Home > After the Storm (KGI #8)(4)

After the Storm (KGI #8)(4)
Author: Maya Banks

Eve cupped his cheek, feeling the slight bristle of the first growth of beard on his jaw. He was so young. Far too young to be saddled with so much responsibility. It should be her taking care of Travis and Cammie. She should have never left them with their father. It was a decision she’d regret for the rest of her life, even though she’d had no other choice. But thank God, she’d gotten them out when she did. Before Walt Breckenridge could act on his sick fantasies.

It had been bad enough that he’d put the moves on Eve after her mother died, but when he’d turned his attention on Cammie . . . Sweet, darling four-year-old Cammie. Eve shuddered, sick at heart, nausea rolling in her stomach when she imagined Cammie’s father trying to molest her.

She wished she had killed him. That she’d found a way to kill him. She would have gladly gone to jail for the rest of her life if it meant Cammie and Travis were safe. They’d been lucky to escape with their own lives. But Eve wasn’t a fool. Walt wouldn’t give up so easily.

Already she was a wanted woman. Walt had filed kidnapping charges and had painted Eve as an emotionally unstable person who needed constant supervision and psychiatric care. No one would believe Eve. Because Walt was wealthy. He wielded a lot of power and influence. He had far-reaching connections that ensured he could get away with murder. He had gotten away with murder.

Dover, Tennessee, seemed a lifetime away from where they’d fled from the West Coast. It was a small, quiet town nestled close to Kentucky Lake. It was here she’d sought refuge after running for the last several months. She hadn’t intended to stay even this long, but Cammie was sick and they needed money. And a plan. Where to go next. What to do. How to survive.

She couldn’t afford to let her guard down even for a minute. No matter how safe it seemed here, how secluded and out of the way, she couldn’t depend on not being found here. Which meant that she needed to keep moving.

It was no way to live. It wasn’t the life she wanted for her siblings. She wanted better for them. Wanted Cammie to have all the things a normal four-year-old should. And Travis . . . He needed to be in school. He excelled. Made good grades. Was a natural-born athlete. He could easily get an academic or athletic scholarship. But that was now impossible. She couldn’t put him in school, and she hadn’t the tools or the knowledge to homeschool him.

One day. It was a vow she made on a daily basis. One day they’d have a normal existence and Travis would have the education he deserved and Cammie would grow up a happy, secure child not having to worry that her own father would abuse her.

“Evie, are you okay?”

Travis’s worried question shook her from her thoughts. She glanced up to see that he was staring intently at her. It was obvious he’d said something to her before that she’d missed, being so deep in her thoughts. She forced a smile and nodded.

“I’m fine, Trav. And the money will help. I need to buy more medicine for Cammie and we need food. As soon as she is better, I’ll be more comfortable leaving her with you so I can work. I don’t want you working so much. You need to be exposed as little as possible.”

“You’re the one who’s wanted,” Travis said fiercely. “It’s you who should stay out of sight. They wouldn’t arrest me. They’d just try to return me to that ass**le. If they catch you, you’ll go to jail. I won’t let that happen.”

She smiled again, stroking a hand over Cammie’s hot, dry cheek. Cammie stirred slightly and then opened bleary, fever-dulled eyes.

“Trav?” she asked sleepily.

Travis’s entire expression softened. “I’m here. How are you feeling?”

“Better now that you and Evie are both here. I don’t like it when you go away.”

Eve and Travis exchanged stricken looks. Cammie was deathly afraid of being separated from Eve and Travis. It broke Eve’s heart that this child had so much to fear in life. That someone who should have taken absolute care of her had betrayed her in the worst way.

“I had to work,” Travis said in a gentle tone. “We need money so we can get you medicine to make you better. And food! How does a hot meal sound to you? Maybe some soup?”

Cammie wrinkled her nose. “I’m tired of soup.”

Eve’s chest tightened. Soup was all they could afford. They existed on cheap foods. Ramen noodles. Canned soups. Sandwich meat and bread.

“Tell you what,” Travis said, leaning over Eve so Cammie could better see him. “I’m working again tomorrow and there’s this really great sandwich shop just a few doors down. If you’re feeling up to a solid meal, I’ll bring you home a burger tomorrow. They’re really good. I had one today.”

Cammie’s face lit up. “That sounds yummy. Thanks, Trav.”

“You’re welcome. Now I want you to rest and get better, okay?”

Cammie nodded and closed her eyes, snuggling more firmly into Eve’s side.

“Do you want me to go out and get her medicine?” Travis asked in a low voice.

“Yes. We need acetaminophen and ibuprofen. I’ve been alternating between the two. And she needs something for her cough. Maybe some liquid cold medicine. Get the off brand. Whatever is cheapest. We have enough food to last until tomorrow. After you come home from work, I’ll run out and get some food while you stay with Cammie. For now, just get the medicine from the pharmacy and come right back.”

Travis nodded and then squeezed Eve’s hand. “It’s going to be okay, Evie.”

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