Daphne Paddington was coming to really enjoy Fridays. The admin personnel were given the option of longer work days for half days on Fridays and most took advantage of the perk. By twelve-thirty a lot of the residents at the child care were on their way home with their parents.
Read alsoDevil Hills: #1 Scarlet, Lexi & Lily
Like it or not, there were others messing with his plans. An old collection of grudges that not only would involve Scarlet, but her best friends, Lexi Baker and Lily Gaines.Sometimes you needed your friends with you to solve the problems the universe throws at you.
Then the fire alarm sounded.
She and Eve had trained the staff on the drills, so she stood to the side, counting and watching, stepping into the late February sunshine with a shiver. The dress she wore was a dark green and stopped just past her knees, the low heels working well as long as she stayed off the very damp ground. She moved to the fencing surrounding the play area for the day care, keeping an eye on the people gathering because of the alarm. Her hand was on the gate at the same time she saw an unfamiliar man speaking to one of her kids.
She swore softly when she saw Mina Alexander nod, a grin of childish excitement on her face just before she lifted her arms. Daphne shoved the gate open and took off after them.
Vlad Mircea had just mounted the large chestnut colored horse when he caught sight of the commotion across the large expanse of field. He spoke quickly into the ear piece he wore.
“Emil…Petar…follow me…Tallon…you have your sling shot?”
“Yes, Uncle,” came the instant reply.
“Aim for the man’s ankles…and aim well,” he ordered firmly, his heels kicking into the sides of the horse as the three older men took off toward the man running with the small girl in his arms. He watched the blonde fling shoes behind her before taking off at a run that his horses would envy, he decided, watching her quickly loop her skirt into the belt at her waist out of the way. The long, slender legs easily made short work of the ground beneath her feet.
“Herd him this way,” Vlad ordered into his microphone, the horses responding to the split second commands of the reins, the men skillful as they came to a careful triangle shaped trap. He saw the small stones strike at the man’s ankles. His nephew needed practice, he thought with a grim smile when the man looked up at the very large animals slowly fencing him in.
“Get the…this isn’t your damn…”
Another stone struck him.
“What is your name, girl?” Vlad asked brusquely.
“Mina Alexander…what’s your name?”
“Vlad Mircea…would you like to ride with me?” He moved the large animal carefully closer, his eyes on the man. “I can make her trample you without losing sleep. Hand me the child,” he said coldly, his hand out and wrapping around the little girl. He positioned her in front of him, handing her the reins that dangled. “Hold on…we will take you to the school…Emil…secure him until the police can arrive.”
“He said he was taking me to see daddy,” Mina said curiously watching the adults around her.
“Is that your mother?” Vlad asked softly, watching the blonde slow her pace and work on her expression.
“No. That’s Miss Daphne…she’s a teacher,” Mina waved excitedly. “Lookie, Miss Daphne! I’m on a horse! A real horse!” She called out with a bright smile.
“A horse…” Daphne came to a stop, her head back and eyes closed. “Thank you…thank you…” She said breathlessly, gathering her senses and breath enough to peer up into the darkest set of eyes she’d ever seen, his hair equally dark and blown by the winds around them, barely touching his ears. She caught sight of a tattoo peeking out from beneath the rolled shirt sleeves.
“I’m glad we were in the right place to help,” He looked over to see the resort guards taking care of the man his brothers had held. His gaze swung to the ground at the same time another woman came more sedately from the side, glancing from one to the other. “Is that your mother?”
“That’s Hope…she’s like a mom,” Mina said, holding her arms out and flying into the open palms held up for her. “I went for a ride on the horse, Hope!”