He was on the road again.
Before he left the hotel, the manager had politely warned Christopher of the hotel’s policy of not letting incidents involving the police slide, but of course, they couldn’t kick them out and lose a valuable customer. The warning was just that because they were quick to approve his request for extra security stationed at the door of the penthouse.
His heart stopped when he saw how the girls suffered. Penny wouldn’t stop crying, and Daisy tried her hardest to sniff her tears away. ‘Girls, I promise this will be over soon,’ assured Christopher, trying to calm them.
‘It’s ok, dad,’ said Daisy. ‘Just bring mum home.’
She was trying to sound brave, but he was stunned by her statement. Did they make up when he wasn’t looking? He felt his eyes water. If only Sarah heard her say that.
The sun was setting when Carl arrived with his wife and children, and he approached Christopher carefully, thinking of ways to explain his predicament.
‘Apologies for taking so long, boss. There was no convincing them to stay home, and the security here is insane!’ he pleaded.
‘It’s, alright Carl. I am just glad you’re here, and I wish I could tell you more, but I can’t right now,’ he said when he had a chance to talk to Carl in private.
‘I understand, boss. I’ll keep them safe,’ he said, relieved.
Christopher raked his hair with his fingers. ‘Order whatever you want. I’ve booked the suite next door for you. I hope that’s ok.’
Carl smiled, ‘Are you kidding? We should be thanking you, boss. You just gave us our dream holiday, and the girls are going to have a blast playing with each other! But boss, are you sure you are not over-reacting? I mean, the crook is dead. He’s not coming back this time. ‘
‘No,’ Christopher said, with a shake of his head. ‘I let my guard down once. Never again.’
When he was sure the girls had relaxed somewhat, Christopher drove to the precinct Sarah was, which happened to be the same one he visited when Herbert kidnapped Sarah. As usual, it was buzzing with activity, and he sought out the policeman from before, who gave him information on the weasel.
He found him behind the booking desk.
‘Oh, it’s you again, Dr. Wallace. What can I help you with this time?’ he asked, sorting through a heap of papers.
Christopher was quick to the point. ‘I’m here for Sarah McKenzie.’
‘The weasel’s woman? Doctor, I told you to leave them be. The weasel’s met his end, and she’s never getting out. Whatever she’s done, trust me, she will be paying for it soon.’
Christopher ignored his statement. ‘Can I see her or not?’ he insisted.
The sergeant’s eyes widened. ‘Are you smitten by her, Doctor? You’re selling yourself short, I tell you.’
Christopher pounded his fist against the counter, causing the reception to be silent for a split second. ‘I am not concerned with your opinions. I am here for Sarah McKenzie. What part of my request can your brain not process?’
‘It’s past visiting hours,’ the sergeant said flatly. ‘So come back tomorrow.’
Christopher wanted to wriggle his neck. Insolent lowlife, he thought.
‘We will see her now,’ said a deep voice from behind Christopher.
‘Certainly, sir,’ said the sergeant, with a bow.
‘Chief,’ he said with a wry smile. ‘You came.’
The Chief returned his smile with a broad one of his own.
‘How could I not come, my boy? Besides, this is my turf,’ he gestured with a wave of both hands.
‘I’m still not clear on what they are charging her with,’ admitted Christopher, with a confused glare.
‘Well, Christopher. If we have to be honest with ourselves, we knew this day would come. But I will do my best to help her,’ the Chief admitted.
The sergeant returned in five minutes and stood behind Christopher to avoid a confrontation with the Chief. Christopher should have found it awkward, but he had to admit that the Chief had a scary demeanor at the moment. Looking at him now, he felt the man’s aura had changed into that of a demi-god.
‘I’ve cleared interrogation room two for you, sir,’ the sergeant said cautiously. Christopher could hear the tremor in his voice.
‘Let’s go, Chris,’ the Chief offered, and he led the way, pushing the sergeant aside.
Christopher followed briskly and caught a glimpse of a holding cell on the way. It was in a sorry state with detainees reaching out for scraps of food that the officers were handing out for dinner. So this was what it was like for detainees. Was she in a cell like that? He cringed. Sarah wouldn’t last the week in her state.
