Keeping Christmas - By B. J. Daniels Page 0,1

for breath as she realized she was in a cramped dark space.

She fought not to panic, not to let her mind tell her that her small prison was slowly closing in on her.

Breathe. You’re alive. Temporarily. Breathe.

“Just bring the damned computer and all the disks you can find.” It was the voice of the second man from the parking garage.

“I thought it was supposed to look like a robbery,” the first demanded.

“You let me take care of that. What about her journal? Have you found it yet?”

“It’s not in here.”

She heard the sound of footfalls heavy nearby as if someone was treading up stairs. She held her breath, trying to calm her breathing, her panic.

Her fingers moved slowly, cautiously, along the inside of the space around her. She frowned, feeling cool metal, rough carpet. She could hear the sound of things breaking, larger things being knocked over. She sniffed and caught a familiar scent. Laundry detergent. She’d bought a box at the market earlier and put it—

She was in the trunk of her car!

The realization sent a shot of hope racing through her. Hurriedly, she oriented herself, scrunching her body to get her feet against the rear seat, the one with the broken latch. She could hear voices. The two men arguing.

Bracing her body against the opposite side of the trunk, her feet against the rear seat, she pushed with all her strength.

At the sound of a loud crash, she kicked the seat hard. The latch gave, the seat flopped down.

Through the hole came light. She wiggled around until she could peer out. The car was parked in her garage. The two men were inside her house, the adjoining door open.

She listened, afraid they would come back now. No sound. Had they heard her?

She moved fast, half afraid they would be standing outside her car amused at the futility of what she thought was her great escape. But she had no chance cramped in the trunk. She didn’t have much chance in the back seat. But even a little edge was better than nothing.

Slithering through the space with the seat down, she ducked behind the front seats and looked out. No sign of the men in the garage. The door to the house was still open, but she couldn’t see anything but light coming from the kitchen. Where were the men?

She heard the sounds of more objects breaking, things being knocked over and destroyed. She grabbed the back door handle and, as quietly as possible, popped it open.

Inside the house she heard another crash, then voices. She slipped out of the car, making the decision just as quickly. The keys were in the ignition. She opened the driver’s side door, slid behind the wheel and locked all four doors as she reached for the garage door opener and said a silent prayer.

The garage door began to lift slowly and noisily as she fired up the car’s engine, her eyes on the door leading into the house.

The overhead garage door was too slow. Hurry! She had the car in Reverse, engine revved, ready, her gaze flicking nervously from the slowly rising garage door to the open door to the house. The garage door was a third of the way up. Just a little higher.

The two men came flying out of the house, stumbling down the steps that dropped into the garage. One of them slammed into the side of her car and groped for the door handle.

The garage door was almost up enough. The second man shoved past him, a gun in his hand. The man with the gun started to raise the weapon as she tromped down on the gas. The car shot backward under the rising garage door, the antenna snapping off.

She thought she heard a shot as she swung the car around in the driveway, slammed it into first and took off, tearing across the lawn, jumping the curb, tires squealing as they met pavement, engine screaming.

She hadn’t realized she’d been holding her breath until it came out on a sob. She was shaking so hard, she could hardly hold on to the steering wheel. But she kept going. They would be coming after her. She’d seen the van parked just down the street from her house.

Worse, she’d seen their faces.

She’d known in the parking garage that they’d planned to kill her. But now they had no choice.

She’d recognized one of them—and he knew it.

Chapter One

All Chance Walker wanted was to get to the cabin before the snowstorm