Chapter 30: Capture
Luther woke in the darkness. Hands and mouth were bound with duct tape. Only the faint hint of daylight around the tail light assemblies gave any illumination, except when the car put on its brakes, and the interior of the trunk was illuminated with a blood red glow.
Every bump of the road turned the ache in his head to agony.
The agony in his chest never stopped.
I killed her. I should have dumped her out of the car once we left town and never looked back.
She’d hate him, but she would have been alive.
What had they done with her? He was alone here in the trunk.
Deena had become just another of the people who crossed Angelo Benedict and disappeared. His heart twisted into knots.
The car made a hard turn and then stopped. He bumped his head on the trunk lid. He waited for the trunk to open.
There were voices, angry voices, hard to understand.
“She broke my leg!” That one came through clearly enough.
Good for you Deena! He wished she could have killed him, killed them all!
It was another twenty minutes before he heard a key inserted into the trunk’s lock.
When it opened, he heard another metallic noise, the slide of an automatic pistol.
He could barely walk, but he stumbled the direction he was prodded. The gunman wasn’t anyone he recognized. Thompson watched, expressionless from a comfortable distance.
Even if I had Deena’s muscles, he’d be able to drop me if I tried anything. Luther never let his eyes stray away from the man he hated more than anyone else in the world.
They walked from the garage, then under an overhanging balcony and into a door held open by another security guard. He stumbled at the threshold and went down on his face, unable to break his fall with his arms tied behind him. The guard left the room and the lock clicked shut.
“Luke?” Katy Ferril came off her bed and to his side the instant she realized who it was.
“Oh my God, you’re covered with blood! What did they do to you?”
Leo Drye idly stroked Ruben’s head as he watched Ferril struggle to remove the duct tape from the boy.
“It’s not my blood. They killed Deena.”
“Deena Brooke? The girl you had me meet?”
“Yes. Thompson shot her.”
Leo looked up as his number one man entered the security office.
“I thought you said the girl wasn’t Brooke?”
Thompson stood against the wall. He rarely sat anywhere. “She didn’t match the photo.”
From the speakers, the boy’s voice shook with anger as he described what had happened. Then, when she had freed his arms and he turned to face her, he stopped short.
“Katy! What have they done to you?”
“Leo Drye’s cat-and-mouse games. This is from his dog.”
The boy began examining her wounded arm.
Leo asked Thompson, “Is Boyer taken care of?”
“Gone to the hospital. He’ll be back presently.”
Leo nodded. “I’ll send him to Vegas with the boy. Hire a replacement. One that won’t get sidelined by a teenage girl.”
“Luke, you should never have come back here! You said you wouldn’t!”
“It was Deena. She insisted we come rescue you. I couldn’t talk her out of it.”
On the screen, she sat beside him and put her good arm around his shoulders as he cried.
“I so sorry I put you in danger. I should never have used you to help me get established up there. It was criminally irresponsible!”
Leo asked, “What happened to the body?”
“I stashed it in the bushes.”
“What? To rot in the sun? I don’t want any lose ends waiting around to be discovered.”
“There are no buildings within several hundred yards, and the Galvez brothers will pick it up after dark. I had my hands full with Boyer incapacitated.”
“Well, have them sink her at least twenty miles out. I don’t want pieces of her washing up on Laguna Beach like that last one.”
Thompson began to say something, but Drye shushed him.
“...and they’ll have it already. I thought I was running away when I left. As soon as they open the trunk, they’ll find the coins.
“I’ve really botched up this one.”
Leo snapped his fingers. “The boy’s car. What happened to it?”
“Still parked on the PCH.”
“More loose ends? Go get it, now!”
Thompson walked out.
Leo tossed another treat to Ruben, the only one who never let him down.
Mara Brooke heard the bell and grabbed for the phone, only belatedly realizing it was the doorbell. She went to the door.
“Mrs. Brooke?” It was a police officer.
