The detectives were shocked at the entry, to say the least. “We need to get someone to San Antonio right now to talk to Ms. Martinez,” Harry declared.
“I’ll go,” Rita quickly volunteered.
“No!” that came from Cap and Chris both.
Rita’s jaw tightened, and her green eyes darkened with anger. “I am perfectly capable of travelling to San Antonio to interview a suspect,” she snapped.
Jack, one of the federal agents assigned to the case, appeared in the office doorway. “If anyone is going to San Antone to track a suspect, it will be a federal agent!”
“Listen, Mister, you are in my house,” Harry thundered. “This is PBPD’s case, and I say who goes where.”
“The kidnapping makes it a federal case, Lipschitz, and you know it,” Jack yelled.
The small office erupted into a shouting match, only broken up by the entrance of George Donovan. “For God’s sake, I can hear you across town!”
Chris was still angry, but asked George, “What the hell are you doing here at this time of night?”
“I was reviewing the surveillance tapes on the Mendenhall case,” George countered wearily. “I didn’t expect to be a referee.”
The detectives seemed to calm down, but the discussion was far from over. Holly had a suggestion. “Look, speaking of surveillance tapes, shouldn’t we get a look at the security video from the hospital? I mean, see if we can actually ID this woman?”
“”Our agents have been over those tapes,” Jack brushed the idea away. “There’s nothing that will help us.”
Tom’s voice dripped sarcasm, “Well, maybe PBPD can see something that the suits missed.”
“I resent that!” Jack yelled.
Harry tried to stem the ensuing argument, “Shut up, all of you!” he commanded. “Let’s take a look at those tapes, just to see if we can identify anyone.”
George put in his opinion, “Yeah, you got to get this guy.”
“Or woman,” Rita reminded him.
Back in the conference room downstairs, the detectives stared at the video monitor. The images were in black and white, and were a bit blurry at times.
“Freeze it there!” Michael called out. He moved closer, “Look there, in the corner of the frame. Isn’t that the room?”
Jack punched a few buttons and zoomed in. Sure enough, the numbers 493 appeared, though out-of-focus. The federal agent rewound the tape slightly, and advanced it, frame by frame. There was little activity in the hall. They could see what was probably Nurse Amy Lass enter the room at 1430, wheeling a bassinet. The small form of Paul junior was obvious. There was no sound on the tape but the baby was kicking at the blankets, and seemed to be crying. Amy was patting the child as if to comfort him.
There was a maintenance worker, who exited the hall via the stairwell at 1445. He didn’t enter room 493, and the only thing he was carrying was a plumber’s helper. From previous interviews, they knew the worker had exited the stairwell on the floor below. He had denied seeing anyone on the stairs or in the hall. They watched tensely as the tape advanced towards 1530, the estimated time of the attack.
The door to the stairwell opened at 1538, and a nurse dressed in scrub clothes and hat entered the hallway. A mask hung around her neck, and she seemed to be carrying something, something that was out of the range of the lens. The nurse’s features couldn’t be determined, because she kept her face averted from the camera. Dark hair poked out from under the paper bouffant hat she wore.
“The bitch knows the camera is there,” Michael muttered.
There was a murmur of agreement in the room. They continued to watch as the nurse entered Room 491. When she emerged, she was empty-handed. She moved up the hall, out of the camera’s range.
“Why didn’t you tell us about this?” Rita asked Jack.
“Look, she didn’t even go into the room,” he countered.
“Where’s the tape of the nurses’ station? Chris asked.
Jack rummaged in a box, and found the tape. He exchanged tapes in the monitor, and there was the nursery and nurses’ station. The tape began at 1445. Chris and Rita were visible outside the nursery window at 1455, and then Mary Jo joined them at 1504. They moved off down the hall, out of the camera’s range. Jack forwarded the tape to 1538. Yes, there was the nurse in surgical garb. She appeared to be looking into the nursery and then into the nurses station. Again, she seemed to be very aware of the camera, averting her face. At 1540, she moved back down the west hall.
Jack exchanged tapes again, selecting the original video. The timer read 1541. The woman stared straight at the camera, but the mask was now used to cover her features, leaving her eyes the only trait evident. And with the use of black and white video, the eye color was unidentifiable. Everyone tensed visibly as the woman paused at the door of Room 493. She waited about a minute before entering.
