Maggie sat up and ran her hands through the tangled mass of her hair. In the rearview mirror, Rick caught her eye. His fatherly smile warmed her. “You hungry? We could stop . . . get something to eat.” Sandy stirred but settled back against the seat again, her jaw slack. “I’m okay,” Maggie said. “Unless you want to stop.” “Could you make it another forty-five minutes? We’re almost to Aurora.” “Is that close to Cleveland?” “It’s another hour or so past Aurora.” “Wow. That was quick.” Rick chuckled. “You’ve been asleep for almost three hours.” That meant three hours farther away from Kevin. She couldn’t decide whether that thought excited or terrified her. She was in a frightening no man’s land—not far enough away to be out of his reach yet, but so far that he’d be mad enough to kill her when he found her. She wondered what he was doing right now. Was he searching for her, growing more angry and irrational by the hour? Or had he just gone to sleep? It probably wouldn’t take him long to replace her. He’d had other girlfriends before her and had never hidden that fact. Kevin’s good looks and ability to turn on the charm had captivated her too, for a while. It was the very thing that had reeled her in. A stab of jealousy cut through her, but she quickly reminded herself of what she was escaping. She felt sorry for the next woman he caught in his snare—and a little guilty that her freedom might put someone else in danger. Now that she’d broken loose, she had a hard time seeing why she hadn’t done it sooner. Of course, she had run away, more than once, after one of Kevin’s particularly brutal tongue-lashings. But even when she’d made it to a women’s shelter once, she’d always known deep inside that she’d end up back with Kevin. The only reason she’d taken refuge at the shelter was because she’d hoped it would finally make him realize what he was doing to her, make him appreciate what he had. In the end, it had accomplished none of that. If anything, it had made things worse. Made him worse. She wondered now if men like Kevin ever appreciated another person— any other person. No. The mental self-lecture began. Men like him lived only for themselves. Kevin was no different than her father. Though she barely remembered the man, she somehow knew her father was to blame for what had happened to Mom. Maggie herself should have learned that hard lesson long ago. Now she’d wasted two years ofher life. This time she wouldn’t make the mistake of thinking Kevin had changed. This time she wouldn’t go back. She thought of her sister again, and her heart sank to her feet. She couldn’t call Jenn. At least not until she was sure Kevin had quit looking for her. She shot up a muddled prayer that Jenn would somehow know she was all right. With Mark seemingly out of a job every other week, Jenn had enough to worry about without wasting time fretting over a runaway sister. When she mouthed a silent amen , a shiver rippled through her. She leaned to gaze out at the heathery night sky. She’d tried to pray before, and it had seemed a superstitious exercise at best. But now she dared to hope her prayer for Jenn had reached the heavens.
Their simple touches seemed deeply intimate—something she had no right to witness, but something she longed to know.
M aggie yawned and stretched on the seat of the VW bus as Rick Henry pulled into the parking lot of a small diner and cut the engine. The clock on the dashboard flipped from 3:59 to four o’clock. Was it only yesterday—twenty-four hours ago—that she’d left the apartment in New York? It seemed like an eternity. Rick reached across the seat and brushed the hair from Sandy’s forehead. “Hey, Sleepin’ Beauty. How about some breakfast?” He pointed with his fingers laced over the steering wheel. “Place up ahead open twenty-four hours.” Sandy’s eyes flew open and a drowsy