Chapter seventeen ~
Jude stood in front of Jackson Masters' ridiculously large mansion with about thirty different cops and swat team members. He was trying to assess the situation, and could only come to one conclusion: Somebody on the inside was helping the kidnappers/robbers. There was no way the giant man could've gotten through the road block or gone in that house undetected. Someone had to have let him through, and Jude would find out who it was and he'd have his hide.
Amos the hostage negotiator came up and stood by Jude. He had a cup of coffee in one hand, and a clipboard in the other. "Have a hot drink, sir. I brought you the latest update on Jackson Masters." He gestured to the clipboard in his hand.
Jude grabbed the coffee, took a sip, and then scanned the clipboard’s contents.
Jackson was awake and in stable, but serious, condition. "How long ago did you get this update?"
"Just a few minutes ago, why, is something wrong?"
"It's come to my attention that someone has to be on the inside Amos. There’s an army of cops out here. There's no way that guy got through here without being detected.”
"I never thought of that. You might be right. Who do you think it could be?"
"I don't know, but I intend to find out. I can't stand a turncoat." Jude said as he walked up to the barricade. Just as his leg hit the orange-and-white sawhorse, a siren went off inside the house. It was deafening. He turned to say something to Amos, but he was gone.
Amy ran spastically, trying to find somewhere to hide. Familiarity sounded good, so she ran to her suite, but she hadn't thought about the key card. Her hand automatically checked her back pocket. It wasn't there. When she got to the door, it was propped open. She ran in and checked all around, but didn't see anybody, so she slammed the door shut and set the alarm. As soon as someone tried to open the door without the card sirens would go off.
"Dear Lord, please help me find somewhere to hide." She knew without a doubt the oaf would come after her. She ran to the bedroom, ripped her phone from the charger, and punched in 911. When a man's bored voice came over the phone she said, "Please send someone. Hurry, he's coming after me." She was beyond frantic, and couldn't think of the address when he asked her for it. "Can’t you trace my call? I'm at Jackson Masters' estate. Please hurry." She stuffed the phone in her pants pocket. A clear thought flooded Amy's distraught mind, and she calmed immediately. She knew what she had to do. She went out her French doors, onto the patio. She hefted herself over the concrete railing and felt with her foot until it hit something solid. She did the same with the other foot. She stood on a drainpipe until she got up her nerve, and dropped until her hands were holding on for dear life. She felt with her feet again, until she felt solid ground. She raced quietly to the playground behind the kitchen and climbed up the slide and into the tubing at the top. She sat down and fought to control her breathing. The only phone numbers she knew were Chester's and Jackson's. She decided to call Jackson. Maybe someone would answer his phone and they'd find out where she was hiding so they could rescue her.
She pulled her phone out and pushed the number one. That was Jackson's preset one-number dial. It rang several times, but nobody answered it. Amy whimpered quietly now, not knowing what to do. If she stayed, the oaf might find her. If she left her hiding spot, he might find her, too. She prayed, "Dear Lord, lead me and guide me, your will be done."
She decided to try 911 again. This time when she called the woman who answered the phone said, “Transferring to Special Agent in charge Jude Johnson, please hold.”
"No, please don't put me on hold."
Just a few seconds later a male voice asked, "Amy, is that you?"
"Who is this?"
"I'm Special Agent Jude Johnson. I talked to you at the hospital, do you remember me?"
"How did they transfer my call to you?"
"Amy, you've got to pay attention. I need to know where you are so I can come and get you."
"How do I know you aren't one of them?"
"What can I say that will put your mind at ease?"
"What's Jackson's butler's name?"
"His name's Chester, now will you tell me where you are?"
"Well, you don't sound at all like Oaf, so I guess I'll tell you. I'm out in the playground, hiding at the top of the slide, in the tubing."
"I'm on my way Amy, don't move."
It seemed like hours, but was probably only minutes before Amy heard the sound of someone running through the sand. She took a deep breath of joy and rushed out of the tubing, but it wasn't the man from earlier who was coming after her, it was the oaf. She screamed in terror and hit redial on her phone.
"Amy what's wrong? I'm almost there."
"He's found me. He's coming up the slide. Oh, please don't let him get me again." She was begging, but didn’t care.
"Amy, is he coming up the slide?"
"Yes!" She screamed uncontrollably.
"Amy, stop screaming so you can hear me. As soon as he gets close enough, kick him as hard as you can. I see you now. I just came around the corner Amy. Kick him now."
Amy pulled her leg back as far as she could and let it swing with all the force she could muster, which wasn't much. She was so exhausted and weak...He must’ve known what she was up to because he grabbed her leg as soon she kicked and jerked her as hard as he could. She tumbled off the landing and into his massive belly.
She was so overcome with fright she pulled her arm back and punched him in the face, but it was too little, too late. He’d snapped his neck during the fall, even while his massive body had shielded her from serious harm. God was so good.
She got up from her awkward position, sobbing uncontrollably. She ran to the big blond man and threw herself into his arms. "Please get me away from here. Don't let them take me again."
"I won't Amy, I won't." His arms came around her protectively. He turned and started walking as fast as he could toward the front of the mansion. Paramedics passed him as he went, and he told them the perp was dead, probably from a broken neck. He kept walking until he had Amy in his car, buckled up. He ran around to his side and slid into the driver’s seat.
After saying, "Just get me out of here. Take me to Jackson." She promptly passed-out.
He started the car. He needed to get her to safety, but he didn't think the hospital was safe after what had happened today. He pulled the car into reverse and was backing it up when Amos came running up to his window, motioning him to roll it down. Jude hit the button and the window slid down soundlessly.
"Jude, there's another perp on the grounds. They need your help."
He made the split-second decision to stay and help. He'd have Amos take her to headquarters. He’d arrange for an ambulance to take her to an undisclosed location so she could be seen by a doctor, and rest in comfort and safety.
"Amos, do you think you could take her to the station? I'll call and have an ambulance waiting on her when you get there, but I want her out of here now.”
"I sure can. No problem at all."
Jude unbuckled his seat belt and threw the car in park. He got out and said as he did, "Thanks man, I owe you one."
"Nope, you don't owe me a thing." Amos returned as he slid into the driver's seat and continued to back the car out and turn it around. He sped off like a shot, congratulating himself on his own quick thinking. He didn't know what would happen to him now, but he knew he'd done the only thing he could. He prayed to God to resolve the rest.
He went down the road until he was sure no one would see him and made a u-turn. He had to hurry because he knew Jude would already be aware he'd been duped. He raced the car down a trail that wasn't really a road and screeched to a halt outside the maid's house. He pulled his phone out as he shoved the car in park and flipped it open. He dialed the number that had been calling him steadily for four days now; the man who had his wife and children, and even the family dog.
"I got her, get out here and get her so I can disappear. You better not hurt her, either, you promised me you wouldn't. The cottage door opened, and a dark-haired man with a nasty scar on his face, in his early thirties, rushed out. He had a needle in his hand. He wrenched the passenger door open and roughly pulled Amy into his arms. "Now get out of here before you blow my cover, you spineless little puke." He slammed the door shut.
"What about my wife and kids?" Are they...?"
"They're alive, now get out of here." He disappeared inside the cobblestone cottage.
Amos sat there, not sure what to do. He knew what he'd done was a horrible thing, but they had his family.
Before he had a chance to drive away, Amos felt a sting in the side of his neck, and everything went black.