Disclaimers ~ This is an original work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, places or events is purely coincidental. These characters belong to me, if they have a passing resemblance to you or share your name, it's purely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.

Bad language ~ A fair bit.

Disclaimers ~ This is an original work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, places or events is purely coincidental. These characters belong to me, if they have a passing resemblance to you or share your name, it's purely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.

Bad language ~ A fair bit.

Love/sex ~ Romance between men and women and between women. Sex between consenting couples.

Sickness & death ~ There are some deaths in this story. If that's not for you, I hope you enjoy reading something else.

Author's note ~ Questions, comments & thoughts all welcome. Loves_to_write_fic@yahoo.co.uk

© June, 2006 Cam Taylor


Chapter Nineteen


C hris slowly started to come around. Her eyes fluttered, opened, then closed as pain shot through her head. Her head was pounding. Jesus! How much did I drink last night? She slowly opened her eyes again. Everything was out of focus. She tried to lift a hand to touch the blazing pain in her head, frowning as she felt the cold metal of handcuffs behind her, rubbing against her wrists as she moved. What the...? Blinking rapidly, her eyesight began to clear, the blurry outlines of the room suddenly swimming into focus. In the dim light available, she didn't like what she saw.

Kate was opposite her, tied up to a chair like she was. The doctor was also gagged, whereas, fortunately, Chris was not.

The blonde closed her eyes again. I'm dreaming. No. Wait. Not dreaming. I'm having a nightmare. In a minute, I'll open my eyes and I'll be at home. One... two... three. She shook her head. "Ahhhh!" She screamed as pain exploded in her head.

"Chris, glad to see you've joined us."

That voice. I know that voice. As a light went on overhead, Chris opened her eyes again and saw him. The fat, sweating little man she'd helped when he got a flat tyre. "What?" she croaked.

"I suppose you're wondering what's going on, yes?"

Chris remembered he'd hit her with... what? What had he hit her with and why?

"I can't actually tell you right now, but all in good time." The little man turned to walk out of the room.

"Wait!" He turned back, an eyebrow raised in question at Chris. "Water. Please."

He smiled, his upper lip curling upwards and revealing small, rat-like teeth. "Of course. And..." he walked over to Kate. "...would my love like a drink?" He reached down and slid a chubby, wet hand along Kate's cheek. She tried to twist her head away, his touch making her skin crawl. "There, there, my love. You won't hate me for long. You'll learn to love me." He walked up the four stone steps and out of the door.

Chris looked across at Kate. She didn't seem to be seriously hurt. Chris could see a nasty purple bruise on the doctor's cheek. How the hell did she get here? Where is Jackson? He was supposed to be with her today. "I'm gonna ask some questions. Just nod or shake your head, okay?" Chris said quietly. Kate nodded, understanding. "Are you hurt anywhere other than your cheek?"

The doctor shook her head.

"Did he grab you after work?"

Kate nodded again.

"On the way home or at the clinic?" Kate frowned, not knowing how to answer. "Oh, sorry. Grabbed at the clinic?"

Kate shook her head for no.

"On the way home, huh?" So Jackson wouldn't have been with her.

The rotund man appeared again, holding a glass of what looked like water. "Do I hear voices?" he asked. "Chris Branagon, you're a bad influence. Kate has been as good as gold, until you woke up!" He stopped in front of the blonde, holding the glass so she could drink from it. "Haven't you heard the saying about curiosity? It killed the cat and soon you, as well." He wheezed out a laugh.

Chris spat out the water in her mouth, showering him as she laughed. "That's a good one, uhh... hey, what's your name again?"

Pleased that he had an audience, Franklin smiled. "Franklin."

"Who's the brains behind all this, Franklin? I hardly know you, but from what I've learnt so far, this is all out of your league."

Franklin felt the rush of heat to his face. "HOW DARE YOU! I PLANNED ALL THIS!" He trembled with rage. "I... I planned it so I could be with Kate!" He started to stomp away.

"Then why am I here?" Chris asked. "Surely you want to be alone..."

Franklin spun around to face her. "He didn't tell my why!" Eyes wide, he clasped a hand to his mouth. Mumbling through his fingers, he said, "I didn't mean that! I meant..." He trailed off as they all heard a novelty ringtone somewhere close by.

Chris frowned. That sounds like... the annoying song the boss has on his mobile! Is he here somewhere?

Franklin growled and turned to stalk off, switching off the light as he left the room.


