Welcome to the final instalment of the #freestory from the HarperImpulse Fire Writers, entitled Missing You.
If you've not read the other parts yet then catch up, starting with Part 1!
They discovered from Max’s calendar that he’d been meeting with a Lucy Newman who lived in a run-down cottage a mile away from Max. The windows were boarded up and the deck was derelict. Carefully, they made their way up the steps and knocked the door. The rickety wood swung open, greeting them with darkness. Until the barrel of a gun was stuck in her face.
Sam pulled her behind him slowly. Her heart skipped a beat.
‘What do you want?’ A woman’s voice demanded.
Sam raised his hands. ‘Just to talk. Her brother's gone missing and we discovered he’d been meeting with a woman called Lucy Newman at this address.’
The woman stepped onto the deck, never lowering the gun. ‘Max,’ she said, while her gaze darted around the forest.
‘He’s missing. We found a note and a flash drive out at the old abandoned mansion and thought it might have something to do with you.’
The woman took a deep breath and lowered the gun. ‘I’m Lucy. I’ve been walking George for your brother.’
Kalie eyed the gun questioningly.
‘Max is a good man. You should give them what they want and they’ll let him go.’
‘Who're they?’ Sam asked.
‘The less you know the better. Just give them the drive if you want Max to live!’ Lucy slammed the door in their faces.
‘I can’t believe her!’ Kaylie said as they walked away.
Sam pulled her to a stop and tilted her chin. ‘I need to do what Lucy says. I can’t risk you being at the handover.'
She was shaking her head before he finished but he took her face between his palms.
‘Kaylie, you mean the world to me. I can’t have you in danger.’
His breath warmed her skin and his words melted her heart. Tears streamed from her eyes. ‘How can you say that after—’
‘Don’t. Cindy kissed me. I was surprised but when I realised what she was doing I shoved her away. It’s always been you. I’d do anything for you, even die for you.’
Even die for you.
The words sent shivers up her spine.
Before she could respond, her phone rang.
Kaylie shrieked. The sound echoed through Max’s empty house. The only other sound was George whining from his bed at the bottom of the stairs.
Sam had answered the call, taken the flash drive and told her to get back here straight away or he’d tie her to a tree. Even though it had almost killed her to watch him go, she had enough sense to think logically. If he didn’t make it back, she could call the police and tell them everything. If they both went, they could both be shot. But then her emotions hadn’t caught up with her logic. She realised that if Sam or Max didn’t come back, her life wouldn’t be worth living.
She loved them both. She needed them both.
George started to bark, then a familiar voice said, ‘Chill, George. It’s just me.’
The front door opened and Max came in with Sam behind him. She bolted over to her brother and hugged him, mouthing ‘thank you’ to Sam over his shoulder.
George was up on his back legs too, while Max patted his head.
‘Easy there, Kaylie. They did a number on me,’ Max said.
She pulled away and waited. Max just rubbed his temples and sighed. ‘It wasn’t me they wanted. Anyway, they seem happy enough that they have the drive.’
‘What do you need?’ she asked.
‘A hot shower, a meal and a long sleep. Maybe while I’m doing part one you could sort out the food,’ Max suggested.
She nodded, then watched as he disappeared up the stairs with George right behind him.
‘I better go,’ Sam said.
‘Stay,’ she pleaded.
‘I don’t think there’s anything to stay for, is there?’ he asked, lowering his eyes to the floor.
‘How about this?’ Taking a deep breath, she built up the courage to cross the room, slowly link her arms behind his head, then pull him down for a kiss full of all the love and pain and worry and thanks she had in her.
When they broke apart, Sam’s smile made her heart flutter.
‘Then I’ll stay, for as long as you want me.'