My pulse throbs in my ears, Jeremy’s tall frame coming into view.
“Selena?” Jeremy holds a hand behind his back. “Babe, where are you?”
“I have nothin’ else on me,” Gertrude’s father whispers.
“And I have no reason to believe you.” Why am I keeping my voice down?
“You have my daughter, you have my weapon. The way he reacts to seein’ me will tell you everything you need to know. Please, stay here.”
For some reason I’ll never understand, I remain hidden as he emerges into the moonlight. I watch this stranger approach and I see Jeremy freeze, recognition jolting through and making him stumble back.
“Where is my wife?” Jeremy’s voice shakes.
The stranger raises his meaty hands, keeping his distance. “We both know harmin’ a woman is more to your taste than mine.”
“Where is she, Carter?”
“Oh, so you do remember me?” Carter laughs. “And here I was thinkin’ you’d just killed my girlfriend and taken my daughter without knowin’ I existed. It looked too good for you, I guess.”
“I didn’t kill Molly. She was sick in the head and she couldn’t handle rejection—”
“That’s a lie!”
“Who told you that? Her sister? Or –”
“You said you were my friend, Jeremy! Friends don’t sleep with a buddy’s girl.”
“Which is it, Carter? We were friends, or I didn’t know you existed and stole your daughter? You can’t have it both ways. I’ll ask you one last time, where is Selena?”
I lay Gertrude’s sleeping form in the soft grass beneath the pines and skirt the tree line a couple hundred feet before stepping into the light, still clutching the knife.
“I told you to stay put!” Carter roars heading toward me.
Jeremy pulls his hand from behind his back, revealing the .22 caliber pistol he’d been given on our wedding day. “You make one move toward her, and it’ll be the last you ever make. The police are on their way.”
“Polly told me what you did. You killed Molly.” The moonlight reflects off the tears rolling down his cheeks.
“She lied to you, Carter.” I edge my way between the barrel and the unarmed man. “She tried to kill me and—”
He shakes his head. “That’s a lie. She said you’d say that, but I stuck up for ya! I told her you were a good woman.”
The grass rustles behind me and Jeremy comes to stand at my side, still holding up the gun. “When was the last time you got high, Carter?”
The man pauses, and for the first time I see the slight tremor in his hands. In the distance, a police siren begins to bleed into the night.
“You did the drugs, not me.”
Jeremy lowers the gun halfway. “Carter…”
“I just want my baby girl.” His eyes widen, his gaze flickering in panic. “You’re going to tell them I’m high. You’re a lawyer, you can be cheatin’ on the tests. You just want to keep my baby girl from me.”
As the sirens grow Carter lunges forward, tackling me to the ground. A single shot rings out, waking the sleeping girl beneath the trees.
Thank you all so much for reading! Have a question you’d like to ask any of the characters from this story? Leave it in a comment below and I’ll be sure to add it to next week’s character interview.