Read Designed to Love Online

Authors: Elle Davis

Tags: #romance, #scifi, #fantasy, #young adult, #genetic alteration

Designed to Love (34 page)

BOOK: Designed to Love
8.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

"Let's all three get out and see if we can
scare him enough to leave for good," Brandon says.

Thank god for feline vision and speed. It
takes only a few minutes to successfully chase it deep into the

"All clear for take-off," Brandon finally
announces once again, and his plane lunges forward into the black
of night, leaving the ground to skim over the trees at the end of
the runway before circling around and heading south.


Two hours in to the flight, I am awakened
from a nap by a light tap on my shoulder. When I turn to see
Claire, staring at me with a wide innocent grin, my heart lodges in
my throat.

"Holy crap—how did you...? Brandon, turn
around we've got a stowaway," I groan. Both Brandon and Austin turn
around at the same time, and Brandon cracks up laughing as soon as
he sees her.

"Hey Claire, how'd you get in here?" he says
good-naturedly, failing to grasp the serious dilemma her presence

"Brandon, turn around now," I say, clenching
my teeth to keep from yelling.

"Ronan—No! I'm coming too. It's my family,"
she says stubbornly.

"Claire, it's too dangerous. We can't take
you with. We're going to be running most of the way, and you won't
be able to keep up."

"I'm faster now. I never used to be able to
keep up with Parker and now I can," she says proudly.

"Who's Parker?" Austin asks.

"He's the antelope that distracted you so I
could sneak onto the plane," she replies matter-of-factly.

"Wow, you're like a modern day Addams
Family," Austin says and Brandon roars with laughter.

"Hey guys—this is serious shit. We can't
take a six-year-old with us. Brandon, turn the plane around

"Ronan, if we turn around now, Alisha will
make it very difficult to leave again. We are half way there. Let's
just at least check it out by air, and we'll come back another

"Yeah, Nat will have a fit, if she knows
what we're up to," Austin agrees.

I scowl when I catch Brandon winking at
Claire, but eventually concede to a fly over. If it came down to
it, I could always bench Brandon with Claire and take Austin with

"All right—but you better listen to what I
tell you," I say, giving in. She nods her head eagerly and settles
back in her seat, wisely closing her eyes to get some much needed


If not for our enhanced night vision, it
would have been impossible to see the destruction below us. In
order to stay above the news helicopters already swarming the
barely lit up sky, Brandon had to fly at an unusually high
elevation. Now the four of us press our faces to the windows as he
makes one more pass over the Bakken oil fields. It wasn't that far
out of the way to fly over North Dakota, so none of us objected
when Austin suggested it. From our vantage point, it appears that
the Harringtons got what they wanted. Everywhere we look, there are
jets of geyser-like flames accompanied by mushrooms of black smoke
mounting above the debris of drilling rigs, pumps and tankers. The
thick smoke obscures most of the landscape of the neighboring town
Williston, but the sporadic glimpses we do get, show devastation. I
was certain that those lucky enough to have had their homes spared
in the earthquake would certainly be driven away by the subsequent

"We have to get out of here, the airspace is
getting too busy," Brandon murmurs, banking the airplane hard left,
to avoid a Piper Bonanza approaching from the right. None of us
speaks a word, not even Austin, who left the Freeman estate
boasting of the experience.


The minute we land in Glasgow, Montana to
refuel and devise a plan, Alisha connects with me mentally and
spends ten minutes threatening, lecturing, and pleading with us to
come home. When she's done with me, she gives the others a dose of
the same, including Claire, who uses her hand to make the talking
mouth motion while mouthing the words, "
blah, blah"
to the rest of us, in response to the
scolding she's likely receiving. Right before we take off, Alisha
connects with me one last time and in a soft, sad voice, says,
"He's not going to kill her Ronan. She's too
valuable of an asset for them. Do you realize that her presence
there gives us the only hope we have of finding where the others
are located? Just think about that when you're planning your heroic

"The lives of my family
are at stake, too, Ali. I'm not going to rush in and do anything
stupid, but I just can't sit around any longer and not do anything.
They could string us along forever if we let them."

"Please be careful and
take care of Claire,"
she finally says, in her own way
giving us permission to proceed.


The fact that it was still early in the
morning served as a reasonable enough explanation as to why Cat
didn't respond to my mental calls. Dwelling on any other
explanation would drive me crazy, so I accept that she's still
confined in a shielded room.

"Who wants a sandwich?" Claire asks, pulling
a backpack out from behind the back of the seat, once we are in
flight again. The offer perks up Brandon and Austin, who are much
more somber after flying over the Bakken oil fields.


"There it is on the left," Brandon
announces, rolling the plane to the left so we can get a good look
at it. Claire unbuckles from her seat and nudges her way onto my
lap to get a better look.

Seventeen miles north of Glasgow is the
abandoned town of St. Marie, and the old Air Force Base with the
former base housing. Alisha's drawings contained much of the detail
that we were now seeing from the air. If it weren't for the one
maintained runway at the base, landing there would have been
tricky, even with Designer capabilities. The rest of the airport is
as dilapidated as the houses surrounding it.

