Love On the Run Pt. 04bymadam_noe©
Author's Note: this is the final installment of Love On the Run. I hope you have enjoyed it. As always I sincerely welcome comments/feedback. You'll note, particularly in Chapter Sixteen, mention of the kellners of Chicago. Sebastian Kellner's story is told in Out of the Past also available on here. If you enjoyed this story, I recommend checking that one out.
Jessie had spent years preparing for this. Life on the run meant she'd spent every moment studying and planning her life around every dark possibility. She was always prepared for a dark shadow to grab her in an alley, for an invader to come through a window, but not this. Agent Soto was someone she trusted, a woman who'd always come off as a solid and trustworthy agent.
Soto had zapped her, so she wasn't going to die right away. Probably Soto worked for Diego, making a double agent who'd discovered there was more money working for the drug lords than fighting them. If anybody on the crew was that kind of rat, Jessie would have put money on Klein.
Her muscles twitched as she lay there, trying to listen to hear f they hit an expressway, or anything familiar. The seemed to be in traffic, slowed, and Soto put on the radio and turned it up, screeching Tejano music. This could only mean in the heat windows were down and cars were close. She could try screaming for help, but that might just get her zapped again, and Jessie wanted to avoid that.
Her hands had been tied behind her back, and Jessie didn't even remember it happening. Getting stun-gunned was a highly unpleasant experience, to say the least. Steadying herself, the tried to think on what to do. What she knew was that if she didn't try to fight back, for every inch they moved forward her chances of living went down. Wherever Soto was taking her, Jessie wasn't expected to survive.
She wasn't truly sure if she could change her fate, but live or die, Jessie was going down swinging. Her hands were cuffed by a zip line, so she settled for trying to get the mask off. It was a pillowcase, she realized, so using just her lips, tongue, and teeth she began to work it forward.
It moved along but snagged on her ponytail. Cursing silently Jessie shook her head hoping Soto was distracted. Suddenly the car jerked to a halt and Jessie was thrown forward. She hit the back of the front seats, her nose smacking into the leather, and then was wedged down into the foot well.
"Mierda!" Soto yelled. In rapid Spanish she cursed another driver's ancestors and then slammed on the gas. It wedged Jessie further down, and it jerked the pillow case free. Though it hadn't been blocking her air she still gasped, and let her eyes readjust to the sunlight.
There was no way to get the cuffs off, but there was a trick she'd spent hours perfecting in her life on the run. It wasn't easy flung into the tiny foot well, but quickly enough Jessie had passed her legs through the loop made by her cuffed wrists so now her hands were in front of her.
She had to get Soto to stop and escape, get word to Julian. Taking a deep breath Jessie slowly pushed herself back to the seat. Once she was settled she lunged and drew her cuffed hands around Soto's neck, choking her.
The agent wheeled onto a side street, gasping, and the car sped into a parked car at the side of the road. Jessie was thrown forward, sliding between the seats her head hit the dash hard enough she saw stars. She was still cuffed around Soto's neck and the force wrenched her left wrist.
Soto immediately went from her pocket. Dazed Jessie fought her, slinking back to the backseat she grabbed Soto's head. The other woman clawed at her but Jessie fought like a tiger. Multiple times she had faced certain death and never once had Jessica Andrews ever given in, she wasn't going to start now.
Weak and bloodied, the two women struggled. Jessie did all she could to keep Soto from going for the stun gun or anything else, but it was hard. Her feet scrabbled at the window for purchase and as Soto bit her Jessie kicked and the window shattered, held together as it was safety glass. Two more kicks and it was gone.
Jessie began to scream for help as the struggled, calling out fire in English and Spanish, knowing that would be the most likely way to get a stranger to call emergency services. Soto slipped her hand free of Jessie's clutch and the next thing Jessie knew her arm was buzzing and once again she went limp.
As her eye closed, heavy-lidded, she heard Soto murmuring "c'mon, c'mon" as a the muffled sound of a line being rung filled the car. "It's me. We're in trouble. She woke up, chocked me, I hit a car. What do I do?" Soto paused. "All right. See you in a moment." She hung up and Jessie felt the pillow case being worked back on her head.
