Disclaimer: See Part 1
“What on Earth?” Miranda's gaze focused on the gunman and made a motion like she was going to confront the man. “How dare he?”
“Miranda!” Andy stopped her, moving between Miranda and the man with the gun. “He's got a gun, he can dare anything he wants.” She wrapped her arms around Miranda's shoulders, effectively keeping her from doing anything that might get the woman shot. “Someone will have heard the gunshot. The police will be here soon.” At that thought she gasped and looked around, sure enough, Jo was moving through the crowd toward the gunman. She whispered sadly into Miranda's ear, “Let Jo do her job.”
Nodding, Miranda also looked through the crowd and found what she knew she'd see. “Follow me, slowly.”
Jo approached the man cautiously, when she was close enough she cleared her throat. “Hello.”
He turned, pointing the gun directly at her. “Who are…”
“My name is Jo…you?”
There was no response to that, but he saw the badge. “Detective, you got here quick.”
She shrugged holding out her hands to show him she was unarmed. “I was already here, unfortunately.” She whispered conspiratorially, “I really don't like these things.”
“Nice watch though, that'll be going in the bag when it comes ‘round.” He looked at her thoughtfully. “How is it a police detective can afford something like that?”
Jo shrugged and wiggled her left hand, showing him a fairly simple looking gold wedding band. “I married the CEO of a big corporation.”
He grinned, “Nice.” He looked over the crowd. “Where is he?”
Jo snorted with what she hoped sounded like disgust. “Working.”
“Ah.” He looked at her closely. “You carrying?”
Shaking her head, Jo grinned. “Not tonight,” She opened her jacket, showing him her side where a shoulder holster would normally have positioned her gun, “otherwise I'd have shot you by now.”
“Listen… I, um… hate talking to people when I don't know their name, so if you aren't going to tell me…” She waited half a beat and continued. “… since I don't know you from Adam, I'll just call you Adam, okay?”
He shrugged and yelled to the crowd. “Hurry up!” He kept the gun trained on Jo. “So, Jo, you just happen to be here? Sucks to be you, eh?”
Chuckling, Jo nodded. “Sometimes… you have no idea.” She leaned against the wall casually, trying to keep the man calm. “So, Adam, how long were you on the force?”
Adam didn't even question how she knew that. “Fifteen years.”
Jo nodded. “Long time.”
“You bet your ass it is. The shit I saw…” He shook his head then looked at her. “Well, you know!”
“yeah, I know.” Jo's memory flashed to several scenes that she truly wished would never enter her mind again. It was going to suck if she had to add a scene of this guy shooting up this crowd to that list. “You shot one bullet into the ceiling, so I figure there's what…fourteen of them left in the clip? Then when those are gone you reach in your pocket and get another clip?”
He nodded. “That's right, I came prepared.” He jumped down off the dais and took a few steps closer to her.
“Mmmm… you sure did.” Question is, Prepared for what? Jo saw motion out of the corner of her eye. “I'm certainly glad no one is stupid enough to try and rush you. They'd be killed for sure, and I for one really don't want to deal with the paperwork a corpse would bring down on me.” To her relief, the motion stopped and reversed, melting back into the crowd.
“Nice of you to warn him.” Adam gestured toward the area where the aborted hero attempt had occurred then he almost growled. “Paperwork bullshit, damn, I hated that.”
Jo chuckled. “Yeah, I do too. My partner does the bulk of it. He's always trying to con me into doing it.”
“How long have you been on the force?” Adam was starting to like this woman, despite himself.
Smiling, Jo shrugged. “Fifteen years.”
Nodding, Jo confirmed. “I've only been a detective for about a year.”
“Good for you.” He lowered the gun slightly.
“You know,” Jo glanced at her watch, “You still have time… if you wanted to hand over that gun, there's an exit door,” She indicated the fire door a few feet away from her. “You could be out of here and gone before backup gets here.” She saw him glance at his watch and assured him. “You've still got a good half an hour to get away. You planned it right, shift change at the station…”
The gunman moved back a step and the weapon was again level with her chest. “I'm not going anywhere without my lovely parting gifts.”
Jo sighed and looked down the barrel of the gun. Dammit.
Shifting slowly through the crowd, Andy followed Miranda until they were standing next to Blair.
“Are you alright my dear?” Miranda put her arm around the shaking woman's shoulders, nodding to Andy who moved to the other side and did the same.
“She'll be okay, Blair,” Andy assured the woman, “Jo's really good at her job.” The reporter kept one ear on the conversation her detective friend was having with the gunman.
“She's the best, but, Andy… he has a gun, and she's not wearing a vest.” Blair began to shake harder. “She also doesn't have her gun!” Tears began to fill her eyes. “She didn't wear it tonight, because of me. I insisted she leave it at home.” Blair's hugged herself, trying to ease her tremors. “I don't normally have to deal with this until after it's over, Jo will tell me about it while she's holding me in her arms… it makes it a little easier to deal with.”
Miranda asked the blonde quietly. “Shall I speak to the designers about utilizing kevlar in their Fall offerings?”
Blair's response to that was stalled as the cloth bag was passed to them. Miranda took the bag and passed it along.
Andy was astonished and Blair opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out.
Miranda answered their unspoken questions. “I have full faith in Detective Jo's ability to diffuse this situation, that's all.”
The confidence in Miranda's words had an effect on Blair. Andy noticed the woman wasn't shaking quite as much. “We are all going to have to get together for dinner, soon, I don't think this counts.”
