The Hunter and the Prey, Book 2 of The Lake Snow Chronicles

August 2018

The Hunter and the Prey, book 2 of the Lake Snow Chronicles

The Hunting Game 2 Chapter Teaser

David and Taylor have reunited in their love, but they are NOT safe, yet.... Simon is hellbent on revenge. What sinister plans has he devised to exact the revenge he so desires?

Chapter 1

“Catch her!” David almost shouted as he watched Taylor faint. In one swift move Michael caught his Mom before she hit the floor and David scooped her into his arms.
“Dad?” Michael asked softly as he followed David into the living room where he placed Taylor on the sofa.
“Can you get a cool wet rag please,” David asked his son who disappeared and then reappeared with the rag. “Thank you.”
“Is Mom gonna be alright?” Michael almost whispered. He had seen his mother go through some difficult times since her ordeal, but they had thought it was over.
“She will son and we will help her,” he replied without taking his eyes from her. He touched the cool rag to her forehead, cheeks, temples and kept repeating until she began to come around.
“What? Where?” She gasped, not knowing how she ended up in the living room as she opened her eyes to see David and Michael looking down at her. All she remembered was hearing the message, after that was a blank.
“You fainted Mom,” Michael said to her as he took a seat at the end of the couch near her feet.
“Sweetheart, is there something you want to tell me?” David smiled, trying to change the subject and get her mind off the message.
“What? Oh!,” she blushed. She took David’s hand into hers and held it tightly.
“Yeah, Mom,” Michael grinned and held up the test. “You sort of dropped something.”
David was glad to have Michael trying to distract her from the voice message. Taylor did not need any more stress, especially not now that she was pregnant. She had been doing so well, the nightmares had slowed down and now this.
“I wanted to tell you,” she smiled and squeezed his hands. “Over supper tonight.”
“Well, we know now,” David laughed. He was truly happy and this time he would not be walking away. This time he would be there for every second.
“How far along are you?” Michael asked as he watched his parents. He wasn’t sure how he felt about having a sibling, but they seemed to be happy and he could appreciate that.
“Um, if my calculations are right,” she hesitated and looked into David’s eyes without finishing.
“Do tell,” he urged her, not knowing what she was trying to hint at.
“It happened, um, that day,” she said in a rush, knowing David would know exactly what she meant. She watched his face as it hit him.
“In the sequoia?” David almost whispered, not really a question, more of recognition. His eyes gleamed with his excitement.
“If my math is right, then yes,” she nodded, trying to focus on that moment and not the events surrounding it.
“Well, when will you know?” Michael asked, still not sure what he felt about the situation.
“The ultrasound is tomorrow,” she answered. “I was hoping you would go with me.” Her eyes searched David’s and knew he wouldn’t miss it.
“I wouldn’t miss it sweetheart, not for anything,” he laughed and embraced her tightly. “Told you it wasn’t the flu.”
The three of them laughed because she had been so sick and thought it had been the flu. She was thankful it turned out to be this. David was as well. This time he would be here to watch his child brought into the world, grow up and be a part of every second.
“What about, um the message?” Taylor asked quietly. Her fears had threatened to return as the message replayed itself in her mind.
“Sweetheart, Simon is still recovering from those injuries. It is highly unlikely he would come after us any time soon,” David tried to assure her. He held her tightly and nodded to Michael.
“I’m gonna go upstairs and play some video games,” Michael stood and disappeared up the stairs.
“But,” she began and he crushed her lips with his, kissing her deeply and wantonly. She returned the kiss with a fire of her own. He knew how to distract her.
“No but’s, we will enjoy this moment sweetheart, we are going to be parents!” He smiled and kissed her forehead. “No one will take that joy from us is that understood?”
“Yes,” she smiled and fell into his arms again. She was very happy in this moment because when she had been pregnant with Michael they had said she might never have another child. Yet, here she was, pregnant with his child a second time. Just then the house phone rang, but neither made a move to answer it.
“Let the machine get it,” he chuckled and kissed her lightly on the lips. As they looked into each other’s eyes the joy they felt was overwhelming, until they heard the voice on the machine.
“Hello Taylor,” Simon spoke, apparently in a good deal of pain. “Don’t worry. I’m nowhere near you right now and have no plans to be anytime soon. I just wanted to remind you that this is not over and ask you if you know where your son is?”
“What the?” David did not get the chance to finish his sentence because the entire house was rocked by a nearby explosion.
“MICHAEL!” Taylor screamed and tried to get up but David pushed her back onto the couch and covered her just as the windows exploded, showering them both in glass.
“Son of a bi,” David cursed as the house finally settled and Michael came flying down the stairs. A brief flash of memory went through his mind as Michael hit the landing and hurried to where they were. “You ok son?”
“Yeah,” Michael gasped and stared at his Mom. “But is she?”
“What?” She was gasping, her face had gone as white as a sheet and her body shook. Her eyes trained on her son as if she were examining him for injuries.
“What was that?” David asked when he finally let go of Taylor to look out the window.
“The old house blew up,” Michael replied and sat down next to his Mom. “It’s ok Mom, I’m not hurt.” He tried to assure her but she was having none of it.
“Let me see,” she demanded and patted him, then began picking the glass from his hair. “Oh my god, oh my god.” “See Dad this is what it’s like being raised by a single Mom, way too overprotective,” Michael tried to laugh to lighten up the mood, but there was nothing funny about what just happened.
“Charles,” David said into his cell phone. “Yeah, explosion, get the team here now.” He clicked it off and stared at his old home, now just a pile of busted wood and smoke.
