We are excited to share a book installment on Wednesdays and Saturdays! Hidden Danger by Jennifer Pierce is the first in the Small Town Guardians series. If you love mystery and romance, come read the next chapter below!
Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Chapter 5 / Chapter 6 / Chapter 7 / Chapter 8 / Chapter 9 / Chapter 10 / Chapter 11 / Chapter 12 / Chapter 13 / Chapter 14/Chapter 15/Chapter 16/Chapter 17/Chapter 18/Chapter 19/Chapter 20/Chapter 21/Chapter 22/Chapter 23
He looked down at the paper. It was a black and white photo of two people in the middle of a passionate kiss. Closer inspection revealed that it wasn’t two random people. It was them. A photo of the kiss they had shared in her father’s house that morning. Written across the image in large red letters were the words Nine for a Kiss.
“Get in the truck. Now.” His tone left no room for argument. Neither did the speed in which he got into the truck and fired up the engine.
She was in the truck and barely had the door closed before he was flying out of the parking spot. “What’s going on?” Fear colored her words.
He reached onto the dash, grabbed the flier he had thrown up there when he climbed into the truck, and thrust it at her. “This isn’t a flier.”
Her hand went to her mouth. “Who took this?”
“I don’t know. I searched the entire house and didn’t find anyone before I came to your room this morning.”
If there wasn’t anyone in the house, how had someone taken a picture of their kiss? Had he missed something in his search?
“Do you think they installed cameras in the house?”
“That would explain how he knew we were at the house today, in separate rooms even. But it doesn’t explain how he got in or how he knew we were at the truck stop. I am positive we weren’t followed, and we turned off our cell phones so it couldn’t be those. My only other idea is that there is a tracking device on the truck.”
He slammed his palm on the steering wheel. Someone was going through a lot of trouble to follow her. They’d probably placed cameras in her father’s house and now a possible tracking device on the rental truck. There’s probably a tracking device on her father’s truck, too, and maybe even Jake’s vehicle.
“Do you have a plan? I mean, if there’s a tracking device on the truck, this guy will be able to follow us where ever we go.”
He was silent for a moment, his gaze glued to the road ahead. He looked in the rearview mirror and stared for a moment. A small white truck was not too far behind them. He’d seen the truck idling at a gas pump when they drove off.
He signaled to turn right on to the next road. He made the turn effortlessly, and once he had the truck straightened, he glanced in the mirror again. The truck was still on their tail. A few blocks up, he made another right turn, this time without signaling. Another glance in the rear-view mirror showed the white truck did the same.
Maggie turned around to see what was going on. “Do you think they’re following us?”
“I’m not sure, but we’re about to find out.” Without slowing down or using his turn signal, Cody abruptly turned right. The white truck made the same turn and gunned it. Whoever it was, he or she knew they were on to them.
Cody revved the engine and pushed the speedometer higher. He let off the accelerator and did another impromptu right hand turn back out onto the highway. He held his breath as the truck started gaining on them. “Hold on.” They were already doing well above the speed limit.
She grabbed the door handle as the white truck pushed into the bed of their truck, slamming her against the seatbelt. She screamed at the sound of crunching metal.
The truck pulled into the lane next to them and started to pass them. Crossing into their lane, it made contact with the passenger’s side. His arms burned with the exertion of trying to keep them from being pushed into the ditch.
He turned the wheel to the right and fought to stay on the road. He slammed on the brakes, slowing their truck. The assaulting truck kept going, crossed in front of them, and ended up driving onto the shoulder. Cody made a U-turn and sped off in the direction they had come from.
“Are you okay?” He glanced at her before turning his attention back to the road. His goal now was to lose their pursuer and make it safely to the sheriff’s station. He loosened his grip on the steering wheel. His fingers ached as the muscles relaxed.
“I’m scared, but I’m not hurt.”
