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Smoke and Mirrors


SEVENTEEN

Smoke and Mirrors


Michael had just finished his sandwich and was in the process of getting his waitress’s attention when Cal walked in to the diner. Cal took at seat opposite Michael at the table just as the waitress arrived to take Bimonte’s dessert order. As he waited for the girl to depart, Cal shifted nervously in his chair, eager to get his interrogation over with. The two men sat momentarily in a tense silence; Michael studying Cal’s face as Cal rehearsed his opening line in his head. It didn’t take an expert in human nature to read the apprehension in Cal’s eyes or feel the tension rolling in waves from him. Rather than have to wait any loner than necessary for whatever bad news Montgomery apparently had for him, Michael started the conversation for Cal.


“You followed Taylor to the hospital and?”


Cal nodded his assent, took a deep breath and completed the sentence as Michael took a sip of his coffee and started on the blueberry pie in front of him.


“And followed her to Gallo’s room and asked them, both what they knew about who might have wanted to see Gallo dead.”


Michael stopped mid swallow and snapped his gaze to Cal face so quickly that for a moment Cal was worried that he was about to choke on his pie. Bimonte pushed the dish of pie away, wiped his mouth with his napkin and rocked back in his seat without once removing his eyes from Cal’s. Something that sounded a lot like a cross between a hiss and a growl seeped through Michael’s lips as he shook his head as his cheeks began to color.


Cal knew that Michael was going to be unhappy about him breaking his surveillance and speaking directly to Gallo, so before he could read him the riot act about sloppy police work and improper procedures, Cal began his explanation before Michael was able to start chewing his ass.


“Before you say anything,” Cal began quickly. “I know what you told me. ‘Follow Taylor. Keep my distance’. And I did that. But I started thinking about what she had told be earlier, about the phone call that got Gallo all upset. I wanted to see if the two events were connected and I thought the most direct way to do that was to go to the source.” Cal could see the skepticism spreading across Michael’s face. “I mean he had his lawyer right there so there shouldn’t have been anything suspicious about a police officer asking him a few questions about the explosion.”


Cal leaned back in his seat and waited for the reaction as Bimonte processed what he had heard. Michael leaned his arms forward on the table, resting his forehead against his hands briefly then looked over them at Cal. He inhaled deeply, obviously doing his best to maintain a level of professional composure.


“What did they say? What kind of reaction did you get?”


Michael’s reaction surprised Cal but he could tell from the tenor of Bimonte’s voice that he wasn’t out of the woods yet.


“Gallo seemed more angry than surprised that someone actually had the balls to try anything, especially with his kid there.”


“And Taylor,” Michael asked staring hard into Cal’s face.


Cal huffed disgustedly. “She jumped all over me, true to her cover. She did the whole attorney thing and pretty much chased me out of the room like she was expected to.”

Michael continued his study of Cal; he knew that there was more. “And?”


“You wanted to know what she knows about Gallo, so I pushed her.”


Cal looked away from Michael’s stare and out the window towards the street. He understood that the continued silence emanating from Michael was an indication for further explanation. He turned back and faced his commander and told him what neither one of them wanted to hear.


“She knows or is involved in a lot more than she’s admitted to us so far.”


Michael dropped his eyes and sighed. He considered what he had heard and chose his words carefully.


“From here on, we treat all the players in this whole Gallo investigation the same. No one is above suspicion until we determine exactly who knows what and who’s involved in what. Understand? We know this case is part of a larger, on-going FBI investigation. A lot of what we’ve got could be just smoke and mirrors, tools to help the federal authorities involved get evidence to nail a conviction. But until we know for sure, we proceed according to the book.”


Cal and Michael left the diner together and parted company at their respective vehicles. Taylor had parked her Jeep in the shadows of the municipal parking lot across from the diner at some point after Cal had arrived. After the scene at the hospital, Taylor had been prepared to drive to Cal’s cabin and wait for him to arrive, but when she got to town she saw his truck parked outside the Station Street Diner she pulled into the public parking area across the street and wait for him. As she sat in her Jeep and debated whether or not to just go in the diner and finish their conversation started by the elevators, she looked across the street into the windows of the diner and realized that Cal was seated at a table across from her father; both seemed deeply involved in conversation.


