Kara waited a few more minutes before stopping her newly acquired vehicle. She walked over the sleeping body guards frowning in distaste. Uncle Jeff really should do a better job of selecting guards to protect people she thought unkindly. Her lips quirked up as another thought came to her that she was just that good. Good enough to outsmart her highly intelligent Uncle. She really liked that thought. She was the cat to his mouse. If she only had more time she’d toy with him a little more.
She walked to the crib where the object of her obsession slept. “It’s time to go home with mama,” she cooed at the sleeping toddler. She cradled him in her arms wrapping the tatty blanket around him “I’ll get you a new one my precious.”
She looked around the small house wishing she could light it on fire. Rid herself of the half brother she hated and the red-haired demon in the room beyond. With a sigh she shook her had dismissing the urge. She wanted them to suffer knowing she had their son. She wanted them to always wonder if he were alive.
Laughing softly she jostled the small child in her arms. Trober cried out in his sleep alerting Kara that the sleeping agent was wearing off. She had to leave now. With a final glance around the room she nodded in satisfaction. She turned swiftly her pocket catching on the chair. A single crap of paper fluttered unnoticed through the air landing halfway under the nearby TV stand.
Glancing around scanning the area Kara nodded relieved that nothing appeared out of place. Without anymore hang ups she left the house. Opening her trunk she deposited the baby within it’s dark depths. Slamming the trunk shut she was confident no stray jogger would be able to see the toddler she just kidnapped.
Verity rubbed her eyes. Her head pounding, groggy and weighing a ton. A moan from the floor had her stumbling to her feet. On wobbly legs she staggered to where Garrett was sprawled on the floor by the door.
His breathing was labored as he gasped for air. With excruciating effort she managed to turn him over. His lips were blue tinged as he gasped fighting for air. “Garrett,” she mumbled as her mouth failed to form his name correctly. Even to her own ears she sounded drunk.
Coughing Garrett shifted on the floor waking up, gasping “air. Need air.”
Pulling him to his feet she half dragged him to the door, through the living room and out the front door. Leaning against the porch railing he breathed deeply as if he had been starving for oxygen. Her own head began to clear feeling less muddle and fuzzy. What was wrong with them? Gas? Carbon monoxide? Trober? She raced back inside the house. Running to the crib she screamed.
Hearing her shriek Garrett ran back inside the house. Stopping stunned staring at the empty crib “Trober” he whispered taking a step forward. “Where’s our son?” he yelled as panic set in.
Both of them looked up as the guards stumbled into the room blurry eyes and half awake. “Is everything alright in here?” they asked.
“Does it look like we’re alright?” Garrett shouted “our son is gone.”
The guards glanced at each other. One of them pulled out a phone to report the missing toddler. When they were finished the guards urged them all outside. Verity jerked free of Garrett’s arms demanding “where the hell were you?”
The guards shook their heads looking at each other. One of them mumbled “there must have been something in our coffee.”
“You’re telling me you were asleep,” she spat beyond caring the guards were subjected to the same sleeping agent she and Garrett had been.
“Sorry Ma’am” they mumbled unable to meet her hostile gaze.
Several police cars arrived to secure the scene and to ask endless questions. An ambulance was called when Garrett continued to have trouble breathing. Verity followed Garrett towards the ambulance torn between staring and overseeing the investigation or going to the hospital. In the end she had no choice. The paramedics insisted she go in for testing until they knew what had been pumped into their air inside the house. She sat in beside Garrett as the ambulance made it’s way to the hospital.
She wanted to hold his hand. She was more afraid then she had ever been in her life. Afraid that when he woke Garrett would blame her. She was the one who was supposed to be protecting them and she had failed.
Her husband was unable to breathe almost as if whatever they had inhaled was keeping his lungs from taking in air. Their son was who know where with who knows who. No she did know with who. Kara. That crazy woman. She wanted her brother dead. To raise their child as her own. How had she let this happen? She thought she had been doing everything right. Still Kara was able to penetrate their home. Hurt the two most important people in her life. If it was the last thing she did Verity was going to hunt Kara down and make her pay for what she has done.
Once the police had done their cursory walk through finding the canister of gas in the air ducts of the small house they dispersed to the hospital to question the stricken parents. Jeff stood in the middle of the room imagining the steps Kara had taken as she entered the house.
He glanced down noting the indentation on the floor where the chair had set until it had been bumped. Of course it could have been moved by any of the dozen police officers that had been in and out of the house. It could also have been bumped by Kara in the process of taking Trober from the home.
Stooping his mind racing with possibilities. Grunting he found the torn scrap of paper under the TV stand. He moved to retrieve it. Studying the torn slip of paper he found what appeared to be a partial address on it. He wondered what or who he might find if he was able to find the address. It was his only lead he had to find Kara before she could irrevocably damage his great nephew.
“Sir” a detective spoke beside his elbow “the police want to lock up. Are you finished?”
