Teague had intended to confront Quartermain and the others, but Nadeya encouraged him not to. She knew he could take Quartermain, but the other two are far more dangerous. Instead, they decide to go back home and let the bad guys come to them.
Their announcement was greeted less than enthusiastically. No one actually protested, but Teague could tell his friends didn’t like the idea.
“After all this running around, you’re just going to go home?” Jasper protested.
“Why not? They won’t expect it.”
“It’s either brilliant or stupid. I’m not sure which,” Jasper grumbled.
“Must they be mutually exclusive?”
Jasper exchanged a look with Aileen and Nadeya. “Apparently not. Okay. But you’ve got company.”
“Why not? Viv loves a crowd.”
They headed back to Teague’s house. The red Pinto was gone and Jasper’s Boss was parked beside the garage. Lights glittered cheerfully in the windows and the music played loudly—Carols Santana, Vivica’s favorite musician. Teague didn’t see Vivica in the kitchen, dining room or living room. The door was unlocked. Worried, he held up a hand, signaling to his friends.
Quietly, they moved to the door. Teague let them go in that way. He moved around to the hidden side door. It was locked, but he had his key. He opened the door slowly noting that the alarm didn’t beep. Deeply concerned, he proceeded down the hall. Vivica wasn’t in the bathroom or bedrooms. He even checked the hall closet—nothing.
There should have been dogs barking too. Where were they? Vivica’s three pets ranged from Rex, the gigantic Irish Wolfhound, Evita a medium sized Beagle mix and Pesky, a tiny Jack Russell. Pesky barked at everything. With two strangers in the house, she should have been going nuts.
Terribly worried, Teague rushed to the living room. His friends stood in a circle around the coffee table. There was a weird smell in the room—sickly sweet, chemical. Teague stopped moving.
His friends stepped away, showing him. The three dogs lay on the couch, love seat and coffee table. They were breathing, but unconscious. They’d been shaved with clippers, nearly to the skin.
On the table, next to Pesky, there were photographs. Some were distance shots of Vivica walking the dogs. Two were close ups of her face. Obviously unconscious, she lay sprawled on their bed. He could see the duvet behind her head.
With an outcry, Teague leaped forward. Joel stopped him before he could grab the pictures.
“I called it in,” Joel said.
“If they intended to kill her, she’d be here for us to find her,” Nadeya said. “There’s a note.”
She pointed to a paper attached to Rex’s collar. Without touching it, Teague read it. It was hand printed in black, block letters.
“If you want her back, you know what we want.”
“What do they want?” Teague yelled. Distant sirens grew louder as he fought his cousin to snatch at the note. “What can I give them?”
“Me,” Nadeya said calmly. “The bastards want me.”
The room exploded with sound. All three men yelled at once. Aileen stood quietly, hands in her pockets.
“No, Nay. You can’t,” Aileen stated.
“I have to. You don’t have what they’re capable of. Viv can’t handle it.”
“They won’t torture her. She doesn’t know anything,” Aileen tried to sound reassuring.
“They would do it for fun!” Nadeya cried.
© 2014 Dellani Oakes