Chapter Fifteen ~
When Amy came to, the monster was sitting at Jackson's desk using a letter opener to clean his grimy fingernails. She groaned in pain and cleared her throat to let him know she was awake. She started to sit up when her eyes rested on something she couldn't believe. Jackson Masters lay in an unconscious lump on the floor beside her.
Anger shot through her, hot and fast. She reached up and began to pummel Peter on the legs as hard as she could in her trussed-up state. He looked down at her and laughed, which made her angrier. She tried to stand up, but immediately fell down because her ankles were tied together. The zip ties had begun to dig into her flesh, and there was blood beginning to show at the edges of the strips.
"What did you do to him?"
"Stop your whining. I just whacked him in the back of the head, he'll live." Peter answered with a maniacal-sounding chuckle of glee.
You're abhorrent, let him go. You have me, you don't need him. He has children that need to be taken care of."
"Oh, but you're the one who takes care of the kiddies, now aren't you?"
"What are you going to do to him?"
"I'm going to kill the self-righteous snob.”
The noise caused Jackson to groan, and begin to move around. Amy was glad for evidence that he was okay.
"I'm gonna throw-up." She was afraid to move her head, or the rest of her body, for that matter. "Can I use the restroom?" Her wrists were still tied together and she brought them both up to her stomach and pushed in lightly.
"Do you think I'm some kind of fool, lady?"
"No, but I’m gonna throw-up.”
He studied her face, walked over and cut the bands around her wrists and ankles. "No funny stuff, I mean it." He pulled her up and started yanking her toward the doorway.
As he passed Jackson, the trussed-up man rolled into him as hard as he could. Peter tumbled to the floor and they began to tussle. Amy ran to the bathroom and locked the door. She barely made it to the toilet. After she finished, she rinsed her mouth with a trial-size mouthwash she found in the medicine cabinet and washed her hands.
She tried to locate anything she might be able to use as a weapon. All she saw was a toilet brush.
"What's taking you so long?" She heard Peter's voice through the door.
"I'm almost finished.” She’d noticed a pair of scissors sitting in a cup on the shelf. She grabbed them and crammed them into her front pocket. They represented freedom.
Peter jerked the door open and grabbed her, re-twisty-tied her wrists, and propelled her into the office. He shoved her onto the floor. There was blood pouring from a wound in the back of Jackson's head. "You'll be happy to know I clobbered your boyfriend and knocked him unconscious."
"What do you want from us?"
"I want you to open the safe."
She was trying to keep him distracted while she slowly inched the scissors out of her pocket. As soon as he turned around she was going to cut the ties he'd replaced on her wrists and ankles.
"I'll open the safe."
"It's about time."
He turned toward the desk, and Amy made her move. She pulled the scissors out and slit the tie holding her ankles together. The wrists weren't so easy because she had to maneuver them around in order to cut. She began to count how long she was taking in her head. She had gotten to twelve when the wrist-tie fell off.
When he turned around, rage came over his features. Amy stood up. She moved toward him and he advanced on her. He grabbed at her, and her natural instinct was to shove him as hard as she could. She watched in slow-motion-like horror as the scissors plunged into his belly. The feel of them moving through his flesh almost made her throw-up again.
"You stabbed me." He reached down; planning to remove the offending object from his abdomen.
"Stop, don't do that. If you pull them out, you'll bleed to death."
In an angry rage, he jerked her by the hair with one hand and moved her around the desk and to the safe. "I've had it with you. I'm tired of being Mr. Nice Guy. Open this safe or I'm gonna blow your boyfriend away." He pulled a gun out of his waistband and pointed it at the now-conscious Jackson Masters.
Jackson had given Amy her own codes to open the safe, but doing so right now would be suicide. He was going to kill them as soon as he got what he wanted. Pushing the silent alarm wouldn't do any good, either. Every law enforcement officer in the area already knew she was being held hostage. The mental picture of Jackson’s gun sitting in the safe popped into her head unbidden. It was their only chance, but she didn’t know if she could do it. Her father taught her holding a gun you didn't intend to use was more dangerous than not having one at all. What if she pulled it out and then froze up?
