St. Louis, Missouri
198 Addison Avenue
Amber switched the phone to her other ear. "Hi, Rose. Sorry for the disturbance, but I have good news and bad news. The good news, I know where that guy, Sexton, is. Well, that's the bad news." Amber looked up at the impossibly huge barrel of Sexton's Remington. "He's here." Amber pulled the receiver away from her ear. Looking to Sexton, she said, "I told you she wasn't going to be happy." Hearing Rose's tone return to a normal volume, she put the handset back to her ear. "I know, Rose, but this guy doesn't listen at all. Yes, she's safe. She's with me. Ha ha, Rose. Look, Sexton gave me something to read to you. Hang on."
The green-haired woman shifted on the couch. She cocked her head to keep the phone resting on her shoulder as she picked up a slip of paper with her good hand. "Oh, when can I go to the doctor and get that slug out of me? It sucks being one handed."
Sexton glowered at Amber. "Read the damn note," he ordered.
"I'm getting to it. No, Rose, that was for Sexton. Okay, here we go. 'Velasco,' that must be you, Rose, 'Velasco, I have your," Amber brought the paper closer to her eyes. "What does this word say?"
"Give me the phone," Sexton growled.
Sexton grabbed the phone away from Amber over her protests. "Velasco, if you value your kid's life, you'll get me a way out of the country. Otherwise, your kid dies and the annoyance dies."
"Hey!" Amber yelled. "I am not annoying!"
Smith stomped over. "Let me kill her now, Sexton. It will save us a lot of problems."
Sexton ignored his minion. "Do I have to show you that I'm serious? I could kill one of them right now. Good. And do I have to tell you no cops?" He held the phone out to Maria. "Here."
Maria took the phone gingerly. "Hello? Mom, yes. Yes. Just me and Amber. Yes. No. Yes. Okay. What about Amber? She's had three. Mom, I don't need this now! Yes, Mom. I love you, Mom."
Sexton took the phone away and disconnected the call. He tossed the cordless phone to a chair across the room. "What was that about?"
"She wanted to know if I was okay."
"If you told her anything else, you're dead."
St. Louis, Missouri
225 West Pine Boulevard
Rose snapped her cell phone shut. "Son of a bitch!"
"What's wrong?" Elena asked.
"Come on!" Rose stormed out of the bedroom and out of the apartment.
Elena broke into a run to catch up with her partner. "Rose, slow down. What happened?"
"That bastard's at my home!" Rose stabbed at the elevator call button. "He has Maria!"
"Rose, going off half-cocked is not going help your daughter. Where's Amber?"
"She's there, too." Rose stabbed the call button two more times.
Elena grabbed Rose by the shoulders. "Calm down. I'm not going anywhere until I know the details. Where is Sexton and who is he with?"
Rose took a deep breath. "He's at my home and has Maria and Amber hostage. There's two other men with him, all armed. Sexton wants a flight out of the country."
"Did Maria say what type of guns they have?"
"No. She probably couldn't tell me anyway."
A ding announced the arrival of the elevator. Elena led Rose into the car and pressed the button for the main floor. "Okay, we need to stop at the office before going to your place."
"There's nothing we can do there."
"Yes, there is. We can get Allison to get the tickets and I have a bit of luggage to pick up."
St. Louis, Missouri
198 Addison Avenue
Amber maintained a glower at Agent Smith as he paced around the living room. "How's the nose?" she asked.
"How's the shoulder?" he snarled.
"It's been better," Amber answered, shrugging her uninjured shoulder. "I'm seeing a doctor about it soon. Man, your nose looks bad. Think they may have to amputate?"
Smith spun on his heels to face Amber. He levelled his MP-5 at the green-haired woman. "Shut up!" he ordered.
"Feeling intimidated by little ol' me?" Amber taunted. "Must make you feel bad, knowing that you got beat by two women. Oh, that's right, two unarmed women who were tied up."
Smith took a step towards Amber. "Shut up!" he roared.
Rollins entered the living room. "Smith, go take a break," he said. "I'll keep an eye on these two." Smith glared at Amber as he left the room. Rollins looked over at Maria and Amber. "You shouldn't bug him like that," he advised.
"He shouldn't keep us hostage," Amber countered. "It's just rude."
"If your boss comes through on her end, we'll let you go. It's that simple."
Amber snorted. "Yeah, right. We all know that me and Maria are dead. Your boss can't leave any witnesses, and now you're stuck in this, too. Can your conscience handle the death of two innocent cute girls?" She batted her eyelashes.
Rollins shrugged. "It's a matter of survival" he said.
"Well, taunting your partner there is a matter of survival, too. I bet I can get him to pop a blood vessel."
"You're digging your own grave."
"Haven't you been listening?" Amber asked. "I'm expendable. I'm the one Sexton's going to shoot first if Rose needs to be convinced of his seriousness. Getting shot really sucks, except for the painkillers. Those aren't too bad, until they wear off. But, otherwise, yeah, it sucks big time. I'm not going to be quiet about it, and I'm certainly going to make sure that when I am shot, the shooter is going to be pissed off enough to maybe miss."
"Your funeral. Is there anything you'd like?"
"Yeah, I got to go to the bathroom."
Rollins shook his head. "No."
"I have to go!" Amber pleaded.
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
"That's how you escaped the last time. No. I don't care if you wet yourself."
Amber sighed. "At least you don't know the Klingon version of the saying."
From the kitchen, Smith yelled, "Isn't there anything to eat here?"
Maria called back, "Check the fridge."
"Oh, for," Maria muttered. "He's like Pascal." She yelled back to the kitchen, "Dad's on a health food kick." Various curses and swearing came from the kitchen.
"There's coffee," Amber offered. "If you're man enough to make it yourself."
"Shut her up, Rollins, before I do it myself."
"He means it," Agent Rollins said. "Leave him alone. I won't stop him if you keep provoking him."
Amber hmphed. "He probably doesn't know how to make coffee anyway."