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Authors: Cathy Marlowe

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Comes the Night (Entangled Suspense)

BOOK: Comes the Night (Entangled Suspense)
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The truest loves can’t be forgotten…

What should have been a romantic evening quickly turns into a nightmare for Lizzie Weston when her husband, Zach, and their infant son disappear. Convinced that her husband would never desert her or her daughter, Lizzie is certain they’ve been abducted. But with with $1 million missing from their security firm and a note from her husband, the police aren’t so sure...

Heartbroken and terrified, Lizzie is determined to move heaven and earth to find her husband and son, and bring them home. But it’s only when Lizzie follows up on an anonymous tip that she finds herself thrown into a chaotic plot filled with subterfuge and manipulation...and the madness of one man. Now she’ll have to fight not just to find her family, but to keep them alive. And in order to save her family, Lizzie must rely on a love that’s stronger than memory...

Comes the Night

an Out of Darkness novel

Cathy Marlowe

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2014 by Cathy Morrison. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.

Entangled Publishing, LLC

2614 South Timberline Road

Suite 109

Fort Collins, CO 80525

Visit our website at
www.entangledpublishing.com
.

Select Suspense is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC.

Edited by Terese Ramin and Anne Lucy Clark

Cover design by Fiona Jayde

ISBN 978-1-63375-109-5

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Edition October 2014

For Lizzie’s namesakes, the three Elizabeths:

Liz Kerrick and Betsy Anderson, mentors;

Beth Humerickhouse, first reader and dear friend.

Chapter One

Westchester County, New York

Zach Weston scattered a last handful of salt on the cobblestone walk and brushed off his gloves to dislodge any loose grains. As he hurried back inside, the howling wind practically pushed him through the entrance to his home.

He stuffed his gloves in his pocket and locked the door against the bitter storm. Rubbing his hands together to warm them, he surveyed the family room. Red roses and crystal flutes adorned the oak coffee table. Sparkling fruit juice chilled in the sterling ice bucket, and his wife’s favorite music drifted from the speakers. A cozy fire crackled in the fireplace. It was warm, romantic, comfortable—perfect. Lizzie would love it.

Anxious for her to be home before the worst of the storm hit, he glanced at his watch. She should arrive any minute. As he returned to the entryway to hang up his coat, a startled cry sounded from the nursery monitor. Heading for the stairs, Zach frowned. The terror of weeks spent in the neonatal intensive care unit with their premature son had faded, and ever since Daniel started to gain much-needed weight, he’d slept soundly. He shouldn’t be waking until time for his late-night feeding.

As the cry intensified, he took the stairs two at a time. His little guy was upset.

He pushed the door open and froze. His squalling son dangled awkwardly from a burly man’s arm. The stranger’s free hand pointed a gun at Zach’s chest.

“Hey, kid, look, it’s Daddy.” The man was of average height with short black hair and nondescript features. The only thing memorable about him was the malice in his eyes.

“Daniel
.” A panicked whisper escaped Zach’s lips.

The intruder held Daniel tightly, pinning the baby so that only Daniel’s tear-stained, red face and small arms showed above the sleeve of his overcoat.
How the hell did he get into the house?

Struggling to think past the pounding of his heart, Zach spread his arms, turned his palms up, and said calmly, “If it’s money you want, I have plenty. Just put the baby back in the crib. Anything you want, it’s yours.” He forced himself to breathe evenly as his son’s cries quieted to ragged whimpers. The man had one foot in his grave. He just didn’t know it yet.

The intruder sneered. Harsh laughter accompanied a sharp prod to Zach’s kidney, propelling him forward. He whipped his head around to see a second man enter the room. This one was at least a head taller than Zach’s six-foot frame. He had blond hair, cut military style. His gray eyes shone with amusement as he poked Zach with the Taser he held.

“What I want is for you to have a seat in the rocker and I’ll explain exactly what’s going to happen.” When Zach hesitated, Tall Man raised the Taser to eye level. “If I have to use this, I won’t be using it on you.” He grinned and tapped Daniel’s face, allowing the tip of the weapon to rest against the baby’s wet cheek.

Zach’s heart raced with fear. Clenching his jaw, he sat.

