Read Find My Baby Online

Authors: Mitzi Pool Bridges

Find My Baby (19 page)

BOOK: Find My Baby
8.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

It didn’t take long. A badge opened doors almost as quickly as a gun. He was back at the car in minutes. “Got it,” he said.

Kayla perked up a little. “Where?”

“Not far. The key is for the one near the airport. I guess he didn’t want to be too far from his escape route.”

Her hopeless look faded, as she once more put on a mask of confidence. Luke didn’t know if the confidence was real or pretense. It was far easier to look at her when that confidence glowed around her, less easy when that sad, desperate look consumed her.

“I’m coming with you,” she said when he pulled the car under the portico twenty minutes later.

“I thought you would.” He wanted her with him.

“I don’t want the desk jockeys to know we’re searching the room.” He handed her the card key. “Go to the desk and act disorientated. Tell them you were out jogging and forgot your room number. I’ll wait by the elevators.”

She did as he asked and was back in seconds. “Room 206.”

When they stepped out of the elevator, Luke put on a pair of gloves, handed a pair to Kayla. “Don’t touch anything unless you have them on.” He opened the door with the key card and stepped inside. The room was dark; the drapes shut tight, the bed made. Clean towels were in the bathroom. Nothing personal lay around the room. It looked ready for the next occupant. “Looks as if he’s packed and ready to leave,” Luke said, spying a small duffel and a hanging bag zipped and waiting. “I’ll take the duffel. You check the hanging bag. See if there is anything in the pockets.”

She took the bag, laid it on the bed and went to work. He did the same with the duffel.

“Find anything?”

Kayla shook her head. “Nothing,” she said, going through the pockets of the pants, shirts, and the one jacket in the bag.

“I’ll check the rest of his things.” Luke set everything on the bed, T-shirts, underwear, a bag of toiletries and a pair of loafers.

“He traveled light,” Kayla said

“He was a killer. Probably had to,” Luke countered.

In a pocket of the duffel, he pulled out several stacks of hundred dollar bills. “Look at this.”

“So much money,” she gasped. “Where did it come from?”

Luke rifled the bills between his gloved fingers before placing them back where he’d found them. “My bet would be the safe in Graham’s office. I’ll be surprised if the bills don’t have Graham’s prints on them. If so, it makes the man I shot his killer.”

“This is getting too complicated. I’ll never understand the connection.”

“We need more of the pieces of the puzzle to figure it out.”

Luke checked the duffel carefully, making sure there were no other surprises before putting things back. He was putting the loafers in the bag when Kayla stopped him. “Just a minute.”

She took the shoes, crammed a hand down each one. “There’s something here.”

“Let me,” he said, taking them from her. Carefully he pulled out a zip-lock bag. He knew what it was immediately. He didn’t have to read the forensic lettering to know he’d found the missing bullets. “Would you look at this?”

Instead of putting the forensics bag back in the shoe, he placed it in the duffel bag where it could be easily found. Zipping it shut, he placed the bag where he found it, took the hanging bag and did the same.

“What is it, Luke? What did we find?”

“Another piece of the puzzle. It’s evidence that will link the man I shot with your kidnappers’ deaths. If the bills in the duffel turn out to have the attorney’s prints on them, the killer is linked to Graham’s murder as well. I wouldn’t doubt that this little baggie came from his safe. Since Tanner’s death is already connected to the kidnappers, we’ve hit pay-dirt.”

“What does it mean, though?”

“It’s complex. We have evidence that will prove who pulled the trigger. What we have to find now is the connection between the murders.” He turned to her. “More importantly, we have to figure out why you?”

Her hand went to her throat. Luke wanted to put his mouth at the point where her pulse jumped and ease her distress. Instead, he took her gloved hand and led her from the room.

“We’ll leave it for the FBI.”

“You took the key. How will they know where to look?”

Luke’s mouth curled. “They’ll find it.” All he had to do was find which impound lot they had taken the killer’s car. The rest was easy.

If only finding Sam was that simple.

“Have you given more thought to what started this chain of events?” Luke asked, as they drove away from FBI headquarters an hour later. Even though they had everything they needed from Kayla and from him, Luke took the chewing out from Richards without argument.