“Oh my god,” Taylor kept repeating as she tugged bits of glass out of Michael’s hair, off his shirt and was basically functioning on autopilot. She pulled her son into her arms and held him tightly.
Just then shots began hitting the wall above their heads. All three of them dove to the floor and covered their heads. David reached over and covered both Taylor and Michael to protect them from the debris.
“What the hell?” David cursed as he looked up and tried to assess the situation. “We have to get out of here, soon.” More bullets hit the wall high over the couch.
“But how?” Michael asked, also looking up and seeing debris falling everywhere like rain.
“Trust him,” Taylor said quietly and grabbed Michael’s hand. She firmly squeezed it, knowing that David could protect them, even if her nerves wanted to believe otherwise.
“Let’s all try to get to the back door. It seems like there is only one shooter,” David whispered and moved so that they could also move. “Don’t rise too high he might see you.”
Michael went first so David could help keep Taylor calm. Although she fully trusted him, it was the shooter she didn’t trust. Another barrage of bullets went into the wall above their heads sending debris down onto them, causing them to cover their eyes. They had made it part way into the hall when their progress was blocked by a masked gunman holding a pistol.
“You,” he said to Michael. “Stand up, now boy!” He shouted as Michael looked to David who simply gave a nod.
“Please don’t hurt him!” Taylor shrieked and tried to go to Michael but David stopped her. They got to their feet and the gunman made them back up into the living room. The bullets from outside had stopped. “David do something.” Taylor cried out in protest as the gunman pressed the muzzle of his pistol to Michael’s forehead.
“What do you want here?” David asked, watching the man carefully, and noting that this was not the gun that just showered them in bullets.
“To deliver a message,” the man looked at Taylor directly. “Simon is coming for you, and he will have his due.” The man looked back at Michael and his finger twitched on the trigger.
“No, no, god no please don’t hurt my son!” Taylor screamed as the man pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. Taylor fainted and David caught her, gently laying her on the floor. Michael appeared to be in shock.
“No matter where you go Simon will find you and he will have what is due him,” the man said and turned to walk away. Michael was wide eyed and had not moved. David tackled the man from behind as he walked away.
“Michael, help your mother,” David called as he knocked the gun from the man’s hand. David made quick work of the smaller man and quickly had him on his stomach, pinned beneath him.
“She’s out cold dad,” Michael said as he watched David examine the gun.
“It’s empty,” David looked confused. “You came here to deliver a message with an empty gun?”
“Just a messenger, not a killer,” the man moaned from underneath David.
“Grab my cell phone,” David instructed to Michael. His team should be getting close and they needed to know there was still a gunman out here, one with a much larger gun and far more ammunition.
“Um dad,” Michael said and pointed down the hall. David looked up to see a second masked man carrying an assault rifle.
“Who are you?” David demanded, without getting off the man on the floor.
“My partner,” the one on the floor replied and David slammed his forehead to the floor.
“No one asked you,” David watched the man with the rifle approach and knew this gun likely still had bullets. “Michael get by your mother now.”
“Let my partner go or I’ll have to do something I didn’t come here to do,” the man with the rifle spoke sternly and pointed the gun directly at David.
“And what would that be?” David was not moved by the man. His eyes took in every movement, every muscle twitch.
“Deliver the message was all, no one gets hurt,” the man on the floor moaned.
“Now, let him up and we’ll be on our way,” the man with the rifle ordered. David watched as the man with the rifle did not come too close. “Or should I start shooting again, this time at something a little more important?” The man swung the gun around to Michael and David lunged for it. A bullet went over Michael’s head causing him to hit the floor next to Taylor. This man was larger and gave more of a fight, but David managed to free the rifle and send it sliding across the floor near to where Michael was. Michael instinctively reached out and secured the weapon, removing the clip and ejecting the live round from the chamber. The first man tried to get up and fell back down.
“If I were you I would stay down,” David said to him as he finally got the larger man under control and slammed him against the wall. “Where is Simon?”
“I haven’t got a clue,” the man replied. He raised his hand as if he was going to fight some more but David’s fist found his chin first.
“Where is Simon?” David demanded again. His patience was almost gone with these two men.
“I don’t know,” the man groaned and rubbed his chin.
Just then sirens could be heard and tires began screeching to a stop in front of the house. Car doors slammed and Charles rushed into the room followed by several other agents.
“What the hell happened here? Is everyone alright?” Charles asked. “Get those two into custody now.”
“Let me help Taylor, then we can talk,” David said and picked her up off the floor and carried her to the family room. At least it wasn’t covered in broken glass and debris. He gently laid her on the couch and sent Michael after a cool rag.
“The old house is a burning pile of rubble, your house looks like a war zone, damn David,” Charles sighed loudly and ran his hands through his hair.
“Simon sent them to deliver a message. They weren’t supposed to hurt anyone they said, not like I really believe that,” David remarked as he touched the cool rag to Taylor’s face.
“Boss, we have them headed to the jail now,” an agent reported in.
“No, you take them to the holding cells at the office!” David shouted angrily. “I don’t want these two getting away or bailed out before I can question them tomorrow afternoon!”
“But tomorrow we have the ultrasound,” Taylor mumbled, not quite fully coherent yet. “Michael!” She gasped and tried to sit upright but David stopped her.
“Calm down sweetheart, he’s fine. There was no bullet,” David explained.
“Where is he?” She asked frantically, looking around and noticing Charles standing across the room talking to Michael. “What happened?”
