Apprehended (Amber Alert Series Book 3) (8 page)

BOOK: Apprehended (Amber Alert Series Book 3)
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Chapter 14

 

 

The door opened to reveal the silhouette of a tall man, his face hidden in the darkness, but the full show of his physique was on display. I could suddenly see that the profile had partially been wrong. While he was strong, capable, and organized enough to take someone in a public area, it failed to mention that he was able to do it so easily because he was so muscular for someone they predicted in his early thirties. If I had to guess he looked around the age range they suggested even though age was the hardest thing to determine, but suddenly it struck me that while this man took girls in college, he was slowly progressing up in age. These girls all looked alike due to their physical descriptions and height, but they were from different stages of life. The earliest taken as a freshman in college, and the oldest, me, was a college graduate working in the FBI.

The light outside my cage flashed on, blinding me momentarily as I tried to force my eyes to adjust to the change in light. As my eyes slowly became acclimated to the change, I was terrified by what I saw. There was a link fence in front of me, but Tegan had been right, I was in a cage. Boxed in on four sides, and topped off with more fence links and plywood over the top to prevent me from pushing it up and escaping. The mattress behind me, the one I had woken up on, was dirty. Covered in stains and what looked like mud, and uncovered from the bare material that made up the soft pad. Who knew how many girls had been in my place, cried themselves to sleep on that mattress, and tried to escape without injuring themselves, and now it was my turn. I just hoped I was strong enough to make it.

The girls cringed and backed away in fear, as the man started his walk down the aisle between the cages. There were actually six cages, one unoccupied and filled with another, much larger mattress. Something told me I didn't want to know what that was for, curiosity killed the cat, and it would surely kill me if I wasn't careful.

I could see the four other girls, and my heart ached for them. All of them looked malnourished, even Tegan who had only been here a few weeks was looking thin in the face. Her skin was sagging and it was hard to tell it was her from the photo we had been looking at for the last few weeks. It was hard to tell any of them from their photos, I thought as I glanced between them all cowering in the corners of their cells. The girls that had been here the longest looked unhealthy, uncared for, and at the mercy of themselves from how frail they looked. One in particular was shaking with fear so terribly I thought that she was going to fall to pieces right in front of me.

The footsteps stopped, pulling me from my thoughts as the man came to a pause outside of the cell I was in. I felt the fear rise through me, and the bile grew in my throat. I fought the intense sensation to be sick and beg for my life, as I looked up into his cold, grey eyes. It looked like emotion had never touched them; they were so dull, so lifeless. And now, they were focused on me.

"I've been waiting to meet you for a long time, Jessi. It's been a while," he said with a smirk curling at the edges of his lips. I was fearful to ask what he meant. He made it seem as if I had met him before, but the only man he reminded me of was Steve Bennett. They had the same pale skin and lifeless eyes and soul, which is until they used the girl of their affection as he pleased. Then all bets were off the table, and there was no way of knowing how he was going to react or what he was going to do. He was unpredictable, just like the man before him, but on a worse scale. He had ruined more families' lives then Steve and the whole time was because of me.

Suddenly Tegan's words made sense, they were now disposable because he had been waiting for me. He had been looking for me, trying to draw me out and he knew this was the way to do it. He had gotten angry when Callum’s team first called in for help because it hadn't been who he wanted to help. He had been pushing for me to join, and laid down the clues that led to them believing he had idolized Steve and that he was an exact copy. And who better to catch a copy, then a person that was with the original?

"I'm thrilled you could finally join us, Jessi. I would hate for these girls to never meet the woman that made this a reality for them." I caught a few angry glares from the girls around the room. They had been taken because of me, he had just admitted that, and they had every right to be mad about that. If he hadn't been after me, then he wouldn't have needed the look-a-likes. He wouldn't have needed them to play out whatever his fantasy was. If only we had seen the connection before, but then again would anyone have believed it? I was already believed to be self-centered and uncooperative in a team setting, would anyone have believed me if I mentioned that the girls looked like me as I grew up?

Tegan was almost identical to what I looked like as a junior in college to when I graduated and joined the bureau. The girls—all down the line—it was clear he had been keeping track of me for quite a while. For how long, I wasn't sure I wanted to know.

"Why have you been waiting for me?" I asked as I swallowed the bile that had risen in my throat. It was hard not to feel sick the longer his gaze was set on me, there was something evil about him and that made me wonder what kind of man Callum had been after. I don't even think Callum knew.

"I've been waiting for a woman that is powerful and confident. It's two of the better qualities in a partner if I had to choose two. Who would be better for that then the woman that was made because of Steve Bennett?"

"Excuse me?" The comment "made by Steve Bennett" made my skin crawl. I knew where this was going, Jason had talked about it with me. I couldn't remember the name for it, since he offered so many for the same topic, but I knew it was that he believed that without Steve taking me, without living the past I had, that I wouldn't be where I was today. He thought that without Steve I wouldn't have joined the FBI, and that I wouldn't be as successful as I was now, and because he idolized Steve so highly he wanted his idols legacy to live on. He knew Steve had done this for me, received little to no credit, except for the fact that every time someone met me, the kidnapping was the first thing that came to mind. And because of that he was obsessed with me, I was who he wanted.

