Read It Only Takes a Moment Online

Authors: Mary Jane Clark

Tags: #Mystery, #Suspense, #Adult, #Thriller

It Only Takes a Moment (19 page)

BOOK: It Only Takes a Moment
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ust before midnight, the ransom demand came by fax to the KEY News Broadcast Center in New York City. The number to which it had been sent was the one available on the KEY News Web site.

We have Janie Blake. She is alive and well but wants to come home. To get her back you have to pay two million dollars in unmarked bills. Get the money ready and we will be in touch with further directions.

The FBI was able to determine that the fax had been sent from the FedEx and Kinko’s Office and Print on West Seventy-second Street in Manhattan.

ake up, Eliza, wake up.” Mack shook her arm.

Eliza bolted upright. “What? What is it?” she asked fearfully.

“There’s been a ransom demand, Eliza.”

“She’s alive then,” Eliza whispered, closing her eyes. “Thank you, God. Thank you.”

“They say she’s fine,” said Mack.

“What do they want?”

“Two million dollars,” answered Mack. “They want it in unmarked bills. The fax said to get the money together and they’ll let us know what to do next.”

Eliza looked at the clock on the bedside table. It was far too early in the morning to reach anyone at the bank. But she had the home number for her personal investment counselor, Kathy Joyal. Eliza knew that Kathy would willingly take her call at any hour, especially in this situation.

Eliza reached for the phone, profoundly grateful that there was finally something she herself could do to get her child back.


Though Mack said he wanted to grab a few hours of rest, Eliza knew there was no way that she’d be able to go back to sleep. She went to the kitchen and put on a pot of fresh coffee. As she offered the black brew to the agents posted in the garage, she could feel a change in the atmosphere. Last night, when the Kentucky lead had turned out to be bogus, the mood had been morose. Now, even though it was the middle of the night, the agents were wide awake and energized. The FBI was expert in dealing with ransom demands and the fax was just what they had been waiting for.

“Do you think they’ll fax again?” asked Eliza.

“It’s hard to say,” considered Agent Gebhardt. “We may not be dealing with a mastermind here. He’s already making mistakes.”

“What kind?”

“Well, it wasn’t too bright to send the fax from Kinko’s,” Gebhardt answered. “Too easy to trace and lots of people around as witnesses.”


The time passed very slowly. At 5:00
., Eliza turned on the television set. The early morning WKEY-TV news broadcast led with the abduction.

“Day four in the Janie Blake story and the seven-year-old daughter of KEY News anchorwoman Eliza Blake is still missing after her disappearance Monday morning from the day camp she was attending.”

Video of a one-level brick house appeared on the screen. “Yesterday, law enforcement officials, acting on a tip, stormed the house of a Kentucky family, suspecting that Janie was being held inside.”

A clean-shaven man with a slightly receding hairline spoke. “I understand. I truly do and I don’t harbor any ill feelings. I have a daughter of my own and, if she was missing, I would want the police to do anything they could to find her.”

Eliza wrote down the man’s name, intending to ask Paige to send some flowers or a fruit basket to the family. Then, it suddenly occurred
to her that since the fax demanding a ransom had been sent to KEY just before midnight, the news organization must know about it by now. Yet, there was no mention of it on the local broadcast. She was relieved about that. She wanted Janie back, safe and sound, and she didn’t want media coverage jeopardizing that goal.

To be on the safe side, she called Range Bullock at home. He agreed that KEY News would not report that a ransom demand had been made; in fact, he had already issued that directive. “You can imagine how well that’s going over with Linus,” said Range. “Anything to drive the story and drive ratings.”

“It must be killing him,” said Eliza. “I’m going to call him myself to thank him for holding back.”


She called the
KEY to America
newsroom and asked for the executive producer.



“It’s me. Annabelle.”

“What are you doing answering the phone?”

“It’s mayhem around here. Everybody is pitching in and doing something,” said Annabelle. “I heard about the ransom demand. How are you?”

“Actually, I think it’s a good thing,” said Eliza. “At least now we’ve heard from these monsters and that gives the FBI something to go on.”

