Jason punched the door again. “That’s Carl’s place! Turn in! Get going!”
Alan swerved the taxi into a long driveway, and Fila toppled over, banging her head on the door. When he hit the brakes and came to a stop still far from the house, she lurched forward and slammed into the seat ahead of her.
“Get out of my car!” Alan yelled at Jason. “Out!”
“Drive, you asshole! Get up to the house! They’re getting away!” Jason lunged across the seat and wrestled him for the wheel.
Fila, cold with fear and shock, tears brimming in her eyes, hands shaking as she righted herself, saw her chance and took it.
She swung the door open and bolted outside. Nearly sick to her stomach, she raced for the woods. Would he come after her? Would he hurt her?
She knew what happened to women who stepped out of line. No matter what the offense, they paid the same price. Beatings, torture, rape… death.
She thought she’d escaped all that.
She’d thought wrong.
That was Jason across the street, standing next to a taxi cab driven by Alan Higgens. Glaring at her. The woman who stood next to him—a slim, exotic beauty with shoulder-length wavy brown hair, dressed in a sensible, classic pants outfit—had climbed into the back of the cab and shut the door.
Jason didn’t move, however. White-faced and frowning, she had no doubt he’d seen them kiss—maybe worse. She slid down in her seat reflexively but he was already skirting the front of the taxi and climbing in beside Alan. Thank God Cab was already driving away from them.
Cab turned to her, a worried frown on his face. “You all right?”
“No. Could you hurry… please?”
“Sure thing.” Cab put both hands on the wheel and accelerated. She knew he wouldn’t speed through town, but he wasn’t dilly-dallying, either. Thank heaven he hadn’t asked a bunch of questions.
At first she thought they’d given Jason the slip, but a minute later a glance in the side mirror told her the taxi was following fast on their heels. She gripped the armrest, digging her fingernails into it.
“If you need to be sick, let me know.” Cab shot her another worried look.
“Just get me home. Fast.” Running was a mistake; she saw that now. She could have greeted Jason back in town and made arrangements to see him later. Taking off with Cab like this made it all too obvious exactly what was going on. Why was Jason following her? Was he furious?
Would he and Cab fight?
Cab wouldn’t. Not unless Jason started things first. But why would he? Their relationship was over—they’d settled that on the phone. She’d settled it, anyway. She realized now she hadn’t given Jason much of a chance to talk.
Maybe that’s why he was here.
Cab glanced in the rearview mirror. “I wonder where that taxi is headed in such a hurry?”
Could she open the door and bail out the side of the truck? If she did, could she make it to her tree house before Cab caught up with her? Could she hide there for the rest of her life?
She should have gone to North Dakota and sorted things out with Jason in person. But how was she to know he cared that much? He sure hadn’t shown it these last few months.
“Is that… Jason?” Cab said, looking in the mirror again.
“I… maybe,” she said unhappily.
Cab swung into the driveway that led to Carl’s mansion and drove toward the house. Behind them another set of lights swung off the road and flashed them. But instead of following them on up the driveway, the car behind them came to a sudden stop. Cab slowed the truck, too.
“Are they coming in or not?” He glanced back, then looked down while he reversed gear. Rose turned in her seat, and in that split second the rear door of the taxi burst open and a slight shape darted out of it, over the driveway and into the trees beyond. Rose got just one glimpse of brown wavy hair and wide, frightened eyes before the woman disappeared into the woods.
Rose opened her mouth to point her out, but Cab reversed the twenty feet back toward the taxi and parked the truck. “Stay here until I see what’s going on.” He was out the door before she could answer. She scanned the woods as Cab walked back toward the taxi, trying to figure out where the woman had gone. Why had she bolted from the car?
Alan and Jason were arguing in the taxi. Jason slammed his fist against the roof once, twice, then flung his own door open and spilled out, charging around the vehicle to confront Cab. Alan got out on his side and soon all three men were yelling.
“You slept with my fiancée, you son-of-a-bitch!” Jason hollered at Cab.
Rose crouched in her seat not knowing what to do. Should she go out there and defend Cab? Should she go after the woman, whoever she was?
“I don’t think she wants to be your fiancée anymore.”
The slap of fist on flesh spun Rose around just in time to see Jason land a punch on Cab’s chin. Cab didn’t flinch. He simply reached out, grabbed Jason’s collar and put him on the ground in a split second. Rose spun away again. She couldn’t watch this. Wouldn’t watch her boyfriend beat up her ex-fiancé. Sick with shame at how badly she’d handled everything, she hid her face in her hands. A minute later Cab opened the back door of the extended cab and shoved Jason into the rear seat, his wrists cuffed in front of him. Cab climbed in the driver’s seat.
“I’m going to have to make a detour to the detachment,” he told her evenly. “Want to ride along or stay here at Carl’s?”
“I’ll stay here if you don’t mind,” Rose said, already fumbling with her door.
Cab handed her a house key. “Make yourself at home. You and this one can talk things out in the morning.” He jerked his chin toward Jason who was swearing up a blue streak in the back seat.
“Sounds good.” She finally risked a look at Jason. He shook his head at her.
“God damn it, Rose. This is the way you’re going to play it?”
“Sorry,” she said, her voice hardly above a whisper. “I…”
“Tomorrow,” Cab said. He leaned over Rose and opened her door. “I’ll be back in an hour or so. Go in the house and stay put, you hear? We better talk this out, too. Lock the door behind you when you get inside.”
Rose nodded and got out of the truck, unable to say anything more. Behind them, Alan was already backing the taxi out of the driveway. Cab quickly followed him.
She suddenly remembered the mystery woman. “Wait… what about…?” Rose sighed as both vehicles sped away. She scanned the trees beside the drive once more, considered the key in her hand, and made up her mind. She plodded the rest of the way up the long driveway until she reached Carl’s house, let herself in and began to search for a flashlight.