“Later sweetheart, right now it’s over and we need to go to a hotel for the night,” David sighed as he saw the look on her face.
“She ok?” Charles asked as he and Michael came across the room.
“I’m fine,” Taylor answered, sounding exhausted. She sat up and grabbed Michael, pulling him into her arms tightly. Her sobs wracked her entire body as her tears flowed freely. “I thought, I thought.” She just cried into his shoulder as her grip on him increased.
“Um, mom,” Michael tried to say but could barely breathe. “Mom, you’re gonna choke me.” His smile did little to ease anyone’s tension though. Taylor let him go slowly, eyeing him to make sure her mind wasn’t playing tricks on her. “We need to clear out soon you two, the team has work to do here,” David said as he ran his hand through his hair. Frustrated that his family was in this situation to begin with.
“Where will we go?” Taylor looked at David wondering if anywhere would be safe from Simon’s reach.
“A hotel for tonight, you have the appointment in the morning and we most certainly are not going to miss that,” David smiled at her, trying to ease some of her fears.
“Go pack a bag, but be careful.” He told Michael.
“Sweetheart, come on, let’s get packed,” David took her hand after Michael headed back to his room. “I promised you I would not allow him to hurt us and I meant it.”
Once in the bedroom he took her into his arms and held her tightly. He could not only feel her fear, he could smell it.
“He isn’t going to stop David,” she sobbed into his chest.
“We will catch him sweetheart, and this time he won’t get away,” David whispered. He meant what he said too. This time he would kill his brother.
“We should go before something else happens,” she sighed and pulled away but he caught her hand and pulled her back. He tipped her chin up and looked into her eyes. Her fear shone like the rays of the sun.
“Do you trust me sweetheart?” His eyes searched hers and knew that she did.
“I trust you David, it’s Simon I don’t trust,” she replied sadly. Her eyes filled up with tears and he leaned in to gently brush his lips across hers.
“Just trust me on this one ok?” He breathed, his warm breath flowing through her parted lips. “Let’s get packed, the sooner my team can start the sooner we may get some answers.”
Taylor simply nodded and retrieved two suitcases from the closet. Within minutes they had the bags packed and had gone back to the family room. Taylor had still not looked outside, not seen the destruction Simon had done.
“You ready son?” David asked Michael, who just nodded in response. “Charles, I need the SUV, who knows what he might have done to our vehicles.”
“I hadn’t even thought of that, sure take mine,” Charles handed him the keys. “Dean, get someone out there to check their cars! I am putting a detail on you until you get to the office. What time do you think we should expect you?”
“I’ll text as soon as we are finished with the appointment and on the road,” David replied. “Michael, can you get the bags to the car?”
“Sure thing,” Michael replied and grabbed the suitcases and Taylor followed him. Once he disappeared down the hall the two men spoke softly.
“We have to end this Charles, Taylor is a mess,” David sighed. He was at wits end because she had made such progress over the last few months only to now have this happen.
“We will, I promise you,” Charles tried to sound convincing, but he didn’t feel so sure right now. “I read his files David.”
“Then you know why I have to get my family someplace safe,” David replied. He run his hand through his hair as he heard the fire trucks arriving and then heard Taylor scream. Both David and Charles ran out the front door to find Taylor on her knees clasping her hands over her mouth as she stared at the old home place.
“Sweetheart?” David asked, kneeling in front of her. Her eyes were darting all around and her pupils were dilated from the intensity of her fear.
“It, it could have been,” she gasped and then stopped breathing. Her eyes sought his as she fought the panic attack. He gripped her hands and looked into her eyes, trying to convey that she was safe.
“But it wasn’t, he doesn’t want us dead he wants us to suffer sweetheart,” David watched her eyes as she fought with herself to regain control. Her hands held his tightly as she tried to breathe but couldn’t.
“Taylor, do you need the medic?” Charles asked, sounding very concerned. He had not seen one of Taylor’s full fledged panic attacks before. She shook her head from side to side but never broke eye contact with David.
“Breathe sweetheart, calm down,” David cooed softly, knowing it would pass but hated that she was having another attack. Her heart threatened to pound right through her chest as she fought to breathe.
“No more,” she mouthed the words but nothing came out. She could not catch her breath no matter how hard she tried. She stared at David and saw Charles behind him. Her eyes darted between the two in hopes that they had some kind of answer to this madness.
“Breathe sweetheart,” David spoke softly to her. “In through your nose, out through your mouth.”
“MEDIC!” Charles shouted and motioned one over. The medic came with his kit and knelt next to Taylor who finally gasped loudly when he slipped the oxygen mask on her face.
“There you go,” the medic said as he watched her and took an assessment. “She do this often?”
“Only when she’s really stressed,” David answered and kissed her forehead. “You ok now?”
“Yes,” she nodded and took deep breaths from the oxygen mask. “But I told you I didn’t need the medic.” She glanced at Charles. She hated that anyone ever saw her experience her attacks, much less the entire team scouring the premises.
“Charles?” She gasped, her heart about to pound its way through her chest as she still tried to grasp the situation.
“Yes ma’am,” Charles smiled at her. “We’re gonna get you guys to a safe place soon.”
“How,” she began but didn’t finish the thought. Her eyes went to David and she saw his concern. “I’m, I’m alright.”
“I don’t believe you,” he teased her and kissed her forehead. God how he loved her and never wanted to see her in pain.
“Maybe so, but you got it anyway,” Charles laughed nervously. “She always so bossy?”