“Right,” said Annabelle. “The boss is champing at the bit to report it.”

“I’ll bet he is,” said Eliza. “That’s why I want to speak with him. I don’t want anything screwing this up.”

“All right, I’ll get him,” said Annabelle. Before getting off the phone, she added, “I hope this whole thing is over soon, Eliza. I’ll be out there later this morning with B.J. And remember, you can call me anywhere, anytime.”


The start of the conversation with Linus Nazareth was short and to the point. Linus made a big deal over the fact that he was holding back on the ransom demand information and Eliza thanked him profusely for doing so.

“Now that we’re absolutely clear about that, how’s it going there? How do you think Margo is doing with the show?” Eliza asked. “I thought she did well on the little bit I caught yesterday morning.”

“Ah, she’s all right,” said Linus. “But she isn’t you. Don’t worry. Your job is secure.”

“That’s the last thing on my mind, Linus.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re relieved that these kidnappers have made themselves known. Now nobody is going to say you were in on it. But you know, you could really help Margo out by letting her interview you anyway,” suggested Linus. “Think of what a coup that would be for her, how much exposure she’d get.”

“You don’t give up, do you?”

“I’m just saying…”

“How about this?” Eliza suggested. “As soon as I have Janie back, I promise that the first interview I give will be to Margo and

“Not just the first interview,” said Linus. “The only interview.”


When Linus hung up the phone, he called Annabelle over. “I want you and B.J. to go up to Kinko’s and get the manager to talk, see what you can find out.”

Annabelle looked at him quizzically. “I thought we weren’t going to report on this yet,” she said.

“Yeah,” said Linus. “But I want us to have the goods for when we do.”

t 9:15
., Kathy Joyal called to say that the money was ready to be picked up whenever it was needed. By 9:30, the FBI had a description of the man who had used the fax machine at Kinko’s the night before. According to the store manager, the guy was a fairly regular customer, usually using the all-night photocopying facilities.

“As a matter of fact,” said the manager, “I think he’s used his credit card to pay those other times.”

t was her turn to open up and bring in the doughnuts. Ruth Wilson balanced her coffee on top of the Krispy Kreme box she held with one hand while she locked the door of her Escort with the other. She noted with surprise the other car in the parking lot. Carol wasn’t supposed to come until this afternoon since she had worked last night.

When she got to the front door of the Urgentcare, it was already unlocked. She went inside. The lights were on.

“Carol?” she called.

Ruth put the doughnut box down on the reception desk and called out again. “Anybody here?”

She took the plastic top off the paper cup and took a sip of coffee. Ruth noticed Carol’s bag, placed on a chair.

“Carol? Are you here?”

As she rounded the reception desk, Ruth slipped but caught herself from falling. She looked down and saw the large pool of blood that covered the linoleum floor.

assing through the reporters still camped out in front of the house, Stephanie Quick made her way to the front door and was granted entry.

“I had another dream last night,” she told Eliza, Mack, and the FBI agents.

“Oh, yeah?” said Agent Gebhardt. “What was it

Stephanie ignored Gebhardt’s tone. “In the dream Janie was near water.”

“Now, that’s specific, isn’t it?” asked Gebhardt. “River, stream, lake, reservoir, ocean, swimming pool, or bathtub?”

“It was some sort of natural body of water,” said Stephanie, ignoring the agent’s sarcasm again. “And the water was moving. Rushing, really.”

“Anything else?” asked Gebhardt with impatience.

“Yes,” said Stephanie. “I’m getting a feeling about the letter

Agent Gebhardt bit her lip to keep herself from making another disparaging comment.

“Do you see kidnappers asking for ransom?” Eliza asked quietly.

Stephanie shook her head. “Not yet. No.”

“Well, that’s strange, because they have,” Gebhardt said smugly.

The psychic looked puzzled. “No, I don’t see that. I only get a feeling about the letter
and Janie near rushing water.”

As Eliza escorted Stephanie to the door, she said, “You caught me totally off-guard yesterday when you said my husband was glad I still wore the same perfume.”

