The dark colored car sped down Highway 93, passing cars on any open side. Close behind it were four Nevada State Patrolman, and six more coming up a mile behind them.
The driver glanced at the cars in his mirrors. His feminine featured face was tense from his anxiety to escape the police, but there wasn’t a hint of fear. He knew exactly what he was doing, and a high speed chase was just another challenge to be met and overcome.
The traffic suddenly grew thicker but precise driving sped him through it. He flew past two police blockades, heading up a long hill. The man smiled. The police weren’t catching him now!
His car sped over the top of the hill and across two rows of spike strips, blowing all four tires blew. When the metal of the rims hit the pavement, sparks flew, and he lost control. The car sped down the hill, toward a second police road block. He grabbed the gun in the passenger seat and pushed back in his seat, prepared for whatever would happen next.
The car smashed through two police cars and slid off the pavement into the median. The second the car stopped moving, he jumped from the car and ran. State Patrolmen were prepared for this and had surrounded the area.
Three tackled the man and the four went down in a tangle of legs, arms, and rolled off an embankment into the desert. Two more officers joined to help get pull man’s gun away and handcuff him. Two officers almost had his hands behind his back, but he surprised them when he ripped his armed hand free and fired. Officers scattered back, staring at the man. He had put the bullet in his own head.
Another Patrolman ran up to them, panting. He stopped and stared at the man.
“All this for a speeding ticket?” he asked his fellow officers. “All I did was pull him over for speeding! He took off as soon as I got to his car and then this craziness, and now… All for a speeding ticket?”
“Something tells me he was running from something a lot worse,” another said. “I’ll go call this in.”
“We should probably check that gun,” the speeding ticket Patrolman said.
Someone handed him an evidence bag to do just that.
Nick looked up from his book when the woman moved. He got up and moved to the kitchen chair next to her. He laid his hand on her wrist and she jumped awake, staring wide-eyed at him. Her right hand instinctively went for a sidearm she was used to being at her hip, but was luckily gone now. All of this ended in her crying out and both hands going to the stitched wound. She bit down on her bottom lip with her eyes closed. She drew in a breath, held it, let it out slowly, drew in the next as slowly, exhaled slowly, and repeated.
Nick took her hand, just as she had done for him in the garage.
Minutes crept past before she began to relax and her breathing slowly returned to normal. She pulled her hand away from his and laid it on top of the other.
“How many days was I out?” she asked him.
“No one showed up?”
Nick chuckled out of disbelief. “Could anyone even find this place? Hell, the TV only gets one channel and it’s in Spanish.”
“It’s not digital.”
“We’re going with that argument, huh? Trying to ignore the elephant in the room?”
She looked at him and smiled. “Yes.”
Nick smiled back. “That’s the first time I’ve seen you smile. You should do it more often.”
“You do recall the business I’m in? Would you want someone smiling as they put a bullet between your eyes?”
“What a way to ruin a compliment.”
She looked away with a frown. “Never said I was good socializing.”
“Clearly.” They didn’t speak for a moment. “Are you thirsty?”
Nick went to the kitchen and came back with a glass of water. He sat down next to her and put one hand across her, grabbing the back of the couch. “Use my arm to pull yourself up.”
She did and took the glass. Nick waited for her to stop drinking but she finished the entire glass. He took it back and let her lay down before moving. He sat the glass on the floor.
“You need a hospital.”
She shook her head.
“Lady, you have a fever and—”
“What happened to ma’am?” she jabbed.
“I think we’re past that.”
She shrugged her eyebrows. Apparently she agreed.
“Course, having a name would get rid of ‘lady’, Lady.”
He smiled. “I doubt that’s your real name.”
“Mr. Stokes, you are a C.S.I. and when we part ways, you’ll do everything in your power to try finding me. If nothing else, to arrest me, I suspect. You do not get a real name.”
“Does Raylene know you’re real name?”
“No. I gave her the same one.”
Nick decided to move past the name for now. “Gabrielle, you have a fever, you’ve lost a lot of blood, and you need a hospital. Tell me where the keys are, where we are, and let me take you.”
“Gabrielle, I need to—”
“When it is safe, the phone will ring.” She nodded at the old rotary phone across the room. “And before you get energetic, it’s not attached to an actual phone line. It’s attached to a VoIP that goes through a cell phone and a few computer, and it only allows an incoming call from one phone number.”
“And what if you die before that happens?”
“There are plans in place in that event, Mr. Stokes. I know you can’t find it in yourself to trust me, but I told you already, I complete every job I take. Even in the event I die, you’ll be safe.”
Nick moved back to the chair, shaking his head.
“What?” she asked.
“I don’t get you. You have clearly killed people for years, but you meet one person, Raylene, and suddenly you’re best friends and doing everything you can to keep her happy. What does she have on you? Is she blackmailing you?”
“You know nothing about her and me,” Gabrielle angrily spat.
“Then enlighten me.”
Nick laughed a little. “Wow. Even dying you fight.”
She turned her head, staring at the ceiling.
“The silent treatment? Really?”
She didn’t speak.
“Isn’t this kind of childish?”
She closed her eyes, not giving into his baiting.
Nick wanted to slap her. She was lucky she was a woman, and injured. He sprung to his feet and stormed out of the house. He picked up rocks and began throwing them at a saguaro cactus.
He wanted to be at work.
He wanted to make sure Raylene was safe.
He wanted to hunt down and arrest whoever was trying to kill him and blackmailing Raylene.
Throwing rocks only built up his anger until he screamed at the plant. He grabbed a board next to the house and attacked the plant with vengeance.
