Read Train From Marietta Online

Authors: Dorothy Garlock

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #FIC027000

Train From Marietta (9 page)

BOOK: Train From Marietta
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Tate lay on his back with his hands under his head. Thoughts of the woman filled his mind. She had embarrassed the hell out of him. He hadn’t thought that he could possibly feel sorry for her, but he did. A woman like her in the hands of a man like Hayden was something he didn’t want to think about. Unless they got to her in time, Hayden would either kill her or ruin her for life.

He couldn’t very well refuse to help. It would only take a few days out of his life, and it might mean hers.

Tate drifted off to sleep still thinking about the woman’s clothes, her clear blue eyes, and the contents of her spilled bag. He could almost smell the fragrance that drifted up from the soft underwear.

Chapter 8

W
ILLIAM JACOBS TURNED IN HIS SWIVEL CHAIR
and looked out the window. Rain streaked the glass as a peal of thunder rolled across the city. But the rotten weather did nothing to dampen his mood. He could hardly keep the smile off his face.

Pulling a sheet of paper from his breast pocket, William felt a thrill at its words, even though he had already read it a dozen times. The telegram he had received from Edwin was the news he had been waiting for. They’d been able to take Kate without any trouble. What a stroke of luck!

Thoughts that he had been suppressing for years now swam around in his head, intoxicating him with their promise.

It won’t be long now until I’m in complete control of Tyler-Jacobs Steelworks. People in the highest social circles in the city will accept me! John Tyler will be back at the steel mill in Pittsburgh where he belongs! He doesn’t know how to play the game. He doesn’t know which politicians to butter up, which bankers to flatter. He’s in for the shock of his life; he’s going to lose everything to William Jacobs, his business partner!

William’s thoughts began to wander toward how he was going to word the next ransom note when the telephone rang.

He picked up the receiver from the cradle. “Jacobs,” he said gruffly.

“Hello to you, my clever man.”

“Oh. Hello, dear,” he said, pleased when he heard the soft, caressing sound of her voice. It surprised him that she would call at the office, because they had planned to meet later. He listened to her for several minutes, then said, “Now, dear, I promised I’d be there, so I will.” He cocked his ear toward the door. He heard footsteps coming toward his office and became instantly alert. Cupping his hand over the mouthpiece, he talked into the receiver in low tones.

“Everything’s going just the way I planned. Before you know it, it’ll all be over,” he said with a snort. “How would you like to have that mink coat we saw in Macy’s department store window? We’ll figure out how to explain your having it. Couldn’t you say that stingy old father of yours gave it to you? No?”

More steps echoed from the hallway, closer than before.

“Well, if that won’t work, how would you like a piece of jewelry from Tiffany’s instead?” William continued. “I’d really rather you have the mink coat. You’d be so beautiful in it. You’d be the envy of every woman you know. Hell, you’d be the envy of every woman in the city. I can hardly wait to show you off as mine.” The steps came to a halt at the closed office door. A light rapping sounded against the door frame.

“Better go now. Meet you at the same time. Good-bye, dear. I love you.” As he hung up the phone, he said, “Yes?”

The door opened slowly, and John Tyler stepped into the office. “Busy, William?”

“No. No, of course not. I was just confirming an order. Come in.”

The man who sat in front of William’s desk bore little resemblance to the man who had been his business partner for the past five years. John Tyler looked as if he had aged ten years since a few days earlier. His eyes were bloodshot, and heavy dark bags hung beneath them. His hair was disheveled, and his clothing looked just as unkempt. William would have sworn that the man hadn’t slept in a week. He looked as if he was at the end of his rope.

After they had chatted for a moment about business, William asked, “Are you all right, John?”

Silently, and with shaking hands, John pulled a scrap of paper from his coat pocket and passed it across the desk to his partner.

“What’s this?” William glanced at it and jumped to his feet. His fists clenched and his voice bellowed. “What the hell is this?”

“They’ve got my Kate,” John said hoarsely.

“What do you mean they’ve got your Kate? Kidnapped her?” William asked with disbelief in his voice.

John Tyler sat immobile in the office chair. It was obvious that he was physically and emotionally exhausted. William had to strain to hear him; his words were little more than whispers. “That’s what the note says, William. They want a hundred thousand dollars.”

