Willing Sacrifice: Chapter 14, continued

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Aidan waited until he saw Kian talking to an officer at the front desk before punching in his boss’s private number. He needed serious FBI backing and if that meant telling Power about the Ark and the stolen wings, so be it.

“Agent Scott, I don’t like this one bit,” Power bellowed before Aidan even said hello. “You both are coming in. And bring that Ark with you.”

Aidan caught his breath. He had not told Power about the Ark or the package, he was sure of that. “The Ark, sir?”

“Look, you can’t handle this on your own. There are too many of them. You, that girl, and that Ark need to get to D.C., now. I can’t protect you if you don’t.”

Too many of them? As far as Aidan was concerned, three was not “too many.”

“OK. Understood,” Aidan replied, now stalling for time.

“And bring that lughead Jimbo with you. I need to talk to him.”

How did Power know about Jimbo?

“Jimbo’s next check in is tonight, I’ll tell him then.” Before Power could respond, Aidan lied a second time, “Kian’s coming out of the store. Call you after I speak to Jimbo.” He quickly hung up. Moments later his cell phone vibrated. Power again. Aidan ignored it and ran the possibilities through his head. Aside from the perps, three people knew about the Ark–himself, Jimbo, and Kian. For sure he had not mentioned the Ark to his boss. Kian had never spoken with his boss, and Jimbo detested and distrusted the man.

Aidan glanced out his window. Kian was still talking to the officer whose gaze was fixed, staring past her. She wasn’t getting much help either.

Confused, Aidan thought back to the morning he’d gotten the assignment. What had Power told him? First of all, that there had been a murder. But something still niggled at the back of his brain. Kian found the body on her way to work, but Power had said the murder was “last night.” A hospice nurse doesn’t work a night shift. Had she found the body as early as eight? And why hadn’t those perps been picked up, at least for trespassing? Suddenly, even law enforcement was suspect.

Aidan watched Kian pound her fists on the desk. The phlegmatic officer, arms crossed, shrugged his shoulders.

Aidan crawled over to the driver’s side, beeped the horn twice, and motioned for Kian to come out. She ignored him and shook her finger at the officer. Aidan almost felt sorry for the man. He beeped again and motioned her more urgently this time. Kian turned on her heels and stormed out of the station.

“Of all the imbeciles in the world…,” Kian declared as she climbed into the Jeep. “That guy is dumber than dirt.”

“What did he say?”

She turned in her seat and stared at him. “Only that your boss sent them a picture of that SUV at some toll booth in New Jersey and the time stamp is when I was shot at.”

“Power gave them an alibi?”

“He sure did and you know what else? When I told dumber-than-dirt the Webers were trespassing, he said it’s not my land, it’s public so they can camp there. I know where my land starts and stops,” Kian said, “I’m not crazy.”

“Great, just great.” Aidan tore out of the parking lot and turned onto the highway. He looked over his left shoulder. “Kian, anyone following us?”

“No.”

“Don’t want to be seen driving up your road. How close is the back way in?”

“Not far. I’ll tell you when to turn. Aidan, you are driving too fast. What’s wrong?”

“I talked to my boss.”

Just then Kian spotted the pasture leading to the back way in. “See that big bush? Cut in just before you get to it.”

“Where’s the road? All I see is overgrown pasture.”

“There is no road. Turn anyway.”

Aidan swung right into the pasture and stopped. “Where now?”

“See those tire tracks heading into the woods? Follow them.”

Aidan did. Once under the cover of the tall pines, he drove along a depression barely discernible under the pine needles that littered the forest floor. They crested a hill. Down on the other side was a shallow stream.

“When you get to the stream, stay right. Otherwise, we will tip over on the rocks,” Kian told him. He slowed a bit and pulled to the right. They bounced as they splashed through the water and then climbed the incline on the other side. “See that dirt track? Get onto it.”

“Is it wide enough?”

“Sure. Need me to drive?”

“No, I got it,” Aidan said.

The dirt track was full of muddy ruts, most filled with water. Suddenly, the Jeep dipped into a deep hole, sending them both into the air. “Good thing this baby rides high.”

“There’s one rut that’s too deep to ride through. I’ll tell you when.” They drove another couple of minutes. As they rounded the next bend, Kian pointed to the left. “See that puddle over there. It’s deeper than it looks. Skirt to the right. Get as close to that cedar as you can.”

With one tire half in the rut and the other a hair’s breadth from the trunk of the tree, they scooted past, branches whipping at the Jeep.

“Not bad, Aidan,” Kian said. “Another inch over and we’d be stuck! I really should get those holes filled.”

Seconds later they were on the dirt road to Kian’s house. “You own that land, too?”

“I do,” Kian said. “A few thousand acres all together. There are quite a few historical ruins around here. You know about the chambers, but there is evidence of smelting, too. And there’s a cave with ancient pots and stuff way in the back. Dad always said he protected the land, not owned it. But it’s been Buchanan property from way back.”

They pulled up in front of Kian’s house. Before he could open his door, Kian grabbed his arm. “Stop stalling. I want to know what your boss said.”

“First tell me one thing,” he replied. “What time did you find Jacob’s body.”

“About 9:30 that morning. I was just starting work. Why?”

“Power gave me my assignment at 9, not 9:30 or 10.”

He let that sink in before continuing. “While you were in the station, I talked to him. Kian, he ordered me to bring you and the Ark in. I never told him about the Ark or even about the package.”

“No way! I’m not going anywhere. I don’t trust him.”

“Problem is, if I don’t take you in, he’ll cut me off. I don’t have FBI back up without him.”

“Doesn’t sound like you have back-up now. Sounds to me like your boss is the one stonewalling this investigation.”

“I know. I just need you to know where we stand on all this.”

Kian trembled. No FBI back-up, no police support, and nowhere to go. Just two lone agents willing to help her.

“Think it’s safe to go inside the house?” she asked.

“I don’t feel anything. You?”

Kian took a moment to let her senses take hold. It was as if she could see with her skin. There was no other way to describe it. “It’s safe,” she said.

Once inside, Aidan wedged chairs under all the doorknobs, closed and locked all the windows. “Better hot than surprised,” he said. Kian turned on the overhead fans as Aidan pulled out his cell phone.

“Texting Jimbo,” he explained. He punched at the tiny keys repeating the message to Kian as he typed “Trouble. Need to meet.”

A minute later the phone pinged. Aidan read the message and looked at Kian. “Jimbo says there are now five perps out back.”

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