An Ounce of Prevention (Chapter 8, page 1 of 7)

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Alex rode in the opposite direction from the van, but Carmen didn't say anything until they were far enough away that there was no chance anyone would hear them.

"The van is the other way, isn't it?"

He nodded. "Yes, but I don't want to lead them to the children."

Of course, they were decoys. "But we need to go to them. They won't know what to do."

Alex leaned to the side and dug the phone out of his pocket, handing it to Carmen. "I want to give Dad more time to act. Call Jonathan and let him know what's going on."

Carmen selected Jonathan's name from the contact list and pressed send before putting the phone to her ear. When nothing happened, she looked down at it. "The battery is dead."

Alex groaned. "That's just great."

How long had it been dead? Had his father heard anything? And yet, the guard had been playing with it. Maybe he gave up because he couldn't get anything on it. Hopefully he was the reason the battery was dead.

The guard would be released when reinforcements came. Then they would follow the horse. How long would that be and how far could they get before vehicles overtook them?

After a while they came to an arroyo lined with Palo Verde trees. Alex reined the horse in a direction that would take them even further away from the van. He kept looking back, but no one was following as far as Carmen could determine. When they came to a rocky crossing, Alex crossed it and rode a short distance before backing the horse up to the rocks. At that point he followed the rocks out of the arroyo. He rode for a while before turning the horse back parallel to the arroyo, retracing their steps only a few hundred feet from the arroyo. When they crossed another arroyo, he turned back toward the original arroyo. He rode a short distance before stopping again. They dismounted and he helped Carmen back up on the horse.

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