With no time to waste, Nikki dialed Larson’s number. He answered on the first ring. “Larson, I‘m so sorry, Lexie’s gone.”
“What do you mean, ‘gone’?” her brother asked,
“Gone,” she repeated, alarm ringing in her voice. “Disappeared. Taken from the parade right here in Abbeville! I can’t believe this.” Nikki covered her face with her hands and swung around, her eyes searching wildly praying she’d see her niece. “I walked away to get a phone call. I wasn’t gone two minutes. I heard a scream, and when I turned back to where we were sitting, all I saw was an empty chair and her cell phone.” Tears of frustration formed in her eyes causing her to unleash her pent up anger on her absent brother. “Where the Hell are you, anyway?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” he said, “but there’s no time to explain. I’ll call you when we know something, until then, try not to worry.”
The phone clicked dead in her hand.
She looked at the phone in her hand, a single thought coming to the forefront of her mind. “What on earth did he mean by “we”?” she said to herself.
Nigel was sitting at a table just inside the Starbucks across from the Boston Public Garden. He was reading the paper, enjoying a few moments of free time. He had wished that Larson had allowed him to travel with them, however, because without his boss and the boss’s daughter to drive around, he felt restless.
He was engrossed in a story from the AP about Scott Chambers coming up missing when he realized he was no longer sitting by himself. Cautiously he lowered the paper to see the blond haired gentleman who was standing beside his table. Nigel’s eyes narrowed in disbelief as the recognition set in.
Nigel closed the paper and rose, embracing the man, the camaraderie apparent with the well placed back slaps and good-natured laughter of them both.
Nigel indicated the empty seat across from him, gesturing for Doug to join him, which he did. Nigel summoned the waiter who approached immediately, taking Doug’s order of a regular black coffee.
The two men eyed each other for a moment before Doug spoke.
“How you doing Nigel? Been a long time since ‘Desert Storm’.”
Nigel nodded in agreement. “Not so long that it doesn’t still come in dreams, I’m afraid. Terrifying to watch it all still going on. My heart goes out to those brave men in the news.”
Doug shook his head sadly. “Terrifying doesn’t even come close, does it old friend? But you’re doing well, I see.”
Nigel smiled, “Not too bad. Security details mostly. Sweet deal with my boss and his daughter right now. Although they are on vacation and I find myself rather unoccupied at the moment.”
“About that,” Doug started, interrupted by the waiter’s approach with his order. Doug nodded a thanks and reached for the yellow sweetener packet in the dish on the table. “Your boss is a friend of mine, and the reason I have searched you out today.”
“You know Larson?”
“I’ve worked with him for several years now, since I became a detective. I’m surprised we haven’t run into each other before now.”
“True that, I’ve been with the family for quite some time now...I knew he had a detective he worked with, but I never dreamed it would be you. You must be doing well yourself, he speaks of you often.”
“We’ve had some adventures, that’s true...but this case...the Scott Chambers murder trial, it’s getting out of hand. These guys are up to something unseemly, and I have a grave feeling that the worst is yet to come.”
“Talk to me,” Nigel said, giving his old comrade his full attention.
Doug motioned toward the discarded newspaper. “Did you read about Scott disappearing, no trace? His monitor was found outside his apartment?”
“I was just reading about that, yes.”
“Well, I went over to the apartment, and what the police didn’t reveal were spots of blood on the front steps. I don’t think Chambers had any choice in leaving...I think he was taken.”
“Well, that does raise a few more questions doesn’t it. Another thing, I was recently hired to locate a woman who’d been missing for the past eight years. It took me less than a few minutes to realize that the woman I was hired to find is none other than the long lost wife of my friend and your boss.”
“You’re serious? Have you found her then?”
“Well, I didn’t, but it seems your boss did. She’s been in South Carolina this whole time, or nearly. Which leads me to the one thing that makes this all more than a little suspicious. Scarsdale’s upcoming legal troubles, this dubious murder trial and the missing woman are all tied in to one family. Namely Robert Grenaldi.”
Nigel narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips in thought.
