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/Chapter 24/Chapter 25
Cody had lunged from the bed, trying to chase after Grainger, but the chain pulled him back onto the bed. The door shut, and the click of the lock was so final. He let out a groan of rage and despair.
This was it. He was never going to see Maggie again, and it was all his fault. He hadn’t protected her like he had promised. And now another woman was going to die because of him. Not just any woman, but the woman he loved.
His head fell back against the wall with a thud. How could he have missed it? Grainger had been behind everything this whole time. Now that he knew, little things came trickling back to him. Grainger had been the first to arrive at Maggie’s house the night they were shot at. It was because he was the shooter. That explained why Luna had gotten confused.
He’d done a walkthrough of Maggie’s house, giving him the perfect opportunity to place some cameras. He’d probably used the cameras to figure out the alarm codes. The blown tire had been a ruse to get to Maggie’s hotel room and leave the message on her bed.
He let out a frustrated scream. Maggie’s words from their breakfast echoed in his head. She was right. He wasn’t to blame for Iris’s suicide, and he wasn’t to blame for Grainger’s actions. I can’t sit here and mope. Maggie’s death at the hands of Grainger is not inevitable. I can still do something about it.
With renewed determination, he turned and grasped the chain with both hands and positioned himself to have the best leverage. One. Two. Three. He pulled with everything in him, without success. He let the chain slack a tad before yanking and pulling again, using his entire body. Every muscle screamed with tension, but it didn’t do any good. He pulled until his arms were weak with exertion. He grunted through gritted teeth with every pull. Sweat rolled down his forehead.
Lord, please keep Maggie safe. Be with me and help me find a way to get to her. Sitting back down on the bed, he inspected the cuff around his wrist. It was an old metal one, three inches in width. The connecting chain was soldered on. Maybe he could break the cuff from the chain. He ran his hand between the mattress and the wall, searching for something, anything, he could use to free himself. The bed was made of what appeared to be durable metal. He felt under the mattress and confirmed that there was a metal edge slightly raised, just enough to keep the mattress from sliding off the frame.
He knelt in front of the bed and raised the mattress enough to access the edge. He grasped the lock as tight as he could and positioned the metal joint on the raised edge. He raised it up and then slammed the soldered portion down as hard as he could. Nothing. He tried a couple more times, each time with more force, and each time unsuccessful.
Breaking the cuff from the chain was not going to work. Maybe removing the chain from the wall would be more successful. He inspected the metal plate that attached the chain to the wall. Using his thumb and forefinger, he tried every screw, hoping he would be able to loosen them by hand, but it was no use. He laid on his back and delivered several well-placed kicks to the chain. All his efforts were rewarded with failure.
His whole body ached from everything that had happened in the last few hours. The wreck, the drug Grainger had injected into him, and his brutal attempts to free himself. Thoughts of what Grainger could be doing propelled him from the bed. He wasn’t going to give up. He was going to find a way to free himself and then find Maggie.
He knelt back down in front of the bed and inspected the bed frame. It was the kind found in Army barracks. Maybe it was damaged somewhere, and he could pry a piece of metal free and use it as a weapon, if not to free himself. The frame was intact, though. No broken pieces, no sharp edges, nothing to aid in his escape. He lifted the mattress and found exactly what he had been searching for.
Underneath, there was a grid of wire attached to the bed with springs. If Cody could get a one loose, maybe he could straighten the edge and use it to pick the lock on the cuffs. He leaned the mattress against the wall and worked on freeing a spring.
The key in the lock alerted him to Grainger’s return. He swiftly threw the mattress back down before sitting on the bed. Grainger swung the door open and stood in the threshold with Maggie thrown over his shoulder. Cody’s heart plummeted. She wasn’t moving. He sprang from the bed, intending to disable Grainger and get to Maggie, but the cuff digging into his arm as he stretched toward them wouldn’t let him go any farther.
Grainger smirked, walked into the room, and threw Maggie’s motionless body on the bed she’d occupied earlier. He turned and looked Cody square in the eye. “This is your fault. You’re to blame, remember that.” He left the room again, locking them in silence.
“Oh, Maggie, my Magpie.” Tears pricked the corners of his eyes, and his chest was heavy with grief. Overcome with panic, he pulled at the chains over and over, using all his strength. The cuffs dug into his flesh. She still wasn’t moving. He needed to get to her.
Calm down. You’re no good to her when you’re upset and erratic. He took several long, deep breaths. He focused on Maggie. Her chest heaved up and then slowly back down. She was breathing. He watched her chest a bit longer. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.
Thank you, God!
She was okay for now. He didn’t know what Grainger had done to her or if she would be okay for much longer, and his freedom was even more important now. He lifted the mattress again and grabbed a wire, giving it a tug, and it moved some. He grasped the closest grid wire and pulled it to the spring. There was just enough give that he could possibly unhook the spring from the frame.
He worked quickly to remove the springs exposing the wires. Taking a wire, he bent it until it was pointing straight up, and then he positioned the lock above the wire, guiding it into the lock of his cuff. He moved it around, hoping to move the pins enough to unlock himself. Minutes passed and nothing. He tried again with the same result.
He leaned back against the bed frame and looked heavenward. Lord, You know I love her. Please don’t let me fail her again. His fingers were raw, but despite the pain, he turned back around and attempted to unlock the lock. He inserted the wire and jiggled, and as he was about to give up, he heard the satisfying click of the lock unlocking.
He shook the cuff from his hand and raced to Maggie’s side. He could still see the rise and fall of her chest. Her face was pale except for a purple bruise that was beginning to form on her cheek where Grainger had struck her. He had been utterly helpless in protecting her then, but he was not going to let it happen again.
Her skin was soft and warm under his hand as he cupped her uninjured cheek. “Maggie, can you hear me? It’s Cody, I’m here with you.”
She didn’t respond, and there was no movement. No change in breathing patterns, just silence. He ran his hand down her arm and to her hands still cuffed in front of her. He grabbed one of her hands and squeezed it as he leaned over and whispered in her ear, “Hang on for me, Maggie. I love you.”
A tear slid down his cheek. He couldn’t lose her now. “Come on, Maggie.” Bending over, he softly kissed her cheek and then laid his head against hers. He breathed in deeply, inhaling her sweet scent. “Please, God.” That’s all he could say. He didn’t have the words to pray. God knew his heart, knew that it was broken and crying out in its own painful prayer.
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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.
WHERE TO FIND JENNIFER PIERCE
SMALL TOWN GUARDIANS SERIES