The Hero (Page 29)

Author: Robyn Carr

“We’re going to take a break,” Ms. Haynes said. “I’m going to get us some lunch. Anything in particular you’d like, Devon?”

“Anything would be fine.”

“Is there anything you don’t like? Something I should avoid? I’m thinking about a half a tuna sandwich, small salad and cola.”

“Sounds perfect. I’m a little worried about Dr. Grant and Mercy.”

“Why don’t you take a few minutes to check in. You can use your phone—you’re certainly not suspected of any crime. If you could say as little as possible about our line of questioning, that would be appreciated. I don’t need Jacob to be warned that we’re looking at him.”

“Don’t you think he knows?” Devon asked.

“I think he suspects,” she said. “I’ll get your lunch. Make a couple of phone calls and ease your mind.”

“How much longer will I be here?”

“We’ll have you home for dinner, Devon,” she said. “If we need any more information from you, we can get in touch later. One long day of answering questions seems like more than enough to expect from you. And we’re grateful for your cooperation.”

“Can I have some privacy?” she asked, glancing at McGrump and McGlower.

“Absolutely! Gentlemen?” Emma gestured toward the door.

They seemed to leave the small room reluctantly. Although it made Devon smile to herself, knowing that anything she said within these walls was being listened to. Still, having a couple of “suits” bearing down on her like that was most disconcerting. Plus, she found them beyond rude. If they wanted her continued cooperation, they might try being a little more civilized.

She called Scott, told him where she was and that the police had many questions about the commune, which she was doing her best to answer helpfully. He assured her that Mercy was fine and probably didn’t even know her mother was out of town. “And don’t worry, Devon—as job security, I’m saving all the paperwork for you.”

“You are a givin’ man, Doctor. I always said so.”

“Just call me if you need me.”

Then she texted Spencer, told him all was just fine, that she was answering questions for the P.D. and would be home by dinnertime. He texted back that he would leave school and come for her if she needed him.

She was so lucky. She had Mac, who she thought might still be in the building waiting for her, Scott, who would guard her child and close up his business if she needed him, Rawley, who literally gave her a second chance...and Spencer, who loved her.

During lunch she was alone with Emma Haynes and Devon asked her questions about her work. Emma went from a degree in criminal justice to a master’s degree to the FBI and loved going to work every day. “Look at the people I meet, the wrongs I can help right. What’s not to love?”

“Well, can you settle down and have a family?” Devon asked.

“Sure, though my job might change. Right now I not only travel a lot, I also am regularly reassigned to new field offices. The hard part for someone like me is finding the right man. My whole world seems to be filled with men in law enforcement.”

“Well, if they’re all sourpusses like the two who picked me up in Thunder Point today, I can see your problem.”

She laughed. “There you go.” She took a drink from her soda and said, “The afternoon is going to be taxing, Devon. We need your help in creating a diagram of the compound, the buildings, the location of weapons, of marijuana, fences, et cetera. We’ll help you with the drawing—I have an artist coming to join us. This is important.”

“I understand. I’m afraid, Emma.”

“For your safety?”

“No. For theirs. There are friends in there. Children. Small children. I would never forgive myself if I told you things that would lead to them being hurt.”

Emma gave her hand a squeeze. “This is why we’re so exact with the questions we’ve asked. We don’t want any injuries. We will not take any action that will hurt innocent people.”

She took a deep breath. “Okay. Let’s do it.”

* * *

Devon was exhausted by the time the afternoon came to a close. She had done her best to help develop a rendering of the compound she’d lived on and the interior of each of the buildings. She told them as much as she knew and remembered. In the process, she had her first experience with Red Bull to keep her going.

“Too bad for you I’m not some sort of suspect,” she said. “I’d admit to anything right about now...”

“There’s one more thing before we take you home,” Emma said. “Sit tight, I’ll be right back.”

Devon wondered how much more they could possibly want to know. Just then the door to the little interview room opened and Devon looked up to see Reese standing there. She jumped to her feet so suddenly her chair tipped over; she gasped and tears sprang to her eyes. She rushed into Reese’s comforting arms, holding her fiercely.

“There now, little darling. I guess this means you’re glad to see me?”

Devon backed away slightly and looked into Reese’s smiling eyes. She touched her hair, now shortened like her own. But while Devon had cut hers short, leaving her with that slightly wild mop, Reese’s blond hair curled at her chin. Reese was beautiful beyond words; Devon had always loved her, since the first day they’d met.

“I didn’t know they had you, too.”

“They don’t have me, darling. I came to the police and asked for help. I’m living in a safe place in another city. I’m looking for work. I’ll stay there until this whole thing is resolved.”

“How can it be resolved?” Devon asked.

“It’s important to get the women and children safely out of there before there’s any kind of conflict between Jacob and the law. I have no idea how that can be done,” Reese said. “The police don’t confide in me.”

“Pilly will never leave him,” Devon said.

“I worry about that, too,” Reese said.