“A hundred thousand dollars?” William echoed as incredulously as he could manage. “Maybe this is a prank. Some sort of a joke.”

“I’m afraid it’s all too real,” John answered, going on to explain how Kate’s messages from her trip had stopped.

“Damn it all! What in the hell is the world coming to? It isn’t safe for decent people to travel anymore,” William said as he pounded his fist down onto the desktop.

“Since the Lindbergh baby was taken, there’s been a rash of kidnappings. You read about this sort of thing all the time now.”

William stepped from behind the desk and paced the floor in front of the window. The storm seemed to be growing in intensity. “The crooks have found a way to get easy money. Damn it all! I hate to think of our Kate in the hands of scoundrels.”

John pinched the space between his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. He sighed. “I’ve been worried sick about this, William. I can’t eat and I haven’t slept a wink since I received the letter. I knew I had to do something, but I didn’t know what. Kate’s always been my special girl. The kidnappers must have known it.”

“You know how I feel about Kate, John. I love her as if she were my own daughter.” William paused, trying to choose his words carefully. There were things he had to find out, things that only John himself could tell him, but he couldn’t rush it. He had to squeeze them out of him. “It’s no secret that I had high hopes for her and Edwin making a match of it, but it seems it will be Edwin and Susie instead. Speaking of which, have you told your family?”

“I told Lila, but I decided not to tell Susie until this is all over. I don’t want her to worry.”

“This is outrageous!” William exclaimed. He exhaled sharply and dropped heavily down into his chair. “If I could get my hands on the sons a bitches who did this, by God, I’d not have any trouble ending their miserable lives!”

The men sat silently, the only noise the steady drum of the rain as it beat on the windowpanes. William looked at his business partner and wondered what he would think if he knew that the mastermind behind his daughter’s kidnapping was sitting not three feet away. He asked, “Do you have any idea who would do such a thing?”

“Who knows who it could be?” John exclaimed. “The houses we live in make it obvious that we have money. Someone must have decided that they wanted some of mine.”

“You’re right.”

“I just want my daughter back,” John muttered, looking down at his hands.

William knew that it was time to ask the most important question of all. Softly he asked it. “Are you going to pay the ransom?”

“Of course, I’m going to pay. They can have every dime I have or can rake up if it means I can get Kate back.” John looked up with eyes that were red and moist, but coolly determined. “I’ve thought about it, William, and I’m not certain I’ll get her back even after I pay the money. Why would they let her go? So I have done the only thing I could think of to do. I contacted a friend in the Texas Rangers.”

“What?” William blurted out before he could catch himself.

“If there’s anyone who can find her, it would be Lyle Holmgaard. You remember, he helped us when we had that shipment derail in Texas a few years ago. I had a few clues that I could give him to work on. Kate had been sending me wires along the way, and when they stopped, I had some idea where she might have been kidnapped. Amazingly it was right in Lyle’s backyard. He said he’d do what he could. All we can do is wait and hope.”

William swiveled in his chair again to look out the window. “Do you think that was the wise thing to do?” he asked sharply. “Have you thought this through carefully? You could get her killed, you know.”

“I had to do something. She’s very dear to me.”

William was silent, trying to get a grip on his racing heart and thoughts. This changed things. He hadn’t thought that Tyler would straighten his back and actually contact the authorities. He thought he’d hand over the money and that would be that. By God, he’d have to be extra careful from now on.

“I’m just as sorry about this as I can be, John. You know I’ll do anything I can to help you get her back,” he said as sincerely as he could. “Don’t worry about things here. You can depend on me. I can take care of things here in the office, if you would want to go out there.”

“No, William. I appreciate the offer, but I’ve got to wait here for the next ransom note. Besides, I doubt that there’s much that I could do in Texas besides get in the way.” With that, John managed a weak smile. He went to the door and paused. “I think that I’m going to go home. Lila will be anxious to know if I’ve heard anything. William, I want you to know how much I appreciate you. I knew I could depend on you.”

John left and softly closed the door.

William sat back in his chair and made a steeple with his fingers in front of his face. He was alarmed by the news that Tyler had gone to the Texas Rangers. He despised complications in the business world, and this was no different. Still, if this were a complication that he himself could deal with, that would have been okay. But this would be in Edwin’s hands, and that might be cause for worry. He realized that he needed to get word to his nephew.

