“I’ll drive you there,” he agreed. “But we’re not going inside until the cops show up.”
Larissa looked like she wanted to protest, but she didn’t say anything as she slid into the passenger seat. He took the crutches, stuffed them in the back, and then jogged around to the driver’s side.
“Hurry,” Larissa urged.
He was already pushing the speed limit, but he nudged the gas pedal a bit more. “Try calling Annie back, see if she answers.”
Larissa did as he suggested, but apparently no one answered because she dropped the phone into her lap. “I don’t like it,” she murmured. “Something’s not right.”
As he approached the south side of the lake, he heard the wail of sirens getting louder. The squad sped past them, kicking up dust and gravel, and he couldn’t help feeling a sense of relief.
He could only hope and pray the deputies had gotten there in time.
When he approached the long, winding driveway, he pulled off on the side of the road and cut the engine.
“What are you doing?” she asked, her tone laced with impatience. “We have to check on Annie.”
“Larissa, the police are there. We can’t just barge up the driveway into the middle of what could be a bad situation. For all we know, Annie could be a hostage. There could be weapons involved.” And from what he’d heard about Kurt, the guy was an avid hunter, so for sure he owned at least one gun, if not more. “Let’s just sit here for a minute and wait.”
Larissa’s expression betrayed her frustration, but when she bowed her head to pray, he reached over to take her hand in his. “Dear Lord, we ask that You please keep Annie safe in Your care,” he murmured.
“Amen,” Larissa whispered.
Larissa stared through the windshield, searching for some sign of either Annie or the police. Both windows were down, too, but they couldn’t hear anything, and she wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. At least there wasn’t any shouting or gunfire. But what if everyone was already dead? She couldn’t bear the thought.
Usually prayer helped keep her calm, but she couldn’t deny an acute sense of urgency. She was pleased that Gabe had prayed with her, and if the situation wasn’t so tense, she might have asked him more about what had caused him to stray from his faith.
The sound of muted voices reached her ears, and she grabbed Gabe’s hand. “Did you hear that?” she whispered.
He nodded. “Maybe there’s nothing to worry about,” he suggested.
As much as she wanted to believe that, she knew too well it wasn’t likely. Abusive men didn’t just turn over a new leaf. They always wanted to prove that they were in control, no matter what it took. And the abuse was always the victim’s fault.
You’re so stupid! How could you do something so stupid? Whack! Maybe next time, you’ll think before you open up your mouth! Smack!
Larissa shivered despite the warm air as memories of the past came rushing forward. Her stepfather had beat her mother on a regular basis, but it wasn’t until her stepfather started beating Larissa that her mother had finally escaped.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Gabe whispered. “You suddenly got very pale.”
She needed to pull herself together. “Nothing. I’m fine.”
The sound of a car motor startled her, and she held her breath until the squad car came into view. The two deputies inside looked grim.
“What happened?” Gabe asked through his open window. “Is Annie all right?”
The two deputies exchanged a long look. “Apparently everything is all right. Annie claims she knocked a pot of hot water off the stove and that her burns are superficial. She’s refusing medical care. And Kurt has promised to take care of her.”
Larissa shook her head, knowing that there was way more to the story. But what could they do? If Annie wouldn’t come forward to testify against her husband or come in to get medical care, they couldn’t take any action against him.
“Sorry we bothered you,” Gabe said.
“It’s no bother,” Deputy Thomas said with a dark frown. “But it is frustrating. At the moment, our hands are tied. Let us know if you hear anything more.”