Three minutes later, he stared in disbelief at the note they’d forced him to write. The pen— ironically, one of his company pens, boasting the Weston Security logo—dangled loosely from his fingers. He closed his eyes and forced himself to breathe until his rapid pulse slowed and only icy calm remained.

Tall Man snatched the note and pen from his hands. Zach rose from his chair, frowning at the sight of the Taser CAM mounted on the X26, a professional video mount used by law enforcement. Someone wanted to record their kidnapping—or perhaps was watching even now.

Noting the diaper and duffel bags next to the door, he said in a subdued tone, “Here, let me hold the baby.” With an outward display of submission, he reached for Daniel. Although the odds had worsened with the arrival of the second man, his muscles tensed in anticipation of any opportunity to seize control.

Tall Man smacked him hard with the grip of the Taser.

“Can’t you see Al here has a way with kids?”

Startled by the harsh voice, Daniel began to cry again. His accusing eyes never left Zach’s face.

“Shut up!” Keeping the gun on Zach, Al jostled the baby. “Get the kid that damned bear from the crib and let’s go.”

Zach swallowed hard at Tall Man’s willingness to call his accomplice by name. Not good. He reached into the crib and pulled a fluffy yellow lamb from the far corner. “He prefers the lamb.” He flipped the lamb’s on switch.

“It’s a Small World” began to play.

“Hell no. I hate that song. Throw it back in the crib.” When Zach hesitated, turning the lamb over and over in his hands, Tall Man took a menacing step forward.

A voice squawked from the phone on his belt. “The woman just started the detour and turned onto the outer road.”

Tall Man jabbed Zach. “If your wife gets home before we leave, I shoot her and she dies before your eyes.” He glanced at his watch, and then raised cold eyes to Zach and smiled. “She’s expendable. You understand what that means?”

Icy sweat trickled between Zach’s shoulder blades. He knew exactly what it meant.

Tall Man gestured toward the door. “Grab the bags and get going.”

Zach dropped the lamb back in the crib and did as he’d been told. Al left the room with Daniel, who continued to whimper softly. He followed, the Taser maintaining intermittent pressure on his back.

When they reached the entryway, a third man joined them, carrying a large trash bag. A glance into the family room revealed that the roses and drinks were gone. The fire no longer burned cheerily.

As the group entered the garage, the faint tinkle of music drifted mockingly behind them.


Hundreds of miles away, Alistair Forrester ran one finger along the rim of his crystal tumbler and listened as his men reported in. The timing had been perfect, the small, manufactured construction delay slowing Lizzie’s arrival just long enough for his men to finish their work.

He regretted not being there in person to watch his men stun Zach with the Taser and then inject him with the narcotic that was one of Alistair’s favorite little cocktails. He hung up the phone and refilled his glass as he watched the video image on his computer screen.

Fear and disbelief flitted across Zach’s face with such speed that a less observant man might have missed the tantalizing play of emotions. It was the eyes that gave him away, telling Alistair that Zach
knew
even as the drugs sent him rocketing into darkness.

He clipped the video. Leaning back in his chair, he enjoyed that precious moment as it ran in an unending loop. He raised his glass in a silent toast.

The prodigal son was coming home.

Chapter Two

Elizabeth Louise Weston, you’re late!

Lizzie pounded one hand against the steering wheel and then gripped it again. She peered through the icy rain, relieved to see the end-of-detour sign in the deepening night. The rhythmic swish of the wipers ticked off the passing moments.

Late
…swish…
late
…swish…
late

She eased the car to a stop at a red light and inhaled a calming breath. Everything was fine—great, really. Tonight they were celebrating their baby’s triumph over his early birth, while their daughter spent the night with her biological father. She glanced at the shopping bag in the passenger seat and pushed speed dial on the car phone. Instead of reaching her husband, the call went to voicemail.

“Hey, Zach. I guess you and Daniel are busy right now. There was a stupid construction detour I didn’t know about, but I’m almost home. I…I have a surprise for tonight! Well, I hope everything’s okay. See you in a few minutes.” She forced enthusiasm into her voice, but it was unlike him not to answer her call, especially when the weather was bad. She took another long breath to calm the pounding in her chest.
Elizabeth Louise
,
everything is fine—Zach would call if there were a problem.

Fear flew back on fevered wings. What if the doctor had missed something? What if Daniel wasn’t okay?

