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Trent ran his sleeve over his face, wiping off the sweat pouring from it. He’d started the day with at least a glimmer of hope, but it had melted away in the hot Oklahoma sunshine. The crowd of people he’d started the day with had thinned until there were only a few remaining.
Trent pulled his pickup to a stop, but made no move to leave the cab. He looked at the front of their house, unable to go inside and face Josh. Even this morning, the haunted look in Josh’s eyes had left a chill deep inside Trent.
Eventually the heat forced him out and he resigned himself to facing his husband. He made his way toward the door, dread slowing his pace. He was at the bottom of the steps, trying to find the courage and strength to go inside, when the entry seemed to explode.
Dodging the door and Josh’s frantic rush, Trent had a sinking feeling. “What’s wrong? What happened?”
Josh turned and stared as if he had just realized Trent was standing there. After a few moments, he realized Josh was overwhelmed.
“Josh. Did they find Danny?”
Tears welled in his eyes and then began cascading down his cheeks. Trent grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him.
“Answer me! Did they find Danny?”
Josh nodded and eventually managed to squeak out. “Yes.”
“Is he okay?”
Josh shrugged his shoulders but his eyes were growing wild as they stood.
“How could you not know? What’s going on?”
Josh stiffened and glared at Trent. “They got a text from one of the searchers, but apparently their phone can’t be reached. All they said was he was located. The sheriff said to come to the headquarters.”
Without another word Trent ran back to the pickup. An instant after his door shut, the other one echoed it as Josh hurdled himself into the cab. Gravel shot into every direction as Trent floored the gas pedal and raced onto the county road.
This time he didn’t care that Josh wasn’t talking to him. He wasn’t in the mood. He needed to get to his son. The tension in the vehicle was palpable, but Josh didn’t utter a word as Trent slid around corners to get to their destination as fast as possible.
Trent fought to keep his fears in check, but his gut was knotted. What would he do if something happened to Danny? What were they going to do if Danny was hurt or… he refused to even consider worse. He’d dropped off Sammy with Mitch this morning. A very quiet Sammy who’d been crying since this had happened. Mitch said nothing. He simply lifted her in his arms and waved Trent off.
“Go find Danny. We’ll be fine.”
He wasn’t worried about his daughter. The hounds of hell could try for her and Mitch would stop them. He knew Mitch would never let anything happen. At least that kept one thing off his mind.
By the time they reached the staging area, Trent fishtailed into a step and both men were lunging from the truck before it came to a complete stop. They sped toward the ambulance, hoping what they would find didn’t confirm the worst of their fears. Running at full speed, they were oblivious to anything and anyone around them. Shoving their way through the crowd around the gurney, they found…
An adult? Covered in blood?
Just as both of them were about to explode, someone’s hand settled on each of their shoulders. They turned to find the smiling face of Sheriff White Cloud.
“Danny’s fine. At least as far as we can tell. But I need you two to help me pry him out of his hidee hole.”
Trent felt limp with those words, he wasn’t certain what it meant, but the words ‘Danny’s fine’ gave him the will to go on. A few moments later they were in the police four-wheel drive headed through some increasingly rough terrain. When they reached a grove of cedar trees that were impassible, the vehicle came to a stop.
The sheriff looked at them with a wicked grin. “Danny’s in there somewhere. Ryan tried to go in and get him and you saw what Danny did to him. Apparently he can do a lot of damage with a good sized rock.”
Without a backward glance they ran to the edge of the evergreen trees. Trent tried to peer inside, but he couldn’t see anything. “Danny! Danny, you in there?”
They waited a few moments and then Josh tried. “Danny, it’s Da. It’s okay. You can come out.”
They heard a faint scrambling noise and then saw a wonderfully grubby face peer out from the thick cover. “Daddy? Da?”
They both lunged forward and grabbed Danny with tears flooding their faces.
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