“That’s why I called you,” says Jeremiah.
“To do what exactly?” I ask
“Turn up with the money.”
“Blend with the crowd, make the exchange as smooth as possible…”
“Don’t you want me to find out about the kidnapper? Take him down?
I take a second breath. His tone—abrasive and demanding—doesn’t sound like him. Normally, he’s so in control, a poster-boy for the league of the anal-retentives.
“I don’t want to risk Maddy’s safety,” he continued in a softer voice.
I’m about to say something when Jeremiah clicks off. I look at my cell phone for a minute. It doesn’t add up.
I walk to the window and look out over English Bay. It’s dark outside, but the lights from the street and businesses illuminate the scene. The tide is high, almost up to the road. Black ocean water rolls in on a long reach over the sand, edged with angry white caps. The somber sky hangs low. A sliver of the moon slides in and out of the cloud cover. Christmas in the Pacific Northwest.
Dampness burrows into my bones like termites. I shiver involuntarily. Wonder how Jeremiah’s niece feels? Somewhere in this rainy city Madeleine Montague is no doubt shivering, but not from the storm. She’s shivering with fear.
Why? Why her? Why now? There has to be a lot more to the story. Either Jeremiah, the legendary mastermind spook, can’t figure it out, or he thinks he’s too close to make reasonable deductions… Nah, neither idea feels right. I wander over to the bureau and start a pot of coffee.
For some reason Jeremiah wants me involved. Fresh eyes? Female eyes? Or am I a blind pond he’s putting into place? What am I not seeing?
I pull a notepad and pen from my purse and sit down in the lounge chair in the corner of the room. I write:
1) three days ago, noon, Madeleine was abducted from downtown,
2) two days ago Kate, her mother, gets a call from what sounds like an amateur kidnapper and Jeremiah is called in for help,
3) one day ago I’m called in,
4) three pm tomorrow five million will arrive in a secured briefcase,
5) six p.m. tomorrow the exchange will take place in Gastown.
That gives me forty four hours to figure things out.
to be continued…
This is a prelude short story for the Mata Hari Series, which launches on April Fools’ Day.
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Hope you’re enjoying the season.