Rita’s heart was in her throat, recalling the scene that she and her husband had encountered about four-thirty. Unconsciously, she groaned. Chris reached out to squeeze her hand, comforting her. She returned the squeeze, and refocused her attention on the monitor.
At 1548, the same woman emerged, carrying what looked to be a baby, wrapped in a hospital receiving blanket. She moved quickly into Room 491, and came out a minute later, carrying a gym bag. The mask still covered her face. She moved towards the stairwell door, and disappeared from view. The hideous attack had taken place in a mere seven minutes.
Tom pushed the stop button, and all eyes turned to Jack, unspoken accusation evident in the conference room.
“I never saw the last part of that tape,” Jack defended himself.
“Well, now we know who did it,” Holly said.
Chris searched the files on the desk for the employee photos. He found Theresa Martinez’ photo, and rewound the videotape to the shot of the murderer/kidnapper facing the camera. He froze the frame and compared the photo to the image on the monitor.
Rita stood next to him and frowned in concentration, “I don’t think that’s Theresa,” she stated, pointing at the video.
Tom shook his head, “Hard to tell who the hell that is.”
Jack was adamant, “Well, she fits the general description, and she was in the hospital at that time.”
Holly disagreed, “No, all we know is her ID card was used to gain access to the hospital.”
Lipschitz put an end to the speculation, “Look, kids, it’s almost two o’clock. I say we pick this up in the morning.”
Reluctantly, the detectives agreed. Rita fell asleep in the car, and stirred as Chris unbuckled her seatbelt. When he attempted to carry her, she protested with a yawn, “I can walk.”
He knew when not to push it, “Just trying to help, Sammy.”
She smiled and put her arms around his waist, “Love you.”
He brushed his lips in her hair, “Not mad at me? I mean for saying I didn’t want you to go to San Antonio?”
“No, I know you’re just trying to protect me. But I can take care of myself,” she reminded gently.
“I know,” he said as he unlocked the door to the loft. “Its just…there’s so much more at stake now.”
Rita was silent as they walked up the stairs. Once in bed, she cuddled next to him. “Having a baby changes everything,” she whispered. “I just want to make sure Sarah gets to hold her baby again. Little Paul and Molly are the last pieces of her husband that she has. I know that if I ever lost you…I don’t know what I’d do. But I do know I’d want to protect our children, no matter what.”
“I’ll always be here, Rita,” he promised his wife. “Forever, remember?”
“I remember,” she smiled, kissing him good night one last time.
“Rita, you said ‘children,’ as in more than one. There something you’re not telling me?” he asked.
“One baby at a time, Christopher,” she replied sleepily.
Tuesday, 7 AM
Two federal agents and Michael and Cassy flew to San Antonio to locate and interrogate Theresa Martinez. Rita and Tom ran the investigation from the conference room at PBPD, fielding phone calls and reviewing the mounds of evidence coming in from forensics. They also interviewed members of Amy’s family, trying to eliminate suspects. Chris and Holly were back at the hospital, reinterviewing staff and checking on the progress of Sarah Daniels and John McAttee.
John McAttee remained in critical condition, with no visitors allowed. Chris asked one of the nurses if there was family around.
The nurse shook her head. “Mr. McAttee is a widower, and his son Randolph is out of the country. I believe that his son is on his way back, maybe will be here tomorrow.”
Chris pulled out his business card, and handed it to the nurse, “Will you make sure his son gets this? It’s very important that we talk to him as soon as possible.”
Nurse Beth Mitchell took the card and agreed to pass the information on. “Now I have a question for you,” she smiled flirtatiously. “Are you married?”
Chris held up his left hand, “Very happily,” he grinned. “And soon to be a new daddy.”
“Can’t blame a girl for trying,” Beth sighed and turned away.
Holly had been observing the little scene, and laughed out loud, “Married and you still have to beat them off with a stick,” she teased, coming up to him.
“No, you misunderstand,” Chris shook his head. “My looking days are over.”
“I know that and you know that,” she took his arm, “but does she?”
“I set her straight, absolutely,” Chris insisted. “Come on, let’s check on Sarah.”