“It seems that before Alan Scarsdale retired from his company, turning it all over to his son Reggie, he was offered a buy out from Grenaldi’s company. Alan sold off the subsidiary holding companies, only keeping the Research and Development branch, much to Reggie’s objection I might add. It’s said Scarsdale made quite a bundle in the sale, and the new holdings only solidified Grenaldi’s financial status. As if he needed any more money. So, in short, Reggie could be thinking that he was missing out on some of the profits that he stood to make had the sale not gone through. That’s when he started getting greedy, and the research and development firm started sending out shipments using the courier service where Dawn Petrocelli worked. It all ties in together, and lands squarely at the door of our friend Larson, I’m afraid. Larson is trying to free their scapegoat, Chambers, so no one is safe. That’s where you come in.”
“What do you need me to do?”
“You and I need to make a trip south, after I go talk to Grenaldi’s son Steven again. I have to tell him about this latest development, and we need to get to Larson and Lexie before something bad happens. I don’t trust Reggie anyway, but with Chambers missing it’s almost imperative that we get to them immediately. Their lives could be in serious danger.”
“I’m in...I have a bag already in my car. I can leave when ever you like,” Nigel told him, rising from the table.
“Just like old times,” Doug quipped, finishing his coffee quickly. The two men exited the coffee shop.
Nigel pointed out his car, “It would be best if I drove, get your gear, I’ll meet you at the garage. I assume you parked over there?”
“Perfect. See you in a few,” Doug said, walking the few blocks back to the parking garage. He smiled, knowing that the former sniper would be accompanying him. Better to have a formidable ally than to fly solo when dealing with a wanna be mobster.
A half hour later Doug and Nigel entered the plush office of the CEO of the firm, closing the door softly behind them. Not even bothering to ask or knock, Doug motioned for Nigel to wait outside the door, and walked into the inner office, startling the graying man sitting at the great mahogany desk.
“Alan Scarsdale has an idiot for a son.” Doug said simply, pulling the black leather chair closer to the desk, sitting.
“I agree with you Mr Dawson, but why does that news have to come so rudely by you?”
“Because your father’s idiot friend’s offspring has waged a war with my client, and it has to do with something that I believe is in the hands of a certain young lady that you will do well to remember. Perhaps to you, she was nothing more than a name, but to your daughter, Mr Grenaldi, she was the world.”
“What does my grand-daughter have to do with this? I hired you to find my daughter, not her offspring.”
“I found her, that was easy, she’s with her husband now. But I’m telling you, your daughter is probably going to be reunited with her daughter very soon unless Scarsdale gets his way. Whether you were involved in the steps taken to keep them apart is irrelevant, Sir. It seems as though Fate is dealing from an entirely different hand. One you can’t stack to go your own way anymore.”
“I didn’t have anything to do with all that. That was my father’s doing. All I want is my daughter’s safety. Surely you know that I would never do anything to harm her.”
Doug’s phone started ringing then, and he held up a finger to the older man. “I have to take this, excuse me,”
Doug stepped to the corner of the room and talked for a few moments, giving the older man some time to think. It was time he had a long talk with his Father, and quickly. His musings were interrupted by the investigator however, when Doug stepped briskly back to the desk and slammed his hand down on the hard surface.
“Your grand-daughter has been kidnapped. I just told her father that I had a plane. Do not make me a liar.”
“Absolutely,” Steven Grenaldi slid his hand out to the intercom on his desk, pressing a button quickly. “Sharon, call the airport and have the Lear Jet fueled and piloted as soon as possible. Mr Dawson is going to be taking it.”
“Yes, Sir, right away” replied the voice.
“See the pilot, he’ll take you wherever you need to go. Do you need any other men?”
Having overheard the news about Lexie’s kidnapping, Nigel walked into the office and nodded toward the older man.
“I’m all he’ll need. Let’s do this.”
Steven stood and grasped the arm of the detective as he was turning to leave his office. “Find her, and I’ll make everything right again. I swear to God, I will.”
“See that you do,” was Doug’s reply, and the two men left quickly.
