“What the hell is going on?” Chase demanded as he checked Chelsea once more. The bandage and seal were working; bleeding and losing air through the wound was stopped. That was good. Still no sign of an exit wound. That was bad.
“They kidnapped Cole,” Sarah said once more. She had her arms wrapped around her body, shaking. “I couldn’t stop them.”
“Who kidnapped him?”
“I don’t know.”
“Call the cops,” Chase ordered. On Sarah’s face, he could see shock setting in.
“They’ve got Cole.” She said it as if she didn’t believe it. She blinked. “We need to get your dog to a vet.”
Chase looked up from checking Chelsea’s wound and spoke distinctly, combat mode when trying to get through to someone in shock. “Call. Nine. One. One.”
She shook her head slowly. “We can’t go to the police, and we especially can’t go to Spanish Wells Security. You saw them today.”
“This is kidnapping. Not some dispute over a dog.”
She seemed adamant. “We can’t call the police.”
“The guys in the SUV have him?” Chase asked.
Sarah had not stopped shaking her head. “Two men in a boat snatched him off the dock where he was crabbing.” She nodded over her shoulder. “The house is on the other side of the street. Backs onto Broad Creek.”
Chase knew that boat was gone into the dark, up Broad Creek, into the Intracoastal and gone among the thousands of barrier islands and miles of wetlands. “I still think you should call the police and—” He stopped as Chelsea whined loudly, struggling in his arms. He grabbed some disinfectant, and gingerly poured it into Chelsea’s wound as he pulled back the bandage. She whined once more, but didn’t fight him as he pressed the bandage back on the wound.
With a shaking hand, Sarah pulled her cell phone out of her pocket. Using an ACE wrap, Chase secured the bandage and seal to Chelsea. She whined in pain, but didn’t try to pull away.
“Closest veterinarian!” Sarah shouted into the phone.
“Searching your location,” the phone replied. There was a pause, then the mechanical female voice continued. “I found three veterinarians. One of them is fairly close to you.”
Sarah did something on the screen of her phone and put it to her ear. There was a pause, then Sarah spoke rapidly. “We have a dog that’s been shot. She’s hurt badly.”
Another pause, then Sarah looked at Chase. “The vet will meet us at her office. Twelve-forty Palmetto Road. Do you know where that is?”
Once more, Chase scooped Chelsea up and carried her out to the Jeep, Sarah following. He laid the dog down in the back, then jumped in the driver’s seat as he tugged on a black pullover that had been draped over the steering wheel. As soon as Sarah slid into the passenger seat, he threw the Jeep in gear and raced down the driveway, spitting out gravel and taking the turn onto the hardtop too fast.
With the wind whistling past them and his focus on the road, there was no more conversation as Chase raced out of Brams Point and onto the Island’s main drag. He tried to remember if he’d seen a Vet’s office on his way to his new home in the morning, an event that seemed very long ago now.
“Eleven-ten,” Sarah called out, pointing to the right as she spotted an address. “It will be on that side. Soon.”
Chase saw a light go on in a window ahead and turned the wheel, skidding to a halt in front of the building. It was an old service station, painted bright green. Chase jumped out, picking up Chelsea and carrying her to the door. Sarah was ahead, opening it.
Chase came to an abrupt halt as he spotted a woman wearing jeans and a green smock waiting for him. Her red hair was fiery as he remembered, but cut short now, tight and efficient. “Erin?”
The veterinarian smiled. “Horace Chase. Been a long time. I got your message, but you didn’t leave a callback number and it just said private line.” The smile faded as she saw the blood on his and Sarah’s clothes. “Bring your dog in here.” She pointed toward a swinging door and led the way.
Chase carried Chelsea in, and gently set her down on an operating table. Erin already had a needle out, and expertly stuck it in Chelsea’s right front leg.
She looked at the ACE wrap, bandage, and seal. “You know what you’re doing. QuickClot. That’s good. And the seal.” She glanced up at him. “But that’s Army gear and Army training, isn’t it?”
“All right. West Point, and all that good stuff. Never saw you again after you left for the Academy. Tried to call you, and you never called back. Tried to write, and you never wrote back.” Erin shifted her focus back to the dog. “She’s stable. You can go back out now. I’ll take care of her.”
Chase nodded and slowly backed up.
Erin smiled. “Good to see you again, Chase.”
Chase could only nod, then his back was against the door and he almost stumbled out into the front room. Sarah had collapsed on a rumpled old bean-bag couch at one end of the room. He half-smiled, thinking the couch and the rest of the waiting area fit Erin Brannigan as he spotted a large rocking unicorn in the corner. At least the seventeen year-old Erin Brannigan he remembered with surprising clarity from his teenage years. Weeks, Chase reminded himself. He’d only known her weeks.
“You need to call nine-one-one,” he said.
Sarah was about to answer when the door to the operating room flew open, and Erin stuck her head out. Her red hair was covered with a surgical cap and her smock had a splatter of blood on it, and Chase felt a moment’s déjà vu, remembering the Evac Center in Kandahar, waiting on the doc to tell him about one of his men.
“Get in here, Chase. I need help to get the bullet out.”
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG