When I Find You: A Trust No One Novel Online

Chapter One

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THE SHARP CRACK of a gunshot echoed through the silence. Darcy jerked upright in bed, the troubled thoughts keeping her from sleep suddenly forgotten. Her breath caught in her throat as she froze, staring into the darkness, listening. She had to be wrong. It couldn’t be gunfire. The slamming of a cupboard door maybe or a car backfiring on the street at the end of the drive. That was all. She released her pent-up breath and forced herself to relax while easing the tension from her neck, her spine, her stomach . . . except, apparently there was no help for the ball of dread that knotted her stomach. She shook her head. Since when had she become so paranoid? Her imagination was really working overtime tonight.

The next shot shattered the rosy image she’d conjured and propelled her from the bed to the door, her hands braced against it as though she were strong enough to barricade herself from the evil that lurked outside.

She lost track of time. Seconds blurred into minutes as she waited. No voices. No doors opening or closing. Not even the creak of a floorboard. Nothing. She opened her door a crack and held her breath. The gunfire had come from downstairs, but the only sound now was the tick, tick, tick of the grandfather clock in the hallway outside her room. A ribbon of light revealed the top few steps leading to the lower level. Her heart drummed wildly in her ears, and she forced air into her lungs and let it out, fortifying herself against the light-headedness that made her legs weak and shaky.

She couldn’t stay here hiding. She had to do something—but what? Go downstairs? Johnny and she were the only ones in the house, at least the only ones who were supposed to be here. What if he was hurt? He might need help, but whoever fired those shots could still be down there. The police? It would take them forever to get here. She leaned her forehead against the cool wooden door, squeezed her eyes shut, and fought the indecision and terror that immobilized her.

Darcy had known there was something wrong this morning as she’d watched the two young boys she cared for follow their mother to the cab parked out front. Any other day, she’d have been helping them get ready for school. After they left, the threat still hung in the empty hallways and deserted grounds, and the silence that descended over the house tonight practically shouted a warning.

She’d bet anything her employer, Johnny Fontana, knew there was something wrong too. Why else would he have given the entire household staff a three-day weekend and sent his wife and sons to visit family in California? He’d wanted Darcy to leave today, too, and even insisted on paying her expenses to visit her parents in Oregon.

The thought of seeing her father filled her with dread, so she’d used a doctor’s appointment as an excuse to delay her departure. She couldn’t explain to Johnny how one sad smile from her father reawakened all the pain and guilt and reminded her in vivid detail why she’d left Oregon in the first place. She loved her father and missed her mother terribly, but there was too much left unsaid between them. Johnny wasn’t completely satisfied with the compromise she’d offered but eventually gave in, and Darcy had made arrangements to leave tomorrow afternoon to visit a friend from college.

Now, the stillness settled around her and a feeling of impending doom sucked the air from her lungs. A grimace twisted her lips. Clearly Johnny had a very good reason for insisting she go. Perhaps it wouldn’t have hurt to be a little more flexible.

She should have known something like this would happen when she decided to stay and work for Johnny, even after she learned who he was. What rational person takes a job as nanny to a gangster’s sons anyway? Her father didn’t have any trouble deciding the extent of her foolishness from clear across the country, and he didn’t hesitate to tell her what she should do. Pack her bags and get out. Was that why she stayed? To prove to her father she could take care of herself? Clearly not the wisest decision she’d ever made.

Her head snapped up. Voices floated to her ears as heavy footsteps ascended the stairs. She caught a few words—girl . . . take her out . . . upstairs—and her heartbeat picked up