(Not Professionally Edited)
As they pulled up to the Bennett farm, Sam was amazed to see all the police cars filling up the driveway as well as the grass along the driveway. There were police cars, crime scene investigators, arson investigators and of course, fire trucks. And…the vehicles that would carry away the dead. It all seemed so final now, Sam thought, touching her rolling stomach as she and her father headed toward the graves of the children that had called to her for help.
She watched with a heavy heart as two men carried a black bag off in the distance
Which child is that, she wondered.
“How are you holding up?”
Sam leaned on her father’s shoulder. The weight of what she was witnessed fell heavy on her heart. “It’s not as easy as I thought it would be.” She lifted her head to her father. “They’re finally free from their grave, but not of their torment. That won’t end until their killer is found.”
“They’ll catch him.”
She hoped with all her heart her father was right.
“C.J.” Both she and her father turned as Captain Lewis approached. “How did you get past the guards at the entrance?”
“I told them I was a friend of yours. Not very thorough, Bob. They didn’t even question it. If I had been here on business I would have been able to stroll right in and snap any picture I wanted.”
Bob pursed his lips. “Rookies, I’ll have to talk with them.” His eyes met Sam’s, filled with sorrow. “I’m so sorry for what you went through, Sam.”
“I understand, Captain Lewis.” But her mind was too occupied with the activities before her. “I need to get closer.
“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that. Its evidence now and I can’t have civilians mucking it up. We want this guy caught.”
He was right and the last thing she wanted was to do something that would enable the bastard to get away with murder.
“How did you know?”
Sam felt her father squeeze her hand in reassurance. “They came to me and asked for help.” She knew the captain knew all about her father’s abilities. Only thing was, he hadn’t been made aware that she had the same gift.
“Two of you to deal with now? Aren’t we lucky,” he chimed in humorously.
“I didn’t start the fire, Captain Lewis.”
He nodded, tucking his hands in his suit jacket pocket. “You’ve been cleared of any suspicion in regards to the fire. The arson investigator has promised me a preliminary report by morning but he did tell me that there’s enough evidence in and around the property to make us believe Mr. Bennett started the fire.”
“Thank God! So it won’t be on my record or anything like that?”
“Your record is clear.”
That was of great relief to her. “Have you found Bennett yet?”
Lewis let out a long breath as he glanced back at the burial site. “No. We have every man available looking for him. I’ve sent his description out on the airwaves.” He turned back to Sam, resolve in his eyes. “We’ll catch him, sooner or later.”
“Let’s hope its sooner.”
Bob nodded. “You’re going to have to give a statement for the records as to how you came to arrive at Bennett’s farm. That may include divulging your ability.”
“I’m not that comfortable discussing it, Captain.” She just wasn’t ready to tell the world that she communicated with the dead.
“If it were up to me, Sam, I would let it go. But my officers are going to need know how you discovered where the bodies were buried and how you knew where to find them.”
“She’ll give her statement, Bob, not to worry,” her father reassured. “And she’ll do it without divulging her gift.”
They stood in silence for a moment, watching the officer’s work as they dug up the ground beneath the charred remains of the paddock. Sam could feel their presence, not so much as a complete entity, but as a glimpse that life had once been here.
“How many have you found so far?” her father finally asked.
“Four. Some of them are still pretty much intact, others…well, time wasn’t kind.” He left it at that.
Sam knew all too well what they looked like. She’d been in the ground with them.
“Well, I had better get up there and see how it’s progressing.” The Captain turned to her father. “You can stay here and observe, but keep back and out of the way.”
“By the way, your wife has first crack at the story. That’s quite some woman you married. Her tenacity is definitely something.”
Her father smiled proudly and his love for his wife shone brightly. “You don’t know the half of it. See ya, Bob.” Her father turned to her after the captain walked off. “You want to sit for a while?”
She shook her head. “I’m okay.” Sam watched as the bags were carried off, thinking of the parents who would finally have closure. The families had been so sure their children would be found, alive, but their nightmare was only beginning. Reality was about to give them one hell of a wake-up call that was not going to ease their pain one bit. Now came the grief.
Her father pulled her against his side, rubbing a hand up and down her arm. “I’m not sure this is the best place for you, Sammy girl.”
She didn’t want to be anywhere else. “I have to be here, Dad. I need to see it to the end.”
Four hours passed while Sam and her father stood and watched as they unearthed one body after another. He’d slipped off to grab them coffee at some point and while he was gone, Sam watched while the cars began to pull away and the digging ceased. Something wasn't right.
“She’s not here,” Sam stated when her father returned with the coffee.
“Who?” He handed her a cup.
“Alexis.” She took the cup absently. “She isn’t here with them. He didn’t bury her here.” Why would he bury them all here but one? Why would Alexis lead her here if this wasn’t where she was buried? “Where is she, Dad?”
A sudden cloudburst of rain had people scrambling for shelter. Her father grabbed her by the arm and tugged her toward the car. “What are you doing? I need to find her.” Sam bolted from the car, dropping her cup as she ran for the dig site. The heavy rain instantly soaked into her, plastering her hair to her face. She had to find her. She had to help her. She couldn’t leave Alexis. Not alone. The poor little girl was scared and needed her help.
