Chapter Nine ~
“Why would you think that?” Jude’s voice boomed through the room and Jackson shushed him.
“You don’t want her to hear, mate.”
“Why do I care? What Scott is saying is preposterous.”
“Is it, Jude?” Amy asked.
“Surely you don’t agree with him?” Jude flopped against the back of the plush brown sofa.
“I don’t know what I believe yet. What I do know is she has been acting weird ever since she got here. When I met her, she was sweet, kind, and in mourning. She doesn’t seem as if she’s sad today. Face it Jude, she’s acting funny.”
Jude rubbed his hand through his crew-cut blonde hair. “I never thought you guys would turn on me in my hour of need, man.”
“We’re not turning on you,” Otis said. “The woman’s acting weird. If she’s acting that way you can bet there’s a reason.”
“I have to agree too,” Amos said.
“I have to admit she’s acting weird, but she just lost her parents in a horrendous murder. Don’t you think that could account for her odd behavior?”
“Maybe, but I’m a pretty good judge of character. When I first met her, I loved her. Now I can barely sit in the same room with her. I have a bad feeling,” Amy said. “I’m going to the kitchen to make a snack. Is anyone interested in helping?”
“I’ll come.” Scott said. He got up and followed her out.
Amos and Otis followed suit, leaving Jude and Jackson alone in the room.
“What is it you think she’s up to?” Jude asked. He knew Jackson would tell him what he really thought, even if he didn’t like it.
“I’m not sure. Something just doesn’t feel right, ya know?”
“I think we should reserve judgment, give her a chance. She’s been through a horrible ordeal.”
“We can do that.”
“Good, it’s settled then. Let’s go get that snack.” Jude got up and strode purposefully into the kitchen, Jackson on his heels.
Amy had huge slices of chocolate cake and milk already served for them, sitting on the table.
“I have such a wonderful wife.” Jackson said as he came up behind Amy and hugged her.
“Yes you do. It’s a good thing we’re friends because I get the run-off.” Jude smiled and took a huge bite of the cake and washed it down with milk. When he set his glass down he had a milk mustache and everyone laughed, alleviating the tension that had come up between them.
“So what’s the plan?” Scott asked.
“We’ll each take a turn staying up to keep watch. The killer obviously knows where she’s at so it’s up to us to keep him away from her. This place is like Fort Knox, but after what happened earlier this year, I’m not taking any chances.” Jackson said.
“So…what, we’re going to ignore the fact we all have a bad feeling about her?” Otis asked, earning a dirty look from Jude and a shake of the head from Jackson.
“No, we’re giving her the benefit of the doubt. She’s been through a lot and she’s probably just exhausted.”
“If you say so, but I ain’t letting my guard down.” The old man said.
“I don’t expect you to, any of you, but I appreciate your willingness to give her a chance.”
“We don’t have much choice…” Scott began, but got an elbow in the rib from Amy. “Ouch, why’d you do that?”
“You don’t know when to shut-up.” She gave him a huge grin and he grinned back.
“Whatever, I’m one of the most understanding guys you know.”
“Okay…” Amy’s sarcastic words trailed off when a knock sounded at the door.
“Why is someone knocking, there’s a doorbell?” Jude asked.
Jackson left the kitchen and came back a few minutes later with a very pregnant woman following him. “Look who I found.”
“Hello my lovely wife.” Scott rushed over and hugged Michelle, being careful not to squeeze her belly. “Where’s Elijah?”
“He’s in the living room. He heard his favorite cartoon playing and sat down in front of the TV.”
“That sounds about right. Now, what are you doing here? Didn’t I ask you to stay at home?”
“You did honey, but I’m having labor pains and I didn’t want to be alone.”
“It isn’t time for the baby, Shell.” Scott gave her a loving look and hugged her tightly to his side.
“I know.” She looked up into his face with a worried frown.
“I’ll call the doctor. He’ll come right to the house. Take her up to your suite Scott.” Amy ordered as she pulled her cell phone out of her pocket.
Justy jerked against the restraints on her wrist, working the cloth tied over her mouth at the same time. I have to get out of here! She thought desperately.
They’d taken the sacks off the women’s heads so they could at least see each other. Lauren lay on her side, working her wrists, trying to get free.
Justy used her tongue and teeth to work the material until it loosened enough to move away from her mouth by using her chin and neck muscles. “I did it!”
Lauren mumbled something, but Justy didn’t understand. She scooted across the dirty floor to where the petite woman lay. “I’ll help you.” She pushed over onto her side and used her bound arms and legs to sidle up against the police woman’s side. Using her head, she pushed against the rag tied over Lauren’s mouth and said, “As I push, use your teeth and tongue to loosen it.”
She did what she was told, and less than five minutes later, Lauren was free to talk. “Thank you. I thought I would smother if that were on my mouth one more second.”
“I know what you mean. We have to get loose as fast as possible. I don’t know when they’re coming back.”
“Did you recognize them?”
“I can’t say for sure. The man looks like someone who came in and asked for a consultation with my dad last week.’ Fresh tears clouded her eyes and she willed them away.
“It was probably him, then.” Lauren said.
“Why do you think he’s keeping us alive? It can’t be for anything good.”
“I don’t know, I haven’t figured out what’s going on yet, but I will.”
“I wish we could call Jude. He’d save us.”
“Yeah, he would.” There was a note of sadness in Lauren’s voice.
Justy stared at her for a moment, thinking. “You love him, don’t you?”
“I think you protest too much.”
“Jude doesn’t think of me that way.”
“I don’t know if he thinks of me that way, either.”
“You didn’t see how he was looking at you then.”
“Really, what did he look like?”
“Like a man in love, now help me get loose and I’ll untie you.” Lauren ordered.
They turned back to back and Justy worked the zip-tie on Lauren’s wrist. “I can’t get it. I need something to cut it.”
They looked around, and Justy’s eyes fell on a piece of glass lying on the floor under a barred window. “There’s a piece of glass over there.” She gestured with her head.
“Do you want me to go get it?”
“Yeah, could you? I have to pee and every time I move it’s excruciating.”
Lauren scooted slowly across the floor. “Being tied-up isn’t conducive to quick movements.”
Justy laughed for the first time. It came out sounding dry and brittle, and she coughed. “Ugh, I am so thirsty I think I could drink a gallon of water.”
“Me too, I think I got it.” Lauren maneuvered around until she could pick-up the piece of glass. She scooted back over and began to work on Lauren’s tie. I was going to have you untie me first but I guess it doesn’t matter, as long as we get free.” She sawed with the glass, feeling every few seconds to make sure she wasn’t cutting Justy’s skin. “I’m trying not to hurt you.”
“I’m not in a hurry to feel pain, but do what you have to do.”
Lauren resumed cutting and a few moments later, Justy was free. She pulled her arms around to the front and rubbed her upper arms. “Here, give me the glass.” As soon as she had it in her hands she began cutting Lauren’s tie. She felt it give, and then she was free too.
Lauren stood up rubbing her own arms and said, “Now let’s get out of here.”
Both women rushed toward the door just as it opened, letting in the sun, and the cold. It was so bright Justy couldn’t make out who stood in the doorway. All she saw was a shadow. “Looks like I got here just in time.”
It was the short little red-haired guy.
Before Justy or Lauren could formulate a plan, he pulled out a needle and stuck first one, and then the other.