Sweet Temptation

Page 37

“Angel? Angel, baby. I’m here. Where are you? Are you all right?”

Her breath came out in a low sob, and she sounded winded and scared out of her mind.

“I don’t know where I am. I need help, but I don’t know where I am.”

The desperation in her voice scared him shitless.

“Okay, baby, calm down a minute. Where is Chad? Is he there?”

“I left him in the house,” she said faintly. “I handcuffed him and tied his legs and arms so he couldn’t come after me.”

Stunned expressions met her statement. The detective’s mouth dropped open. “Holy shit.”

Micah ignored him, his only focus on Angelina. “Good girl. You got away from him. Now tell me where you are so I can come get you.”

Another sob poured through the phone. “I don’t know. I’ve been walking forever, but I don’t see any signs and it’ll be dark soon. He ... he shot me.”

All the blood drained from his face. He collapsed into a chair still holding the phone to his ear. Oh God.

“How bad?” he asked, trying to stay calm when his heart was ready to pound out his chest.

“My arm. Or my shoulder. I’m not sure. Hurts. I’ve lost a lot of blood.”

Her voice sounded weaker.

“Angel, Angel, baby, listen to me. I want you to find a place to sit down. I need you to save your strength so you can help us find you.”

There was wind noise and a light whimper and then silence.

“Angel. Angel! Stay with me. I need you to stay with me,” he pleaded.

“Who is the cell provider?” the lead detective whispered loudly. “We can try to lock onto her location. I need that cell number.”

Micah held up one finger. His first priority was making sure Angelina was still on the line.

“Angel, talk to me.”

“I’m here,” she said faintly.

“I’m going to need just a second. I’m not going anywhere. I promise.”

“Okay,” she whispered.

He held the phone away and related the number to the detective.

“Keep her talking,” he said to Micah. “Have her tell us as much about her location as possible.”

“Angel, do you know what direction he took you?”

“North,” she said after a brief hesitation. “Last highway I took note of was 146. After that he took back roads. Dirt farm roads, only they weren’t marked. He took me to an abandoned house at the end of one of the roads. The woods are thick here.”

“Okay, Angel, don’t worry. We’re working on it,” he said soothingly. “Have you stopped the bleeding? How bad is it?”

“I’m pregnant,” she blurted. “He made me take a pregnancy test.” Tears were thick in her voice. “He was so furious. I knew I had to protect my baby.”

Micah laid the phone on the table and covered his face with his hands. Someone put a hand on his shoulder, but he didn’t look up.

“Angelina, can you hear me?” the detective said in a loud voice.

“I hear you,” she said in barely a whisper.

“My name is Detective Sanchez. I’m here with Micah. We’re going to find you. I need you to believe that. You and your baby are going to be okay.”

“I can get a helicopter in the air,” Damon said. “Two, three, whatever we need. We can use the last known highway as a jumping-off point.”

“I won’t turn it down,” Sanchez said. “I have Carol working on getting a trace on the cell signal. If we can just get a tower, it will narrow the search field.”


Micah raised his head. “I’m here, baby. Right here. We’re coming for you.”

“I should keep moving,” she said.

“No!” Micah protested. “Save your strength. We’ll come to you.”

“I need to stay awake. I feel so sleepy now. I’m cold. I’m afraid to close my eyes.”

Oh God. Tears knotted Micah’s throat. “Keep moving then, Angel girl. But go slow. Don’t hurt yourself.”

The wind noise stopped and the line went eerily silent.


Silence greeted his demand.

“Angel? Goddamn it!”

He looked down to see the call had disconnected. He punched the send button to reconnect the call, but it went straight to voice mail.

“Son of a bitch!”

“We’ll find her, Micah.”

Micah looked up to see Connor standing over the table, his hands braced on the surface as he leaned forward.

Nathan, Gray and Damon stood to the side, their expressions grim but resolute.

“We can spread out. It’s only been a few hours. He couldn’t have gone too far,” Gray said.

“I’ll notify the sheriff’s department in Liberty County and have them out looking,” Sanchez said. Then he looked at Damon. “How fast can you get the choppers in the air?”

In response, Damon flipped his phone open and started barking orders and directions.

Micah stood, gripping the phone, his thumb hitting the send button again. Connor put a hand out to stop him as he went to leave the room.

Micah shrugged him off. “Don’t,” he bit out. “Don’t even say it. That’s my child out there. Angelina. I’m going.”

“I’ll drive,” Connor said. “You’re in no shape to.”

Before Micah could protest, Connor shook his head. “You need to keep trying to get her back on the phone. I’ll drive.”

Micah nodded, ignoring the jackhammer going off in his head. “Let’s go then.”


Micah wavered in and out of consciousness. His head felt like someone had popped it like a grape. But he forced himself to remain as focused as possible. Angelina was out there. Hurt, scared and alone.

“It’s been hours,” Micah said hoarsely. “Why the hell haven’t we found her? Why can’t I get her on the phone?”

Connor gripped the steering wheel as he turned onto another dirt road that led to nowhere.

“Keep trying, man. Signal sucks ass out here. If we’re moving and she’s moving, sooner or later you’ll get her.”

“If she’s still moving. She’s been shot. God knows what else.”

Micah ran a hand through his hair, wincing when his fingers glanced over the knot behind his ear.

Where was she?

Damon had three of his company helicopters in the air, a medic and search personnel on each. They had narrowed the search radius thanks to the trace on Angelina’s one call, but there was still a wide area to canvas.