“Sam, Sam come back here!” Her father called out, running after her. “Samantha stop!” He grabbed her arm and jerked her into place. “You’ll find her, but not tonight, not now. You need to get in the car and out of the rain. Sam, are you listening?” He gave her a mild shake.
“She’s alone, Dad and she needs me.” If it hadn’t been for Alexis, none of the children would have been found and none of the families would have closure. Sam couldn’t walk away from her after Alexis had pleaded with her to help.
“You won’t do her or anyone any good if you’re flat in bed with pneumonia. Sam, believe me, I know what you’re going through, but you’re not thinking logically right now. We need to get you home.”
She nodded, her face drenched from rain and tears and followed him to his car. Her father did know what she was going through. He’d once run into a burning house to save the dead. Despite nearly losing his life in the process.
Looking back she murmured, “I’ll find you, Alexis. Don’t be afraid. I’ll find you.” And as the heater in the car blew warm air on her cold damp body, Sam watched through the window as the farm began to disappear.
I won’t give up, Alexis, not until you’re free.
What he needed was to run off his frustration. Setting the program on his treadmill, Ethan did just that. The folder with the so-called evidence of his embezzlement lay on the table beside him, exactly where he’d tossed it.
He so desperately wanted to march over to Gwen and demand she put an end to this farce. If it wasn’t for Gwen’s false accusation of his abuse and the fact that his temper was on the boiling point he would. He knew better than to stir up more trouble and decided to let it go. For the time being at least.
So he ran.
She’d forged his signature. There was no other explanation for it. He knew damn well he hadn’t signed any of those papers indicating having moved money from the companies account to a separate account under another name. Yet when he’d checked into the account, it was there and the amount tucked away in it was staggering.
Everything tied back to him. And he’d had no clue.
She was smart, but not smart enough. Why would he leave a trail to himself? He wouldn’t, and anyone with half a brain would see that. Gwen screwed up, and he was going to make sure she paid.
When his doorbell rang, he slowed his speed before shutting it down and stepping down. Grabbing the towel he’d slung over the chair, he wrapped it around his neck and answered the door as he mopped his sweaty face.
He was pleasantly surprised to see Samantha smiling back at him.
“Huh, guess I owe you two hundred dollars. Pizza?”
He couldn’t help but smile. She stood before him wearing a long yellow rain slicker with the hood up and a pizza box in her hand looking rather soggy from the rain. She was a remarkable sight.
“Come in out of the rain before you’re washed away. Will it ever let up?” It had been pouring since mid afternoon. He hadn't been sure if she would come by or not. He’d hoped, but he hadn’t been holding his breath.
“Doesn’t look like it,” she remarked as she stepped inside.
He shut the door then took a good look at her. “Are you in there somewhere?” He flipped the hood off her head and though her hair looked a little frizzy, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. “Ah, there she is.” He took her lips in a slow sensual kiss that warmed him from head to toe. He could never get enough of her lips. “Hello, beautiful.”
She put the pizza down on the coffee table before looking around the room he’d led her to. “Nice place. Smaller than I expected you to have.”
“After next week—should everything go as planned—I’ll have my home back. This is only temporary until Gwen moves out of my house. Can I take your coat?”
“In a minute. What's with the get up?”
“I was in the middle of a work-out when you rang.”
“I think you look sexy,” she admitted freely, a sly smile lifting her lips.
“You do, huh? Tell me, Samantha, are you the type of woman that finds sweat and muscles attractive?”
“Hey, what can I say, I find it sexy. Okay, I’m just going to come out and say this. I don’t want to hide our relationship anymore so from now on, no sneaking around, no hiding. If you want to be with me, we do it in the open. If that’s going to be a problem for you, for your divorce, then say so now and I’ll walk—”
He cut her words off by clamping his hands on her rain slicker and yanking her to him, kissing her impending statement away. She tasted of something sweet and smelled of rain. And the feel of her sunk right into his soul and he knew it would linger for an eternity.
And then it just happened.
It was that very moment that he knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he was completely head long in love with her.
He released her and took great pleasure in the hazy look that held her face captive. “I missed you, Samantha.”
“I missed you, too. You are such a good kisser. Makes my mind mush.” She laughed now and took a step back. “I have your tie.”
“Yeah. She smiled slyly then grabbing the front of her slicker, yanked it open.
“Oh my.” Before him stood a radiant beauty dressed in flimsy red silk that showed off all those curves he so enjoyed exploring. She wore nothing but a bra and panties cut to show off every part of her assets.
He was in heaven.
“I went with red to offset the black tie.”
Tie, what tie—ah…yes, there it was, hanging between her breasts. He’d been mesmerized by her bold statement that he’d missed her other statement.
“You’re speechless?” She laughed.
“And then some. Here I am dressed in sweaty work-out attire smelling less than desirable.”