“Yes. Do you have any news about Deena?”
“May I come in?”
She invited him in and he set down the case folder he had been carrying.
“Would you like something to drink?” Her nerves were screaming, and it was a struggle to observe the social niceties.
“No, I just came by to let you know what progress we’ve made.” He wasn’t smiling.
He opened the folder, frowning at the papers within. “We did some checking on Luther Jennings and it appears that the boy doesn’t exist. His school records, his driver’s license, social security number—all are bogus.”
Mara nodded, “Yes?”
“Mrs. Brooke, you don’t appear surprised by this?”
“Oh, the FBI told me about that.”
“The FBI, when?”
She described the meeting. He began taking notes.
“Mrs. Brooke, I don’t know who these men were, but I would have known if the FBI were in Crescent City.”
He questioned her about Agent Thompson and about the information they had given her about Luke Haskell. He stood up. “I need to get this back to the station. I’ll be calling the FBI to see what they know about an agent Thompson.
“Mrs. Brooke, I wish I could give you something more positive, but I just don’t know what’s going on here.”
After she let him out, Mara collapsed into her chair and sobbed into her hands.
Deena! Deena, what have you fallen into?
Luther stared at the floor, thinking of Deena.
At least you’ve been spared the brutality of men like Drye. A bullet through the heart was quick and final, not like the death by cuts and bruises and teeth that Drye had in store for them.
He had no illusions. Drye had taken no precautions to keep his identity secret from Katy. Death was a given.
“Why doesn’t he come?” he fretted.
Katy’s voice was muffled from the blankets. “Don’t wish for the devil.” She had taken to hiding under the covers. It was no worse a strategy than staring at the floor, he guessed.
Neither of them were inclined to suicide, probably the only thing that would frustrate their captor. Logically, he should smother Katy with her pillow—as painless a death as he could think of. She would even co-operate.
But that wasn’t a kind of violence that he could embrace. His only option was to attack, to force Drye’s hand. Force him to kill him sooner rather than later.
The next hour was no better. The same thoughts circulated through his brain over and over. He was in a trap with no way out, and he knew it.
A scratch at the door caught his attention. The door lock clicked, and he prepared to make a flying leap at the first person who entered.
The dog burst into the room, barking loudly, then three men.
Katy screamed. Luther aimed high, trying to reach for Drye’s throat.
But the dog and Thompson were both too fast for him.
His left arm was clamped in wet jaws. Thompson was so large and massive that he swatted Luther’s attack away.
Drye watched with glittering eyes as Thompson put a knee in his spine and quickly as a rodeo cowboy, wrapped his arms together with more layers of duct tape.
The pressure on his arm released, but the pain didn’t go away.
Thompson lifted him bodily and sat him in the chair. More duct tape, around his neck and ankles, kept him upright.
Drye motioned Thompson back, and moved to within three feet of him. In his hand, he held a half-dozen gold coins.
Angrily, he threw them to the ground.
“Okay, where is the rest of it?”
One coin was still rolling along the floor. Thompson stepped on it.
Luther clamped his teeth together, determined to say nothing to help this monster.
“Thompson.” Drye’s muscle stepped quickly over to the bed and dragged the screaming Katy from her hiding.
Slap. Slap. The sharp crack of his palm on her face echoed in the small bare room.
Drye reached out and twisted Luther’s nose.
“No, I’m not going to be hurting you, Mr. Haskell. I’ll be sending you to Angelo Benedict for that. No, if I don’t get the answer I want, your friend here will suffer.”
He looked at Thompson. Slap. Slap. Slap. Katy whimpered, a rag doll in his grip.
“Where are they?” Leo Drye asked again.
Luther closed his eyes. “The coins are in a big chest, in the trunk of my car.”
“I know that! Where is the other one? The one with the books!”
Katy whimpered as Thompson tightened his grip on her.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Leo stood up straight. “That’s not the answer I want.” He nodded to Thompson again.