Time to Run(5)

By: Marliss Melton


With a long-suffering sigh, he descended the stairs to his kitchen, where he pawed through the phone book. Hopefully Sara Garret's number was listed, and hopefully she'd be home to take his call.

Her name wasn't listed, but her husband's was, identifiable by his rank, Captain Garret. Chase dialed *67 to conceal his number from caller ID. As the phone rang, he pictured her exquisite eyes and his pulse quickened inexplicably.

The jangling of the telephone startled Sara from counting her money on the bathroom floor. Stuffing the bills back into the tampon box, she shoved it under the sink before hurrying to the adjoining bedroom to snatch the phone off the cherrywood secretary. "Hello?"

"Mrs. Garret?" asked a male voice. The familiar drawl made the air back up in her lungs.

"Yes."

"This is Chief McCaffrey. I left an envelope with you yesterday at the Trial Services Building?"

"Yes," she said, rendered almost mute by the fact that he was calling her. Her thoughts ran wildly before her.

Chief McCaffrey. Four years ago, he'd approached her stranded car in the parking lot, offering to help. He'd been so considerate, so competent, so handsome in a rough-and-ready way, that she'd been in a daze when they parted company. Garret had berated her for her tardiness the instant she arrived home.

Running into him again at the base commissary, here in Virginia Beach, had struck her as a marvelous coincidence. And he'd been just as cordial and considerate as the last time, even though she was fully to blame for toppling his soda cans. She'd left the store amazed that such a man existed, only to have Garret seize her checkbook because she'd splurged on strawberry shortcake.

Now Chase McCaffrey was on the phone, calling her!

"Sorry to bother you, ma' am, but I need to know if you were able to give Commander Spenser that envelope."

"Oh, yes," she said, disappointed that the call wasn't personal, of course not. "I handed it to him right away, along with your message."

"Thanks," he said. "I'm headed to Oklahoma this afternoon. Just wanted to tie up all my loose ends."

Oklahoma? Had he just said Oklahoma? The word jolted her like an electric shock. Sara sputtered, searching for an appropriate way of asking whether he could give her and Kendal a ride.

"Why ... why are you going to Oklahoma?" she stammered, her head spinning so fast that she could hardly think.

"Family member died," he said shortly. "Left me some land."

Sara licked her dry lips, desperate to put her question to him. But within the confines of a casual phone call, it was inappropriate. Besides, she could hear Kendal's bus coming up the road now, hydraulic brakes screeching as it slowed beside the bus stop. "Please, can… can I see you before you go?" she added before she lost her courage. "There's something that I have to ask you."

He kept notably quiet, no doubt thinking she had lost her mind.

"There's a park in my neighborhood," she persisted, sacrificing her dignity for Kendal's sake. "I'm taking my son there today at four. Could you meet me there?"

"Well, I'm pretty busy packin' and all," he answered, but he actually sounded like he was thinking about it.

"Just give me ten minutes." She wanted to melt into the Berber carpet for being reduced to begging favors from a stranger, but the opportunity was too golden to pass up: a ride out West without having to use public transportation.

"The park on Sherwood Drive?" he asked her.

"Yes," she confirmed, her hope flaring, "just past the pool."

"See you there," he said, ending the call.

Sara stared at the phone in her grip, dazed by the possibility that the miracle she'd been praying for had just dropped in her lap. Who better to help her and Kendal slip away than a Navy SEAL? He'd been so helpful in the past; surely he'd consider helping just one more time.

Her gaze shifted out the window to where ten-year-old Kendal was getting off the bus, his shoulders bowed beneath the weight of his backpack. He'd dressed all in black today, still mourning his rabbit.

His teacher had called yesterday evening, the day after Mr. Whiskers's death, alarmed by the change in Kendal's demeanor.

Sara was also alarmed. But she wasn't going to waste time wondering where the downward spiral would end. She was taking every conceivable measure to get her and Kendal out of this nightmare before another incident took place.





Chapter Two


Chase nosed his older model sports car between a BMW sedan and a Range Rover. The park in Sara's neighborhood looked like Disneyland, with an elaborate plastic playground, pool, and clubhouse, all surrounded by million-dollar mansions.

What the hell am I doing here? Chase wondered.