She had the small town bad habit of leaving her back door unlocked which made getting in the house easier than he thought it would be. In a matter of minutes he was hiding in a dark alcove off the kitchen, listening to Lucy and Linda’s goodbyes. This was running so smoothly he could hardly believe it.
Cooing and gurgling to the baby, she flicked on the light and walked into the kitchen totally oblivious to Lance’s presence. Putting Jonathon in his baby seat - then turning her kettle on - all the while telling the baby how much she’d missed him the night before.
“We’re never going back to that life again. I promise to keep you safe, little Jon.” She wasn’t happy to be packing to leave town before dawn. There were times, like now, when she wondered if she was being selfish dragging Jonathon away from his father. What kind of life had she set him up for, never able to settle in one place for long? What kind of life was that for a little boy?
He knew the moment she’d spotted him. Her spine went rigid and in one move she had one hand on the baby seat huddling in the corner with Jonathon behind her, her other hand on the hot kettle. “You’ll have to kill me to get to him,” she said as she spun around and faced him.
When a line like that made him feel like a shit-heel, it probably was time for a new line of work, he thought, unable to look into those eyes staring back at him with such desperation and not have a flashback into his own childhood.
In that moment, Lance was eight years old again waiting for the beating his father was about to lay on him for what would be the last time before his mother pushed Lance behind her and took the beating that was meant for him.
It was one of many she’d taken, but that night was different for after his father had drifted off in a drunken stupor, she’d taken Lance, never to return to that world again. The years spent on the run had been financially tough, but he had to hand it to his mother...not once did she consider going back.
When Lance turned sixteen and refused to run anymore, his mother swore a promise from him that he’d never allow himself to treat a woman that way. So it was very disconcerting to see that fear in Linda’s eyes and know it was fear of him.
Correction. That was the look of fear from living the same life his mother and others like her had. And that was what had been nagging him all along. His instincts never steered him wrong and he was sure they weren’t about to start now.