Madison sent Elijah to the living room to get his games, and, then, called Hal.
“Hal, we have a problem.”
“Did you get the picture?”
“Yeah, Hal. Listen. He’s got Drake.”
“Who’s got Drake?”
“The killer, Hal. He wants to trade Drake for Elijah.” “Shit, Madison. Stay put. I’m coming right over.”
“No, Hal. I’m taking Elijah to the station.”
“That’s fine, Madison. Get him ready, but I’m coming. I’ll escort you. Don’t leave until I get there.”
For once, Hal didn’t sign off. She just heard a click.
“Elijah, you need to pack up your games. We have to go into the Sheriff’s department.”
Elijah nodded at her, and began gathering his games. She handed him the GameStop bag and he put them in there. She and Drake hadn’t thought to get him a backpack or anything yet. At the thought of Drake, she felt her throat close up and, for a moment, she couldn’t breathe. If something happened to Drake, she would never forgive herself. How could she have been so careless? She knew that Elijah was travelling with that man and she hadn’t even warned Drake. She hadn’t even thought about it. Now, he had Drake, and there was nothing she could do about it.
“Make sure you put your heating pad in the bag, too. I’m going to change.”
She went into the bedroom and closed the door. The first thing she grabbed was her gun out of the gun safe in the closet. She slid the clip into the gun and made sure the safety was on. She then pulled on her usual black pants, button down shirt, shoulder holster, and blazer. After placing the gun into the holster, she grabbed her badge and her wallet and put them in the inside pocket of the blazer. After pulling on her boots, she left the bedroom and headed to the kitchen. She threw some snacks into a bag for Elijah and then paced around the living room waiting for Hal. Finally, Hal pulled up out front.
She and Elijah got into her SUV and she pulled out of the garage. Hal’s SUV trailed hers as they drove down the drive way and headed into town. At the station, Madison put Elijah on the couch in her office and headed to the conference room where Hal and a couple of deputies were waiting.
“Where was Drake this afternoon?” Hal asked as he began taking notes on the whiteboard.
“He had an appointment in Grand Junction at 2:00 this afternoon. He left at about 1:20.”
“Where was the appointment?”
“I don’t know, Hal.”
Hal stopped writing and looked at her. “You don’t know where he was?”
“No, when he left I realized that he hadn’t told me where he was going, but I thought I would find out about it when he got home.”
“He was driving his minivan right?”
“What is it again?”
“It’s a Chrysler Pacifica, 2017.”
“It’s blue, right?”
“Let’s put out an APB on the Pacifica. I’ll call Grand Junction PD and the Mesa County Sheriff’s department as well as the State Patrol. We’ll find him Drake.”
Rita came into the conference room.
“Excuse me, Sheriff, Deputy. I have a call from Grand Junction PD.”
“Transfer it to the phone in here, please, Rita,” replied Madison.
As Madison answered the phone, she put it on speaker, so Hal could hear as well.
“Sheriff Rhodes, this is Officer Peterson from Grand Junction PD. We’re calling about a red truck we found in the parking lot of Omega Tech. It’s registered to a Fred Loyola. He lives in Fruita, Colorado.”
“What kind of company is Omega Tech, Officer?” Madison asked.
“Uhh, it’s some kind of computer company.”
Hal began taking notes on the whiteboard again.
“What about the truck, officer?”
“Well that’s the odd thing. It was left in the parking lot running with the door open. The keys were in the ignition. We’ve checked with Omega Tech, but Mr. Loyola is not in the building. We’re having the truck towed, but we wanted to check in with you guys to see if you could do a welfare check on Mr. Loyola.”
“Thanks for calling, officer. We will do that. We’re working on a missing person case here. The truck may be related.”
Madison gave the officers the information for Drake’s car and his description.
“We’ll call this in to dispatch and have them put out an APB. We’ll secure the truck as a crime scene. We’ll let you know when the truck has made it to the impound lot.”
“Thank you, Officer.”
After Madison hung up, Hal left the conference room to dispatch a deputy to Fred Loyola’s cabin. Madison called Omega Tech to see if Drake had checked in. They had no record of an appointment with Drake.
“So, the appointment at Omega Tech was fake,” Hal said.
“It looks that way,” Madison agreed.
Hal added more information to the whiteboard.
“So the guy lured Drake to Omega Tech to kidnap him and exchange him for Elijah. Did he really think that we would go for that?”