Stephanie nodded. “I don’t know how I know these things, Eliza, but I do.”

he cluttered apartment above a delicatessen on Ninth Avenue was not where he had imagined being at this point in his life. But so many things had not gone as planned.

He looked at the stacks of books and papers scattered around the floor and sighed heavily. He had tried so hard over the years, suffered so many rejections, worked so many miserable jobs just to pay the rent, all the while holding on to his dream. It was a dream that he had slowly come to realize wasn’t going to come true.

In the solitary life he led, he had too much time to think. That was a writer’s blessing and his curse. The time to daydream led to the concoction of all sorts of fictional scenarios that, when transferred to the page, could entertain, enlighten, and delight. But in the downtime, when the mind had time to ruminate on the disappointments and unfairness of life—that’s when he got into trouble.

The piles of rejected manuscripts showed how hard he had tried. He’d put every ounce of himself into his stories but no literary agent wanted to take him on as a client. He’d e-mailed pitch letters, sometimes even attaching his manuscript, directly to the publishing houses but his propos
als were all met with letters of rejection. Nobody was interested, nobody wanted to take a chance on him.

It wasn’t fair. No matter how hard he tried, he hadn’t been able to catch a break. But in the past few days, an opportunity had presented itself and, in his desperation and anger, he had used his fertile imagination to come up with a plan to capitalize on that opportunity.

When he turned on the television, the news at noon led with the Janie Blake story, but no mention was made of any ransom demand.

Was it possible they hadn’t gotten his fax?

he taxi stopped at the corner of Seventy-second Street. Annabelle paid the driver and got out. While B.J. unloaded his gear from the trunk, she looked in the direction of the Kinko’s store. There were three dark SUVs double-parked out front, unmarked vehicles that Annabelle instantly recognized as belonging to law enforcement.

When B.J. joined her on the sidewalk, Annabelle motioned in the direction of the SUVs.

“Feds,” said B.J.

“Uh-huh,” said Annabelle. “Better get the exterior shots now.” B.J. made the necessary adjustments, lifted the camera to his shoulder and began recording, taking close-ups of the Kinko’s signs, long shots of the building, and pans of the sidewalk and street out front, capturing images of pedestrians and the FBI vehicles.

“I don’t think we should go inside until we see the agents leave,” said Annabelle. “I doubt they’d welcome us questioning the Kinko’s staff. We don’t want to risk being thrown out and told to stay out.”

They positioned themselves in the alcove of a building across the street and waited until they saw several men and one woman, dressed in
conservative business attire, come hurriedly out of the building and get into the SUVs.

“Let’s go,” said Annabelle. She crossed the sidewalk, stepped into the street, and lifted her arm to hail a cab.

“What are you doing?” B.J. called after her. “I thought we were supposed to get the interview with the manager.”

“We are,” said Annabelle as a cab glided to a stop in front of them. “But I have a feeling we should follow those FBI guys instead.”

e have the name and address of the person who sent the fax,” said Agent Gebhardt. “Our people are on their way to the apartment right now.”

Eliza closed her eyes and prayed with an intensity more powerful than she had at any other time in her life. She thought of the stolen minutes she’d spent in the hospital chapel when John was dying. She realized now that, though her initial prayers then had begged God not to let her husband die, those prayers had evolved as she became resigned to the fact that John wasn’t going to make it. In the end, she prayed for him to be free from pain, she prayed for him to have a peaceful death, and she prayed for the strength to go on, have their baby, and live without him.

This time was different. Janie was her only child. Janie didn’t have a cruel and vicious disease. Janie had been taken from her, and if the kidnappers simply let her go, or the FBI rescued her, all could be well again. If the strength of her prayers might actually determine her daughter’s and Mrs. Garcia’s fate, Eliza felt she had to focus with every fiber of her being.

It was all she could do.


Agent Gebhardt signaled to Agent Laggie. He followed her out to the kitchen.

“This is too easy,” she said in a low voice as she poured some coffee.

Laggie took the cup she offered him. “I’ve been thinking the same thing myself,” he said.

BOOK: It Only Takes a Moment
6.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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