Nodding Jeff followed the man outside. He debate whether or not he should share his find with the investigator in charge of the case. If he did that he wouldn’t be able to search it himself. He’d lose his chance of finding Kara himself and he wanted that more than anything. His decision made he stuck the torn paper into is pocket and walked to his car.
Entering his office he sat at his desk drumming his fingers on the table top listening to the steady drum beat his fingers were making. Sighing he pulled up his search engine. Entered the partial address. He began his search in Aurora Skies before widening his search to surrounding areas. Ending his search with the nearest cities in all directions from Aurora Skies. It was just a gut feeling he had that insisted she was within easy driving distance for the things Kara had been able to accomplish. He surmised Kara wouldn’t risk driving around with Trober in easy view of anyone out and about early in the morning. Which meant she had stuck Trober in the trunk. The thought made his blood boil to think of that baby alone, in the dark inside the trunk. It also gave him hope that she was nearby because the air in the trunk would last only so long.
Jeff looked up distracted as his office door opened and a couple walked in. Frowning Jeff stood up “what are you doing here?” he demanded.
“My son is in danger” the man said his voice flat vibrating with repressed anger. “you can’t expect me to sit on a beach somewhere like nothing is happening do you?”
“I told you I was handling it” Jeff protested.
“We’ve been by the house,” Ian stated.
“There are police everywhere,” Celia said putting a restraining arm around her husband who appeared to be on the verge of exploding “what happened?”
Running a hand through his purple hair Jeff sighed “Kara got past our security ….”
“She what?” Ian yelled “you promised you’d keep my kids safe. I knew I should have come back sooner. I listened to you. Believed you.”
“You were her obsession,” Jeff snapped “how was I supposed to know she’d switch that obsession to Trober?”
“I was dead. Where else was she supposed to direct it towards?” Ian paced the small room”I shouldn’t have let you talk me into this hair brained scheme.”
“I shouldn’t have kept in contact with you. Than you wouldn’t have known about any of this” Jeff shoved his fists into his pockets “I thought it would keep her stable. Less volatile. I underestimated her obsessive nature.” He turned away blinking back tears “I’m sorry.”
Ian stared at his cousin. He wanted to be angry. Wanted someone to blame. In the end he was as much to blame as Jeff was. He agreed to go into protective custody. He had hope that it would keep Katrina and Garrett safe. It hadn’t worked. It was a colossal mistake.”Jeff I’m sorry. I know it’s not your fault” Ian cried “I just…” he shrugged “I’m worried. Scared.”
“So am I,” Jeff admitted “I’m worried what she might do with Trober. Kara hates Verity that rivals her obsession with you.”
“She blames Verity for pushing her into killing Ian,” Celia suggested.
“That’s what I surmise” Jeff nodded “it’s makes sense. It might explain why she fixated on Trober.”
Ian sat down in a nearby chair “what can we do to help?”
Jeff looked at the couple weariness in his eyes before he slowly nodded “alright we do this together.” He walked around his desk “I found something the police missed. I think it might lead us to where Kara might have Trober.”
Ian got up and followed him around to his desk “you didn’t give it to the investigator?”
Shaking his head Jeff said “I want this to end once and for all.”
“Agreed,” Ian nodded his eyes hardening “just tell me what to do.”
“Its a partial address,” Jeff explained “we need to check out each of these addresses.”
“There’s a lot of them” Ian said feeling somewhat daunted at the massive list.
“You take half and I’ll take half,” Jeff suggested.
“What about Verity and Garrett?” Celia asked “surely they want to help look for their son.”
“Garrett had a bad reaction to the gas. He’s in the hospital. Verity is better off there than joining the search for Trober,” Jeff explained.
Ian reached for Celia’s hand “why don’t you head over to the hospital?”
“I want to help find our grandson” she protested “the more people looking the sooner we’ll find him.” She looked from one to the other “please let me help.”
“You’d be of more help at the hospital,” Jeff told her “keep Verity occupied. Keep her at the hospital.”
She sagged into Ian as she released all the pent up air “ok” she nodded agreeing to keep Verity distracted.
Kara got out of the car. Stood looking at the empty rolling hills all around her. She detested the country. The fewer people who knew her the better. Less chance of anyone seeing Trober and recognizing him. She could hide out here, keep him hidden behind the large walls surrounding the old farm house. In a few years move to the city where no one noticed a new face in the crowd.
Coming to her senses she retrieved the boy from the trunk. Carrying the child inside the house she all but dropped him on the floor. “Stop that racket” she demanded as the toddler began to howl.
“Want mama” Trober whined “Daddy want daddy.”
“I’m your mama now and daddy’s never coming back,” she said cruelly to the screaming child.
Lip quivering Trober hugged his blanket to his face curling up on the floor in the corner.
“Mama. Daddy” he cried softly to himself sucking his thumb.