The thought of having to deal with the both of them was not something that Taylor really wanted to do given her current state of mind; so instead of going in the diner, she decided to wait and see where Cal would go next. After about an hour, she watched as her father drove way and Cal lingered for a moment in the parking lot and scanned the area, like he was looking for something or waiting for something to happen. She knew that there was a slight possibility that Cal suspected that she would follow him from the hospital, but she decided that was unlikely. She had given Cal a five minute head start from the time he disappeared in the elevator at the hospital and half expected to find him in the parking lot waiting to follow her. When she got to where her Jeep was parked, she surveyed the area to see if Cal was there and was actually relieved that he wasn’t as it gave her time to plan what she was going to do next.


After he had left, Taylor returned to Mathew’s room to do some damage control. Cal’s assertion that someone had gone out of their way to try and harm him had left Mathew with a laundry list a mile long of things he wanted put into action. When the facts of what had happened on the boat were set along side the circumstances surrounding Wallace Murphy’s little “accident,” Mathew decided that it was time to do some house cleaning and had ordered Taylor to make the necessary arrangements, contact the proper people and get things set in motion. But before Taylor could do any of that, she needed to determine exactly what Cal did and did not know about who was behind the attempt on Mathew’s life. Then there was the matter of what Cal thought he saw in Mathew’s hospital room. She replayed the moment at the hospital when Mathew Gallo had invited the as yet unseen police officer into his room. Taylor had expected to turn around and see her father and maybe Cal. It was a more than a bit of a shock to just see Cal in the doorway and the look on his face brought back things that she worked very hard to block out.


As she watched Cal get into his truck, and she prepared to follow him, Taylor knew that she was going to have to force a confrontation with Cal to see what he was really after when he walked in on her and Mathew at the hospital. She also wanted to find out exactly what Cal thought he saw; from his reaction, she was certain that her cover was still convincing. If Cal believed that she was interested in Mathew Gallo, the so would anyone else. But Cal was after more than just confirmation that there was a new man in her life; she was certain that he and her father had their own theories about this case. Taylor knew very well that if she got Cal mad enough, she could wheedle what ever he and her father had discovered. It was simply a matter of pushing the right buttons and Taylor knew exactly which buttons to push.


The route Cal was taking out of town indicated that he was probably going home and Taylor was glad to have a more private setting to do what she needed to. Since a confrontation with Cal was what she had planned and Cal had taken care of where it would occur, there was no longer any necessity to keep the fact that she was following him a secret. After Cal pulled out of the diner’s parking lot, Taylor quickly exited the parking lot and deliberately let Cal see her stopped on the opposite side of the second of the town’s two stoplights. The shocked, confused expression obvious on his face was apparent as they stared each other down from opposite sides of traffic. She was certain that he watched every motion as her whipped her Jeep directly behind his truck and followed closely behind.


Cal wasn’t entirely surprised to be staring at the reflections of Taylor’s headlights in his rear view mirror. He had had enough experience sparing with her to know that the confrontation at the hospital was far from over. He started thinking about all the stupid things they fought about when they were together and suddenly it occurred to him that the one thing they should have fought about, the reason why they broke up, was the one the fight they never had. It was something that he hadn’t wanted to think about, but seeing her with Mathew Gallo, first at the site of the explosion, then at the hospital, had made it difficult to keep the memory repressed any longer.


From the very beginning of their relationship, Cal and Taylor spent nearly as much time saying ‘good bye’ as they did ‘I love you’. When they met, each was at the beginning of a journey that didn’t seem to have a chance in hell of ever being traveled on the same path. Taylor was attending college out of state and had always made it clear that she had no intention of ever permanently returning to the place that Cal called home. Cal was pursuing a career in law enforcement, a career that made his mother very proud and gave him a strong sense of purpose and really put him in touch with himself as an individual. He loved being a trooper and he was good at it. But as time passed, Cal was also falling deeply in love.


It didn’t seem to matter that their relationship was carried on over long distance phone calls and carefully planned long weekends and vacations. True, when they were apart Cal was miserable and he convinced himself that she felt the same, but even he had to admit that she had seemed different lately. He knew that he tended to be on edge when ever the time neared for Taylor to return or for him to travel to visit her, but any negative feelings seemed to evaporate as soon as they were together. Cal dismissed the change in Taylor to nerves at her approaching graduation from law school and although she hadn’t shared her future plans, Cal was certain that they would include him. Every one of Cal’s friends tried to reason with him, but he wouldn’t listen. Paul, always playing devil’s advocate, tried to point out that their relationship seemed rather superficial. It seemed like the close Taylor got to graduation, the more Paul climbed his soap-box and recited his relationship sermon.