Randy McAttee was frantic. After receiving the message that his father had had a heart attack, he made arrangements to fly back to the States. As he rode through the night in a cab towards the Moscow airport, he was relieved that Jane was still in Palm Beach. But then he wondered-why didn’t Jane herself call to give him the news, instead of his father’s assistant? At the airport, he tried their home number and got the answering machine. He left this message: “Jane, I’m on my way home, hope you’re holding up okay.”
Next he tried her cellular number. This time, he got her voice mail. “Jane, I wish you’d pick up. Where are you? Dad had a heart attack yesterday, but I guess you know that. You must be worried sick. I’ll call you from the plane. Love you!”
Randy heard his flight called, and he boarded the jet, still wondering…
Jane slept in Tuesday, shutting off the cell phone’s ring. The baby had kept her up most of the past two nights and she needed her rest. She looked at the sleeping baby in the bassinet beside her bed and smiled, “My sweet baby,” she crooned softly. “You have to learn to sleep at night!”
She got up and headed to the shower, blinking sleep from her eyes. As she lathered up, she considered her next move. Jane was already tired of being cooped up in the condo, but it was far too risky to go back to Palm Beach. Maybe they could go for a walk in the park. Yes, that would be wonderful!
She dressed and applied makeup. Just as she was making lunch, the baby wakened and demanded a bottle. She warmed the formula and changed his diaper. “Sweet baby, I have to name you,” she chattered softly, kissing his smooth cheek. “What shall it be, huh?”
The baby merely burped and resumed eating.
“How about Andrew? That’s a nice name. So much better than Paul,” Jane wrinkled her nose. “And for a middle name, I think John, for your grandfather. After all, it’s because of him I even have you. And we should honor him for that. Your daddy will be pleased with my choice, don’t you think?”
After lunch, she bundled the baby into a front carrier, and headed for the nearby park. The weather was gorgeous, warm and sunny. She chatted with other moms, and admired their babies. She introduced her baby as “Andrew John Nelson.” Jane didn’t let anyone get a really good look at the baby, but nevertheless, she enjoyed the attention. She wore baggy jeans and a bulky shirt, so for all appearances, she was just like any new mother, taking advantage of the sunny April afternoon.
Stephen Zeller wept throughout the interview, obviously distraught over the loss of his fiancée, Amy. “She was the most loving, giving person that ever was,” he sobbed. “Everyone loved her.”
“Can you think of any problem she might have had at work, difficult patients, coworkers, like that?” Tom prodded.
“No!” Stephen insisted. “Amy loved being a nurse. She had been working extra to help pay for… our wedding.” The man broke down again.
Rita felt so sorry for him, “Mr. Zeller, we will do everything we can to find Amy’s killer.”
Tom agreed, and asked, “When is Amy’s funeral?”
Stephen wiped his eyes, “Um, Thursday morning, at Gulf Wesleyan Church. Why?”
“We’d like to be there just to see if maybe the suspect will show up,” Rita answered, ignoring Tom’s warning look.
“You think that would really happen?” Zeller was incredulous.
“Sometimes the suspect shows up out of guilt or some sick curiosity. If it is someone Amy knew, this person’s behavior may give her away,” Rita explained.
Tom hastened to add, “But that’s rare. Mostly we’ll just be there as protection for your family.”
As Stephen rose to leave, he remembered something Rita had said, “What did you mean, ‘she might give herself away?’ Do you know who killed my Amy?”
Rita sighed and said, “No, but we do have some leads. I’m sorry, that’s all I can say at this time.”
“Just find who it is, whatever it takes,” Stephen shook their hands. “Amy was never anything but loving to everyone she met. She didn’t deserve to die,” his voice broke.
“You have our word,” Tom assured him.
Rita and Tom looked at each other quietly after Mr. Zeller left the room. “You know you shouldn’t have told him all that,” Tom admonished.
“Put yourself in his shoes, Tom,” Rita replied. “What if this had happened to Cassy? Wouldn’t you want to know everything possible was being done?”
“Yes, I would,” Tom answered. “But Cassy and I…”
“…still love each other, and you know it,” Rita laughed.
“Loving each other and living together are two different things,” Tom groaned.
“If you matter that much to each other, you can make it work,” Rita answered firmly.
“Says the newlywed of what, a month?” Tom was sarcastic.
Rita blinked back tears, “If this terrible case has taught me anything, it’s that time is too precious, life is too valuable to waste by living it alone. I hope you do find your way back to Cassy, or to someone else who makes you happy.”
