Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ex Delicto Chapter 20

As one of my pre-readers said, it's time to strap in and hold on.

Monday morning dragged by, the clock inching forward like a slug on the sidewalk. It was bittersweet having to say goodbye to Edward the night before, and he was all I could focus on. It was wonderful that we'd moved forward in our relationship, but I was feeling as though I didn't have enough time to devote to him right now.

The office was too warm, too claustrophobic. My paperwork was putting me to sleep. When I got the call for a deposition for one of our top cases- the client only being available for a brief window- I jumped at the chance to get out of the office.

I sent a text to Jake as I gathered my things, but received no response. Frowning, I called his cell and still got no answer. Letting out a frustrated groan, I sat heavily in my chair, swinging a bit side to side as I thought. Running my hands over the soft leather armrests, I contemplated my options. This was very important for this case, but I wasn't supposed to leave alone. Then again, Dad was bringing Newton in this morning, so there was nothing left to be afraid of.

Decision made, I let my assistant know where I was headed and made my way to the parking garage. The elevator dinged loudly on the basement level, and I stepped out alone, the click of my heels echoing in the cavernous garage. I felt uneasy, the fine hairs on the back of my neck rising as I made my way quickly to the attendant in the booth. He handed me a set of keys to a company vehicle, and I hurried to walk over and slide in. I told myself to relax, that I was just working myself up over nothing.

I felt more steady as I started the car, the locks engaging giving me a sense of safety. I knew my way to the client's office building, as we'd had our initial meetings with him there. He was on the fifteenth floor of an ostentatious glass building, filled with gold and white leather furniture.

The downside was the lack of parking for guests. I circled the block, unable to find anything nearby. I had to park at a public lot several blocks away, and I grumbled as I leaned over to the passenger seat to grab my briefcase. This deposition had better be worth it.

The streets were fairly crowded, like any other weekday. I noticed when someone fell into step beside me, but paid no attention to them. When I felt something pressed into my lower back, I tensed and slowed down. The gravelly voice in my ear sent shivers of fear curling down my spine.

My steps faltered, but the voice forced me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. "Keep walking. Play nice. You don't want anyone to get hurt, do you?"

My eyes wheeled in my head, momentarily blurring my vision. Thoughts of how to wrench away and make a run for it circled in my brain. The sickness in the pit of my belly was threatening to push itself up, to rush up my gorge and out all over the sidewalk. The people around us were going about their lives, oblivious to the peril of my own life.

"I know you're thinking about it. Make any stupid moves, open your mouth at all, and I start shooting women and children first."

Some sort of strangled sound was emitted from somewhere, and on we walked. There was an alley opening up yards in front of us, the mouth yawning and beckoning me to run down it. Yet, I couldn't risk him going on a shooting spree, not on my foolish impulse.

When he steered me down that very alley and the sunlight was blotted out as the buildings surrounded us, my legs gave out, and I tripped over my own shoes. Hands roughly gripped, my upper arm on fire with the brutal force of it.

"Stupid cow."

Tears coursed their way down my face, draining into the neckline of my blouse and absorbed by the silk as though they never existed, only to be replaced by new ones as rapidly as they disappeared. There was a car in the alley, a black sedan with darkly tinted windows. It was similar to a police vehicle, but surely he wasn't stupid enough to use his own city issued car.

Thoughts and statistics crowded my mind about not letting your abductor take you to a secondary location. Your chances were greater if you didn't get in the car.

"Get in the car," he said gruffly, giving my back a hard shove. My head smacked the window, my arms coming up too late to brace myself. I saw stars in my vision, and felt blood on my fingertips as I stopped to rub the spot. He grew impatient with me, until the sound of the trunk unlatching sent me into hysterics.

"No!" I cried quickly. "Please, not the trunk, I'll ride in the car. Not the trunk!" I pleaded to deaf ears, as he pushed and shoved as I fought him. I didn't want to be trapped in a tiny, airless pocket.

When he pushed me in head first, I realized with a jolt of clarity that nothing about this was going to be easy. Then my head was grabbed by the hair and a piece of duct tape was placed over my mouth. He quickly wrapped more tape around my wrists before slamming the trunk shut.



"Sir!" Maggie rushed into my office unannounced.

"Margaret, I assume you haven't simply forgotten your manners. What's wrong?"

"Officer Black was found by a dumpster behind Isabella's office building. He's alive, sir, but barely." She was wringing her small hands as she spoke, and I focused on them in an attempt to maintain my composure.

"Why would anyone do that?" I asked my secretary in a level voice.

"That's the other thing. Isabella left her office forty-five minutes ago in a company vehicle. She never arrived to her appointment."

My façade of calm was momentarily broken, as the nearest paper weight was heaved across the room to dent the wood panelling. When I recovered, I immediately started giving orders to Maggie. She never flinched.

"See if their company cars have GPS and track it. Call my sons, starting with Detective Swan. Inform my wife her presence is required in my office; do not tell her what it is regarding. Have the other officers that split Isabella's detail here for a briefing immediately." I took several deep breaths, trying to calm my nerves. It did not work. "I need Peter pulled out of the mayor's office. This takes precedence." When the poor girl turned to go, I thought of one more thing. "And double the guard on Mrs. Denali's hospital door."

When the door closed behind her, I let loose the furious, anguished roar that had been trying to claw it's way out of my chest. My head dropped to the desk, my hands shaking in my lap. The very thing I'd been so afraid of had happened. I thought we had the bastard cold, but he hadn't shown up to work this morning. Someone knew that I was looking for him, somehow. I didn't know who it was, but they would suffer my wrath alongside him when I discovered them.

Emmett was the first to arrive, and before I could speak he crushed me in his huge embrace. "Maggie told me, Dad. Where the fuck do we start?"

"We treat her like any abduction. The first twenty four, son. That's all we can do. But don't think I won't
pull every goddamn meter maid off the streets to look for her."

"I feel like we failed her, Dad." Emmett voiced my own feelings, and I could do nothing but cry alongside him.

When Renée arrived a scant ten minutes after her eldest child, she was pale and shaking like a leaf. "It's not every day you're driven to the commissioner's office in a black and white, lights and sirens the entire way. What in the ever loving-"

"It's Bella, Mom," Emmett interrupted her tirade.

Renée turned furious eyes to me. "When you catch that son of a bitch, I get first dibs." There was a reason I loved my wife so fiercely.

"I'm afraid you'll have to get in line," said Jasper from the doorway. "Red's here to help, in any way we can."

I nodded at the solidarity the fire department was showing us. "Let's get to it, then."

I know you're going to tell me what you think, so I don't even need to ask your thoughts, lol.

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