“I don’t know, Hal. Maybe, he’s seen too many cop shows.”
Of course, she couldn’t trade Elijah for Drake. It did happen on cop shows. The cops always showed up with the person they were trying to protect in order to trade for the person the bad guy had, and they managed to have some sort of crazy plan to catch the bad guy and save both the victims. But that was fiction, and this was life. Cops didn’t bargain for the lives of their people, even if it were someone they loved. She had to treat this like any other hostage situation. She had to establish negotiations with the suspect, and try to come to a peaceful resolution. Her heart began to pound, and she put her head on the table. This wasn’t just any hostage situation. The guy had Drake. She had failed him in so many ways throughout their relationship, always choosing the job over him, and she was about to do it again. There had to be a way out of this.
The first thing she needed to do was locate Drake’s phone. Grabbing her notebook, she began to make notes. She needed to call ATT and have them see what cell phone towers Drake’s cell phone was connected to. Next, she would call Drake’s phone and begin to negotiate with the suspect. She’d had training in hostage negotiation while she worked in Denver. She was going to have to use everything she remembered from that course.
Hal watched her while she wrote in her notebook.
“Do you have a plan?” Hal asked.
She outlined the steps they needed to take, starting with her call to ATT. While she was on the phone with ATT, Hal’s phone rang. He stepped out of the conference room to take it. When Madison hung up, Hal still hadn’t returned so she tried calling Drake’s number again. She wasn’t going to sit around and wait for the suspect to call her. She was going to take the upper hand. The fucker needed to know that he didn’t have the power in this situation. He might have Madison by the balls, but she wasn’t going to play his game. Her call went straight to voice mail. He’d turned the phone off, but that didn’t matter. ATT was going to turn it on remotely. He would have no idea that the phone was turned on and pinging to the nearest cell towers. As soon as ATT located the phone, they would be on the move.
Hal stepped back into the room.
“Harold is at Fred Loyola’s cabin. He said it seems secure. He’s checking inside right now and he’ll check in when he’s done clearing the cabin. What did ATT have to say?”
“They’re going to call back as soon as they have the location of the phone.”
Hal’s phone rang.
Madison followed the conversation from Hal’s side, but she could tell from the expression on his face that the news wasn’t good.
“Just secure the scene, Harold. We’ll call some people in off duty and send them out your way. Be careful.”
“Another one, Hal?”
“It looks that way. Harold found some tire tracks at the back of the cabin and followed them to the edge of the woods. He found a body dumped a little way in. We’re going to need more manpower.”
Madison had Rita call in five more deputies, with the two at the other crime scene. They could send two to the Loyola place and have three standing by.
“We’ve got to catch this guy, Hal, before he kills anyone else.”
“We will, Sheriff.”
Madison went to check on Elijah. She thought he would be playing his game, but he was sitting on the couch staring into space.
“Are you all right, Elijah?”
He frowned at her, and shook his head. She sat down next to him.
“Try not to worry, Elijah. I’m going to keep you safe.”
Elijah pointed at the picture of Drake on her desk.
“Do you want to know where Drake is?”
Elijah nodded. She didn’t know what to tell him. She didn’t know how he was connected to the man who’d taken Drake. She didn’t want to upset him, but she couldn’t really hide that something was wrong. The longer Drake was gone, the more Elijah would wonder where he was. Taking a deep breath, she decided to tell Elijah the truth.
“Drake is missing.”
Elijah’s eyes went wide with shock.
“We think that the same guy that killed my friend has him.”
Elijah opened his mouth and began shaking his head. His mouth was open in a silent scream. Madison tried to hug Elijah’s shoulders, but he pushed her away. Breathing heavily, he clenched his eyes shut. Slowly, his breathing calmed and he opened his eyes. He swallowed several times, and sweat formed on his forehead.
“You have to get him back.” Elijah’s voice was a harsh whisper as if he hadn’t used it in a long time. Madison was shocked. Elijah hadn’t spoken since he told Drake his name.
“We’re trying, Elijah. We’re doing everything we can.”
“Get him back,” Elijah repeated, as tears began to course down his face. He leaned into Madison and let her comfort him. Even though Elijah had spoken, she didn’t press him for information. He’d likely shut down again anyway, and she wasn’t sure what help he could be at this point. He was a little boy. It wasn’t likely he’d have insight into the mind of an adult man. She was on her own for now.