When Elliot got to the hotel room, he locked himself in the bathroom and called Mark. When Mark answered, Elliot, said, “We’ve got a problem.”
“What’s going on?” Mark asked.
Elliot conveyed the story about someone coming to their hotel room asking about Jenna. He explained that both Cara and he had the same sensation that they were being watched. Elliot told him about going out to try to confront the guy in the truck and how the guy tried to keep Elliot from getting his tag number.
“That is a problem,” Mark agreed. “I’ll take the information you have and see if we can come up with a name until then you need to get those girls home. There have been some other developments, and this case is going to bust wide open when we hit the Cobra’s leadership during the fishing tournament. It’s only two weeks away. Cara should be in Richmond by then. If everything goes as planned, this could all be over with by the end of September.”
“Do you mean completely over with? Like I’ll have testified and can tell Cara the truth and move on with my life?” Elliot wanted to know.
“Yes. Of course, that will depend on how quickly the DA can get the trials set up,” Mark admitted. “It may be a little while longer before you testify, but once we have your father behind bars, there’s really no reason why you can’t tell Cara the truth. In fact, that could be a possibility as early as the end of this month.”
“That would be great,” Elliot said. He heard the hotel room open, and the girls come in. “I gotta go.”
“I’ll let you know what we find out about the guy in the truck. Call me right away if anything else weird happens,” Mark said.
“I will,” Elliot promised and ended the call.
Elliot started spraying cologne in the bathroom to make it look like he was covering up the smell he’d warned the girls about. When he came out of the bathroom, he waved his hands and did a Jim Carrey impersonation from Ace Venture: Pet Detective. “DO NOT GO IN THERE! WOW!”
Cara and Megan started giggling.
“Wow, what did you eat?” Megan laughed.
“Chili,” Elliot lied. “Spicy chili.”
“That’ll do it,” Cara said.
“We’re going to get our showers and then we’ll be ready to go,” Megan said.
Elliot raised a questioning eyebrow, and Cara threw a pillow at him. “Not together. Jeez, men are such pigs.”
“I didn’t say a word,” Elliot chuckled and started gathering his stuff.
“You go first,” Cara told Megan.
“Okay,” Megan said, got her toiletries and went into the bathroom.
“Do you think you got enough of the tags to get an ID?” Cara asked and went to the window to look out.
“Maybe,” Elliot said and moved to the window next to her. “When we get back to Salt Lick, I’ll call the sheriff and ask him.”
“Good,” Cara said and turned to Elliot. He was quite a bit taller than her, just as Jenna had been. In fact, Cara thought he might be around the same height as Jenna. Once again, she felt the attraction to him that she couldn’t explain. Last night, when they were dancing, she’d thought that it felt familiar. Like they’d danced before. “I’m so glad you were at the bar last night. Things could have turned out very badly for us.”
“Yes,” Elliot agreed. “It was quite freaky that Steven and his crew were there. I’m glad I was there too.”
Cara surprised Elliot by kissing him on the cheek and wrapping him into a tight hug. Elliot slid his arms around her waist and held her to him. He closed his eyes and sighed. The sensation of holding Cara in his arms again was amazing. Their bodies fit together the way they always had. Elliot wished so much he could tell Cara everything, but that would ruin this moment, and he didn’t want to do anything but enjoy the feeling of her in his arms.
The feeling of familiarity was weird to Cara. The way Elliot was holding her, the way it felt to lay her cheek on his shoulder seemed so simple and easy. Cara hadn’t felt this comfortable hugging someone in a long time. She pulled away just as Megan came out of the bathroom.
Megan stopped in her tracks when she saw Cara in Elliot’s arms. For someone who professed to being a lesbian, Cara sure did have a thing for this guy. Megan had to admit, Elliot was super cute and very likeable. Maybe Cara was more bisexual than she thought she was, and maybe sometimes it really has to do with the connection with the person. From the first time Megan saw the two of them checking each other out, she had a feeling there was serious chemistry between them.
“I’m going to get my shower,” Cara announced.
Elliot looked at his watch; it was already ten o’clock. “Don’t be too long. We only have an hour to get out of here.”
“Okay,” Cara said as she closed the bathroom door behind her.
Megan began gathering her clothes and putting them in her overnight bag. After she had heard the shower running, she turned to Elliot, “You got a pretty big crush on her, don’t you?”
Elliot blushed and looked away. “That obvious, huh?”
“Oh yeah,” Megan said. “But I think the feeling is mutual. I’m not sure she will be able to get past you being a guy, but you never know.”
“Yeah,” Elliot said and looked at Megan. “You never know.”
