The Message Chapter 13
Author’s Note: Thank you to all of you who have been taking time to give me feedback about the story so far. This story will eventually contain a “loving” relationship between two women. The characters, town and storyline are all products of my imagination. Although Tennessee is “really” a state!
June 2007 © J.A. Breeze
By J.A. Breeze
“Hurry, Melinda,” Jennifer said as she rode with the editor to CJ’s. “I have a bad feeling about this and just can’t shake it.” Melinda cast a questioning look at her boss as she maneuvered through traffic as quickly and safely as possible. Jennifer’s face had gone pale. She was twisting her hands together nervously.
“Jennifer, we’re almost there just stay calm.”
Jennifer released a deep sigh as a tremor ran through her body causing her to shudder. Melinda, who had never seen her boss and longtime friend react with such obvious distress, reached over and covered Jennifer’s wringing hands with one of her own. “Jennifer, can you tell me what has you so upset?”
Jennifer’s eyes were open wide and glaring. Her breathing was rapid. Melinda was sure the publisher was on the verge of an all out panic attack.
“I can’t explain it, but I have this feeling of dread. I just know something is terribly, terribly wrong.”
“Hang on. Okay? We’ll be there in a minute and you’ll be better once you see Courtney and know she’s alright.” Melinda attempted to calm her boss with her words but she could tell by the tense body beside her that it wasn’t working.
As Melinda turned onto Elm Street, Jennifer searched the street for a familiar face. Her eyes moving quickly from person to person. Discarding each one. Finally, she saw a group gathered on the sidewalk just outside the music store. They would pass the group to reach the parking lot just beyond the store. When the car drew even with the small cluster of people, Jennifer released a sound that was somewhere between a wail and a groan.
“Stop the car now. Let me out. Now!” she cried as she reached for the handle to open the door and prepared to jump from the car before it had completely come to a stop.
Startled by her boss’s outcry, Melinda automatically braked and brought the car to a stop. Jennifer was out and running toward the group before she could ask what she had seen. She watched as Jennifer pushed her way through the small crowd of spectators straight to a dark-haired girl being held by some woman as she sobbed hysterically.
“Sarah,” Jennifer called as she drew near. “Sarah, where’s Courtney?” Jennifer fell down to her knees beside Sarah who had her face buried in the woman’s chest as she cried, oblivious to those around her.
Jennifer reached out a hand and took Sarah’s chin to turn her to look into her face. “Sarah, honey. Where is Courtney?”
When Sarah saw the familiar face of her friend’s mother, she lunged for her. Jennifer almost fell back from the force of the assault.
Acting out of instinct, Jennifer began to rock the girl and smooth her hair. My God I am going to throw up. Stay calm. Just stay calm and get her to talk to you.
Jennifer continued to sooth the girl for what felt like forever but in reality was only a few minutes. Finally, she couldn’t take it any longer and moved her hands to Sarah’s arms and pushed her back so she could look her in the face.
“Sarah? Sarah? Can you tell me what happened?” The girl appeared to be in shock and wasn’t responding to her questions. “Sarah? I said tell me what happened!” Jennifer said in a louder voice as she gently shook the girl to get her attention.
Startled blue eyes looked into hers and then the teen spoke the words that shattered the woman holding her.
“They took her. I tried to stop them. But they took her,” Sarah began to sob, the heaves shaking her body.
Her words became a mumbled torment to the woman beside her. “They took her … they took her.”
“Court-ney, Court-ney!” Jennifer cried as she held onto Sarah.
The sound of her cries greeted Casey as she arrived at the scene. With a nod of her head she acknowledged the officers taking statements from various witnesses. Her steps didn’t slow as she made her way straight to the blonde woman who was now sobbing as franticly as the girl she held.
Casey knelt beside of Jennifer and the girl. She placed a hand on Jennifer’s shoulder and gently squeezed to get her attention.
“Jennifer, I’m here and I’m going to do all I can to help you get your daughter back.”
“Please don’t hurt me,” Courtney begged as tears streamed down her face. “Just let me go.”
All the while she was begging, the man who forced her into the van was tying her hands and feet. “We don’t intend to hurt you, kid, as long as you do as we say.” Giving the bindings around her ankles one last tug, he sat back to watch her.
“Where are you taking me?” Courtney asked as her tears gave way to sniffles.
“Don’t worry about that. Everything goes according to plan you’ll be back home safe and sound in just a few days so relax. Nobody’s gonna hurt you.”
Courtney wanted to believe him but she was terrified. She began to tremble as her fear intensified. She began to silently pray. Please, God, don’t them hurt me. Please help me.
Courtney’s eyes widened in terror as another of her abductors covered her nose and mouth from behind with a cloth.
“Please, God …” her prayer faded away as her eyes closed.
When she came to some time later, she was lying on a bed. Her eyes and head hurt as she tried to focus and get her bearings. A lamp was burning on a table across the room but it cast only a dim glow. She pushed herself up from the bed. She sat on its edge, her head in her hands as she fought the nausea that churned in her stomach and throat.
“Oh, God. I think I’m going to be sick,” she groaned as she looked around the room for a receptacle.
Casey moved from officer to officer gathering information as she went. Finally, she stopped at Jake’s side.
“What do you make of this?”
“I don’t know, Casey. It’s hard to say. But everyone is telling about the same thing, that two men grabbed a small blonde girl and forced her into a van that was waiting at the curb.”
“Do we have a description of the men? Or of the van?”
