Protecting Her Secret Son(7)

By: Regan Black



That scene had stayed with him all this time, daring him to stop wishing about it and take action. For years, he’d fabricated excuses that centered around her being an employee and off-limits. Now, on the day he’d been ready to ask her out, disaster struck.

“Take the hint,” he muttered. “Some things just aren’t meant to be.”

He could write off the idea of asking her out, probably for forever. Lousy timing didn’t get worse than this. She’d always associate him with her son’s disappearance, no matter how things turned out, and he hoped like hell they’d turn out right. Good people should have the happy endings in life.

Quickly veering away from that line of thought, he watched her leave her car, relieved when she walked down the drive toward his truck. At least he wouldn’t have to chase her down and haul her bodily into the vehicle. He couldn’t fault her reasoning behind cooperating with the kidnapper and yet he couldn’t step back and let her deal with it alone. Just wasn’t wired that way.

She didn’t say anything when she climbed into the truck, buckled up. He didn’t know what to say, so he let the silence fill the cab, the situation percolating in his head while they drove out to the Escape Club.

The club owner, Grant Sullivan, had created a hot spot for local bands and music lovers at the pier on the Delaware River. While business boomed, so did the side work. As a retired cop, Grant persistently and quietly built up a reputation for using the club to help people in the community.

It had started with giving short-term jobs at the club to cops and other first responders, and little by little, the concept had grown into something bigger and yet more flexible.

When a case slipped through the cracks of normal law enforcement, often Grant and his connections proved effective and helpful. Daniel knew of several instances of Escape Club staff helping locals out of tough spots, large and small. He’d been peripherally involved on recent cases involving two of his friends from the fire department, Mitch and Carson. With Mitch’s assistance, a murderous stalker had been stopped, and for Carson, a drug-dealing scam had been exposed and justice served.

He didn’t expect Shannon to believe him about Grant’s effectiveness, and he’d leave the sales pitch to Grant. At this point, he could only pray Shannon would listen and give Grant a chance to try.

Shannon leaned forward as he parked in the delivery lot near the kitchen. “Escape Club?”

“You’ve heard of it?”

“Rachel and her husband have had date nights out here.” She didn’t look at him, her face turned toward the river rolling by. “They say the music is always great.”

“They’d be right.” He released his seat belt and shifted to face her. “The owner, Grant Sullivan, is a former cop. Hang on.” He held up a hand to stop her protest when fear flooded her big brown eyes. “Former,” Daniel repeated. “He has connections and resources on and off the force. Believe me, I understand why you want to cooperate with the kidnapper.”

“You have children?”

“No.” He couldn’t quite laugh it off. He wanted kids, had always assumed he’d be a husband and father. At thirty-two, he’d expected to be on that path by now. He had a foggy picture in the back of his head of noisy family dinners with his parents doting on grandkids and a strong, caring wife to help him navigate life. He just hadn’t met her yet, the woman who could love him and stand by him despite his career as a firefighter. “That doesn’t mean I can’t see that this is hell for you.”

She swiped a tear from her cheek and rubbed her hands on her torn and paint-stained work jeans. “What can Grant do?”

“It’s always a surprise,” Daniel replied, hopeful. “Come on.” He eyed the traffic on the street, but didn’t see cars circling the block or people paying specific attention to them. The club, usually bustling by noon on a Saturday, wouldn’t open until four tonight in anticipation of a special concert. Daniel was on the schedule to arrive by seven to help at the bar through closing.

Opening the back door, the hard thump and kick of the drums poured out. More than likely, that was Grant enjoying a jam session before the band arrived for the final sound check. The man loved to sit in with the bands whenever possible.

Guiding Shannon down the hall and into the club, Daniel paused at the end of the bar. “That’s Grant up on stage,” he said to Shannon.

“All right.” Doubt clouded her features as she watched him work the drums.

Daniel tried to see the club owner through her eyes. With his dark hair going gray at the temples, his stocky build and perfect rhythm, Grant looked more like a rock star defying the years than a savvy club owner with a gift for private investigations.

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