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I called Tyler.

I called my brothers.

Then I called her father—who was listed in her phone as Daddy.

***

I could tell it was her father by the way he looked—and not because he looked like Cora, but because he looked like he was scared out of his goddamn mind.

He was wearing dirty jeans—much like the ones I had on myself—and a black t-shirt.

His silvering black hair was on the shorter side, but just long enough that you could tell that he’d been running his fingers through it restlessly—causing it to stand straight up in some spots.

His eyes look positively haunted.

He didn’t waste time as he looked around her house. “The alarm was never activated. She was here, and someone surprised her.”

I didn’t disagree. In fact, I agreed but nodded instead of interrupting.

“I pulled the feed, but whomever it was, came from the south side of the house where I didn’t have a camera.” Gabe, her father, sounded sickened that he hadn’t put one out there. Like he’d failed her in some way. “I pulled her GPS location, and she’s right outside of town.”

My eyes zeroed in on him. “You know where she’s at?”

He shook his hand for the universal sign of ‘kind of.’ “I have a few men on her already. Ish. They’re canvassing the area. I decided to come here to explain that I had a few men in the area to the chief of police before I joined them myself.”

Tyler, who’d been silent up until then, narrowed his eyes. “I guess I should be thankful that you even informed me what you were doing at all.”

Gabe nodded, then turned to look at me. “You’re who called me?”

I nodded, prompting Gabe to ask if I knew this town.

I nodded again.

I’d grown up in this town. I knew everything there was to know about it, down to the places they’d take her if they were trying to keep her hidden.

“The only place that might be fit to keep her is the next town over. There’s a couple of low budget motels. Unless they have a private residence. I won’t be able to help you find her, exactly, until I know the specific area.”

Gabe gestured to me. “Follow me.”

***

“Surely, they weren’t stupid enough to take her to a hotel, then plant an armed goon outside her door to let us know exactly which door it was that she was behind,” a man named Sam said, pinching the bridge of his nose as he groaned. “This is the most fucked-up thing ever. Even if we didn’t have GPS on her, the surrounding hotels would’ve likely been the first place that we looked. Why does this seem so easy?”

I agreed.

But, unlike them, I kept my opinions to myself.

I was the outsider here, and I wasn’t finding this as amusing as they were.

I felt like my heart was beating out of my throat, and I wanted to race across the street and blow the door off its hinges in my haste to get to her.

Yet, none of them were freaking out.

Not one of them.

There were six of the motherfuckers, and all of them were standing around, studying the hotel.

Her father had been overruled, and he was sitting there silently, looking pissed as could be, yet understanding of the process.

Finally, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

“What’s taking y’all so long?” I finally burst out. “Let’s go over there and get her.”

Gabe gave me an amused smile. “Once we get a little more information on them, we will. I don’t want to accidentally kill them. There are three men in on this farce of a kidnapping. Two in the room next door with two hookers, and the one outside. Sam was able to grease a few of the ladies’ hands, and they—the hookers not occupied at this moment—informed us that all’s been quiet in the room beside theirs—which is the one Cora’s in. They saw her taken in there. Not to mention the fact that Cora’s more than capable of handling herself. You don’t know our girl but…”

He gestured to the door just as something started to happen, causing the goon outside to turn and survey the closed door he’d been guarding.

With his hand on the knob, he pushed it in just as someone on the other side slammed it back closed—with his freakin’ head solidly sandwiched between the door and the doorjamb.

The goon fell hard, his head still halfway in the door, half out.

“Show time.”

Before any of us could get across the parking lot, Cora emerged looking pissed as hell.

But before she could make it out of the doorway completely, two men came barreling out of the door beside hers, heading straight for her.

Cora stepped back, putting the prone man’s body between her and the new arrivals.

When they went to vault themselves over the body on the ground, Cora reached for the door again.


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