“We have a description of two of the men and the van. We also have a plate number that’s being run now.”
“Thanks, Jake. Keep me posted with any updates. Will you?” Casey said as she gave him a friendly slap on the back.
“Sure. I’ll let you know if we learn anything. Right now the Captain has told me to head over to Michael Gibson’s office and tell him what’s going on and to escort him home. Another officer will be driving Mrs. Gibson home in just a few minutes. It sounds like we’re going to use their home as sort of a command center while we wait for the kidnappers to make contact.”
“I tell you what. I think I’ll drive Jennifer Gibson home myself and hang around for the interviews.”
“Sure. I’ll tell the Captain. I’m sure that won’t be a problem.”
“I’ll see you at the Gibson house then,” Casey said as she moved away from the officer toward the woman who already owned a large piece of her heart.
Jennifer looked up as Casey approached. Casey’s heart caught at the agony she saw in the other woman’s eyes. Tears had streaked mascara down Jennifer’s cheeks. Her eyes were red and swollen. A woman Casey had briefly seen at the newspaper was kneeling beside Jennifer, talking quietly and holding her hand. She rose to her feet as Casey approached.
“Ms. Jarnigan. I don’t know if you remember me but I’m Melinda Davidson. We met briefly at Jennifer’s office the other day.”
“Yes, of course I remember you, Ms. Davidson.” The women briefly shook hands as Casey moved her attention back to Jennifer. “How is she?”
“She’s still really shaken up which is to be expected. Do you have any idea who did this?”
“It’s still far too early to speculate about that, Ms. Davidson. If you will excuse me I was just about to take Jennifer home.” Her tone was unintentionally curt.
As Casey started to step around her, Melinda stopped her by taking hold of her arm. “This is not just a news story, Ms. Jarnigan. Jennifer is my friend and I certainly want to do what I can to help. I care about her.”
“I didn’t mean to imply otherwise, Ms. Davidson, but now if you will excuse me, I really do need to get her home. There are going to be lots of questions to answer and I’m sure she will be more comfortable in her own home. Don’t you think?”
“Yes, I’m sure she will. Let me speak to her for a minute and then I will get out of your way.”
Casey stood by quietly but watchful as Melinda spoke to Jennifer. The women embraced and then Melinda Davidson turned to leave. She acknowledged Casey with a small wave of her hand and moved toward a man and woman who were obviously from the newspaper.
“Jennifer? I’d like to drive you home now. Okay?” Casey spoke gently to the distraught woman. Casey extended her hand to help Jennifer to her feet. She pulled gently when she felt the smaller hand settle inside her own, helping the smaller woman to her feet. Jennifer surprised them both by going straight into Casey’s arms once she was on her feet. Casey automatically wrapped her arms around the smaller woman and placed her chin on top of the blonde head.
“It’s going to be okay. I promise you. We will find your daughter,” Casey whispered as she held Jennifer tightly.
“I know you will,” Jennifer replied as she drew back and looked into Casey’s eyes. She was moved by the compassion and understanding she found. “Take me home. Would you, please?”
Keeping an arm around the smaller woman, Casey turned and led her to her car. She opened the door and once her passenger was settled, she walked around and took her place behind the wheel. She shifted into drive and slowly moved joined the traffic moving along Elm Street. She left her hand resting on the shifter, which was her preference while driving. She noted the crushed expression on Jennifer’s face as she looked back at the music store. The last place her daughter had been seen just an hour before. Casey attempted to keep her mind on her driving but her eyes went back again and again to her passenger. Jennifer’s eyes were closed. Her held tilted back resting against the seat. Casey had begun to think that she had fallen asleep when she felt a hand resting on top of hers. Casey turned her hand over and Jennifer spread her hand inside the larger one entwining their fingers. Casey pulled their clasped hands to rest on her thigh as she continued to drive.
“Casey. Please tell me she’s going to be okay. I don’t think I can stand it if they hurt her. Please find out who did this and get her back for me.”
“I promise you that I will do my best to bring her back to you as quickly as possible. Everything I can.”
“I know you will. I know I can count on you.”
Michael Gibson was studying some construction plans that were spread out on his desk when a noise at the door caught his attention. He looked up to see two police officers standing in the doorway.
“Mr. Gibson, could we have a moment of your time?”
“Of course. What can I do for you?” he asked as he motioned the officers forward and moved from behind his desk to greet them.
“I’m Jake Jacobson with the Wilmington Police Department and we’re sorry to interrupt but there’s something you need to know and we didn’t want to do it by phone.”
“Oh my God. Has someone in my family been hurt? Was there an accident?”
“Mr. Gibson there’s no easy way to tell you this so I’m just going to say it. Your daughter has been kidnapped.”
“Courtney? Are you sure this isn’t some kind of sad joke?”
“I’m sorry, sir, but we’re certain your daughter was kidnapped about an hour ago from in front of the music store on Elm Street.”
Visibly shaken by the news, Michael stepped back and sat on the edge of his desk. He ran a hand through his hair and then looked at the officers with tears in his eyes. “Do you have any idea who did this?”
“We’re working on that, Sir. But right now we’d like to drive you home. Your wife will meet us there.”
Michael continued to rake his fingers through his hair. He was trembling and obviously shaken by the news.
“Sir, we really need to go.” Jake told the confused and hurting man again.
“Okay. Let’s go. I need to get to my family.”
Love it? Hate it? Please let me know. This part, like the one before, gave me some trouble as I tried not to go over the top.
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