Page 2 of Coercion

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“We’ll find them.”Will pulls his phone out of his pocket, taps the screen with his thumb, and puts it to his ear.

I lean my forehead against his chest and inhale.

His free hand moves to the back of my head, and he runs his fingers through my hair.

Evan’s voice comes through the speaker of Will’s phone.“Donovan.”

“I need you at the beach house, and I need you to bring a team.The twins were taken.I got a photo about ten minutes ago.”

“Send it to me.”

Will’s hand pauses in my hair while he taps the screen again.“I don’t have time to wait here.”

“Are you in the house?”

“Yes, but—”

“But nothing, Will.Don’t step foot outside until I get there.I’m on my way.In the meantime—”

“Jesus Christ, Donovan—”

“In the meantime, I’m going to hang up with you and get some people together.Neighborhoods like that will have security footage we can check, and I’ll have someone check the photo for any embedded location data.If you leave now, you’ll only make this more complicated.”

“Drive faster.”

“I’ll call you back in one minute.”

Will shoves his phone back into his pocket and folds his arms around me.He’s still breathing in a slow, even pattern, but his heart beats fast and hard.What happens next probably involves black SUVs and men with guns and at the end, the twins are going to be okay.We’re all going to be okay.

Will’s phone buzzes.“Yeah?”

Evan starts talking, and I straighten up.What am I thinking, standing here?We need to figure out how my dad got in contact with him.Mia would have said something if he called their phone.Will arches an eyebrow at me, and I point upstairs.“I’m going to check their stuff.”

He nods, his hand splaying out one more time on my back before he lets me go.“No, I don’t care about that.If—”

They don’t need me for this conversation.I hustle up the stairs.

Both beds in the twins’ room are unmade, blankets shoved down.Mia’s copy ofThe Dark Is Risingis halfway under her pillow.Her backpack hangs on a hook near the closet, Ben’s is in a heap next to his bed.The beat-up school laptop that comes home with him some weekends sticks out of the open zipper.

It’s a place to start.

Even sitting on the mattress makes my throat tight.The twins deserve a life with nice mattresses and trips to the beach andnotgetting fucked over by our dad.That’s what I’m going to give them.This is the last time he screws with it.

I balance Ben’s laptop on my lap and flip it open.

It takes a beat to wake up.It’s a bare-minimum kind of computer.Hardly weighs anything, and it only has a few Google apps.One tap at the touchpad, and a window opens.

It’s the email app, asking for a username and password.There was a form to sign for school emails when I enrolled the twins.I type in Ben’s.

And the password…

He’s ten.It’s probably the simplest answer.

I type in Cafall, the name of a dog in Mia’s books and also the name of a baby bunny the twins found last spring, before we moved to the city.The bunny escaped one day, leaving our rented A-frame behind for good.Then I add his birthday, which is also Mia’s birthday.

Instant tears, which I swipe away with my sleeve.

It’s the right password.The email app opens to his inbox.

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