Oct. 21 – 9:30am
From under Alex’s vehicle, Erik watched with a detached sense of horror as the young driver took the turn too wide and temporarily lost control.
The flashy Corvette swerved suddenly as the driver pulled on the wheel hard sending it into a mostly controlled spin. Erik could feel Alex’s car sway when it barely missed the back bumper to screech to a stop near the far wall. The driver and his companion, drunken college kids if he had to guess, just laughed loudly, threw the car back into gear, and roared back out of the parking garage. If they’d known all the things the man under the car envisioned doing to them, it might have jolted them out of their drunken stupor. Muttering curses in every language he knew, which was quite a lot, Erik swiftly removed the second switch, cut the wires, and placed it in its foam compartment. Next, he removed the C4 and the wires, hiding them under the false bottom of the tool box. Most people wouldn’t know what the tilt switches were but C4 was used commonly enough in demolition and the movies that he didn’t want to risk it being seen. Swiftly, he inspected the undercarriage one more time to ensure there wasn’t a second, less obvious device. When he found nothing, he disabled the car alarm and rolled from beneath the car.
He made swift work of the trunk’s lock and removed Alex’s laptop. Erik then searched the entire trunk area for anything Samuel may have hidden away. Satisfied there was nothing of interest in the trunk, he moved to the driver’s side door and picked that lock as well. A quick search through the glove box revealed only one surprise, a snub nosed revolver and a concealed carry permit. Erik slipped both into the tool box and continued searching the car thoroughly. Finished, he locked the car door and returned to his truck. Placing the tool box in a concealed compartment under the back seats, he climbed in and moved the car to a metered parking spot two blocks away.
On the walk back to Alex’s apartment, Erik kept a sharp eye out for anyone who might be watching for her still. After a week, he knew the police had reduced their time to periodic drive bys but the killers might still have it under surveillance. Making no effort at concealment, he entered the complex through the front door and up the flight of stairs to her door. Utilizing the key Alex had given him, he unlocked the door but hesitated to open it when he heard someone moving around inside. Pulling out his weapon, he stood off to the side and swung the door open. A very scared, very feminine shriek could be heard inside which gave him pause. Who was in Alexandra’s apartment?
Hiding the pistol behind his back, Erik slowly stepped into the doorway trying to find the source of the sound. A blur of movement off to his left caught his attention and he silently crept closer. Whoever it was had slipped into Alex’s bedroom. Perfect. He covered the distance quickly and quietly; listening at the door, he heard muffled crying. Whoever was in there was terrified at being found. Sifting through possible scenarios, Erik decided to take the straightest route and kicked the door open. Holding his weapon at the ready, he raced across the room just in time to stop the bathroom door from slamming closed. When it slammed against the wall, the intruder screamed again and huddled against the corner under the sink begging for her life.
“And who might you be, mademoiselle?” Keeping his voice low and soothing, Erik holstered his weapon and crouched down to get a better look at her. The girl was familiar in some way but he couldn’t quite place her.
“Who are you? Why are you in Alex’s apartment? Where is she?!” The poor thing was bordering on hysteria and he had simply too much to do today to deal with this as well.
“Alexandra is safe at my home, mademoiselle, under the care and protection of Detective al-Zahir. That still does not explain your presence in her home.” Could this be the missing friend? There had been no reports of a body, identified or not, that matched the girl’s description. If so, how in hell did she get away alive?
“She’s safe? Really?” Either the girl deserved to be on the big screen or her relief was genuine.
“Yes. Would you happen to be Ms. Lizzie Butler perchance?” The terror that crossed her face confirmed her identity. Erik rose and extended his hand to her. “Come, I’ll take you somewhere safe. We feared the worst, Ms. Butler.”
Lizzie curled into a tighter ball under the sink not trusting the handsome stranger. Anyone could say they knew Alex, knew where she was, but unless she had proof that it was so, she wasn’t leaving with anyone. It had taken her days to get away the first time! She noticed the tall stranger seemed to understand her hesitance, though, as he took out a cell phone and made a phone call. He spoke in some language she couldn’t understand and then telling the person on the other line to hold for a second, handed her the phone. Not knowing what to expect, Lizzie cautiously accepted and whispered a scared hello.
When Da’ud told her she had a phone call, she frowned at him in confusion. The only people who might call her wouldn’t know the detective’s number. Easing into a sitting position, she accepted the phone with a timid greeting only to hear Erik telling her to hold for a moment. Strange. Why call if he’s going to put her on hold? Then a voice she thought she’d never hear again whispered a terrified hello and she did the only thing she could. She burst into tears.
Erik left Lizzie to search the rest of the apartment. No one had confronted him on the sidewalk or the stairwell and even now, he was being left alone in the apartment. Obviously, someone either knew where Alex was or at the very least knew she was no longer living here. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he returned to find Lizzie sitting on Alex’s bed still talking rapidly but a lot calmer than before. When she saw him in the doorway, she beamed up at him through her tears and mouthed a thank you. He indicated the need for her to return the phone and, though she did so reluctantly, she complied.
“Alexandra, call Da’ud back to the phone.” Never before had he been so glad to be proven wrong. The joy he could hear in her voice made the entire trip worth it; now if he could only keep the girl safe. When the detective picked up, they discussed the possible safe houses for Lizzie. Erik didn’t want to bring another to his Estate especially with two already injured. Da’ud had listed several possible locations when Alex came back onto the line.
“Erik, if you need a place for Lizzie, tell her to go to the Lake House. Since it’s listed in my mother’s maiden name it shouldn’t be linked to me right away. She knows how to get there and where we keep the spare key.”
“Excellent, ma petite. I’ll send her up there with an agent tonight.” Quickly dialing a second number, Erik made arrangements for a friend that still worked in the Agency to come by and take Lizzie to the Lake House. Though she could hear only half the conversation, she knew she was going to be moved so she pulled a small suitcase out of the closet and packed a few of Lizzie’s things that would fit her. Less than twenty minutes later, she was in a black sedan with a rather handsome agent heading out of town.
Oct. 21 – 11:00am
Locking up the apartment, he again made no attempt at stealth while walking back to his vehicle. The area remained clear so he concluded that Raoul was, indeed, working with the killers. He stopped at the small café where Samuel met his friends and ordered a light meal. The atmosphere was decidedly bleak and, in listening to the conversation around him, there were many who were saddened by the death of the boy. He made a note to bring Alexandra here after everything was over so she could meet the people who admired and mourned her brother. Learning nothing else, he paid his tab and headed into the center of town for a copy of the blueprints for the opera house.
Erik parked between the archives building and the courthouse, placing him about a block from each. The clerk took his request and rattled off the fee for retrieval and copies which he paid in advance. Since it was going to be a few hours before the complete set of blueprints were available, he left his cell phone number with the clerk and walked towards the courthouse. He had a feeling he was going to enjoy his visit with a certain judge. He also felt that the judge wouldn’t return the sentiment.