Authors: J.L. Drake
Darkness Series, Book Two
Copyright © 2015 by J. L. Drake. All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: September 2015
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
To anyone who ever had to look their fear directly in the face. This is for you.
Table of contents
Day 1 In The Basement
A dripping sound echoed through my ears. My eyes started to flutter, but the bright light was too intense. My head pounded, and I tasted blood. There was something in my mouth. I tried to push it out with my tongue, but it wouldn’t budge.
My eyes opened again. My vision was fuzzy, and I blinked a few times to clear it. I tried to move my hands, but they wouldn’t respond. My eyes strained to focus again.
Christ, that bright light.
Then I saw the black zip ties that held each of my wrists to the wooden chair. My feet were bound to the legs of the chair as well. There was a wrap around the cut on my calf. It was soaked with blood but otherwise seemed to hold up all right.
My heart raced and I felt lightheaded. I yanked my arms upward and tried to kick out with my feet, but that only caused sharp pains to bite at me. I tried one more time and pulled with all my might. Nothing but more pain. I felt drunk, what was on that rag?
I began to sob, but the rag in my mouth made me choke.
my brave side insisted. I did, in through my nose and out through my mouth. I repeated this three times and managed to calm myself. Okay, good, it was a start. I struggled to keep my head clear and forced myself to focus.
Then a door opened, followed by a quick clicking noise. My brave side took a dive as my heart fought to get out of my chest so hard it surely left a bruise. A moment later I heard footsteps, and my body started to shake violently.
A man in a dark mask came into view. He dragged a metal chair…well, scraped it along the cement floor. The sound pierced my ears. He sat down in front of me and crossed his legs. He snapped his fingers, pointed to the ground, and the gray pit bull from the woods obediently sat at his feet. He seemed quite relaxed, which sent a double dose of fear through me. The bright light was behind him, so it was hard to see his face. He tilted his head to one side to study me.
“You’re a hard woman to catch.” Holy shit.
He entwined his fingers on his lap. “Your security team has been impressive, Emily.” He had an interesting way of pronouncing each word just so, like every word was as important as the next. “And now they’re desperate to find you. Little do they know, you’re closer than they think.”
My stomach tensed. I scanned the room. I was in a basement, because I could tell there was a room above me. Sunlight shone through a floorboard. What did he mean? Could they hear me if I screamed?
His phone rang. His long, bony fingers pulled his cell out of his jacket pocket, and he listened. “You left it where you were supposed to?” He listened some more. “So they just found it? Excellent.” The hair on my arms stood at attention, and I wondered who was on the other end of the line. His lips curled and showed a hint of a smile. He clearly enjoyed some private joke. “Well done.” His eyes flicked back to me, then he hung up and tucked his phone away.
I couldn’t stop the painful heaving action my chest produced.
Em, you gotta calm down.
Lasko studied me and then slowly leaned over and tapped a button on a keyboard. A computer display flashed on. Suddenly, Seth’s face appeared on the screen.
“Oh my God,” Seth’s voice boomed over the large speakers that seemed to be all around me. I looked at Lasko, and he pointed to a camera on the computer.
“Smile, darlin’, you’re on camera,” he whispered.
“Can she hear us?” Seth barked out to someone. I looked at the camera and nodded in utter shock.
Seth’s face dropped as he moved closer to the screen. “Oh my God, baby.” His face looked terrified. “Are you all right?”
I shook my head no as tears poured down my cheeks. The sound of his voice was heart-wrenching. Garrett called out for the sergeant to come over.
Garrett came into view. “Emily, are you alone?” My eyes shifted to Lasko. He smiled, then waved a hand to let me know it was all right to answer.
How kind of him.
I looked back and shook my head. Lasko got up and moved slowly behind me. I couldn’t take my eyes away from the screen.
Seth’s jaw tightened as Lasko ran his hand around my neck, and his touch felt almost like it left a corrosive burn. I tried to pull away from him, but he quickly grabbed my hair and held me in place as he leaned down and smelled my hair. My eyes closed as I tried to calm myself.
“Officer Connors, your girlfriend smells divine,” his voice purred. He enjoyed his complete control.
Seth’s eyes darkened. “Lasko, I know that’s you. Take the fucking mask off.” His jaw clenched.
Lasko moved to my side and gave a small nod as he thought. “I agree. Let’s make this more personal.” He removed the mask and revealed his face, just like the picture. “Hello, Seth. Yes, it’s me, Jimmy Lasko. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.” His formal demeanor frightened me in an odd way.
Garrett whispered in Seth’s ear, and he nodded once in agreement.
“Hello, O’Brian.” Lasko ran his hand along my collarbone.
“What do you want with her?” Garrett’s face was gray.
Lasko touched my shoulder, and I froze. He laughed slightly as he grabbed my chin and bent down. “I want what Seth wants.” He licked from my jawbone to the corner of my eye. I jerked my head away from him in disgust. I thought I might vomit. I could feel his saliva burn into my skin.
Garrett grabbed Seth’s arm. “He just wants to make you mad,” his voice soothed through the speakers. Garrett was great at keeping Seth calm, but right now I didn’t know how well it would work.
Lasko laughed and moved closer to me.
“Just give in, darlin’. It will make it easier.” He ran his hand down my arm. I tried to kick and move my arms. It was maddening being pinned to the chair.