* * * * *

The warehouse was dark. Judge had told him to leave the lights off to avoid suspicion, so he had. But he didn't like the dark. Not when he was alone. Franklin had done everything Judge had told him to do. He had gotten Chris Branagon here and had shut her away like he was told to. Then Judge had walked into the warehouse with someone over his broad shoulder. When Judge had turned on the lights, Franklin had seen it was his love and noted that Kate was unconscious, a growing purple bruise on her cheek. He hadn't liked that and he'd told Judge so.

"Franklin, when I told her I had a friend who wanted to see her, she wouldn't come with me. I had to hit her so I could bring her to you."

Franklin had nodded. That was all right, he supposed, if Judge had done it for him.

They had taken Kate to a small office that was in the warehouse, where Chris was being held. Judge had turned on the lights, and as Kate started to come around, they had tied her up to a chair opposite Chris and gagged her. Judge had looked Chris over, checking the wound on the head of the still-unconscious investigator, and laughed. "Jesus, Franklin! What did you hit her with?"

"The wrench. She was changing my tyre and went to get the spare. That's when I... I hit her." They had laughed. It had felt good to laugh. It was good because Judge was laughing with him, like a friend. Then Judge had told him he had to go, but that he would be back. He had to take care of a few things before they could get started. He had left Franklin standing helplessly with nothing to do but wait.

After giving Chris a drink of water when she woke, Franklin had returned to the main part of the warehouse. But he couldn't shake the sound of that novelty ringtone he had heard. Maybe it was one of the fishermen? Maybe it wasn't? Maybe I should check it out just in case? What if it is someone out there looking for Chris and Kate? Grabbing a bottle of chloroform and a cloth, Franklin stealthily stepped outside the warehouse, and as silently as his rotund body would let him, began his search.


* * * * *

Janet fumbled frantically with the small phone buried in her pocket. Oh, God! They must have heard it! She raced out of the warehouse and ran around the corner of the building, pressing herself tightly to the side of the wall. The phone stopped ringing. Great! That is so typical! the policewoman thought, as she finally pulled the annoyance out of her pocket.

Janet stood still, trying to control her breathing so she could hear if anyone was approaching. They must have heard it. It was echoing off the damn walls! She inched forward and peeked around the corner, seeing no one standing outside the front of the warehouse like she had expected. Maybe I got away with it. She stepped back and looked down at the phone. Just need to ring James and tell him where we are.

Letting out a scared squeak as short pudgy arms slid around her, Janet started fighting back. She struggled as her attacker covered her mouth and nose with a cloth, getting suddenly drowsy as she breathed in. I'm sorry, Chris. I'm sorry, Mom! was her last thought before her world went black. The mobile phone clattered uselessly to the ground.


* * * * *

Chris was trying to work herself free from her own handcuffs which had been used on her, keeping her arms held behind her, but she wasn't having any luck. She was also tied to the chair, which complicated matters. She had told Kate and Janet to try their ropes, but they had no luck either.

Earlier, when Franklin had dragged her unconscious lover into the room, Chris had felt her heart break a little, not understanding what Janet was doing there, or how she had gotten there. She sat and watched helplessly as he tied and gagged the policewoman next to her mother. Finally, the investigator had lost her temper and started screaming and shouting at the little man, promising he would be sorry when she finally got herself free.


* * * * *

Franklin had been sitting alone in the dark ever since he had tied Janet up. He had ignored Chris' angry words as best he could, confident she wouldn't get free. Now he was hungry. I could go out and get some food, he thought. I bet Kate's hungry. I could say I did it for her. Maybe that will make her like me. Franklin shifted nervously in the chair he was sitting in. Judge didn't say I couldn't go out. But he did say I had to watch them, especially Chris. She is always up to something and will get the better of me if I'm not careful. Ha! We'll see.

Headlights flashed past, the light filtering through the dirty windows and lighting the dusty floor for a second. I better go check on them. I don't want Judge getting mad at me. Entering the office where the women were being held, Franklin flicked on the lights, waiting as his eyes readjusted to the light. "You are still here. I'm glad you've been quiet. Judge will be pleased."

Chris looked over at him. Judge?

"It's not a good idea to make him mad, I can tell you for sure." Franklin walked down the four steps to where the three women were bound and approached Kate. "How are you, my love? Are you hungry?" Kate looked away from him. He walked behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders almost lovingly. "Fight me all you want now, but you will be mine eventually." He stooped low, his chin resting on her shoulder, his hands sliding around to her front. Kate whimpered as he groped her breasts, his sweaty hands ripping two buttons off her blouse as he shoved them inside. He turned his head, his mouth pressed to her ear. "I'm really going to enjoy..."

"Franklin, you fat fuck!" Chris shouted at him.

He stood up straight, his face flushed with anger and embarrassment. He stomped across to Chris and hit her hard.

