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Marketable

By James F. Timmins All Rights Reserved ©

Mystery / Thriller

Blurb

Jack Chamberlain, fresh off the case that made him a household name in Maine, heads to Boston to investigate the disappearance of Amanda Casey. She is the wife of the Vice President of an international bank and Jack’s high school friend. However, the FBI request that Detective Chamberlain and his partner Detective Claire Sanchez, remain uninvolved and return to Maine. But Jack will not abandon his friend, given that each passing hour makes it less likely that Amanda will be found. As the FBI waits for a ransom demand, Jack and Claire delve into the dark underworld of Boston. Soon it becomes clear that they are not welcome. The deeper they look, the more they begin to see, in this world, everything and anybody is Marketable.

Prologue

Her hands rested lightly on the steering wheel of the Carbon Black GMC Yukon Denali. The SUV handled nicely on 95 north as it crossed the state line from Massachusetts into New Hampshire. The speed limit dropped to 55 and she eased up just a bit on the gas, bringing her speed down to an honest 60. No sense in traveling too fast and drawing attention. Staties always seemed the most difficult to seduce, so why take the chance of getting a hard-ass if she was pulled over.

The SUV still had that new car smell which was accentuated by the pleasant scent of plush leather. The dials on the dash were lit with a soft green, barely illuminating her brown cotton summer dress, embellished with a pattern of dark blue orchids. The cool air-conditioned air kept the heat of a hot July night abate while gently blowing and fluttering her shoulder length dark chestnut hair.

She glanced in the rearview mirror at the gunnysack lying in the back. The sack was motionless which was good considering the cargo. The woman inside the sack had been her riskiest abduction yet. Specially ordered and unlike anything she had done before, but the payoff was huge. That’s all that really mattered, wasn’t it?

The Piscataqua RiverBridge rose up ahead signaling her approach to the Maine state border, its green steel I-beam structure standing high above the surrounding cities of Portsmouth and Kittery. The landmark meant another hour to go before she reached the safe house.

She pulled into the garage and turned off the engine as the door began to shut automatically. Abby entered the garage through a side door wheeling a hospital stretcher. She stopped, her head bowed in patient submission, at the back of the SUV. Rea pushed a button on the console and the rear hatch slowly rose as she exited the vehicle, straightening out the hem of her dress that had begun to stick to her thighs from sweat even in the air-conditioned coolness.

“It went well I assume?” asked Abby in a thick New York accent.

“Yes, very well. Almost too easy, some people just trust too much,” she said as she helped transition the gunnysack to the stretcher. “Be careful with her though, she is worth a lot of money, a unique order from a very high-end client. We can’t sell damaged goods.”

“I know Rea, we will take good care of her. What is our transport date?”

“They must be delivered in 30 days.”

“They, is there more than one person in this sack?”

“Only temporarily, soon there will be two. She is due to give birth in a matter of days. Make sure there are no complications or incidents, as both are required as part of the sale. Once the baby is born, do what you need to do to ensure the mother is cooperative.”

“Does Leon know about this?”

“Yes, he has been informed and we were told is making the necessary arrangements. Be careful with sedation, there can be no harm to the child before birth. They are not to be handled in the normal manner. Both mother and child are required to be in excellent condition upon delivery.”

“Understood, Rea, we will see to it.”

“And what is the status of 143?”

“She is available now, if need be. However we would prefer to keep her until the end of the week,” said Abby as she began to wheel the stretcher towards a ramp that led down to a doorway at the back of the garage.

Rea followed the forty-year-old woman dressed in black jeans and a white medical smock. She quickly made her way down to open a heavy, steel security door and held it open so the stretcher could pass through. Beyond the door was a long corridor with a gentle downward slope. The whitewashed cement walls and floor kept the corridor cool, the only warmth coming from the fluorescent lights overhead. The 150-foot corridor ended at an elevator door of stainless steel. Rea pushed the down arrow and the door opened immediately. The elevator had only up and down buttons and she pushed the down button after the stretcher was over the threshold.

“I would like to see 143,” said Rea as the elevator silently descended the thirty feet to what was called simply The Hotel. “I will make an assessment and decide for myself her availability.”

“Very well,” said Abby as she pushed the stretcher into a well-lit common room with plush black leather couches and easy chairs. A large HDTV hung on the wall with a shelf of DVD’s under it holding the latest releases from Hollywood. “Make yourself comfortable while I take 146 to the Triage for examination.”

Rea walked over to a bar made of raised burnt wood with a heavy varnish. Behind the bar were bottles of expensive scotch, aged whiskey and bourbon, spiced rum, tequila, and several brands of vodka. She took a bottle of Stoli Elite from the shelf, poured a whiskey tumbler full, and drank half of it in one pull. The clear liquid went down smoothly. She felt her body warm to the hint of citrus and caramel that made this her drink of choice. She refilled the glass, turned on the gas fireplace, then sat on the cool leather couch. She finished the tumbler, removed her knee high black leather boots, and then lay stretched out as the warmth from the fireplace and the vodka washed over her.

Abby woke her sometime later to inform her that 146 was resting comfortably, awaiting an examination from Leon, who would be there later that afternoon. Also that 143 was awake and she could see her when Rea was ready. Rea stretched her tired muscles then put on her boots. Abby went off to the kitchen to prepare meals as Rea opened a heavy Mahogany door beside the bar and walked down a hallway of stark whitewashed walls and a dark blue Berber carpet. The hallway had rows of metal security doors positioned across the hall from each other. The door she stopped at was marked by a clip holding an index card with the number 146 written on it. She turned as Abby entered through the Mahogany door with a tray of steaming soup and a salad. Abby stopped at the first door where a similar index card had the number 143 on it and inserted a key into the door.

“Abby,” began Rea. “146 is to have a name if we are to be successful. Please refer to her going forward as Mommy.”

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