Lasko turned to the camera. “Is she normally this feisty, Seth?”
Seth stood perfectly still, and Garrett leaned in. “We’ll find you, Emily. Just hang in there.” I nodded and started crying again.
A slow chuckle emerged from Lasko as he pulled my hair off my neck. “If you’ll excuse us, gentlemen, we have a dinner date, and my darlin’ needs to get cleaned up. Say goodnight, sweetheart.”
I heard Seth yell. Panic suddenly swept over me as Lasko grabbed hold of my arm and quickly stuck me with a needle. Everything went blurry fast.
Garrett grabbed my shoulders and pulled me away from the computer. “We’re going to find her. Just stay with me.”
I folded my arms as my head spun and sweat broke out across my forehead. “Yeah,” I breathed out.
She’s still alive.
Detective Michaels came up. “They’ve covered every inch of the area. There’s nothing there. We’re moving to a different location. We’re leaving in ten.”
Garrett and I followed behind Michaels’ SUV to a hotel. Michaels got out of a van along with Johnnie, Riggs, Campbell, Avery, and Matthews.
Avery walked over to me. “We’ve got a great team. She’s one of ours, so let’s go get her back.” I nodded once and moved toward the building. I didn’t want to hear about hope. I just wanted to get her back and be left alone with Lasko in an empty room for ten minutes.
The seven other men and I stood quietly in the elevator as we quickly rode to the penthouse floor. No one spoke a word—just painful thoughts filled the twelve by twelve steel box. The doors opened and a tall, husky black man stood with his arms by his side. He nodded at Michaels and led us into another room.
“I’m Special Agent Patrick,” a man dressed in a dark suit addressed everyone. “This is Agent Weathers, she’s communications, and Agent Crew. He’s I.T. We’re with the FBI.”
“FBI?” I asked, confused.
Michaels turned to face me. “They think Lasko may have been involved in a kidnapping in Texas a few years back. Since it’s over state lines…”
They get involved.
“Besides, I had a few favors to cash in.”
“Thank you.” My voice was hoarse. The more eyes on this, the better.
“Thank me later, when we get her back.”
Agent Crew held out his hand to me. “Now, let’s take a look at that computer.” He shifted his glasses up on his nose, and I handed the laptop to him.
“So this was left for you guys to find?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said quickly as I looked around the busy room.
Agent Weathers came over. “Officer Connors.” She shook my hand. “You’re the guy I need to speak to.” I followed her off to the side. We sat at a round table, and she pulled out a notepad, then brushed her hair away from her eyes and tucked it behind her ear. She was a thin woman, but I could tell she had strength. She held herself well.
“You’ve known Miss McPhee for some time now?”
“How close would you say you two are?”
I cleared my throat. “Very.”
“You guys are dating, correct?”
She moved her brown hair out of her eyes again. “Is she close to Officer O’Brian?”
“Yes, she’s kind of like his sister.”
“You never got the feeling there was something else there?” She studied my face.
I held her gaze. “Never.” She continued writing. What did that have to do with the case?
“Is there any reason you can think of that would make Lasko target her?”
I closed my eyes and raised my hand to my mouth. “No.” I shook my head. “That’s a question for Hank Wallace,” I added, which made her raise an eyebrow.
She frowned. “We’ve been questioning Wallace for over a week now. It turns out he has quite the rap sheet, but we haven’t been able to crack him. He keeps asking for Emily, but Michaels refuses to use her again. And, of course, now we can’t.”
“I have no idea why Lasko’s chosen her.”
Crew put his hand up. “We’re back up and running, people. We can see McPhee.”
I jumped to my feet and went over to the couch. She was sitting in the same chair as before.
Her head was slumped forward. I leaned forward into the mic. “Em, can you hear me?” She didn’t move.
“Are we running the trace for this?” Patrick’s husky voice filled the room.
Crew nodded. “Yes, we are.” Opening his own laptop and plugging it into the other, he started typing away. He shook his head in disgust. “Nothing, it keeps rerouting to different addresses.” He didn’t sound surprised.
Emily moved her head slightly.
“Look, look she moved!” Garrett pointed to the screen. We watched as she tried to move her legs and arms. Her eyes slowly opened. She looked around and then started to cry softly. She looked groggy and seemed to be having trouble holding her head up.
I swallowed a lump in my throat.
“He must have given her a sedative or something.” I raised my voice. “Em, can you hear me?” There was a shadow off to the left. “Wait, what was that?” I asked as I struggled to control my panic.
Crew pulled the footage up on his laptop and replayed it. He stopped it right on the shadow and enhanced it. “Looks like a dog.”
“A pit bull,” I whispered.
Crew squinted. “Yeah, by the shape of its head, I’d say a pit bull.” He paused. “How did you know that?”
I looked at Weathers. “I was on the phone with her right before he got her, and she said a pit bull was staring her down. Then it charged her.”
Movement caught his eye. Lasko’s arm flashed on the side of the screen like he was doing something. My stomach flipped. “He’s there.” Lasko moved into view. His face looked pissed. He pointed to the dog and gave a command. The dog moved off the screen.
Pass aut sicauf,
” Patrick’s voice said from behind me. “Means ‘watch her’ in German.”
My skin shivered.
“You can read lips?” Garrett asked, moving over to him.
“Yes, I can read six different languages.” He pointed to the screen. “Lasko just left.”