“So what’s the plan?” I ask.
“A locked, titanium briefcase, containing five million dollars, will be delivered to your door tomorrow at three p.m. by the Jaguar Express Company. You’ll find the keys in the drawer of your left, bedside table.”
“They have my niece, Madeleine Montague. She is, was…” His voice hitched, just a bit, but for a man as hardened by the world as Jeremiah, it stood out a mile and ripped at my heart. “Was an art student at the Emily Carr Institute. When her abductors called my sister Kate two days ago, she asked me for help.”
“What about the father?”
“Henri died two years ago. His yacht blew up in the harbour. Gas leak.”
“Okay, so they know Madeleine’s family has lots of money and probably know Kate is a widow and has to handle this on her own. Do they know about you?”
Jeremiah hesitated. “I’m hoping not. My sister sent me a tape of the call. The way the kidnapper muffles his voice, it sounds like he’s talking through a handkerchief. Makes me think it’s his first hussle. He asked Kate not to contact the police, so it’s just us.”
I look around. “Where are you?”
“Working. I’m handling the search for a missing agent in Germany. I can’t leave my post.” I’d never heard so much tension in Jeremiah’s voice, not even when we lost an important diplomat for an uncomfortable hour.
“I’m here. What do you need me to do with the money?”
Silence. Jeremiah usually spits-out my orders like a well-oiled machine gun. I waited.
“Sadie, I know this is a lot to ask, but you can name your price.”
I smiled. Like, I would charge him for a family matter? “What do you want me to do?”
“I want her safe.”
I nod, as if he can hear my head move and wait.
“I need you to be my courier. The drop is supposed to happen…” He mumbled on.
I noted the details, filing them in one part of my brain, while the rest of me wondered about his plan. The CIA never uses me as a courier. It’s so not my thing. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“I’m telling you everything I know. At noon, three days ago two men dressed like construction workers grabbed Maddy off of Georgia Street near Granville. They took her away in a stolen black van. Her best friend is a witness and it was caught on a two CCTV cameras. The kidnapper sounds nervous and that worries me. I…”
“You think there’s more to this.” Something in his voice, in his hesitations and inflections that made me wonder.
I could almost hear him swallow, almost see his Adam’s apple bob up and then down.
“I can’t explain,” he says.
“You know me better than that. I don’t believe in hunches. It’s more like a matter of probabilities. Maddy is strong-willed. She’s been a wild child since she turned thirteen, wrong friends… wrong drugs. Two years ago, she walked out of their estate home at sixteen to live with a blue-eyed, guitar player. Her plan was to make a living selling origami on the streets.”
I tried not to laugh. I liked this young woman already. “Let me get this straight. Raised rich, her parents expected Maddy to be a lawyer or a doctor; or at the very least to marry one. But she decided, or her hormones decided, another path.”
“You got it.”
“Sounds like she’s a good target. Her family’s got money and she’s easily distracted.”
“Here’s the catch.”
“There’s a catch?”
“There’s always a catch. Up to six months ago your profile of Maddy would have fit. Spoiled, rebellious and naïve—the perfect prey. But she changed.”
“No, a love for art.”
“Aaah. I see. Is a hot artist involved by any chance?” When he didn’t answer, I continued, “I’ve been there, done that.” Too many times to count. Artists have an understanding of sensuality that… let’s just say—intrigues me.
“That’s why I called you.”
… to be continued
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Mata Hari series launches on April Fools’ Day 2015
I’m getting better every day. (health-wise that is)