Russell was on his phone when Greg came in with sheets of paper. He was listening to someone on the other end, and motioned Greg to sit. Greg obeyed, waiting in the following silence.
“So… She is, or was, CIA?” Russell asked and waited while he got his answer. He sat back, staring up at the ceiling. “That’s great.” He didn’t sound like the answer was great. “No. I’m sorry, Catherine, I’m just… This whole thing feels like it’s out of some spy novel.” He smiled a little. “Yeah. I bet you have. I’ll make sure he calls you when we find him. Funny, Sara seems to think the same thing. Is this a woman’s intuition thing?” The answer made him smile again. “Right. Bye.” He hung up. “What Greg?”
“The dead woman that was shooting at Nick was CIA. She was suspected of selling secrets to other governments and was on leave while she was being investigated. She was also a sniper in the Marines before joining the CIA.”
“So she didn’t miss Nick on accident. Those were warning shots.”
Russell nodded. “She tried scaring Raylene or Nick into doing what she and the other woman wanted.”
“Do you think Nick is alright? Sara does, and it sounds like Catherine does too.”
“I don’t have their insight into what a woman thinks, but…” Russell shrugged some. “I’m staying positive. What do you have?”
Greg handed over the papers. “Those jelly bean DNA models are real.”
Russell looked at the papers. “Why am I looking at Nick’s and the dead CIA agent’s DNA profiles?”
“Because those were two of the models.”
“Okay, so she got lucky and guessed the DNA.”
“You do not guess someone’s DNA with a 99.6% accuracy. She knew it from memory.”
“How did she know the CIA agent’s?”
“Nick, probably. While you were at the cabin, Morgan looked to see if he had been looking into the women who approached Raylene. He had a composites of both women and had started a case. There wasn’t any additional information to what we have, but he did have a DNA profile of the dead CIA lady. So somehow Raylene saw that profile.”
“Do you think she studied it?”
Greg laughed until he realized Russell was serious. “She can remember anything she sees, so… You could call it studying, if you’d like.
“And the third model?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I do, but I don’t.” Greg motioned at the papers.
Russell flipped to the page and read. “A professional hit woman wanted by INTERPOL?”
“Yeah. She’s been linked to a lot of murders of influential people but no one knows what she looks like, just her DNA. D.B. I have no idea what Raylene has gotten herself into, and I know Sara thinks he’s safe, but… None of this makes me feel that way. We have a CIA who may be a traitor, a hit woman wanted all over the planet, and a woman who is smarter than any of us, or all of us even, and Nick’s missing because of all three of them. How can he possibly be safe?”
Russell stared at the sheets for several minutes. Greg started to speak again a couple times, but he finally just sat and waited. Russell suddenly stood and stormed out of his office.
“Oh… Uh…” Greg went to the door, watching Russell disappear around a corner.
Russell stomped through the halls
and into the interview room Stephanie and Raylene waited. He stormed over to
the table and leaned down in front of Raylene, trying to look her in the eye.
She avoided meeting his gaze.
“Where is Nick, Raylene?” Russell demanded.
“He is not safe! The person who kidnapped him – your cabin out at Walker Lake, where she first took him – that place was shot to pieces and people were killed there. And now this!” Russell slammed the DNA printouts down on the table, pointing at the one from INTERPOL. “DNA profiles of Nick, the shooter, and a hit woman who has murdered people everywhere in the world? What is really going on here, Raylene? How is Nick really involved in this?”
“Green Goblin came to ask for—”
“NO!” Russell shouted. “The Green Goblin didn’t get Nick in the middle of this, you did.”
“Mr. Russell!” Stephanie said, standing up.
He ignored Stephanie. “I want to know where Nick is right now, Raylene.”
Raylene’s chin sank to her chest. Her eyes dropped to her hands in her lap.
“She’s not going to—” Stephanie started.
“Do not…” Russell ordered the lawyer. “Do not tell me what she’s not going to do. What she is going to do is tell me where in the hell Nick is.”
Russell waited but Raylene didn’t move.
“Is he even alive?”
Raylene didn’t answer.
“Did you have him killed? Did you have his body hidden somewhere?”
She remained silent.
“Answer me!” Russell ordered, accentuating with his hand slamming to the table top.
Raylene bolted to her feet. She began to pace and mutter to herself.
“What?” Russell asked, standing up. “What are you saying?”
“You’re upsetting her,” Stephanie told him, “If you don’t stop—”
“Go ahead. Order her not to talk to me. Then I’ll be able to arrest you for accessory to murder when we find his body!”
“What is wrong with you?” Stephanie cried. “We have cooperated since this started!”
“This,” Russell stabbed the paper, “is what’s wrong!? Because I think this is the person she had kidnap my C.S.I., and if that’s the case, Ms. Rogers, he’s being held by a world renowned ASSASSIN. You tell me how you think that’s going to end?”
Stephanie picked up the paper, reading the information. She sat it down and turned to Raylene.
“Ray, tell them where Nick is.”
“No,” Raylene said. Her pacing sped up.
“Ray, please, this isn’t someone you should trust. Please, just tell him… Tell me, where Nick is.”
“Safe! He’s safe!”
Stephanie walked up to her and tried to stop her. Raylene started hitting her head with her hands.
“Out. Get out!” Stephanie ordered Russell
“Not until I get answers.”
“She will knock herself unconscious if you don’t leave, Mr. Russell. You upset her and we’re not getting anything until she calms down. Get out. Please get out.”Russell stubbornly stood where he was. Until he saw blood from where Raylene was hitting herself. He snatched up the papers and stormed out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him. He stood in the hall, trying to find his Zen spot again. He finally realized his Zen spot had left days ago.