Read On Ice Online

Authors: J. D. Faver

Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Romance, #Romantic Suspense, #Thrillers, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense

On Ice

 

ON ICE

 

by

J.D. Faver

 

AMAZON EDITION

 

 

*****

ON ICE

Copyright © 2012 by J.D. Faver

 

 

Amazon Editions, License Notes

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Amazon.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

*****

 

Dedication

 

I would like to thank my friends Tara Manderino and Candace Fitzpatrick for their encouragement and support. Being a part of a writer’s community is a blessed thing.

*****

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Getting away was easier than she thought. She put the kids in the back seat and headed west on Interstate-Ten. As the Houston skyline receded, Rene took a deep breath and let it out slowly, her damp hands gripping the steering wheel.

Glancing in the rear view mirror, she flashed a nervous smile at her daughter. Sara chanted in a little sing-song voice. Rene couldn’t hear the words but it involved some sort of finger play. The sweet, pure tone wafted to the front seat to compete with the hum of the air conditioner.

Seth was another matter. Grim best described his mood. His brows were knit and his form of finger play involved biting them until they were pink and ragged. He kept turning in his seat to peer out the back window as though searching for signs of impending doom. Too much pain for a seven-year old who had suffered too much already.

I should have done this a long time ago. Maybe he won’t follow.
Rene glanced in the rear-view mirror again, this time scanning the highway ribboning out behind them. She bit her lower lip.
Maybe hell’s frozen over.


Are you kids hungry?” She forced a note of gaiety into her voice. “How about sandwiches from the Smokehouse? We’re getting close to Schulenburg now.”

Sara clapped her hands with glee. Seth remained silent.
Poor kid
. This took a long time in coming, but it was happening too fast for him.

The Schulenberg exit was just ahead. Rene changed lanes, checking her mirrors for a dark blue Lexus.
He probably doesn’t know we’re gone yet.
Her stomach tensed at the thought. She had to put as much distance as possible behind them. Two other cars parked in front of the Smokehouse. Not many people to remember them.

Their shoes sounded unnaturally loud clomping across the wooden porch. The aroma of smoked meats and freshly baked bread assailed their senses as they entered the frame structure.

Sara ran to press her nose against the glass display case housing the baked sweets. Even Seth seemed interested in the array of cookies and pastries.

Rene ordered half a dozen smoked turkey and ham sandwiches. She had them packed in a Styrofoam ice chest with fruit juice, sodas and milk. At the last minute she got two dozen assorted cookies and let Sara carry the precious bag to the car. Seth hoisted the cooler, using both hands to keep it from scraping the floor.

Rene held the door open, self-consciously tucking stray tendrils of ash-blonde hair under the blue baseball cap and adjusting her dark glasses.

Back on the highway, the children ate as Rene drove. A knot as big as a fist formed in her stomach. She barely swallowed a few sips of soda, much less anything solid.

Three hours ago she had taken a step toward changing their lives for the better. A smile played around her lips as she recalled how their doorman had complimented her when he helped her into the taxi.

Looking every bit the affluent wife, she wore a well-cut suit in an especially flattering shade of rose silk. Her stiletto pumps were Manolo Blahniks and her bag by Fendi. She carried a large Niemann’s shopping bag.


Lookin’ great, Mrs. Desmond.” He leered as she tucked her long slender legs into the cab. “Meeting someone?”

Rene stifled a shudder, knowing he reported her every move to Mark. “No, I just need to return something.” She patted the bag and reached past him to pull the door closed before he could make further inquiries.

Directing the elderly cab driver to the children’s private school, she leaned back on the seat and closed her eyes, inhaling the odor of those who preceded her. A wave of relief washed over her.
So far, so good.

Rene had read that courage wasn’t about being fearless, but rather, being afraid and taking action anyway. If that was the case, Rene was already a hero.

Her stomach was tied up in a knot and her heart throbbed against her ribs as if she’d run a marathon. She tried to smile, but developed a nervous tic instead.

The driver turned onto a broad avenue lined with old oak trees reaching across to one another. The cool green umbrella offered a respite from the glare of the late morning sunshine.

The driver agreed to wait while she picked up her children. With trembling fingers, she drew a tissue from her purse. Leaving the Niemann’s bag on the seat, she stepped from the taxi, squaring her shoulders for the ordeal that lay ahead.

Climbing Byrondale School’s granite steps, worn away by generations of elite Houstonians, Rene compared it to the small public school she’d attended. Mrs. Box, her favorite teacher, encouraged her to be herself and not to try to copy everything her adored sister, Maddy, did. But Rene could never be Maddy no matter how she tried. She doubted she’d have been chosen for anyone’s team without Maddy’s considerable influence. Of course, public schools weren’t good enough for Mark Desmond’s offspring though he’d attended them himself.

Only a few weeks remained in the school year. The children wouldn’t miss much. Pulling the heavy door open, she took care not to smudge the brass.


I have to pick up the children,” she told the school secretary. “There’s been a death in the family. We’re meeting my husband at the airport.” She dabbed at her eyes with the tissue, thinking the death in the family would be hers if this didn’t work. “Please don’t upset the children. My husband wants to be the one to tell them.”


