Thank you to everyone continuing to read and review. I know I probably lost a lot of readers over the years due to not updating but hopefully others can enjoy the story again!
Lucille Danvers knew exactly why the Garrett Haynes file had landed on her desk. As one of only two token females in the San Angelo US Marshals office, she routinely found herself given the 'no hope' cases or the ones that her boss felt needed her 'special, feminine touch.' It was rarely a compliment and irritating to say the least but, in this instance, she found herself feeling a frisson of excitement upon looking at the file.
It was not a case where local law enforcement had covered themselves in glory. Chief Dillon of the Iowa state troopers appeared to have done his best and Haynes and his hostage had been tracked well across the state, but once they had crossed the state line into Kansas, it seemed as though very little effort had been made to pursue them. Apart from Sarah Moore's hospital admission in Wichita, and the subsequent assault on a nurse, there had been no further sightings. Lucille looked at the map of the USA on the wall next to desk, her eye tracing the path they had most likely taken through the edge of Missouri, Nebraska and into Oklahoma before heading for their ultimate goal, Texas.
"What do you want to me say?" her superior Jack O'Hara said, a cigarette clamped between his teeth and his desk overflowing with paperwork. "You always complain that you don't get anything decent to work on."
"I'm not complaining," she replied, "but the trail went cold on these two long ago. Nobody seems to give a damn where they are or the fact that Haynes has got an innocent girl with him."
"Huh…innocent…" Jack shook his head. "They're like a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde."
"Now how do you make that out? Sarah Moore didn't know this guy from Adam when he abducted her in Matlock, not to mention there's no record of any crimes being committed by them."
"Oh, what do you call robbing McDonalds and then shooting some poor man in the leg, an accident?"
"That was weeks ago."
"Maybe, but you can bet your bottom dollar they've changed vehicles Lord knows how many times and that they've done so through Haynes stealing them!"
"What does that have to do with Sarah Moore not being innocent?"
"Huh!" Jack harrumphed again. "She ain't exactly done anything to stop him, or to get away, has she? Some of the eyewitnesses say that she was seen kissing him! If that ain't being along for the ride then I don't know what is."
"Haven't you ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome?"
"Stockholm Syndrome. It's where hostages develop positive feelings towards their captors."
"Certainly sounds like she's developed positive feelings to me!"
"Exactly!" Lucille leaned forward. "If I'm right then it's an illness, not something that she can control, which means that she is still a victim and she needs rescuing."
"So, we need to be doing a whole lot more on this than we have done so far. We've been let down by every state between here and Iowa because everyone believes, like you, that Sarah Moore's in on all this. Now Haynes is from Texas, from Amarillo, and I know that he's coming here, if he isn't here already."
"What makes you say that?"
"Call it female intuition."
Jack surveyed her critically. "So what do you want to do?"
"I want to go up there, to Amarillo, and scope the place out. Haynes has family there. Are you honestly telling me that none of them have seen him or know where he is?"
"Local police have already talked to the family."
"Yeah, well I'm betting they asked them two questions and then split. This needs to be properly investigated." Lucille got to her feet. "If we're going to get Haynes, then we're going to get him on his home turf."
"What exactly do you hope to achieve here, Danvers?"
"I hope to put a dangerous felon behind bars, sir."
Jack sighed, "Fine, go up there if you must. But if you haven't picked up his scent in the next few weeks…"
"I get it."
"Good…" he looked down at his desk and shook his head. "It's certainly one case I'd like to get off my desk before we enter the next decade."
"What the hell did you think was going to happen here, Garrett?" Ella lit up a cigarette and blew smoke into the humid air. "Did you think you were just going to turn up here with her and everything was going to be fine and dandy?"
