Read It Only Takes a Moment Online

Authors: Mary Jane Clark

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

It Only Takes a Moment (9 page)

BOOK: It Only Takes a Moment
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hat the hell were you thinking, Annabelle?” It was Executive Producer Linus Nazareth calling from the control room at the KEY News Broadcast Center.

“Excuse me?” said Annabelle into her cell phone.

“Why on earth would you make yourself the spokesperson for Eliza and go out there and brief our competition?” Linus was shouting and Annabelle could imagine all the people in the control room listening to the executive producer’s tirade.

“Because Eliza and I decided it would be the best way to handle it, Linus,” she said evenly. “And I want to do anything I can to help.”

“Well, you can help Eliza without screwing
can’t you?” Linus demanded. “Anything and everything pertaining to this case should air on KEY News first. We should be exclusive on every bit of new information. And there you are, giving it up to the other networks. I saw clips of you on
Today, Good Morning America,
and the CBS
Early Show.
What’s the matter with you?”

Annabelle was ready to scream right back at him, but thought better of it. Having a showdown with Linus right now wasn’t a prudent thing to do. She had quit on him once when they had gotten into a fight, and this
time, Annabelle wouldn’t put it past Linus to be looking for an excuse to can her just to even the score and save face. Annabelle knew she would be able to help Eliza far more if she continued to work at KEY News than if she didn’t. And the fact was, she needed her job.

“Linus, please, listen to me,” Annabelle said calmly. “Think about it. I really didn’t have much information to give them, but whatever it was, if it helps find Janie Blake, isn’t that the most important thing?”

“Look, Annabelle, I’m sorry Eliza’s kid is missing. I really am. But I’m going to say what nobody wants to acknowledge: This is a chance to boost our ratings sky high. The viewing audience is going to be all over this thing—like white on rice. We can pull viewers away from their normal habits. If we offer information that other morning shows don’t have, viewers are going to change the channel and watch us. And if they like what they see, we might win ’em over for good. This is a unique opportunity, Annabelle, and I’ll be damned if we’re going to blow it.”

tephanie Quick paused to compose herself before she entered the Ho-Ho-Kus Police Department building. She ran her fingers through her curly red hair and smoothed out the wrinkles that had accumulated on the front of her skirt during the drive from Pennsylvania. She wanted to make a good impression because she knew she was probably going to have a tough sell.

She finished walking up the cement pathway, opened the heavy glass door, and went inside. A middle-aged officer was stationed at the desk.

“May I help you?”

“Yes,” said Stephanie. “And I think I can help you, too.”

The officer eyed her warily. “Go ahead,” he said.

“I have some information about the Janie Blake case.”

The officer looked at her sharply, studying the woman who was standing in front of him. She was probably in her early forties, thin, and dressed in a khaki skirt, a white cotton blouse, and a pair of black flats. Small pearl studs decorated her ears, and the only other jewelry she wore was a tank watch with a thick black strap. He decided that Stephanie Quick looked legit.

“Hold on a minute, ma’am,” said the officer. “Let me get one of our detectives.”

Within two minutes, Stephanie was sitting in an interview room across the table from Detective Mark Kennedy.

“I understand you have some information on the Janie Blake case,” he began.

“Yes,” said Stephanie.

Detective Kennedy stayed silent and waited for her to begin.

“I saw Janie Blake,” said Stephanie.

Kennedy sat up straighter. “When?” he snapped.

“In the middle of the night,” she answered.


“I’m not quite sure where she was, but she was tied up.”

“I don’t understand,” said Kennedy. “You saw her, but you don’t know where?”

“I know where
was, Detective. But I don’t know where
was. You see, I saw her in my dream last night.”

Kennedy sat back in his chair and uttered a deep, long sigh.

“I know, I know,” said Stephanie. “You’re trained to be skeptical of anything you can’t prove with your five senses. You’re probably skeptical by nature. But I’m telling you, Detective, you’d be making a mistake if you dismissed me as some sort of nut.”