How could we not have seen that before? It should have been obvious, but it wasn't. There was no logical way to make that connection. We knew that he idolized Steve, but there was no way to make the jump to me or why he was after the girls that looked like me. He had been thorough in his planning to say the least; he made sure that there were no obvious connections. Callum had his work cut out for him on this one, and needless to say, so did I.

"But now that you are here, I now longer need the stand-ins," he said as he glanced over his shoulders at the girls cowering in their cages. One of them let out a wail of a cry, another broke down, but they all looked horrified. They knew they were going to die, to never be found, and to never be reunited with their families, and it was all my fault. "Who's first, ladies?"

"No, please!" I cried, as he revealed the knife he had kept concealed to the girls around him. "Please don't do this!"

"I have to, Jessi, I can't have them all alive and running around. That would ruin everything," he said as he turned his ghostly gaze back to me. "You should remember that from living with Steve for so long. Even as a young girl you should have realized what was going on. Sure you tried to cope, but there was no getting around it. You could see where it was going. There could only be so many of you in that house, or everything got out of control. Isn't that right, Jessi?"

I assumed that he was talking about when Garrett helped Anna and I escape. There had been too many people there, and Steve had lost control. He was trying to get rid of the things that could go wrong, he kept them locked up, separate from each other, and away from the exits. There was planning that went into this and he wasn't going to let it go to waste.

"It is, but you don't want to kill them," I said, trying to find a way to keep them alive for just a little bit longer.

"And why is that?"

"Because if you do, then I won't come willingly." His eyebrows lifted in curiosity.

"You don't even know what I want from you yet," he mused. I felt a shiver race down my spine at his words. He was right, I didn't know what he wanted, but I knew men like him and they always had some sort of game to play. I just had to play along.

"It doesn't matter, if you keep them alive then I will do whatever you want." My words had been even, there wasn't a stutter or a shake in my stance while I spoke. There was strength lacing my words, in hope that it would win him over. I just had no idea what I agreed to, and I knew I was going to regret the second he agreed.

"If you wish, and you'll behave," he stated. "Then I will leave them down here to starve instead."

I felt my mouth drop open and the words rush from my mouth before I could speak them. He couldn't just leave them down here to starve, that was inhumane, but what other choice did I have? I glanced at the girls, they looked terrified. Either way they were going to die unless I could think of something, but for now I could only buy them more time. Any more time that they had alive, meant that there was more time for me to think of how to get them out of here.

I agreed, and immediately had my cell opened. He didn't wait for me to get up, grabbing my bicep as he yanked me off the ground. I was pulled along like a puppy that didn't want to go for its very first walk.

He walked past the other girls without another word or stray glance. They looked at me with a mix of fear and worry. They were going to be locked down here, in the dark and alone until I could think of something or they starved. Whichever came first, and I could only hope that I came first, because the latter option wasn't going to happen if I had my way. I just needed time to think, I needed to find a way to get word to Callum. For now, all I could do was live, and play along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 15

 

 

I sat on the floor, fearful of how many girls had been in here before me. Tegan had said that he used to have the girls marry him, but stopped doing that when he realized they weren’t what he needed. He had progressed, he had changed as he went through the girls. I just hope he changed from Steve Bennett.

When he had taken me upstairs, I was immediately tossed into a room to live in isolation while he prepared the rest of the house. I had no idea what that meant, and I wasn’t sure I would know until it was too late. I could remember pieces of Steve’s house, I had been there about a month according to my father and the reports, but it was hard to remember. Time was non-existent in that place, there was just nothing, and no way of knowing how much time had or hadn’t passed. Sometimes it felt like seconds before he became angry, sometimes it felt like years while I hid in the small rooms.

I shivered. Anna’s room had been the worst. The photos of the previously taken girls were plastered across her wall, all with a number scratched into the photo. All the way to her as number thirteen. Maybe thirteen was unlucky, but she had escaped and lived to have a family. She was the luckiest of them all, and now, I could only hope that I was as strong as her. She had to have been about eighteen at the time, and cared deeply for a child she didn’t even know. She would put me before her most times, it was shocking to think about. I was here alone, and I wanted to get out, but I had to think of those other girls just like Anna had done for me.

I needed to get those girls out of here for their families. Their families were so worried, they were terrified about what could happen to their daughters, and no one knew where we were. I had blacked out when he grabbed me, there was no way I could tell anyone where I was, even if I still had my phone.

The door opened suddenly, revealing the man that took me as he stepped into the room. To be honest, he looked rather normal. I was always shocked that these people looked so ordinary because in my mind they were the furthest from it. Normal people didn’t take girls, hide them in the basement, and then kill them.

His green eyes scanned my face before he spoke.

