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The Truth Revealed - BK3 of Samantha Cain Mysteries

By Deborah Lynne

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At the end of the service, Samantha Cain grabbed her Bible and purse, then followed Margaret Greenwood and Greg Singleton down the middle aisle. As they ambled in the slow procession of the people leaving church, Sam felt a tug on her left hand. A whispered pleading in her ear followed the pull: You have to help us!"

Sam spun toward the voice, only to find a woman's back retreating as she fought against the flow of the crowd. People walked around Sam as she stopped and eyed the impeccably dressed couple edging farther away. The man holding the woman's hand was recognizable as his frame towered well above the congregation.

Emotions swept through Sam's core as she watched Jack and Betsey Adams move toward the podium. The agony that couple must be going through...Their child had disappeared from school on Friday around noon. The FBI and police hadn't found the first lead. No tips--nothing. It had been 48 hours. The couple had received no ransom demand. No one was trying to negotiate the safe return of their eight-year-old son, Robert.

What would she do if it were Marty? Her adorable nine-year-old son wore wire-rimmed glasses accentuating his big green eyes. Marty's head was capped with a mass of red curly hair. He was her life. What would she do? She shuddered at the notion as she gathered her long straight brown mane over her right shoulder, something she did when she sensed a sudden awareness of tension, Some called it "nervous energy." But Sam couldn't bear the thought of losing her son, so she removed that image from her mind immediately.

Where was their son? Who had taken Robert? And why? Had they hurt him? Was he still alive? Once again she weaved through the crowd and caught up to her friends.

"Margaret," Sam called, "will you and Greg pick up Marty from children's church? I'll meet you at the car."

Margaret had come to care for Sam's son back when Sam worked at a trucking company, before her boss's death. In fact, Matthew, her police officer fiancé, had found Margaret shortly after he and Sam had become engaged. Once Margaret was the hired help, but now she was like family. Sam appreciated her, Marty adored her, and Greg loved her.

The woman's brown brows furrowed as she searched Sam's face. "Sure, Sam. No problem." Margaret clasped Greg's hand and dipped her head slightly, causing her curls to quiver. "You heart that?"

He lifted his blue gaze as his gray-streaked blond hair fell across his forehead, shading his left eye. Then he nodded with one quick motion. Together he and Margaret kept pace with the exiting crowd as Sam stepped into an empty pew, waiting for the throng of people to clear.
When the aisle emptied, Sam headed toward the couple who huddled close with the pastor. The three stood with heads bowed, gathered near the pulpit. By the time she reached them, Pastor James was embracing the distraught woman as her husband looked on with tear-rimmed eyes. Sam stayed back, trying not to disrupt the moment, but the minute Betsey noticed her presence, she broke free from the preacher's arms.

"Samantha," she murmured, "thank you for coming over." Her voice cracked.

"Oh, Samantha, dear," Pastor James said. To the couple, he added, "Now this could be God's direction. Maybe she and Greg Singleton could help you find your son." He extended his hand in the direction of Sam.

She stepped forward.

"Thank you, Pastor." Jack accepted a handshake from the preacher.

Pastor James went on to visit with others who waited to speak to him.

"Sam, we really need your help." Betsey cried in desperation. "I hope we can persuade you to help us find our son." Her puffy eyes locked on Sam.

Could we help this couple find their boy? Sam wondered. But how can we be of more help than the police or the FBI?

Instantly, she knew the answer. Yes, we could. She and Greg could check places, talk to people, and ask questions that the officers of the law weren't legally able to ask. They could also snoop where the law needed a warrant to search, thus slowing down the process. With a kidnapped child, every moment counted.

She recalled only six months prior, when she and Greg had followed every path they could find to prove her own innocence, but the police only followed the so-called evidence. Lieutenant Jones, of course, believed her guilty--believed she had killed her boss--so he wasn't looking too hard in any other direction.

In time, perhaps her innocence would have been discovered. But with a son to raise, Samantha had no time to lose. Had it not been for the pushing and prodding Sam and Greg had done, she doubted the guilty party would have been exposed before the police carted Sam off to jail for a crime she hadn't committed. She and Greg had followed God's lead in the directions they took to prove her innocence. Hopefully, they could do it again to help find this young boy.

"How can I help you?" she asked.

"Don't you and Greg have a detective agency? We need someone to find our little boy. The FBI can't seem to do it." Betsey broke into sobs. The circles under her eyes spoke volumes of her fear and her lack of sleep.