He glanced in the rearview mirror, and his shoulders tensed. “Okay, this isn’t over. The truck has turned around and is catching back up to us. I need you to put the battery back in my cell phone and call Grainger. At this point, we’re not worried about being followed seeing as he is trying to drive us off the road.” Maggie opened the glove box and started messing with the phone.
Their attacker was on top of them again. Cody pressed the pedal to the floor, praying no one would pull out from a side street not knowing what was going on. The truck made contact again, jarring them violently, causing Maggie to drop the phone on to the floor. She bent over to pick it up when they were hit again, sending her head slamming into the dashboard. She sat up and looked out the rear window and back to him. Her ashen face only multiplied his fear.
The truck started to pass them, but instead of coming flush with them and trying to push them off the road like before, it merged into their lane aiming for the rear end. He was attempting a maneuver used by police to end chases. The only way to avoid it was to increase their speed before contact was made. He pressed the accelerator all the way to the floor, and they lurched forward before their pursuer could make contact.
The white truck swerved behind them, narrowly missing leaving the roadway. Maggie bent over again to try and retrieve the phone from the floorboard.
He didn’t recognize the truck, and he couldn’t see the driver’s face, but one thing was clear—whoever they were dealing with had had defensive driving training. Luckily for Cody, he’d also had defensive driving classes and was able to avoid it.
He mashed the accelerator, watching the needle creep higher and higher, pushing the truck as fast as it would go. He looked at Maggie; she was bent over, trying desperately to reach the phone that had fallen. If anything happened to her, he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself.
In the split second it took for him to check on her, their pursuer was able to correct his trajectory and was closing back in on them. Their pursuer got in position to attempt another PIT maneuver. As the truck inched closer, Cody deliberately increased his speed, but the pursuer predicted that and sped up as well. The driver’s side quarter panel made contact with the passenger’s side of the truck bed, and it started to spin. He let off the accelerator and turned the wheels into the spin to avoid flipping over. The front end of the white truck smashed into Maggie’s side. The sounds of breaking of glass and Maggie’s shrill scream chilled his veins. This was the end.
The impact hurled them off the road and into a wooden fence that was along the road. His head crashed into the driver’s side window, shattering it right before he lost consciousness.
* * * *
He opened his eyes. Everything was blurry. How long had he been unconscious? Blinking several times, he was able to determine it wasn’t his vision but a fine dust filling the cabin. The only thing he could hear was the running motor.
“Maggie?” He whispered her name as he tried to stop his head from spinning. She didn’t answer. Turning toward her, he could see she was still safely belted into the passenger’s seat. The airbags had deployed and were laying limply in her lap. Outside the window, the white truck that had pushed them off the road was nowhere to be seen. Had it driven off?
Cody unbuckled and tried to open his door, but it wouldn’t budge. Of course, it’s not going to open, you’re shoved up against a fence.
“Maggie?” He leaned over and clumsily felt for a pulse on her wrist. Please God, let her be okay. A steady thump beat under his fingers. She was still alive, but there was no telling what kind of injuries she had sustained. He needed to get her to a hospital.
“Hey, man! Are you guys all right?” The voice was familiar, but Cody wasn’t sure where he’d heard it before. He leaned his head against the headrest, battling the pain and confusion, trying to gather his thoughts.
“Cody, is that you?” the voice called from the driver’s side. Cody turned in time to see a hand come in the window and then there was a sharp pinch on his neck.
“Hey!” His hand went to where he felt the pinch, but there was nothing there. He started feeling woozy. The world spun around him, and his eyes drifted closed, but he forced them open. He squinted, trying to bring the face into focus, but he couldn’t get a clear picture.
“Ten for something you won’t want to miss.”
“Magpie,” Cody said weakly as he turned to protect her. Darkness consumed him before he could reach her.
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About Jennifer Pierce
Jennifer Pierce currently lives in Arkansas with her husband and two children. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and River Valley Writers, where she serves as secretary.
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SMALL TOWN GUARDIANS SERIES