“Most of time, yeah,” Michael took the suitcases to the SUV and put them in the back. “She’s the boss and she doesn’t let you forget it either.” He teased as he came back over to where she was sitting.
“But you love me,” she smiled and removed the mask, handing it back to the medic. “Thank you.”
“No problem, ma’am,” he said as he put everything away and took his kit back to the truck.
“Yes we do,” David smiled and helped her to her feet. “Come on, let’s get to the hotel so these guys can do their work.”
“Did you see anything?” Charles asked to no one in particular. He stood with his arms crossed watching the men work on the fire.
“No, Simon called and when he hung up the whole house shook,” Michael answered. He stood next to Charles watching the organized chaos outside.
“Simon called?” Charles repeated and turned to David.
“Yes, it’s on the machine over on the breakfast bar,” he pointed to the front door absentmindedly as he helped Taylor to her feet. Charles went to the machine and replayed the message.
“Mike, have the guys take this machine in I want every part of that message analyzed,” Charles ordered into his cell phone and then hung up. “We will find him.”
“I hope so,” Taylor remarked, her voice finally returning. “The stress is not good for the baby.” She said offhanded, not even thinking that David had not had the chance to tell anyone yet.
“Baby?” Charles asked and looked from David to Taylor.
“We just found out she’s pregnant,” David sighed. “Simon’s timing could not have been worse.”
“I have an appointment tomorrow,” she said softly, not sure it would even be safe to keep that appointment now.
“I think a hotel will be safe enough for tonight, just so we can keep that appointment sweetheart,” David suggested. “Then you finally get to see my office. There are some things the team and I need to work out in order to end this.”
“We will post guards of course,” Charles pitched in. He could clearly see the toll all of this was having on her. “I’ll even throw in an armed guard for the appointment at no extra charge.” He chuckled in an effort to distract her, but nothing seemed to be working.
“Mom, the guys aren’t gonna let Simon hurt any of us,” Michael took her hand and tried to reassure her. But he wasn’t so sure this was true. Simon had just decimated the old home place, what would stop him from doing anything he wanted?
David stared at his old home. His heart somewhat broken that everything good he had remembered, as well as the bad there was now gone. He had planned to have it torn down, yes, but he was not yet ready to finish that task yet. His mother had made that house a home and everything about her just went up in flames. Michael interrupted his train of thought.
“Dad, I know you and Simon served together and your training as a sniper,” Michael mused out loud as he stared at what was left of the old home place. “What was Simon’s?”
“Explosives expert,” David sighed, knowing now that Simon had no intentions of letting them live in peace, not as long as he was alive. “And he is very good at it.”
“We should get mom out of here,” Michael suggested and he stared at Taylor who was still staring at the burning pile of rubble.
“It could have been our house,” she spoke to no one as she buckled her seatbelt. Her eyes staring at the pile of rubble that had once been Simon’s home. “We seriously have to move.”
“Once we catch him sweetheart, that will not be necessary,” David said as he got behind the wheel and drove them into town. Taylor struggled to remain calm, but with this new event it was very difficult. Her thoughts roamed as they drove to town and she desperately tried to think up a way to protect her family from Simon.
“I’ll go get the room you two stay here,” David said as he hopped out of the car and rushed into the lobby. He could see his team not far behind. They had sent two cars as back up for them.
“Sweetheart,” he said as he opened her door and took her hand. “Let’s get inside.”
“I’ll get the bags,” Michael offered and went to the rear of the car, opening the trunk and setting the luggage onto the ground.
“Are you sure?” She asked David as they went to the ground floor room and opened the door. It was an interior room which meant anyone approaching would be caught on camera.
“We will be safe tonight sweetheart. Michael set the bags there, here is the key to the adjoining room. The door is there,” David said as he pointed to it.
“Thanks,” Michael said and took his bag into his room. He left the door open knowing his Mom would want him close.
“Michael,” Taylor said softly. “We won’t let him hurt you.” Her voice soft and far away as she sat on the edge of the bed.
“The team will stake out the hotel, we are safe here,” he tried to reassure her, but the look on her face told him she was fighting off another panic attack.
“I hope so,” she sighed, not knowing what to do. Her thoughts went to the message and Simon’s unspoken threat to Michael. “We have to keep him safe David.”
“We will sweetheart,” at this moment he had no idea how he could prove to her that he would protect them both with his dying breath if that is what it took.
“What happens now?” She asked as she sat there watching him pace the floor.
“The team will work on tracing the call, try to find him, and find us a safe house. Wait, I know where we can go!” He exclaimed. He knelt down in front of her and looked into her eyes.
“Where will we ever be safe from him?” She almost cried as she saw the excitement on his face.
“I don’t want to say it out loud, but it will be perfectly safe and Simon has no clue it even exists,” he smiled. “But, you must trust me on this one ok?”
“I trust you,” she nodded. She was near catatonic and he had no idea how to snap her out of it.
“Michael, don’t unpack. After the appointment in the morning we are going to a very safe place,” David called to his son. “Ok,” Michael replied, without poking his head in the room. David knew Simon would not stop, he would try to make good on his anger. He had to keep his family safe.
“Sweetheart, let’s get some rest, there is nothing more we can do now except wait,” David suggested and turned back the covers on the bed.
“I’m afraid David,” she whispered without moving from where she sat. Her feeling of safety and security had just been shattered, again.
“Do you trust me?” He asked her as he knelt in front of her again, resting his hands on top of hers.
“Without question,” she replied as she looked at him. God she loved him, but how could he protect them from Simon?
