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Authors: Nancy Bush

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I'll Find You

BOOK: I'll Find You
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I’LL FIND YOU

Vaguely, Callie realized something had been bumping against the boat. She started to turn back, fired by the certainty that Teresa was taking Tucker away, when the woman in the boat next to her let out a scream that sounded like a siren. A chill ran up Callie’s back. She shot a glance at the woman and saw her stumble back from the edge of the boat, her hands clasped to her chest while the man tried to steady her. Her gaze was fixated on the water.

A body floated into the light. Not a swimmer. Someone wrapped in a black dress and sweater. As Callie watched, the face turned slowly upward, mouth open, dark reddish-blond tresses sliding across the slackened flesh of a familiar face....

Books by Nancy Bush

CANDY APPLE RED

 

ELECTRIC BLUE

 

ULTRAVIOLET

 

WICKED GAME

 

WICKED LIES

 

SOMETHING WICKED

 

UNSEEN

 

BLIND SPOT

 

HUSH

 

NOWHERE TO RUN

 

NOWHERE TO HIDE

 

NOWHERE SAFE

 

SINISTER

 

I’LL FIND YOU

 

 

 

Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation

I’ll Find You
NANCY BUSH

ZEBRA BOOKS

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

http://www.kensingtonbooks.com

All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.

Prologue

Dark. Hot. Driving faster than she should but she had to keep up with their car. She’d made an unforgivable mistake—a calculated risk, really; several of them, if the truth were known—and it had come back to bite her in the ass. But she’d been new to the game then. Hadn’t known what she wanted, other than him. Couldn’t be blamed for that.
Couldn’t . . .

A chill stole into her heart as she pressed her toe to the accelerator. Her hands were slick on the wheel. Carefully she wiped them, one at a time, on her jeans. Had to concentrate. Had to get this right. Already it was a problem that there were two heads in the car in front of her, not one, but too damn bad.

Her mind wavered. Cast back to that night when she’d become his again. The feel of the chain he’d draped around her neck, the weight of the ankh cross. The pressure of the links as he twisted it until her skin pinched and her breath lay trapped in her throat.

“Who am I?” he whispered.

“The Messiah.”

“Who are you?”

“Your handmaiden. I love you. I’ve always loved you.”

“Liar.”

“I just lost my way for a while, but I’m back.”

“Will you obey me?”

“I’ll do anything you ask.”
Almost anything.

“You’ve left things very messy.”

“I know. I’ll clean up everything.”
Almost everything.

He relaxed the chain ever so slowly, then drew back and touched the cross around his own neck. This, too, was part of the ever-changing rituals he expected them to all participate in. The gold ankh shimmered dully in the light and she stared at it hard, promising herself that she would do everything he wanted of her.
Almost everything
.

Now the black Mercedes ahead of her had reached Mulholland Drive. She knew where they were heading. She knew where the turn would be, where the road pushed out around the cliff, where the rail was no barrier at all. Dead Man’s Curve. Maybe not called that, exactly, but close enough.

Her vehicle was a ten-year-old Ford Explorer. Brownish. Stolen. He’d given it to her for this express purpose. All she had to do was follow through.

But it wasn’t supposed to be
two heads.
Worry gnawed at her brain. Someone who wasn’t supposed to be targeted would die tonight because of her. She’d killed before and had even enjoyed it a little—maybe more than a little if the asshole truly deserved it—but she had never murdered an innocent. But then who was to say the other person was innocent ?

Her mouth was Sahara dry. Her heart beat hard and slow, thumping in her ears with the precision of a metronome. Deafening her. She felt like she was floating.

They were traveling fast. Too fast. If she wasn’t careful she could lose control of her own vehicle. It was almost as if the people ahead of her knew the danger creeping up on them. Did they?
Could they?

She focused on the driver, knew that he liked speed and risk, loved to push himself. She could see the second head—the woman’s—turn as she flashed at him in anger. She clearly didn’t feel the same way, but her quarry’s response was to accelerate even more.

A grim smile touched her lips. Carefully, she pressed her toe down farther and the SUV jumped forward. Did he know they were being followed? She doubted it. He was a narcissistic fool, believed himself infallible. She’d known that from the first time she met him in the dim light of the bar, the way his gaze had caressed her. She’d known just how to play him.

But now she had to time this right. Had to move up closer. They were almost there. The curve was coming up.

She glanced around anxiously. If a car approached in the opposite lane at the point of impact she would be lost. Likely to go over the edge herself. Her SUV gained on the Mercedes as she pushed it to reckless speed. The woman passenger looked back in fear as she bore down on them, her face white, her mouth opening in a scream.

And then her Explorer was on them. Deliberately she clipped the rear of their car, aiming for the back end of the driver’s side.

Bam!
The Mercedes whipped around as if spun by a hand on a roulette wheel, then slewed sideways. The man overcorrected and the car swung back, shimmying as it hit the rail. It went airborne so fast that even she gasped in surprise. She felt a moment’s jubilation until she saw the third head lift from the backseat. A small head.

What? What!

The boy was in the car?
NO! NO!

Oh, God. Oh, God. NO! He wasn’t supposed to be with them!

It felt like the Mercedes hung in the air forever. She was screaming herself as it smashed into the ground with a sickening crunch. Her own vehicle was shuddering and rotating. She wrestled the SUV around, the world spinning. She barely managed to stop its dizzying turn and straighten it out. Keep it, too, from sailing over the edge as it charged forward. Distantly, she felt her arms aching from the effort. But the
boy. The boy . . .

