Sabine leaped up, as well. “I’m going with you.”
Gavin’s jaw tightened. He looked as though he wanted to argue with her, but he didn’t. Gavin might be able to get his way when it came to unimportant things, but that was because most times, Sabine didn’t care. She cared about this, and she wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Sabine grabbed her own red backpack. It had a change of clothes, Pull-Ups, dry cereal, Jared’s favorite stuffed dinosaur and one of his trucks. She wanted to have everything she needed to clean him up and comfort him the minute she could finally get herself to let go.
Gavin had a car drive them downtown. It let them off about a block from the park and would circle until he called to be picked up. If all went well, this shouldn’t take long.
Sabine’s heart was pounding wildly in her chest as they walked through the park and headed toward the arch. She could barely hear the sounds of the traffic and people surrounding them. Gavin clutched her hand in his, steadying and guiding her to the rendezvous point.
They were about five minutes early. She didn’t know what Paul Simpson looked like, but Jared was nowhere in sight.
The minutes ticked by. Anxiously waiting. Then she heard it.
Like an arrow through her brain, Sabine immediately recognized the voice of her child amid the chaos of downtown. Her head turned sharply to the left. There, an older man was walking toward them carrying Jared in his arms.
She broke into a sprint, closing the gap between them. It wasn’t part of the plan, but Sabine didn’t care. She could hear Gavin running behind her. She stopped herself short of the man, who looked nothing like she expected him to. He was in his late fifties easily, in a nice suit. He also immediately lifted Jared from his hip and handed him into her arms.
Something about this didn’t seem right, but it didn’t matter. All that mattered was the warm, snuggling body of her baby back in her arms. Jared clung to her neck, his breathing a little labored as she nearly squeezed the life out of him. When she could finally ease up, she inspected her son for signs of his abduction. He was clean. Rosy-cheeked. Smiling. He actually didn’t appear to think anything was awry.
What the hell was really going on?
Sabine pried her attention away to listen to Gavin’s conversation. Roger? That was Paul’s father. Was he involved in this, too?
“Gavin, I am so sorry. You have no idea how disturbed I was to find out what was really going on. My son...” His voice trailed off. “It’s inexcusable. There are no words to express how horrified I am. This must have been a day of pure hell for you both.”
“What happened, Roger? We were supposed to be meeting Paul here.” Gavin’s dark eyes flickered over Sabine and Jared, but he didn’t dare try to hold his son. He’d have to pry him from Sabine’s dead arms.
“After your call last night, I got concerned. When I went into the office this morning, I heard Paul talking to someone in the day care center of our offices. He doesn’t have children, so there was no reason for him to be there. Later, I overheard him talking on the phone to you. After he hung up, I confronted him and he confessed everything to me. My wife and I have been concerned about him for a while, but you never believe your children could ever do something as horrible as this.”
“He’s in one of my jets on his way to a very expensive long-term rehab facility in Vermont. It was that or I disinherited him. If you want to press charges, I completely understand. I can give you the facility address for the police to pick him up. I just wanted to start getting him help right away. It seems he had more problems than even I knew, including an expensive drug habit. He owed his dealer quite a bit and had worked out a deal where he would let them use our planes to import and export drugs. That was the only reason he wanted the company. Can you imagine?”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Roger.”
The old man shook his head sadly and looked over at Jared. It must be hard to know your child did something terrible when all you can see is them when they were little.
“I want you to know your little boy was in the best possible care the entire time he was gone. Paul put him in the Exclusivity Jetliners day care center. We run a twenty-four-hour facility for our employees who might have to go on long flights or overnight trips. Jared spent the last day playing with the other children. I personally guarantee there’s not a scratch on him.”
Sabine felt a wave of relief wash over her. No wonder Jared seemed perfectly contented. He thought he had spent the day at school with new friends and had no clue he was a kidnapping victim. Thank goodness for that. She ran her palm over his head, messing up the soft, dark hairs and standing them on end.