Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Last week, Will and Liz got some good news. This week, they face some drama. Pull those belts down one more time; this is going to be a bumpy ride!
Rather than continue to add links to each previous post in this story, I have made a master list of them. If you’re new to Race Book 3, as it is currently being referred to, you can catch up on old episodes by clicking here.
Did you know that for a monthly pledge of as little as $1 at Patreon, you can have early access to all my blog posts, including my Thursday ones? Patrons also get a free copy of each of my books once it is complete.
Within minutes, Liz and Will had shared their news with Edie and reached for their phones to call friends and family.
“You’ll want to check with the doc still,” Edie warned. “Those tests are not one hundred percent accurate.”
Liz nodded. “We will, but I know it has to be true.”
Edie smiled, a warm look on her face. “I’m pretty sure, as well. Congratulations. I’m so looking forward to a tiny Darcy to babysit.”
“We’d love to have you watch our baby, Mrs. R.” Darcy hugged the woman again, kissing her cheek. “We love you.”
Edie patted Will’s chest. “I love you, too. Both of you. I’m going to head on home; you have an appointment to get to and some phone calls to make.”
After seeing Edie into her car, Will and Liz began making calls to share their news. When it was time to leave for town and they climbed into Will’s truck, he asked about text messages.
“Have you heard back from your texter?”
“Oh!” Liz exclaimed. “I know I got some messages, but I never looked, what with being sick and Edie coming over and all.” She pulled out her phone and looked at the text message app. “Ten. Let me see who they’re from.”
Will pulled out onto the road. He glanced over, first at Liz’s phone and then her facial expression. “Who was it?”
“I have one from Jane and one from Mary. One from Georgie. One, two, three, four … six from a couple numbers I don’t recognize.” Liz began opening the messages one at a time, reading the contents aloud. Two were business-related. The last four, all from the same phone number, contained increasingly bizarre and frightening messages.
Will swore, his knuckles white on the steering wheel. “Screenshot those, okay?”
“Yes, okay.” Liz’s voice shook. Knowing she was probably pregnant put the messages, as well as the earlier letters and pictures, in a whole new light.
As Liz took screenshots of the texts, Will used the few minutes he had at a red light to dial up the private investigator he had hired, putting the phone on speaker. He spoke to the man as he drove, describing the messages to him and reviewing the previous contacts his wife had received. The call ended as he was pulling into the parking lot at the doctor’s office. He stretched his arm out and took hold of Liz’s hand, squeezing it gently. “You okay?”
Liz nodded, taking in a deep breath. “I am. I trust you and the investigator to find out who this is and stop it. It’ll all work out in the end.” She smiled at Will, returning the squeeze.
An hour later, the couple exited the office, elated to find out they were, indeed, going to have a baby and that Will was showing no outward signs of impairment due to concussion. Will helped Liz into the truck, buckled her in, and kissed her deeply.
“I love you, Mrs. Darcy. Mommy.”
“I love you too, Daddy.” Liz winked at Will as he backed away with a grin and shut the door.
The remainder of the week was quiet. Though Liz received a couple more text messages, which she quickly screenshotted and told Will about, there were no further letters or photographs.
On Thursday, Will flew himself, Liz, Georgie, Coach, Charles, and Jane to Rhode Island for the next race. He and Liz had picked the others up at the race shop, taking Liz’s much roomier SUV. As always, they parked in the short-term lot at the airport.
The race weekend passed with no messages for Liz. Will placed well, as did Charles, the pair of them giving DRI two top-five finishes. They flew back immediately after the race, arriving at the airport just as the sun was beginning to drop behind the buildings. The six of them trudged through the parking lot, not saying much because they were all so tired. Will and Liz were in the front of the group, holding hands as always. As they approached the vehicle, they slowed to a stop. Liz gasped.
“What in the world-?”
“Someone trashed your car,” Bingley observed as he, Jane, and the others came to a stop beside Will, who along with Liz had halted a few feet away.
Liz’s SUV, a custom-painted purple Ford Expedition, had been attacked with spray paint and a sledge hammer, or so it seemed. As she and Will walked around the vehicle, they noted the various slurs written on the sides. The windshield was covered in a solid sheet of black paint, and the image of a certain male body part covered the hood in bright pink.
“Oh, Liz,” Jane cried. “Your beautiful car!” She stepped around glass from the smashed-out headlights as she approached her sister.
“Who would have done something like this?” Georgie’s voice was low as she stared at the damage. She scooted closer to her father, who wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.” Will’s voice was hard. “First, we need a tow truck and a ride home.”
“You call the truck. Georgie and I will rent another SUV.” Coach clapped his hand on his son’s shoulder. “Stay with Liz.” He gave Will a look.
“I’m not letting her out of my sight,” Will promised.
Liz stood beside her husband on the verge of tears. “I loved that truck! Who could have done this?” As she thought about the situation and wondered who could have done something like this and gotten away with it, she began to get angry. “I fully intend to kick some backside for this.”
Will hung up from his phone call in time to hear Liz begin to rant. He slid his arm around her waist and pulled her close. “I know you’re angry, Babe, but it’s not good for you or our child. I’ve called the cops, the tow truck, and the PI. Both should be here in the next forty minutes or so. I want answers, too. If this is the mystery texter, I suspect he or she feels they don’t have enough of your attention yet.”
“Oh, they definitely have it now!” Liz had crossed her arms over her chest. “Just wait until I get my hands on the depraved monster.”
