The Removed [Book #2]

It's been a month since the three hunters and Terry's death. Vivian, Graham, and Julia, along with Lewis, have been staying at the Miller house. There has been little news on the missing girls, leaving Vivian to wonder if she should find them.

Then something happened that changed everything.

TRILOGY ORDER:

#1 - BOUND
#2 - THE REMOVED
#3 - CHASING SHADOWS

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17. Vivian

Before heading to the police station, I went to the playground.

It was like nothing ever happened. There was no scorched grass, no holes in the ground, nothing to signify that anyone had even been here at all. It looked the same as it did the day I met Mira.

Thinking of Mira hurt But it was probably worse for Lewis than any of us. But we all lost someone of equal importance that day, and I was still dealing with the loss of Julia. Each day that went by, I was beginning to lose faith.

A buzzing in my pocket startled me, and I found myself starting at the screen, and a call from an unknown number. I sighed and hit SEND.

“Hello?” I said.

Ragged breathing met my ears, like someone was gasping for air. There was a low whine, and the whisper of, “God, help me.”

It was a female, but they sounded so far away.

“Who is this?” I asked, looking around to make sure that no one was going to spring out on me.

“Vi,” they moaned. “Please, come. I need you.”

Tears filled my eyes and my hand went over my mouth. I couldn't believe it. I tried to compose myself long enough to answer her.

“Julia?” I felt my voice catch, and I swallowed. “God, Jules, is that you?”

“Yes,” she breathed, her voice strained, tired. “I need your help. I did something terrible.”

“What is it?” I said softly. “Whatever you did, it'll be okay.”

“No,” she replied, “it won't. I didn't mean to do it. I didn't want to kill him, just make him suffer, like he did to me.”

I nearly dropped the phone. “You killed someone? The man who took you? Julia, where are you?”

“I don't know,” she said. “I escaped, but I've got to go back. I have to get the other girls out. He asked me if I wanted to see them.”

I tried to think. I couldn't hang up on her. But then I got an idea. I started walking and kept talking to her.

“Are you using a payphone?” I said. “I'm going to the police station. If you stay on the line, Detective Boyd will be able to trace your call.”

“Police?” Julia whispered. Then she moaned, “Oh, you can't. You can't tell anyone where I am. He won't like that.”

“Julia, he can't hurt you anymore. He's dead. You killed him. You just told me that.”

“I'm scared,” she told me.

I was at the station when I saw Boyd's car. It was running, and he was leaning over the hood, talking to another officer, laughing. When he saw me, his expression turned. I reached him and slid my hand over the mouthpiece of my phone.

“Julia called me.” I held out the phone. He looked at me with wide eyes before taking it. “You have to find out where she is. I don't think she's doing well.”

“Julia Owens? This is Detective Remy Boyd. I'm a friend of Vivian's. Sweetheart, can you tell me where you are?”

Because I didn't have anything to distract me now, the full weight of situation came crashing down on me. She was okay, and I was going to get her back, whether whole or in pieces.

Boyd slipped the phone down to his chest and said softly, “She's in the house she was kept in, using the phone in the study. She's terrified that he'll catch her.”

“She killed him,” I responded.

He didn't say anything, only returned to the phone. “Julia, honey, can you do me a favor? Look out the window and tell me what you see. Okay, that's good. At least you're around other houses. Do you see any street signs? Good girl. I'm going to pass you back to Vivian, and then I'm coming to get you.”

I held the phone an frowned. “I need to go with you. She needs my help. If it's just you, she'll be afraid. She has to see someone she knows or she's never going to come out of that house.”

He glanced at me, tapped the hood of his car, then said, “Get in and keep her on the line.”

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