Summary: Breaking up a child sale ring leads Elliot and Olivia on a frightening journey up a Virginia river.
Disclaimer: You recognize it, it's not mine.
The sound of the barking dogs grew closer. With every step through the shallows, they were losing their lead. Elliot struggled on his sprained ankle, trying to keep pace with a terrified Olivia. From behind, he could tell her energy as flagging. Sweat rolled down her back and mixed with the river water they were throwing into the air. There was a stagnant smell. Dragonflies buzzed up when the cat-tails were disturbd by Olivia's arms and legs. Elliot's eyes smarted from the sun's reflection off the murky water.
"Run goddammit! Elliot, I need you to run!"
She urged him on. He thought he heard a train whistle off in the distance. It would have been a perfectly still summer afternoon anywhere else.
Off to the left he spotted what they'd been looking for...a thicket of trees and brambles, forming a near-perfect hiding place.
"Liv! Over here! Come on..."
Olivia turned around quickly and nodded. Elliot grasped her hand and they half-swam half-waded to the other side. His grip didn't falter as they plunged into the stinging briars. Birds flew out of the tangle in every direction, squawking at the commotion.
He literally fell into an open spot in the thicket, carrying Olivia with him down to the ground. They couldn't see out to the river or the bank on the other side.
Olivia brought herself up to a crouched position beside him. She looked terribly weary and sore. "Don't say a word," she mouthed, then cocked her head to listen for the gang. The dogs were still barking. Elliot could hear the men shouting and splashing. He looked toward the sun and looked back at Olivia, whose eyes were now shut.
I would die for her, he thought. But then what?
The sounds grew closer and his breath quickened.