The interrogation room smelled of sweat and body odor which led Christopher to believe it was never empty. The furniture was dusty, and cobwebs hung freely about the ceiling.
‘Pardon the stench, but New York is a war zone, and we never catch a break, not even during the holidays,’ explained the Chief.
Christopher declined the Chief’s invitation to sit and leaned against the wall while waiting for Sarah. Eventually, she limped in and was shocked to see him there, hands folded and looking at her with the utmost concern.
Did she think he wouldn’t come? Christopher thought as his heart squeezed inside his chest.
‘What happened to her wheelchair?’ he asked the officer.
‘We gave it to someone who needed it more,’ he replied without a hint of remorse. He darted a look of caution the Chief’s way.
‘Monsters!’ Christopher cursed, but the officer didn’t flinch. He led her to a chair and took his leave.
‘At least, take her cuffs off!’ Christopher requested, pointing to the cuffs, but he was already out of the room.
‘Christopher, calm yourself,’ said the Chief, patting him on the shoulder. ‘I’ll have a word with them before we leave here.’
‘There’s no way Sarah’s spending the night here!’ Christopher protested.
From the corner of his eye, he saw Sarah observing the Chief with intent.
‘Unless we can get a judge to grant her bail, I’m afraid she will not only spend the night here. She’ll be spending Christmas and the rest of the year here,’ the Chief informed him.
Christopher was perplexed. He forgot Christmas was two days away. Everyone was on vacation till next year.
‘Sarah, did they tell you why you are here?’ asked Christopher, turning his attention to her. He crouched to her level and looked into her eyes.
She shook her head but didn’t look back.
‘I know there is something you are not telling me, and now is the time to spill. Help me so I can get you out of here,’ pleaded Christopher, desperately.
Sarah looked at him, shifted her glance to the Chief, then put her head down.
‘Sarah, talk to me, dammit!’ Christopher yelled.
She didn’t. She held a rather statuesque position.
Christopher gave her a long and exasperating stare before getting back on his feet. ‘Chief,’ he said, with a stern voice.
The Chief looked up at him. ‘Let’s go. If she stays quiet, then we can’t help her.’
‘Now, now, Christopher. You cut too straight! I would be scared to tell you anything in this state!. I’ll ask her. The cop in me will get the answer you seek,’ the Chief uttered, gesturing him to leave them alone.
Sarah kept her head down, and Christopher thought he saw her tremble as he left her side.
When he left the interrogation room, Christopher took some time before releasing the door handle. There was only one thing he could do now. Christopher didn’t like it, but this was his only option. On his way out, he saw a scruffy-looking gentleman looking fixedly at him, and Christopher thought he recognized him, but he didn’t have time to approach him.
With long strides, he reached his jeep, and within seconds, he was back on the road looking for his target.
The Chief waited till he was sure Christopher was out of range before locking the interrogation room. Poor sod, the Chief thought with his back to Sarah. The poor man was running around like a headless chicken, back to him.
He smiled. Even the news he received earlier wasn’t going to dampen his current mood.
‘Hello, Annabel,’ he said, cynically and Sarah’s eyes popped open.
He approached her like a snake cornering his prey. ‘I had hoped you and your spawn would die in the explosion, but fate had other plans. How do you like your new abode?’
Sarah cringed, and her body temperature rose.
He was facing her now.
‘Cat cut your tongue?’
Sarah met his blood-thirsty eyes. Everything made sense now.
‘I did as you asked and stayed away,’ she said quickly.
‘And here you are,’ he muttered.
Sarah shook her head. ‘I didn’t go looking for him.’
The Chief sat partially on the table and looked at her mockingly.
‘I still fail to see what he sees in you.’
‘That’s not my fault,’ Sarah pointed out in her defense.
He looked thoughtful for a moment. ‘No, it isn’t. Make no mistake. Christopher Wallace might be a brilliant doctor, but I can hardly call him intelligent.’
‘What do you want?’ Sarah asked with an exasperated sigh.
The Chief alighted from his sitting position and paced around the room. ‘You know what I want, Annabel! Payback!’
‘I didn’t know who you were at the time,’ admitted Sarah.
‘Killing you is too easy. I want you to suffer,’ the Chief declared, looking through the interrogation window like he would know if someone was listening in on them.