Tom gave his partner a hug, “You know, that Lorenzo is a lucky guy. Be sure to tell him that, huh?”
“I will,” Rita smiled.
Sarah remained unconscious, so Chris and Holly returned to the shop, in time for lunch at the “roach coach” with Rita and Tom.
They discussed the case at length, wondering what the Feds, Michael and Cassy would turn up in San Antonio. The beautiful late-April day was in distinct odds with the gloominess of their moods.
But Chris and Rita took a few hours of personal time that afternoon, for a very happy errand. Rita had a doctor’s appointment, and her husband accompanied her. In the exam room, the nurse weighed Rita and took her vital signs. After Rita lay back on the exam table, her doctor bustled in and greeted the couple. Dr. Charlene Smith measured the fundal height and consulted Rita’s chart.
“The baby’s right on schedule for growth,” she said approvingly. She turned on the Doppler and squeezed ultrasonic gel on Rita’s belly. There was muffled rumbling, then the steady rapid heartbeat of the baby.
“Our baby!” Chris grinned, gripping Rita’s hand.
“Sounds wonderful!” Rita agreed.
Dr. Smith switched off the Doppler after counting the rate. She smiled at the couple and asked how things had been going.
Rita was happy to tell the doctor that the nausea was virtually gone, and her appetite and energy level were back to normal.
Dr. Smith nodded, “Usually my patients are thrilled with the second trimester. So how is your mood?”
“Good,” Rita answered.
“Well…” Chris broke in.
“Chris!” his wife protested.
“We’ve been working this kidnapping and murder case,” Chris explained. “And I think it’s been pretty hard on her.”
Dr. Smith nodded gravely, “Yes, I’ve heard about that. Rita, it’s no sin to admit to some limitations.”
“I know,” Rita said in a small voice. “But I can handle it. This is my job.”
Chris asked, “Doc, shouldn’t she be taking more time to rest? I mean, sometimes she works sixteen hours a day.”
Dr. Smith frowned, “Rita, pregnancy doesn’t make a woman into an invalid, but I recommend my patients work no more than eight to ten hours a day.”
“I’m a police officer, and my job isn’t always 9 to 5,” Rita protested.
“That’s true, but you need to make allowances in your schedule, especially as you get into the last trimester.”
“You feel well now, but there could be ill effects on you and the baby later on,” the doctor counseled. “I won’t give you a medical restriction at this time, but if I hear you’re not taking care of yourself…”
“I’ll make sure she doesn’t overdo,” Chris insisted.
Rita grinned ruefully as she sat up on the exam table, “Okay, okay! Enough! I’ll be a good girl, I promise.”
The Lorenzos were holding hands as they left the office, leaving Dr. Smith smiling. Yes, this couple will do just fine, she thought as she went to see her next patient.
“So, Rita, want to take the rest of the afternoon off?” Chris asked as they got into the car.
Rita scowled and shook her head, “No, what I would like to do is see if Sarah is awake yet, and able to talk to us.”
Her husband put the car in drive, “Aw, Sammy, the doctor said it might be awhile.”
“Well, then, what about a trip out to the McAttees’?” she proposed.
“The old man’s in the hospital, what good is going there?” Chris asked.
“No, I mean, the residence of Randolph and Jane McAttee,” Rita smiled sidewise at him.
Chris stopped at a light, “Well, if they’re out of the country, no one will be home. Waste of time.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Rita laughed wickedly. “We’d probably learn a lot more if they weren’t there.”
“A black bag job? In broad daylight? Rita, I am shocked!” Sgt. Lorenzo laughed.
“You are not!” his wife countered. “Come on, let’s do it. I just know this Jane had something to do with this, and if we wait for the Feds to figure it out, Sarah will never get her baby back.”
Chris called the hospital, and determined that Randy or Jane McAttee had not yet made an appearance. Then he phoned Cap, saying he and Rita were taking some personal time.
“No, Cap, honest! Rita is fine. Dr. Smith just thinks she’s been working too many hours.”
In the office, Harry sat wearily at his desk, chewing antacids, “Well, take your wife home and you get back here. Still plenty of work to be done.”