Garrett kicked the dry earth with his boot, not wanting to meet her gaze. He and Sarah had been in Amarillo over a week and this was the first direct contact he had had with his aunt. For all he had talked about his family being helpful and supportive, he couldn't help but feel now like they were coming up short. Ella had eventually agreed to meet him down a dead-end road five miles from where they were staying and any hope he had had of a joyful reunion had been quickly thwarted. She was older looking than he had remembered, past her best, and probably as much use to him now as the next person. "I thought…" he stopped, unsure even how to complete the sentence.
"You have been all over the news," she said, coughing between words. "Not so much lately, I grant you, but certainly in the beginning. Of all the Goddamn stupid things to get mixed up in…"
"It wasn't exactly planned."
"No? Could have fooled me. She's a pretty young thing, or at least she was judging by her picture. Lord knows what she looks like now."
"She looks fine," he replied shortly.
"I'm sure she does." Ella paused. "Cops have been all over us, the whole family. Caroline just had a baby and she had police at the door asking her questions…hell they even visited Brad in prison to see if he knew anything."
"When was that?"
"Few weeks back. They've not been back since." She sighed heavily. "What are you doing?"
Garrett looked away across towards the wavering horizon, the heat from the earth making it look like an oasis. He didn't know how to answer the question. In the beginning, he felt he had been matter-of-fact with Sarah, telling her that what was happening could only end up with him either in jail or dead. It had seemed somehow temporary. But, as time had gone on and he had realised how much he felt for her, he had started to envision some kind of life for them, together, in Texas. He had lost the worldly vision he had had, and it had been replaced by idealistic, romantic nonsense. Now, here they were in his beloved Amarillo and there was nothing here for either of them. "I love her."
"Shit…" Ella sighed and ground out her cigarette into the dirt. "You're talking crazy now. You sound like your daddy when he first met your momma." Garrett rounded back towards her, angry at being compared in any way to his father and she held up her hands. "I don't mean that you're like him in that way, but he should have left her alone. Then maybe certain things would never have happened. You should leave this girl alone too. I told Tom when he was here…"
"Tom was here?" Garrett seized on the information. "When?"
"Few weeks back. Lord knows why he came but he did. Stayed a week or so and then went back home. He didn't say and I didn't ask but I reckon he'd had a fight with that snooty bitch wife of his."
"Allie must have found out…"
"Allie must have found out what?"
"Nothing," he replied, not wanting to go into chapter and verse about visiting Tom at his home. "I'm surprised he came here."
"So was I. You'd think this would be the last place Tom would want to come visit. He's made it pretty clear in the past that he wanted to see the back of this place. Sometimes, I can't blame him." Ella looked back down the road they had both driven to meet. "I don't know what else you expect me to say to you, Garrett. Ain't nothing that we can do for you here, except deny any knowledge of your existence to the cops if they come calling again."
"It's fine," he said. "I don't expect anything from you."
"You got money?"
"Some. I don't need to take anything from you."
"I wasn't offering, I was asking. Times can be hard down here too you know."
He looked at her and shook his head, finally seeing exactly what 'family' was all about. At least this part of the family. "I don't have any with me."
"Ok," Ella shrugged and turned back towards her car. "You take my advice Garrett and take that girl home. Then you run like shit and hope nobody catches you."
Garrett watched as she reversed, turned and then sped off back down the road, leaving nothing but a hail of dirt in her path. He stood for a long time, taking in the silence, the solitude and wondering if she could be right.
Sarah looked out the window down the long track road that led back to civilisation and watched for Garrett returning. It was so quiet in the house without him, the only sound coming from the grandfather clock in the hall that ominously ticked away the seconds. In the time since they had arrived, she had done what she could to make the place more liveable by dusting, vacuuming and opening the windows to let in some air. Someone, she wasn't sure who, had ensured that there were provisions in the house, so they hadn't needed to go to the grocery store and there were plenty clothes in the house. Though she tried to convince herself that there was something very romantic about the whole thing, she was filled with a growing sense of unease.
