The Favor

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Chapter 15

Spenser, Kathryn and her parents left Graystone Inn at midnight. They boarded the charter flight in St. Louis at 1:30 and landed at the Republic Airport in Farmington, New York at five in the morning. Kathryn dozed off and on during the flight. When she finally opened her eyes to see the first rosy rays of sunshine flickering across the horizon, Spenser was closing his laptop. She asked, “Did you get any sleep during the flight?”

He smothered a yawn. “Sorry. Nope. I used the time to do some catching up. I have put off a couple of my clients as long as I can.”

“You are behind because of me. I apologize.”

“Not true. It’s a matter of priority.

’We are ten minutes from our destination. Before we get there I need to give you a heads up about what to expect. Field Agent Jim Burke and Agent Shawna Martin, friends of Simon, will meet us. They will drive the three of you to the safe house and remain there until other arrangements can be made for you.” He took a thumb drive and burner phone out of his attaché case and handed the items to her. “The thumb drive contains copies of the documents and photos you gave to me for safe keeping. For now, the originals will remain in my possession. Give the thumb drive and your current burner phone to Agent Burke. My number is programmed into your phone.”

“You aren’t going to the safe house with us?”

“No. I have to spend the next couple of days getting my own business in order.”

“How long will we need to stay there?”

“I'm not sure. The FBI agents, a NYPD officer and Simon are in the process of going over all of the evidence and putting together a plan. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Unless something unforeseeable happens, I should be able to clear my desk in three or four days.

“I realize that it won’t be easy for you to relive your experiences, but it might prove to be cathartic. When you question the wisdom of fighting Springer, remember that there will be one less predator on the streets when he is behind bars.”

“I have a lot to lose, Spenser. I’ll tell the truth, but I don’t won’t to say anything that can be twisted in a way that will incriminate me.”

“Stick to the facts. You have Springer over a barrel, Cuz. The FBI needs you if they are to have a prayer of a chance of convicting the SOB. They can afford to be generous.”

“Let’s hope so. I have another concern. Mom is worried about Dad. He needs to be on a special diet, and he has been missing meals and eating foods that aren’t good for him. If he gets sick, our situation will become even more complicated. Will there be a kitchen at the facility?”

“Yes. The facility is always stocked with frozen pizzas and frozen dinners, but I remembered that Uncle Ken has diet restrictions. Aunt Marie gave me a grocery list. I asked Agent Burke to stock the items she listed plus some other special food items. If he needs medicine or other products let Agent Martin know. She’ll take care of it.”

“I have one request. Warn Mom and Dad that you are won’t be with us. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected, but they haven’t.”

“You will be with them.”

“We haven’t gotten past the awkward stage. I’ve let them down in the past and the field agents will be strangers.”

When Spenser introduced Agents Burke and Martin as friends of Simon Enright, Kathryn’s Mom and Dad visibly relaxed. Kathryn was reminded once again why she owed Simon an apology.

Agent Burke was all business, but as soon as he turned on to the highway, Agent Martin engaged her parents in a lively conversation about artisan crafters.

Jane didn’t take part in the conversation until Agent Martin asked, “What about you, Jane? Are you interested in crafts?”

“I’m interested, but not skilled. If I have a natural aptitude, it’s for recognizing people’s potential.”

Her mom frowned. “That’s not strictly true. You have an eye for color, and according to Spenser, your flower arrangements are spectacular.”

“Agent Martin said, “Flower arranging is definitely an art. I love flowers, but I wouldn’t attempt to do a formal flower arrangement. It takes talent.”

To Jane’s surprise, the safe house turned out to be in a structure that had once been a small fabric mill. The paint on the outside of the building was peeling. Tuffs of grass poked through the wide cracks in the parking lot pavement. Agent Burke drove around to the back of the building. What had once been a loading dock and storage area had been converted into a three-car garage. He pressed a remote, and the over-sized door wheezed and groaned as it slowly opened.

The interior of the building was newly remodeled and up to date. Jane was perplexed. She asked Agent Burke if all of the FBI’s safe houses were so well equipped.

He laughed. “Whatever works. These days, warehouse and plants are in hot demand. Contractors and builders are turning the structures into office buildings and mini malls. The Bureau was lucky to get this mill building. The building works as a field office because it is small and is situated in the middle of a large parking lot. Unwanted visitors approaching the building can be easily observed.

“Agent Martin will familiarize you with the layout of the facility. Welcome. Please feel free to ask questions and to request any items that you might need.

“Now, if you will excuse me, I need to set up the security system.”

“The structure included two comfortable bedrooms, a library, a combination TV/ game room and a combination kitchen/eating area. She pointed to a closed door next to the garage. “The room with the closed door is a bedroom reserved for field agents when they have overnight assignments. The rest of the building is an FBI field office. If you like, I’ll give you a tour of the office after Agent Burke has completed the security set-up.

“I’m sure you must be hungry and tired. There is coffee and breakfast food in the kitchen. After breakfast, you are on your own. Feel free to get some shut eye.”

The first day at the safe house was uneventful, and the second day began much the same. After lunch, Marie was in the kitchen baking a cake, Agent Burke and Ken were playing chess in the TV/game room and Jane was in the library working on a book. During the years she worked with Springer, she used daily planners to record all of the questionable events that occurred. While living in Gardner, she made a timeline of the events. After debating the pros and cons of naming names, she began a book using the timeline, but not the names. She wasn’t sure it was a good idea to let the police or FBI read what she had written. Some of the revelations would cause quite a stir in the law enforcement community.

She didn’t realize that someone had entered the room until he spoke.

“Excuse me. I’m looking for Kathryn Owens. Do you know where I can find her.”

Jane's heart raced. The voice was oh so familiar. She looked up from her laptop and gazed at the man standing in the doorway. “Kathryn disappeared almost four months ago.”

“Not in my world. For me, she disappeared without warning thirteen years ago.”

Jane’s hand trembled. “That’s a long time. What is your interest in her?”

“I care about her parents, and I care about the girl I once knew.”

Tears welled in Jane’s eyes. It’s good to see you Simon. An apology is long overdue.”

He crossed the room and took a seat on the sofa. “Apology accepted. I wish you had trusted me. Rejection is difficult. It hurt that you didn’t care enough to say good-by.”

“I was a coward, Simon. I didn’t want you or anyone else to point out all of the pitfalls I was going to face. If things had worked out the way I expected, I would have written. I made a critical mistake early on and the die was cast. If I had trusted you, Jess or my parents, I wouldn’t have lost twelve years of my life.

“There’s very little left of the girl you knew.”

“That’s not true. You forget I talked to your friend Duffy. Your head might not still be filled with unrealistic dreams, but your empathy for others is alive and well. Duffy is convinced you stayed with Springer because of the girls who worked for him.”

“There are too many girls out there who don’t have options. It was extremely difficult to walk away from the ones I worked with. I still feel guilty.

“Speaking of Duffy, has there been any word about his whereabouts?”

“Unfortunately, no.”

“Have the police closed Teresa’s case?”

“Some of the girls who worked with you have come forward. They too claim that she didn’t use alcohol or drugs, so the case is still open.”

“Will they testify against Springer?”

“No. Who can blame them. They are terrified of him.”

“Tell me about Jess. Do you think she is in danger?”

“Did Spenser mention Max?”

“Her mom's physical therapist AKA boyfriend? Yes.”

“I don’t think Springer’s thirst for revenge extends to Jess, but if it does, Max will protect her.” He glanced at his watch. “We’ll talk more later, but Agent Burke asked that we meet him in the office at two. He wants to ask a few questions about the timeline you gave him.”

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