Steven Grenaldi sat silently in his high backed leather chair after the two men left his office. His back to the room, he stared out the picture window, gazing at the high mast of the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides” just visible above the other buildings in the ancient Boston suburb. It wasn’t surprising to him when he felt the unshod tears come to his eyes. Nostalgia overcoming him, he turned and punched the intercom again.
“Sharon, I’m leaving for the day. Reschedule my afternoon appointments for me, won’t you?”
“Yes, Sir, should I call your car?”
“No, I’m going for a walk. I’ll call them myself later.”
“Very well, have a nice afternoon.” came the reply.
Nice afternoon indeed, he thought. As if.
Moments later found him approaching the busy waterfront area. He walked along the boardwalk slowly, his hands in the pockets of his overcoat, his collar turned up against the cold wind coming across the harbor. He was like a condemned man, this latest development only solidifying his sentence.
Years of unquestioned loyalty at the expense of his daughter’s happiness was now coming full circle. His father’s plan had not been from spitefulness, but rather the dreams of an aristocrat, wanting nothing but the best for his only heir. Steven’s daughter had showed spunk and independence, even at an early age, but his father saw it as disobedience, not tenacity.
All those years ago, Robert Grenaldi had acted on his own. Bethany, his wife, and himself were more than surprised when the Senor had arrived with a forelorn Marguerite, who took to her bed almost upon her entrance. Bethany had sat with her those first nights when she cried herself to sleep. Steven had begged his father to relent, saying it wasn’t good for the girl to be so sad all the time. “Give it time,” had been the older man’s reply. Even his mother, who was always quiet and complacent, had tried to reason with her husband, but then, after a few months, it changed. Marguerite began to get up, she ate her meals, even sat in the lounge, albeit when her grandfather wasn’t in the house.
A few weeks later she began to thrive, reading the papers, watching television, played the piano, even started riding her horse regularly. She spent time at the country club, attended functions. They smiled, thinking that the whole ordeal was behind them.
They had all thought she was, as his father had said, ’Over it,” until one day when Bethany had gone up to check on her and she was gone. A note saying she was leaving to return to school, that she would be in touch, that she loved them.
They’d never heard from her again.
Now, he knew that it had all been a ruse to allow his only child to escape the prison that he had helped create. He deserved everything he was getting now, but the one thing he knew, more than anything else was that Larson Evans was much more than the catalyst in this. His daughter’s happiness was laying right there in that man’s hands, in the form of a grand-daughter that he had never laid eyes on.
Staring across the harbor, watching the shops passing through the channel, he nodded, and reached up to wipe away the moisture from his eyes.
He had to see his father. He had to make it right, as he had promised the young detective.
Casting his eyes toward Heaven, he offered a simple prayer that he was not to late.
Gail drove the late model sedan across the border into Georgia. She glared at the dashboard clock and cast her eyes upward. It had been hours since she’d left New England, driving straight down the coast with her charge, the sleeping man in the backseat. Her brother was flying down to meet her, and together they were going to secure their futures, once and for all.
Her cell phone rang and she answered it quickly, not wanting to wake her captive companion.
“I sure hope you’re around here somewhere, Reggie, I don’t know how much longer that knock out stuff is going to be working.”
“We just landed, Sis, don’t worry. Everything will be fine. Meet us at the rest area outside Exit 14 off 95. We can drive the rest of the way down to Savannah from there. We’ll be on a boat heading for the Keys before too long. Thanksgiving in the Islands. Sounds just like old times, don’t it?”
“I guess there’s no turning back now,” Gail said, wistfully thinking of the life she’d left behind when she had agreed to finish this deal with her brother. Family loyalty wasn’t something that had been instilled in her, but she knew that she had no choice but to do her brother’s bidding. It was what her father would have wanted, if he’d been able to speak to her.
“See you soon, little brother,” she told him, ending the call. Funny how sometimes she felt more like a younger sibling than older. She was always seeking his approval, since he had sought her out a few years ago. All she had to do was put the money into her bank accounts, draw it back out in a cashier’s check, and send it back to the address. It had all worked out great until the accountant had started asking questions. Stupid little man, she thought, shaking her head. She would miss her life in South Carolina, but the thought of her brother and her finally settling down somewhere, living the rest of their lives in comfort and anonymity was idyllic.
