“My gut tells me he is involved in this.” Noah ran his fingers through his hair. “I know he was pissed we ended his business opportunity here. He thought he had a gold mine in Red Hook. Maybe he planted Janice at the restaurant for revenge. He knew I was related to Alicia. This has just gotten way more complicated.”
Tony texted Matt to let him know Novak might have something to do with the club. “I texted Matt. He and Drake will interview George Hobson, the club owner. If we hit the jackpot, he will give us his partner’s name.”
“We need to keep an eye on Holly just in case he decides he wants to grab her, too. He was obsessed with having Holly,” Noah said angrily. “What a clusterfuck this is turning out to be.”
Tony nodded. “Holly was given a few days off of work. She has been so upset and hasn’t stopped worrying. Alicia is her best friend. She and Faith are at the coffee shop. I am heading over there right now. I will make sure they stay safe.”
Noah nodded, looking grim. “Thanks, Tony. I am going to see Alana. The restaurant is still closed. She is at her family’s house. I am not sure how much I should tell them. I’d hate to scare them with Novak for no reason.”
Noah looked reluctant to share any bad news with his in-laws. Tony headed to the coffee shop, but he couldn’t stop thinking of Alicia.
* * * *
Tony knew the minute his brother walked into the coffee shop it was bad news. He wanted to demand answers before Matt even entered the doorway. Matt was controlling his expression, but Tony could see the anger lurking in his eyes. He nodded at Tony, who was sitting by the window, keeping watch. Matt walked up to Holly, who was behind the register, and hugged her. He pulled her to sit with him at the table with Tony.
“Where is Faith?” Matt looked around. A few people sat with their laptops. It was a slow time of day.
“I sent her home with Adam and Hope. She needs to rest.” Holly’s older sister, Faith, was eight months pregnant. “What is going on, Matt? Your expression is scaring me. Just spit it out.”
Matt held her hand. He took a deep breath. “The sheriff in Morehead found Janice’s body about an hour ago. She was in Green County, about twenty miles outside of Morehead. A jogger found her in the park. She was beaten and strangled.”
Holly gasped and covered her mouth. Tears rolled out of her eyes. “And Alicia?”
He shook his head and looked at his brother. “No sign of her anywhere. They have a manhunt going on as we speak. She has to be alive. I refuse to believe anything else. Let’s not give up hope.”
Holly looked at her husband. She closed her eyes and opened them. Tony could see her lips trembling as if she was going to break down and cry. “I feel bad for Janice and her family. I didn’t know her. Alana said she was young. Whoever did this has to be caught. Faith said Noah thinks Novak is the culprit.”
Matt nodded, and she leaned on him and let her tears loose. Matt caressed her hair until she was done crying.
“I am taking you to your sister’s house,” Matt said firmly. “I have to report to the station, but I don’t want you at our house alone. We are playing it safe until we know if Novak is behind this or not. Noah has someone guarding the Garcia house. Adam and Liam are both home with your sister and Hope.”
Holly looked terrified and her blue eyes widened. “You think he would dare come back here?”
She couldn’t even say Novak’s name. Matt had confided in Tony that Holly still had nightmares about Novak kidnapping her from her home. He had sent his men to her house and knocked out Liam Blake, her brother-in-law. He had kidnapped her and threatened to rape her, but she had escaped.
Matt nodded and went to speak with Jenny, the coffee shop manager. Jenny looked upset but nodded.
“Jenny is going to call Faith and close for the day. People are going to be scared and upset when word of Janice’s death gets out. Sam is with the Sands family right now,” Matt said when he came back to the table. “After what happened this summer, people thought we were done with all of this.”
Holly looked at Tony with sympathy. She placed her hand on his arm. “Alicia is smart. I know she had to get away. I am not giving up on her, Tony. I know you care for her and I know you will do everything in your power to bring her home to us.”
Tony couldn’t swallow past the lump in his throat. Holly and Jasmine both had such confidence in him, but what if he failed? He tried to stay focused and confident, but that small voice still reminded him he had already messed things up with Alicia. “Thank you, Holly. I know I messed up with her, but I care about Alicia so much. I will keep looking, no matter how long it takes.”
Holly smiled. “I know a man on the run from his feelings when I see one. Your brother is just like you.”
Matt huffed but didn’t argue with his wife. He hugged her and kissed the top of her blonde head.
Tony smiled. His brother did well when he fell in love with Holly Davis. She had a heart of gold.
Matt looked at Tony with determination. “I am not giving up on finding Alicia alive. Stay strong, brother.”
Tony knew his brother was right. Now was not the time to give in to fear. They headed to Adam and Faith’s house. Matt got out of the truck to walk his wife inside. Tony imagined he was going to tell Adam and Liam to watch the girls carefully. Novak was out for revenge and none of them were safe. Tony looked around the area just in case. His favorite rifle was in his truck. He never left home without it.
Tony put his hand on Alicia’s slim waist. She was bent over the pool table, aiming her cue stick at a red ball. Tony felt himself sweating despite the AC being on. The pool hall was not crowded. The lights were dimmed low. All he could concentrate on was imaging all the things he could do to her in this position, especially if he stripped her of her tight jeans. Her shirt showed her golden skin. He was tempted to touch it and see if it was as silky as it looked. Would she slap him?
She turned her head and looked up at him. Her lips were pink and glossy and her smile was sweet. “Like this, Tony?”