Blair considered that and agreed conditionally, trying to lighten the mood. “Only if it isn't one of those barbaric hole-in-the-wall dives you and Jo are so fond of.”
“I agree.” Miranda nodded. “A proper restaurant, with no deep fryer in the kitchen is definitely in order.”
Andy was only partially listening to their conversation; most of her attention was on the words Jo and the gunman were exchanging. He's a former police officer? She tried to get a good look at the man, but there were too many people between them, then suddenly the crowd shifted and she saw him clearly. His dark hair was unruly and he had a shadow of a beard, but the most distinctive thing was, he had a large scar on his right cheek. Andy gasped as Caroline's words replayed in her mind.
The man with the scar on his cheek… He killed you, it was so horrible… Mom was devastated…
“So why are you doin' this anyway?” Jo still leaned casually against the wall. “I mean, ninety five percent of the jewelry here is custom made, you aren't going to be able to fence it, not without taking it all apart and having the big stones recut. That takes time, and connections… You might get some quick cash from the wallets, but the rest is going to take time to make anything off of.”
“Yeah, but I have connections, and I ain't got nothin' but time nowadays.”
Jo shrugged. “Fair enough.” She asked another question. “Why here?” She made a sweeping gesture at the crowd of people. “Why choose to take these people's property when you could, oh say, rob a jewelry store. Now there would be some sellable stuff, especially if you went for the uncut gems and knew someone who could work them.”
“This is easier, I can do it by myself, robberies take a lot of detailed planning, alarm systems to get around and such, getaway cars to have ready… This is much easier, one gun and these people cower in fear. None of them are ready to risk their lives for anything, soft rich people who couldn't care less about the thousands of dollars they have hanging off their bodies, they'll probably just go out and replace it all tomorrow. Why should I steal from a small business jewelry store owner and make his life hell? These people aren't even batting an eye at handing over their stuff.” He stared at her. “Even you, when I told you I wanted your watch, you didn't even blink.”
“That's true,” Jo glanced down at the timepiece and thought. And time is running out, gotta do something. She loosened the band. “It is a nice watch, but I wouldn't risk my life for it.” She slid the gold wristband over her hand, and taking a few steps forward, away from the wall, held it out for him to take, willing him to come within arms reach. If I can just grab his gun hand …
“Andrea?” Miranda heard the gasp and quickly focused her attention on her fiancée. “Andrea, what's wrong?”
Her eyes were riveted on the scene unfolding in front of the crowd. She shook her head and whispered, “I'll tell you later.”
“What's she doing?” Blair asked. For the last few minutes she'd been sitting on the floor with her hands covering her face, not willing to watch if things went wrong.
“She's still talking to him.” Andy watched and narrowed her eyes. “She's giving him her watch.”
Miranda began to take off her pearls and whispered to her companions, “Remove your jewelry and hold on to it.”
Andy quickly did as she was told; taking off her necklace and earrings then helping Blair when the blonde's shaking hands couldn't manage the clasp on her necklace.
Blair looked up at Miranda. “Does this mean you don't think Jo can handle it anymore?”
“No my dear, it just means that it's going to take longer than I had anticipated to bring the situation under control.” Miranda took a deep breath. “There was obviously a timeline for an escape, and if the good detective is giving up her watch, it means she doesn't need it anymore, the timeline has been passed, a quick escape is no longer an option. There are most likely several police officers outside waiting to catch him when he comes out. We will be here with him for a while longer.”
“But, Jo said he had a half hour, it hasn't been that long yet.” Andy was confused at why Jo would lie to the man.
Blair gasped. “What time is it? Do you know?” Closing her eyes she groaned. “Oh no, she said it was shift change at the station didn't she?” Blair shook her head. “That means the gunman thinks he has some extra time.”
Andy prompted for more of an explanation. “But he doesn't?”
“No.” Blair licked her lips and pointed out a man in the crowd, without pointing. “See that man?” She waited for her companions to nod. “That's the Chief of Police. When the gunshot is reported, the police will be here as fast as they can.” She agreed with Miranda, “If Jo is giving up her watch, they're already here.”
“So he can't get away clean now.” Andy swallowed hard. “Miranda…” Andy let out a long slow breath. “You remember the night Caroline had the nightmare about me being killed?”
“Andrea, we don't need to discuss that right now.”
“Yes, we do.” Swallowing convulsively, again, Andy glanced at the white-haired woman and then turned her attention back to the gunman and Jo. “Caroline was upset, because… because she dreamed that…” Focusing her full attention on Miranda, Andy barely managed to push the words past her lips. “… the man with the scar on his cheek, had killed me.” She watched the blood drain from Miranda's face and the older woman turned to see their assailant, the angry man, with the scar on his cheek.
It was only by sheer willpower Miranda didn't faint as Andy told her of Caroline's nightmare; the coincidence was…terrifying. Then common sense prevailed. “Our daughter is not a clairvoyant, Andrea.” She spoke logically. “Many criminals have scars on their cheeks.” She swallowed hard and reassured her love. “There are so many people here, you are just another face in the crowd to him, he has no reason to single you out.”
Andy nodded as she watched Jo speaking on her cell phone and then handing it to the man. She thought, True, but if he were to start shooting into the crowd, there wouldn't be a need to single me out now would there? Her heart rate doubled when the gunman's eyes locked with hers.
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