even pulled strings to see that Toby and most of the rest would never come home except in body bags. Now, he was hunting those that were lucky enough to escape his well-planned traps over in Vietnam.
Of course, his turning rogue had cost him his job with the FBI, but he didn’t care. He’d had a score to settle. Now, he had a young woman to protect. But he needed help.
Tom Goldman would be perfect. An ex-CIA op, he knew how to kill without leaving a detectable trace. He also knew better surveillance tricks. One that would keep them both ghosts to those around them. Besides, Ken now needed to vanish.
But Tom was now a photojournalist. Ken wondered whether he could get him to agree to what he now needed. He needed to find a phone. Fast.
He had gone through Mark’s pockets in hopes of finding something he could use to find the rest of Toby’s gang. And he had found addresses for three. All of which were here in Omaha.
He looked at the first slip of paper. Tandy Greene. He smiled. He would pay Tandy a visit.
He made his way toward Tandy’s house, keeping to shadows and alleyways. It took him less than 20 minutes to reach a vantage point where he could watch for Tandy’s return. There, he sat and waited. He didn’t care if it took him all night to nail this pervert, he would get him before he could do anything to anyone else.
Tandy had tried to put the rape incident behind him. He’d not wanted anything to do with it, but had been forced to watch as Toby did the deed and the rest had held Natalia down. They had tied him up and beat him half to death beforehand, calling him a pussy and spitting on him. He had not been home when Mark Standish called. He had been at work. But his wife had been. She had answered the phone to find the vile, sadistic voice of Standish on the other end.
Now, he was headed home from work to calm her down–his fifty-seven truck, traveling as fast as it could down the streets. He was frantic. Why had Standish even attempted to contact him? He had sworn off anything to do with that whole bunch. Ever.
Had Standish been bent on blackmail? Revenge? What? Nothing made sense.
Better yet, How did he even know where Tandy had moved? Who’d tipped him off to his whereabouts? And why? Had one of the others found him, then tipped Mark off?
He nervously stepped out of his truck after parking in front of his house. God, he prayed silently, let Linda and the kids be safe!”
Suddenly, he was blindsided by someone he didn’t see coming. He felt himself slammed up against his truck. “Tell me what you have against Natalia Morrow,” A voice demanded.
He moaned in despair. “Oh, God. Not again. Why are you doing this? What does Standish want? Money? silence? What?”
The hands released him. “Standish isn’t going to want anything. I don’t have anything to do with him. I want to know what he wanted to talk to you about.”
Tandy turned to face his attacker. “How the fuck would I know? I wasn’t home. There are only two things Mark is good at. Bullying people and blackmail to get what he wants. Why? And who the hell are you?”
His would-be attacker looked at him. “I am Kendrick Wells. I am the one who–arranged–for Toby and his gang to be sent to their deaths. I also killed Toby’s father. An eye for an eye, ya know.”
Tandy looked at him. “Why’d you come after me?”
Ken smiled. “Had you gave me the wrong answer, you would be dead. Like Standish.” He shrugged. “But since you had no clue what Standish wanted, I need your help. And the use of your phone.”