“Ms. Quick, I don’t know who you are, so I don’t know who I’m dealing with and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really believe in psychic abilities.” Kennedy shook his head. “Plus, we can’t be committing resources to follow up on information that isn’t substantive.”

“But my information
substantive, Detective. I’m telling you. I do have psychic powers and I’ve helped other police agencies in the past.” She opened her purse, took out a piece of paper, and slid it across the desk. “Here’s a list of other police departments I’ve worked with. You can check with them.”

Kennedy glanced at the paper, a list of police departments in Penn
sylvania. None of the places was familiar to him. He pushed the résumé aside. Grudgingly, he picked up his pen. He had to cover his bases and take this woman’s information, though he already knew how much credence he would give it. “All right,” he said. “Shoot.”

He went through the motions of taking notes as Stephanie described what she had seen in her dream.

“Janie’s hands were tied behind her back,” said Stephanie.

thought Kennedy.

“She was also blindfolded,” said Stephanie.

Anyone could come up with that
, thought Kennedy.

“And there was paint smeared on her cheeks,” Stephanie finished.

Original at least
, he thought. “Paint? What kind of paint?” he asked.

“Green,” replied Stephanie. “And it was streaked because Janie had been crying.”

“All right, Ms. Quick,” said Kennedy as he rose from his chair. “Thank you for coming in. If we need anything else, we’ll be in touch.”

“Fine,” said Stephanie. “My phone number and e-mail address are on that sheet I gave you. Please don’t ignore me, Detective. I’m telling you, I can help find Janie Blake.”

Detective Kennedy escorted her to the door. When he got back to his desk, he shook his head as he stuck Stephanie Quick’s paperwork in a folder, not bothering to enter the information into the computer.

liza was running on adrenaline as she paced the kitchen floor. She hadn’t slept, hadn’t eaten, and her brain was in overdrive. She kept going over and over what had happened, trying to make sense of it. At the same time, she was worrying about the future, trying to figure out how to get her daughter back. She already had decided, whatever a kidnapper wanted, she would pay. Getting Janie and Mrs. Garcia home safely was worth any price.

“The phone here is unlisted,” Eliza said. “How will whoever has Janie and Mrs. Garcia be able to reach us?”

“We have to consider that whoever has Janie could be someone you know,” said Agent Gebhardt. “He or she, or they, could know your phone number. Or, if a stranger has Janie and Mrs. Garcia, he can just ask them for the number, right? Either way, if a kidnapper wants to get in touch with us, he will.”


Eliza jumped when the phone rang. She checked the identification bar and felt the first inkling of relief she had experienced since the ordeal had begun. Mack was calling from London.

“It’s all right,” said Eliza. “It’s my…uh…friend. And he’s calling from England, so you can rule him out as a suspect.”

“Okay,” said Agent Gebhardt. “Answer it, but tell him you can’t stay on the line.”

Eliza picked up the receiver.

“My God, Eliza. I just heard.” Mack sounded so close. She so wished he was.

“Oh, Mack,” she said, feeling tears coming to her eyes at the sound of his voice. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“We’ll get through this, honey. I promise we will.” His tone was adamant and confident. “Tell me everything.”

“I want to tell you,” said Eliza, “but we have to keep this line open. Call me back on my cell.”


The rooms upstairs were still being gone over for evidence and the first floor offered no privacy at all. Eliza desperately wanted to talk to Mack without anyone hearing. She took her cell phone and walked out to the backyard.

She was halfway across the lawn when the phone sounded. She sat on one of the seats of Janie’s swing set and opened the phone.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” he answered.

For a moment, there was silence, no sound traveling either way over the Atlantic Ocean, as if neither side had the words to convey the enormity of what was happening.

“I’m coming home,” said Mack. “I’m getting the next plane.”

“Oh, thank you,” she uttered gratefully. “I need you, Mack. I don’t know if I can get through this. If something happens to Janie…” Her voice cracked and she started to sob, deep, gasping sobs that came from her core—sobs she had been fighting since she realized Janie and Mrs. Garcia were missing.

