- October 15
When Will Hamilton opened the door, I almost didn’t recognize him. He was thinner than when I’d last seen him and looked like he hadn’t slept in at least a week.
‘Nick? Dallis? What are you doing? You can’t be here! What if he saw you?’ Will was obviously distraught as he pulled us into his apartment then looked out again to see if anyone was watching.
‘Will, you look like hell. What’s going on?’
‘Did the captain send you? I told him I couldn’t do it anymore. I’m on leave. You can’t be here.’ Will was in a panic.
‘Will, some things have happened. We can really use your help. What’s happening with you? Why is our being here a problem?’
‘It’s Lizzie, he’s got Lizzie. If he knows I talked to you, if I help you, he’ll kill her. If he saw you come in here, she’s as good as dead. I can’t take that chance. You need to leave. Now.’
‘Will’ Nick’s voice was soft and calming, I wondered if that was a trick he’d learned the military. ‘We’re already here. If he saw us and it’s already too late, you might as well talk to us and tell us what’s going on so we can catch him. If he didn’t see us, maybe we can help you.’ Will thought about what Nick said for several minutes. We could see him weighing the pros and cons of Nick’s logic. I could see the moment he decided to talk to us. He sank down into a chair and swiped at the tears that were already flowing down his cheeks.
I knelt next to him and put my hand on his knee. ‘Will, tell us what’s happened to Lizzie. Who has her?’
‘I don’t know’ he sobbed. ‘I don’t know anything. Lizzie disappeared about a week ago. I got a call from a man saying he had her. He said she would be safe as long as I quit the squad. He calls once a day, different times, and lets her say hello so I’ll know she’s still alive. Then he reminds me I to stay away from work and keep my mouth shut or she dies. I’d do anything to get her back. Please don’t do anything that’s gonna get her hurt.’
We were there an hour, mostly asking questions to get any bit of information but also offering what reassurance we could that we would do our best to bring Lizzie home. Will really didn’t have much information. The daily calls were from a burner phone, just like the calls I’d received, so we hit another dead end there. We agreed to pass messages through various food deliveries and left through the back door in case the front was being watched.
I checked my watch as we circled around to walk back to the car from a different direction. ‘It’s nearly 3 o’clock. I know it’s been a long day and you may not remember agreeing to hit a practice mat with me this afternoon. I reserved it for 4:00 but I’m beat. Can I have a rain check on that?’
‘I didn’t forget, just assumed you didn’t have the time to reserve it. When did you find the time?’
‘That was the first thing I did when I got to the station this morning. After last night, I figured you needed some pointers. Do you always scream like that and run at them like a maniac?’
‘Hey, don’t laugh! I was trying to get their attention and keep them off you. I underestimated you, sorry about that.’
After all the drama we’d had in the last 18 hours, a little laughter felt good. We were interrupted by a ringing phone. It was mine. I glanced at the screen, Marianne. ‘Hey, I could really use some good news, please tell me you found something.’
‘I did, actually. The speaker was wiped clean but I found a fingerprint on a battery inside the speaker. We ran the print and got a hit. It belongs to Julian Baxter. He was picked up on a domestic disturbance about 3 years ago, something involving his ex-wife. Other than that, his record’s clean. I hope that helps.’
‘Thanks, Marianne. That just may be the break we needed.’ As I hung up, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was our lucky break or if it really was too good to be true. ‘Nick, what do you think – did he get careless or did he plant a fingerprint to frame someone else?’
‘Well, he did expect us to die last night. If we had, no one would have known that speaker was there so he might have been a little careless. Besides, people never think about the batteries. Regardless, we still have to check him out. If he’s not our guy, maybe he can lead us to the right guy.