“I’d really like to watch over her for a few hours Cap. Please! I promise I’ll be back in at five o’clock tonight, to make up the time.” Chris begged.
Harry sighed, but gave in, “Aw right, but you be back at five. A lot of crap is about to go down here,” he prophesized darkly.
“Any word from San Antonio?” Rita took the phone.
“No, but we should be hearing from them any minute,” Cap looked at his watch.
“Well, keep in touch,” Rita replied.
“You, too,” Cap said. “Buh-bye.”
Jane returned from the park about four, a little sunburned from her outing. Little Andrew had taken a bottle while they were out, and was soundly asleep again. She laid the baby in his bassinet, and decided they were in for another all-nighter. She lay down on the sofa for a catnap.
Chris pulled up to the mansion of the younger McAttees and whistled softly, “Nice place.”
Rita agreed but added, “You know that old saying, ‘Money isn’t everything.’”
“True,” he agreed. They knocked at the door, then rang the bell, with no response.
“Let’s go around back,” Rita urged.
No answer there, either. Rita pulled a few tools out of her purse, and jimmied the lock. The kitchen door opened easily, and the detectives held their breaths, waiting for an alarm to go off. Sure enough, the blare sounded at once. The phone was ringing, and Rita located it. She found numbers printed on the underside of the receiver, and read them off to Chris. He answered the phone, identifying himself as Randy McAttee and repeating the security code. The alarm deactivated immediately.
Heaving a sigh of relief, they proceeded to search the house. Room by room, they found nothing of interest on the main level. They climbed the stairs and split up. Chris took the master bedroom, and while Rita chose a room across the hall. She stopped in stupefied surprise.
The room was a nursery, painted a beautiful robin’s egg blue. A border of ducks was the finishing touch. There was a new crib, changing table, and rocking chair. Rita opened a dresser drawer, to find stacks of baby clothes, in varying sizes. For the most part, the clothes were obviously meant for a little boy. She lifted a sleeper to her face and sniffed-yes, the garments were freshly washed. She folded the sleeper, and replaced it in the drawer. Rita looked at the crib next. The sheets were fresh, too, and there was a beautiful mobile attached. She smiled as she wound it up and it played “Talk with the Animals.”
The changing table was well stocked with bath supplies and infant-sized disposable diapers. She checked the expiration dates on the bath soap. The supplies were all new. No layer of dust covered the room, it was spotless. Well, that would stand to reason, if they were expecting to adopt a child soon, she mused. But Rita had an odd feeling. She opened the closet, and realized there were things out of place. There were boxes for a stroller, car seat, and baby carrier, but they were empty. Another search of the dresser revealed that the smallest-sized garments were missing. On the dresser, there was a box for a baby book, “The Birth Record of Our Chosen Child.” The book itself was absent.
Rita sat in the rocking chair, lost in thought. Her own baby wakened and stretched lazily. She stroked her stomach and smiled. Her smile evaporated as she thought about the McAttees. So many people she and Chris came in contact with thought that money could buy anything. People like the McAttees. Did Jane think that she was justified in taking Sarah’s baby? Did killing Amy seem a small price to pay for becoming a mother? Her reverie was interrupted by Chris’ voice.
“Sammy, you okay?” he called.
“I’m in here,” Rita called back, still rocking back and forth.
“Look what I…” Chris paused as he gazed around. “Looks like they’re expecting a baby boy,” he commented laconically.
Rita saw the sheaf of papers in his hand, “What you got?”
“Cell phone bills, credit card numbers, and a lease for a condo in Florida, in the name of Jane Nelson!” he said triumphantly.
“She did it!” Rita yelled.
“Sure looks like it, Sammy,” Chris agreed.
Rita’s face fell. “But we can’t use any of this. We need a warrant.”
Chris agreed, then brightened, “So, let’s go see George.”
“And tell him what? That we got the evidence by breaking and entering?” Rita laughed.
“Guess that won’t work,” Chris said glumly. “Well, there’s always Judge Wheaton.”
“No!” Rita was adamant.
“I don’t like him any more than you do, but he adores you. Besides, how badly do we need this warrant?” Chris rubbed her knee.
Rita groaned and got out of the rocking chair. “There’s one more thing we should get,” she reminded him.
“Oh, yeah,” he nodded. “Got your compact?”
