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Synopsis

Morgan Kelley stood beside the large SUV, quietly watching those around him as he filled the tank for fuel. There were several cars there at the same time, so he didn’t think anything of it when he heard a door open before capping off the tank and going inside to get his change.

He thought about the meeting as he climbed behind the wheel, heading down I-5 to Portland, Oregon. It had been a good meeting. Solid. His presentation included everything from teacher expectations, to class size to a rounded curriculum and even a dress code. He’d been working on gathering the data he wanted from several good, solid charter schools around the country. This one would be cutting edge, money and talent would see to that, hopefully producing a generation that would be capable of continuing the message they’re beginning.

He was single and thanks to frugal parents and grandparents, he had the money necessary to buy into the project. Morgan was just short of the state line when a shadow fell across the mirror. He looked up, his body freezing and hands tightening painfully on the steering wheel.

The black hood came up slowly into his view, the upper part of the face covered with what looked like a velvet hood. He could see a corn silk red tassel hanging down the side. Then two very slim, very fine, almost delicate hands came up and lifted the hood from a pair if amazingly wide blue eyes.

And she smiled at him.

An oval face with high cheeks, reddish brows, pale lashes and ribbon straight red-gold hair framing it all.

They stared and blinked at one another in the large rear view mirror of the SUV. He felt all moisture in his mouth evaporate.

“Hello.”

“You certainly don’t resemble the typical car jacker,” he said dryly, looking toward his phone and swearing. He’d forgotten the charger and it was dead.

“A car jacker? Seriously?” Came the lilting feminine voice, her head shaking as she lay the hood of her cloak on her shoulders. “I am not a car jacker,” she sighed. “Although, I can easily see how you might think that.”

“How the hell…”

“Shhh…Lili is sleeping. It really is quite comfortable on the floor back here. And very warm,” she noted with a little nod, small, full lips pulled into a tight frown, one slim finger tapping her lips thoughtfully.

“I’m glad you were comfortable,” he answered coldly. “One more time…what the hell are you doing in my car?”

“I can explain…but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t stop driving until you reached wherever you’re going. I can call someone…well…I don’t suppose you have a phone…”

“It’s dead.”

“It’s been that kind of day,” she said tiredly. “Mine fell in the toilet,” she saw the look in his eyes and shrugged.

“Why…when…how…” Morgan shook his head, drawing in a long slow breath when he heard the little voice behind him.

“Lili…it’s okay, baby…” Eliose lifted her from the floor, sleepy red head resting on her shoulder. “This is Lili…she’s barely three…do you think we might stop at a restroom? Please…”

“Why should I…”

“Because two men abducted us outside the Windswept Narrows and…and when I had the chance…” She licked her lips. “I created a diversion at the gas station and got into the back while you were paying for your gas. I’m sorry…I…I didn’t know what else to do,” she finished in a long, low rush. “It was the first chance I had to get Lili to safety.”

He had to admit, the rushed, helpless sound in her voice, added to the moisture ridden blue eyes sunk him. Morgan closed his mouth and pulled off the highway, down the long ramp and into a fast food parking lot. He parked near the entrance, his nod stiff at the grateful gleam in the blue eyes.

“Thank you! We won’t be a moment, I promise you,” Eliose opened the back door, jumping out and lifting Lili in her arms, heading at a fast clip into the restaurant and straight to the restrooms.

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