Silence filled the car. Several more turns were made before Raisa blew out a hard breath. “Do you remember your cousin Elizabeth? She was committed just after your death.”
Lilly lifted her head and stared back at the other girl, horrified. “Elizabeth was a child.”
“Fourteen when your aunt and Angelica went against her father to have her committed for claiming her brother’s wife had tried to touch her. She was in Ridgemore’s establishment for over a month before you managed to find a way to get in to check on her but you couldn’t get her out. They had her for two years before she was released. She hasn’t been the same since, you told me once. You secretly checked on her often.”
Her cousin Beth? Little Elizabeth, who had been such a gentle, sweet child. A vague disassociated memory eased through her mind then. Little Beth, medicated, staring at Lilly vacantly. How she had wished she could have helped her.
Lilly swallowed back the bile rising in her throat. She shouldn’t be so shocked, she thought. Perhaps a part of her had always known how her mother was. That was why she had been so close to her father. He had protected her against her mother’s rages when she was much younger.
Lilly wanted to wipe the image of Beth out of her mind, but it refused to leave. She had slipped into the clinic and tried to speak to her cousin. She remembered that. She had sat with the girl, whispered her name, and Beth had stared unseeingly at the wall.
When Lilly had turned her face to stare into her pretty brown eyes, a single tear had run down Beth’s cheek.
She had been placed in the clinic because the bitch her brother had married had tried to molest her, and Lilly remembered that she hadn’t doubted it was the truth.
Lilly had known the woman Beth’s brother had married. She had been a perverted little tramp who hid behind polite smiles and innocent protests. She had done as her parents wished to their faces, and behind their backs had lived a life that would have given her father a stroke and her mother a nervous breakdown.
Lilly reached up and rubbed at her head. The headache was growing progressively worse, each new memory, no matter how slight, sending shards of pain ripping through her head.
“Where’s Travis?” she finally forced herself to ask. “I’ve been calling his cell for days.”
“Travis is OTC,” Raisa stated as they pulled into a winding gravel road. “He was called out the other day. He contacted us when he left and we’ve been on watch since. We didn’t expect you to call, though.”
“On watch?” Lilly asked, shaking her head. “Why you? What about the team he’s with?” And she knew there was a team.
Raisa frowned at her. “Do you remember anything?”
She shook her head. “Bits and pieces.”
“Damn. That sucks,” Raisa murmured sympathetically. “That’s okay, darling. You’re back with your sisters now. We’re here to help. And ‘on watch’ means we were watching the house at night, keeping our eyes open for any bad guys that might be coming your way and following up leads on who blew up those lovely cycles Shea souped up for you. She’s rather upset over that. Said she was castrating the bastard who did it the moment she knew who it was. Travis’s team has been watching out for you as well, but Travis knew we wanted to be a part of this.”
A face flashed in her mind. Long blond hair, dark blue eyes, a sad face, a melancholy air. Someone who had been horribly hurt. She had cried once in the dark. She had whispered someone’s name over and over again. Shea. Shea Tamallen.
Lilly shook her head, grimacing at the increased ache in her head. It was becoming agonizing. The pain in her temples was beginning to radiate through the rest of her head.
“Here we are. Home sweet home.” The Taurus pulled up in front of a charming two-story farmhouse. Rosebushes grew along the side of the wraparound porch while tall oaks and pines sheltered the house on three sides.
“Nice,” she whispered, forcing the words past her numb lips.
“Let’s get inside, see what’s up with your mother.” Raisa opened the door and jumped out. “Come on, we have something for that headache too. I know it has to be a bitch—your face is nearly white.”
Lilly stepped slowly from the car.
She knew where she was. She remembered the house. She had been here before. She had hidden here before. It was a safe house, but for what?
“Come on, Night Hawk, let’s get you all better.” Raisa steadied her by gripping her elbow and leading her to the house.
God, she needed Travis. She needed to know what the hell was going on and she needed a sense of balance. She could trust him. She might want to trust the overly cheerful, willful woman leading her to the steps, but she had no idea if she could.
She knew Travis would protect her. Right now, she didn’t have a chance in hell of protecting herself.
The front door opened and two other women stepped out. They all ranged between the ages of twenty-six to perhaps twenty-eight. They stared at her with eyes that were too knowing, too filled with secrets and shadows.
They were her sisters. Not by blood, but by war. And they had a pact.
Travis stepped off the plane to see the black SUV that pulled up on the darkened tarmac. As the vehicle came to a stop, Jordan stepped out of the driver’s side and watched silently as he moved across the distance to the vehicle.
“We have a problem.” Travis threw his pack into the back of the vehicle and turned to face Jordan.