"I think I know where he is, or sorta where he is. I just heard him call me."
"You heard him? Where is he?"
"Somewhere to the north. Not too far, but it will take some time to get to him. We have to leave right now."
"I don't think that's a very good idea. You tell me where he is and we'll tell the police."
"No Dad. My brothers and I have to go. It's the only way that I will be able to find him. I think I can lead you, but there is no way we can do it by calling the police in on it. We can call them once we find him, but we have to find him first."
Jake looked at the three boys who stood before him.
"I'm not exactly helpless, you know."
"You boys get dried off and get dressed. I'm going to call Tom."
The boys nodded and grabbed some their towels and started drying off. Once they were no longer dripping, they ran into the house to get dressed. Jake picked up the phone and called Tom.
"Hi Tom, its Jake, can you come over...? yeah, it's important... and bring Terry... and bring the boys' stuff... not that, the other... yeah, that stuff... yours too... I'll let you know when you get here... bring the Suburban... okay, see you in a bit."
He hung up the phone and went upstairs to his office. He opened the closet in the room, and inside the closet was a very large safe. He quickly dialed the combination and opened the safe. He pulled a large black bag out of the bottom of the safe, and then grabbed his Browning Hi-Power, shoulder holster and three magazines for it. He inserted one into the Browning and put the others in the magazine pouches on the holster assembly before putting the Browning in the holster and securing it. He hung the holstered automatic on the back of his chair. He then picked up the bag and put it on the desk and opened it. He looked through it, moving things around. He heard the boys come downstairs just as the front door opened.
"Hi, Uncle Tom, Aunt Terry, did Dad tell you?"
"Not really, he just told me to bring this."
"What's in the big bag?"
"Where is Jake?"
"In here, everyone!"
He looked up as Tom and Terry, followed by the boys, came into the room.
"Okay, Jake, what's going on and why did you have me bring this?"
He put the bag down on the small couch in the room. Tom also noticed the similar bag on Jake's desk and the holstered automatic hanging from the chair.
"Trevor, tell your Aunt and Uncle what you just told us."
Tom and Terry watched Trevor as he made his way into the room and walked over to Jake's side so that he faced the others in the room.
"I think I know where Jeremy is; he called me."
"What!? He called you? Did you save the phone number? We could have the firm trace it back to a location."
"Uncle Tom, not that kind of call."
Tom looked at him puzzled. Trevor tapped the side of his head. Tom's eyebrows shot up in surprise.
"That kind of call? I didn't know he could do that."
"Normally I don't think he can, but he's one of the family and probably really scared. Sometimes people can do something that they normally cannot do. Plus the fact that we're close, and I can do things like that, may have helped it happen. Also he still has the necklace I made for him. Anyway I heard him and I think I can find where he's being held."
"Somewhere north of here. Not close, but not real far. But I think we need to hurry; he sounded scared."
"Okay so I take it we're not contacting the sheriffs?"
"Yeah, Tom. I don't think they'd be real impressed by Trevor saying he heard Jeremy call for him in his head. So we're going to go look for him with Trevor guiding us."
"Okay, now I understand the bags."
"What's in those bags, Dad?"
"I'll let your Uncle Jake explain it."
"When you guys were training up at the ranch, I had a feeling that we might need to get some items for you guys."
Jake reached in and started removing items from the bag. The first thing he pulled out looked like a black vest with several pockets attached to it. He walked back into the closet and brought out a holstered automatic. He pulled the gun out of the holster, dropped the magazine, and pulled back the slide, locking it in place. He held it up for the boys to see.
"This is a Glock 22. You boys remember firing one of these up at the ranch. The vest is an assault vest. They have ballistic protection plates inside to protect against small arms fire. I have two vests in this bag, one for Trevor and one for Jeremy. Tom has the same thing for Zach and Jared. Tom and I have our own gear also." "I don't think this is a good idea, Jake. We should let the sheriffs handle this."