It flashed through her mind, the ways Mack had been there for her over the last two years—and the ways he’d come up short. They’d begun as colleagues, grew to be friends, and, eventually, lovers. Mack had been patient with her reticence, understanding that she had been shattered by John’s death and was afraid to offer her heart again.

Not long after Eliza had surrendered to her feelings for him, KEY News in its infinite wisdom had transferred Mack to London where, in a drunken night of loneliness, Mack had slept with another woman. When Eliza learned of it, courtesy of the KEY gossip mill, she had been inwardly crushed and disillusioned. Outwardly, though, she carried on, terminating their relationship and focusing on Janie and her career.

Mack had been exceedingly penitent and persistent in letting Eliza know it. Over time, Eliza had come to realize that he really did love her, that the one-night stand was something he profoundly regretted, a terrible mistake. Finally, she had forgiven him, though she had not been sure she would ever be able to forget.

Yet, as Eliza sat on Janie’s swing, Mack’s sexual indiscretion seemed like nothing in comparison to what she was facing now. Her daughter’s and Mrs. Garcia’s
were at stake.

She heard Mack’s voice.

“Sweetheart, listen to me, honey. Please, listen to me. Janie’s going to be all right. Thinking otherwise will do you absolutely no good and it won’t do Janie any good, either.”

“I know,” she wailed. “I know.”

“Eliza, cry now, and get it out. It’s probably good to do that. But you have to have faith, sweetheart. You have to try to stay positive.”

She couldn’t answer him. Eliza rocked back and forth on the swing, tears running down her cheeks, her body shaking. She couldn’t catch her breath and she couldn’t get herself to stop crying; nor could she see the photographer who was on the other side of the hedges, the telephoto lens of his camera pointed right at her.

an’t you get that kid to stop hiccupping?”

“She’s afraid,” said Mrs. Garcia as she turned her head in the direction of the man’s voice. She had her arm around Janie’s shoulders as they sat huddled together on the mattress. Mrs. Garcia had lain awake all night and listened as Janie hiccupped softly and sporadically as she drifted in and out of sleep. Once Janie awoke, the hiccupping had increased again.

“Well, she’s driving me crazy.” The man bent down and brought his face close to Janie’s. “Cut it out, little girl. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll cut it out right now.”

From behind her blindfold, Janie felt the meanness and anger in the man’s voice. She hiccupped again, more deeply this time.

“Damn it, kid. What did I just say?”

Janie pulled back, afraid that she was going to get another slap across the face.

leave her alone,” pleaded Mrs. Garcia. “She can’t help it. She is very scared of you. That makes her do this. If you make her more scared, she’ll only do it more.”

They listened to the sound of the man’s footsteps as he paced the room, muttering to himself.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” Janie said softly.

“Again?” asked the man. “You just went.”

“I have to go again.”

“Where are your manners, little girl? You have to ask me nicely. ‘May I go to the bathroom,

“You’re not my daddy,” Janie said firmly.

The man bent down to her again and she could feel the heat of his breath as he spoke. “You’d better get used to it, little girl. Until further notice, I
your daddy.”


The kidnapper covered his head with the mask before taking off Mrs. Garcia’s and Janie’s blindfolds and untying their hands. Unaccustomed to the light, both of them rubbed their eyes.

“Now remember,” he said as he led them to the bathroom, “I can hear everything you say or do in there so don’t try anything funny.” He patted the microphone still attached to Mrs. Garcia’s blouse. “Do what you have to do and get back out here.”

While Janie sat, Mrs. Garcia checked out the room in the light of day. The space was clean but small, with barely enough room for a toilet, a tiny sink, and a shower stall. The floor was linoleum and the bat-and-board walls were painted white. Above the toilet was a window. Mrs. Garcia realized the room was at ground level as she leaned over to look out.

“Ay, Dios mio
,” she said softly. “Where are we?”

“Never mind where you are,” said the gruff voice coming from the other side of the door. “Finish up and get back out here.”

BOOK: It Only Takes a Moment
10.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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