She concentrated on the road, watching the signs for her exit. Time to get it done, she thought.
Larson hung up the phone shakily. He looked at Margo, the fear in her eyes punching a hole in his heart. He knew she had overheard, so his only choice was to take the time to reassure her. Gathering her close, he held her tightly, offering comfort though his own fears had him nearly paralyzed. “We’ll find her, I promise...”
This was getting more and more out of hand, and he had to do something. Taking one last kiss, he stepped back and quickly dialed Doug’s number.
“I was just going to call you,” Doug told him, his voice rather rushed and full of tension.
“Talk to me,” Larson clipped, grabbing Margo’s hand for comfort.
“I had just gotten a call from one of my text guys that the GPS in the flash drive was moving again. Then that call was interrupted by another one of my guys who says Lexie had been kidnapped. This stinks to high Heaven of Reggie. What do you want us to do?”
“Lexie must have found it; I know somebody grabbed her from Abbeville about ten minutes ago. My sister called me as soon as it happened. I’m with Margo in Seneca; it will take me an hour or better to get back to Abbeville.”
“I suggest we don’t go there.” Doug paused for a moment looking at the man who was suddenly looking very nervous. A smile came to his lips at the very moment the best idea came to light “Larson, where is the nearest airport to you?”
He took the phone away from his ear. “Where’s the nearest airport Honey?” he asked Margo.
“Right here. In Seneca. There‘s a small municipal airport right off the main highway, on the other side of town.”
Larson nodded and put the phone back to his ear. “Seneca, about fifteen minutes or so from where we are now.”
“I‘ve got a plane, and I’m on my way to you. We’ll be there in a few hours. I’ll meet you there, and don’t worry, we’ll find her. I have already taken the liberty of getting Nigel, he is with me now… It looks like we will need his help to finish this job.”
“Do you think Scott is with them too?”
“If we were able to trace that thing, no doubt Reggie and his guys could do it also. See you in a bit, Buddy. Bring the wife. There is no sense having something happen to her while we sort this mess out.”
“Never planned anything else,” Larson said, ending the call.
He turned to his wife taking in the shocked expression of horror on her face. “Don’t worry,” he told her, rubbing her hand with his fingers soothingly. “Doug and Nigel are trained special ops ex soldiers.. There’s no one I’d trust more with the safety of our little girl.”
He prayed that they were not too late to design and execute a plan to rescue their daughter and his client.
Then, just as he was about to lead his wife out of Gail’s home, his phone rang again, and his heart stopped when he saw the number. It was the same one that he had seen on the caller ID registered on the screen. He accepted the call pensively.
“Yes,” his voice was even and low, the words clipped short with emotion he dared not reveal in his voice. “What do you want?”
“Evans, you’re in over your head,” the caller told him.
“Might say the same for you Reggie. Where’s my daughter?”
“Safe for now, you just get that flash drive and any copies to me as soon as you can and you can all go and live a happy.”
“What flash drive?”
“You really want to gamble with your daughter’s life asking me stupid questions? This little geek already told me about its existence. I want it, and you have it...so we’re going to make a deal.”
“What about Chambers?”
“Perhaps you can rescue him as well. Just depends on what kind of time you make I guess. I trust your friend the detective will have our location soon. You come my way, and I will call you with the drop point tonight. I trust you won’t let me down Evans?”
’”You’ll get what’s coming to you,” Larson told him icily. When the line went dead Larson fought the urge to throw his phone across the room. Taking a deep breath, he ran his fingers through his hair and turned to Margo who was still looking at him intently. Time was already against them, and the stakes were high.
“We should leave soon and get to the airport. I don’t want to waste any more time,” he said gently. He forced a smile for her and pulled her toward the door.