Chris leaned to the side, toppling over to the floor, the chair falling with her. "Is that it, Franklin? Is that the best you can do? Not the brains, not muscle. What's the point of you in all this?" Franklin bent down and hit her again as she lay on the floor, feeling powerful for once. "My sister can hit harder than you!" she taunted.

"Your sister's dead!" Franklin sneered.

Chris stared up at him, flabbergasted. "How... how do you know that?"

Franklin smiled evilly, his rat teeth on show again. "I know a lot about you, Christine Valentina Branagon. You wait and see." He stood in front of her, then bent and slid his hands under her arms, trying to lift her. Sweating and panting for breath, he heaved her back upright in her chair, smiling in her face, almost touching her nose. "I'm going to enjoy fucking your girlfriend. Right here in front of you. You can watch as I make her scream for more."

Chris snarled and lunged forward, biting his cheek, her teeth sinking deep into his pudgy flesh, his blood gushing into her mouth. She struggled not to gag.

"AHHHHH!" His hands clawed at her, finally getting a grip around her throat. His fingers tightened and dug in, until she let go. He backed away from her, his face pale.

Chris spat out the blood that was in her mouth and threw up, just missing herself as she did so.

Franklin reached up with a shaking hand and pressed it against his bleeding wound. The flesh was hanging off, blood dribbling down his face. "YOU BITCH!" he yelled, while he kept backing away from her. "You bitch! You wait! Judge is going to teach you a lesson. He'll have you begging to die!" Franklin left them alone, forgetting to turn off the light in his haste to escape.

"Hrrr... hooo... hmmmhmmm?" Janet muttered through her gag, eyes full of fear locked on Chris'.

"I don't understand, babe." Janet's shoulders slumped. "When he comes back in, try to get him to take your gag off," Chris said quietly.

Janet nodded, a pained look on her face.


* * * * *

Jackson raced down Kate's driveway and skidded to a stop just short of hitting the Colonel's car. He jumped out and raced to the front door. Patrick opened it before he could knock. "The boss is in the living room," Patrick said. Jackson pushed past Patrick and quickly hurried into the living room. "Boss, what's going on?"

James looked up at his investigator. "Chris and Kate are both missing."

"Missing?" the investigator repeated in confusion. "Both of them?"

"Charley found Chris' car abandoned on Bayview Point. Joey found Kate's car run off Chase Avenue."

"The guy got Branagon!" Jackson exclaimed. "Jesus, he must be good!"

Charley jumped up from his seat on the sofa and grabbed Jackson's shirt front.

"Jackson, don't wind anyone up right now," James growled, taking Charley's hands away from the other man.

"I wasn't saying it to get anyone riled up. It's just that she's supposed to be our best, right? And Charley's supposed to be the strongest. It's sort of like the guy's out there trying to make a point." Charley glared at him, though he ignored it. "Anyway, what are we doing to find them?" Jackson carried on.

"Janet wanted to look for Chris, and then Joey rushed in and said he'd found Kate's car. So Janet hurried off to go and check out the warehouses down at the harbour. Charley, I want you to..."

"Shall I go down to the harbour? I could back Janet up," Jackson offered. James turned to look at him, an eyebrow raised. "There are a lot of warehouses, she might need a hand," Jackson continued.

"Yes. Good idea. I gave her my mobile phone and told her not to do anything alone. That goes for you, too. Meet up with her and stick together. If you see anything, give us a call."

Jackson nodded, unable to wipe the smile from his face.

"What am I doing then, boss? I can't just sit here," Charley said helplessly.

"Charley, why don't you and Joey check out Cedar Forest? Ask Bear if anyone suspicious has rented one of his cabins, or if he's noticed anything strange going on during the last few weeks."

Charley nodded and hurriedly headed for the door.

"I'll stay here with Patrick and I'll get Madelyn to go over to the hospital, to sit with Laurie," James called out, as three of his investigators rushed out of Kate's house.


* * * * *

Jackson jumped into his Porsche and spun it around, roaring back up Kate's driveway. Out on the road, he paid attention to the passing traffic and the pedestrians, eyes searching. He pushed the button for his window, listening to the whir as it rolled down slightly. He smiled and breathed in deeply, the nippy night breeze carrying the smell of the sea to him. It filled his senses and filled him with peace. Rolling the window down further, he stuck his elbow out, oblivious to the cold, knowing people were watching him drive down the street; not just because he was good looking, but because he had the car to match. He weaved around the bends with ease, not in a hurry to reach the harbour. If Janet had found anything, she would've called her house. He smiled lustfully. Hmmm... alone with Janet, working together in the dark. He switched on the radio, his music blaring out and shattering the peacefulness of Honeyport streets.