"We can't, Terry. They would never believe how Trevor knows where Jeremy's at, so we have to do it. We'll have Jed and Phil follow us to wherever we're going, but we have to move quick according to Trevor."
"I still don't like it; are you expecting people to be shooting at the boys?."
"If we plan for it, and it doesn't happen, then all the better, but if we don't plan for it and it happens, then we could be in trouble quickly."
"Dad, get one of your katanas off the wall. Uncle Tom, Aunt Terry, you haven't seen some of the stuff I can do now, so I want to show you something."
Jake had the katana in his hand. Trevor looked at him for a moment.
"Okay, Dad, strike me as hard as you can.'
"Don't worry, you know I'll be safe, I promise."
"No, uh... ."
"Please, Dad, trust me."
Jake looked at Trevor for a few moments, he saw the faint shimmer and nodded.
"NO, JAKE, DON'T!"
Jake made a hard slash at about head height. Terry started to scream when she saw the blade stop a few inches from Trevor. She and Tom stared at him. Jake made a few more strikes, not as hard as the first one, but enough that they would have cut him, had they hit.
"See he can't hit me, at least not with that one. His other one might have gotten through; that's why I asked him to use that one."
"Wow. You can do the same with bullets?"
"Yeah, I can."
"Okay, so maybe this might work. How many people can you protect like that?"
"I don't know, I think it depends on what they are doing, how we're being attacked and how close the people that I'm protecting are to me."
"All right, I've seen it, but I'm still wary."
"I am too, Terry, but I think this the only way, and like Trevor said, we need to move quicker than getting the Sheriffs to get moving. If we wait too long, it might be too late."
"So what do you want me to do, Jake?"
"Terry, we need you along because of the girl. If we get to them in time, we'll probably need you to take care of her, because I'm sure she's going to be in shock at the least."
"I agree. Okay, let's get going."
"Boys, make sure your guns are loaded and secured in the holsters. I want you to leave them in the bags for now, but you know what to do. Don't chamber a round, just put the mag in."
He handed Trevor his pistol; Trevor released the slide, took the magazine and inserted it, and then put the pistol in the holster Jake handed him. He handed it back to Jake, who returned it and the vest to the bag and zipped it closed before picking it up. The twins had taken their guns out, ejected the magazine, pulled the slide back to make sure the chamber was clear, and then reinserted the magazines and holstered the guns before placing them back in the bag. Tom zipped the bag and picked it up. Jake nodded and they followed him outside to Tom's Suburban. When the family came out, Jed got out of the company Suburban and hurried over to them.
"Going on a trip, skipper?"
"Sort of, but I want you and Phil to follow us; we're going for a drive. I don't have time to explain right now, but we may need your help when we get where we're going. Are you gassed up?"
"Yeah, filled it this morning. Where are we going?"
"Good, just follow us and just trust me for now."
He and Tom put the bags in the back and climbed in. Tom backed out of the drive and drove off. Phil pulled in behind him and the small caravan started on their mission. Trevor had his eyes closed as he tried to narrow the search down. He opened his eyes and looked at Jake in the front passenger seat.
"Dad, is there a map in here that shows the county?"
"Jared, Zach, one of you look over in the back, I've got a map book of California and a Thomas Brothers book back there; get the big map book. We'll use the Thomas Brothers book afterward if we need to."
Jared undid the seat belt and turned around, looking into the back compartment. He moved a couple of things around until he found the big book. He handed it forward to Trevor. Jake turned around in his seat to watch Trevor. Trevor turned the pages until he got to the Los Angeles County area and started looking at the overall map.
"We have to go past downtown LA."
"Tom, take the 605 up to the 5 and then take that toward downtown."
"Got it. Jake, there's a radio in the console. I've got it tuned to Phil and Jed's radios."
Jake opened the center console and pulled out a radio with headset. He put the small tactical headset on and contacted the two guys.
"Jed, this is Jake."
"We're going to take the 605 to the 5 and head toward downtown.'
Jake turned back to Trevor.
