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Dani lay on her back, blinking against the painful sunlight. She could hear Noah screaming and tried to say his name.

Someone blocked the sun, standing over her. She couldn’t make out the features, and she didn’t recognize the terrifying voice.

“Say good night, bitch.”

And everything went black.

TYLER WAS AT the park playing basketball with Jeremiah. He seemed to be doing better, especially living with Sue and Martin Grayson. Tyler had gotten a call from Jeremiah after Thanksgiving, and Jeremiah had told him that his mom was willing to sign the guardianship papers. Apparently, they’d had a long talk after Neil’s visit, and after some hard truths, Jeremiah had convinced his mom that she needed to do what was best for him. Tyler wished he knew what Jeremiah had actually said, but he’d never pressed.

Despite the cold air outside, sweat dripped down Tyler’s forehead as he chased after the teenager, and he finally gave up after the kid did a perfect jump shot. He grabbed his knees and took several gulping breaths as the ball arched in the air and swooshed through the net beautifully.

“Wanna take a water break, Sarge? You look a little winded.”

“Smart-ass kid,” Tyler muttered, though he took him up on it. Last night, after he’d left the party, he might have gone home and finished off a couple glasses of whiskey, and he was definitely paying for it today.

He took a long pull from his water bottle and saw his phone light blinking. Sliding his thumb over the screen, he saw a missed call from Dani.

He walked away from Jeremiah to listen to the voicemail. “Hi, Tyler, it’s Dani. I need to talk to you, so if you could please call me back, that would be great.”

Very formal. No love you at the end like usual.

Maybe she’s calling to dump your ass.

If that was the case, no sense in putting it off, although a hard knot twisted his stomach painfully.

He hit the call button and waited.

“Hello, this is Officer Coleson Ricks with the Sacramento Police Department. To whom am I speaking?”

Tyler’s heart stopped. Why the hell did the police department have Dani’s phone?

“This is Tyler Best. I’m trying to get ahold of my girlfriend, Danielle Hill.”

“Mr. Best, Ms. Hill is on her way to Sutter Memorial—”

“Why? What happened? Is Noah okay?”

“Noah?” the officer repeated.

“Yeah, her son, he’s almost two. Is he okay?”

“Mr. Best, Ms. Hill was found outside her home near her car, unconscious. She appeared to have been assaulted.”


“Her mom. Did you call her mom?” Tyler asked.

“No, but, Mr. Best—”

Tyler hung up the phone and dialed Dani’s parents’ house.

“Hello?” Laura answered.

“Laura, it’s Tyler. Is Noah with you?”

“Noah? No, Dani picked him up this morning. Why?”

“I don’t have the details yet, but Dani’s been attacked. She’s on her way to Sutter Memorial Hospital, but Noah wasn’t at the scene.”