“Things like this just can’t last Cal.” Paul had told him once while he was helping Cal pack for a camping trip he and Taylor were taking to Marcy Dam as soon as she arrived from college at the end of the week. “You know, eventually you’re going to realize that there’s more to a relationship than just heat and sex.”


“What makes you think that all I have with Taylor is sex?” Cal laughed. “You know Paul, just because you minored in psychology in college, doesn’t make you a therapist. We have more than ‘heat and sex’. I’ll bet that we do a lot more together than you and Carol.”


Cal punched Paul playfully in the shoulder. Paul was being entirely too serious and Cal was not about to let Paul’s constant worrying kill his buzz. “In or out of the bedroom,” he added quickly darting away from Paul.


“I’m just saying,” Paul continued. “At least with me and Carol, we know where we’re at and where we’re going and we’re in the same place, literally.” Paul threw the rest of Cal’s camping gear in the back of his truck. “You and Taylor are on some kind of extended vacation. You go there and “play.” She comes here and you hold up in your apartment for days and “play” some more.”


Cal laughed. “Jealous?”


Paul ignored him. He shook his head. “I just don’t see how this goes any where. What happens once the road trips get boring and you’ve run out of mountains to climb and screw on? What do you two have in common; certainly not career goals. The two of you spend almost as much time apart as together. Doesn’t it bother you that you really don’t know what she’s doing or who she might be doing it with when you’re here and she’s there?”


“I didn’t think I’d have to remind you that the key to any relationship is trust.” Cal was beginning to tire of Paul’s preaching and pessimism. “I trust Taylor. If there’s one thing she’s always been, it’s brutally HONEST about where and what we are. You think I haven’t tried just about everything in the book to convince her to stay here for longer than a semester’s break?”


“What’s up with that anyway?” Paul leaned up against the truck and folded his arms across his chest. “I mean you’d think that since you two have been seeing each other for, what almost two years now? You’d think that the deep freeze would have thawed out some between her and dear old dad?


Cal just shrugged and a wry smile spread across his face.


“What?” Paul knew that look; it was Cal’s ‘I’ve got a plan’ face. “What are you scheming now?”


Cal grabbed a duffle bag out of the cab of his truck and began to rummage through it. After a minute or two, he produced a small box and what appeared to be a plane ticket. Paul shook his head, guessing what Cal had in mind.


“You’re not serious?” Paul shook his head and gave an exasperated huff. “Tell me, does Stephanie know what you’re planning?”


Cal’s smug smile evaporated; he dropped his eyes and kicked at the tire of his truck. “Believe it or not, Stephanie was actually happy for me.” Cal wasn’t sure who he was trying to convince what he was saying was true.


Paul folded his arms across his chest and snorted. “Yeah, I’ll bet.” He leaned against the truck and stared off across the lot before regarding Cal again.


“You actually think that will get her to stay here? What are you going to do if she says no?”


He’d said it with out thinking; a kind of knee-jerk reaction to what Cal was planning. Paul had never gotten the impression from Taylor that she would become a permanent fixture in Cal’s life, and it really bothered him that everyone but Cal knew it. Paul paused for a second as Cal’s the look on Cal’s face was a mixture of sadness, disappointment and a hint of building anger; he back-tracked a little.


“What if she says yes, but with conditions?”


Cal tucked the airline ticket into his back pocket and leaned against the truck next to Paul, twirling the small box in his hand. He was quiet for a few minutes as he considered what Paul had said. Paul could tell that Cal himself had probably had mulled over similar questions.


“You mean like, she says ‘yes’ but only if we live somewhere else?”


Paul nodded as Cal continued. “I’ve thought about that, offering that possibility as a sort of trade-off.” He looked at Paul, his face very serious. “Look at it this way Paul. You love Carol and I know that you’ve given things up for her and made compromises. I can be a trooper anywhere in New York State and a cop anywhere in the country. If moving out of the North Country means that Taylor agrees to marry me, that’s a compromise I can live with.”


