Home > Taming Cross(18)

Taming Cross(18)
Author: Ella James

I can tell I've hit the jackpot. She’s chewing on her lip.

“What is her name?” she says, cleverly biding time. She fiddles a bit more with her necklace, and I feel sorry that I've put her so on edge.

“Her name is Meredith Kinsey, but she once went by Missy King. She was kidnapped, more than a year ago, but she escaped. I’ve been told she took refuge here.” The girl doesn’t confirm my story, so I add, “Sometime recently, the cartel came looking for her. That's what happened to your building, isn't it?”

She clenches her eyebrows and shakes her head, and at that moment, I hear the clicking of a woman's shoes.

“Alexandria.” I hear an older woman's voice before she rounds the corner. When she does, I note a nun's habit and a face that's stretched wide in alarm. Her eyes narrow as they run over the girl's slim form. “Alexandria,” she says, relieved, “go into the back room and help Sister Rita with her reports.”

The girl's eyes hold the older woman's for a moment, and the older woman nods. The girl clutches her necklace, and I realize it must have been some kind of alarm.

A second later, the girl is gone, and the nun is standing stone still, looking stern, and I feel like I’m about to get thrown out of catechism class. “What is your business here, sir? Do you have a child that we can help?”

I shake my head. “I'm looking for someone. My sister, Meredith. She once went by the name of Missy King. She was kidnapped and sold. I heard she might be here.”

I'm searching the woman's pretty brown eyes for some hint, but she gives nothing away.

Instead, she folds her arms across her chest and sighs. “Whether she is here or whether she is not, it makes no difference. We have no business with those who seek to do harm to others.”

“I don’t want to hurt her,” I make the sign of the cross. “I was reared Catholic.”

She arches a brow, and her eyes move from my sweaty head to my dusty toes. “And what are you now?”

“Looking for someone.” I lean in closer and let my urgency show. “And I don’t have much time. If she’s here, I’m her best shot at getting out. But it has to be now.”

More like I’m her only shot, because it really does have to be now, and the sister seems to get it. Her thin lips press together. “Follow me.” Two men come around a desk and she says, “They need to check you for weapons.”

I hand her Carlos’s Beretta, plus the giant magazine tucked into my pants. “I want it back when I go.”

“Of course,” she says smoothly.

They have scanning wands, and I'm slightly shocked when the one on my left goes off around my hip. The one being wielded by a dude on my right goes off around my neck. The men, both of them muscled enough to be imposing, grabbed me by my arms, and the woman holds up her hand.

She comes around behind me, runs her fingers along my neck, and presses something at the base of my skull that almost makes me purr.

“You hurt your neck,” she says simply.

I nod, turning to face her once the men drop me. She nods at my legs. “You hurt your hip?”

I nod again.

“You have a slight limp. Only slight. It must have healed well.”

“Observant.”

She shrugs. “My job.”

She holds her hand out, and when I don't take it right away, she grabs my left one from my pocket. When I recoil, she says, “That's what you are hiding in your pocket.”

I exhale. “Yeah.”

She opens the door to a small office and I step inside. “Tell me about the woman you are looking for. I want the whole story.” I hesitate again, and she puts her hand on my shoulder, urging me into a fold-out chair. She walks around to take a seat at her faux wood desk, where she sits her hands on the table and nods at me. “Go on now, the whole story.”

I find myself giving it to her. Not the abridged version, but the whole story, leading to my wreck, to the conversation I had with my father, and finally—when I can tell she knows where Meredith Kinsey, or Missy King is—my hunch that I need to keep my real name quiet at first. Because Meredith might not leave with me if she knows who I really am.

“If she's in danger, I want to get her to the States, where I can help her. It's the least that I can do.”

“And your father?”

“I would never give her back to him. I'm going to get in trouble for it, but I plan to turn him in.”

She nods for a long time before standing up. “Come follow me, Mr. Carlson.”

 

 

12

 

 

Merri

 

 

I'M PRETTY SURE if I have a visitor, it's not one I want. My heart pounds so hard I can barely draw a breath as I follow Sister Mary Carolina down the hallway in the direction of the prayer rooms.

Why is this happening today? Is this Jesus? I decide as I walk briskly behind the woman who's been most influential in my life, that if this is one of is Jesus's guys, I’ll go willingly. The Sisters have said over and over that they won't allow that. That we all stand together; that's the only way it can be. But I can’t let harm come to them.

The only thing I can’t figure out is why Jesus would send someone to kidnap me after the message Father Mendez delivered.

Sister opens the door to a small reading room with green carpet and white bookshelves, and we pause before going in. All at once she pulls me to her chest and kisses my head.

“Be brave, Merri, my love. You must do what you must do. We only want what's best for you.”

And then she...leaves. She leaves me here, before I even see who's in the room.

For the longest second, I stay on the threshold, staring at the man who is facing the bookshelf. My eyes run down the length of him, expecting to find Jesus or one of his sicarios, but that's not what I find.

I don’t know who this man is. He’s tall, with dark hair and large bones. Long legs, wide back, big shoulders. He looks lean, almost sick, because I can tell he should be bulkier. He reminds me of a starved lion I saw once in a documentary.

He turns toward me slowly, and as he moves I'm frozen, like in those nightmares where you're being chased but you can't run.

At first I'm not looking at his features—only the expression, which is somehow both solemn and surprised. And I feel like I've been struck dead, because he has an angel's face. It's not just the flawless blue of his eyes or his celebrity-perfect bones. It's not his perfect, straight-line nose or that lush, cherubic mouth. It's not his smooth skin. It's what I see inside his eyes. Something so intense, so sad, so ecstatic, so relieved, that I know he must be God's answer to my prayer.

For the longest moment, he just looks at me. I feel like I'll unravel in the brilliance of those ice blue eyes. I'm so thrown off I whisper exactly what I'm thinking.

“Are you here to take me?”

His lips curl slowly, into something that's not at all a smile. My heart stops as he steps closer.

“Rescue you.” His eyes. They're still on me, burning through me. Holding my gaze like his hand is under my chin. His throat works and he seems to struggle with his words. “Meredith Kinsey.” His chest heaves. “You're her. You're really her.”

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