"I said open the safe lady." He was so close she felt spittle spray her neck and face.
"Give me a second. I'm nervous."
Jackson scooted to a sitting position. He looked like he was having trouble focusing, but he said, "Leave her alone Pete, I mean it. She doesn't know anything about this. You have me. Let her go and I'll open the safe."
"Do you take me for a fool? She’s not going anywhere, and neither are you.” He walked over and kicked Jackson in the face as hard as he could and turned back to Amy. He lost his footing and crumbled to the floor. He was probably woozy from losing so much blood. It was seeping out beside the scissors pretty heavily and Amy had to quell the urge to reach down and jerk them out. She felt instant conviction for her thoughts and mentally told God she was sorry. She asked Him to give her the courage and knowledge she needed to get out of this situation.
"Get on with it." Peter said through clenched teeth. "Don't think just because I'm experiencing a little pain I won't shoot you. I shot that guard out there, and I shot the butler and the maid. If I shoot you, I get a four of a kind. If I shoot him too, it'll be a full house."
"Why don't you let me call a paramedic in here? I'm sure there's one standing right outside. If you don't get to a hospital soon your outlook isn’t good."
"You're not calling anybody. Open that safe or I'm gonna finish you off now." Despite the central air being on, he was sweating profusely.
"Okay, but I offered." She went to the safe and typed in the first code and swiped her finger through the slot. The green light lit up, and there was a small metallic clicking sound. In an instant Peter was standing beside her, faster than she would have thought possible. He pushed her so hard she crashed into the desk.
After less than a minute, he turned around and stomped over to where Jackson half-sat, half-lay on the floor. "Where is it?" He delivered another forceful kick to the side of Jackson's head.
"I told you it wasn't here."
"I know it is, so you might as well pony it up."
The phone rang, and Peter growled in anger. He walked over, snatched the portable phone off the charger. "What do you bloody people want? I’m trying to conduct some business in here, but you're getting in the way."
Jude Johnson said, "Hello Peter, I'm Jude, and I'll be your friendly neighborhood hostage negotiator through the rest of your stay at the Masters estate."
If the situation hadn't been so dire, Amy would’ve giggled.
"I’m not talking to you. I already talked to the other guy, but he made me mad.”
"Are you going to take your anger out on Amy? She didn't do anything. In fact, she probably has no idea what this is all about." Jude retorted calmly.
"I think I'll take it out on Jackson. He's always a good first target.”
"Why would you do that, Peter? I thought you and Jackson were friends?"
Peter was looking pretty messed-up. His whole head was soaked with sweat, and he was blinking rapidly. Amy figured he was having trouble focusing.
"He isn’t my friend, and there isn’t going to be any negotiating unless I get what he took.” "He slammed the receiver back on its base, grabbed Amy by the hair, and shoved her into a chair. He pulled some new zip-ties out of his pocket and tied each of her wrists to the bars at the backside of the chair, and then he tied each ankle to a front leg of the chair. It was a wooden, claw-footed chair and there was no way she could pull her legs off, even if she managed to stretch that far.
He pulled a matching chair out of the closet and placed it in the middle of the room, facing Amy's. He picked Jackson up, dropped him onto it, and repeated the process. Pete pulled something out of his front pocket and shoved it under Jack's nose. He sputtered and twisted his head, trying to get away from the smell.
Peter slapped Jackson hard across the face.
His head snapped back, his eyes popped open, and he said, "Peter, you need to stop this. You know this isn't going to end good, old chap."
His answer was another resounding slap. Amy gasped. "Stop it Peter, whatever you wanted wasn't there. I showed you.” Fresh tears began to fall from her smoky blue-gray eyes.
“Oh, it's in this house, even if you don't know where it is."
