Only You (Red Hook 5) - Page 5

Tony felt his heart clench with pain. He was not an optimistic person, but he clung to hope. Hope that they would find both girls alive and soon.

Chapter Five

“A whole day of searching and not one clue of what could have happened to Alicia and Janice,” Noah stated with frustration. They were using the station as a headquarters for people who volunteered to help. Many people had come in to help with the search. Hanson’s grocery store had donated bottles of water to the volunteers. It was dark and the hour had grown late. It was now twenty-four hours since either girl had been seen. “How is that possible? If they crashed or had car trouble, we would have heard something by now. We would have found the car at the very least.”

“I don’t know, Noah,” Drake answered, looking tired. People were coming in and out of the building, and Helen was handling it all like a general. The people who only wanted to ask questions were sent away and the ones who wanted to help were put to work. “None of this makes any sense to me. We know for sure it has to be foul play. Alicia is not the type to take off and not inform to her family or friends. She knows her dad would worry. She would have called Alana, Jasmine, or Holly.”

“Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about Janice,” Sam spoke up. “Janice’s mom says they haven’t spoken to Janice in over two months. She has a drug habit that she refused to give up. She never kept a job for long, and wouldn’t come home for days, so they thought tough love would help. They stopped talking to her until she agreed to rehab.”

“And Janice has been working for the Garcias over a month,” Drake said out loud. “I doubt Alicia knew of her drug habit. She would not have hired Janice, especially after all the trouble Pete and Gerald Ferguson caused this summer.”

Sam nodded. “Mr. Sands was very surprised to hear she was working. Last he heard, she met a man who was also into drugs and willing to support her habit. She hasn’t checked in with them for weeks. She cut off contact with her best friend, Lydia, because Lydia didn’t do drugs.”

“Was she dating a dealer?” Noah sat forward, looking more alert. They were all still nervous because Mario Novak was still on the loose. He had planned to set up shop in Red Hook over the summer. Noah and the others stopped his plan and arrested his cohorts. Novak had disappeared, but not before threatening them all.

Tony couldn’t stay quiet any longer. He had searched the woods with Matt and Jack for hours and found nothing. It was as if the two girls had disappeared off the face of the earth. It had been reassuring to not find any sign of them injured or dead, yet it raised many questions they had no answers to. “You think Novak is involved? I wouldn’t put it past him to make a friend of Janice with ulterior motives.”

“We have to look into the possibility. Nothing else makes sense,” Noah answered, looking more upset.

Tony’s gut tightened with anger. The thought of Novak having his hands on Alicia was horrifying.

“Damn it.” He stood up so fast his chair turned over, but he didn’t care. He needed some cold air before he started punching walls. The need to go and search for Novak himself was overwhelming. They knew he had a house in Morehead, and in Houston, too. The police had searched both houses but he was nowhere to be found.

He went outside and paced up and down the sidewalk. The cool breeze in the air did nothing to cool him down. An image of Alicia’s smiling face came to mind, and it took all his willpower not to lose control of his emotions. He had to find her. He had to know what happened to her. The last twenty-four hours seemed like days to him.

He couldn’t bare the idea that she was hurt and he wasn’t there. When she had confided in him one night how John Daniels, the owner of a bar called The Red Barn, had played her, it had taken all his willpower to not punch the guy out. He had given him a few mean glares as they passed by each other and had gotten some satisfaction when the man paled, but not enough. He had vowed silently to protect her and yet he had failed.

He felt his brother’s presence behind him.

“I am fine, Matt,” he grumbled. He hated the thought that he would be viewed as weak, but with Alicia, he was. Otherwise, he would not have been scared to confess to her he wanted more than friendship. He had made a decision out of fear, and that did not sit well with him. He thought he had strict control of his emotions.

When his mother had gotten sick and he knew she was going to die, he had been scared out of his mind. He knew he would be responsible for his younger brother, Matt. Their dad was a useless drunk and would be no help. He’d made a decision to put his fears away and rely on what made sense, and that was how he lived his life ever since.

Alicia made him feel wild and out of control. That was what scared him. He pushed her away, and for what? She was

missing and he still felt like he was going to lose his mind. He knew how dark the world could be, but he didn’t want Alicia to have that knowledge. He wanted to protect her from the ugliness of the world, yet he just failed miserably. All kinds of crazy thoughts raced through his head, making his chest feel heavy with pain.

“I know how hard this is, Tony. When Holly went missing, I thought I was going to go crazy. Every dark image of what could happen went through my mind. I know we will find her alive.” Matt patted him on the back.

“I know, Matt. I am sorry if I wasn’t sympathetic with what you went through with Holly. I didn’t really understand, but I do now.” He remembered the turmoil his brother had gone through knowing Holly was in the hands of Novak and his men. Tony had been worried for his brother’s sake. He had not realized how deep the terror would go, or how awful it felt. He hated the uncertainty of not knowing where Alicia was or if she was hurt. He had a hard time controlling his rage.

“You have always been there for me, Tony. From the time Ma died, and when Holly was taken, you never left my side. I will not leave yours now. I will do whatever it takes to find your girl.” It was a promise and Tony believed him. Even when they had been stationed countries apart, they had never lost touch and always maintained their brotherly bond.

“She is not mine.” Tony sighed, wishing she was. He wanted to claim her, protect her and most of all, love her. He needed to tell her what a fool he had been. Would she even listen? Maybe he didn’t deserve another chance.

“She can be yours if you stop following in my stubborn footsteps. I hurt Holly for a long time and that still kills me. Open your eyes and take the risk. It’s worth it, brother,” Matt said earnestly.

Tony needed to find Alicia first. Then he would figure out how to fix things. “If Novak is behind this, if he hurt her—”

“We’ll finish him once and for all,” Matt finished, looking him straight in the eyes and not flinching. Tony trusted his brother and nodded, letting Matt know he trusted him to stand by him.

“I think it is safe to say she is not in Red Hook. We have covered every square inch of this place,” Tony said, taking a deep breath to calm down. He couldn’t lose it right now. Alicia needed him to think and help find her. He had to push the emotions to the back of his mind and think logically. “If she was close by, she would have found a way to let us know. She is clever.”

“Noah thinks they have to be in Morehead or the next county. The cameras at the club show Alicia practically carrying Janice out to the car. They left and it shows them turning right toward our town, but anything could have happened out on the dark country roads,” Matt informed him.

“Okay, let’s go back inside and hear what the next step is.” Tony sighed, heading back toward the building with Matt. He had his emotions under control for the time being. He took in a big gulp of fresh air and exhaled slowly. Sam and Greg had gone home to rest, along with the volunteers. The hour was late and everyone was exhausted. Tomorrow they would start at first light. Drake was on the phone with Jasmine in the corner.

“Go home and get some rest, Helen,” Noah was insisting. Helen was a receptionist, but she ran the station and no one dared to argue with her. They all had nothing but respect for the older lady. “Tomorrow we start fresh. I need you refreshed. I can’t do this without you, Helen.”

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