Together, the detectives lifted several sets of prints from the McAttees’ personal items in the bedroom and bath. They added it to the records they had, slipped out the back door.
Michael, Cassy, Jack, and Brian (Jack’s partner), walked into the precinct near Theresa Martinez’ mother’s home. They flashed their badges and visited with Captain Gonzales.
Gonzales had already received a “heads-up,” so was prepared for their questions. A soft-spoken man, Gonzales stated that the family was well respected.
“Before her marriage, Theresa worked as a volunteer at a mission. She is a dear girl, best friends with my youngest daughter since grade school. I believe you are in error to suspect her,” the Captain said.
“We have to cover all aspects of the case, and we just want to talk to her,” Michael explained. “Maybe this would be easier if you came with us.”
Gonzales agreed. Cassy and Brian would accompany Gonzales, while Jack and Michael would be waiting outside.
They pulled up to a pink stucco home in a middle class neighborhood. The lawn was neatly groomed, with a profusion of flowers blooming in a tiny garden, and in the window boxes. A little girl of about four was riding a tricycle inside the black wrought iron gates. She smiled at Captain Gonzales, and called out, “Hi, Uncle Dave!”
Gonzales scooped the little girl in his arms, and beckoned Cassy and Brian to follow. A short, raven-haired woman opened the door at the commotion. She smiled shyly at them.
From the photograph they had with them, this was definitely Theresa Martinez. The only difference was that this woman was clearly about twenty pounds heavier now. She cradled a baby girl in her arms, who had thick dark hair and resembled her mother.
Right then, Cassy knew this was not their suspect. But procedure must be followed.
In the house, Theresa offered them all something to drink.
Cassy asked for some ice water, the rest declined. Captain Gonzales plunged right in. “Theresa, have you heard what happened at Bayshore General Sunday afternoon?”
Theresa shook her head, “No, I was in El Paso since Friday visiting George’s mama. We just got back last night. What happened at BG?”
“A baby was kidnapped, a nurse was murdered, and the mother critically injured,” Brian was blunt.
Mrs. Martinez paled and started to cry, “Oh, no! This is terrible! Who could have done such a thing?” She was nearly hysterical.
Gonzales patted her back, “Theresa, we don’t know. We were wondering if you could help us.”
The nurse tried to calm down, “I haven’t even worked for two months, since Maria was born. Who was the nurse killed?” her tone was fearful.
“Amy Lass,” Cassy said quietly.
Theresa’s tears began anew, “Oh, no! Not sweet Amy! She is the nicest girl…”
In spite of themselves, the officers all felt sorry for Theresa. Instinct told them that this was an innocent woman. For one thing, she didn’t fit the description of the woman on the tape. For another, she seemed to have an alibi. And most importantly, she was holding her own two-month-old daughter in her arms, so she hardly had a motive. Still, they had questions to ask.
Cassy sat on the couch next to the weeping nurse, “Theresa, we have to ask, do you have your employee ID card with you?”
Theresa took a sobbing breath and shook her head, “No, I keep it at work, attached to my locker key. You see, I am always losing things, and this was my way of keeping track of it.”
“But if you leave the key at work, how do you access employee parking?” Brian wondered.
“My husband George, works as a supervisor in food service. I ride to work with him, because we have only one car.”
What kind of car is that?” Cassy asked.
“A black Lumina,” Theresa answered. “It’s in the driveway here.”
Yes, the car was clearly registered to George and Theresa Martinez. A search of the house yielded no evidence of another baby. The detectives had to admit this was another dead end.
But the nurse had a question for Cassy before she left, “Why did you ask about my employee ID?”
Cassy answered soberly, “Because we suspect the perpetrator used your card to gain access to the hospital.”
Theresa’s eyes widened in shock, “Detective, the only people that have access to the locker room are my coworkers. Surely you don’t think…?”
Cassy sighed, “We don’t know, but it’s really looking that way. Do you remember the last time you saw your ID badge for sure?”
Mrs. Martinez thought hard, “About three weeks ago I visited the unit, you know, to show off the baby. I picked up some insurance papers and filled out some family leave forms. Mary Jo and I were in the lounge while I nursed the baby. I’m almost positive I saw the card hanging from my locker then.” She shrugged. “But that was the last time I was there.”
“Was Jane McAttee there, by chance?” Brian asked.
