“It looks as though I’m following you then,” he commented through the link.
“If you can.” There was a chill to her voice that had a hint of concern brewing inside him.
“Easy, Lilly.” He kept his voice casual, soothing. “I’m not a threat to you.”
How many years had he worked to gain her trust? Definitely the entire time Elite One had been training her team. A full year. And during that time he had laid the foundation that he’d only built
upon in the years after that.
“No, you’re not a threat to me,” she agreed. “And I won’t let you become one.”
She sped up as she took the exit to I-81. Traffic was moving quickly, but Lilly was moving faster. Travis stayed close behind her, his attention on their speed, their location, and the display in his helmet that would tag any law enforcement vehicles that could catch sight of them.
“Lilly, we’re coming up on radar,” Travis warned her as his display indicated the speed check ahead.
She eased back as they passed the first state police cruiser on the other side. Once he was clear, she shot back into high speed and continued to try to shake Travis.
“It’s been nice riding with you, Lilly,” he told her five minutes later as she hit 71 and began to head toward the state line. “I’d hoped we could talk.”
There was silence for long minutes.
“I have a cabin.” Her voice was low now, confused, breaking his heart with just a hint of tears. “I have a cabin, Travis,” she repeated.
She didn’t sound broken, she didn’t sound scared. She sounded lost, and that was harder to hear than the former.
“Slow down, Lilly, if you want me to follow you.”
Instinct was all well and good, but she didn’t have knowledge, not yet. Without knowledge of the powerful machine she was riding, instinct might not be enough to keep her alive.
Ahead, she slowed until he caught up with her. Pulling in beside her, he glanced over to see nothing but the black shadowed visor pulled over her face.
He heard her breathing hitch, though, and he sensed her tears.
Lilly wasn’t a crier, he’d learned that. She would lift that stubborn little chin and hold back the tears if it meant death. She had a backbone of steel and a sheer iron-strong core of determination that had had him clenching his teeth in frustration more than once.
Following her along the highway, he crossed the state line out of Maryland into Pennsylvania with her, staying silent as they made their way toward the West Virginia line.
Their absence would be noted, but he’d been ordered to figure out what she was hiding. That was his mission and that was where he would lay the blame for his disappearance. He just hoped she’d been smart enough to cover her ass with her family.
No doubt she had. No one had ever accused Lilly of being stupid.
Her voice was hollow in the link. “I know where I am. I know where to turn. What to watch for. I know I’ve been here before, but I don’t remember why or when.”
“Who am I, Travis?” she asked him then.
“A partner,” he said softly, his gaze trained on the road as they took an empty exit and hit a narrow two-lane road.
The paved road soon turned into an unfinished lane, then gravel. They had to reduce their speed drastically, until they were creeping beneath the heavy branches of the sheltering trees that surrounded the lane.
Travis almost missed the turnoff to the cabin. He may well have missed it if he wasn’t following Lilly.
They parked the bikes beneath a small garage at the side. Swinging from the seat, he watched curiously as Lilly headed toward the entrance of the parking bay, reached up and pulled down the garage door before securing it to the ground.
She didn’t speak, just turned and pushed open the heavy entrance door before stepping inside.
Lilly stared around the single-room cabin. A small gas stove, which explained the gas tank in the rough garage outside. A woodstove, a table pushed against the wall and two chairs, a large bed on the other wall, and a bathroom beyond.
It was a safe house, nothing more. It wasn’t a home. It was a place to retreat and hide.