"You little bitch. I don't like doing this, you know? But my mom is sick, I gotta pay the bills somehow. They're not going to kill you, you know? You know exactly what's in that locker, don't you?"
If Jessie could have spoken she would have cursed a blue streak, but all she could do was moan.
"You really fucked up that night, kid. If you hadn't popped Jimmy Juarez he would have been dead the next day, same as Johnny Bones. And instead of living hand to mouth in the countries that make up the Earth's ass, you could have been living the high life. But you can't leave well enough alone, can you?
"And now, once more, you've ruined it all. If you'd gone with me to the meeting site, I might have protected you. But bitch, I hurt, my sister's car hurts. I'm turning you over to someone who has every reason to make sure you don't live any longer than you have to."
Jessie just moaned. What the hell was going on?
"Fucking Julian," Soto continued, her speech hurried and nervous. "If he'd just left well enough alone it would have been fine, the money would have kept flowing. But the fucking boy scout had to ruin it all. Fuck, if you hadn't made those stupid calls to Johnny Bones, he wouldn't have figured it out, and it still would have been fine. But no, you had to go behind everyone's back, make that second call, and fuck everything up. Ah, good."
The sound of a car door sounded very close, then Soto's opened. A strange man greeted her in Spanish, which Jessie understood perfectly, even the Cuban dialect. They were discussing where to meet, a warehouse miles away from the meeting spot or the bus lockers. And the strange man whose voice seemed vaguely familiar.
The tingling was lessening in her limbs, but Jessie knew it would be long minutes before she could move. Both Soto and the stranger grabbed her, roughly pulled her from the BMW and dumped her into what Jessie realized was a trunk. As the lid slammed shut she heard the stranger promise Soto Jessie would die, as soon as they got what they wanted.
She knew they meant what they said, but she wasn't dead yet, meaning there was a chance. Jessie took a deep breath, calmed herself, and began flexing her fingers. What scared her most was not knowing where Julian was. From the things Soto had said, she had no doubt they meant to kill him too.
"This smells funny," Agent Klein said into his hidden microphone, covering it by leaning down near a garbage can.
"You're sniffing a garbage can at a bus station," Julian said.
"I meant the op," Klein retorted. "I'm going for a smoke." He stormed outside and fished the soft pack from his shit, pulled one out and lit it. Pulling out his cell phone he pretended to speak into it, though he was talking to Julian and the rest of the team. "Something's up. What's Helen's nine on the meet?"
"Just a moment." Julian turned the band over on his receiver and tried to raise the older agent. There was radio silence. Switching back to Klein and their team he cured. "You might be right, something's up. I can't reach Helen."
Klein looked right at the window where they were assembled and sighed. He jiggled his cell phone. "Join the fucking twenty-first century, will ya?"
Julian barked at one of the younger agents along as support. "Call Helen, anyone on her team. I want contact!"
Turning back to the binoculars Klein has his radio off and was talking with an employee. "What the hell is he doing?" Julian asked the youngest agent near him, a girl who looked like she'd been recruited straight from high school. Where did they find these kids? He'd never been that young, Julian was certain of it.
Klein had fished the key out and was motioning with it. The employee took Klein back into a small office as they watched. "Um, sir, I think Agent Klein is figuring out which locker the key opens."
Suddenly feeling melodramatic and foolish, Julian felt his temper swell, and tried hard to keep it under wraps. "Indeed," he ground out.
Ripping off his headset he broke rank and used his cell phone to try and call Soto or Jessie. Well, at least they were keeping with the plan, neither of the women was to be reachable.
Julian made a decision. No one else was watching the bus station, so he strode out of the offices and down to the open street, ignoring every shout behind him. He met up with Klein as he emerged from the office.
The employee adjusted his thick glasses. "Looks to be ten-twenty-nine."
"Open it, Klein."
The other agent shrugged and they found it among the larger lockers. Klein opened it to dust. It was empty.
Fear gripped him. It would be too much to hope Jimmy Juarez could hide millions of dollars and some secret for ten years right in the heart of Johnny Bones' territory without the other man having found out. So what did Jessie have that Johnny Bones could want?