Trevor closed his eyes for a few moments. When he opened them, he shook his head. They continued to drive. It took them fifteen minutes to get to the junction with the 5. Tom was pushing the speed limit, trying to stay as near as he could to sixty-five miles per hour but still pushing as fast as he dared. They could not afford to be pulled over right now. Jed and Phil stayed right with them. As they neared downtown the traffic started to get heavier, causing the two cars to slow down to about thirty-five. They continued on the 5. As they came to the junction of the 5, 10 and 60 freeways, Jake looked at Trevor. After closing his eyes and concentrating for moment he shrugged, so they continued through the junction on the 5 North. Once they were past the junction, they were able to speed up a bit. Fifteen minutes later they were getting close to Griffith Park when Trevor sat up.
"Something's not quite right; we need to go more that way."
He pointed to the west. Jake looked up.
"Tom, take the 134 West, that'll join with the 101."
Tom nodded as Jake got on the radio.
"Jed, 134 West to the 101."
"Roger, skipper. Any chance you could explain what we're doing?'
"Not really, just trust me."
"As if you had to ask."
"Thanks, guys. I'll try to explain later."
A few minutes later they came to the junction and took the west connector road. Jake looked at Trevor from time to time.
"It's still farther, Dad."
They continued driving; soon they came to the junction with the 101 freeway. Jake looked at Trevor, who nodded and pointed straight ahead of them.
"It's getting a little stronger, but we still have a ways to go."
Jake motioned for the map book and looked at the roads. Looking at the roads and the cities in the San Fernando Valley that they were now driving through, he knew that a lot of porn movies were shot in parts of the valley from his days as a Sheriff, and knowing what James Harvey was involved with made him think it was conceivable that this is where Jeremy might be. They passed the junction with the 405 and Trevor kept pointing straight ahead down the 101, so they continued to follow his lead. They had been driving for a little over an hour now and were starting to weave through the hills that defined the west end of the valley. Fifteen minutes later they were approaching the Highway 23 junction with the 101 near Thousand Oaks. Trevor continued to point straight down the 101. Fifteen minutes later they were nearing Oxnard.
"Get off here and go that way."
Trevor opened his eyes and was pointing toward the south now. Tom got off at the next exit followed by the security guys. They could see an area of industrial parks ahead of them and to the right. On their left were some farm fields for a mile or so and then industrial parks on either side of them. It had started to get dark by this time, and since it was a Saturday there were not a lot of cars in the area. As they neared an intersection they heard a racing engine and looked up as a Yukon came barreling through the intersection and tried to make the turn north. It was going way too fast and skidded across through the intersection until the passenger side tires hit the curb of the northeast corner. The edge of the curb caused the Yukon to flip over and tumble as the sound of shattering glass and scraping metal filled the air. A small body flew out of one of the doors. Other bodies could be seen in the Yukon as it tumbled a couple of times and landed on its side. Terry's hand flew to her mouth.
Tom slammed on the brakes.
Derek and his brothers were kind of tired and sweaty when the photographer called a halt to the day's work.
"That's it, you can get dressed now. Wayne, we're done for the day. As soon as they're dressed, you and Mace can take them back to the house."
The man called Wayne, otherwise known as Fat Ass to the boys, nodded, glanced at the boys but continued sitting at the table to wait for them to get dressed. Derek looked to his brothers and nodded; they got off the bed and walked over to the table with the clothes. Derek got off on the other side and made like he was walking around that side of the bed to the table. As he neared the large light, he moved quickly and with a hard shove, he pushed the big light over; it fell toward the table. The photographer's back was to the light. Wayne and Mace didn't notice the light falling for a few moments as they were watching a football game on the TV at the end of the table. The shadow of the light caught their attention and they looked around in time to see the light, just before it crashed down on the back of the photographer and slammed him against the table. Wayne fell back, but the table fell toward Mace, knocking him off his chair with the table landing on him and pinning him to the floor. Derek was already running to grab the lanyard hanging out of the jacket pocket. His two younger brothers were already out the door with their arms full of clothes.