“Then do so now ok,” he urged her with a squeeze to her hands.
“I’ll try to, but it’s hard after what just happened,” she sighed. “How did he get so close?”
“We let our guard down sweetheart,” he said sadly, but would never allow it to happen again. “Come on, let’s get some rest. I can’t wait for the appointment.” His smile went ear to ear.
“Me either,” she smiled and put their hands to her stomach. “Right here is our child, OUR child David. I won’t let Simon hurt it, or any of us.” Her eyes showed determination, she was winning her inner struggle.

“It worked. They checked into a hotel for the night,” Rico relayed to Simon over the phone.
“Where to after that?” Simon asked, sounding very sleepy.
“No clue, but David hasn’t asked for a safe house either,” Rico explained. He sat in his car watching the team work the site as the old house still smoldered.
“Well, find out,” Simon growled and hung up. The doctor was not happy that Simon had interrupted him to talk the call.
“If you want this done then you need to let me work,” the doctor said impatiently as Simon laid the phone down.
“As long as you’re paid and make the pain go away then little interruptions don’t matter one bit,” Simon snapped at him and then closed his eyes to allow the doctor to finish.
The damage David had done was extensive and impossible to fully correct. His face would never be the same and most would not even recognize him once it healed. But that was weeks away yet and he would have to lie low until he did heal. The doctor worked quickly as Simon thought out his plans in his head while he tried not to winch at the pain.

Chapter 2

“Ms. Cahill, how are you today?” Dr. Weaver asked as he came into the room. His white lab coat spotless as he set her chart on the counter.
“Stressed, really,” she admitted. Dr. Weaver is the same doctor who cared for her during her pregnancy with Michael.
“Let’s see what we have here,” he said as he lifted the paper blanket and felt of her stomach. “Any pains?”
“No, just some nausea from time to time,” Taylor answered.
“Good, it’s so good to see that you tried again, especially after what happened before,” Dr Weaver smiled. “Seems you are about three months along. Let’s get the ultrasound and make sure.” He turned around and grabbed his stool, pulling it up beside her and tugging the ultrasound machine with him.
“What happened before?” David asked as he stood on the other side of the exam table holding her hand. He wasn’t sure if he should be concerned or just trust the doctor.
“Taylor had a condition called placenta previa, the placenta was over the cervix and caused her to bleed a lot. She almost lost the baby and giving birth was very traumatic to both of them,” Dr. Weaver replied without taking his eyes off the ultrasound monitor. He squeezed some gel onto her stomach and placed the probe in the gel.
“I had no idea,” David said softly. He loved this woman and everything she had done for their child.
“She was on bed rest for the better part of her pregnancy,” Dr Weaver explained as a sudden blip was heard on the monitor. “That’s the heartbeat.”
“It’s beautiful,” Taylor smiled and stared at the monitor too. Blip Blip Blip. Her face beamed as the heartbeat blipped, strong and loud.
“Wow,” was all David could say. This was an experience that he had nothing to compare it to. He knew how to read a sonogram, but seeing his own child on one was beyond compare. Hearing his child’s heartbeat was such an intense feeling he was almost overcome with emotion. Joy, it was pure joy.
“Here’s the baby,” the doctor pointed to the screen and they saw what looked like a peanut with arms and legs. “Perfectly normal for this stage, placenta looks good, cord looks good. No signs of problems this time Taylor.”
“Oh thank god,” she gasped as she watched the screen and listened to the Blip Blip Blip. “Everything is good?”
“Yes, heart rate is about one fifty,” the doctor spoke as he looked at the screen. “Would you like to know the sex?”
“You can tell that already?” David asked and squeezed her hands. He was in awe at the miracle he was witnessing before him. “Do we want to know?” He asked Taylor.
“Yes,” she smiled up at him, she knew in her heart it was a girl. How she knew she had no idea, but she knew. She gripped his hands and her smile lit up the entire room. In their chaotic world this moment in time was heaven to them.
“It’s a girl,” the doctor confirmed what Taylor had already known. “You have a perfectly healthy baby girl Taylor, no problems at this time. However, I want you to rest. Stress isn’t good for either of you.”
“A girl,” David gasped. How much more perfect could his world be? He had the woman he loved, a son he was getting to know and now a daughter on the way.
“I try Doctor Weaver, but the situation is not in my control,” she remarked sadly and held her stomach after the doctor wiped off the gel.
“You try to make her rest. I want her off her feet as much as possible. She almost lost Michael more than once because she thought she should do things on her own,” the doctor looked right at David.
“I will do my best Doc,” he nodded with a grin. A daughter! His heart was about to explode with joy.
“You better do more than that,” the doctor chuckled. “This one thinks she can do everything.” The doctor went about putting the machine away and washing up.
“When am I due?” Taylor asked, still holding her stomach and David’s hands. She looked up at David with a smile. Her heart was so full of love right now.
“I estimate April 25, give or take a few days. We will have a better estimate at the next ultrasound,” he replied and picked up her chart. “Keep her rested, off her feet as much as possible. Everything looks good right now, but I do not want to take any chances.”
“Understood Doc, I’ll make sure she gets her rest,” David assured the doctor who then turned and left.
“A girl,” she cooed and stroked her stomach. “A little girl.” Her smile went almost ear to ear. She looked so beautiful to him.
“Let’s go sweetheart, we have to stop at the desk to set your next appointment,” he helped her off the table and they walked to the desk. Taylor was still in disbelief that she was going to have a girl, that she was really pregnant. With her next appointment in hand they drove back to the hotel quickly.
