Home > No Going Back (Sawyer Brooks #3)

No Going Back (Sawyer Brooks #3)
Author: T.R. Ragan

 

CHAPTER ONE

The first thing Nick Calderon noticed as he walked up the stone path leading to the front door of his house was that the entry light wasn’t on. He glanced at his watch: 7:10 p.m. The light should have automatically gone on an hour before he arrived home. He slipped his key into the lock, opened the door, and stepped inside.

The air-conditioning was on full blast, and his dog was nowhere to be seen. “Rocky! Come here, boy!”

Feeling uptight after another shitty day at work, Nick headed for the kitchen, dropping his coat and briefcase on one of the dining room chairs along the way. That’s when it dawned on him that something was very wrong. It was too quiet. Where was the dog?

“Linda? Are you here?”

Linda was his ex-wife. He had a restraining order against her. Obviously that hadn’t stopped her from sneaking into his house uninvited. He’d filed for divorce three years ago. She’d fought him tooth and nail for everything they’d owned. In the end, even though he’d moved out, he’d been court-ordered to continue paying the mortgage and utilities on the house where they had lived together for ten years. His ex-wife would leave all the lights on and crank up the air-conditioning with the windows open so that the utility bills would skyrocket. Three months ago, Linda had finally met someone else and sold the house. He’d thought the whole dirty mess was behind him, but apparently he’d been wrong.

He heard a dog whimper. “Rocky?”

A thought struck him. What if it wasn’t Linda? His gun was upstairs, locked away in a safe in his closet.

A lot of good that did him.

He figured he had two options: sneak upstairs and get his gun, or head back the way he came and let the police handle whoever might be hiding inside. Opting for the latter, he took slow, careful steps back toward the front door.

“Leaving already? Aren’t you worried about Rocky?”

At the sound of an unfamiliar voice, he whipped around. Someone was standing in the shadows near the pantry. Too tall to be his ex-wife. “Who are you?” he asked, not liking the squeaky sound of fear clogging his throat. “What are you doing in my home?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be leaving soon. I just want to ask you a few questions.”

The voice was muffled. The black, shoulder-length hair told him it was a woman. She was slender. Nick hadn’t worked out in a while, but he had at least fifty pounds on her. He figured he could overtake her if it came to that.

Her arms hung loose at her sides, her hands visible. She didn’t appear to have a weapon. That gave Nick a boost of confidence. If she came closer, he could take her down. “How did you get inside?” Nick asked.

“I’m the one who’s going to be asking the questions, so why don’t you take a seat.”

She gestured to the chair where Nick had left his coat and briefcase.

Nick thought about making a move, lunging for her and taking her to the ground, but decided against it. She was too far away. He needed her to move toward him before he made any rash decisions. He took a seat. “Okay. So what do you want to know?”

“I have a couple of questions, but there are rules.”

This was ridiculous. Nick didn’t need this shit. He had problems of his own. “I’ve had a really bad day, and—”

“Shut up!”

Nick’s eyes narrowed. “Did my wife send you?”

The intruder folded her arms across her chest. “I didn’t realize you were married. Where is she?”

“At work. She should be home any minute now.”

“Liar.”

In three long strides she was next to him. Hand in her pocket.

Before Nick had time to blink, she pulled out what looked like a gun. Without much time to react, Nick raised an arm in a defensive move to stop her, but it was too late. He felt a sting as an electric current whizzed through his chest. His muscles contracted. Gritting his teeth, he fell sideways from the chair to the floor. She had zapped him with one of those high-tech Tasers used by law enforcement.

The lights came on then, bright and blinding, right before a heavy foot landed on his chest, pressing down. “No lying. And no talking unless you’re answering my questions.”

Unable to think clearly, Nick concentrated on breathing. His vision blurred. His arms and legs were stiff. He couldn’t move.

The intruder’s movements were jerky. She worked fast, removing one of his shoes and his sock, tossing them aside. He tried to pull his foot away, but his leg wouldn’t budge.

Nick had read about people who’d been tased. If he recalled correctly, the effects didn’t last long. He needed to wait this thing out. As soon as he regained his strength, he would get control of the situation. The bitch wouldn’t stand a chance.

She held up a syringe.

Something wet dripped down Nick’s thigh. He’d peed himself. “What are you doing?” His question came out sounding like one long squeal as the needle was inserted into his big toe. A burning sensation swept through his body.

He’d been injected.

With what?

His limbs tingled as the effects of the Taser began to wear off. He waited, glad she turned and walked off. When she returned, he had regained enough strength to lift both legs and slam his feet into her knees.

She stumbled backward, overturning a chair and crashing into the nearest wall.

Nick struggled to get to his feet. His adrenaline was off the charts as he lunged for her and took her to the ground. They rolled across the floor. His head hit the wall. Another chair toppled over. He reached blindly for the woman, grabbing a fistful of her hair and pulling hard, surprised when the silky locks slid off her head.

Beneath the wig, she wore a skintight cap.

She pushed him away, jumped to her feet, and reached for the Taser lying on the table.

Nick’s heart pounded against his ribs as he staggered to his feet. He needed to get outside and shout for help. He felt dizzy and nauseous.

What is happening?

He reached out for something to grab hold of, but it was no use. He toppled over like a newly felled tree. His head crashed into the floor. He was on his back, once again unable to move. Whatever had been injected into his system was taking effect. “What do you want?”

She hovered over him, her face inches from his. Her wig was crooked now, her red lipstick smeared and looking like blood. “I want to know if you ever once regretted what you did to me when you were sixteen and I was only ten.”

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