Her Explorer flew around the next corner, hung on to the road. No traffic. A miracle. She stood on the brakes, shuddering violently to a stop. Pulled off at the first place she could, a small strip of dirt on the side of the road.

No . . . no . . .

She had to go back.
Had to.
It was dangerous. Foolhardly. Suicidal. Undoubtedly someone—there were houses there, nestled into the cliffside far below—had seen the vehicle launch over the edge, heard it as it smashed downward. But the
boy.

She ran back to the site of the crash. An eerie calmness held. There was no evidence of the accident from up here apart from the missing chunk of rail that looked like it could have given way weeks, months, years earlier.

Heart in her throat, she scrambled over the edge and down the cliff. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t safe. Her hands were ripped and bloodied by the bushes and limbs as her sneakers slid in the dried, loose dirt. She approached the car cautiously. The Mercedes lay on its side, wheels spinning, headlights aimed at a distant land far below and the snake of glittering headlights in the valley. The vehicle had been caught by a stump and scraggly line of twisted trees. All that had saved it from tumbling down the cliff. Lucky, she thought with a swept-in breath. Maybe still alive.

She saw the boy first. Lying still. Quiet. His booster seat flung to one side. Her heart sank at his body, limp and motionless. Tears filled her eyes as she ran to him. She searched for a pulse and found none. A cry wrenched from her soul. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way! Glancing up, she focused on the car. The woman was tangled up, flopped like a marionette, slung up inside the passenger seat belt, which had restrained her, the airbag crushed up against her.

And the man. The reason she’d been sent on this quest. To right the wrong she’d done to Andre . . . The Messiah, she reminded herself, though she had trouble remembering the name he liked to be called in front of the other handmaidens, was resentful of it.

Her quarry was on the ground a few feet from the boy, lying on his back. His eyes were open, reflecting a strip of moonlight. He focused on her and her blood ran cold.
Alive.

They looked at each other and he lifted up a hand, as if he planned to reach for her. “Martinique,” he said.

Her heart thudded hard in her chest. She remembered clinking her mai tai to his, the sight of the roll of bills he pulled from his pocket, the feel of him inside her while he moaned and thrashed above her and she thought of all the beautiful things she’d dreamed that his money could buy her.

With a last inhaled breath and then a slow expelling of air, he died.

She looked away from him and back to the boy.

I did this. I did this....

No,
he
did this,
she told herself.
Andre. The Messiah,
she thought with hot fury. It was his fault.

And he’ll do it to your boy, too,
she thought.

Her son.

One of the very messy things she’d left behind.

Headlights flashed up above on the road. Quickly, she pocketed his cell phone, which had incongruously landed above his head, then she carefully picked her way farther down the hillside and along the side of the cliff. Little by little, she inched down the steep incline to one of the backyards of several houses far below Mulholland, one that was completely dark. Briefly she thought about possible fingerprints on the steering wheel. She should have worn gloves. She hadn’t really believed she would go through with it.

Too late now.

By the time she’d worked her way onto the lower road she could hear the police sirens. It took her another two hours, mostly ducking out of sight, before she came to a place she could hail a taxi far from the crash site. Then was driven to a bus stop a few miles from the house she shared with Andre and the fucking handmaidens. She walked those last miles, but it wouldn’t hurt for the cabbie to think she was waiting for a bus.

She entered with her key through the front door, dusty, scratched and soul-sick, and immediately realized they were all in the ceremony room. That meant they’d be wearing their white robes. She had truly loved Andre once. Back when they were a reckless team of two, making their way from chump to chump. But things had changed. Andre had changed, become The Messiah.

She wanted to spit and had to contain her emotions. Still, the rituals of being a handmaiden made her grind her teeth and furthered her resolve to run away with her boy.

Could she do it? Could she make the break? Was it the right time?

Naomi, the biggest and baddest of the handmaidens, her dusty blond hair in cornrows, her ’tude that of a street kid though Teresa had heard she’d come straight from the middle class, caught sight of her before she could sneak to her room. Naomi pointed at her even while the others were chanting and undoubtedly holding hands in a semicircle, making sure everyone knew she’d returned. Sometimes Andre would select one of them for a sex act while he was under the spell of his own beliefs, laying the joyous one down on the mats, letting them all watch. Her lip curled at the thought but she nodded to Naomi and hurried to strip naked and then slip the white robe over her head. By the time she was at the ceremony room and had taken her designated spot to Naomi’s right, her facial expressions were under control, though she could feel an uncontrollable quiver in her thighs and running down her legs. Fear. If she left and he came to find her . . . what would he do to her? What would he do to her boy?

“You,” Andre said in a worshipful tone, curling a finger at her to come join him. He had that dazed, rapturous look on his face that caused the other handmaidens to begin chanting louder.

I can’t,
she thought. Then, a sterner voice within her own self said,
You will.

Andre gathered up the hem of her robe and pulled the garment over her head, then stripped off his own. He lay her down on the mat and covered her body with his own, and as the handmaidens’ voices reached a crescendo and Andre roughly slid inside her, she closed her eyes and reminded herself that she had loved him once . . . that this was just another test she must endure to keep up the charade . . . that all she had to do was play along and ignore the rapturous madness in his eyes . . . that nothing was as important as saving her son.

BOOK: I'll Find You
4.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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