There was a phone, but when she had lifted the receiver, she had been met with silence. She had thought about phoning home, but after the tone her mother had adopted in their last conversation, she wasn't sure whether contact would be welcomed. She felt almost cut off from a sense of reality, as though the whole situation was some kind of dream.
It felt like hours later when Garrett returned. She watched as he drove up to the house, got out of the car and then stood looking out over the fields beyond. When he made no move to come inside, she opened the door and crossed the yard towards him, her hand going to rest lightly on his back. "Everything ok?"
"Sure," he replied quietly.
"Did you see your aunt?" He nodded. "And?"
"And nothing. Not quite sure what I expected anyway."
Sarah waited for him to say more, but he didn't. Instead, he kept his eyes focused on the horizon. "So, where does that leave us?"
He finally turned to look at her. "Shit out of luck."
"You don't mean that."
"I do. I thought…hell I don't know what I thought. Things change. People change. Maybe I was looking at things through rose-tinted glasses, I don't know…." He shook his head. "There's nothing for you here."
"Nothing for us here."
He smiled sadly at her. "So loyal. Fact is, we can't stay here. Law may not be sniffing around now but it won't last. I can feel them, breathing down our necks only we can't see them right now."
"So where do we go?"
"You go home."
Sarah felt her chest tighten and she stepped closer to him, "No."
"Garrett, we have been over this before…"
"That was back when I thought we might have been able to have a life down here, be protected. Now all that's for shit and I can't keep dragging you along behind me when there's no peace in sight."
"So what are we going to do, drive all the way back to Matlock?"
"No, you go to the nearest police station and tell them who you are."
She paused. It sounded so simple and perhaps, at one time, so ideal. But the prospect of going home, of seeing her family again, of going back to the life she had before no matter how much she had proclaimed she wanted it…all of it seemed to pale into insignificance when faced with what she would have to give up. Not life on the road, not the so-called adventure of it all…but him. Garrett. She knew in her heart that she could no more leave him now than on that night at Herb and Mattie's when she thought he had left her behind. "No."
He shook his head and turned away from her, "It isn't up for discussion this time, Sarah."
"You tried to leave me behind before and you couldn't," she reminded him. "You drove away and you came back."
"Well, this time I wouldn't because now I see that there's nothing I can give you. Not now, not ever."
"And you would go where, exactly? Just drive around Texas until one day somebody catches you?"
He paused, "I reckon my best bet would be to go south. Mexico. Chances are nobody would care once I was down there. I could get lost amongst all the other gringos."
"You talked about Mexico once before," she said quietly. "When we were going to Knoxville to get the train."
"Yeah well it was just a crazy remark back then," he mumbled in response. "Now it looks like a necessity."
"If you're going to Mexico then I'm going with you."
"No, you're not."
"Yes, I am!"
"Sarah, when are you going to realise that you and I do not get a happy ever after!" Garrett rounded on her again.
"When are you going to realise that you keep saying things like that and then backtracking! You don't believe that we can't be together any more than I do. You love me the same way that I love you only you keep doing this hoping that I'm going to walk away! I haven't walked away yet, Garrett, have I?" He didn't reply. "Have I?!"
"And I'm not going to."
"You have a family…"
"I'm not so sure that I do," she said. "Not now. They don't understand. They wouldn't understand and…and maybe I don't care whether they would or not." She moved to slip her arms around his waist. "I have never felt for anyone what I feel for you. If you think I should go home so that I can go back to my life, forget it. I don't want any life other than what I can have with you."
Garrett sighed heavily and pulled her into his arms, allowing her to breathe in his scent. She pressed her face into his chest knowing utterly and completely that wherever he wanted to go, she would go with him. "I don't know if Mexico would be safe for you."
"I can shoot, surely that's the only skill I could need. What other options do we have?"
"Well then," she craned her neck back to look at him. "I think you'd look good in a sombrero."
"He's there?" Tom clutched the phone in disbelief. "He's there right now?"