James was just watching a replay of Jake's statement from that morning on Channel 7 news, when he was startled by a loud crash causing him to jump up.
"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!"
He looked up just in time to see the oldest of the three brothers run by stark naked, heading toward the warehouse entrance. In the other room where Dion was guarding Jeremy and Lacy, all three of them nearly jumped out of their skin when they heard the crash. Dion got up and ran out the door. James started fumbling at the desk drawers trying to pull one of them open. He finally got it open and pulled a pistol out of it, ran to the door and flung it open. He was nearly bowled over by Dion.
"Here, take this and go after those fucking kids. Stop them."
Dion took the gun and ran toward the entrance where James was pointing. James ran into the studio and was shocked by what he saw. He could see the unmoving body of the photographer under the light. Mace had the weight of the table, the light and the body pinning his legs under the table. Wayne was just getting up and shaking his head.
"WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED IN HERE!"
Wayne pulled himself together and looked at James.
"I don't know Mr. Smith. I think the oldest of those kids pushed the light over."
"GET YOUR ASS OVER THERE AND GET MACE UNTANGLED AND GET AFTER THOSE FUCKING BRATS!"
Wayne ran over to Mace, and between the two of them they got the table off his legs, and Wayne helped him stand up.
Meanwhile outside, Dion hit the door with his shoulder and started to go through, but his jacket hooked on the door latch which jerked him back against the door, causing him to drop the gun. Derek had just backed the Yukon out of the parking spot. He stopped and put it into drive as Dion got the gun and pointed it at the truck, but Derek had just driven around the corner of the building and Dion dropped his arm. He turned to the door just as Wayne and Mace came through the door.
"They just drove around the corner."
"Fuck. Go get Jerry's keys and hurry the fuck up."
James looked up as Mace ran in the door and went over to the jackets hanging on the wall./ He reached into the photographer's jacket and found the keys.
"WHERE ARE THOSE BRATS?"
"They took the Yukon."
"GET THE FUCK AFTER THEM AND KILL THE LITTLE BASTARDS. WE CAN'T LET THEM GET AWAY."
"We'll get 'em, Mr. Smith."
James watched him go and then looked down at Jerry's body. He could see the camera and the computer was smashed; surrounding it was a slowly spreading pool of blood. He snarled as he turned away.
"A whole fucking day wasted."
He hurried outside and saw Wayne and Mace burning rubber as they left the parking lot. Dion had just turned and was coming back in. James stopped him.
"This is a fucking disaster. We're going to get the hell outta here. Help me knock those two out and let's get 'em in the car and leave. Unless we're really lucky, we're done here; we'll set up operations somewhere else, once we deliver the package."
Dion followed him back to the room where Jeremy and Lacey were being held. James pulled out the medicine and filled two syringes. The eyes of the kids were wide with fear as they watched him prepare the drugs. James nodded to Dion, who quickly moved to keep Jeremy still as James went over to him, and with Dion lying on top of Jeremy and holding his arm down, James was able to quickly inject the drug. Dion continued to lie on Jeremy until the quick-acting drug took effect and Jeremy went to sleep. Dion got off of Jeremy and with a leer moved over to Lacey. He lay of top of her, but this time his hands started touching her small breasts, roughly squeezing and rubbing them. Then as James came near, he moved a hand down and under the waistband of her panties and started rubbing her mound, running his fingers through the small patch of hair that was there. She threw her head back and screamed, but he shut her up by roughly kissing her and shoving his tongue into her mouth. One of his hands held her arm down while James injected the drug. She soon followed Jeremy into oblivion. Dion got up off of her. James held out a key.
"Get the kid into the back of the van and secure him."
Dion took the key and unlocked Jeremy's shackles. He picked him up and carried him on his shoulders out to the van. He placed him in the back and, using the shackles, secured him to eyebolts in the floor. He went back in the building and was met by James at the door of the office.