Jane stood on the other side of her sister, rubbing Liz’s shoulder. “I’m just glad none of us were hurt. I can’t imagine who would have done something like this. Whoever it is, they need to get some help.”
“They’re certainly going to need help, yes.” Liz was becoming belligerent. She huffed as Will put his other arm around her and squeezed.
Charles completed his visual inspection and arrived at Jane’s side. “Think it can be saved?”
“I don’t know,” Will admitted. “I’ll ask the guys at the shop what they think. We may need to just buy another one.”
“Might be cheaper,” Charles observed.
“True.” Will craned his neck to look down at Liz, who had remained amazingly quiet for the last few minutes. “You okay?”
“Yes.” Liz’s voice was low. “I’m still furious, but I’m also tired and hungry. It’s been a long day.”
Just then, a police cruiser pulled up, followed a few minutes later by Coach in a newly-rented Expedition. A half-hour later, a police report had been filed and Liz’s SUV towed to Darcy Racing headquarters. The group loaded up into the rental and headed out toward the shop.
The next day, Will drove Liz into town to pick her up a car. Once she had the keys in her hand, Will headed to the shop and Liz drove to the mall to do some shopping for the baby.
A little over an hour after entering the shopping center, Liz piled her purchases in the back of her rental and got in the driver’s seat. She called Will to tell him where she was, that she was fine and was heading to the house. Then, she put the vehicle in gear and left the mall.
Will and Liz’s house was several miles out into the countryside on mostly lightly traveled back roads. It was a picturesque drive and took her through some wooded areas and several places where there were fields on both sides. Liz liked to drive with the radio tuned to a country music station with the volume up high, and today was no exception. She also tended to drive pretty fast, though she was always scanning the road ahead, keeping an eye out for possible dangers. She did not, however, keep track of what was in her rearview mirror.
Liz was halfway home when a smaller vehicle suddenly appeared beside her. Liz startled and jerked the wheel to the right, coming to the edge of the pavement. She glanced to her left and realized the car had moved over into the space she had vacated. “I can’t move over any further, you moron.” She wished they both had their windows down so the other driver could hear her.
Liz slowed down, hoping the other car would pass her and go on. Instead, the smaller car reduced its speed, as well. Then she accelerated in the hopes she could outrun the other vehicle. When that failed, as well, Liz began to fear the outcome of the encounter. They were approaching a rather sharp curve, and Liz didn’t know what to do. She slammed on the brakes.
The driver of the other car also slowed, as Liz feared he would. They got closer to the curve and the driver purposely turned into the front corner of Liz’s rental. Liz was going just a bit too fast and before she could react, the SUV left the roadway, bouncing over the strip of grass. Liz applied the brake, fearful of overturning the vehicle. She managed to slow it, but not before she ran into the nearby tree line, smashing into a small maple. The airbag deployed, knocking the wind out of her.
As Liz caught her breath, she closed her eyes, leaning her head back against the headrest. She gasped, opening her eyes again. Where’s the other car? She checked the locks to make sure they were secured. She took stock of her vehicle’s contents.
Thankfully, the airbag had deflated, revealing her cell phone in its hands-free holder. She pulled it out of the plastic anchor, dialing her husband’s number.
“Will?” Liz started to cry. “Can you come get me?”
Will and Coach were on their way to Coach’s house when the phone rang. “It’s Liz,” Will told his father. Then, both men listened in horror to Liz’s tearful description of what happened. Will immediately turned around and headed toward his wife’s location, still talking to her and trying to keep her calm.
Coach pulled his phone out and called the police, asking for a cruiser and an ambulance and giving them the approximate location, based on what Liz had told Will. He then called Edie Reynolds, asking her to tell Georgie and to bring the girl to the hospital. Those calls made, he sat back and held on, knowing his son would put all of his considerable driving skill to use to get them to his wife.
Will turned his truck onto the road Liz had said she wrecked on. “The curve she’s talking about is up here a ways.”
“Yeah, probably a couple miles up. She’ll likely be on my side. You drive, I’ll look.” Coach trusted his son, but didn’t want them to wreck looking for Liz.
“She’s going to the hospital to get checked out, I don’t care how much she protests.” Will swallowed. “Can something like this hurt the baby?”
Coach shook his head. “I don’t know, Son.”
Less than a minute later, Coach pointed out the window. “There she is!”
Will slammed on the brakes as he pulled over. Barely remembering to put the truck in park, he sprinted across the strip of cleared land to Liz’s SUV. He pulled on her door, but it wouldn’t open. He tried the back door with similar success.
“Here,” Coach yelled from the back. “The hatch still opens.” He pushed the door up so Will could climb in. “I have to sit a minute. Too much excitement.” He lifted his hip up onto the edge of the cargo area and leaned against the side, trying to catch his breath.
Will glanced back at his father with concern, but his focus was on his wife and ascertaining her health. He crawled over the back seat and the console in the front. Finally reaching Liz, he panted, “Are you ok? Does anything hurt?”
“Oh, Will,” Liz lifted a shaky hand to touch his cheek. “I was so scared.”
Will pressed her hand to his face, noting immediately that it was cold, far colder than her hands normally were, even in air conditioning. She was pale and shivering. “I know you were, Babe. It’s okay now. I’m here and I’ll get you out of here and squared away.” He thought quickly, his brows drawing together. “Did we toss your emergency kit in here?”
What do you think? Feel free to leave me a comment below. <3