"Yup," Ella coughed loudly down the line. "Spoke to him all of two hours ago."
"Well, how is he? How did he seem?"
"Like he didn't know what he was going to do next."
Tom looked over to where Allie was folding laundry in the corner, her face tight. "So he didn't say where he was going?"
"Nope. He's staying at Sam's old place right now, out near the Panhandle."
"Did you see Sarah?"
Tom closed his eyes. He had often wondered what Garrett might do and where he might go. After the news reports of the fire in Wichita he had suspected that he would be heading south, heading for home, but he hadn't really thought he would go there. It seemed a ridiculous idea to head to the one place that law enforcement might centre on looking, not that there had been much in the way of progress on any manhunt over the preceding few weeks. He had had a call from an officer in Wichita asking if he had heard from his brother, but they had never troubled him again and no other agency had been in touch.
"He looked lost," Ella broke into his thoughts. "He didn't look like the Garrett I remembered. Reckon he needed more guidance and words of wisdom than I was able to give him."
Tom sighed, well imagining what her idea of guidance and wisdom would be.
"Told me he loved her."
"I surmised that he meant Sarah. Told him he reminded me of his daddy with that kind of talk."
"Well I'm sure that went over well."
"Nothing, thanks for letting me know." Slowly, he replaced the receiver before Ella could say anything more and turned to look at his wife. "Garrett's in Amarillo."
"I figured as much," she replied.
"He doesn't know what he's doing."
"I doubt that. Garrett Haynes has always known exactly what Garrett Haynes was doing and that's causing as much trouble and strife for as many people as he can. Look what he nearly did to us! That poor girl…"
"He told Ella he loved her."
Allie paused and looked at him. "Bullshit."
"That's what she said. Why would she lie?"
"I'm not saying that she's talking bullshit, I'm saying he is. Love…" she scoffed. "He abducted her from a gas station at gun point, remember. He's got a strange notion of what constitutes love."
Tom sank down on the couch, his mind whirring. He hadn't known at the time why he had gone to Amarillo. Perhaps he had wanted to seek the family that he knew Garrett craved. Perhaps he really had known deep down that his brother would go to Amarillo. Maybe he had ever hoped, stupid as it seemed, that he would find him there. He knew it had been the right thing to return to Allie and the girls but, as he had acknowledged to himself at the time, blood was always thicker than water.
"I should go there."
Allie shook her head, "Tom…"
"He's my brother, Allie."
"Yeah and look what a mess he's made of his life. Everything he has ever touched has turned to shit and you know that. You going down there the last time…"
"This time would be different."
"Why, because he's there? So he can drag you into whatever scheme he's cooked up? To get you in trouble with the law? They are going to catch him, Tom, and when they do, they are going to throw away the key and I say, good riddance!"
"Maybe I could persuade him to give himself up. If he does love Sarah…"
"And maybe you could get yourself killed."
Tom shook his head, "I have to do this."
"No, you don't," Allie said, crouching in front of him, tears hovering in her eyes. "You don't Tom, you know you don't. You think you owe him something? You owe him nothing! You made something of your life in spite of him, don't throw that away."
"What if it was your brother? What if it was Patrick?" He knew he had her at that. Allie worshipped her brother, though admittedly he had never brought anything negative to the family the way Garrett had. "You would do this for him, wouldn't you?" She said nothing. "I have to do this for Garrett. I might not be able to help him or Sarah, but at least I'll have tried."
"Fine," she said, her voice shaking, the tears spilling down her cheeks. "But if you go…"
"I shouldn't expect you to be here when I get back?"
"No," she shook her head. "If you go, you're taking me with you."
"That's the deal, Tom, take it or leave it. I want to look the son-of-bitch-in the eyes myself this time."
He reached out and stroked her hair gently. "You worry about me getting hurt by going down there. What about you?"
She smiled weakly, "I'll be fine. I'm a Haynes too, remember?"