Frowning Kara yanked the blanket from is hands “give that to me.”
He held on to it best he could. With a firm tug Kara ripped the fabric from his hands. “Mine mine” he screamed to no avail as he watched helplessly as Kara shoved his blanket into a trash can. “Mine” he repeated holding the tiny scrap of material he grasped in his tiny fists. Turning his face to the wall he rubbed the material across his cheeks muttering “mine.”
Verity was alone in the waiting room jumping each time the ER door opened and a doctor walked. Each time she expected one of them to walk up to her to inform her how Garrett was. She swiped at her eyes as her thoughts turned inward. Why had she relaxed her vigilance? Why hadn’t she done her nightly checks? Why had she trusted the guards with the safety of her family?
She leaned over covering her face with her hands. This was all her fault. Her son was with a psychopath. Her husband was in the hospital unable to breathe. She looked up gasping at the light gentle touch on her shoulder “Celia” she cried.
The older woman nodded sitting down beside her daughter-in-law. She pulled the young woman close “how’s my son?”
“I don’t…” Verity gulped pushing away from Celia “how? You’re supposed to be dead….at least we…I” she stuttered unable to complete her sentences.
“Protective custody” Celia told her “it was the only way to keep Ian safe from Kara. We hoped without him around her obsession would stop.”
“Instead it transferred to us. To Trober,” Verity nodded “Garrett will be so happy to see you again.”
“If he isn’t too angry at us,” Celia sighed “I never meant for any of this to happen.”
“You didn’t make Kara the way she is,” Verity told her feeling a kinship with the woman over their shared guilt.
“Thank you dear,” Celia gave her a small tight lipped smile “you’re not to blame either.”
“I caused Kara’s obsession with us. If hadn’t been obsessed with the idea of capturing her. If I had just told Jeff what I was up to. Where I was going. Ian and you might not have had to go into protective custody.” Verity sat up looking around the small waiting room “where is Ian? I assumed he was with you.” She glanced at Celia grabbing her hand “please don’t tell me he actually is dead. That he wasn’t with you all this time.”
“Yes he was with me,” Celia assured her “he isn’t dead. It was touch and go at the beginning. It was my decision to go into protective custody when Jeff suggested it. I wanted to keep my husband safe. I hoped it would keep my children safe.”
“He didn’t come with you?” Verity asked.
“He’s with Jeff,” Celia said looking towards the ER door hoping a doctor would come out who could tell them something about Garrett’s condition.
Jumping to her feet Verity headed towards the door “they’re looking for Trober aren’t they? I should be out there looking with them.”
Grabbing her arm Celia turned the young woman to face her “no your place is here with Garrett. He needs you.”
Struggling against the firm grip Celia had on her arm Verity cried “you’re here now. You can stay with him.” She tried to yank her arm free “let me go. I need to find my son.”
“Excuse me Mrs. Bennett ” a subdued deep voice said behind them “I’m Doctor Kasprzak.”
“How’s my husband?” Verity asked almost falling forward when Celia relaxed her grip on her arm.
“He’s breathing on his own,” the doctor smiled confidently at her “he had an allergic reaction to the gas which caused his lungs to collapse.”
“But he’s alright now?” Verity asked not fully grasping what the doctor was telling her. Allergic reaction. Lungs collapsing. It all sounded horrific.
“He will be,” the doctor assured her “as long as he doesn’t come into contact with the gas again.”
“Can he come home?” Verity asked.
“I want to keep him overnight for observation to make sure all the gas is out of his system.” The doctor gave her an encouraging grin “you should be able to take him tomorrow. I’ll give him a prescription for an inhaler in case he has any respiratory distress in the weeks to come.”
“Will he always require an inhaler?” Verity inquired wondering how that will effect his job.
“It’s possible but unlikely,” the doctor informed her “would you like to see him now? He’s been asking for you.”
Nodding she allowed the man to escort her to Garrett’s room.
Verity walked through the door the Doctor held open for her. She lingered by the door unsure what to do. Garrett lay with his eyes closed, dark circles around his eyes. He looked so frail. So weak. She moved forward her feet shuffling on the floor.
Garrett’s eyelids flickered “hey” he said his voice low, weak but glad to see her.
“Hey yourself,” she replied back coming to stand beside his bed.
He reached a hand out to her “sorry” he mumbled
Taking his hand in hers she smiled down at him “sorry for what?”
“For not being able to stop Kara,” he murmured. His eyes closed for a moment “for not protecting our son.”
“Shh” she kissed his forehead “you did the best you could. It’s not your fault.”
“I tried” he squeezed his eyes shut “knew something was wrong…”
“It’s alright baby,” Verity soothed sitting on the edge of his bed.
“Trober,” his eyes filled with tears.
“We’ll find him,” she said confidently “don’t worry about that. Just close your eyes and rest.” She ran her fingers through his hair “everything is going to be alright.”