Her husband cradled his arm over her shoulder, attempting to comfort his wife as he pleaded, Please, Ms. Cain, will you help us?" Although immaculately dressed, he too showed signs of wear: dark circles under his eyes and sunken cheeks.

Sam's heart broke. Raising her hands slightly, she said calmly, "I'm not sure we can, as much as I would like to help." Taking a short breath, she went on to explain. "We haven't started our business yet. We're just getting the office set up. I don't even have my license yet. Close, but I'm not there. But I'll speak with Greg. He's set to go. And with his police training he's so on top of things and procedures. I'll talk with him and see what we can do. Give me your number, and I'll call you within the hour."

Jack extracted a business card out of his suit-coat pocket. "My cell is listed at the bottom. Call me as soon as possible. We need you desperately. Please don't let us down." He pushed the card into Sam's hand and closed his hand over hers, squeezing for a brisk second. Then he dropped his hold. "Thank you," he whispered.

Sam gazed at them both. She wanted to assist this couple. Could we? We'll need Your help, Lord. "I'll call you." Sam gripped Betsey's hands, tightened her hold for a minute before letting go, hoping to infuse in that moment a feeling of confidence, encouraging Betsey not to give up hope. Her stomach knotted as she turned to go. Rushing through the now empty church, she hurried to find Greg's new silver Mercury. Everyone was seated inside the Grand Marquis, awaiting her arrival.

As she climbed into the back seat, the scent of the newness still lingered in the vehicle.

"What's going on?" Greg asked. "Wasn't that the parents of the missing child?"

"Who's missing?" Marty asked.

Sam's eyes pinned Greg's as he glanced int he rearview mirror, pleading with him to watch what he said in front of little ears. She then rotated slightly toward her son, who was sitting next to her. "Has anyone mentioned to you that Robert Adams has disappeared? I think he's a year younger than you, so you may not know who I'm talking about. He and his family go to our church."

"I know who you're talking about, Momma. They call him Bobby. Yes. I heard about him this morning in Sunday school and children's church. We prayed and asked God to bring him home. Surely God heard us. It was a lot of us thanking Him at one time."

"Yeah, baby. That's him. Bobby Adams. I'm sure God was listening." She reached across the back seat and tapped Greg on the shoulder. "We'll talk as soon as we get to the house. You're coming in for lunch, aren't you?"

Greg looked at Margaret, sitting to his right. She batted her lashes at him in response. The corners of his lips lifted slightly as he said, "I wouldn't miss it for the world. Margaret made favorite." Smacking his lips and producing loud noises of anticipation while making sill faces, he glanced in his rearview mirror at an angle and caught the eye of the nine-year-old boy in the back seat.

Laughing out loud, Marty punched the back of the seat with his foot. "Yuck, Uncle Greg. That sounds disgusting."

"All right, you two." Margaret pursed her lips. "I worked hard this morning getting that ready for our lunch. You both better eat and enjoy--or I may not cook next Sunday." She tipped her chin into the air as if to say, "And that is final!"

Everyone laughed.

As happiness resounded in the car, Sam's reflections immediately drew to the pain the desperate parents must be sensing on their ride home to their empty house...empty of laughter...empty of their son's voice. They can't hear the cheeriness of their son filling their home.

The memories of the past few years flooded her thoughts. Samantha had been through an abusive marriage with her cop husband, followed by his suicide. For three years, she'd suffered the pain of that loss as well as the accusing eyes that blamed her for his death. Somehow in the midst, she'd worked hard to care for Marty and herself.

Then things had only grown worse. Shortly after learning self-defense, so she would never be caught unable to defend herself again, she witnessed a murder. Although she tried to intervene, she was too late. The woman died.

Next the killer targeted her, trying to silence the only witness who could identify him. The detective in charge of those killings, Matthew Jefferies, had save her, captured the killer, and won her heart all at the same time.

A year later, days before they were to wed, Matthew was killed in the line of duty.

Six months later, Sam's boss was murdered in his office. Her prints were found on what was supposedly the weapon of choice. That and the fact she was the only one working the night he was murdered caused the police to suspect her as the killer. But thanks to Greg and Detective Mark Barnett, she was proven innocent.

So Sam knew what it was like, craving help and not getting what you needed from the local police at the time. Was the FBI any better? Who knew? As good as the majority of the policemen and women were, Sam felt certain she had been on the short end of the stick a few times. Her heart was with Betsey Adams.

Sam's stomach twisted. If she and Greg could help the Adams, they would. They'd find a way.

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