“Michael, get your things together, we are going to the office first and then a very safe place,” David called as they entered the hotel room.
“Everything go ok?” Michael called back from the adjoining room.
“Perfectly,” Taylor replied as she tossed things into her bag. Even though there was danger, she was happy.
“Where are we going?” Michael asked as he entered the room with his bag.
“First to my townhouse near the bay, I need to grab a few things,” David answered as they walked to the car.
“Will it be safe? I mean, does Simon know where it is?” Michael asked as he helped David load the bags into the car.
“Simon doesn’t know much about my life honestly,” David smiled as he got into the driver seat and they took off. “he acted like he never wanted to know.”
“Are you sure though?” Taylor asked, still wearing an ear to ear smile. Nothing was going to bring her down today.
“I am positive sweetheart,” David laughed. “It was an FBI safe house and I bought it. The security measures alone would scare off national security.”
“What’s she smiling so big about?” Michael asked since neither of them had offered to share.
“Your mom is about three months pregnant, due in April,” David answered without taking his eyes off the road. “It’s a girl.”
“Oh, well, gee, she can’t come in my room!” Michael teased with a laugh. “I’m so glad you’re happy Mom.” “Me too,” she smiled and rubbed her belly.
“Doctor said she has to take it easy so I know exactly the place to make that happen,” David explained as he noticed a truck that had been with them for a while now. It wasn’t any of his team. His team had been a few cars behind.
“Yeah she told me about how hard it was when she was pregnant with me,” Michael added, also noticing the truck. “Is he with you?”
“No, hand me the phone,” David punched in the number and spoke with Ben. “Hey, see the black truck about four cars back? Yeah that one. It has been with us since we left the hotel. No, it has to be following us. Get rid of it.” David clicked the phone off and kept his eyes on the road.
“Someone is following us?” Taylor gasped. Her thoughts had been on her daughter and how things would be when she got here.
“Possibly, but Ben will handle it,” David replied and put his hand on her knee. “We will be safe sweetheart, you have to trust me on that.”
“I do trust you darling,” she smiled and looked back out the window. David was thankful that her mind was on other things than what they were going through. The idea of a daughter could not be displaced by the danger surrounding them at the moment.
David saw Ben cut in front of the truck and David took a quick exit off the freeway. He hurried to get as far away from the ramp as he could and then ducked under an overpass and stopped. None of them spoke as they waited to see if the truck had figured out that they had exited the freeway. It hadn’t and David finally took off on the side roads until he made it to San Francisco. Taylor stared at the sights as David finally pulled up in front of a townhouse on a steep hill.
“Come on in, it’s your home now as much as mine,” he said as he opened her door.
“It’s beautiful,” she gasped as he took her hand.
“It’s sparse to say the least. I rarely spent time here,” David said as he punched in several different codes into a keypad before finally using a key to unlock the door. “We won’t be here long. I just need to grab a few things.”
The door opened to a formal foyer and he was right, very sparse. The place looked like it had cost more to furnish than Taylor’s entire house cost to be built. Both she and Michael stood almost speechless as they looked around.
“It’s amazing,” Michael said as David lead them to the sitting room.
“Make yourselves at home, the kitchen is that way although there’s likely not much in it,” he chuckled. “I won’t be long.”
“I want to come with you,” Taylor said. She gripped his hand and wondered just what he had been doing during all of his years away.
“Ok,” he smiled. “This way, Michael make yourself at home.”
“I’ll just wait here, I don’t want to get lost in here,” he laughed and took a seat near the window.
“I need to grab some gear,” David said as they went upstairs and into his bedroom. He left her near a king sized bed and went into his closet.
“What kind of gear?” She asked as she stood taking in everything.
“This,” he laughed and set three tackle boxes on the bed. He went back into the closet and returned with several fishing poles. “I use this townhouse mainly for storage.”
“Storage? Where did you live then?” Taylor asked, confused. She took two of the boxes and together they walked back downstairs to where Michael was waiting.
“I’m going to show you, here Michael give us a hand,” David said as he handed Michael the fishing poles. “We’re going fishing?” Michael asked, also confused.
“Well, yes, let’s get this loaded. I have to go into the office to make some arrangements,” David said and motioned them to the door. He locked up and set the codes then helped Michael get everything loaded into the car.
“Ok, I thought an FBI agent didn’t make very much,” Michael said, now wondering what else David was doing to make money.
“My parents had a sizable estate and I have been very lucky with investments,” David answered.
“How does Simon not know about any of this?” Taylor asked, worried that somehow Simon might find them.
“Because, sweetheart, he has never been out here to visit me, nor is he privy to my investments,” he replied with a grin.
“I hope you’re right,” Michael said and was still in awe at this man, his father, who still had so many secrets.
“Hand me the phone please,” he asked Taylor who put it in his palm. He punched in some numbers and began speaking quickly.
“Charles, hey. I know where we’re going and I need a team of five, with two canines. Have them pack for the beach, a fishing trip. No I am not going to tell you yet. I will see you in a few minutes at the office, thanks.” He clicked off the phone and smiled at his family. He did know the one place they would be safe for a short time, but Taylor was not going to like it.
“What kind of fishing?” Michael asked as he took in the sights of San Francisco. David navigated the narrow streets like a pro, dodging in and out of alleys to avoid the trolleys and cable cars.
“You’ll see,” David smiled and sped into the parking lot of a mirrored Federal Building. “Let’s get this over with.”
David parked right in front of the entrance in a no parking zone, shut the SUV off and went around to open Taylor’s door.
