Rebecca Tust Day 3

Trail of Guilt

Here's an excerpt from TRAIL OF GUILT

Chelsea felt hot and sticky. She glanced down at her scoop-neck shirt and groaned
at the colored stains from the snow cone syrups. Her once white shirt now looked
more like a bad attempt at tie-dye. After a day spent passing out popcorn and
hotdogs at the local car dealership in the hot Florida sun, Chelsea was more than
eager to slip into her bathing suit and relax by the pool.
She dropped her keys and purse on the small table in her living room and headed
toward her bedroom.
She pulled her shirt out of her waistband as she walked down the hall and stifled a
scream when a large hand clamped over her mouth. She stomped her wedged
sandal down hard onto the man's foot. The man groaned out a curse and grabbed
her tighter. "It's me, Chelsea," Blake said in a savage tone.
Chelsea turned and glared at Blake. "What are you doing? Are you trying to scare
me to death? And how did you get in here?"
"I'm trying to keep you safe even though you almost broke my freakin' foot."
Blake grabbed her arm and pulled her toward her bedroom as he limped along
beside her. She tried to pull out of his grasp, but his grip was firm and his steps
urgent. "Pack a small bag. We need to get out of here."
Chelsea crossed her arms over her chest and stood defiant. "I'm not going
anywhere with you."
Blake grabbed onto her arm and spoke in a harsh tone. "I think we're in danger
and we need to get out of here now."
"Danger? What's going on, Blake?"
Blake opened Chelsea's closet and looked over his shoulder at her. "Where's your
"It's in the hall closet," she answered automatically.
Blake rushed out of the room and returned, tossing the suitcase onto Chelsea's
bed. "We need to get out of here," he stated in an urgent tone.
Chelsea placed her hands on her hips. "Blake, you're scaring me. What's going
Blake stepped close enough to Chelsea that he could see the small gold flecks in
her amber eyes and the small sprinkling of freckles across her nose. "Garret and
Jen are dead. My boat, or what's left of it, is in flames in the middle of the Jupiter
Inlet. Since it was my boat that just blew up, I don't know if I was the intended
target, but in any case, I'm not sticking around to find out."
"Oh my God, I'm so sorry."
"So am I," he stated as he turned toward Chelsea's closet and pulled shirts off of
their hangers and tossed them toward Chelsea. "We need to hurry, Chelsea."
Confusion masked her face. "I don't understand. Why do we have to leave?"
Blake walked over to Chelsea, resting his hands on her arms, as his wild gaze met
hers. "I was on that boat. My personal belongings were on that boat. People are
going to assume I'm dead along with Garret and Jen. At this point, I think it's
better for whoever did this to continue to think I'm dead."
"You don't think it was an accident?"
Blake's fierce gaze met Chelsea's. "It wasn't an accident."
"Don't you think you should go to the police?"
"Not yet." Blake gently shook her shoulders. "This isn't a game, Chelsea. We
need to hurry. Do you have any cash on you?"
Chelsea felt completely overwhelmed as she muttered, "I don't know. Maybe
thirty dollars."
"We'll have to stop by a bank on the way out of here. Try to get as much cash as
you can. We need to disappear for a little while and we'll need cash to help hide
our trail."
Indecision crossed her face. "But how does this involve me?"
Because she was his kryptonite. How did Blake answer her question without
revealing too much?  If he left her behind, he wouldn't be able to focus on finding
a killer. He'd be worried about her the whole time and wouldn't be close enough
to protect her. "If you weren't working, you would have been on that boat, too. I'm
pretty sure that whoever did this did their homework. You're going to be linked to
me, and if it's me they want, you would make the perfect bait. I need you,
Chelsea, and I'm not leaving you behind."
Chelsea swallowed hard and nodded. This wasn't a game. This was serious, and if
Blake thought they were in danger, who was she to argue?
"Do you have your gun?"
Chelsea nodded again. She held a shirt up to her chest. "What about my job? I
can't just disappear."
"The job isn't going to matter if you're dead," Blake stated matter-of-factly.
Blake had Chelsea so rattled she started throwing clothes into the suitcase without
much thought.
Blake walked out of the room and returned with a small piece of paper. "I wrote
down Garret's address. I need to dump his car at his place. Once you get to his
place, drive over a couple streets and pick me up on South Orange Avenue."
"What are you doing with Garret's car?"
"Garret was always losing his keys, so he kept a spare set of keys in one of those
little magnetic boxes on his car." Blake raked a hand through his disheveled hair.
"Once I swam to shore, I didn't have many options. No clothes, no money, no
keys, no phone… I knew I needed to get out of there fast and then I remembered
Garret and his spare keys. It will look strange if Garret's car is here. The police
will find my car at the marina. The place is swarming with cops and I don't want
to take the chance of returning his car to the marina and being seen. After they
figure out who was on the boat, I'm hoping the police will assume that I gave
Garret and Jen a ride to the marina."
Blake grabbed a hold of Chelsea's hand, his dark brown eyes boring into her
worried gaze.  "Please, Chelsea, I'd never forgive myself if something bad
happened to you because of me. I need you and I'm not leaving you behind.
Please come with me."
The silence stretched between them as Chelsea chewed her bottom lip in
indecision. "Fine," Chelsea groaned, knowing as she agreed that she was stepping
into dangerous territory running off with Blake Harrington alone.


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