The question startled her. “It’s all I think about,” she answered, her voice sharp. “Don’t you think I wonder why me? I’ve asked myself a thousand times. All the time they held me captive I asked myself if they wanted me or my baby.” She paused a minute. “Now I know. They wanted my baby alive and me dead.”

“But why Sam?” Luke murmured softly.

Kayla shrugged. “I don’t know. None of this makes sense, so I can’t give you a credible answer. The kidnappers took good care of both of us. Though I wasn’t interested in food, what they brought me was tasty and nutritious. Even the oranges I got so sick of were good for me. They allowed me to feed Sam three times a day like clockwork. In between they had me pump my breasts. I know they gave him the milk. They pretended to want the best for both of us. Yet we were prisoners.”

“Why not let you feed him all the time? Why give him the bottle at all?”

“At the time, I wondered the same thing. Now I know. They wanted him to get used to the bottle.”

“All along, their plan was to take Sam and kill you.”

The utter horror of it sent fresh rivers of fear tracing through her. It didn’t seem plausible this could happen to her. Once more she clutched at her chest. Her heart raced. She was warm all over…then cold. She took several deep breaths, doing her best to calm her pounding heart. She couldn’t help Sam if she fell to pieces. But she was in pieces, tiny pieces that would never fit together again without her son.

“Is that how you see it?” Luke asked.

“That’s how it seems,” Kayla said, pulling herself back. “I don’t know the answer. I wish I did. Being randomly picked for my baby is one thing. It’s another to target me. That doesn’t make sense.”

“Everything points to you and Sam being specifically targeted. When we find out why, we may find Sam.”

Kayla couldn’t think anymore. “There is nothing extraordinary about us,” she explained, not for the first time. “I’ve had weeks to think about this. I’ve come up with nothing. I’ve struggled all my life. First to just get by, then for an education. I met David, married and became pregnant. He went ballistic, then died in an accident. I finished school, have a teaching job that starts next semester. That’s it. Period. The story of my life. There’s nothing there for anyone to target.”

“Maybe we don’t know the whole story.”

“That is the whole story,” she said, her patience running out. “There is no more.”

“Why did David object to your pregnancy?”

“Good question.” She gave a brittle laugh. “He was the ideal husband until then. When he told me to get an abortion, I was shocked. Shocked? I was devastated. We loved each other. Why wouldn’t he want our child?”

“Did he have a family?”

She shook her head.

“Could be a relative. Yours or his.”

“Impossible! I have no one except Aunt Nester and David had no one.”

“There has to be a reason,” Luke said when they arrived at the FBI storage lot. “I won’t be long.”

He wasn’t. Soon after, they were in Aunt Nester’s drive.

The ugly scene from the early morning shooting had disappeared. Nothing but yellow strips of crime scene tape marked the spot where one man died and another was sent to the hospital.

For a moment, Kayla’s head swirled.

She swallowed past the raw lump in her throat. “Luke, at first I thought David didn’t want a child because we had no money. But lots of people have babies without money. I believed we could make it. I guess he didn’t. We argued, but he left and was killed before we could talk anymore.”

The panic of that time came over her again. How different her life would be if David had accepted the baby and they had gone on to make a good life. Would this have happened if David had been alive? They would have lived in a different place, possibly a different city. She would have gone to a different clinic, seen another doctor.

And never met Luke. Or gotten close to Aunt Nester.

“What are you thinking?” Luke asked.

“For a moment I was lost in the thought of what might have been. It’s of no consequence now.”

Luke brushed a hand across her cheek. “I know you’ve exhausted yourself with the why questions. But I’m asking you to think again. Anything you come up with could help.”

She turned to him, ready to ream him for asking the same questions over and over. But the look on his face stopped her. It was full of tenderness and worry, regret and kindness. And…love? Her heart leaped to her throat at the possibility. She put a hand there as if to keep it inside her body.

She lay her head on his shoulder and shut her eyes. And for a moment remembered last night. When he’d kissed her, it felt so right. She needed the comfort, the spark of passion that for the briefest moment made her forget. Most of all she was grateful for the opportunity to share some of the burden. “Thank you, Luke.”

“For what?” he asked gently as he stroked her shoulder.

“For saving my life, for being here,” she said. “I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t.”

With his index finger, he tilted her head. He was going to kiss her. Her heartbeat quickened. Blood zinged through her veins. Then she let it happen.