“Where is Mariah?”

Reese smiled and her face lit up. “She’s with a family. She delivered a healthy son just last week. She’s safe and has a good place with people who can help her rebuild her life. I left Mark with her for the day.”

“I’m working for a doctor in a little town not far from here and I saw one of them come in the black SUV,” Devon said. “They were asking if anyone had seen you and Mariah.” She shook her head. “They never asked about me. I think maybe they don’t care that I’m gone.”

“Oh, Jacob cares. He was in a rage. They left and went looking for you. I have no idea what went on there when I left with Mariah and Mark. I hate to think about it. I managed his family for him and Mariah was not only the youngest woman there, but she was pregnant. I can imagine Jacob just about lost his mind.” She shook her head sadly. “Devon, there’s so much more history to that place than you know—we’ll talk about it someday.”

“Will we see each other again?”

“Of course,” she said, giving her hair a pat. “I don’t know when, but we will see each other again. Tell me about your life now. Are you safe? Happy?”

Devon nodded. “It’s been amazing. An old guy picked us up and took us in. He kept us in his home for a little while.”

Reese frowned. “Does he dominate you?”

Devon smiled. “He’s nothing like Jacob, nothing at all. He said he’d had hard luck most of his life and he was just giving back. He pointed me in the direction of a possible job and I got it. I found a small place to rent, I share a babysitter with my boss, filled the little house with secondhand furnishings. I put in a lot of hours for the doctor, but I do a good job for him and he lets me know he sees it. It’s a small place—people get to know each other easily.”

“You should probably get some counseling....”

Devon laughed. “I’ll see if I can work that into the budget someday.”

“I want you to think about it. Jacob worked so hard at making all the women think they had nothing, no options, no ability to do anything but exist inside his fence. That’s a lot to overcome.”

“Are you in counseling?”

She nodded. “It’s helping. I’ll tell you more about that when we see each other next. We really can’t be in touch right now, but I hope it won’t be too long before...”

“Why?” Devon asked. “Can’t we talk on the phone sometimes? Maybe meet here? Jacob would never come near a police building!”

“If we want the FBI to finish what they started, we need to just live quiet lives until it’s over. Then we can see each other again. I hope it’s not too long.”

* * *

Just as she suspected, Mac was waiting for her to take her home. He had gone back to Thunder Point, but returned for her. When they were in the department car he asked, “Was it okay?”

“It was the most exhausting day of my life,” Devon said. “They wanted details about each person that I’m not even sure I remember accurately. Basically we were slaves and we had a mostly benevolent master.”

“Mostly?” Mac asked.

“Mostly. Let’s face it—he’s a drug dealer.”

Mac tapped his wedding ring on the steering wheel. “I think, a major drug dealer.”

She pulled out her phone. How had she lived so long without this ability to communicate so easily, so rapidly? “And I miss some of the women and kids so much,” she said to Mac.

She texted her boss and Spencer to say she was headed home. By the time Mac pulled up in front of his office, the clinic was dark. “Listen, Devon,” he said, “what you did today was brave. And it was right. You could’ve given us all a different name, hidden right in plain sight, started a new life here and disappeared from your past. Coming to me, cooperating with the feds, that was brave.”

She gave him a weak smile. “I hope it was also smart,” she said.


Cooper’s little apartment over the bar had one bedroom. When it was his turn to keep Austin overnight so Spencer could have a life, Austin slept in the same room with Cooper and Sarah—on the pull-out sofa. It was not optimal. Not only was there no nooky on such nights, but Austin snored like a freight train. He also flopped around on that bed like a fish on the dock.

Cooper wanted to impose on Landon to keep the little guy in the toy hauler, but when he even led up to such a request Landon cleared his throat, lifted a brow and smirked. Then Austin asked Cooper, “How old do I have to be before I get a man cave?”

“Very old,” Cooper said.

The upside was, Austin did make friends right away because Austin was connected with one of the most important people in the town—his own dad. Kids from school only had to see him at the first high school football game to get the message—Austin’s dad was the coach and Austin sat with Mac, Cooper and the others. But instead of Austin being lured away to hang with kids his own age, all the kids who liked the new kid wanted to sit with the in crowd.

“But I thought you enjoyed having Austin around,” Sarah said.

“I do. I’m nuts about Austin. But I would like to have him sleeping down the hall. So I can be myself.”

“You’re a sex maniac,” she said.

“I thought that was your favorite part,” he said, grinning lasciviously.

“You’re hardly deprived,” she pointed out to him.

“True,” he could admit. In fact, since Sarah had bid farewell to the Coast Guard, her days and nights were her own. The September air was still mild and autumn on the beach brought a whole new energy—the after-game campfires had begun and the night was alive with the sounds of teenagers. Cooper dimmed the lights in the bar by ten o’clock to keep the action down on the beach rather than running up and down the stairs for drinks. But he liked to sit with his wife on the deck and watch the partying. Thunder Point had scored a big win over one of their rival schools tonight.