The story so far:
By now the three men had succeeded in tying down Kate but not without sustaining some damage. Ash’s arm was dripping blood and one of the men had pulled his ski mask off to blot up the blood gushing from his nose.
“The bitch broke my nose,” he yelled.
“Shut up and put your mask back on,” Ash said through gritted teeth. The third man had received a few good kicks to his ribs and was leaning against the wall of the van, wheezing. Ash turned to Kate. “Who the **** did you call?”
“A radio station, I’ve been trying to win concert tickets all week,” Kate said. Ash responded by hitting Kate in the stomach. A rush of air escaped Kate’s mouth but no words came.
“Who the **** did you call?” Ash yelled, hitting Kate again and again.
“Quit it, A, you know our instructions,” the wheezing ski mask said. Ash sat back and glared at Kate who glared back at him. Silence filled the van.
Please, please please let Jack have understood what I said, Kate thought, closing her eyes.
Kelly sat shaking in the back seat of a company car. The driver knew to go as fast as possible without getting them killed and he was breaking pretty much every traffic law ever invented. As soon as he pulled up to Kelly’s house she flung the door open and sprinted out.
“Do not move,” Kelly yelled back at the driver.
“Yes ma’am,” the driver said, wide-eyed.
Kelly burst through the front door, scaring the hell out of Greg as he handed Jolie her backpack.
“Mommy!” Jolie yelled, running to Kelly. “What are you doing home, Mommy?”
Kelly fell to her knees and embraced Jolie, sobbing into the toddler’s tiny shoulder. Greg stood stunned in the kitchen.
“Kelly, what happened?” Greg asked, dread coursing through his veins. Kelly took a shaky breath and looked up at her husband.
“Kate,” she mouthed. Greg swallowed.
“Dead?” Greg mouthed, feeling like an insensitive prick. Kelly shrugged her shoulders.
“Okay, Jolie, we’re going to play a game,” Greg said. “You’re going to go upstairs and sit in your brother’s room and count all the teddy bears. When I get up there I want you to tell me how many there are, okay?”
“Okay Daddy,” Jolie said, pulling away from Kelly. She playfully skipped up the stairs and disappeared into Jake’s room, counting out loud. As soon as the toddler was gone from the room Greg knelt on the tile floor and pulled Kelly to his chest.
“What happened?” Greg whispered.
“Kate was taken, less than an hour ago but I can’t leave until Jack gets here! God, they’re going to get away!” Kelly yelled. Greg put a finger over Kelly’s lips.
“Babe, I need you to calm down. How did you find out?”
“Kate called Jack with the location, Jack called us,” Kelly said.
“That’s good, that means she’s still alive,” Greg said. “They want information, Kelly, they’re not going to kill her anytime soon.”
“No, they’re just going to torture my baby sister,” Kelly sobbed. Greg placed his hand over her mouth.
“We’ve got time, Kelly. Now, the team needs you to step up and be the leader right now. Your sister needs you,” Greg said. “What do you need me to do?”
Kelly looked up at her husband for a moment, taking deep calming breaths as she stared up at him.
“Call your mom. Tell her I’m going on a business trip and I don’t know when I’ll be home and you need help with the kids.”
“Done, what else?”
“Call in any favors you’ve got built up with anyone, anywhere,” Kelly said.
“You got it, what else?” Kelly stared into Greg’s dark eyes for a long moment.
“Kiss me,” Kelly said. Greg bent down without hesitating and gave Kelly the kind of kiss that would usually have her ripping his shirt off within seconds. Instead, Kelly pulled away after a moment and put her fingers on Greg’s mouth. “One in a billion,” Kelly mumbled.
“What?” Greg asked.
“There are six billion people on this planet and only six of them matter to me; my mom and dad, Jolie and Jake, my little sister and you. The rest of the world could burn but if those six are okay then I’m okay. But if something happens to any of them… I swear to God, Greg, nothing or no one is going to stop me from fixing it… They took my little sister, Greg.”