As Jackson pulled up to the harbour area, he rolled up his window and turned off his radio. He parked in the shadows, his car out of sight from anyone passing by. Listening for anything suspicious as he got out of the car, Jackson stood still after the car door locks sounded. He turned and looked around at the surrounding dark warehouses, frowning as his eyes shifted to all the dark places. He started moving, going towards the first warehouse, searching for signs that someone had been there. As he walked past the second warehouse, he heard loud voices. He ducked into the dark alleyway between the two buildings and waited for the source to appear. He remained still and quiet as three fishermen came into sight, laughing loudly, joking about their day and what their night was going to entail.

Jackson waited, watching them until they were out of sight. Alone again, he stepped back into the open, listening for any other sounds. Satisfied there was nothing out of the ordinary, he began walking again. A loud crunching noise beneath his shoe stopped him. He looked down, then took out his pocket torch and crouched down to get a closer look at the broken remains of a mobile phone. The Colonel's? he wondered.


* * * * *

Charley and Joey drank cold beers and sat listening to Harry "Bear" Tier, the owner of fifteen forest cabins, popular with city people on holiday. He was known as Bear to everyone in town because of his uncanny resemblance to a grizzly.

"There was this one guy who I remember acted kinda weird. He was always sweating, no matter the weather. What was his name?" Harry tilted his head, trying to recall.

"Did he rent a cabin? Or was he just hanging around?" Joey asked.

"He rented a cabin for about... four nights, I think."

"Then what?" Charley asked, getting impatient with Harry's slow ease.

"Then he disappeared."

"Did he have a car?" Charley pressed.

Harry frowned and scratched at his beard. "I think so. Uhh... let's see...." He stood up. "I would've noted the license plate number. Let me just get my book." He walked away from the table.

Joey swigged at his beer, looking at Charley. "Mate, you've got to stay cool. Chris can take care of herself. You know that."

"I told her I wouldn't let him hurt her."

"What? When?"

"The other night. You know, when Kate's neighbourhood had a power cut. Kate and Janet were asleep in the living room and we were... talking quietly. That's when I told her." Charley looked down at his bottle.

"She'll be fine, Charley. She's real tough. The shit she's been through... this is nothing," Joey consoled.

Harry walked back to them and sat down. He opened his registration book and started running a finger down the page. "Here," he said, tapping at one of the lines. "He was driving a green Ford."

"Green? You're sure about that?" Joey tried to determine.

Harry nodded, still pointing at his short note. "Yep. Got it written down right here. Not what you were looking for?"

"No. We're after something blue-ish," Joey sighed.

"Blue-ish? How can a car be blue-ish?" Harry asked with an amused smile curling his lips.

"You know these boy racers. They fix up their cars with fancy paints and sometimes race around town illegally," Joey filled him in.

"A boy racer car? Kinda blue-ish?" Harry repeated thoughtfully.

"You remembering something, Harry?" Charley asked in sudden interest.

"Yeah. I remember a strange-looking car like that. Can't be sure if it was blue-ish though, because it was too dark to really tell what colour it was. Some guy would come up and park outside this guy's cabin. Strange hours, always late at night, like he didn't want to be seen."

Charley and Joey looked at each other. "An accomplice? We never thought of that!"

Joey stood up. "Can I use your phone, Harry?" He had written down the license plate number of the green Ford on a scrap of paper and wanted to phone it in, just in case it led to something.

"Sure, Joey. You know where it is."

Charley fiddled with the label on his half-empty bottle.

"Is all this for a case?" Harry knew about the investigators and what they did. A couple of their cases involved cheating husbands or wives, and he had noticed the investigator out in the forest taking photos.

"Yeah. We think he might have Chris," Charley informed the man opposite him.

"Chris? Little Chris Branagon? God help him, he don't know what he's let himself in for!" Harry laughed his loud grumble of a laugh. "Don't you worry about her, boy. I've seen her in a bar fight. She can take care of herself."

Charley smiled, remembering a previous time the investigators had all been out together. Chris had gotten into a scrap with a woman who started in on Harrison.

Joey walked back across the room. "The boss wants us back, Charley. Harry, thanks for the beer and the information."

"Any time, boys. Let me know how this all turns out."

Back in Charley's car, Joey raced down the dirt track that led out of Cedar Forest. "What did the boss say?" Charley asked, praying Joey wouldn't slide into a tree.

"I told him about the green car and gave him the license plate number. He said he was going to pass it on to Walter."

"Why are you in such a big hurry then? Nothing's happened."

"You know how quickly Walter gets back with info. If we get something helpful, we want to be there... right?"

Charley nodded and watched as the dirt track whizzed by.



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