Protecting Her Secret Son(8)

By: Regan Black



“He knows how to be discreet.” Daniel forced himself to stop talking. She’d held up remarkably well considering strangers had snatched her son and threatened his life, but no one had adequate words to ease her distress.

Her lips pressed into a tight line, she wrapped her arms around her midsection and glanced around the space while they waited. Grant had transformed the rundown warehouse into a gleaming, popular night club. Daniel couldn’t help wishing he’d been on hand for some of the build.

Grant finished the song and pushed his headphones off his ears, waved when he spotted them. “Be right there.” He stepped away from the drums and tucked the sticks into his back pocket. He ducked out of sight for a moment, then reappeared from backstage, hurrying forward, his limp barely noticeable.

“Daniel.” Grant reached out and the men clasped hands with a comfortable familiarity. “You’re early.” His astute brown eyes swept over Shannon. “I take it this isn’t a social call.”

“No, it’s not,” Daniel said. “This is Shannon Nolan. She’s had some trouble today and we could use some advice.”

Grant’s thick salt-and-pepper eyebrows arched up and he reached out, shook her hand. “What kind of trouble?”

She started to answer and stopped herself with a quick shake of her head. “I should go.”

“Not alone,” Daniel said. He waited until she lifted her despondent brown eyes to his. “Not alone,” he repeated. She did too much on her own and this wasn’t a situation anyone could be expected to handle without help, regardless of the kidnapper’s demands.

“Come on back and fill me in,” Grant said in a friendly tone that softened what could easily have been an outright order.

He led the way down the hall, gesturing for Daniel and Shannon to enter the office first. “Have a seat,” he said, closing the door.

Daniel appreciated the consideration as they sat down in the mismatched guest chairs in front of Grant’s desk. Though the club was deserted right now, the prep crews would be coming in soon, along with the featured band and the warm-up acts. He didn’t want anyone overhearing what Shannon had to say.

Grant’s chair squeaked as he settled in, and he gave Shannon a cautious smile. “What happened?”

“My son was kidnapped from the sitter’s house this morning.” Tears welled in her eyes, but her voice was clear and steady as she relayed the story.

Daniel made mental notes, only chiming in when Grant asked a question about the damage, the timing. While she explained it all, Grant looked over the first text messages on Shannon’s phone, reviewed the less-than-helpful incoming call log.

“Nasty work using kids as pawns,” he grumbled. Grant’s famous scowl was edging toward the ferocious end of the spectrum as he handed Shannon’s phone back to her across the desk. “Who is the boy’s father?”

She fidgeted in her chair, shoulders hunched and her palms pressed between her knees. “I don’t have any influence over him. The only time he cooperated with me was when he granted me the divorce. I haven’t even been back to New York.”

“You never told him he had a son?” Grant asked.

“No.”

At Shannon’s whispered answer, Daniel felt his heart clench. Twice now, in text and by phone, the kidnapper had told her she’d only get Aiden back once the father cooperated. If she didn’t have any influence over the man, it was no wonder she didn’t show much hope.

“Could the boy’s father be the kidnapper?” Grant asked, echoing a theory Daniel shared. “Maybe he found out and decided he wanted to be a dad after all.”

“No.” Shannon sat up straight. “He would have been furious to learn I was pregnant. I left him—left town—before he found out.”

As she nibbled on her lower lip, Daniel sensed she left something dark and ugly unsaid.

“Why?” Grant pressed. “You were afraid of him?”

“Yes.” She closed her eyes, her hands fisted on her knees hard enough to turn her knuckles white under the spattering of gray paint. “He turned into a different man after the wedding.”

Daniel could see she wanted to leave it at that. Just as he could see Grant’s cop instincts were humming. He had his teeth into this now and wouldn’t let up until he had all the facts.

“Who is the boy’s father?”

“It’s irrelevant.” She sniffled and another tear rolled down her cheek.

Grant’s chair squeaked as he leaned back. “I don’t think so.”

“Can you help me find my son?”

Daniel wanted to give her another hug and let her cry it out, though it wouldn’t help anything. He recognized the defeated look in her eyes, the utter helplessness dragging at her, having seen it in the faces of people certain they were going to die even as first responders did everything possible to save them.

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