"Forget the girl, I gave her enough of the drug, she's going to just slip away and never wake. We have to get going and she would just be a liability right now. Grab your stuff out of the room and meet me outside at the van, and do it quick."
Dion looked disappointed but nodded. He gathered what little he had, and after a look at the young girl, left the room and went out to the van. He got in the driver's seat and waited for James. James came out a few minutes later carrying a bag. He threw the bag in the back of the van as he got in.
"Let's get the hell out of here. Take the 101 North, I'll give you further instructions later."
Dion nodded and pulled out of the parking lot and headed for the highway.
Once the Yukon stopped tumbling, Tom quickly pulled over to the side of the road, Phil pulled in behind them. They were just getting out of the Suburban when they saw a car screech to a halt near the Yukon. Two men got out and made their way over to the Yukon.
"Who do you think those guys are, Tom?"
"Don't know, Jake, but look at the big one./ He's got a gun, and they don't look like cops."
"Yeah, I see it. The other one's is armed too. I think I want to talk to those men, and there are hurt people over there. Everyone else stay here."
"No, Dad. I'm going too."
"Trevor, it's too dangerous."
"No, Dad, it's not. Besides, the people in that Yukon are hurt and will need my help, and I will need Zach's."
Jake thought about it for a few moments. Jed and Phil joined them.
"Okay, Son. Phil, stay here with the others. Jed, go right, Tom, go left, you boys, stay right behind me."
Tom and Jake took their guns out and worked the slide. Jed pulled his a moment later. Jake nodded and they started moving forward. One of the two men had holstered his gun and had started to climb up onto the side of the Yukon. He had just started to try opening the door when he noticed Jake and the others approaching. He started to pull his gun. Jake immediately raised his gun. Tom and Jed raised theirs as well.
"FREEZE ASSHOLE. DON'T EVEN BREATHE HEAVY."
Mace froze immediately and moved his hand away from the gun. The big man on the ground whirled around, his gun coming up, until he saw three guns pointed at him from three directions.
"DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, YOU'LL BE DEAD BEFORE YOU HIT THE GROUND."
Wayne froze and dropped his gun.
"HANDS ON YOUR HEAD! Jed, do you have your cuffs?"
"Got 'em, Skipper."
"Good, you and Tom take the big guy down. I'll keep the other covered."
Tom kept his gun on Wayne as Jed came up behind him and handcuffed him. Once he was under control, Tom stepped back to keep Mace covered.
"Jed, search him and put him in the back of his car; stay with him. Tom, get the others over here. Have Phil get his cuffs ready for our friend here. Okay, slowly with your thumb and first finger, gently take the gun by the bottom of the grip, and take it out of the holster and throw it to the side, and then I want you to carefully jump down toward me. If you do anything else, I swear I will kill you without hesitation. Do you believe me?"
Mace nodded and carefully pulled the gun out and threw it to the side. He then carefully jumped down.
"Okay, hands on your head."
Phil and the others arrived.
"Phil, cuff him, search him and put him in the back seat of with his buddy. You and Jed stay with them."
Tom and Phil secured Mace and after making sure that he had no other weapons, they put him in the back seat.
"Let's go, guys. We have some hurt people."
Trevor and Zach ran around to the other side of the Yukon and found the body of a boy who looked to be around eight or nine and dressed in just a pair of pants. He wasn't moving, one arm and both legs looked crooked. Trevor dropped to his side and put his hands on the boy. Zach moved to the other side and put his head on the boy's chest. He looked up at Trevor with worry.
"I can barely hear his heartbeat."
Trevor looked around quickly and closed his eyes, placing his hands on the boy's chest over his heart. Zach placed his on Trevor's. A glow started to come from their joined hands as Trevor sent his power into the boy. He traveled through the boy's body. Once he was sure that the boy was safe enough to move, he had Zach gently straighten out his arms and legs. Once Zach did that, he again put his hands on Trevor's and stood ready to give Trevor the energy when he needed it. Trevor carefully manipulated the broken ribs in the boy's chest so that they were no longer putting pressure on his heart and lungs. He did not completely heal the boy as he didn't have time, but he was able to get him out of danger and take care of the major internal damage and start the bone to heal. He checked his spine and didn't see any major trauma. He found a small break in his skull with some bruising to the boy's head underneath. He healed that and Jordan's eyes started to flutter open. He looked at the two boys who were touching his chest.