Of course.” Mrs. Sloan cast a look of pity her way. “I’m so sorry for your loss. Who was it---” But, Rene had already turned away, sniffling into the tissue with what she hoped was a bereaved expression on her face. Mrs. Sloan hurried off, returning soon with the bewildered children.


Thank you so much. We’ll be gone three days. My cab’s waiting so I must hurry. Good-bye, Mrs. Sloan.”

Hastening the children into the taxi, Rene told the driver to take them to the Galleria Mall. She handed the driver a hundred dollar bill.


If someone ever asks you about us, I would appreciate it if you tell him you took us to the airport.”

The old man peered over the back of the seat at her and nodded as his fingers wrapped around the bill.

Once inside the mall, she led the children into the public restroom. Her hands shaking, she helped them dress in clothing from the Niemann’s bag. Clad in jeans, sweatshirt and sneakers, Rene twisted her long hair into a knot, secured it with a few clips and pulled a baseball cap down to cover it.


Mommy, you look different.” Sara covered her mouth with both hands as she tried to suppress a giggle.


That’s good, honey.” Rene stuffed the school uniforms and her rose suit into the bag.


What’s going on, Mom?”

Rene expected Seth’s questions, but not this sullen wariness. “I’m taking us away,” she said. “I hope you want to go with me because I sure can’t go without you.”


Why didn’t you tell me?” Seth demanded.


I didn’t want to worry you.” Her nerves were raw. Time was short.


But, what about Dad? He’ll be mad.” Seth’s lower lip quivered as tears rushed to his eyes. Occasionally he’d been the victim of his father’s wrath, though Rene usually managed to put herself in between them.


I know, Seth.” Dampening a paper towel, she swabbed at his face. “And I don’t want to stick around for it.”


Let’s go with Mommy, Seffy,” Sara said.


Seth, you know your father. We have to go now.” Her softly spoken words seemed to galvanize him. He nodded as she tousled his hair, the identical color to her own.


Where are we going, Mommy?” Sara asked.


We’re having an adventure.” Rene took the Pooh bear from the bag and tucked it under Sara’s arm.

They located the rental car right where Maddy said it would be, far away from the security cameras. It was a late model gray sedan, perfect for her purposes. Rene squatted beside the front fender, groping the gritty underside until her fingers made contact with a small metal object magnetically held in place. She dumped the contents of the container into her open palm and examined the car keys, a smaller key and three tightly wadded hundred-dollar bills. She stuffed the money and small key into the pocket of her jeans. Her fingers trembled as she tried to unlock the car and dropped the key.

Drawing a ragged breath, she tried again, this time successfully.

She adjusted the children’s seat belts in the back and drove to the Salvation Army drop box by the rear exit. She pushed the bag with their expensive clothing into the void.

Rene smiled nervously, slamming the metal bin with a satisfying clang. “Good-bye, Mrs. Mark Edward Desmond. May you finally rest in peace.”

Driving to the Trailways bus station, she parked in the passenger pick-up area, locked the car and ran inside. The small key opened the locker. Number seven, a lucky number according to Maddy. Lifting the large nylon bag, Rene wondered what was inside.

She noted Seth’s look of relief as she returned to the car. Hoisting the bag into the trunk, she found it held other packages and baggage. Tears filled her eyes as she thought of her wild and wonderful sister Maddy, without whose help her plan would have failed.

Maddy, who was at that very moment, boarding a plane at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, wearing a lovely rose-colored silk suit, Manolo Blahnik stiletto pumps and carrying a Fendi handbag. Maddy, who, with her own two daughters, the oldest masquerading as a boy, was on her way to Paris using the tickets Rene charged that morning. Maddy would use Rene’s identification to pick up the tickets. Rene also charged their hotel room in Paris for one night.

Tomorrow morning Maddy and her girls would leave for Scotland to meet her husband for a tour of castles, inns and the rugged countryside. The counterfeit Rene would disappear without a trace in Paris.


What’s in the bag?” Seth asked, as she pulled into traffic.


I don’t know,” Rene answered truthfully. “We’ll have an early Christmas tonight. Aunt Maddy packed for us.”


Oh, boy! Aunt Maddy!” Sara shouted. “Are we going to see Aunt Maddy?”


Not for a while.” As she spoke, she realized it would be a long time before she could contact her sister.

Now, as Rene drove she glanced back at the two children chatting amiably while they ate their improvised picnic. Seth’s fear seemed to be under control. It was there just under the surface waiting to strangle him.


This is so great!” He caught her eye in the mirror. “Dad never lets us have anything like this.”

Fear shot through her like a bolt of lightning at the mention of her husband, but she managed to smile at Seth’s reflected image. “We’re having an adventure, remember?”

Driving as fast as the speed limit allowed, they went through San Antonio and arrived in Fort Stockton by dusk. The small west Texas ranching town was almost asleep by that time. They pulled into the Western Trails motel and Rene took a leather clutch purse from the glove box. Tucked inside were a fake driver’s license and social security card, Maddy’s credit cards and phone card and several more hundred-dollar bills. Her sister made all the arrangements through someone she had known in school. Rene didn’t know the particulars, but she was impressed that Maddy knew someone capable of creating the documents. The ever-cool Maddy could break the rules when she needed to.

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