"Klein, you take over the team here. Shut this locker up. You," he indicated the terminal employee, "we were never here. Do not move, do not breathe on this locker again until I give the ok."
"Where are you going, sir?"
"To the meeting location. I can't raise Helen."
"Sir, you'll need a radio. Take mine." Klein pulled his receiver and ear piece free, passing it over.
"Thanks. What the hell is going on?"
"Somebody wants your girl dead. Somebody we think is one of us."
Julian nodded. "You're thinking Soto."
Klein sighed. "I don't want to rat on my partner, but yeah. Her mom is real sick, weird disease, fatal, one that baseball player had. The bills are huge. Her salary doesn't cover it and her mom is uninsured. She's making money somehow."
"All right. I'm going to the garage then, retrace her steps from there. Cal the cab company and make sure they were dropped there. Let me know ASAP."
Klein nodded and pulled out another cigarette. "For this, I'm smoking inside."
"Dare to ream," Julian said and jerked the cigarette from hiss mouth. "Do this. An innocent woman's life is at stake."
"Wait, Vasquez? These cartels kills hundreds of people a day. Why is it so hard to kill Jessica Andrews, cheerleader gone wild?"
"What do you mean?"
"Some very powerful people want her dead, so she should be dead. Why is she alive?"
"I don't have time for riddles, Klein. Do what I say."
He ran for his car, heart pounding. The operation was hijacked, the vig was gone, and Jessie was out in the mist. There was a traitor in-house, and this was the sum total of what Julian knew. Time was against them, but he was going to find Jessie, and do it fast.
The car had stopped several times, but she knew they had reached their destination when she heard the driver open his door. Seconds later the trunk opened, but she was still surrounded by black. At least she had located what felt like one of those oversized flashlights cops were so fond of. She'd been zapped and her head re-covered, but her arms were unbound. She gripped the flashlight to her stomach, curled in the fetal position as the trunk lid opened. There w as no additional light so she knew they were inside.
"Where am I?" she asked loudly.
She'd gotten what she wanted. She heard two others move at that shout so she was facing three men. Quickly Jessie pinched the corner of the hood and clutched the flashlight close. There was movement, and she felt four hands grasp her and lift her. She went with it, and made it look like the hood snagged on the trunk lid, lifting off.
The two men holding her were muscle, dumb looking, and easily distracted. She grabbed the flashlight and swung it at the head of the one holding her shoulders. Instinctually he dropped her to block. Jessie swung her free hand out to brace herself on the bumper and kicked at the one holding her legs.
She managed to kick him in the jaw but dropped the flashlight as she tumbled to the concrete floor. Her victory was short-lived as a gun was jammed against her temple.
"Rise, slowly." It was that voice that seemed familiar, but she couldn't place it.
Tossing her hair she rose, hands up, and snuck a glance. The man holding the gun was older, built like an aging linebacker. He was completely unfamiliar to her.
"Who the fuck are you?"
He sighed. "Nothing that dramatic. Just the man whose going to make you talk."
He moved the gun to her ribs and jabbed her. "Go inside the house. No, we won't kill you until you've told us what we need to know, but I and my friends will shoot you someplace very painful. And Gianni over there enjoys taking women who cry and try to fight back, so think on that."
Jessie stood up straight and tried to fake brave. "Rape? That's the best you can do?" She wondered if he could tell that scared her shitless.
For the first time in her life, Jessie found herself waiting to be rescued. She could only hope that by now, Julian knew something was wrong, and he was riding to the rescue. Because, looking around at the two henchmen and the Spartan room with bondage chair, she knew there was no way she was getting herself out of this one.
Julian was killing mad. No one had shown up at the rendezvous point but somehow had passed Helen and her team, the eyes on point, with the wrong radio bands. Normally a small miscommunication, except Jessie and Soto had never shown, and Soto was off the reservation.
Once he made sure Helen and Klein were in contact, he made his way over to the garage. The beater was still there, an '87 Pinto with more rust spots than metal. And just as Julian finally found the attendant having a cigarette break Klein called and told him the cab had dropped the women there.
Julian flashed his badge and tried to rein in his temper. "I need you to go back to the office now. At about nine forty-five this morning two women were dropped off by a cab. I need to know how they left."