Micah punched the send button again even as he scanned the road ahead. It took a second for him to realize that the call hadn’t gone immediately to voice mail. He yanked the phone to his ear, his pulse accelerating when he heard it ringing.

Come on. Come on. Answer. Come on, baby.

It stopped ringing, and he heard distortion.

“Angelina!” he shouted. “Can you hear me? Are you there?”


Her voice, whispery soft, thin and strained, came over the line. He nearly wept in relief.

“Baby, talk to me. Have you gotten any bead on your location yet? How are you doing?”

He forced himself to curtail the questions before he overwhelmed her. Connor glanced sideways at Micah, his hands gripping the steering wheel tighter.

“I’m tired.”

“I know, Angel girl. I know. As soon as we find you, I promise you can sleep for a week. Now talk to me about what’s around you.”

“It’s not so heavy now,” she said. “I’m next to an open field, but there’s no houses. No cars. Am I going in circles?”

Micah closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers.

“Ask her about helicopters,” Connor said.

“Angel, have you heard any helicopters? Close by?”

There was a hesitation.

“I thought I heard one a while ago, but it didn’t seem close.”

“I want you to stay on the phone with me, okay? Just keep talking and keep walking.”

“Micah, I see a sign up ahead!”

His heart started hammering double time.

“Take your time. Don’t rush. When you get close enough to see, tell me what it says.”

Connor picked up his phone, ready to call the information in to Damon so he could relay it to the helicopters and the others on the ground.

All Micah could hear was her harsh breathing blowing through the phone. He was afraid to ask her about the bleeding, and as much as he wanted to, he didn’t dare bring up the baby. He’d lived with a knot the size of a football in his gut ever since she’d dropped the bomb about Chad forcing her to take a pregnancy test.

“Moss Hill. It says Moss Hill.”

Micah turned to Connor, a question in his eyes. “She said Moss Hill. Where the hell is that?”

Connor held up a finger as he quickly related over the phone the information Angelina had given them.

“Micah, there’s a car coming,” Angelina said. “They’ll see me. They have to see me.”

“No! Angel, stay off the road.”

He heard her voice, faint as if she’d pulled the phone away from her ear. The sound of a vehicle, distant at first and then louder, spilled through the phone.

He curled his hand around the cell phone and cursed long and hard.

There was muffled conversation. A man’s voice and then Angelina’s, but he couldn’t make out what was being said.

Finally Angelina came back on the line.


“I’m here, baby. Talk to me. Tell me what’s going on.”

“This man said he’d help me.”

“Put him on,” Micah demanded.

“Uh, hello?”

The man sounded older and worried.

“My name is Micah Hudson. I’m looking for Angelina, the woman you stopped to help. I need you to tell me your exact location.”

“She’s hurt pretty bad, mister. I think I should take her on to the hospital. There’s a lot of blood.”

Micah blew out his breath to try to assuage the sickness swelling in his stomach.

“No,” he said calmly. “Tell me where you are. We have helicopters close. We can get her to the hospital much faster and every second counts. Get her inside your vehicle and keep her warm until we get there.”

Angelina lay across the seat in the extended cab of the truck, shivering as the heater piped in warm air. It wasn’t actually cold. Far from it—the man who’d stopped for her was standing outside the truck to escape the heat, although he popped his head in regularly.

She thought it likely he was worried she was going to die on him.

At times she was worried too.

She drifted in and out, but she wasn’t sure if it was an actual loss of consciousness or if she just fell asleep and woke at varying intervals.

The pain had numbed, and all she felt was a bone-deep chill. That loss of pain worried her. Her body should be screaming, but it seemed she became less aware of her injuries and her surroundings with each passing minute.

Micah was coming for her. She’d be okay.

She blinked against the sudden tears and then closed her eyes as the tears slipped down her cheeks, warming her chilled skin. Micah had lost so much because of her. Because of one man’s obsession. Looking back, there didn’t seem to be much difference between Chad’s preoccupation with her and her own fixation on Micah.

No doubt in Chad’s fractured mind he wasn’t capable of doing her harm either, and all he did he did out of love.

Nausea boiled like acid in her stomach.

“Miss? Are you still awake?”

The stranger’s worried voice seeped into the cab.

“There’s a helicopter landing. I think they’ve come for you. Thing’s landing in the road. Damndest thing I ever saw. Someone’s coming up the other way too. Guess the rescue is finally here.”

She closed her eyes in relief and shivered despite the stifling heat inside the truck. Again she drifted. What seemed only a few seconds later, she heard the door wrench open. A breeze ruffled her hair and then a hand touched her cheek, smoothing tenderly over the skin.

She roused, her eyes fluttering open. Micah’s face was close to hers, concern burning brightly in his eyes.

“Hi,” he said softly.

She tried to smile, but it just took too much effort. Instead, she let go and stopped fighting the darkness that threatened. Micah was here now. He wouldn’t let anything happen to her.

Micah watched her eyes close and a surge of panic nearly crippled him. He jammed his fingers to her neck, seeking a pulse. When he felt the faint pitter-patter, he nearly melted in relief.

He leaned out of the truck and waved frantically at the medic getting out of the helicopter. As he stared back at Angelina, he took in for the first time just how bad it seemed.

Her shirt was bathed in blood, though most looked to be dried. That was a good thing, right? Her mouth was swollen, and he ran a thumb over the raw-looking cut. Bastard had hit her. Hard.

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