She stepped up to him, and leaning into his neck, took a long sniff. “You smell fine to me. I love your cologne. Here,” She pulled the tie from around her neck and looped it around his. “Better?”
“Much. But this has to go.” Drawing the slicker from her shoulders, he couldn’t resist tasting the tempting feast before him. Her shoulders were round, firm and he found he rather enjoyed nibbling on them.
He memorized her body with his hands and his mouth, tasting each part of her as if she were an exotic fruit he had never savored before. She gave to him and he took.
And he realized then that he was about to take her in his living room. That wasn’t right.
She giggled when he lifted her into his arms and he just couldn’t resist nuzzling into her neck as he carried her to his bedroom.
“Nice room,” she managed when he set her down.
“It pales in comparison. I wish I had some rose petals for you.” She deserved so much more.
“I don’t need rose petals. All I need is you.”
He could give her that.
He kissed her, not with the greed that he felt, but with the passion she deserved. He moved slowly as he caressed her body, despite his overwhelming desire to take. And when he pressed her down onto the bed, he simple looked.
“You are so beautiful. My Samantha.” And then he took her body on a slow ride to heaven.
With every stroke of his hands, he felt her quiver. With every nibble of his lips her body trembled. When he slipped the barriers away, she opened with anticipation for him.
Taking her lips in his, Ethan slid into her with a slow fluid motion that stirred the inner most recesses of their bodies. Slowly, he pressed inside a little further and she moved with him in perfect rhythm, their mouths caressing, tongues testing. There was no rush here, no need to hurry, just a longing to have for as long as they had.
When the tension built inside, curling like a fireball of need; neither cried out with its victory, but simply clung and let the wave ride its course.
His breath ragged, so many emotions careening inside of him, he looked down at her with a smile. Good God, how could he live without her? He’d never felt this kind of connection to anyone. Not even his wife. He’d been blind once. With Samantha, he could finally see.
Spotting the discarded tie beside them on the bed, he slipped it over her head. “You look good in my tie.”
Laughing, a bold right from her belly laugh, Sam wiped the damp hair from his face. “Everything goes with black.”
Laughing now himself, Ethan shifted so she lay on top of him. “I may never be able to wear it again without thinking of you like this.”
“That was my goal.”
Capturing her face in his hands, he wanted so much to say those three special words to her. Instead, he decided to show her. While he caressed every part of her, showing her the love he couldn’t express verbally, he knew without a shadow of a doubt that he would do whatever it took to keep her here with him.
The bells rang so loud she could feel them rattling her bones. In the darkness, she stood, but she was not alone. Through the ringing, through the noise, she heard the whimper, and she knew. Groping in the dark, Sam tried desperately to find her.
“I’m coming, Alexis.”
Then the male voice rumbled in the air.
“It will all be over soon, my child. So very soon.”
Though she couldn’t see him, Sam clawed at the darkness surrounding her hoping to hit her mark. “No, no, leave her alone. Get away from her you bastard.” But as Sam shouted her demand she knew it went on deaf ears. The deed had long been done. But that didn’t stop her from trying.
“I want to go home. I want to see my mommy,” the young girl pleaded.
“Let her go, you bastard.” Sam groped in the dark, her fingers clawing in the damp dirt that seemed to suck her down. “You will go home, my child. Just close your eyes and you’ll be there.”
“I want my mommy…,” Alexis cried.
There was no sound that could compare to the sound of flesh being separated by force. And the gurgled scream that echoed in the air would haunt her forever. Sam didn’t have to see to know he had just sliced the child’s throat. “No! You bastard.”
Her eyes shot open and she saw Ethan leaning over her.
“Samantha, wake up.”
“Make him stop. Dear God, make him stop.”
Ethan wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight to his chest. “Come on, baby. It’s okay. It was just a dream. You’re safe now, I’ve got you.” He stroked her back as he held her.
His voice was all she needed to clear her mind. Her eyes finally focusing, she saw that she wasn’t in the pits of darkness, or in her bedroom, but in Ethan’s instead. “Oh, God.”
“It’s okay, I’ve got you. The dream is over now.” He stroked her hair, kissing her head as he held her.
But it wasn’t over, not yet, and it wouldn't be until Alexis was found. Then it hit her, she knew now without a doubt where the young girl was. “I have to go.” Bolting from the bed, she searched for her clothes. Where the hell had she put them?
“What? It’s barely five a.m.”
Then she remembered all she’d worn had been her bra and panties and a rain slicker. Spotting them lying on the floor, she slipped into her bra and panties as quickly as she could “I need to go, now.” Racing into the living room, she grabbed the rain slicker and, threw it on in a rush.
“I don’t think you’re in any condition to drive, Samantha.” He followed her, bouncing from foot to foot as he slipped into his trousers.
“I’m fine. I need to go. Alexis needs me.” Sam bolted for the door, slamming it in her wake.
Her mind was racing as fast as she drove. She hurried home, throwing on a pair of sweats and a t-shirt before heading back out.
In the dusky hours of dawn, Sam cruised alone on the highway, her destination only minutes away. Only she would be able to find her and set her free.