Reggie glared at the phone, shaking his head in frustration. When this mess was over he was going to move to some far away island in the tropics. There was enough money in his offshore accounts to live comfortably for the rest of his life. Maybe he’d start a club, some little place where tourists came to escape their humdrum city lives, a place to discover some sort of inner peace. It would do well to disappear since there would be no way now to escape conviction if he was caught. Too many people had connected him with this mess.
All because he had wanted to make something of that stupid company his father had entrusted to him. He had gone from simply falsifying test results to laundering money in the span of just a few years, and Larson Evans knew way too much about everything.
In his seat in the back of the van, Chambers was stirring. Reggie nodded to the dumber of the two idiots that worked for him, Vinny, indicating the movements of their guest. Vinny nodded and reached forward from his seat alongside the blind-folded and still sleeping Lexie. He produced a white cloth and a brown bottle. Quick application of the saturated cloth ceased all movements from the accountant.
His eyes went back to the road ahead of them and he smiled. Yes, after this he would retire.
Sitting at a table in her parent’s cafe, Nikki sipped on the coffee in front of her, periodically checking the phone for missed calls. The sound of busy police officers and agents filled the room, the din just edging into her consciousness.
“What did he mean by ‘we’?” she thought to herself, picking up the phone again. The blank screen seemed to mock her, and she could not help but feel anxious as her heart began to hope. Had her brother finally found Margo?
A man in a plain gray suit came up to the table, pulled out the chair across from her and sat down, pulling out a notebook.
“We need to go over your statement one more time Miss Evans,”
“No we don’t. It does not matter how many times I tell you, it is not going to get you any closer to finding her. She’s out there, not in my head!”
“I understand your frustration Miss, but this is an investigation, and I’m supposed to ask these questions, however redundant they may be.”
Nikki sighed and took another sip of the now cold coffee. Her father came up behind her and patted her shoulder gently, reassuring her with a simple touch. No matter what happened, she still could not help but feel responsible for Lexie’s abduction. The fact that the police were still around, asking questions, marring what was supposed to be a happy day just irritated her. Nikki was all about control, and feeling helpless was not something that sat well with her. She sighed and began her story again, from the beginning.
“I went out to the square with my father and his friends. We set up chairs on the corner and got ready to watch the parade. I noticed a call I had missed on my cell phone and stood up to return it but the signal was low, and the bagpipes had started playing so I really could not hear. I stepped away from Lexie to get a better signal and started to return the phone call. Then I heard Lexie scream. I turned and saw her chair was empty, and a blue van went speeding down the back street away from the square.”
The agent wrote in his notebook while she spoke, nodding at times but saying nothing.
“Is that when you noticed the phone on the ground?”
“Yes, Lexie had obviously turned it on to use the camera.”
The agent rose and patted Nikki’s shoulder somewhat awkwardly. “Everything will be fine,” he murmured, moving away from her pulling out his phone as he walked.
It had been over an hour since Lexie went missing.
The Oconee County Municipal Airport in Seneca was small. Larson pulled into a space near an office building and parked. Margo got out of her side of the car without hesitation, and stood by the front of the car. Larson stepped smoothly from the car, pocketing the keys after locking it. Together they entered the building and located a small cafe to the side, little chairs and tables set up around the high glass counters. They sat with coffee, holding hands.
Larson did not like feeling so out of control. He wanted to hit something, but checked his temper for fear of scaring Margo even more than she was already. They talked about ordinary things to pass the time, movies they’d seen and loved, books they’d read. He told her of his sister Macy’s marriage to Alan, and the broken engagement of his youngest sister, Adriana. They shared a salad and iced tea, both picking at the lettuce mixture, neither of them having a real appetite.
Then finally Larson’s phone signaled a text message. Three words, “We are here” was all he saw before he rose and scanned the building. His blue eyes looked around trying to locate his friend. A blue and white Lear Jet sat on the tarmac, the engine running softly. The sleek lines of the aircraft shone brightly in the afternoon sun. A dark-skinned man walked from the office area and approached them swiftly, another blond haired man following behind.
“Talk to me Nigel,” Larson greeted the man with a handshake and the two stepped away to converse.