Paul could tell that Cal was one hundred percent serious and committed to what he was planning. He wanted to tell Cal how worried he was, how there were things about Taylor that he just didn’t trust, right from the beginning. He had always believed that Taylor Bennetto was extremely selfish and wouldn’t let anyone or anybody keep her from what she wanted. Paul also knew how much Cal loved her so he didn’t say what he believed he should. Instead he chose to be his friend and support Cal, no matter how foolish he thought he was. He took the box from Cal and opened it. The ring inside was stunning and glittered in the sunlight.


“So what’s the ticket for?”


Cal smiled, relieved that Paul seemed to be supporting him even though he knew how Paul really felt about Taylor. He pulled the ticket out of his pocket and handed it to Paul. It was a roundtrip ticket to Virginia, departing Albany airport in four hours.


“I could use a ride.”


Cal checked his rear view mirror as he approached the boundary between counties that marked the end of the local police department and state police jurisdictions. Even though he knew that she was still following, he wondered how far she was willing to go and he began to formulate a plan to maintain as much control over the situation as possible. He knew she was angry that he had questioned her involvement and he was surprised at how much the accusation had unsettled her. If he was going to learn anything more, he was going to have to exploit her current state of mind and not allow her to turn the tables on him. He knew very well how she would respond if she felt backed into a corner. He still bore the emotional scars of what she was capable of if she felt trapped. He gripped the steering wheel tightly and continued out of town towards his cabin.


After Cal’s flight had landed in Virginia, he tried several times in quick succession to call Taylor at her apartment and left two messages on her machine. It wasn’t completely out of the ordinary for her not to be at home, especially mid-week, but Cal had assumed that since for all intents and purposes the college term was over, she would be easier to reach. After he left the second message, Cal finally gave up and took a cab to her apartment. He checked the parking lot for her car and not finding it anywhere, he prevailed upon her landlord to let him in to wait for her. Cal noticed that that the landlord was acting a little odd, a mixture of confused and uncomfortable, as they approached Taylor’s apartment. Cal was at a loss as to why the man seemed so uncomfortable; he had let him into her apartment before when Cal had visited Taylor, so he knew that Cal wasn’t some pervert that was trying to break in but the weird vibe that he was sending out was beginning to make Cal uneasy. The landlord unlocked Taylor’s door and made a quick exit without so much as a ‘see ya’. Once Cal was inside and switched on a light, he knew why.


Taylor’s apartment was nearly devoid of furniture. This would not necessarily be an unusual situation to discover for an average college student, who was graduating and moving on, but Taylor had given no indication that she planned to leave the area anytime soon and Cal was certain that her lease still had at least another six months left. He moved from the entryway towards what had been the living room and stared in shocked silence at the answering machine and the end table it rested on which comprised the only remaining pieces of furniture that remained since he was last here. A quick glance this room and the kitchen area completed the appearance that no one had occupied the space in quite sometime. Cal’s cop instincts kicked in immediately and he started to examine the empty rooms as if they were part of a crime scene. As he moved through the empty rooms, remembering how they looked only two months earlier, he tried to think of why she would move out and go to great lengths to conceal it. All the rooms bore the same telltale signs of relocation; there were two packed boxes remaining in the bedroom and one in the bath. All the closets in the hall, in the bedroom, were empty. The kitchen cabinets were bare and all that remained in the refrigerator was a box of baking soda.


As Cal walked back to the living room, his emotions fought with his reason. His reason was trying very hard to make him accept that there had been signs recently that something was changing. His emotions were desperately trying to find some other reason for what was happening. But logic and reason were forcing him to brace himself for the reality that there were other reason’s for some of the recent changes in Taylor that he had put off as final exam nervousness or pre-graduation jitters. Cal began to review their recent activities and tried to do it through the eyes of an investigator. It had been about six weeks since they were last together; he had worked a couple of double shifts to open up a long weekend and she suggested that they go climbing. After he picked her up at Lake Clear Airport, they had climbed Giant Mountain, completing their 46 peaks and had camped near the Cascade Lakes. Three days later, he kissed her good-bye and put her on a plane back to Virginia. Even though he didn’t want to admit it, he realized that, after that weekend, when they had spoken on the phone, she seemed preoccupied, distant and after that, she had actually cut short most of the recent calls they exchanged. The more Cal thought about it, he realized that he had spoken with her answering machine in the last two weeks than with Taylor.


