Aidan was the first to reach the Jeep. “I hope you didn’t have anything valuable in there.”
“The package. Oh, my god, the package.”
Aidan stopped in his tracks. He turned to her. “What package?”
“I got it in the mail the day Uncle Jacob was killed. The note on it said to take it to the ‘Big One.’ That’s what I called Uncle Jacob sometimes.”
“Yes, I remember you saying that.”
“So, yesterday I took the package with me when I went to the mall. I tried calling Stephen because I thought maybe I should take it to him or something. When he didn’t answer, I put it in one of the shopping bags. Aidan, I left everything in the Jeep.”
Aidan picked up the comforter, still secure in its wrapper, and handed it to Kian. He looked around and found a shopping bag blown against the horse barn. “How many bags did you have?”
“What was in the other one?”
“Um, I bought two sets of sheets, three throw pillows, um…, curtains. Besides the comforter.”
Aidan circled the Jeep, but did not spot the second bag. He took a sight line from the front porch. He had “felt” someone last night and there was only one way for that person to escape without being spotted. Behind the horse barn and into the forest. “Kian, stick close,” he said as he headed around the large wooden structure. There, in a heap, they found more missing items. The shopping bag was caught in a nearby laurel bush.
Kian kicked off her delicate sandals and ran to the pile. One set of sheets, the curtains, and three throw pillows. No package.
They loaded the items in the bag before returning to the Jeep. There, demoralized, Kian plunked down on a nearby rock. That was when she spotted the second set of sheets. She got down on her hands and knees and struggled to keep her skirt from rising above her panties as she reached under the Jeep. She pulled the sheets out and handed them to Aidan. Then she crouched down again, tugged her skirt down and this time her head and shoulders disappeared under the vehicle. “I got it, I got it,” she announced and, before Aidan could stop her, she pulled out the missing package and smiled at him.
Kian noted Aidan’s body alert.
“What is it?” she asked.
“I don’t like the creep I feel up my spine. It’s not the first time this morning, but this time it’s not going away. We’ll open the package at the motel,” he said. “Someone’s watching us.”
Uneasy now, Kian moved closer to him. She could feel his warmth, smell his closeness. She actually liked it. “I am not leaving without Lucky,” she told him. “Besides, we should booby-trap the house. If they come back, those two will be in for one HUGE surprise.”
Aidan pondered her suggestion a moment. “I’ll admit it is a good idea. Get those bastards off our tail. Okay, let’s set that trap.”
Kian imagined jagged metal jaws clamping an unwary ankle, but she figured that wasn’t what Mr. FBI had in mind. Did not matter, any trap was good. Aidan, still standing close, spoke softly. “Can you wrap a box, make it look like the package?”
“Sure. That should be easy.”
“Good, I’ll act like I’m hiding it in that shed over there. Anything of value in it? The shed I mean.”
“Dad’s push mower, hoes, rakes, things like that.”
“Good. Won’t matter if those guys do their thing in there, will it? Should buy us time and keep them away from the house.”
“Aren’t we going to capture them?”
“Not without back-up, I am not capturing them,” Aidan told her. “And, you aren’t capturing them even if I could find an army to back you up.”
Five minutes later Kian emerged from the house with the wrapped decoy. She handed it to Aidan.
“Make sure nobody comes up the drive,” he told her loudly as he took off for the shed and pulled on the door. It almost fell off in his hands.
He turned around and again spoke loudly as he said, “Good. Nobody will suspect it’s in here with a broken door.”
Kian returned a thumbs-up and watched Aidan as he crossed the rickety threshold.
The corrugated metal shed was not big, Kian knew, about six by six. There were rusted holes in the roof, allowing sunlight to dance off dust particles that spun in the air currents. She watched as Aidan added to the dust by throwing things around. He made quite a ruckus.
Finally, he emerged with a big grin on his face. “Done,” he announced.
Kian followed Aidan into the house. He was still grinning ear-to-ear. “What’s so funny, Mr. FBI man?”
Laughing, he reached under his polo shirt. “Can’t find something not there, can they?” He pulled out the faux package she had so carefully wrapped. It was now flattened. “I didn’t leave the box for them to find. Wonder how long before they give up. Hours, I bet. Time enough to make our move.”
“Don’t know yet. Won’t know until we see what’s in the package.”
Moments later Kian spotted an enormous cloud of dust coming up her driveway. Horn tooting, gravel flying, a huge white monster truck sped toward them. At the last minute, a siren was thrown in for good measure. Kian grabbed her backpack, shoved the package and her purse inside, and followed Aidan out the door.
The man who greeted them was as monstrous as his truck. Six foot six if he was an inch. Kian guessed he weighed maybe 250, all muscle. Shaved head, dressed in green fatigues, and sporting combat boots. She sensed he was more ex-military than FBI. She liked him instantly.
“This is Jimbo,” Aidan said by way of introduction.
Jimbo reached out his huge paw. “James Cameron, at your service. Nice to meet you, ma’am.”
Jimbo took her hand and with a childlike grin, kissed the back of it, before turning back to Aidan, “Fuck! ‘Drop-down-dead-gorgeous’ is an understatement.”
“Hey, watch your language.” Aidan grabbed his elbow. He turned to pull Jimbo toward the woods. “You’re in mixed company.”
“Thanks, Captain Obvious,” Jimbo said, not budging. He grinned at Kian. “He wouldn’t say ‘shit’ if he had a mouthful of it. Oh, I did it again,” Jimbo replied, feigning chagrin. “Sorry ma’m.”
Kian winked at the tall burly man. “No problem. It’s not like I’ve never heard a four letter word before.”
“See, Scotty Boy, no problem,” Jimbo said before allowing Aidan to yank him away.
They talked quietly under the tall pines, Jimbo stealing grinning glances back at Kian. He gave Aidan a thumbs-up as he winked at her. Trying hard not to laugh, Aidan pointed to the shed. Jimbo nodded. Then he marched out of the woods, got in his truck, and pulled it into the shade. He grinned mischievously as he got out again and stretched like a sleepy bear. He pulled out his shotgun and stationed himself, legs outstretched on the hood of the truck with the shotgun propped on his knees. He had a clear sight line to the shed. “By the way, Scotty, I saw a maroon SUV hauling ass out of here. Mean anything to you?” There was a distinct twinkle in Jimbo’s eye.
“Are you telling me our perps left?”
“Sure. Did you really think I’d make such a big target of myself with bad guys hanging about? They are long gone and won’t be back for a while. I can feel it in my gut. Now get going, I need my shut-eye.” With that, Jimbo settled himself against the windshield and closed his eyes. “Man needs his beauty sleep.”
“You are such a clown.”
Jimbo let out a loud snore.
Aidan turned to find Kian casting apprehensive glances into the woods. “Are you sure?” she asked. “About what he said, I mean. Maybe they’re still out there.”
Aidan put his arm around her shoulder. “Let me tell you about his gut, it never lies. Hell, I’d trust his gut long before I’d trust the evening news. Come to think about it, I’d trust a roll of the dice before I trusted the evening news. Well, you get the point anyway.” He chuckled. “Come on, hop in the Rover.”
Kian eyed his car and then eyed her Jeep. “That thing of yours bullet proof?”
“The Rover? Nope.”
“We’re taking my Wrangler. It turns on a dime, can go where no man has gone before, and it saves me from seeing people I don’t want to see. In this case, ones with guns.”
“Is that how you got away from me before?”
“You bet. While you were looking for a place to turn around, I was hopping puddles in a single bound.”
“Then it’s the Jeep!”
Dave Pinniger [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons