Read When a Secret Kills Online

Authors: Lynette Eason

When a Secret Kills (26 page)

BOOK: When a Secret Kills
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“Yes,” Frank whispered. “Yes, it’s a bomb. The plan was to take care of all three of them at the same time.” His eyes pleaded. “Get Carmen out of there.”

Jillian felt her knees weaken. She shot a horrified look at Colton. “Meg,” she whispered. Colton’s white face said he was thinking about her.

Colton whipped out his phone, punched in a number. “We’ve got a bomb threat at Spring Valley High School. Need an immediate evacuation and bomb squad there ASAP.”

As soon as he hung up with dispatch, he called Hunter. Jillian paced to the door. “We’ve got to go,” she pleaded. “You can do that while we’re walking.”

When Hunter answered, Jillian could hear the music from her stance at the door. Colton yelled into the phone, “Hunter! Evacuate the building! There’s a bomb!”

He listened a moment, then strode to the door and placed his hand on the handle. “Come on, come on, hurry up,” he muttered.

“What is it?” Jillian demanded. She wanted to scream that they needed to get moving to the high school.

Colton looked at her. “Hunter can’t hear over the music. He’s stepping outside.”

A vein throbbed in his forehead and she thought she heard him
give a growl of frustration. She stayed close to him, hoping to be able to hear the conversation. “Put it on speaker.”

He did.

Finally, the background noise ceased and Hunter came back on the line. “What’d you say?”

“Get everyone out of the building. There’s a bomb!”

Hunter didn’t ask questions. “Got it! Heading back in there. What do you know?”

“Just that there’s a bomb. It’s probably near the gym area. I’ve got the bomb squad on the way.”

“There are kids in there!” The music blared once again.

Jillian stepped outside the room and motioned for him to come on. Elizabeth stared at him with a blank expression. He nodded to Jillian and they bolted down the hall. Colton kept the phone on speaker as they hurried to the elevator.

Jillian felt as though someone had reached and grabbed her lungs to squeeze every last bit of air from them. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think through her terror. “Oh Meg.”
Oh God, please, please let them get out in time.

The music ceased as they hit the door. She heard Hunter say, “I need everyone to exit the gym, please. We’ve had a report of a gas leak and we need to get it checked out. So if you’ll just move to the parking lot away from the building, we’ll get this taken care of and get back to our party.”

Colton hung up.

She burst through the glass door and headed for the car parked in the police parking space. Colton clicked the doors open and she slid into the passenger seat. Urgency pounded through her.

“Alexia and Serena will take care of Meg,” Colton said as he jammed the key into the ignition and cranked the car. With a squeal of tires, he pulled from the space and hit the siren.

Jillian knew this was true and it was the only thing keeping her from totally freaking out.

His phone rang. Jillian snapped her gaze to him as he answered. When his face paled and jaw clenched, she knew it was bad news. “What is it?” she whispered.

“They can’t find Meg.”

Colton pressed the gas even harder as he whipped around three cars that had pulled to the right to let him pass. He couldn’t spare a glance at Jillian to see how she was faring, but he could feel her panic thicken the air in the car.

“We’ll find her. The bomb squad’s already there.”

“Hurry, Colton.”

“Try Serena’s phone.”

“I did. It went straight to voice mail.”

Within minutes, he was flashing his badge to law enforcement already in the parking lot. Former classmates milled, well away from the gym should it blow.

Jillian bolted from the car, looking for a familiar face. She spotted Alexia standing with Carmen Hoffman and rushed over. “Where is she? Did you find her?”

“No.” Alexia gripped Jillian’s hands. “Hunter and Dominic are still in there looking for her and Serena. I came out here to wait on you.”

“Where is Serena?”

“Serena took Meg to the bathroom about the time Hunter got up to announce we needed to evacuate. We haven’t seen them since.”

“If they were in the bathroom, they wouldn’t have heard the announcement—and might not have a signal.”

“Which would explain why she wouldn’t answer her phone. The bomb squad and our guys are in there looking for them.”

“And so is Colton,” Jillian whispered as she watched him push into the building. She raced after him.

Colton’s heart slammed into his ribs. He’d just found out he had a daughter, he wasn’t about to lose her now.


He heard Jillian scream his name and turned to see two police officers holding her back. “I’m going to find her, Jilly, stay back!”

He didn’t have time to see if she obeyed. Hopefully the officers could keep her back. “Megan!” he yelled as he ran down the hall.

Hunter came out of a side door. “Clear in there. Alexia said Serena took Meg to the bathroom, but there’s no one in there.”