The three of them were on the road by eleven-fifteen. Elliot followed the girls closely. Megan took Cara home and dropped her off. Elliot followed Megan to her house. Each time he made sure the girl was inside and then called to make sure they hadn’t walked into a trap. Elliot knew he watched too many cop shows, but all of those shows portrayed things that could happen. Satisfied that the girls were safe, he headed to the rundown trailer he was renting. The trailer belonged to a farmer Elliot had done some work for when he first moved to Maysville. It was basically the farmer’s hunting cabin, but he only used it during deer season. It needed a little work done to it. Elbow grease things like painting, fixing cabinets and little things that Elliot agreed to do in exchange for being able to rent the trailer.
When Elliot had first learned he would be going to Salt Lick, he’s searched for a small place like this in the woods, but there was nothing. He just happened to visit the farmer before leaving Maysville to tell him he wouldn’t be able to help with the tobacco planting that spring. When Elliot explained to the farmer that he was getting a chance to be the head cook at a new restaurant, and was trying to find something small, cheap and away from people to rent, the farmer had said he had the perfect spot, and the two of them struck up a deal.
One of the many things Elliot liked about the place, besides its very remote location, was the fact that he could practice shooting his guns without bothering the neighbors. Elliot had to give his father credit for his interest in guns and the martial arts.
Michael Matthews insisted that Jenna needed to be able to protect herself. Martial arts had been the only sports Jenna had been allowed to participate in, and even then she was not allowed to compete. Matthews had made Jenna quit the martial arts classes when she achieved her blue belt. At the time it didn’t mean anything other than his complete control over Jenna’s life, but when Elliot took up the martial arts again, he realized it was because his father didn’t want him to know enough to really defend himself against his father. Michael Matthews was going to be very surprised how far Elliot had gone with his training.
Once Elliot started taking testosterone, and his muscles began really developing, he realized how much more power a man has over a woman. Jenna had run and trained with weights whenever she could, not wanting her father to know she was doing anything he would deem manly. At her peak of strength, she had still not been strong enough to fend off her father when he had so brutally beaten her. Now, should Michael Matthews try to take on Elliot, he was going to find out what two and a half years of serious martial arts training and twenty-one years of rage could do to a person’s abilities to defend themselves.
Elliot had always been interested in guns, even as a small child. Anytime he got to play with little boys; he wanted to play with the guns and play cowboys and Indians. Of course, his father nipped that in the bud very quickly.
Even though Michael Matthews had not allowed Jenna to play with guns, he did teach her how to shoot them and take care of them.
Dana had helped Elliot legally purchase a small gun shortly after the FBI moved him to Maysville. With the new identity information created by the FBI and U. S. Marshalls when Elliot was put into the witness program, Elliot could buy more guns. He currently had five guns: Two rifles and three pistols. Elliot’s favorite was his Beretta Pico. It fits into his back pocket, and he had a case for it that looked like it was just a thick wallet. His other favorite and the one he was going to practice with today was his Smith and Wesson 1911. It was bigger than the Beretta and not as easy to conceal, but he could knock a grape off a beer can at fifty yards. The Beretta was great for close range, but he wanted to be prepared to keep someone at a distance if at all possible.
The road to the trailer was not easily navigated. It was narrow, rutted and had some switch backs before the trailer. The road started at Fraley Road and eventually ran into Sulfur Road, but it was not an easy ride. If a person didn’t know the trailer was tucked back off the road, they’d drive right by and never see it. The fact that Elliot’s farmer friend let him paint the outside a medium brown, the color of mud helped camouflage the trailer.
When Elliot pulled into the narrow drive that led to the back of the trailer, he noted something was off. There were tracks that shouldn’t be there. It hadn’t been rainy, so the extra tracks were barely noticeable, but one of the things he’d learned in his time in the witness protection program, was always to be aware of even the smallest changes in your environment.
Elliot stopped his truck and quickly pulled the Beretta out of his back pocket. He loaded it, watching for any sign of movement around him. The trees were full of leaves, and there was plenty of low lying bushes that someone could be hiding behind. Carefully, Elliot got out of his truck making as little noise as possible. With the gun ready, he slowly made his way to the trailer. Elliot didn’t hear or see anything, and his keen senses didn’t register a presence, but he wasn’t taking any chances.
He finally made it to the door of the trailer. It was shut and locked just as he had left it. Continuing his vigilance, Elliot unlocked the door and entered the house. He searched every room, closet, nook, and cranny, but no one was in there. Someone had been in the trailer, though. Whoever it was had been a pro because they had been cautious about making it look like things had not been moved.
Elliot kept his guns locked in his truck, except his Beretta which he kept with him at all times. He also kept any evidence of his transgender status with him. His binding vests, briefs, prosthetic penis, testosterone vials, needles, and any other scrap of evidence that would reveal that he was not an ordinary man.
It was hard to say what the person had been looking for, based on what little Elliot could tell had been moved, but they had been in every room. He sent a text to Mark to let him know about this new development. Maybe tonight he would get a room at the lodge, just in case whoever was here decided to come back.