After he finished his examination of the apartment, Cal found himself back in the living room. It has started to get dark outside and the answering machine’s blinking message light commanded his attention. Cal knew that the only thing holding his sanity together was his cop instinct. He regarded the table and the machine on it like he would a piece of evidence left behind by a suspect. The read-out indicated that there were five messages; he knew that at least three of them where from him and even though every fiber of his being told him not to, he closed in on the device. He brushed the indicator light with the tip of his finger and counted how many times it blinked. Taylor had checked the messages recently; if she hadn’t, the light would be blinking furiously. Cal focused on the blinking light, pulsing slowly. He paused, drawing in his breath just before he pushed the message retrieval button. Taylor’s voice echoed in the empty room promising to return the message followed by a mechanized announcement of two new messages. The next voice Cal heard was his own; he recognized it as his third call to her that day. The final message hit him in the stomach and knocking what ever tenuous resolve he had left into oblivion.


“Hey Taylor.” The man’s voice was light and causal. “I’ll pick you up around six to so we can go get the rest of your things, then maybe we could grab dinner.”


The message didn’t make sense unless the caller didn’t realize that Taylor hadn’t physically moved her phone or at least her machine to her new location. Cal spun around and looked at the wall clock mounted above the stove in the kitchen. It read 5:45. Cal grabbed his duffle bag and quickly shut off any lights he had used to search the empty rooms and rushed out of the apartment. He took the stairs to avoid having to pass the super’s office and exited out the back of the building. He remembered that there was a semi-enclosed kiosk for the public transportation’s bus route on the corner by the parking area for this apartment complex. He sprinted across the lot and stationed himself there to wait for Taylor and her “friend” to arrive. About twenty minutes passed before Cal watched Taylor’s Jeep pull into her assigned parking spot in front of her building as a second car pulled into the space next to hers. Cal waited and watched as Taylor walked over to the other car as the driver got out. He watched as they had a brief conversation and then fought to keep from screaming as the man drew Taylor into his arms, hugging her quickly and then followed her lead into the building.


Cal spun around and almost kicked his duffel bag into on coming traffic. He retrieved the bag and after slamming it against the back of the kiosk, he sat on the bench and tried to decide what he was going to do next that didn’t result in his being arrested. There was no denying that there was a lot going on that Taylor didn’t want him to know about. He was certain that she knew he was here, she had checked that machine; she knew that he’d flown in and was on the way to her apartment. Cal’s stomach was knotted in on itself and the blood in his temples was pounding so hard that he was beginning to feel light headed. There had been no warning for any of what he had experienced in the last hour. Less than an hour ago, he was on cloud nine, about to propose to the woman he loved; now he was sitting at a bus stop facing that not only the fact that had Taylor moved out of her apartment without telling him, but that she was involved with another man. Cal squeezed his head in between his hands, trying to equalize the pressure of his pounding temples and get some control over his emotions. He needed answers to the hundreds of questions raging through his mind and he was going to get them from Taylor, right now, whether she wanted to give them or not, she owed him that much.


Cal swung his duffel over his shoulder and rounded the kiosk moving toward the parking lot. He had covered about half the distance between the bus stop and the entrance to the building when he saw the man who had been with Taylor emerge from the building carrying two of the boxes he had seen in her bedroom. The boxes were stacked on top of each other and blocked the man had to lean around one side of the stack in order to see where he was going. This prevented him from seeing Cal and the abject look of hatred on his face as they passed each other as Cal proceeded into the building. Cal didn’t bother waiting for the elevator; he sprinted up the stairs using his anger to propel him upward quicker than the elevator possibly could. As he traversed the hallway, Cal noticed that the door to Taylor’s apartment was slightly ajar. He could see her, just inside the door, her back towards him and he gave the door a gentle push so he didn’t alarm her. She turned her head slightly at the sound of the door and she crossed the room toward the windows, keeping her back to the door. Cal knew she had seen him and stepped quietly into the entry way and dropped his bag by the door, moved into the room and stopped about two feet behind her.


“This is not how I wanted to do this,” she said staring out the window. He watched as the ghostly grey reflection of her face in the glass spoke to him. “You should have let me know that you were coming,”


Cal flexed his hands at his sides, not entirely sure what would happen if he attempted to reach for her. He shook his head and threaded his hands through his hair.


“You mean I should have told your machine I was coming?”