For one long minute she forgot everything except the warmth of his lips, the tug of desire, the yearning for more.

When his lips left hers, she let out a sigh.

Once again, he’d succeeded in making her forget.

She opened the car door and ran for the house.

****

Luke’s first impulse was to run after her. Tell her she wasn’t alone, that he wasn’t giving up. But she knew that. It didn’t help. How could it? Nothing except putting Sam in her arms would change the look in her eyes and remove the torment from her face.

He let her go.

Leaning back against the seat, he watched as she disappeared inside.

“Face it, Garrett. The only way you’ll get Kayla is to find Sam.” So where did he look? Their only lead was dead. Forensics would prove he was the shooter in two murders, maybe four. The man was probably a hired killer, which would explain how everything was connected. What it didn’t explain was why someone wanted Kayla’s child so badly they’d hire a killer to get him.

Even if Luke had managed to capture and interrogate the killer, Luke doubted if the man could have coughed up a name or a place to find Sam.

Both Rosie and Nester were at the hospital. He had to check on the boy and make sure his wound wasn’t serious. Serious or not, all of this was his fault for not being more alert. It wouldn’t have happened if he’d done his job.

Terry was busy and Luke had work to do. He couldn’t leave Kayla alone. Pulling out his cell, he called Jackie. “Can you stay with Kayla until I get back?”

“I’m around the corner. I’ll be there in two.”

Feeling better, he waited until Jackie drove in before he left. He wasn’t too sure even now that Kayla was safe.

He went to headquarters to file his reports and check in with the captain.

“Why don’t you answer your cell?” Captain Jensen asked, a frown on his face. “And why did you cut out on the FBI? They’re not happy about it.”

“Just finished with them.” He hoped.

Reaching in his pocket, Luke turned his cell phone back on, ten messages, most from the FBI, the rest from the captain. He pulled up a chair, straddled it. “There was something I needed to check out that couldn’t wait.”

“Pertaining to….”

“Sam’s kidnapping.”

“Do you have anything?”

Luke rubbed a hand over his eyes. “Nothing that tells us where to look.”

“I have some news,” the captain said.

“Good, I hope.”

“Maybe. Just hung up from the FBI. Prints on the man who tried to kill Ms. Hunter prove he’s a hired gun. His name is one of the following: Sebastian Bailey, Galen Donato or, Henry Anatoli. Seems he goes by the name of Bear. There could be more. He’s been on the FBI’s wanted list for a while. They won’t admit it, but they’re glad to see him put down.” He paused. “Doesn’t change things though, the incident will still be investigated. And they’re after your butt for leaving the scene.”

“I’ve dealt with it.”

“Good. Because I’m tired of covering your ass.”

“And I’m tired of the FBI not taking the threat to Kayla’s life seriously. Someone wants her dead. If I hadn’t been there this morning, she would be.”

“I’ll remind them of that,” the captain said.

“While the FBI is celebrating, will the hired gun be replaced? Just how badly does someone want Kayla dead?”

“And who is the someone?” the captain finished.

“Exactly.”

Luke wiped his face again. “I’m stymied, Captain. The same hired killer is involved in three cases. I have no idea where to look for the child. Neither does the FBI.”

The captain gave him a hard look. “You’ve let the case get to you. Take a few days off and get your head together. You took someone’s life. You have to have time to get over it.”

“Yeah,” Luke admitted. “You’re right there.” Luke wondered if he ever would.

Captain Jensen pushed back his chair, crossed his arms. “There’s a cardinal rule against getting emotionally involved with anyone involved in a case.”

“I know.”

Over the years, Luke had looked to the captain as a friend, even a mentor. Maybe they all did. He looked up to the older man, admired him. In return, the captain encouraged Luke with both praise and, when needed, constructive criticism. Because of Captain Jensen’s interest, Luke knew he had grown both as a detective and a man.

“What else is going on?” the captain asked gruffly.

BOOK: Find My Baby
8.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Outlaw Pass (9781101544785) by West, Charles G.
Ghost Moon by John Wilson
Screw Single by Graves, Tacie
A Line in the Sand by Seymour, Gerald
One More Time by Caitlin Ricci
Minutes to Kill by Melinda Leigh
Sun Burnt by Cat Miller
Something Like Beautiful by asha bandele
Shopgirls by Pamela Cox