Katie glanced up at her rearview mirror and tried to ignore yet another burst of panic. The same dark sedan that had been following her since she left the hospital still tailed her.
"It's probably just one of Nathan's goons playing a little cat and mouse game."
The fact that she was now talking to herself didn't help the anxiety that had her gripping the steering wheel so tightly her hands ached. Her ex-fiancé couldn't seem to leave her alone despite the fact that he was the one that had left her. After nearly two months, he shouldn't care what she did, no matter how powerful his political family ties. Yet the same car that had followed her yesterday had returned.
Following a zigzag route through the beach rental neighborhood, she made a quick turn on Seventeenth Street at the surf shop. The dark car stayed behind her. She hit Pacific and drove down to Second Street, twenty nine blocks in the wrong direction and still the car remained. Making a U-turn at the playground, she headed back the way she had come. Right before she turned down Atlantic Avenue the car finally disappeared from view.
After picking up her whole life and moving from the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains all in the name of love, a diamond ring she would never look at again and a damaged heart were all that remained of her relationship. The only friend she had made in Virginia Beach would soon be the new Mrs. Nathan Marks, not her. If not for the job that she had truly grown to love—and a hefty lease break fee on her condo—Katie would have tucked her tail between her legs and headed home to Staunton weeks ago.
She pulled into the underground garage and found her favorite parking spot right by the elevator. Grabbing her purse off the seat, Katie locked the vehicle and stepped into the elevator. Things were quiet when she reached her floor yet something felt... wrong.
"It sure would be nice to have something to come home to." Katie turned the key in the lock. "Maybe I should get a cat." The dead bolt didn't slide. Had she forgotten to lock it when she left? Mornings didn't work for her—it wouldn't have been the first time she forgot to lock her apartment properly. The door swung open. Katie half expected to see... well, she had no idea what she expected but only her empty condo greeted her.
Stepping inside, she quickly locked the door and dropped her bag on the table with her keys. The promise of a hot shower and some cozy flannel pajama pants drew her to the bedroom where she stripped and turned on the hot water, letting the bathroom fill with steam. Ten minutes later she stood in her kitchen opening a frozen pizza, hair wrapped in a towel, when a noise in the hall outside the door caught her attention. All the little hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and gooseflesh ran up and down her arms.
"It's probably just Mrs. Ranier." Not really believing herself, Katie slipped over to her front door where she peered out through the peep hole. The hall looked deserted. "I need to stop watching so much Law and Order."
To be on the safe side she reached to flip the dead bolt. The door slammed open with a crash, knocking Katie to the floor. The towel fell over her eyes. When she finally got it off her head, she found herself surrounded by masked men carrying rifles.
"Who the hell are you?" Her voice lacked the confidence she wanted it to have.
"Get up!" one of the commandos ordered, shoving his gun toward her.
"I'm not doing anything you say!" She scrambled toward an opening in the circle of legs but the men moved in closer, the barrels of several rifles now inches from her face.
"You are under arrest for suspicion of aiding in domestic terrorism. Put your hands behind your back and roll over on your stomach," the man closest to her commanded.
"Domestic terrorism? Are you out of your minds? I'm a nurse. The Hippocratic Oath and all that. Why would I want to hurt anyone?"
"We know who you are, Katherine McCoy. Now do as I said or I'll be forced to treat you as a hostile prisoner."
"You can't just barge into someone's house and take them prisoner!"
"We can and we are. Now are you going to roll over or not?" The third man's voice held a warning.
She was completely out of options. Rolling to her stomach, she allowed herself to be handcuffed and pulled to her feet. "Could someone at least close the door to my apartment?" she called over her shoulder as the men practically carried her out of the condo and into the elevator.
No one replied. In fact, no one spoke as the elevator travelled to the underground parking garage. When the doors opened, commando one and commando two took her by the arms and led her to a dark sedan parked next to her little compact car. The same sedan that had followed her on the way home from work.
"You guys have been stalking me!"
A third commando opened a car door and the fourth said, "Shut up and get in the car."
Katie let out a loud scream. The sound echoed throughout the garage, filling the space with her terror.
"You have the right to remain silent—I suggest you use it." one of the men said, shoving her in the back seat before jumping in beside her.
Why didn't anyone hear her? At eight thirty on a Friday night, the ocean front exploded with happy hour goers. The one time she needed someone to be there, the parking garage echoed its emptiness. She kept yelling as the other two men jumped into the front seat.
"If you don't stop screaming I will have to make you stop," one of the guys in the back seat growled in her ear.
"Yeah? How?" she demanded without thinking.
"Don't make me show you, little girl."
She stopped yelling and looked at the four men surrounding her. "Where are you taking me?"
"Not important," the guy on her left said.
"I want to know. I have a right to know." Katie's bravado surprised even her.
"We all want to know something." The man to her right chuckled without humor. They reached the exit from the garage. The driver eased out onto Atlantic Avenue, headed toward Shore Drive. If she could keep track of where they went, she could definitely take the police there later when she pressed charges.
"Don't bother trying to figure it out," the driver called back to her. She saw his eyes meet those of the man on her right. They seemed to pass a silent message between them. Whatever they were not saying, it made Katie really uncomfortable.
"Figure out what?" Katie demanded, still hoping they would tell her something. Anything.
"Where we are going."
Suddenly her world went black. "Why did you do that?"
"Relax, it's only a hood. We will remove it when we get there."
"I don't know who you freaks are but I know some very influential people. I will see to it that you all lose your badges or whatever it is you have that makes you think you can do this to me."
The guy in the passenger seat laughed. "Yeah, we know all about your influential people. Nathan Marks is a dog. You seem like a nice lady, hard to believe you let yourself get taken in by the Marks family problem child."
"How do you know about my relationship with Nathan?"
"Honey, we know everything about you. Now if I were you, I would shut up and enjoy the ride. You'll get a chance to tell your story soon enough to one of our agents."
"Agents? Who are you guys?"
"We are just the repo crew. Easy in, easy out." The men all laughed. Terror seized her. Somehow Nathan had to be behind all of this. Things kept getting better and better. She never should have left Staunton.