“Nice place,” Taylor said as she exited the vehicle. David didn’t bother to lock it. No one would mess with it here. “Hey Sam,” David said to the guard as they entered.
“Well, look who finally decided to come to work! Who is this you have with you today? Fine looking young man there,” Sam smiled and made no move to get up from his desk.
“My fiancé Taylor Cahill, and our son, Michael,” David introduced them and Sam shook their hands. Sam was an older gentleman, graying hair and a beer belly. But his smile was wide and genuine.
“Nice to meet you, Sam,” Taylor said and waited next to David.
“How do you do?” Michael eagerly shook Sam’s hand.
“This one gonna join us here?” Sam asked as he hooked his thumb towards Michael.
“It’s up to him, he hasn’t said either way yet,” David chuckled and walked them around the security check point and into the elevator lobby.
“Nice to be the boss huh?” Michael mused, seeing the perks of avoiding security and pushing the top floor button. Once inside the elevator David took a set of keys and unlocked the highest floor, not even marked on the controls.
“My office is in the most classified sector of the building. Anything you see or hear cannot leave the building understood?” David said as the elevator came to a stop and the doors opened.
“Understood,” Taylor replied as she saw a very friendly receptionist waving at them.
“David!” The red haired woman exclaimed with a smile. “Charles is going to flip that you’re back. Who do you have with you?”
“My fiancé Taylor and our son, Michael,” David introduced them with a smile and a touch of pride. Their son sounded so good coming from his lips.
“Charles told us about him, wow he looks just like you,” she smiled at Michael. Taylor was taking everything in. The space was more like an executive floor of a high powered attorney firm and furnished with only the finest items.
“Can you have Charles meet me in my office?” David asked, the woman nodded and picked up the phone.
“This way,” David said and lead them through a maze of hallways until they reached a set of carved wood double doors.
David’s name plate read Director as he unlocked the door and held it open.
“Wow,” Taylor gasped as she took in the exquisite office. The far wall was windows from ceiling to floor and expensive furniture filled the room.
“Make yourselves at home, this is my home away from home,” David laughed and took Taylor’s hand. “Look at this view.”
The entire city could be seen from this floor and it looked amazing. Even the piers could be seen in the distance. David embraced her from behind and she leaned into his chest.
“I have some planning to do before we head out, but there is a coffee maker on the credenza, the rest room is over there,” David pointed to a solid wood door that was unmarked.
“Is there food too?” Michael asked with a chuckle.
“Fridge is right there, sort of hidden. Let me show you,” David went to the wall and showed Michael how to open the door to reveal all sorts of edibles.
“David, nice to see you back in the office,” Charles laughed as he entered without knocking. “Hello Taylor, Michael, how are you doing?”
“Better today, thank you,” Taylor smiled at him as she sipped her coffee and sat down on the plush leather couch.
“I’m going to need a few things Charles and need them in a hurry,” David said as he rested against the front of his desk.
“Anything,” Charles replied, knowing that it was David’s to have anyways. He grabbed a notebook from the edge of the desk and took his pen from his pocket. “Let’s go.”
“A team of five with two canines, three satellite phones, weapons and ammo, satellite laptops, pretty much the norm for an assignment,” David shrugged with a smile. “And I need them today.”
“Not asking for much are you?” Charles laughed. “Your team is ready, the rest just give me an hour or so.”
“Thank you,” David said.
“Where you guys heading to?” Charles asked as he walked to the door.
“Classified,” was all David replied. Charles left and Michael finally sat down with a plate of snacks he found in the fridge.
“Nice office dad,” Michael remarked with a mouthful of food. He had taken a seat in one of the lounge chairs near the fridge.
“Thank you, but it isn’t always this quiet,” David sighed as he watched Taylor. Her face looked a thousand miles away. He could only hope she was thinking of their daughter. David pressed the intercom and spoke to a disembodied female. “Send in my team.”
“Yes sir, right away,” the female replied then clicked off. A moment later there was a knock on the door.
“Enter,” David called to them. Five large, well dressed men entered and approached his desk.
“So, what’s the assignment? Charles said fishing, I can always go for some of that,” Chris laughed.
“Sounds more like a vacation than an assignment,” Phillip remarked as he looked at Taylor and Michael.
“Did you get the supplies I texted to you?” David asked Chris.
“Yeah, downstairs in the coolers ready to go, by the way why did we need so much?” Chris inquired.
“Remote assignment, safer if we take what we need now,” David replied without further explanation. “As soon as Charles has the rest of the gear ready we are heading out.”
“Good vacation can’t start soon enough for me,” Stefan exclaimed. “This has to do with Simon right?”
“I will brief everyone once we arrive at the location and get settled in,” David instructed. “This has to be clandestine. No one can follow us, no one can know where we are.”
“Not even Charles?” Chris asked, looking puzzled. His blue eyes glimmered when he looked at Taylor.
“Not even Charles,” David sighed. It was the only way to keep his family safe and he knew it. There had to be a leak, someone on the inside who allowed Simon to escape and who was feeding him information. “Are the k-9’s ready?”
“Yeah, but why did we need them?” Ben asked. He hated taking his dogs on a vacation type assignment.
“Better than an alarm system. Are they tame enough to be around people?” David continued. He wanted to have them near Taylor and Michael at all times.
“Yup, and I’ll help you with their commands too,” Ben smiled. “You’re gonna love Hugo and Lady.”
“Good, they are to detail Taylor and Michael twenty four seven, got it?” David ordered as Charles walked back into the room. “Understood,” Ben said.
