Excerpt from Sibling Revelry

“Mom? Mommy? Oh, God where are you? We're okay. Don't worry. He hasn't hurt us, but he says….” Casey's voice on the answering machine quavered. Wasn't she shopping with Tessa? What was going on?

A male voice cut her off. Cold, flat and unemotional. “I have taken your daughters. They are alive...for the moment. If you do exactly as I say, they will not be harmed. If not…”

The frightening voice went on, but all I could hear was my heart pounding in my ears. My lungs collapsed. I couldn't breathe. No air in the room, in the country of Spain, in the entire universe.

A hand tugged at the receiver I had clenched in my freezing fingers. “Kate? Who is it? You look like death?”

Chrissie, my twin sister. I stared at her. I didn't want her to hear the sinister voice, but she had to. I jabbed at the telephone buttons. My fingers were shaking so badly that I missed the first time. I finally managed to get the message to play again. This time on the speaker.

As the terrifying voice filled the hotel room, Chrissie's eyes, glazed with horror, locked on mine.

“I have taken your daughters. They are alive, for the moment. If you do exactly as I say, they will not be harmed. If not ... I will kill them both.”

“I have left instructions for you at the front desk. Do not call the police. You will not see your daughters alive again if you do. I am getting impatient. Do as I say. Do not try to fool me.”

We stood paralyzed for a few seconds. Casey and Tessa were in danger. We had to do something.

“It's him," Chrissie breathed. “Isn't it?”

My mouth was glued shut. I could only manage a nod.

“I'll go to the front desk,” Chrissie said and, shoeless, flew out the door.

I paced the room unable to sit still, nauseated with fear. Cold rivulets of sweat dripped down my sides. By the time Chrissie burst back into the room, waving a sheet of paper, I was hyperventilating.

“What does it say?”

“Come to the bullring. Alone. Do not call the police. Your daughters are waiting for you.”

I tossed Chrissie's sneakers to her. “Put them on. There's no time to waste.”

She stuffed her feet into her shoes and we exploded out the door and clattered down the steps. We raced through the cobble-stoned streets dodging cars and pedestrians. Casey's face floated before my eyes. I imagined his hand holding a gun to her head as she begged for mercy.

“Hurry,” I gasped.

“I am.” Chrissie huffed out her words. “Will…we…make it?”

“We have to.”

I shoved my hair out of my eyes. My vision was blurred with sweat. We finally reached the building and hurried inside. The huge wooden door leading to the bullring was secured with a heavy iron latch. I struggled with it and then popped the release and slammed the door open with my palm using strength I didn't know I possessed.

Chrissie saw the girls first. Her scream echoed off the high ceiling. I peered ahead of me, my heart racing.

A large dirt floor. Empty bleachers circling it. In the very center, two tiny forms twisted toward us.

Our daughters. Casey and Tessa. Bound and gagged. Their eyes wide above the gags.

And just behind them a mammoth black bull pawed the ground and snorted as he tossed his head from side to side. Would he attack them with his giant horns? Or were they in more danger from the man dressed all in black who had a large gun pointed directly at their heads?

This could not be happening.