Home > Now You See Me(7)

Now You See Me(7)
Author: D.K. Hood

Glad of an efficient team, Jenna nodded. “Okay, get that paperwork over to the judge and lean on him for a warrant. We’re heading to the ME’s office to drop by the evidence we collected today. We might need Maisy’s DNA.” She leaned back and sighed as they pulled on coats and headed for the door. She turned to Kane. “Oh, that reminds me, have we stocked up enough provisions for a long winter? It’s come early this year.”

“I have everything under control. We have a barn filled with hay and straw, and sacks of everything else, including dog food. It arrived by truck last Saturday when you were out with Sandy and the twins. Now eat.” Kane pushed the untouched pie in front of her. “It’s too cold to drop calories. You’ve been feeling better since you started the protein shakes, haven’t you? Not so many headaches?”

Watching Kane wave to Susie for another slice of pie, Jenna picked up her fork. “Yeah, much better. You should drink them too.”

“I don’t need to. I’ll just eat more.” Kane shrugged. “Last winter, I dropped weight way too fast. That’s my problem. I can’t keep the weight on. I can lose it real fast and then my energy and strength suffer. This year, I decided to build more muscle bulk.”

Smiling, Jenna dug into the pie. “Okay, I’ll eat the pie.” She frowned. “I don’t know where to start looking for Maisy. She could be anywhere, even out of the county if she took a ride with a killer. I hope the warrant will come through today. My gut is telling me we need to move on finding her ASAP.”









Special Agent Ty Carter stepped inside the neat compact ranch house in the beautiful suburb known as Paradise Falls and scanned the crime scene. Charlie Bridger; his wife, Clare; and eight-year-old son, Gavin, had vanished without a trace. A half-eaten meal sat on the kitchen table alongside two phones. The keys to the white Buick Encore in the garage sat in a dish by the kitchen door. Coats and hats hung in the mudroom. It was as if they’d been abducted by aliens. He turned to Agent Jo Carter and shrugged. “I figure we’re wastin’ our time here. I’ve been through the house twice now and there are no traces of anyone being here, apart from an overturned chair.”

“Not even so much as a footprint.” Jo shook her head. “What concerns me more than anything is that, whatever happened to them, they left in such a rush they didn’t put a coat on their little boy. It’s freezing outside and even under duress a mother would insist on getting him a coat.”

Carter moved the toothpick across his lips, noticed Jo’s annoyed expression and removed it. So, he’d start chewing gum again—anything for a quiet life. “That depends. What’s missin’ from this scene?”

“Signs of a struggle, blood, drag marks?” Jo huffed out a sigh. “What are you getting at, Carter?”

“Weapons.” Carter waved a hand around, encompassing the entire house. “No gun locker, no rifles, I found no sign of a weapon anywhere. I figure this family had an aversion to owning weapons.” He smiled at her. “So, if a guy walked in the back door wearin’ a ski mask and wavin’ a gun around, do you figure the mom would ask him real nice if she could grab a coat for her kid, or would she be too darn scared?”

“She’d be terrified and do what was necessary to protect her child.” Jo raised both eyebrows. “They would have followed instructions.”

Carter nodded. “Yeah, someone could have marched them outside and into a vehicle. The nearest neighbor is five acres away, the driveway shielded by trees. It’s a kidnapper’s paradise. One guy goes into the house. There’s no forced entry, so they left the door unlocked and he orders them to leave. I figure he had a van with a driver. The gunman pushed them inside and then climbed in after them. Maybe he got the husband to restrain the others… Who knows? There had to be at least two abductors, or one of the family would have made a run for it.”

“Maybe not if the kid was threatened.” Jo stared into space like she did often when she was visualizing a crime scene. “If they held a gun to the kid’s head, the parents would comply.”

Taking in the scene again, Carter shook his head. “I don’t think so. Look at the table. Dad sat here with his back to the door, Mom next to him, the kid next to her. The phones give their positions. The cover of the pink one, has the wife’s name on it.” He rubbed his chin. “This was a normal guy, not trained to protect himself, probably never got into a fight in his life, but I’ve seen all types throw themselves at a gunman to allow their wife and kid to escape. It should have been a bloodbath.” He sighed. “No one just walks out with a gunman.”

“Maybe the chair was the only thing he could do?” Jo folded her arms over her chest. “I’d like to know why they were taken.”

The same thoughts had been spinning through Carter’s brain. He nodded. “Yeah, the reason behind the kidnapping is what we need to know. There’s nothing for us here.” He pulled out his phone. “I’ll call the local sheriff and tell him first break in the weather we’ll be heading back to Snakeskin Gully. We’ll work on the case from there. We’ll need background info on the victims. People don’t just vanish like this unless they have value to someone, as in witnesses to a crime, drug syndicates, snitches. We need to know everything about them to find out who kidnapped them, and as no bodies have shown up, I’d have expected a ransom by now. Why is this family so valuable to someone?”

“If they’d witnessed a crime, the sheriff would have told us.” Jo looked around the room. “The calendar says the kid had a dentist appointment today.” She shook her head. “Witness protection?”

Carter rubbed the back of his neck itching to chew on a toothpick and looked at her. “I can call it in and leave details about the couple and when they went missin’. If there’s a problem, we’ll never know. They’ll handle it.” Giving up, he pulled a toothpick from his top pocket and tossed it into his mouth. He looked at Jo and wiggled his eyebrows. “Do you want me to start smoking cigars? I kinda like the smell of them.”

“You hate cigar smoke, so that won’t fly, Carter.” Jo leaned against the kitchen counter and shook her head slowly. “I pulled a splinter out of your mouth, Ty. A splinter. That’s one thing, but the wood must be wearing down your teeth. It’s just replacing one bad habit with another. Have you tried hypnosis?”

Carter took one more look around the kitchen and then settled his gaze back on Jo. She was mothering him again. Darn, he wasn’t that much younger than her, but he understood her lack of close family manifested in a need to nurture. He lifted one shoulder in a half shrug. “Yeah, and it didn’t go well. I had a major flashback and found myself restrained by two psychiatric nurses and drugged up for days. That ain’t ever happening again.”

“Okay, I’ll drive and you make the calls.” Jo ducked under the crime scene tape on the front door. “Call Wolfe as well. His team did the forensic sweep of the scene when the family were reported missing. See if he’s found anything.” She headed toward the rental and looked up. “It’s stopped snowing.”

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