“Where would they have gone?”

“I can’t figure it out.”

“Another bathroom?”

“Possibly. Especially if Meg couldn’t wait and the bathrooms were crowded.”

Colton whirled and lifted a hand to his head as he thought. “Where’s Dominic?”

“He went back to the bathrooms.” Hunter shook his head. “I don’t know why. They’re not there.”

“Desperation,” Colton murmured.
He paced the floor.

Dominic came from the bathroom, saw them in the hall, and waved them over. “In here!”

Colton bolted toward him. “You found them?”

“No, but listen.”

They entered the bathroom. At first Colton didn’t know what he was supposed to be listening for. Then he heard it. A faint

He looked up at Dominic. “They’re above us?”

Dominic rushed through the door. “Only one way to find out.”

Together, they raced down the hall to the door that led to the steps. “It’s locked. I don’t understand.”

Dominic stopped and listened to the earpiece. His face paled.
“Guys, they found the bomb. Says we have less than five minutes before it goes off. They’re working on disarming it, but we’ve got to get the girls and get out of here.”

“Step back and plug your ears.” Colton lifted his weapon and fired at the lock. Three quick shots. Since he hadn’t been able to protect his own ears, his rang. Hopefully it wouldn’t be permanent, but getting to the girls was priority.

Hunter pushed the heavy metal doors open and they bolted for the stairs.

Up the first flight. Hunter stooped and grabbed something. Colton didn’t bother to stop and see. He rounded the landing and took the next set of stairs two at a time right behind Dominic. They burst through the door with Dominic in the lead.

Down the hall.

To the women’s bathroom.

Dominic banged on the door. “Serena, get Meg and get in a stall now. We’re going to have to blow the lock. Hurry, there’s a bomb in the building.”

“Dominic?” Serena’s husky voice came through the door. “Oh thank you!” Five precious seconds later, her voice came much fainter. “Do it!”

Once again Colton lifted his gun. Stopped up his ears as best he could with a handkerchief Dominic handed him and tissue Hunter had found in the stairwell. They’d planned ahead. He pulled the trigger.

Hunter kicked the door in.

Serena and Meg came from the stall. Serena stared, white-faced. “We came up here because all the other bathrooms were packed. I didn’t know the door—Did you say bomb?”

Colton scooped Meg into his arms and bolted back toward the exit. “How much time do we have?”

“Less than two minutes!” Dominic hollered.

“What’s that about a bomb?” Serena asked as she ran as fast as Dominic, his hand gripping hers. They hit the stairs.

“Tell you when we get out,” Dominic promised.

Meg’s featherweight didn’t slow Colton down. If there’d been another way out of the building, he’d have chosen it, but the only way out was back the way they came. At the bottom, they raced behind the bomb squad. Not a good sign.

They hadn’t been able to diffuse it.

Not for a lack of skill, but for a lack of time, he was sure.

“Twenty seconds!” Hunter hollered.

Jillian prayed and paced, paced and prayed. She’d chewed her right thumbnail to the quick and was working on the left when the gym doors flew open.

Her heart stuttered as she saw everyone racing in mass exodus from the building. The bomb squad.

Where were—

“Oh thank you, Lord!” Alexia squealed as Hunter came into sight. Dominic and Serena ran. Colton, with Meg in his arms, brought up the rear.

“Nine seconds!” Hunter yelled. “Everyone duck!”

The seconds ticked down as each person did their best to put as much distance as they could between themselves and the gym. Colton stumbled, caught himself, and swept Meg behind the nearest brick pillar of the football stadium.

Dominic and Serena made it to the next one. And Hunter leapt the fence to roll down the hill.

A rumble shook the ground beneath Jillian’s feet and a loud explosion caused her to clasp her hands over her ears. Debris started falling, but thankfully she was far enough away that none reached her.

Fear clenching her insides, she squinted through the haze of smoke to see if Colton had gotten far enough away.
Please, God.

“Meg! Colton!” She got a lungful of smoke and coughed. Pulling her shirt up over her nose and mouth, she raced toward where she’d seen Meg and Colton disappear.

When she was halfway there, they emerged from behind the pillar.




Frank watched the news. Again. Columbia, South Carolina, had made national news and the only channel Frank was interested in was the one that showed the footage.

Spring Valley High School’s gym had exploded. A bomb was suspected, but fortunately no one had been hurt.

No one had been hurt. He found himself glad for that. Especially that Carmen was safe.

It was over.

Elizabeth had left the room as soon as she realized her husband was guilty of the horrible accusations made against him.

BOOK: When a Secret Kills
3.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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