"He isn't going to stop Amy. He isn't working for himself. He has a partner we haven't identified yet. When we do, we'll make him flip on ole Pete, and he'll go down for this whole mess."
Amy knew Jackson was trying to stall. Maybe the cops were going to come in and rescue them, but needed time to get in position...
"You don't have any idea who it might be?"
"I have a good idea. We've got someone picking him up right now.”
"Stop talking or I'll gag ya both."
"What's the matter big boy, are you scared?" Jackson taunted.
"I’m not scared of you Jack, I never was. I only pretended to be so I could get close. He pulled a black duffel bag up and dropped it onto the desk. Amy hadn't noticed it until now. He unzipped it and pulled out a roll of gray tape. He pulled a sizeable piece off and walked over to Amy and spread it over her mouth and most of her nose.
"No Pete, you can't do that to her. She isn't trained man, come on. She can't make it through that kind of interrogation." Jackson said.
Amy's heart raced because if he was upset, it must be really bad.
"Peter, get it off her, right now."
Amy was having trouble breathing and she understood why Jackson was worried. The tape was almost completely blocking off her nostrils.
Peter ignored him and left the room. He returned a couple minutes later with a pitcher and a hand towel from the kitchen. Amy looked over at Jackson in confusion. Was he going to drown her? She tried to talk, but all that came out were garbled mumbles of terror as Pete advanced on her.
He sat his tools of terror on the desk, grabbed her chair and laid it back against the top of the desk until she was flat on her back at an even angle. He picked the towel up, gave Jackson a terrifying grimace of evil and dropped it onto her face. He picked the pitcher up and dumped water onto the towel. Amy sputtered.
"Pete, what’re you doing? Stop, I told you it isn't here, why won't you believe me?"
"I know it's here. I've been watching you ever since you took it, and you came here." With a renewed burst of energy he pulled his gun and twisted around. "Tell me where it is, or I shoot you right now.”
"Go ahead and shoot me if you have to, it isn't here Pete."
He brought the gun up and shot Jackson in the chest. Amy screamed under the towel, and Pete laughed maniacally. He pulled the towel off Amy’s face and said, "He was never gonna tell me where it was, anyway. You, on the other hand, will. I've been watching you, and I happen to know you love those kids. You even love that pathetic old man. I intend to use them all to get what I want." Amy knew he was losing his grip on reality, and renewed fear pumped through her veins.
He dropped the towel back on her face and poured more water into it. She gasped, sputtered and coughed, trying to clear her airways.
He waited until she quit hacking and pulled the towel up again, "I'm gonna go throw that useless piece of baggage out the front door. Don't go anywhere now." He dropped the towel back down. Amy couldn't see, but she concentrated on trying to hear what he was doing.
She heard him pick the phone up off the stand and push the talk button. There was a pause, and then he said, "Yeah, you might wanna call all the goons back. I'm gonna throw Jackson Masters out the front door, he's been shot."
Amy tried to talk. She wanted to say something, anything, to get this guy to let her go. She began to whimper, for the first time beginning to think it was God's will she die this way. She heard movement, probably Pete cutting Jackson's zip-ties. A big thud was obviously Jackson hitting the floor. There was a rubbing noise she decided was Pete dragging Jackson out of the room and down the hall. She heard a bunch of thumps and realized with horror he was dragging Jackson down the steps.
Amy became frantic then. She needed to calm down. She prayed, 'Dear Heavenly Father, if this is your will for me, please let me be able to endure it graciously, giving you glory for saving my soul the whole time. Please don't give him the satisfaction of seeing me as a coward. I guess that's prideful, I confess to you. Please keep the children safe, and save Jackson if it's your will. If it isn't your will to save him, please leave someone to care for the kids. Please be with Teenie, she's just a baby. I love you and exalt you Dear Lord, in Jesus precious name I pray, amen.'
Peace instantly washed over her. She knew God had come to her aid. No matter what happened, she knew He was with her.