Theresa nodded, “Oh, yes! She made such a fuss over Maria. She loves babies. I wish she could have one of her own.”
Jane did have a baby of her own, now. At least Jane thought so. She woke about six PM and checked on the baby. He was stirring, so she fed him a bottle, and turned on the local news. She listened to a reporter drone on about the beautiful weather, and rain in the extended forecast. But then she sat bolt upright.
“Now for the latest on the kidnapping and murder at Bayshore General Hospital in Palm Beach Sunday afternoon. Police and the FBI are still searching for the person who kidnapped two-week old Paul Daniels, jr., killed a nurse, and injured the baby’s mother. According to a hospital spokesman, Sarah Daniels is in critical condition at Bayshore. Police sources are quoted as saying that the investigation is continuing, and they are following up on ‘several promising leads.’ Funeral services will be held for Nurse Amy Lass, the murder victim, at 10 AM Thursday at Gulf Wesleyan Church. In a related story, John McAttee, chairman of the board at Bayshore and a prominent Palm Beach resident, suffered a heart attack yesterday and he is in critical condition at Bayshore.”
There was more, but Jane didn’t hear. John-a heart attack? Why didn’t someone call her? She reached for her cell phone, and saw the message read out “four missed calls.” As she accessed her voice mail, she was in a quandary. How in the world could she explain her absence from Palm Beach now? Sure, her coworkers thought she was in Canada. John probably assumed she was in Russia with Randy. She had told her housekeeping staff that she was in Canada with Randy on vacation. But Randy thought she was in good old Palm Beach and he’d wonder why she wasn’t at the hospital with John. Her web of lies was crumbling quickly.
Sure enough, the voice messages were from hospital staff and Randy, asking her to come to Bayshore General immediately. In the last message, Randy was audibly upset, demanding that she get in touch with him as soon as possible. Jane was pale, her heart in her throat. She decided to check her messages at home. More of the same, Randy and the hospital, trying to get hold of her. Pondering, she put a message on the machine, to buy her some time.
“Randy, darling, it’s Jane. I tried to get a message to you but I couldn’t. I went to Canada on a very important mission. I can’t tell you the whole story on the phone, but trust me, you’ll love my surprise! I’m sorry about your dad, and I’ll get home as soon as I can. I love you!” She clicked the phone off. Well, that should buy me a little time, she thought.
Cassy called Tom as soon as she left Theresa Martinez, “Tom, get over to the hospital and check the nurses locker room on fourth floor!”
“Whoa, Cass, check for what?” her ex asked.
“Theresa Martinez left her employee ID on the key attached to her locker. See if it’s still there,” Cass demanded.
“I thought you were sure she didn’t do it,” Tom countered.
“She didn’t, she has an iron-clad alibi,” Cassy explained. “Look, whoever kidnapped that baby used Theresa’s ID. Dust her locker for prints, and see if the ID is missing. Then see if you can match the prints to those on the gloves found at the crime scene.”
“Got it,” Tom scribbled on a notepad and banged down the phone. “Holly!” he yelled.
She emerged from Cap’s office, “Yeah, where’s the fire?”
“Hold it!” Harry boomed. “I don’t want all my detectives taking off!”
Tom explained Cassy’s call. “This is it, Harry! We’re gonna get her.”
Harry shook his head, “You think. You still don’t know for sure who your suspect is and where she is!”
Chris and Rita burst through the door, waving a warrant, “Yes, we do!” they shouted in unison. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sarah Daniel’s eyes fluttered open, and she was bewildered at her surroundings.
Her nurse smiled and offered her a sip of water, “Welcome back, Sarah.”
The young mother’s memory came flooding back, “My baby-she took my baby!” she rasped weakly.
The uniformed officer, hearing Sarah’s words, hurried into the ICU cubicle. “Who took your baby, Mrs. Daniels?”
Sarah closed her eyes, concentrating. “I think-Amy called her Jane.”
And that’s part 3, folks! My, my! The plot does thicken, doesn’t it? Things seem to be closing in on little Miss Jane. This story continues in Part 4. The usual disclaimers apply. This is a work of fiction, based on the USA Network series, Silk Stalkings. I don’t own Chris, Rita, Cap, et cetera. Thanks again to the “L” girls for their support! All feedback may be directed to: CSFan95@aol.com.