Chapter Thirteen ~
Amy groaned in pain and confusion and tried to get to a sitting position. Something was keeping her from her objective.
Her memory came flooding back then and she stopped struggling. She peeked up at the man sitting behind Jackson's desk as if he didn't have a care in the world. He didn't know she was awake, and she didn't want him to. She lay on the floor looking up at the monster while she silently pulled at the rope that bound her hands. Her ankles were also tied together. She felt like a fatted calf. She hoped she stayed alive long enough to get free.
The man glanced down at her in unconcern. She’d detected his movement quickly enough to keep him from detecting hers. She needed to figure out what to do. The relief she felt at knowing the children were safe was palpable, but now she had to work on freeing herself before she ended up on the wrong side of a bullet.
The man's phone rang and he answered it, "Yeah, what do you want?"
"You gotta be kidding me.” He looked down and saw Amy's blue-gray eyes staring up at him. He turned in the brown swivel chair and kicked at her with his huge, jeans-clad leg.
"I’m not leaving here until I have that drive, and I don't wanna hear no more whining about the swat team. Do you understand me boy?"
"It's a good thing, too." He hung up. "What are you looking at?"
"Not much, from what I can tell." The slam she felt to the side of the head from his beefy hand was quick and remorseless.
"I was just telling my partner that I'm not leaving until I got what I came after. If you hurry up and open that safe I can get it, and I'll be gone in a flash."
"Are you going to let me live then?"
"No, but you sure looked cute when you asked."
Fear spread through her body, and she struggled to sit up. "Why do you have to kill people?" She asked angrily as tears of frustration clouded her eyes. She was beyond caring now, knowing that he was going to kill her. "Why do you have to be so atrocious? You’re nothing but a monster.” She showed her disdain for him by curling her lip.
He laughed out loud. "Wow you really are a handful. It's a shame I have to snuff out that awesome little personality you got going there." Amy saw a look cross his face that was gone so fast she had to question whether she'd seen anything at all.
"Do you believe in God?"
"Sure, I believe in God. Don't mean I have to follow Him. He sits up there on his high horse just waiting to pass judgment on us lowly humans." Peter’s face was scrunched in anger.
"Why on earth would you think something like that?" Her worried response to his lack of salvation surprised her to no end. This man was going to kill her, and all she could think about was his eternal soul.
"That's how it is. My Daddy was a Baptist preacher. I know all about his God. He isn't willing to accept me for who I am, so why should I accept Him?"
Amy was amazed they were having this conversation, and for his part, Peter didn’t seem the least affected that he was fixing to kill her. "Maybe you should think of it from God's point of view. He created this world, and everything in it, including you. That's right. He gave you life, and He allows you to live even though you curse Him with every breath. He provided a way for you to have a relationship with Him, and you spit on that offer. He sent his only Son to die for your rotten sins, and yet you don't give it a second thought because you're too busy whining that He won't accept you for the way you are, shame on you. You need to pray He will forgive your sins and call you to Him. Someday you’re going to die, and you’ll have to face Him, but by then it'll be too late." She took in a deep breath at the end of her rant. The air whooshed into her bruised lungs and stung like crazy, but she was so full of the Spirit at the moment it paled in comparison to the euphoria she felt to be used by Him in this situation. It made it easier to bear what was happening to her.
She had angered the big man, and a moment of fear overcame her when she saw the twisted, malevolent look in his dark eyes. She shook like crazy as he stood up, tipping the expensive desk chair as he moved. He stood over top of her, grabbed a handful of her hair and jerked her to a standing position. She squealed in pain and anger.
"Shut your idiotic little mouth before I change my mind and kill you now." He jerked her over to the wall safe. "Open this safe, or I promise I’ll tie you to a chair, go to the hospital, and smother that precious little baby you love so much."
"I don't think you're going to do that." She stuck her lip out in defiance. "If you wanted to kill the children, you never would’ve let them go."
"Oh you're a smart one aren't ya?"
"It doesn't take smarts to realize you're afraid of what Jackson would do if you hurt one of his kids. You didn't count on the close relationship he had with Chester either. I can guarantee he's coming after you." She was trying to scare him, and it worked. She saw the fear in his eyes for just a second, but he quickly masked it with a snarl.
"You don't even know Jackson Masters, or what he’s capable of doing. I've known him for twenty years. I know just about everything there is to know. He doesn't care about that old geezer. If he did, he wouldn't make him work for money, he'd just give it to him, since he’s his uncle and all."
"What on earth are you talking about? Chester isn't his uncle."
"Isn't he? Too bad you aren't gonna live long enough to ask him yourself." He pulled her closer, twisting her ponytail even harder. She screeched in pain and slapped at him with her bound hands.
"Don't do that again." He cuffed her in the side of the head and sent her reeling to the floor. She barely got her hands down to break the fall. Her head grazed the corner of the desk and she felt the pain reverberate through her brain as dizziness overcame her. She fell to the floor, her head bouncing up once before resting on the thick carpet.
Peter snorted and kicked at her, trying to get her up. He needed her to open that stupid safe. The shrill ringing of the telephone caught him off guard. He jerked as if he’d been slapped. He'd cut the lines so no one could call in or out. How were they calling him? He went over to the table and grabbed the phone receiver off the base. He pushed the talk button and put it up to his ear hesitantly. "Who is this?"
