Houdini's Box

Part 14

By: Girl Bard


Please see Part 1 for disclaimer.

Many thanks to everyone who mailed me feedback! Keep it coming!



June 29, 2000


I sigh, fiddling with the earpiece of my surveillance equipment. I wonder what Grace is doing. Probably sleeping or writing in her journal about how mad she is at her big dumb girlfriend who is sent her to a secluded cabin.

I hate this. Steele is in this trashy bar that has had a few too many Aron sightings to not check out. He's wearing a wire as well as a tiny camera that is recording his every move. I have to admit, he's pretty good. He's doing a great job at making himself blend with the crowd as well as seek out the important people and make small talk.

No sign of Aron, not that I expected there to be. I'm assuming that he has my apartment bugged and has heard that Grace is gone. I hope that our big "fight" we had where she said she was going to leave worked to make Aron believe that it's over between her and I. Aron is probably either checking out my place as we speak or having one of his idiots do it for him.

They won't find any trace of Grace or where she's gone. In case she's being followed, I told Jody to drive all the way to Ohio and then double back and head for Toronto. None of Aron's crew will want to cross the border; I'm sure they all have warrants so they will give up the chase. And by the time that Jody finishes the drive, the problem that is Aron should be taken care of.

Grace doesn't want me to kill him. Truthfully, as much as the thought of watching him die pleases and excites me, I don't really want to kill him either. I may be a lot of things, but a cold-blooded killer I'm not. But that doesn't mean that I won't take him down and enjoy it if I see it's my only option.

I sigh again, listening to Steele try pathetically to hit on one of Aron's trusted informants. She's a tall blonde that changes her name so frequently I've only been able to keep track of her by her appearance. She's gorgeous, but must be really fucked up to want to hang around Aron.

Actually, Steele isn't all that pathetic. He's handsome and quite charming without being fake. It just doesn't do anything for me, I guess. He's nothing like my Grace.

Grace. I hope she doesn't hate me. I hope that she can read the letter I wrote her and maybe understand things better. Not that I'm any great letter writer, but I wanted her to have something before leaving for the cabin.

I shift in my seat, my eyes never leaving the tiny screen displaying Steele's movements. He's been playing pool with a few of Aron's people for the past hour now, and the detective doesn't have that bad of a shot. But now, Steele is moving. He's going somewhere, and somewhere fast.

I don't hear any sound in my earpiece other than normal bar sounds. The screen shows that Steele is climbing up some stairs, and I can hear his heavy breathing in my ear.

"Where are we going?" Steele's voice asks, and I almost jump at the sudden sound of his loud voice in the earpiece.

"You'll see. It's a surprise." The blonde's voice purrs, answering him.

Shit. This isn't good. Something tells me that this isn't right. Clicking the button on the equipment that allows me to speak in Steele's ear, I softly try to convey my feelings of alarm.

"Don't trust her, it could be a trap." I tell him, hoping he'll listen.

"I don't like surprises." Steele voices loudly to the blonde, who responds by laughing.

"Bathroom." I whisper quickly.

"I have to take a piss, I'll be up in a minute." He remarks to the blonde, and then calmly turns and heads down the stairs.

"Classy." I remark.

"When in Rome…." He whispers back once he's free of the blonde. I laugh silently as Steele pushes the door to the men's room and heads for the urinal.

"Please don't make me watch this." I beg him jokingly while averting my eyes from the video screen.

"Jealous?" Steele responds to me, but looks at the guy at the urinal next to him. Jesus Christ, he's a riot.

The guy nervously looks away and Steele's low voice chuckles in my ear.

"What exactly am I supposed to be jealous of?" I ask Steele. "Doesn't look like there's much there." I joke with him, forgetting for a minute how dangerous of an assignment we really are on.

"Ouch." He answers, muttering under his breath as he washes his hands.

"Listen." I command him, wanting to get back to business. "Don't trust the blonde, she's trouble. Watch your back with her, and don't let her get you alone."

Steele doesn't answer, simply clearing his throat and leaving the bathroom. Aron's blonde spots him quickly and rushes over to him.

I sigh for the umpteenth time, wishing I was at the quiet lakeside cabin with Grace.


June 29, 2000


Slipping on my running shoes I walk to the back door of the cabin and open it slowly. The bright morning light streams in and my eyes involuntarily wince in reaction.

Bean stands on the threshold of the doorway, looking outside at the gorgeous wooded property and pristine sparkling lake with the reverence of a child on Christmas morning. She glances back to me and than outside again.

I smile at her fondly. "Go on." I urge her, and she needs no further words. She bounds outside, racing around the backyard and down to the lake immediately.

By the time we arrived here last night, I was so upset and emotionally drained that I bid Ian goodnight and went straight to bed. Bean wasn't really sure of where we were, but seemed content enough to sleep at the edge of my small bed.

Jaden was right about one thing, the cabin is beautiful. Small and quaint, it is furnished simply, with comfortable furniture inhabiting each tiny room. My bedroom has a beautiful view of the lakefront, and after I fell into the soft mattress I at once fell asleep.

Bean is now entirely in the lake, and seems to be paddling around much to her delight. Knowing that she's a strong swimmer and won't run off, I head back into the cabin and softly step into the tiny kitchen. There's no sign of Ian this morning, and as nice as he was, I'm grateful to have some alone time. I need to debrief, so to speak, and sit and do nothing but have some breakfast, watch my dog play to her heart's content, and think about what to do next.