Five minutes later, she pulled to a stop in the driveway, not wanting to waste the extra minute it would take to pull into the garage at the back of the house. She walked gingerly along the curving front walkway, clutching her purchases in her hand. When she realized Zach had already salted the stone path, she relaxed a little. Maybe he’d been outside when she called. She punched the security code to unlock the door.

“Zach? I’m home.” Surprised to find a silent house, she called his name again. She locked the door behind her before checking the family room, study, and kitchen. The faint sound of music caught her ear. Frowning, she headed upstairs to the nursery.

“It’s a Small World” grew louder with each step.

She entered the room and stopped. They never played the lamb. It had been an expensive gift from her Aunt Louise, a woman known for both her good heart and her bad taste in presents. Deceptively charming in appearance, the lamb played a high-pitched “It’s a Small World” for thirty minutes straight. The first night they played it for Daniel, they’d immediately found the off switch and never turned it on again.

She bit her lower lip and clenched the handle of the shopping bag so tightly her nails left indentations in her palm. Swallowing hard, she approached the crib. Her hand hovered over the toy while the lamb’s music tinkled ominously in the room. Fingers shaking, she flipped the switch off. She lifted the lamb from the crib, the rasp of her breathing unnaturally loud in the sudden quiet.

They never played the lamb.

With the cuddly toy in one hand and her bag in the other, she fled the nursery.

“Zach?” She darted in and out of the other bedrooms. “Zach?” Finding no one, she hurried back down the stairs and dropped her purchases in the entryway as she headed to the garage.

His car was gone.

Thirty minutes later, the desperate hope that he’d made a quick trip to the grocery store and left his phone in the car died a pitiful death. She knew the truth. He never forgot his phone—and he would never take Daniel out unnecessarily in this weather. She made another trip through the house, looking for a note she might have overlooked, chewing her lower lip as she retraced her steps.

It was too soon to call the police. With trembling fingers, she dialed the phone.

Ring…ring…ring.
Please
,
Grant, please

“Hello,” a distracted male voice answered the phone.

In the background, music from
Sesame Street
played. Her little girl’s voice shouted, “Daaaad, your turn.”
Sam
. Lizzie released her breath. Her daughter was safe at her father’s home.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Grant. It’s Lizzie. Have you…” She swallowed. “Have you seen Zach?” She tapped her fingers against her chin.
Please…please…

“Zach? Yeah, I saw Zach. Four hours ago when I picked up Sam.”

“Did he say anything? Anything about…” Her words drifted into nothing. Did he say anything about what? About having late-night plans that didn’t involve her? About taking Daniel out in a winter storm?

“Lizzie? What’s going on?”

“Zach’s gone. With Daniel.” Once she forced out the words, everything tumbled in a rush. “I was running late and I got home and Zach and Daniel weren’t here. There’s no note and Zach’s not answering his phone. I was late.” Her voice broke on a sob.

Silence expanded on the phone line, a great yawning emptiness that fueled her anxiety further.

“You think Zach’s gone because you were late?” She strained to hear Grant’s response. It sounded somehow ominous, like the lamb. She shook off the ridiculous thought.

“No, no, that’s not what I meant.” What had she meant? “I’m just scared. This isn’t like Zach. He wouldn’t just leave and let me worry, not after everything we’ve been through.”

“Daa-aaad!” Sam’s impatient voice brought a hint of a smile to her face. They must be playing a game. Sam hated delays.

Grant’s muffled response trickled through the phone. “Sam. I’m talking to your mommy. Wait just a minute.” She couldn’t quite make out Sam’s reply. “Do you want me to bring Sam back and wait with you?

“No…no, that’s silly. I’m sure Zach just ran to the store. He’ll be back soon.” She took a deep breath. “I just, well, it’s not like him to leave with Daniel and not let me know. And there’s a storm. It’s good to know Sam is safe with you.”

“Well then.” His clipped tone held none of his previous concern. “If you change your mind, I’m here.”

“I’ll call you. Thanks, Grant.”

She barely noticed him hang up before she finished talking. She hit speed dial and listened to the fruitless ringing.

“You’ve reached Zach Weston. Leave a message…” She slammed her phone shut.

Voicemail again.

BOOK: Comes the Night (Entangled Suspense)
8.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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