Sarah shook her head in despair. ‘Ever since my blunder, I have done nothing but suffer. What else can you do to me that Herbert didn’t do? ‘ she protested with a wave of her hands.
‘Oh, I will do more than punish you, my dear Annabel. I will expose every nasty little secret you have till Christopher pukes at the sound of your name. Then I will get rid of your offspring.’
Sarah gasped with alarm, ‘Please, leave my children alone. It is me you want, not them. If you let me go, I will take the girls and never come back. You won’t see us again.’
He chuckled. It was as if Sarah’s pleas fell on deaf ears.
‘The only spawn Gina will be allowed to worry about will be her own,’ the Chief declared. ‘Yours have to go, unfortunately.’
‘Please!’ Sarah pleaded. ‘Let me go, and I will take them and flee. Christopher will never find us. I will keep my promise this time.’
The Chief smirked. He was enjoying watching the whore beg. He could remember how she boldly teased Gina at the breakfast table while she laughed at his daughter’s love letters to Christopher.
He cringed in anger. All those visits to the psych ward! Who was laughing now?
But he had to admit he needed her to get rid of the kids.
‘Tell me how you intend to get it done,’ he said coldly, still looking through the thick encasing.
She hesitated. ‘If you distract Christopher, I can go to the hotel and get them. We will be out of New York before he realizes we are gone.’
‘And how will you manage that?’ the Chief asked. ‘My people tell me the security at the penthouse has strict instructions to not allow anyone near that floor.’
‘I’m sure they will let me in,’ Sarah said, trying to sound confident while she was quaking in her shoes. ‘If you can distract him long enough, we will be out of town before you know it.’
The Chief adjusted his collar and moved so close that Sarah could feel his hot breath on her face. ‘If you fail, I’ll make you watch as I drain the life out of them!’
She swallowed hard and watched him turn around and head for the door.
‘You’ll be out within the hour. I’ll find your loverboy and buy you some time,’ the Chief announced before he left.
Sarah turned around frantically. Suddenly, the room was too hot to handle.
How foolish was she? She should have known he wasn’t far behind when she first saw Gina in Christopher’s house. Gina had called him that day, hadn’t she?
She never paid attention. That was why she always found herself in fresh trouble. Her absent-mindedness was why she didn’t know that this man was the architect of the accident that exposed her secret to Christopher until it was too late.
He was known to destroy anything standing in his way. She was in his way. Penny and Daisy were in his way. How was she going to get them to safety?
The officer didn’t come to get her, and she imagined it was because he was receiving instructions from Chief Sacramento. Her heart thumped wildly in her chest. Christopher was in danger. No, theirs was imminent. If she managed to get the girls out of the city, she would find a way to reach him and explain everything.
If only she could figure out how.
She jumped in fright as the officer that brought her there yanked the door open.
‘It’s your lucky day, Sarah,’ he said, unlocking her cuffs.
‘You’re free to go, for now.’
He never thought he would ever visit the morgue after his parents died, but Judge Wilcox was standing in the cold room where his brother’s body was waiting to see him for the first time after his death. He watched absent-mindedly as the coroner unzipped the body bag and moved in disbelief towards it. Herbert looked like a tormented soul lying there like that. He had to have been in excruciating pain when he died. Even in death, peace eluded him, and the tears flowed freely from the judge’s eyes.
‘You little fool! I told you to get out!’ he wailed, stroking Herbert’s cold face.
‘You never listened. Why? Why didn’t you listen? You were all I had! Why?’
How dare Herbert go before him? He had no right! He had to know this was going to end badly for one of them once the Chief resurfaced.
Judge Wilcox groaned.
He failed his baby brother.
He had no reason to live. It was only a matter of time before the Chief came for him too. He knew too much.
The door closed behind him with a heavy thud, but the judge didn’t turn around. He knew who it was.
‘I knew I was going to see you sooner or later,’ the judge said with painful realization. ‘Everyone thinks they have you figured out, but you are the one they had to keep an eye on. If only they knew. If only he knew,’ he added with a wry laugh, pointing to Herbert and turning around.
‘What do you want?’ he snapped with resignation.
‘What we both want,’ Christopher replied with a level tone.