"This is Amos, with the FBI."
"What do you want?" He knew how it worked, he watched TV for Pete's sakes. He was just taken by surprise because he’d counted on there being no phone contact, except from him. Since the phone lines were up, the cell phone jammer he'd been using was useless. He reached into his pocket and turned it to the off position. There were so many phones in this house it would take him forever to find and cut them all. He didn't have the time to find the main line coming into the house and cut it, but he would if it became necessary.
"How is the hostage? Can we speak with her?" Amos asked.
"Uh, no, you’re not calling the shots here buddy, I am, and you won't be talking to the girl. Her name's Amy, by the way. I know she's just a hostage to you, but she has a name."
Amos was surprised at the man's caring overture. He pulled his cap off with one hand and scratched his balding dome. With a sigh, he reseated the cap and said, "Okay, I'm sorry, I didn't know her name. Is she alright?"
"She fell and hit her head. She's unconscious, but I think she'll be okay."
"How did she fall?"
"I slapped her because she wouldn't shut up about all that God-stuff. She lost her footing and hit the corner of the desk. It wasn't my fault."
"Is she bleeding Peter?"
"How did you know my name?"
"The butler told us as they were putting him in the ambulance. Where are your other men?"
"What other men?"
"We know for a fact there are three other men, Peter. Matilda the maid told us. She told us how you kidnapped her daughter and her two grandchildren so she would do what you wanted her to. She also told us it was you who shot her in the head.
"There's no way. She's dead. I shot her in the head, so quit trying to feed me a line of bull.” He was wondering how they really knew what had happened. Had someone else been there? If so, who could it have been? He’d been very careful.
"She isn't dead Peter. She was conscious for a few minutes before she was loaded in the ambulance. I talked to her myself." He felt guilty for the lie, but he felt it necessary under the circumstances. The truth was the butler told them there was a hidden surveillance camera on the deck where he'd been shot along with Matilda and another guard. The kidnappers hadn't known about it.
They still hadn't figured out where the other three guards were. Amos was hoping they'd eventually find them. He scratched his head again and said, “is Amy..." He enunciated it perfectly so the gunman wasn't offended, and finished with, "awake yet? I need to make sure she's okay. I also need to know what your demands are."
Amy had been moaning and moving her head back and forth for the last couple of minutes and Peter knew she would awaken soon. "No, she isn't awake yet, but she's moving around. I told you she was okay."
"I know you did." Amos said cajolingly. "What are your demands Peter? I need to be able to tell my superiors we're working on a deal, or they're just going to shoot you and be done with it. You know they will. That's how this all plays out in the end if you don't comply."
"My demands will be met by the nanny, Amos." The criminal told him dismissively. "I think we both know I'm the one who has the upper hand, hence you're out there, and I'm in here."
"Peter, I know you don't wanna to die. Why don't you let the nanny go, and we'll see about getting you whatever it is you want.” He could tell he was getting on the man's nerves, and he knew his time at this position was coming to an end. They were probably already sending someone in to take his place. That was how it was done.
"Bye-bye." Peter hung the phone up.
Repeated redials got no response from the hostage-taker.
Amos walked away, conflicted about his feelings. He was upset it had turned out this way. He hoped whoever they called in to replace him could stop these madmen. They had wreaked havoc on too many lives already, including his.
The local PD captain walked up to him and clapped him on the back. "Don't worry about it, son. There's always one we can't break. Let someone else give it a shot."
That was exactly what he was going to do. He walked into the mobile trailer and went into the john. He got down on his knees in that grubby little cubby and prayed to God to save all the innocent people involved in this situation.
Jackson Masters and Jude Johnson arrived, hopped out of the car and jogged toward the mobile trailer.
Amos was coming out of the bathroom when Jude strode up to him and said, "Hi, I'm Special Agent Jude Johnson. I'm with the FBI, and they've called me in to take over this hostage negotiation."
The other man was surprisingly calm. His arm shot out, his hand outstretched to shake Jude's. "I hope you do a lot better than I have up to this point. I can't get on solid ground with this guy. Usually I'm in the door in the first five minutes. I can't even get it open today. I'm Amos by the way." Guilt washed over him, but he proceeded with the introductions.
"Good to meet you. This is Jackson Masters. It’s his house, and his nanny's the hostage. He's also known the man inside, whose name's Peter, for twenty years or so. He's one of Jackson's 'trusted' guards. He had no idea the man was bad, but he should be able to help us.” Jude gestured to the man standing beside him.
Jackson had a pair of field binoculars out, trying to focus them so he could see inside the darkening mansion. The clouds had settled over the city so thickly visibility was almost non-existent.
"It’s tough luck when it's somebody you know. It makes it that much harder, I'm sorry." Amos said, earnestly sympathetic.
"Thanks, but it'd be hard no matter who it was." Jackson answered back.
"Yeah, I know what you mean. The perp got angry and hung up on me. Like I said, I hope you guys have better results than I did." Amos walked away with his head hanging toward the ground. Jackson thought he was being hard on himself, but he was actually praying again. Amos Cohen was a God-fearing man, and it was to Him he turned for help. He prayed fervently this was all resolved with no one else getting hurt.
Tiredness overcame him, and he thought about the day he would hang up his police hat forever. It couldn't arrive soon enough to suit him.