Silent tears stream down my face, weeping for my little girl. I rocked her like I had when she was so much smaller, pressing kisses into her hair.
“H-h-he w-w-was gonna h-hurt you, Mommy,” she sobbed.
“Shhh, baby. I know. I know,” I murmured. “It’s all right now. We’re okay.”
She pulled back and stared up at me with puffy, red-rimmed eyes. “Is he dead, Mommy? Did I kill that man?” Those blue eyes pleaded with me to say no.
I cradled her face with one hand. “I don’t know, sweetie. But he was alive when we came outside.”
Just then the door opened and Dominic limped through. In his hands were our packed bags. His gaze swept over me and fell on Allison curled on my lap. “You okay, honey?”
She nodded slightly. She was alive and uninjured, but she was far from okay.
Dominic lifted his eyes to mine. “Jennings is unconscious, but alive,” he said. Then mouthed barely. “He was hit in the lung, so. . .” He let the thought hang in the air, but I knew what he meant.
“I tried my cell, but I couldn’t get a signal out here,” he said to change the subject. “We should get going. If Ritter really is on his way, we should be gone before he gets here.”
A small smile twitched on Allison’s lips. “I got a signal.”
We gaped at her.
“Out in the woods, there was a spot where I had three bars on your phone, Mom.”
“Do you remember where? Was it close?” Dominic asked her.
She looked sheepish, like she had done something wrong. “Well, I left the phone there.”
“Why, baby?” I questioned. What was the point of leaving the phone in the only spot with a signal, unless she knew where it was?
She my questioning eyes. “I called Officer Brecky’s number. When she answered, I whispered who I was and that we were somewhere in the mountains north of Church Hill and being attacked. I left the phone on vibrate and turned the speaker volume all the way down, so it wouldn’t make any noise. Then I left it there and kept going. I thought maybe they could find the phone. They can do that, right? They could track where the call was coming from?”
Eyes wide with shock, I squeezed her tight. “Oh, Allison! You are such a smart girl!”
The station would have caller ID, so Brecky would know it was my phone calling. When she heard Allison whispering, she’d probably try to track it. She might have even heard gun shots depending on when Allison called. I could only hope.
Meeting Dominic’s equally shocked expression I said, “We should leave the phone and get on the road. If they’re tracking it, we’ll probably see them on the way out.”
I picked up the bags from where Dominic had dropped them and loaded them in the car. Allison helped. When she stared to climb into the back seat, I stopped her.
“Let Mr. Dominic sit in the back so he can stretch out his leg. You sit up front with me.”
She nodded and climbed in the front with a small smile. I didn’t usually let her sit up front, so this lifted her spirits, even if just a bit.
Going back to Dominic, I put his left arm across my shoulders and wrapped my right arm around his back. I couldn’t give much, but, with a hole in his left thigh, any support was better than hopping along dragging his leg. I helped him sit on the driver side of the back seat, then went around to help pull him through from the other side.
“Ella, I can do it,” he said with weary pride.
I stood back and watched him drag his body back so his leg rested the seat. Once he was settled, he beckoned me. I leaned in, and he threaded his fingers into my hair. His lips tickled my ear as he whispered, “Do not injure yourself more on my part.” He paused then added, “But thank you.” Kissing me softly, he let go and I closed the door at his back.
We pulled away from the cabin in our stolen car. If we could get out to the paved road before Ritter came, we’d be in the clear. But, just in case, Dominic and I kept our pistols on our laps.