Fighting For Bailey – Excerpt

Fighting For Bailey

Granite Falls Book 2

Gillian Barnes muffled a cry as she stared at the turquoise feather lying on her front porch. Annie? Again! Impossible. Annie was upstairs in her cage with Andy. She had to be. Gillian glanced at her watch. If she didn’t leave now, she’d be late picking up Paul at the airport. Which would mean another miserable night. Paul liked everything to run on schedule—his schedule. Torn with indecision, she hesitated for only a moment, then ran back up the stairs. 

She raced down the long hallway. Her little bird would be in its cage. There was no way she could have gotten out, again. She was going to have to change her name to Houdini. Reaching the room she used as an office, Gillian stared in shock at the large cage in the corner facing the window, its iron door cracked open. Andy, the male of the pair, stared out at her. Annie was nowhere to be seen.

Sickness turned in Gillian’s stomach. The pair of lovebirds, a wedding gift from Paul, had always symbolized what her marriage could be. And what it wasn’t. She spun, her gaze searching the room for the little bird. Her eyes fell on the large stuffed panda with the pink and blue ribbons tied to its leg. The one gift she couldn’t get rid of after she lost the baby. Tears filled her eyes. She couldn’t lose Annie. 

She glanced at her watch, then turned and ran from the room. Paul’s plane would be landing in exactly thirty minutes. She’d be late, and he wouldn’t be happy, but at the moment she didn’t care. Nothing she did made him happy anymore. 

“Annie,” she called, but didn’t hear anything. Hurrying down the stairs, she went out the front door and called for the bird again, searching the trees and bushes around the front yard of their beautiful house. Could she have gotten outside? Why was she always trying to escape? She had a beautiful home, good food, a partner.

She heard a flapping sound, turned, and caught a glimpse of turquoise. “Annie!” Gillian rushed to the bird sitting in the bushes and scooped her into her hands. “How did you get outside?” She murmured as she clutched Annie to her chest. She rushed up the stairs, and placed Annie back in the cage. She carefully locked the cage door. “No more adventures for you, Houdini.” She’d be late for sure now. 

She drove out of their luxury neighborhood in her Mercedes S500, a gift from Paul to celebrate her pregnancy and toward the highway. When she met Paul, he was unlike anyone she had ever known—so sure of himself, so cosmopolitan. A successful businessman, five years her senior, confident, he knew exactly what he wanted. And he wanted her. He swept her off her feet. Once they were married and she’d finished school, they moved. A lot. His business was always growing as he chased success.

In each town they set up the perfect house and she became exactly what he wanted—the perfect wife. All they needed was a baby to be the perfect family. He’d been so happy when she finally got pregnant. So attentive. So… wonderful. Until she lost the baby. 

Now she had no idea who she was married to.

The red glow of brake lights reflected by wet asphalt danced off raindrops splattered across her windshield. Gillian gasped as she realized the cars in front of her weren’t just slowing, but stopping. She squeezed the wheel, then hit the brakes in quick succession. The car started to slide.

“Oh, no!” Fear stuttered through her chest. She pumped the brakes, trying to find purchase—tires squealed, rubber burned. Gillian’s eyes widened as her car slid toward the traffic in front of her. “Please stop,” she pleaded and squinted while bracing for impact. 

Paul would be furious.

The Mercedes stopped only inches away from the car in front of her. She let loose a relieved breath.The traffic started to move forward once more. She followed slowly behind, keeping a huge gap between her and the car in front of her. Twenty minutes later, she followed the signs for the airport and maneuvered into the pickup lanes. 

Paul stood on the sidewalk waiting for her, looking handsome in his gray suit and charcoal overcoat except for the scowl on his face. She forced a smile, stopped the car, got out, and hurried around to the passenger side.

“You’re late,” he said tersely without glancing at his Rolex. “Why can’t you manage something simple like arriving on time? It’s rude and disrespectful.”

“Bad weather and traffic,” she retorted, then rose up on her toes to give him a quick kiss. His lips were cold, his stark blue gaze distant. He walked past her, put his suitcase in the trunk, and got into the driver’s seat. She frowned but shrugged off his dismissal. It had been a long flight and he was probably tired. She got into the car and leaned her head against the seat, then closed her eyes and listened to the soft whoosh of the wiper blades as they moved across the windshield.

A knock sounded on the window. Startled, Gillian’s eyes flew open. A large man in a dark raincoat stood at her door, another at Paul’s. 

“Dammit. This wouldn’t have happened had you been on time,” he snapped, looking straight ahead.

“What wouldn’t be happening? What’s going on?” she asked, afraid to open her door. 

The man on the driver’s side slapped a badge against the glass. “Mr. Barnes, can you get out of the car, please?” 

Paul opened the driver’s door and stepped out of the car. Gillian did the same. Both men walked toward her husband. 

“Mr. Barnes, you’re under arrest. You have the right to remain silent—”

“I don’t understand.” Something tumultuous quavered in her voice. “What’s happening?”

No one answered or acknowledged her in any way. 

“Call my lawyer,” Paul barked as they ushered him away.

“Your lawyer? Who’s your lawyer?”

“Scott Truseau. His card is in my desk.”

Gillian stood stunned for a long moment watching them walk away. She got behind the wheel and saw Paul’s phone sitting in the center console. She picked it up and tried to access it but didn’t know his passcode. How could she not know his passcode? 

All the way home she wondered what could be happening. Once in his office, she found the card for Scott Truseau and made the call. Then she waited for someone to call and explain what was going on so she could figure out what she needed to do next.

No one ever called.

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Fighting For Bailey – Excerpt

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