Special Agent Guy McCormick was inordinately tired. He scrubbed his deeply lined face with his hand and made his way out on to the front verandah. He leaned on the ornate wooden railing; his long arms propped straight, and hung his head. The sobbing drifted to him from inside the house.
McCormick was fast approaching fifty-five. As a young innocent, fresh out of Harvard and the ink still damp on his criminal law degree, he joined the ranks of the idealists intent on a career in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Being his year’s top graduate didn’t hurt his career path either. Now, after all these years, his idealism was wafer thin. He sighed.
The screen door bumped open behind him.
“Still no contact from the kidnappers?” McCormick asked.
A young agent rested his butt against the railing beside his superior. “Nope. Not a word. Nada. We’re monitoring the parents’ landline, their cell phones, their iPads—you name it. It’s going on ten hours and so far the only incoming messages have been from friends and relatives.” The agent turned and surveyed the manicured grounds. “The father is keeping it together pretty well considering. The mother, on the other hand, is crumbling.”
“It’s the waiting, Morgan” McCormick sighed. His gray eyes swept the estate. “It always hits the mothers the hardest.”
“The doc was about to give her a sedative when I left, so that she can at least get a little rest—maybe even some sleep,” Agent Morgan Brewer said.
McCormick nodded as he straightened up and stretched his tall frame. “Good. Best thing for her at the moment.”
Neither agent spoke for several moments. They took in the fragile serenity of the affluent neighborhood; the furtive movement of curtains in the house opposite; the clamor of the media being held at bay by the local police several hundred feet down the street.
“Last month we had that case in Oregon of the fourteen-year-old girl being abducted outside her home as she waited for the school bus,” Brewer said quietly. “Still contact from the abductors involved or any worthwhile leads to follow up.
“Now this one. Two girls taken from their beds while the family slept. One youngster is only ten. Her sister turned twelve last week.” He looked at McCormick. “Think there’s a connection?”
“We won’t know until the lab techs have had a good chance to compare the tire markings from both scenes.” McCormick checked his watch. “I put a fast track on the evidence so, with any luck, we might get their preliminary report any time soon.”
A black SUV pulled through the gates to the estate and headed up the long drive towards the house. It pulled up in front of the two agents.
“Well, speak of the devil,” McCormick mumbled.
A female FBI agent leapt from the vehicle and sprinted up the steps. She held out her cell phone.
“We have another abduction, sir, only this time a girl was taken after her parents were murdered and the residence torched.”
Brewer gaped at the woman. McCormick bit his lower lip and reached for the woman’s phone.