The blond haired man introduced himself to Margo. “I’m Doug Dawson; I work with Larson on most of his cases. We’ll get settled on the plane in just a few minutes.”
A few minutes later, Larson and Nigel rejoined Margo and Doug.
“I’ve called ahead and booked us a suite at the Hilton in Savannah,” Doug informed them. “Near as I can guess that’s where Reggie is headed. At least that’s according to that nifty little GPS device Chambers installed. We’ll get a general location when they stop moving.” He turned to Margo and smiled. “Don’t worry,” he told her in a soothing voice. “Now let’s get settled on the plane.” Larson nodded and motioned for Nigel to get the bags from the rental vehicle, pausing at the desk to return the car. Once done, he turned to his wife and smiled encouragingly. Grasping her elbow he guided her toward the sleek aircraft.
Margo climbed aboard the plane with Larson, Doug and Nigel following close behind. The elegant interior of the airplane took Margo’s breath away, the familiarity causing a flood of memories crowding into her already over taxed brain. The last time she had been on such an aircraft she was being whisked away from her daughter. This time she was going towards her. She made her way along the plush carpeting of the plane’s interior taking a seat near the window. Doug sat across from her, and buckled his safety belt. Nigel took his seat next to Doug and Larson slid into the seat next to her.
Larson looked around at the richly decorated plane and smiled, fixing a sharp look at Doug, “I think I pay you too much.”
Doug chuckled softly and explained. “I called in a favor. My Cessna would have gotten us there, but it is not as fast as this. This way we can strategize and I don’t have to actually fly the plane.”
The aircraft powered up and began the taxi to the runway. They were airborne in minutes, winging their way toward Lexie.
When Lexie first awoke, she was aware of a dull ache in the back of her head. She looked around, taking note of the sparsely decorated room with only one window, covered so thickly with grime it was dark. A ceiling fan turned slowly above her and she noticed that her hands were tied together by some sort of twine, and she was on an ugly brown couch. She raised her hands to rub her eyes, the movement catching the attention of another occupant of the room. A woman sat in the corner of the room, holding a bottle of water in one hand, a gun in the other. The smile on her face was sarcastic, and she looked at Lexie with hostile eyes.
“So, the little princess is finally awake!”
Lexie felt the chill from the woman’s words slide down her spine like icy fingers. Defensive aggression made her words clipped and sharp. “And you are?”
“I guess it’s about time we actually met face to face, Lexie Evans. I feel like I’ve known you for a very long time. My name is Gail Rogers. Gail Scarsdale Rogers. I’m the one that picked out all those nice presents your mother’s been sending to you.”
Lexie’s mouth opened and then closed again quickly. “You know my mother?”
“Indeed. Coincidentally my brother knows your father. We’re all like a...happy little family aren‘t we?” Gail rose and walked toward Lexie, extending the water bottle to her, “Thirsty?” Gail asked, offering her the drink.
“No, thank you,” Lexie declined, twisting her bound hands together in her lap. “What are you planning to do with me?” she asked the maniacal woman in front of her.
“That depends on my brother, and your father,” Gail said simply, returning to her watch post in the corner of the room. “We have plenty of time for him to come through, and we’ll tell him where you are when we are well on our way out of the country.” She paused in her musings to reflect on the slight of build teenager sitting on the sofa. “You look a lot like your mother, you know,” she said simply.
Lexie brought up her head defiantly. “You say that like it’s a bad thing,” She commented softly, letting her brown eyes meet the hazel ones of the older woman.
“You think?” Gail took a few sips of her water and put it on the floor next to her chair, her hands fingering the gun absently. “Growing up with so much money, nice things, it wasn’t so bad was it?”
“What does that have to do with my mother?”
“You don’t know how lucky you had it. Growing up with everything?” She laughed, a sad laugh, and her eyes took on a far away look.
“My father didn’t know how to handle my mother’s absence. He sent me away to boarding camps and private schools all over the world. I was the secret he couldn’t accept, or endure. My mother left us and we did not go riding off in carriages and happiness. It is not so with your little family, is it?
