Say Goodbye (Romantic Suspense #25) - Karen Rose
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 10:30 P.M.
Hayley Gibbs winced as her belly scraped against the doorjamb leading into the clinic. Dammit. She’d underestimated her current—and increasing—size yet again. Damn pregnancy.
She gave her stomach a soothing pat. Not you, she silently told her unborn child. Her daughter. I’m not mad at you, Jellybean. Never you.
She was mad, however, at her mother. She was beyond furious with the woman. And scared of her at the same time. The fury was nothing new. The fear . . . well, that was new. At least this kind of fear. It had always been the fear of not having enough to eat, or of where they’d live the next week, or what her mother would do if she learned that Hayley was having sex with her high school boyfriend Cameron, or that her little brother Graham was shoplifting electronics.
Then she’d found out what her mother would do if she found out.
Move us here. To this hellhole in the middle of fucking nowhere.
From which Hayley was going to escape or die trying.
She just needed to get into the clinic’s office.
Drawing a breath, she eased her way through the clinic door and quietly closed it behind her. She stood statue-still, listening for the sound of anyone else. But it was silent.
Thank you, she mouthed, not sure whom she was thanking. Probably not God, or not her mother’s God, at least. The God Hayley wanted to thank would help her keep her baby safe. The God she wanted to thank definitely wouldn’t approve of these . . . monsters.
Eden was full of monsters and her mother had dragged Hayley and her brother here, kicking and screaming.
Hayley rubbed her fingertips over the thick chain welded around her neck.
Welded. Around. My. Neck.
It wasn’t jewelry, despite the locket that dangled from it. It was a collar. It was ownership.
It was also empty, at the moment. The locket. But after the baby came, her locket would be filled with her wedding photo. She was technically married now—and had been since the day they’d arrived in this awful place. Luckily her “husband” didn’t want to “consummate” their union with another man’s bastard in her belly, so she hadn’t been forced into sex. Yet.
He didn’t want their wedding photo sullied with the evidence of her sin. He’d have the photo taken after the “bastard” was born. Which gave her a little more than six weeks.
Hayley’s gut churned at the thought of being the fourth wife Brother Joshua would have—at the same time. Polygamy abounded in Eden, and Hayley wanted no part of it.
She hadn’t wanted any of it. She just wanted to be with her boyfriend and live their lives the way they’d always planned since their first homecoming dance in the ninth grade.
No, this baby wasn’t what she and Cameron had planned, at least not now. They were only seventeen, after all. But Cam’s parents had stepped up and said that they could live with them once the baby came, that they could still go to college.
But her mother hadn’t agreed. The next thing Hayley had known, she and Graham had been forced into the back of some guy’s truck. And now I’m here.
Here in Eden. Here in the clinic, closed at the moment. If she got caught . . . She shuddered at the very thought. But she had to try. She was more afraid to stay in Eden than she was of any punishment. And Pastor—the creepy leader of this creepy cult in the mountains—he terrified her. The people here obeyed him like robots.
She rubbed her stomach as it lurched again. Come on now. Don’t worry, Jellybean. I’ll get us out of here before you arrive. I promise.
So now she had to. She’d just promised her daughter.
Her daughter. She was going to have a daughter. She and Cameron had seen the baby on the ultrasound back at the ob-gyn’s office in San Francisco, had heard her heartbeat. Cam had cried, his hand clutching hers as they’d stared at the small screen.
I love you, Cam, she whispered inside her own mind. I love you both.
They hadn’t chosen a name yet, so they called her Jellybean for now.
Her daughter didn’t even have a name, but Hayley would have given up everything to protect her. Which meant getting them out of this place, with its clinic that would have been considered medieval even in Little House on the Prairie days.
She looked around the dark room, shrouded in shadow. There was no ultrasound here. No oxygen if