After making sure John had left the building, William put on his hat and overcoat and walked out the door. A heavy rain continued to fall. Now the weather matched his mood. He stood on the sidewalk and scanned both sides of the street for any sight of Tyler; it wouldn’t do for him to run into him now. Seeing no sign of the man, he turned on his heel and walked toward the telegraph office.

He walked with his head down, paying little attention to anyone he passed. Few others were out in the stormy weather; most people were content to stay in, where it was warm and dry. William ignored the wet, his mind busy composing the telegram. Finally, as he entered the telegraph office, he decided.

REMEMBER THE OVERTURNED SHIPMENT? STOP. SAME HAS BEEN NOTIFIED. STOP.

After he had sent the message and stepped back out into the deluge, William Jacobs felt pleased with himself. He had sent a message that only Edwin would understand.

As William continued to walk up the street, he paused to look in a jewelry store window, glancing at the display of rings, necklaces, and bracelets. Unsatisfied with the selection, he moved on. Jewelry from just any store would not be good enough for his lady love. It would have to come from Tiffany’s.

With every step, he became more confident that he would succeed. It had been a risky move to kidnap Kather-ine Tyler, but as a successful businessman in his own right, he knew that there was no reward without risk. He was going to buy out John Tyler with John’s own money. He would control the business and take his place among the social elite.

The most important decision had already been made. It was how to deal with Edwin after he’d received the ransom money. William already had plans in the making to get rid of him. He had given strict orders to the man who had found Hayden, and was assured that Hayden would know what to do when the time came.

William Jacobs walked on in the rain with a smile on his face.

Chapter 9

T
ATE SADDLED HIS HORSE AT DAYBREAK
. As he tucked the last of his gear into his saddlebags, he looked up at the shimmering sun as it rose above a low rise of hills to the east. Today would be like most days. Hot and windy.

While eating breakfast, he asked Yelena to tell Emily that he would be gone for a couple of days but that he might even be back tomorrow.

“She is ’fraid, señor, you not come back.”

“I’ll be back.”

“I tell her.”

Jorge got up to pour coffee from the blackened pot on the cookstove. When he set it back down, Tate said, “Jorge, I don’t want to leave, but I do owe Lyle a couple of days of my time. Be on the lookout for anyone you don’t know coming near the house. Lyle said Hayden is back, and he hates me worse than poison. I’d not put it past him to come here if he thought I was gone.”

“I keep my eye out, señor.”

“Hayden’s got scars on one side of his face now. I don’tthink you’ve seen him since he was in that knife fight. He’s the meanest son of a gun that I’ve ever met. He has no more feeling for man or beast than a rattlesnake.”

“You see a snake, you shoot it, señor.”

“I will if the time is right. I should have shot him several years ago when he tried to knife me in the back. He blames me for his scars, but hell, I was just trying to protect myself when that Mexican renegade stepped in and sliced his face. He had been waiting for a chance to get at him. Hayden has enemies all over the Southwest. If it hadn’t been the Mexican, it would have been someone else. Thing is, Hayden doesn’t see it that way. He blames me and may decide to come here.”

“We be waiting for him,” Jorge said confidently.

Tate took another bite of his biscuit. “This shouldn’t take more than a day or two. Lyle’s a good man, the kind who doesn’t ask favors unless he really needs help. You and Yelena, keep your eyes open.”

“If you see a strange car coming up the lane, Yelena, get Emily and go to the cellar and bar the door.”

“Sí, Jorge, I know to do that.”

“By the way, Jorge, there’s one more thing,” Tate said, turning to his foreman. “I don’t trust Wilbur. He had dealings with Hayden several years ago, although he denied it to Lyle and it couldn’t be proven. Wilbur doesn’t know this, but Lyle found out he and Hayden are shirttail relations, and to Wilbur’s thinking, blood is thicker than water. Besides, he doesn’t like me very much anyway, because we’ve been able to capture some of the wild mares. I don’t think Wilbur is in on this kidnapping, but he’s got his eye out for easy money.”

BOOK: Train From Marietta
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