“Your mother has an obsession concerning both you and your father. It’s sickening, really. But I envy you that one thing. At least your one parent was there in your life...and the absent one makes up for it, even if it is only once a year. You know, something tells me they would both walk through the literal gates of Hell to save the other, or you. That kind of misplaced loyalty makes a person weak. It was the downfall of my brother, and it will be the downfall of your precious parents too.” Gail looked away wistfully and ended her tirade with one simple sentence. “’Happily Ever After’ only exists in fairy tales little girl.”
Lexie straightened her back and leveled a steely stare at Gail. Then she looked away and closed her eyes, choosing to say nothing. Silently she prayed that somehow the bitter woman’s words were not true. She watched the gray light coming through the boarded window and wondered how long she’d been there.
In another room, Scott Chambers woke slowly, finding himself tied to a chair. His leg hurt, and he looked down to see that there was a bandage wrapped around his ankle where his monitor had been. So much for being safe, he thought to himself. The room held little in the way of furnishings, a cot, a small table beside the chair he was occupying, and besides one door there was only a little window at the top of one wall. He could see through the filmy residue a tree’s branches waving slightly against a gray sky.
The door opened then and Reggie entered, carrying a gun and a plate with a sandwich on it, a bottle of water sticking out from his pocket.
“Glad you’re awake, Mouse,” Reggie said snidely, pausing to shut the door behind him.
The metallic click of a lock told him that there was someone outside standing guard.
Reggie put the plate on a table and drew out a small pen knife. Slicing through the ropes that bound Scott’s hands, he paused and indicated the gun in his other hand. “Don’t try anything stupid, or you won’t eat. No one can hear you anyway...at least no one that will care.”
Scott leveled a look at his crazy boss, and nodded, trying to make his face even, despite the fear that had lodged in his throat. His legs were still tied together, bound securely to the chair he was sitting in, so there was nothing to do but agree. He grabbed the offered water, uncapped it and drank thirstily, water spilling over the sides of the bottle.
“Chloroform does make one thirsty doesn’t it?” Reggie mused, handing the sandwich over to the man. “Hope you’re not lactose intolerant, cheese for the mouse?”
“Fine,” Scott said, hoarsely, and bit into the plain cheese sandwich with fervor.
Reggie laughed at the thought, and couldn’t help but share the amusement with his guest. “Cheese for the mouse? Funny don’t you think?”
Scott shrugged, looking at the man in front of him.
“What do you want with me?”
“Bait,” Reggie said simply. “Your lawyer seems to think pretty highly of you, and wants your release. I guess he’ll do just about anything to make sure you’re okay. Nice to know there are some heroes left in the world, don’t you think?”
“I was only doing my job, Reggie, why all this mess now?”
“Because you know too much about my business, little Rat. I can’t have that.”
“It’s not my fault you hired the wrong group of thugs to make your deliveries. Shipping and receiving through a research company? That’s pretty hard to disguise.”
“I told you to put in a miscellaneous account. If you had done that, we wouldn’t be in this, mess as you call it, and your lawyer’s daughter wouldn’t be in the next room with my stupid sister. This whole thing could have been avoided if you had just kept your twitching little nose out of my business!”
“Stop calling me a mouse!” Scott said, angry at last from the teasing.
Reggie reached out his free hand and slapped the man in front of him hard, the force wobbling the chair unsteadily. The plate fell to the floor from the upset, and Scott’s head was thrust backwards.
“You don ’t give the orders, here, ‘Mouse’” Reggie said through clenched teeth, emphasizing the nickname. “I do.”
He brought Scott’s hands behind the chair and quickly bound them together again, then walking back to face him, Reggie smiled in a dark eerie way. “Sit tight, I’ll be back later.”
With that he turned went to the door, knocking three times. The door was unlocked and opened, Reggie moved through it and left the room, locking it back after him. The remnants of the cheese sandwich was on the floor scattered among the shards of the broken plate.
“I am a mouse,” he said quietly, and laughed for a moment, his laughter descending into quiet sobs of a doomed man.