I open the fridge, only halfway surprised to find it stocked to the gills with my favorite foods. Jaden wasn't lying when she said she had a plan and everything worked out. I grab a Coke and put a bagel in the toaster, grateful that if I must spend time alone here that at least I'll be fed well.

I make my breakfast leisurely, enjoying the quietness of the morning. Spying fresh fruit on the counter, I grab a banana for myself and an apple for Bean. She loves to play with them, for some strange reason.

I head back outside through the back door and walk down to the lakefront. Bean has already managed to dig a few harmless holes and chew numerous pieces of driftwood. She looks up at me when she hears me approach, her puppy face delighted to be here.

Well, at least that makes one of us. "Here girl." I tell her, offering the apple. She grabs it out of my hand and proceeds to roll it around on the sandy shore before dunking it in the water and playing her own mini-version of apple bobbing.

Crazy dog. She must be part raccoon, seeing she loves to wash her food before eating it so much.

I sit on a semi-dry piece of sand and survey my surroundings. The lake is so pretty, absolutely a pond compared to Lake Erie but large enough to provide fishermen and boaters alike with plenty of entertainment.

The woodlands surrounding it seem to be completely untouched, despite the few houses that dot the distant shore. On my side of the shore, the cabin seems to be the only dwelling.

I recall the long and winding road that led to the cabin's driveway. Jaden was right, there really isn't anything around here for miles.

That thought both comforts and terrifies me.

What if Ian isn't what Jaden thought? I know she would never intentionally put me in harm's way, but how does she know that Ian isn't working for Aron? It makes me nervous to think that I'm so helpless here, my only company a small but wimpy dog and a man I've never met before.

My real fears concern Jaden. How do I know that she's not getting herself killed? Or has already? I feel nauseous at this thought. I would have known if something was the matter with her, wouldn't I?

I hope so. I hate to think of her risking her life for Aron, or for anyone. She's so important; I just wish that she knew that.

I kick the sand angrily. I hate this. I am so full of anger right now. I want to find Jaden, to scream and kick and argue until I get my way and she abandons her goal of catching Aron.

But I know it's something she needs to do. Not only for Jonah's memory, but also for her own soul. Maybe if Jaden catches Aron and he is punished for his past crimes, she will allow herself to be rid of her guilt.

I wish she were here with me. I wish that I could hug her and tell her that Jonah's death wasn't her fault and have her believe me. But I don't know if she ever can.

Suddenly restless, I finish my breakfast and stand up. I need to burn off some of this mental energy. I don't know how long I'm going to be able to stay here without going insane.

"Bean." I call to her, and she comes running, the remains of her apple in her mouth. I glance back to the cabin, and still seeing no signs of Ian I shrug and head off towards the woods. The thought of being isolated in the cabin is too much for me, and I have an almost primal urge to explore the land around it, to orient myself in case of something.

What something? I'm not really sure. But if I can at least get my bearings and explore the woods and shore I know I'll feel more comfortable being here in the middle of nowhere.

Seeing the makings of a trail, I squeeze through the brush grateful for the jogging pants I decided to wear this morning. Reaching the trail I look down each path before deciding on one. Bean drops her apple and trots at my heels as we head down the well worn and now overgrown lane.



Later that afternoon:

"What do we do now, Jaden?" Steele asks me. I really hate being asked that sometimes, especially if I have no clue to the answer. I take a moment in responding, pursing my lips in thought.

"I thought you had all the answers." I answer, smiling at him to take the sting out of my words. "It just doesn't make sense." I mutter under my breath, as I sit back into the plush seats of the car.

"I know." Steele muses, his light eyes equally as far away in thought. "Blondie was so into me, I don't know what happened."

I snort softly. "Aww, someone's pride is bruised." I tease him, trying to lighten the incredibly tense mood. Since last night we've been at each other's throats.

"Yeah, like you could have done better." Steele adds, baiting me. I just glare at him, and after seeing the feral look in my eyes he backs down quickly. "Sorry."

"Whatever." I respond. The silence following is deafening and both Steele and myself are too damn stubborn to be the first one to speak.

Luckily, the phone does it for us. The shrill ringing of Steele's cellular pierces my sensitive ears and I rub my eyes tiredly as he answers.

We stayed out all night last night, at that stupid club. Aron never showed, not that we expected him too, but Steele seemed to have Aron's blonde wrapped around his finger. After he returned from the bathroom she breathed into his ear that she'd be back in a few minutes.

She never came back. Steele waited there until well after last call, until he was all but thrown out. I sat in the car and watched the perimeter, and got the license plate of the car that the blonde got into. It's registered to a Carol Ann Silva, and was reported stolen last night.

Of course, by the time that I found that out it was too late to give chase. I refused to leave Steele at the club with no backup to follow the blonde, so I called in the license plate and requested another patrol unit to check it out. No one could find any trace of the car; the blonde was already long gone. At least we have some real charges to bring her up on if we ever see her again.

"Okay." Steele finishes definitely. "We're on our way." He looks at me, his intelligent eyes carrying a sense of disappointment.

"What?" I snap impatiently.

"It's Aron's blonde." He begins, clearing his throat. "She's dead."



Part 15: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!

Return to Main page