"Are you angels?"
They both laughed a bit through their tears.
"No, buddy, we're not. What's your name?"
"Jordan, but my brothers call me Jordy."
"May I call you Jordy?"
"Okay, Jordy, you lay here, I'm going to call someone over to sit with you, okay?"
"What happened, I hurt everywhere."
"Yeah, I know, you were in an car accident."
"What about Derek and Brett? Are they all right?"
"I'm going to go find out, okay? AUNT TERRY!"
Terry came around the Yukon to where the three of them were.
"Could you look after Jordy here, while we take a look at the others?"
"Sure, go ahead, we'll be fine here."
Terry sat down next to Jordan and took his hand in hers. When Trevor started to get up, he felt a little dizzy. Zach noticed and sent energy to him. Trevor smiled his thanks as the dizziness went away. Trevor and Zach then went over the Yukon; they saw that Jake had gotten the door open and was gesturing for them to hurry and climb up.
"How's the little one?"
"It was pretty close, but he'll be okay."
"Well, get on up here. There are two boys in here, they look like they're about you guys' age, one may be a little younger. They were wearing seatbelts; with that and the airbags, they may be okay. Be careful getting in."
Trevor and Zach quickly climbed up with Jake and Tom's help. They lowered the two boys into the back seat of the Yukon. Once inside, Trevor started checking the boys. He started with the one who was sitting in the driver's seat, or rather hanging halfway out of it. He was limp in the seat, hanging toward the passenger door side, almost lying on the boy in the passenger seat. Trevor put his hands on the boy and closed his eyes. Again there was a glow from his hands as searched for damage. Zach put his hands on Trevor's back to help him keep his balance and to feed him energy when he needed it. After a couple of minutes he opened his eyes and looked up at Jake, just as the boys eyes started to open.
"Dad, he's going to be okay. There isn't too much damage. Zach, help me support him when I undo the seat belt. Dad, can you grab him and pull him up."
Jake nodded and reached in to grab the kid by his arm. He nodded when he was ready and Trevor pushed the button for the seat belt. The kid was awake now.
"Wha... where am I?"
"Chill, bud, you were in a car accident. Let my dad help you out of here."
Derek nodded absently as he allowed Jake to pull him out of the cab. He helped as much as he could. Jake lowered him to Tom's arms. Tom carried him over to where Terry and Jordan were and laid him down next to his brother. The boy reached over and took Jordan's hand. Inside the Yukon, Trevor now had room to climb into the front seat and he maneuvered around so that he could check the other boy. He saw that the boy's head had slammed into the passenger window and there was a gash there. He put his hand on the boy's head and took Zach's hand in his. He again pushed his power into the boy; he found some blood on the surface of the boy's brain where a blood vessel had been damaged. He pushed the blood back into the vessel and repaired the damage. Zach could feel Trevor pull energy from him. Trevor felt really tired as he opened his eyes and took a big breath before he looked up.
"Dad, he hit his head and is still out. We're going to have to lift him out. We'll try to lift him up to where you can reach him."
They started lifting Brett up to where Jake could grab him. Once Jake had him under the arms, he was able to easily lift him up. He lowered the half-naked boy into Tom's arms, who then carried him over to the other boys. By this time Derek had pretty much recovered and was sitting up. Jordan was asleep. Derek looked up with worry as he saw his unconscious younger brother being carried over and laid down next to him. In the Yukon, Trevor and Zach started handing up some of the clothes that were strewn about inside the Yukon before they climbed out. They came over to the boys and dropped the clothes next to the boys. Derek then realized that he was completely naked and hurriedly pawed through the pile until he found his pants. He slipped them on as Jake and Tom knelt next to them. Jake directed his attention to the older boy.
