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Trapped
Cover of Trapped
Trapped
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"Mom, I need your help. Please call--" That's it. The call cuts off in midsentence. No static. Nothing. Just an overwhelming silence.

Long Island single mom Jane Hartley is frantic when her sixteen-year-old daughter, Kelly, a survivor of childhood leukemia, disappears from her bedroom one night. To Jane's frustration, the police believe that Kelly ran off willingly with her boyfriend, Seth. Unaware that her daughter even had a boyfriend, Jane soon discovers that Seth is no boy. He is an adult--a man who, after meeting Kelly on the Internet, took the teenager on one thrill-seeking ride after another. From motorcycles to skydiving, Jane's little girl has been hiding some dangerous secrets.

Like mother, like daughter.

Adamant that Kelly is not a runaway but, rather, is being held against her will, Jane hires ex-FBI agent Randall Shane to follow the trail of her missing child. But every step brings them closer to a cold-blooded predator lurking in the shadows...coiled around Jane's shameful secret...waiting to strike.

"Mom, I need your help. Please call--" That's it. The call cuts off in midsentence. No static. Nothing. Just an overwhelming silence.

Long Island single mom Jane Hartley is frantic when her sixteen-year-old daughter, Kelly, a survivor of childhood leukemia, disappears from her bedroom one night. To Jane's frustration, the police believe that Kelly ran off willingly with her boyfriend, Seth. Unaware that her daughter even had a boyfriend, Jane soon discovers that Seth is no boy. He is an adult--a man who, after meeting Kelly on the Internet, took the teenager on one thrill-seeking ride after another. From motorcycles to skydiving, Jane's little girl has been hiding some dangerous secrets.

Like mother, like daughter.

Adamant that Kelly is not a runaway but, rather, is being held against her will, Jane hires ex-FBI agent Randall Shane to follow the trail of her missing child. But every step brings them closer to a cold-blooded predator lurking in the shadows...coiled around Jane's shameful secret...waiting to strike.

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    It all starts to go wrong one perfect, early summer evening on the Hempstead Turnpike. That's when something pulls on the secret thread that holds my life together, and starts the great unraveling.

    I don't know it at the time, of course. I think all is well, that I'm holding things together, as always. Okay, Kelly and I have been fighting a lot lately, but that's what happens with teenagers, right? All I have to do is stick to my guns, keep on being an involved parent, paying attention to my willful daughter, and everything will come out fine. Right?

    I couldn't have been more wrong.

    Normally I try to avoid the turnpike at peak traffic hours, but this time there'd been no choice. Mrs. Haley Tanner wanted a third fitting for the wedding party, and when Haley calls, you drop whatever and respond. She and her new husband are hosting her stepdaughter's very lavish wedding-- nine tents, two bands, three caterers--at their Oyster Bay estate, and she's worried the bridesmaids may have put on a pound or two. Despite her obnoxious habit of summoning people at the very last possible moment, Haley is actually sort of likable, in a nervous, insecure, please-help-me way. So worried she's going to do the wrong thing, make a mistake, and demonstrate to Stanley J. Tanner that he chose the wrong trophy wife. Turns out she's his second trophy wife. Stanley, CEO of Tanner Holdings, ditched the original trophy wife not long after Haley served him broiled cashew halibut at Scalicious, a trendy little fish café in Montauk. At the time Haley was "staying with friends" while she waited tables, which meant she was paying two hundred a week to sleep on the floor. So nabbing Stanley Tanner was a very big deal. Haven't had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Tanner in person myself-- he seems to live in his Lear--but just looking at Haley, you know he's a breast man. Which is fine. A man has to focus on something, right? Why not something that reminds him, however unconsciously, of his mother? As my friend Fern always says, what's the harm?

    Anyhow, poor Haley was melting down about the gowns not fitting and had summoned all five bridesmaids. Turns out two of them had actually lost weight and the very slight alterations were, to everyone's relief, no problem. An hour later I'm thinking, as traffic inches along, that for all that money I wouldn't trade places with Haley Tanner. I'd rather work my butt off as a single mom with a mortgage. Don't get me wrong, it's gorgeous, the newest Tanner mansion, tastefully furnished--one of five homes they own, by the way--but Haley never seems to have an unnervous moment or a peaceful thought. And no children, not yet. Maybe never, unless Stanley gets DNA approval.

    Second trophy wives aren't about kids, they're about decorating.

    Nope, I'll stay plain Jane Garner, Kelly's mom, the wedding lady. The go-to woman for custom gowns. The one driving the very nicely detailed, seven-year-old Mercedes station wagon. Classy but reasonably priced, if you let the first owner take the depreciation. Anyhow, I'm cool with being a working mom who balances her own checkbook, who is socking college money away for her daughter, and who thinks she has, at this precise moment, no regrets, no regrets at all.

    Lying to myself, of course. Lying big-time. I've been lying for sixteen years, not that I'm counting.

    Thing about living a lie, if you do it really well, you sort of forget you're lying.

    I forgot.

    That's when the crotch rocket went by, scudding dirt and pebbles in the brake-down lane. Actually beyond the brake-down lane, right up on the grass. I know it's the type of sleek Japanese motorcycle called a "crotch...

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