Caroline came into the living room of her parents’ new house. She had been looking for Cara and found her curled up on the couch with a book.
The house wasn’t a new house. It had been built ten years ago, but it was in excellent condition. The two bedroom cabin sat on a hill overlooking the Licking River. The property was surrounded by beautiful oak, redbud, dogwood, and maple trees, but there was a large patch of yard that received enough sun for Caroline’s mother, Valerie’s garden.
Caroline and Cara fell in love with the area. Cara enrolled in Eastern Kentucky University’s forensic science program. The university was in Richmond and only an hour away. Caroline quit her job with the doctor’s office and sold the house on Judson Street in Evansville. She and Cara moved in here with her parents in Farmers, Kentucky. Cara would be moving to Richmond in the fall when school started, but until then, Caroline was enjoying having her whole family in one house.
Cara couldn’t have been happier to be away from Evansville and all the memories. She’d given up on tracking Michael Matthews. She’d followed his paths around Cave Run Lake and Morehead, but there had not been any traces of Jenna. She didn’t want to give up on finding out what happened to her, but she realized that tracking Michael Matthews wasn’t going to give her any answers. Here at her grandparents’ new house, she finally felt that she could relax and start fresh. She would be going to a new school, in a new town where the memories of Jenna wouldn’t haunt her.
What Cara and Caroline didn’t know was that Michael Matthews had figured out that Cara was tracking him, and was now tracking her. Cara had led him to Cave Run Lake, one of his favorite fishing and hunting spots.
* * *
Matthews was watching the house the little bitch’s grandparents bought while Cara and her mother sat in the living room. The large front window was giving him a perfect view of them from the hunting blind he built in a tree in the woods across the street from the cabin. He’d have to figure out how to set up a surveillance camera to watch the house. Matthews had a feeling that Cara was going to lead him to Jenna finally. His cop instincts told him that Jenna was somewhere in this area.
What was the possibility that Cara had somehow figured out where Jenna was? Maybe it was just a coincidence that she had moved here, but Matthews didn’t believe that. Although his preliminary searches couldn’t find any traces of Jenna or a young woman like her who had moved to the area in the past two years, he was convinced Jenna was here somewhere.
What was the possibility that one of the very men he was involved with through the Cobra Cartel had somehow gotten a hold of Jenna and was using her as his sex slave? Matthews intended to visit every house of every man he knew had a place in this area. Some of these guys didn’t even know that he had a daughter, so if she’d ended up in their hands, they wouldn’t know that she was his kid. If that were the case, if someone in the Cave Run area had her, he might not have to kill her. He would just make sure whoever had Jenna made her keep her mouth shut. He’d find out something the Fourth when the Cobras were having a family get together of sorts. If his associates didn’t have any answers, he’d have to grab Cara and make her tell him what she knows.
* * *
“Have any plans tonight?” Caroline asked Cara when she finally looked up at her.
“I was going to read a little bit. Why?” Cara asked as her mother sat down on the couch next to her.
“Mom and Dad want to go to Morehead and check out a new restaurant there. Dad’s fisherman buddies said their fish and chips are to die for. You want to go?” Caroline asked.
“Sure,” Cara said. “I love fish and chips.”
“Great,” Caroline said. “We’re going to leave in about thirty minutes.”
Cara looked at her watch. “Why so early? It’s only three.”
“Dad’s friends said the place fills up pretty quickly and it’s too hot to be standing in line outside,” Caroline said as she got up from the couch. “I’m going to get ready. It’s a casual place, so shorts and t-shirt are fine.”
Forty-five minutes later they were pulling into the restaurant’s parking lot that was already mostly full. Caroline got out of the car and looked at the restaurant. The outside of the building was made with bleached limestone, bedrock and old barn wood, which gave it an aged feeling. The doors looked like they were taken off an Eighteen Century building. Inside the booths, bar and barstools were made with roughed up wood that gave the bar the feeling of being centuries old rather than brand new.
“Marty Roberts said the owner got just about everything in here from old bars that were being torn down. Plus, she used local limestone and local contractors. I love the way it feels in here,” Ralph said.
His wife, Valerie agreed. “It’s like a place our grandparents would have visited.”
A middle aged woman with short blonde hair and military poise approached them. “Hi! I’m Sandy Cannon, owner of this fine establishment. Would you like a booth?”
“Yes,” Ralph said.
“Follow me,” Sandy said.
Elliot came out to the bar to get a bottle of beer for his beer batter right as Sandy was leading Cara’s family to their seats. He stopped dead in his tracks and stared at the beautiful blonde that had been the love of his life, stunned to see her here in his world.
Steven gave Elliot a nudge and laughed. “I guess you ain’t queer after all.”
Elliot turned to glare at Steven. “I told you I wasn’t.”
Cara felt the strange sensation of déjà vu and turned toward the bar. A man with short dark hair, a stubble beard, and dark brown eyes turned and looked at her, meeting her eyes. She felt the shot of recognition run through her like a bolt of electricity, but she had no idea who the guy was. She’d never seen him before.
The owner, Sandy seemed to notice Cara looking at the man. “That’s Elliot, our chef. An amazing young man with an incredible talent with food.” She handed them the simple menu that was printed on the front and back of a legal size paper and laminated as the four some sat down in the booth. “Today’s special is rainbow trout. A fresh batch just arrived directly from the lake. We can also do special orders for a little more,” Sandy said proudly, and then asked. “Would you like to order some drinks?”
“Do you serve tequila?” Cara asked.
Sandy smiled. “Sure do, if you got some ID.”
Caroline frowned at her daughter. “She’ll have sweet tea.”
Sandy winked at Caroline. “That’s what I thought. How about the rest of ya?”
Frank and Valerie ordered white wine, and Caroline ordered a local beer that the bar had on draft. After Sandy had left them, Caroline turned to Cara. “Tequila?”
“It doesn’t hurt to try,” Cara answered with a laugh. The truth was that there was something about the way the man, Elliot looked at her that was completely unsettling. A shot of tequila would have been good for her nerves.
Elliot made himself focus on the food he was preparing. He could not think about the fact that Cara Marshall was sitting in the restaurant, completely oblivious to the fact that her missing girlfriend, Jenna, now the man, Elliot, was just a few feet away.
It took all of his strength not to run out there, wrap her in his arms and tell her who he was, but that would ruin everything.
Elliot’s throw away phone rang making him jump. He quickly answered it, tucking it between his shoulder and ear as he continued to batter fish fillets and drop them into the hot oil. “Yeah.”
“You are not going to believe this, but Cara Marshall is in your vicinity,” Dana said.
“She’s here with her family,” Elliot said quietly.
“You’ve seen her?” Dana asked.
“Just a few minutes ago,” Elliot said. “They are here at the restaurant.”
“Are you okay?” Dana could only pray that Elliot would not flip out over this new development.
“Not really, but I’m keeping it together. How on earth did she end up over here?”
“I’m not sure. We’re looking into it,” Dana said.
“Okay,” Elliot said and let out a deep breath. “It was just too weird seeing her, and here of all places.”
“We know she was tracking your father for awhile, and we know he has ties in that area. I’ll check and see if he’s in the area too. He’s not supposed to be there for another week when the Cobras meet for the Fourth of July,” Dana said.
“Hopefully Cara’s family is just passing through the area and will be gone by the time all that goes down,” Elliot said.
“Let’s hope so,” Dana agreed.