Kept Bride (The Secret Bride #2) - Alta Hensley Page 0,1

standing. “I’ll bring you to her, but only if you can stay a little bit longer to allow the Feds to get what they want.”

I know I don’t have to agree to anything, since we aren’t under arrest, but I also want to help put this nightmare to an end.

I nod and follow him out of the room and down the hall to another interrogation room.

When I enter, I see Ember looking so tiny and frail on a chair that seems to nearly swallow her up. Her wide eyes lock with mine, and her lower lip trembles the minute she sees me.

I rush to where she sits and kneel at her feet, looking up at her. “Hey,” I say softly. “I’m here now. I’m not going to leave your side again.” I take her hand, which is cold from the chill in the air of the sterile room. “Are you doing all right?”

Her eyes dart to the man in front of her and then to me. She nods. “They keep asking me about Papa Rich and Scarecrow, and—”

“I know,” I interrupt as I get up and take the seat next to her. “It’s almost over.” I look directly into the men’s eyes as they sit across from us. “Correct? Do you have what you need?”

The man looks at Detective Jackson, who motions for him to join him outside. As the two men leave the room, I position my body so I can look at Ember head-on.

Taking both her hands into mine, I say, “We’re going to get out of here soon. I promise.”

“And then what? Where will we go?” she asks, which makes sense. The only home she has ever known has just burned to the ground.

“I called my mother,” I begin. “After nearly causing the woman to have a stroke from hearing from her dead son, I made arrangements.”

Ember shakes her head. “I don’t understand. Arrangements?”

“My mother is in Palm Springs with some of her friends for a vacation. Hearing that we’re here… alive… she chartered a private plane so we can get back to New York as fast as possible. She’s on her way now to pick us up.”

“New York?”

“That’s where I live, remember?” I prompt softly, understanding this has to be a lot for Ember to take in. “It’s where we will both live now.”

Her hands shake in mine, and all I want to do is sweep her up into my arms, get her as far away from Nevada and Hallelujah Junction as I can, and never speak of Papa Rich and this hell ever again. But as the detectives reenter the room, I know I can’t have everything right away.

“If you don’t mind, we have a couple more questions,” Detective Jackson says. “This is Federal Agent Martinez.”

“Go ahead,” I say, deciding I will answer all the questions I can to avoid them from asking Ember. I can feel in my gut that the poor girl is reaching her max on what she can take.

“So, there are some things you both have said that don’t exactly add up. You said you saw this Papa Rich run into the burning house?” Agent Martinez asks.

“Yes,” I say as I squeeze Ember’s hand in reassurance that I have this handled. “I think we’ve both told you this multiple times.”

“No body was discovered in the house,” Martinez tells us. “In fact, no bodies have been discovered anywhere in the structures.

I feel Ember’s hand go limp in mine. The gut-punching news has me swallowing hard but not wanting to believe the words.

“We saw him go inside,” I say. “The house was engulfed in flames.”

“But you also both say you continued running and never looked back. Neither of you know if he left the house or not. Correct?”

“Papa Rich is alive?” Ember’s shaky voice cuts in. A single tear falls down her face, and I don’t know if it’s from relief or fear.

Martinez and Jackson both glare at Ember. “You said you don’t know where his friend ‘Scarecrow’ lives. Are you sure you’ve never visited or heard any details that could help us track this fellow down?”

Ember shakes her head. “He always came to us, or Papa Rich went to him without me. I know he’s in the hills somewhere, and it’s not exactly close. It takes all day to go back and forth from his home to Hallelujah Junction.”

“Did either of you see Scarecrow during the fire?”

“No,” I answer. “Are you telling us that you think Richard is still alive? Maybe hiding