“I’m leaving for a while, I will be back. If you aren’t here when I get back, those girls die and I will hunt you down and just drag you back here. Do I make myself clear?”

I let his words sink in for a moment, trying to decide how to take them. A threat was obvious, but his tone reminded me of Steve when Anna would break a rule, furious but controlled. I felt a familiar chill crawl up my spine, the rules didn’t die with Steve, and neither had his dream of the perfect family.

I nodded yes as an answer, which seemed to please him as he smiled in return. He reached out and lightly stroked my cheek while he spoke. “I knew he had trained you well.” I assumed he was talking about Steve, and let him continue so I didn’t cause an unneeded advance. “He raised you so well, but he gets no credit. You wouldn’t be the success you were today if he hadn’t stepped in. Now, you’re going to see that and I will get the credit you owe me.”

I bit back a retort that would have told him that I joined the FBI to stop men like Steve Bennett. I swallowed the words that would have said that Steve was an awful man and deserved to die. I held in the disgust that would have told him that I hated him touching me, and probably sent him into a fit rage. So instead all I said was, “They will find me.”

“Don’t worry, Jessi, I learned from Steve’s mistakes. I won’t be bringing in any more now that I have you, those girls will die slowly and that’s it. Those are the only other people. There are still rules, of course—don't go in the basement, don’t try to escape or fight with me. If you do any of these it calls for punishment, which I will let you determine what it will be,” he said as his hand continued to trace my jaw line. “This time it will end perfectly.”

From how he talked about Steve, I figured out that he was following Steve's plans as we thought, but the reason we had to start thinking about him as a different man was because he was changing the plan. He was working hard to make sure that it worked this time, and that nothing got in the way of what he wanted. He had idolized Steve, but even he had seen the flaws in the plans and that meant he was going to fix them so he could have what Steve wanted. There were levels to this man that we hadn’t looked into, there was so much more going on and it was only a matter of time before I experienced it first-hand.

"Now, I must go. I expect you to be here when I get back," he growled. It was clear that he was unwilling to leave, afraid that I would make a run for it or try to save the other girls. He waited a little longer, glaring at me to intimidate me, but eventually he got up and made his way out of the room. 

I sat on the floor listening to his footsteps in the distance. I could hear him roaming around for a few minutes until the door opened and keys jingled softly until the door slammed shut. Only after I was sure he left, and the house had fallen silent, did I risk getting up and trying to explore the house. My movements were slow at first, just in case I had mistaken the door slam for him leaving, when he was still here waiting for me to make my way down stairs. I eased silently as I made it out of the room and didn't see him anywhere. He had taken me to the second floor of the home, and left me there, but now it was time to find a way out.

I traveled to the windows, but they refused to budge as I attempted to force them open. While I looked through the upstairs trying to find a way out, I was shocked to see how full the house was. I could vaguely remember the empty shell of a house Steve Bennett had, and the files the FBI had on the case were lacking in photographs except for the deteriorating structure. There hadn’t been much furniture, the windows had been bored, and all in all the house looked like it had been foreclosed on. Here there were photos on the wall, mostly landscapes and paintings, even knickknacks on the shelves. There was furniture; well taken care of if I had to guess from the lack of scratches or holes,

The stairs were well kept, the hardwood unscathed from shoes or mud. The house looked to be newly finished, refurbished, maybe even just off the market.

The downstairs was just as full, the kitchen fully stocked, with clean appliances; nothing like Steve's house. The windows were still sealed, and there wasn't a back door, leaving only one entrance and exit. My stomach churned at the thought, but I had to try, even if he was just lying in wait to see if I tried to escape. The wooden floors creaked as I walked, following my footsteps and letting them echo through the empty house. I could hear my heart beating wildly in my chest as my hand landed on the doorknob.

The front door opened easily, too easily if you asked me. Steve's had to be yanked open, even then most times he couldn't even open it. The door opened smoothly at my touch and soon the sunlight shone brightly on to my skin. I was taken aback by the bright light, and the cold air that wrapped around my body. I seemed to be looking out onto a farmland area—there was nothing but trees and what seemed to be miles of grass fields. He would find me easily if I escaped out this way, but it was the only way out from what I could tell.

Don't try to escape.

I gingerly took a step outside, fearful if he was around, but I couldn't see anyone in sight. Freedom was so close to me, I could run and make it to a town. I could make it to a phone and call the police, but what if he found me? What about those girls? They were here all alone, and would die if I left to save myself.
You need to be a team player, you have to think of the team,
Callum’s words echoed in my head. The sad part was they were true. I had to think about those girls, I had to get them out alive.

As I shut the door, I decided it was better to follow Anna’s lead on this one. I had to play along, at least until I found a way for the girls to get out with me. They were trapped in the basement, left there to starve to death. I had to save them, I needed to get them out alive before I could even think of leaving. Those girls had families, they had lives, and they were ripped away from them because this man fixated on me. I had to make it right, even though I didn’t take them, I was the reason they were taken.

BOOK: Apprehended (Amber Alert Series Book 3)
5.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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