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His Lover's Little Secret Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:54:42

The plane was well on its way back to New York before she so much as looked in Gavin’s direction. There was only a foot between them, but it could’ve been miles. “Listen, fighting isn’t going to get us anywhere, so let’s call a truce until this whole mess is over.”

Gavin’s fingers flexed around the controls with anger and anxiety, but the plane didn’t so much as waver under his steady command. “Agreed.”

“What else did your parents say when they called?”

“They had taken him to the park and then brought him home to take a nap before lunch. My mother said she fell asleep herself on the chaise in the living room. When she got up to check on him, he was gone and the ransom note was left on the bed.”

“No one else was home?”

“My father was in his office. Nora had gone out to pick up groceries.”

Sabine shook her head and focused her gaze on the miles of ocean between her and her baby. “How can someone just walk into a multimillion-dollar apartment building and walk out with our son? Did no one see him? Not even the doorman? Surely there are cameras everywhere.”

“Whoever it was didn’t go through the front door. They probably went in through the parking garage. There are cameras all over, but it requires a police request for them to pull the surveillance tapes.”

“And,” Gavin said with a heavy sigh, “we haven’t called the cops yet. The note threatened Jared’s safety if we involved the police. I want to wait and take the kidnapper’s call tonight. Then we might have a better idea of who we’re working with here. At that point, we might get the NYPD to come in.”

Sabine wasn’t sure if she liked this plan or not. This was her first involvement with a kidnapping outside episodes of Law & Order, but calling the cops always seemed to be step number one in those situations. But perhaps Gavin had more insight into this than he was sharing. “You said ‘a better idea of who we’re working with.’ Do you know who might be involved in this?”

Gavin shrugged, the dismissive gesture making her angrier than she already was. “It might not be anyone I know. With this kind of thing, it could just be some random creep out to make a quick buck in ransom money. You were right to say that claiming my son made him a target. It did. I hadn’t really considered that until now.

“But I can’t help but think this is someone I know. Jared isn’t common knowledge yet. I can’t be certain, but I’ve got a pretty short suspect list. Despite what you might think, I don’t go around ruining my competitors and giving them reason to hate me.”

“Who, out of those people, would despise you enough to kidnap your son?”

“Three, tops. And that’s a stretch.”

“And how many,” Sabine asked with a tremble in her voice, “would be willing to kill your son for revenge?”

Gavin turned and looked at her, the blood draining from behind his newly tanned skin. “No one,” he said, although not with enough confidence to make her feel better. “No one.”

Truthfully, Gavin only had one suspect on his list. As the time drew close for the call from the kidnappers, he was fairly certain who would be on the other end.

They had arrived safely at the airport and made their way to his parents’ apartment as quickly as they could. His parents looked nearly ill when they walked in. His father’s larger-than-life confidence had crumbled. His mother looked paper-thin and fragile. This had shaken them and it was no wonder. Their home, the one they’d shared for over thirty years, had been tainted by someone bold enough to stroll inside and walk out with the most precious treasure in their possession.

Sabine and his mother hugged fiercely and then went to sit together on the couch. His father paced in the corner, staring out the window at the city that had somehow betrayed him. Nora brought a tray with hot tea and nibbles that no one could stomach touching. Gavin just sat and waited for the call.

When the phone finally rang, Gavin’s heart leaped into his throat. He answered on the second ring, gesturing for silence in the room. They had not called the police, but if the four nervous adults swarming him weren’t quiet, the kidnapper might think the mansion was overrun with investigators and hostage negotiation teams.

“Hello?” he choked out.

“Gavin Brooks,” the man said with an air of confidence that bordered on arrogance. Gavin didn’t recognize the voice, but he hadn’t spoken to his primary suspect. “So glad you could come home from your luxury vacation for our little chat.”