“I know,” Greg said. “So fix it. Do whatever you have to do, Kelly. Just know that three of your six people are waiting here.”
“I love you, Greg. I’m probably going to be doing some pretty bad stuff in the next few days but God, I love you,” Kelly said, burying her head in Greg’s chest. Greg held her closer and kissed the top of her head.
“I love you, Kelly, and I don’t care what you do, just come home,” Greg said. Kelly nodded and stood quickly, pulling Greg to his feet as well. Hand in hand they walked up the stairs to Jake’s room. Jolie was lying on her back in the middle of the room, singing a nonsense song to herself. Kelly pulled her hand out of Greg’s and sat next to Jolie.
“Jolie, do you remember what I told you when Jake was born?” Kelly asked, staring at the ceiling.
“Yes Mommy,” Jolie said.
“What did I say?” Kelly asked.
“You told me that it was my job to protect Jake, because I was his big sister,” Jolie sang. Tears fell from Kelly’s eyes before she could hold them back. She wiped them away with one hand while pulling her daughter into her lap with the other.
“That’s right, Jojo,” Kelly said. “Did you know that I’m Aunt Katie’s big sister too?”
“No, Mommy,” Jolie said, twisting around to face Kelly.
“Well I am, and… and Aunt Katie needs some help. So I’m going to go help her, okay?” Kelly said, choking up.
“Okay, Mommy,” Jolie said, grinning. “Will you bring me back a present?”
“I will bring you back a present,” Kelly laughed.
“Promise?” Jolie asked. Kelly’s laugh died on her lips; she knew she may not come back from this business trip. She didn’t want the last words she spoke to her daughter to be a broken promise.
“I promise,” Kelly said, staring at her daughter. Jolie grinned and kissed Kelly’s face. “I love you, Jolie.”
“I love you, Mommy,” Jolie said. Kelly stood and set Jolie on her feet before walking over to Jake’s crib. Jake slept soundly, his tiny chest rising and falling in perfect time. Kelly bent down and kissed his bald head silently. She stood and turned to face Greg.
“Come on, Jolie, we’re running late. Grab the diaper bag for me, please,” Greg said, staring at Kelly the entire time.
“Okay, Daddy,” Jolie said, picking up the diaper bag that was almost as big as her. Greg crossed the room and kissed Kelly as hard as he could. “Daddy, that’s gross!”
Kelly and Greg broke apart, laughing before the seriousness of the situation came down on them again.
“Keep me in the loop, Babe, I’ll do the same,” Greg said. “And take the rabbit’s foot.”
“I was planning on it,” Kelly said, managing a small smile. “I need all the luck I can get.”
“Yeah. Love you,” Greg said.
“Love you,” Kelly said.
Greg picked up Jake and carried him downstairs, trailed closely by Jolie. As soon as Kelly heard the back door open and shut she rushed to the master bed room. Through the messy bedroom she walked to the attached bathroom where the walk-in closet was. She removed a panel of dry wall to reveal a safe. She spun the combination lock and opened it to reveal both her’s and Greg’s passports and guns, along with a faded blue rabbit’s foot. Greg had won it at a carnival they went to together and had kept it in his pocket during every operation they went on together. He had it in his pocket when they got married and during both births. With a deep breath Kelly picked it up and placed it in her pocket. She picked out a Glock .45 and placed it in the back of her pants. Then she grabbed a smaller .38 and put it in a ankle holster. She shut the safe and spun the dial.
As Kelly exited the bedroom her phone rang.
“Stamford,” she said.
“Ivy League,” Jack said. “At Dulles, waiting for instructions.”
“Hangar five, flash the special card,” Kelly said and hung up. She grabbed a pre-packed duffle from beside the bed and hurried down the stairs and out of the house. The driver sat waiting with the car idling. “Dulles international, and you know how fast you drove to get here?”
“Yes, Senior Agent?” the driver asked.
“Drive faster,” Kelly said.