Story Excerpt
Finding Lost Treasures

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Wilson Jacks's heart thundered painfully in his chest. He could hear voices rumbling above him, but he couldn't quite make out the words. His trouble breathing only grew worse when he heard a door close then footsteps walking across the floor.

He knew hiding out here was a really bad idea, but the house had been vacant when he found it, dilapidated and rundown as if no one had lived there in ages. He'd thought it would be the perfect place to hide.

Then Hector moved in.

Will knew who Hector was. He'd heard the man's name mentioned enough times by those who came by the place to realize the man who'd bought the house was the same one who'd been shot the day Will had been shot.

He also knew the man had been roommates with Terry Iverson, the man Will had been forced to humiliate by accusing him of sexual misconduct. Will had hated to do it, but it had been his only option.

Will was terrified of what Hector would do once he discovered his uninvited houseguest. Hector had been shot because of him. His friend had gone through so much misery because of him. Dan Wilson had been forced to arrest his own father because of him.

So many horrible things had happened and they all led back to Will.

Will sniffled then wiped at his nose with the sleeve of his shirt. He wished he could just run away, run as far as he could go until he found someplace where no one knew him or knew about what he'd done.

Unfortunately, he had no way to run. He'd lost his job as a paramedic. When he lost his job, he could no longer afford his apartment. He'd sold most everything he owned, keeping just a few personal items. He didn't even have his car anymore.

He felt guilty about taking Hector's sandwich, but with no way into town—not that he'd actually consider going into Cade Creek after what he'd done—he had no way to buy groceries. Since he sold almost everything he owned, he had no way to cook food even if he had it.

It wasn't like he planned to spend the rest of his life in Hector's basement. He just needed enough time to figure out what he was going to do, which was proving to be harder than he thought it would be.

Will's breath caught in his throat when the door at the top of the basement opened. He scooted back away from the light shining down the stairs as far as he could go.

"You can come out now. The sheriff is gone."

Oh god, he was gonna die.

Will just knew it.

Hector was going to figure out it was him hiding in the basement and the man would kill him. Will was no dummy. He'd seen the size of the man's muscles. Hector could squash him with a snap of his fingers.

"Come on out," Hector said. "This passage is too narrow for me to come down there without squeezing myself into a pretzel."

Will believed it.

Hector's voice was a lot lower and more menacing when he spoke again. "Don't make me come down there. I won't be happy."

Will grabbed his bag in case he needed to make a run for it, and pushed himself to his feet. He kept a tight grip on the handle of his bag as he slowly stepped into the light. He swallowed tightly then glanced up to the top of the stairs. The second his eyes met Hector's eyes, Will dropped his gaze.

Hector's massive chest heaved when he sighed. "Come on up, Will."

It took every ounce of Will's control to force himself to take that first step. One by one, he climbed up the stairs, his eyes never leaving the pulse beating in Hector throat.

When he reached the top of the stairs, he wasn't sure what to expect. He was almost positive that Hector was going to grab him, force him down the hallway, then toss him out the front door. He never expected the man to simply step back and allow him out of the basement.

Will clutched his bag tightly to his chest and quickly stepped through the doorway and out into the hallway. He took a couple of steps back, making sure there was plenty of room between him and Hector. He wanted a head start if he needed to run.

Hector shut the door then walked right on past him. "You want some water or something?"

"No, thank you," Will murmured.

Hector's dark eyebrows were raised when he glanced over his shoulder. "Are you sure?"

Will shrugged. To be honest, his throat was so parched, it hurt, but he wasn't going to admit that.

Hector grunted before continuing toward the kitchen. Will waited for a moment before following after the man. He paused in the archway and watched as Hector grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge. He licked his dry lips when Hector unscrewed the top and took a long swallow.

Hector stared at him for a moment after lowering his bottle of water then turned and reached into the fridge for another bottle. When he held it out, Will threw caution to the wind and grabbed for the bottle.

He quickly scooted back to the doorframe before opening the bottle and swallowing down almost the entire thing. He tried to save some of it for later, but it was so hard. He hadn't had anything to drink since the previous day.

Hector crossed his arms and leaned back against the counter. His eyebrows were pulled tight together in a pensive expression, almost as if he was trying to figure something out but didn't have all the pieces together yet.

Will clutched at his bottle of water, tensing his muscles in case he had to make a mad dash for the door. The air was thick with unease. Will was pretty sure most of it came from him.

"Were you in my house before or after I bought it?" Hector finally asked.

Will gulped. "Before," he whispered.

"Did you do the work on the baseboards and crown molding?"


Hector cocked his head. "Why?"

Will dropped his eyes to his hands as he shrugged his shoulders. "I ate your food. I wanted to pay you back."