Home > Cry No More(10)

Cry No More(10)
Author: Linda Howard

No. It wasn’t for nothing. Sooner or later, she would find her son. All she had to do was keep running down all leads. She had been doing this for ten years and she would do it for another ten, if necessary. Or twenty years. She couldn’t imagine ever giving up on her little boy.

Through the years she had tried to imagine what Justin’s interests would be, how they would change as he grew, and she had bought toys she’d thought he would like. Would he be fascinated by balls and toy trucks? Would he make motor noises as he crawled along? When he was three, she imagined him on a tricycle. By four, she thought, he would be picking up rocks and worms and things like that, putting them into his pocket. She couldn’t make herself pick up a worm, but the rocks . . . she could do rocks. That was when she’d begun collecting them.

When he was six, she wondered if he was learning how to play soccer, or T-ball. He would probably still like rocks at that age, too. But just in case, she’d bought a baseball and a small bat.

When he was eight, she imagined him with his adult teeth growing in, too big for his face just yet, though his cheeks would be losing the chubbiness of childhood. At what age did children start playing Little League? He’d have his own bat and glove by now, surely. And maybe someone had taught him how to skip a flat stone on the water; she began looking for the smooth, flat ones, so she’d have them for him just in case.

He was ten now, maybe too old for throwing rocks. He’d have a ten-speed bicycle—a gear for each year, she thought. Perhaps he was into computers. He was definitely old enough now for Little League. And maybe he had an aquarium. Maybe he could put a few of the prettier rocks in his aquarium. She had stopped buying toys, and though she did have a computer, she didn’t buy a bicycle, or an aquarium. The fish would just die, because she wasn’t home often enough to keep them fed.

Milla’s jaw set and she stared blindly across the night-darkened cemetery. She couldn’t let herself think that he might not be alive, so instead she imagined that he was living a normal, happy life, that he’d been found or bought or adopted by people who loved him and were taking good care of him.

That was the theory, anyway, that he’d been stolen and sold to an illegal adoption ring that provided black-market babies to people in the States and Canada who wanted to adopt. These people had no idea the children they’d adopted had been stolen, that families had been devastated and parents left bereft. She tried to believe that. She tried to comfort herself by imagining Justin playing, growing, laughing. The not knowing for certain what had happened to him was the worst, and anything was better than thinking he was dead.

So many of the stolen babies did die. They were stuffed into car trunks to be smuggled across the border, and if the heat killed eight out of ten, well, the ten hadn’t cost anything but effort, and the two remaining ones could be sold for ten, twenty thousand dollars each, maybe even more, depending on who wanted a baby and how much they could afford. The Federales had tried to comfort her by telling her that extra care would be taken with Justin because he was blond and blue-eyed, and therefore worth more. Oddly, it was a comfort, though her heart ached for the tiny Hispanic babies who wouldn’t receive that extra care because they were dark.

But what if—what if he was one of the unlucky ones? Did the bastards who trafficked in stolen babies and ruptured lives even take the time to bury their tiny victims? Or did they just toss them in a ditch somewhere, to be eaten by—

No. She couldn’t go there. She couldn’t let the gruesome thought finish forming in her mind. If she did, then she would lose control, and that was the one thing she absolutely couldn’t do right now. If the tip played out and someone actually showed up at this secret rendezvous, she had to be ready.

Scanning the cemetery once more, she picked out her destination tombstone, one heavier and more ornate than the others, with a nice thick base that would completely conceal her if she was lying down. She got down on her stomach and belly-crawled the rest of the way, lying prone and positioning herself behind the tombstone so that she was at a slight angle and could easily move her head just a little to the right and see the entire width of the church, as well as down the right side of it. Now all she had to do was wait.

The minute hand on her watch crawled around. The hour hand moved to eleven, then past. Finally, at eleven thirty-five, she heard the sound of a car engine. She was immediately alert, though she knew it could just be a farmer heading home from the cantina. She watched closely, but there was no flash of headlights, just the sound of the engine growing closer and closer.

The dark hulk of a car turned at the far back corner of the church, and crawled to a stop about a third of the way down.

Milla drew a deep breath and tried to control the sudden leap of her heart. Most of the time these tips led to nothing but a wild-goose chase, but this time the geese were actually within reach. With any luck, she was about to get her hands on Diaz.


With the scope she could see there were two men in the car, and her heart sank. Obviously others were supposed to join them, unless the meeting consisted of the two men sitting in the car talking to each other, which she doubted. She studied the two in the weird green light of the scope, but they remained in the car and she couldn’t get a good look at their features.

She hoped Brian followed the same reasoning that she had and stayed in place. She hadn’t spotted him, though she had looked. Wherever he’d hidden himself, he had done a good job of it.

The minutes ticked past, and she still didn’t see Brian. Good. He thought the same thing she did, that someone else would be arriving soon.

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