Cal spun away and took a few steps away from her; he no longer trusted his ability to remain calm. He looked at the answering machine and fought the impulse to throw it against the wall. Maybe if he was lucky, the man who helped her move was still downstairs; maybe he’d come back for more boxes.


“What did you plan to do T? Were you going to send me a ‘Dear John’ letter tucked in a graduation announcement? Maybe slip me a change of address card in the mail?”


“What do you want me to say,” she said turning around; her eyes as were flat and emotionless as the reflection had been.


“I want to know what the hell this is all about!” Cal began to pace in front of her like a caged animal. He balled his hands into fists trying to keep him self under control, unable to keep the hurt and anger from his voice.

Who was that in the parking lot? What was that by the car?”


“What do you think it was Cal?” Taylor’s expression remained fixed, her voice cold. “Would it make any difference if I said it was nothing?”


“Nothing,” he repeated angrily. “Look around you T and tell me that nothing is going on.”


Taylor brushed past him, unplugged the traitorous answering machine and deposited it in the packing box next to it. She picked up the box and walked toward the open door. Just as she crossed the threshold she turned and looked back at Cal.


“There’s nothing left for us,” she sighed softly. “This can’t ever be what you want it to be.” She stopped for a moment as if she was measuring just how far she had to go to make him accept that this was the end. Taylor looked hard into Cal’s eyes and went straight for the heart.


“You think you know me, just because you know my name, because we’ve spent time together. You think because we’ve been sleeping together, that means I belong to you like some kind of possession.” She kept her voice steady, sharp and impersonal. “We want different things.” She continued through the door. “I can’t be who you are Cal.” She stopped, turned to face him and deliver the final blow. “What ever this was, it’s over.”


Cal couldn’t make his legs move to follow her out into the hall. He stood staring at the space she had occupied seconds ago in shocked disbelief, then grabbed his bag and sprinted out the door after her. Taylor had just started her car when he reached the parking lot; there was no sign of the other car. Cal briefly felt the added disappointment of not being afforded the opportunity to beat the hell out of Taylor’s new boyfriend add more weight to the pile of stones that were already crushing his chest. He slammed his hands on the hood of her Jeep as she started to pull out of the space causing her to slam on her brakes.


“Don’t do this T,” he demanded. “Talk to me!”


Taylor leaned her head against the steering wheel and Cal came around to the driver’s side window. Cal punched the window and repeated his demand. Taylor rolled her window down and looked him straight in the eyes. For a moment Cal thought he saw something flicker in her eyes, a brief flash of emotion, but then it faded and the darkness returned. He stepped back away from the vehicle, and felt every tie that held him to her snapping loose as she turned away from him and put the Jeep in gear.


“Go home,” she said and drove away.


Cal and his not so subtle shadow had turned onto the road leading up the backside of Whiteface Mountain and were about half way to the cabin when Taylor suddenly pulled out and pulled along side his truck. She rolled down the passenger’s window and kept her Jeep side by side with Cal’s truck until he responded in kind.


“Are you crazy,” Cal yelled over at her. “Are you trying to get us both killed?”


“Pull over,” she ordered. “We need to talk.”


“We’ve got nothing to discuss. I gave you your chance before at the hospital.”


“If you want answers,” she shouted across the space between them. “This is the only chance you’re going to get.”


Taylor hit her accelerator and cut in front of Cal, pulling in so tight that Cal had to hit his breaks to avoid a collision. The road narrowed and began to twist and turn and shoulders of the road were practically non-existent; conditions which made the extreme speed Taylor was traveling at very dangerous. Cal no option but to increase his speed to keep up with her unsure of exactly where she was now leading him because there was literally no place to pull over until they reached the bottom of the mountain at the Franklin Falls Flow. When they rounded the next turn, Cal guessed that Taylor was heading for a turnout near the entrance for an old logging road just above Moose Pond. They reached the crest of the hill and as they proceeded down the steep incline to the dog leg turn Cal realized they were traveling too fast to make the turn safely. He watched the brake lights of Taylor’s Jeep flash as she tried to slow for the approaching turn, but she only appeared to be going faster down the steep incline. Cal stomped on his brakes to bring his own vehicle under control just as Taylor entered the sharp turn. He brought his truck to a stop just in time to hear her tires scream and watch as Taylor’s jeep somersaulted sideways into the woods about 500 feet away from him.

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