"That's it!" Claire and I both say at the
same time, pointing to a particular house sandwiched between rows
of similar looking houses. Both of us recognize the area from our
remote travel events. It's one of only a few houses in the area
with fresh tire tracks and a bench in the back yard where I found
Cat sitting a few days ago.

"It looks completely deserted. We should
land and take a look around?" Austin says eagerly, regaining some
of his earlier enthusiasm.

"Harrington's place is a few miles to the
north. Let's swing over there first and take a look," I answer, as
my stomach twists in knots thinking about how close I could
actually be to finding Cat.

"Are you sure?" I question Brandon's
coordinates. He glances down at his instrument panels and says,
"Yep, that's the millionaire's property." Aside from the huge
airport hangar and nice long runway, there was nothing about the
property that screamed money. The single family residence looked to
be a quarter of the size of the Freeman estate, with modest
landscaping and lax security. At least, the tall stone wall
surrounding the perimeter that might discourage the average
trespasser, wasn't anything that couldn't easily be scaled by the
four of us.


"Let's split up and check the rest of the
houses just in case," I say, swallowing the lump in my throat, as I
look around the bunker where my wife had been held, up until a few
days ago. "Make sure to scramble the security cameras," I remind
Austin as he and Brandon silently retreat up the stairs. Claire
says that security monitors, as with most electronics, have a
unique vibrational quality that she is easily able to see the
energy field of. Once she pointed it out to Austin, the two of them
quickly located and disabled the ones used to spy on my wife, the
very idea of which makes my blood boil.

The next two houses don't have bunkers below
them, but the third one does and while I wait impatiently for
Claire to unlock the door, resisting the urge to kick it in,
Brandon connects a call with us.
"We've got
something; fifth house to the east."

"Whoa honey, nobody's going to hurt you.
Just put down the knife," we hear Brandon say as we enter the
underground apartment. I instantly recognize the girl standing in
the kitchen with a large butcher knife pointed at him.

"Get out or I'll call the police," she
threatens, waving the knife while he slowly inches towards her.

Naturally, he finds this hilarious and
cracks up laughing. "Well then we have a few days before we need to
be worried," he teases, leaning against the wall with his arms
folded across his chest.

"Where the hell is my wife," I blurt out
without thinking.

She takes a step back looking at me for the
first time, and I see her bottom lip begin to tremble. "I don't
know who you're talking about," she says unconvincingly. I am about
to refresh her memory when Claire steps out from behind me. She
gasps and her eyes instantly fill with tears. "Claire?" she
whispers, lowering the knife. Claire nods and says, "I miss my
sister." The two silently gaze at each other and I can tell
Claire's presence has her struggling with her loyalties.

"I'm so sorry—I had no choice. I tried my
best to take care of all of them," she finally says, with a look of
fear and desperation. She slowly raises the knife again, this time
turning it towards her own chest.

"Don't do it. We can help. Give me the
knife," Brandon says, holding his hand out.

"Hey guys, I think he's going to need some
medical attention," Austin calls, and we turn to see him carrying
the body of a frail elderly gentleman out of one of the back rooms.
In that brief moment of distraction, I hear Claire scream and catch
a glimpse of Brandon diving towards the girl, knocking the knife
from her hand as it slices across her chest.


Brandon is quick as lightning to catch her
before she hits the floor, and Claire leaps like a gazelle across
the room hurdling the countertop, and landing lightly on the other
side as he's lowering her to the ground. I follow close behind
resisting my natural instinct to order Claire out of the way, as
she places her hands over the blood soaked chest of the injured

"What the hell just happened?" Austin asks,
looking towards the kitchen as he lays the man on the couch.

"It's a pretty deep cut," Brandon murmurs in
an atypically stressed voice.

"Holy shit! Is she going to be okay?" Austin
asks, matching Brandon's tone.

The girl moans in response. "Let me go. He's
going to kill me anyway," she murmurs, trying to push Claire's
hands away.

"I won't let anyone hurt you, just hold
still," Brandon says soothingly, looking anxiously at Claire who
looks so relaxed with her eyes closed, that you would never know
she owned a part in the girl's fate.

Brandon doesn't leave the girl's side, and
his continuous flow of gentle reassuring words makes me a little
nervous about his plans for her. Thirty minutes pass before Claire
finally lifts her blood stained hands from the girl's chest, and
turns around giving me a slight nod with her head indicating that
things have stabilized. It's only then that I turn my attention to
the man being attended to by Austin.


"He color screens yellow, but I haven't been
able to get much information from him. Let's see if you have better
luck then me," Austin says, shrugging his shoulders as he moves out
of the way. The man appears to be in his sixties or seventies and
is clearly in a declining state of health. His lips are crusty,
dry, and there are dark circles under his already sunken eyes. His
respirations are so shallow, that I have to lean close to detect
the exchange of air, and he is clearly malnourished.

"Sir, my name is Ronan. Can you tell me
anything about why you are here?" I try.

He slowly opens his eyes and turns his head,
warily regarding me with dull blue eyes. After several seconds, he
furrows his brows and scrutinizes me more closely.

"What was your name?" he asks.

"Ronan. What is yours?"

A slow smile spreads across his face,
revealing a row of yellow stained teeth.

"Lawrence. My name is Lawrence," he says,
sighing with relief.



BOOK: Designed to Love
8.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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