I thought quickly. “Liv, go hide in the bedroom. Don’t talk, and don’t come out until I say so. Now!” I said, giving her a little shove toward the hallway when she hesitated.
She disappeared into the bedroom, and I faced the door, which I’d locked behind us. After a tension-filled eternity, solid, deliberate steps crossed the deck. Had we been followed? I’d been careful, but everything I knew about evading pursuers I’d learned from books and movies, and I suspected that might not be sufficient.
The steps stopped outside the front door. I held my breath, poised to—run, attack, scream, I didn’t know what. The deadbolt slid back. The door swung open. A tall man stood in the doorway, cradling two full paper bags in one arm.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m Rachel. Who are you?” I replied.
“I’m the guy whose cabin you’re standing in the middle of, and I’ve never seen you before in my life. Where’s my sister?”
Ah. This must be—”Brian?” I asked.
“That’s me. But I still don’t know who you are.” He walked to the kitchen and set the bags down on the counter, then turned back to me, no expression on his face.
“I’m Rachel.” I’d said that already, I thought. “I’m Liv’s babysitter and a friend of Laura’s.” Reflexively, I held out my hand.
He ignored it. “Where is Laura? She called me this morning and told me it was urgent that I get to the cabin, but she didn’t explain.”
I let my hand drop. “I don’t know where she is.” He looked as exasperated as I felt. This was getting us nowhere. “She called me this morning too and told me to come here. I haven’t seen her in three days, since before—” I was about to go on when I thought of Liv possibly overhearing our conversation. This wasn’t anything she needed to know, at least not right now. I held up a finger, signaling him to wait, then headed into the bedroom. “Liv, you can come out now,” I said. The closet door opened, and Liv emerged, a question in her eyes. “Did you hear anything?” I asked. She shook her head. Good. “Well, it’s just your Uncle Brian—” was all I got out before she bounded over the bed and darted past me and out the door.
A second later I heard shouting and squeals, and as I followed her into the living room where she had wrapped herself around her uncle’s legs, he said, “Okay, okay, you little monster!” A little while later, after she’d calmed down, he and I exchanged a look, and he sent her up to the loft to play, hinting that she would find toys up there. We walked into the living room, where he sat in one of the chairs and I took the nearest seat on the couch. Laura had said to tell him everything. So I did.
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