Today's Reading

This is your last chance to come out and talk,' he hollered from behind the white beam. 'I won't be so nice in the future.

This guy considers shooting at people and forcing cars off the road as being nice? When the beam moved over her area of marsh, Kate didn't twitch a muscle.

Not when the cold water chilled her to the bone.

Not when mosquitos feasted hungrily on the back of her neck.

Not even when something spiny crawled over her bare foot. 'Fine. Have it your way.' The man switched off the spotlight, throwing Kate into darkness except for the weak light of the moon.

As an engine roared to life, Kate lifted her head in time to see the van ram the back of her Mustang. Once, twice, then with the third hit, the van pushed her convertible down the ramp into the waterway. Helplessly, Kate watched her beloved car slide deeper until only the top remained visible. After another moment, even the roof disappeared below the murky surface. Tears filled Kate's eyes as her most valuable possession sank to the bottom.

'Here's a little reminder to make sure your new job doesn't go to your head.' Without warning, her mysterious adversary fired several shots into the marsh. One bullet cut through the tassels a foot above her head, giving Kate more to worry about than a waterlogged car. Then she heard car doors slam and the van sped off without switching on its headlights until well beyond the marina. From her marshy vantage point, she had no better view of a license plate or the van's occupants than on the highway.


CHAPTER TWO

Kate counted to ten and pushed herself stiffly to her feet. A mass of black seaweed dropped from her arm as she waded through the water, fearful of crab-infested holes that could twist an ankle along the bottom. When she reached the parking lot, she waited with dripping clothes and chattering teeth. Surely someone had heard the gunfire and would come to investigate, or at least call the sheriff's department. After five minutes, when no one arrived and she heard no sirens, Kate started walking up the marina road.

Suddenly, she remembered her cell phone in her pocket. Could it have remained dry during her foray into the Georgia wetlands? Spending the big bucks for a waterproof cover and impact-resistant case proved worthwhile when the screen lit up with colorful apps. Cold, scared, —and for what it's worth, hungry—Kate punched in Beth's number.

Her co-worker answered with a snarl. 'Where are you, Weller? The chicken kabobs are gone and the reggae drummer is flirting with a blonde as we speak.

'Beth, could you come get me or send someone?' Kate tried her best not to sound like a child.

'Why? What's wrong with your car? Don't tell me you ran out of gas between here and Savannah.'

'No, someone forced me off the highway. I had to turn down a dead-end road to a boat ramp. They were shooting at me from a black van.' Kate's chattering teeth made speech almost impossible.

Silence spun out for a few moments. Then Beth asked quietly. 'Who was shooting at you? Did you call nine-one-one? Are the police there with you now?'

'No, I called you first. I'm here by myself. Whoever was in the van left.' Kate's voice cracked, revealing her emotional state.

'Are you hurt?' Panic etched Beth's words. 'Because if you're not, jump in your car and get out of there. Those guys could come back.'

'I'm not hurt, but my car is at the bottom of Lazaretto Creek.'

'OK, don't worry about the car. Find somewhere to hide until Michael and I arrive. We'll call the police along the way. Are you at that marina on the left just past the Tybee Bridge?'

'Ye—esss,' she stuttered. 'But what about your party?'

'Never mind the party,' Beth screeched like a parrot. 'Just find a safe place to wait for us. We're on our way.'

After they hung up, Kate glanced around the eerily vacant boatyard. Shadows seemed to leap and grow as she scanned her surroundings. But one thing was for certain, she wouldn't crawl back into the marsh even if the van returned with a grenade launcher. Instead, Kate staggered to the deserted office, unscrewed the sole security light, and plopped down on the steps. At least if she couldn't see anything, no one could see her.

Since the Tybee Island Police Department was closer to the marsh than Mrs Doyle's house, two patrol cars arrived a few minutes later, lights flashing and sirens blaring. One vehicle slammed to a stop with headlights facing east while the other faced west. An ambulance arrived moments later. When several officers jumped out with guns drawn, Kate rose from the steps and approached with her hands raised. She wanted no mistakes made regarding who's the victim and who's the perpetrator.
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