“Is the gear ready?” David asked, wanting desperately to get on the road and to their destination. Maybe once they were there they could relax for a while.
“All of it, Rico why don’t you head down and help load it into the vehicles? Sam pulled two more SUV’s behind David’s,” Charles said and Rico just nodded. “Planning on going to war David?” Charles chuckled as he handed David a briefcase.
“Are these set up and ready to use?” David asked as he opened the case to see three satellite phones inside. “This is imperative, where we are going there is no cell service or land lines.”
“Give one a try,” Charles suggested as he loosened his tie. “How long will you be gone?”
“A month, give or take,” David answered as he test dialed the satellite phone and his cell phone rang. “Good, at least we have these.”
“You know I can’t provide backup if I have no idea where to send them,” Charles sighed and crossed his arms.
“If we needed backup they couldn’t get to us in time,” David remarked. “That’s why I need the gear.”
“Well, glad to have you back boss man,” Charles laughed. It felt like old times preparing for an assignment together.
“Not sure I am yet, we still have to discuss it,” David looked at Taylor who was simply soaking all of this in silently.
Michael had finished eating and was channel surfing on the large screen T.V.
“Looks like you’re all set, good luck,” Charles said and left the room, closing the door behind him.
“Alright guys, let’s hit the road. I’ll lead make sure we aren’t followed, use whatever means necessary to eliminate the tail,” David ordered and took Taylor’s hand to help her up.
“You do things like this every day?” She asked in awe. He had so much command and power here that she was having a difficult time accepting it.
“No, some days we do really exciting things like catch up on all the paperwork,” he laughed. “Come on Michael, there’s T.V. where we’re going, game systems too.”
“Cool,” Michael grinned and followed everyone to the vehicles. “Hey, can I ride in one of the other cars?”
“I’m not so sure that’s a good idea,” Taylor gasped, not wanting to be apart from him.
“It’s fine, ride in the middle vehicle with Chris,” David agreed. “He’ll be fine sweetheart.”
Everyone loaded into the vehicles and headed out of the parking lot. David lead and sped to the freeway. He could hear the chatter from the other vehicles on his radio. It sounded like everyone was in good spirits and he wanted that. He hoped this would be more like a vacation than a mission.
“The Redwoods are amazing, but I can’t help thinking about what happened when I see them,” Taylor said sadly. “He took away that joy from me.”
“One day you will get it back sweetheart, I promise,” David smiled and took her hand. She gave it a squeeze.
“Where are we really going?” She asked him, eyeing him suspiciously.
“You have to trust me on this sweetheart. It’s the safest place I know,” he replied without looking at her. The road was getting curvy as they drove through the Redwood forest.
“I trust you David, like I said, it’s Simon I don’t trust,” she sighed and watched out her window, wishing she could see the joy in these magnificent trees.
“Hey guys, how’s it going back there,” David asked into the microphone. He preferred an old style c.b. radio for this type of assignment. In close range the reception was better when the Redwoods usually blocked other signals.
“Looking good so far, no tails,” Ben relayed from the rear vehicle.
“Does this kid of yours ever shut up?” Chris laughed from the middle vehicle.
“Good keep an eye out, we will go off road soon and I want to make sure no one sees us exit the road,” David instructed and began slowing down when a large gate came into view. “Any sign of anyone else?”
“All clear,” Ben chirped and David used a remote to open the large gate. It slid almost silently open and the three cars rushed through it. David hurried to close it behind them and then gave a sigh of relief.
“Almost there sweetheart,” he smiled, knowing she was about to face one of her worst fears but it would be the safest place for them to relax.
The road twisted and turned sharply and the trio of vehicles could do no more than ten miles per hour in some places. As the forest gave way he heard Taylor gasp.
“Oh my god David you can’t be serious?” She cried, shaking her head from side to side. “No, I can’t. You know about this!”

Rico sent a text to Simon as they pulled up to the dock to park. Ben was driving so it had been easy to send the text without being seen.
“David’s yacht near the bay,” Rico’s fingers flew over his screen.
“What yacht?” Came Simon’s reply. “Where?”
“Will report later,” Rico replied.
“This should be fun,” Rico commented as the group gathered near David’s vehicle.

“What yacht?” Simon gasped as he read the text from Rico. Where was David getting all the money? Their parents had left them both a sizable fortune, but nothing that should have afforded a yacht.
Simon was in a hotel recovering from his surgery and would be for weeks it seemed. The doctor had not been nice about what he had to do to fix what damage was left when he had escaped. His face would never look the same and the doctor could only do so much. There would be scars. Several of his own teeth had to be removed from the inside of his cheek that day.
The bandages would remain for a while, although he had to change them daily. The bruises from the surgery and the procedure the doctor did would heal, but the scars would forever be a reminder. Not that he wasn’t used to having scars, but every scar he had was because of David. Every day he looked in the mirror his rage grew. In frustration he punched the mirror. It shattered into a thousand pieces around him.
“I will kill you both,” Simon seethed, not wanting an image of himself staring back at him right now. He did not need a reminder of what David had done to him.
“Find out where that yacht is going,” Simon sent the text to Rico and waited for his reply. His medicine made him sleepy and he was snoring within minutes. His dreams were nightmares of what he wanted to do.

Book 3 is in rough draft progress right now! Teaser's will be posted on the TEASER page!

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© by Raven Skyes, 2018 All rights reserved.
© Cover Artwork for the books done by Sondra Hicks