A Pawn for Malice(57)

By: Cynthia Roberts

“We’ve got to get her back.”

Ayden punched at his forearm, nodding and replied sympathetically.

“We will, Bry. We will.” He hesitated only briefly. “This prick, Corbat, lives in a decent neighborhood up in Esperance. There’s four to his apartment house. I checked around and scuttlebutt is, no one has seen him in days.

One of the guys in his building knew what he was driving. It’s an old 64 Chevy Corvair Greenbrier van, two-tone light blue in color. The thing is a classic, so it stands out. More than likely, it’s what he used to transport her in. It’s possible he’s living out of it too, because back then, they were manufactured as mini-campers on wheels.

I ran footage from the security cameras outside your building, and we got a hit. One was seen exiting the back entrance of the Capitol around the time Jessica was missing, heading west on State Street. Looks like he’s got an accomplice too. A traffic camera picked up two male occupants, and one of them, was definitely Corbat. They’re running a facial on the other one. They were last scene, heading North on the Interstate, where we lost them.”

“At least we’ve got something solid to go on,” Bryan replied. “I called my contact at the DA’s office. They had info. on next of kin. Looks like Luther’s brother had been working at Howes Caverns as an all-round handyman for years, which backs up his story. If he’s been fired though, he won’t have access any more. I still think it’s worth checking out.”

Ayden nodded in agreement.

“Just because he’s fired, doesn’t mean he still hasn’t got a way inside, especially after all those years he’s been there. Sounds like a great hideout to me.”

Bryan keyed in the address on the dashboard GPS system.

“This is a sweet ride. What is it a 15’?”

“Yep. I confiscated it in a drug raid a month ago. This baby went for $85K brand new and has all the bells and whistles.”

“It’ll be great, if ever you’re in pursuit off-road.”

“Can’t wait to test and see what she’s made of.”

Bryan’s cell rang and he answered it immediately, when he recognized Connor’s phone number flashing on the screen.

“Hey, Connor, what’s up?”

“I just wanted to let you know the Clerk’s office is holding the bill. It won’t be going up for a vote before both Houses, until we give them the go ahead. I leaked it to the news, and the major networks will run it, as will the three radio stations. Whatever Corbat listens to, or watches, he’ll at least know you’re trying to work with him.”

“Awesome, Connor. Thanks. I’m incognito, buddy for the rest of the week. Clair’s clearing my calendar, as we speak.”

“I know. I got your message. If anyone can find Jessica, Bry. You two cowboys can.”

Bryan chuckled at the jibe. “Feels good to be back in the saddle again. Wish me luck.”

“You don’t need it,” Connor replied confidently. “I’ve seen you in your badass mode before. Fucking get that guy, and bring our girl back!”

“I plan on it. I’ll check in later.”

Bryan shared what Connor just told him.

“All the stations have been notified that the bill’s been removed from both houses for a vote. At least, Corbat will know I’m cooperating and it’ll give us some time to find Jessica.”

“That’s good news.”

“Did you ping her phone.” Bryan asked.

Ayden nodded his reply.

“We lost her signal an hour after she texted you last. Could be because she’s out of range, or her battery was low.”

“I’m waiting to hear back from security. I talked to them just before you picked me up. It’s mandatory now, that all the members have a Follow Me app downloaded onto their phones, in case of situations like this. I had the app added to Jessica’s phone, after Corbat’s attempt the first time. It has a stealth mode on it too, that hides the app icon on the screen.”

Bryan’s cell phone rang again. The caller ID indicated unknown, but he pressed the button just in case it was Corbat.

“Bryan Gallagher here.”

“Smart thing you listened,” Corbat said on the other end of the line. “You better keep the fucking cops off my trail too, or she’s dead. You got it?”

Bryan depressed the speaker button right away as he signaled Ayden it was Corbat on the other end of the line.

“I want to speak with her?”

“No. Ain’t with her. Besides, I’ve come up with a better plan. I did a little checking on your girlfriend, Senator. She’s a rich one, and, a m-i-g-h-t-y, rich one, at that. You want her back safe and alive, then, scramble up …oh … let’s say … two million in one-hundred-dollar bills by tomorrow night, and she’s all yours.”