The kid smiled. "The babes? Both tall, one a hot Latina, the other a smokin' redhead?"
Grinding his teeth Julian nodded and resisted smacking him. "Close enough."
"They left in a sweet red beemer."
His heart began to beat rapidly. "You got video here?"
In the cramped booth the attendant backed up the tape. Julian felt like he was going out of his mind until the kid finally had the tape queued up. There, plain as day, he saw Agent Soto driving a red BMW out of the garage, but he couldn't see Jessie.
"Back it up," he said, and the kid did. Julian's phone rang but he ignored it when he saw it was Klein. The other agent could wait.
It was hard to see, but it appeared Jessie was in the back seat of the BMW. And it seemed she had something black over her head. His blood chilled.
"What spot was the BMW in?"
"Just a moment, man," the kid said and switched tapes.
Klein called again and Julian ignored the call as the tape was queued up. What he saw when the attendant it play made him want to bellow. Klein had tried to warn him there was a rat in the unit, but of anyone he could have suspected, Soto was at the bottom of the list.
He got a partial plate off the BMW and Julian wasted no time calling it in to a friend on the local force. Until he knew if Soto worked alone, he would play it close to the vest. Wasting no time, he got back into his car and hit the streets, heading the direction the car had in the grainy video.
Miami was not the largest city in the country, but plenty big, and know for an overabundance of luxury cars. Finding the right red beemer was like finding a needle in a haystack. He wanted to call Klein and warn him, hell, it was protocol and he owed his team, but in that moment, all he wanted was to find Jessie, and make sure she was safe.
Jessie glared at the henchmen as they tied her to the chair. Their names were already forgotten in her fear, but she eyed them for weaknesses. The linebacker had chosen well his three goons had no bum knees or bad shoulders among them. She counted six guns and five knives between them, and from the ropes it was clear they'd done this before.
"Nice, I would have gone for a blood knot personally," she told the short one as he tied her feet. She was trying for brave, hoping anything would keep the linebacker from enforcing his earlier threat of rape.
Physical wounds she knew from experience would heal, but the psychological ones stayed with you. Rape was something she wasn't willing to ever try. To her the women and men who'd come back for that were the strongest people in the world, but she doubted she'd make the ranks.
"I like knots that hold strong but are easy to untie," the goon said.
She looked away, afraid she'd start screaming like some movie dimwit. If she could get herself out of this situation she would, but she needed help.
"You want me to talk?" She asked the linebacker. "The money is in a bus locker. Jimmy liked keeping things there, drugs and cash. Said it made it harder for anybody to hit him."
He smiled. She out his age at over fifty and he was one of those men with good genes. In his youth he would have been eye catching, and he was built like the footballer she'd been nicknaming him in her mind. He had barely gone soft and while the goons looked malevolent and either bored or crazy as well, he looked clear-headed, and that made him the scariest.
"We know that. We also know the DEA knows, and we also know Johnny Bones already got the cash. What we need to know is what was with it."
"With it?" She'd already guessed there was some information with it people were still keen to kill for ten years later, but she had no clue. "I thought it was just the money."
"Clearly not." One of the goons brought the head man a chair, and as he sat down close enough their knees touched the goons took up their positions again. One on the garage door, one on the door to the house, and one on the door leading to the side yard.
"Now, how many people have you told about this?"
"About what?!" she nearly screamed.
He produced a knife. It was a flip blade, about five inches, and had holes in it so it could stab and be easily withdrawn. Not as shiny as knives in the movies, it was much more terrifying. "How many people know?"
"I don't know!" She struggled, but it was useless. There were ropes around her hands, more tying her arms down, trying her to the chair across the chest and thighs, and yet more at her ankles. All separate she'd have to cut through six bunches looped at least five times to get free.
Leaning forward slightly he ran the knife over her thigh. Jessie tried to fight it, but she jumped, rattling the chair, and they all laughed. "Do you even know what it is everyone wants?"
Cocking his head like a dog, his pale hazel eyes bored into hers. "I wonder if you do. Jessica, it's corroborating proof of a secret you carry inside you."
The rapist goon was closest at the door to the yard and he took an involuntary step forward, eager. She leaned away from him and they all laughed.