"Okay, boys, what were you doing driving this truck? Did you steal it?"
"Sorta, sir, we escaped."
"Escaped from whom?"
"The men who were making us do things so that they could take pictures. Mister, you gotta call the cops, we've seen 'em."
"You've seen who?"
"The missing kids on the TV."
"You've seen them, where?"
"At the warehouse where we were doing the pictures."
"How are you feeling?"
"Okay, I guess, I'm just worried about my brothers."
"Do you think you can show us where this warehouse is?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"Tom, Terry, you stay here with these two boys. Phil and Jed have the two bastards under control. I'll take the boys with me."
"Jake, maybe the boys should stay here and I'll go with you."
"No, I need you to watch over these two, I'll take... what's your name, bud."
"Derek, and these are my brothers Brett and Jordan."
"Okay, I'll take Derek with me and the boys, and we'll go find the warehouse and see if we can rescue Jeremy and the girl."
"Okay, I don't like it much, but it makes sense. I know you and Trevor will keep the boys safe."
"Okay, Derek, do you feel well enough to go with us? My friends will stay and take care of your brothers, I promise."
"Yeah, I think so."
"Let's go then."
Jake hurried them over to the Suburban. He went around to the back and opened it.
"Boys, we don't know what we're facing, so I want you to put on your vests and guns."
The boys quickly put their vests on. Derek looked at them with a worried look. They put the holsters on, pulled the pistols out, worked the slide and put the safety on before putting them back in the holster. Jake got them into the Suburban and started in the direction that the Yukon had come from. In the distance, sirens could be heard approaching the scene.
"Tom, do you copy?"
"When the police get there, stall them as much as you can. I'll stay on the radio."
"Are you guys some kind of cops or something?"
"Or something. Okay, Derek, tell us which way to go."
Derek gave them directions, and within five minutes they were pulling up to the warehouse. There were no other cars near the building. Jake pulled around to the side away from the door and shut off the engine.
"Derek, you do exactly what I say. Boys, I'll lead, Trevor behind me, Zach behind him, Derek behind him, and Jared, hold the rear. Remember what you've been taught, I know we haven't done any tactical practice for things like this, but I plan to rectify that as soon as I can. Derek, who could be in there?"
"I'm not sure, the van is gone so the black guy and the blond haired guy are probably gone. Those guys who were chasing us were using the photographer's car, so he might be there, but he might of got hit by the light and might be hurt."
"All right let's go."
Jake got them lined up by the side of the building. He drew his pistol; the boys copied his action. Jake peeked around the corner and did not see any movement. He motioned to the boys and started forward carefully. When he got to the door, he carefully tried it and found it was unlocked. He motioned for the boys to wait right there. As he eased inside he moved forward, his gun pointed ahead of him as he moved. It was quiet except for the sound of a television inside the building. It felt empty to him. At the first door, he saw that it was an office. He looked through the office door and saw it was empty. He continued down the hall to the next door, which was down and across from the office. It was open. He eased into the doorway and peered around. He stood up when he did. He saw the layout of the room. The large bed and lights. Over to one side he saw a high quality digital video camera on a tripod, but what caught his attention was the fallen light on the collapsed table with the body underneath it. He pulled back and went to the entrance. He motioned the boys inside.
"It seems like the only one left here is what's left of the photographer. Whatever you did, he ain't going anywhere. I think we're too late; everyone appears to be gone. Derek, show us where you saw the kids."
Derek led them down the hall until he reached a door. He looked back at them as he opened it.
"They were in here, the boy was... "
He stopped. Jake looked in and then quickly pushed him out of the way and entered the room. He immediately saw Lacey lying on the cot almost completely naked. Her bra was pushed up towards her neck and her panties were pulled down to her thighs leaving her exposed.
"Trevor, get in here!"
Trevor ran in, closely followed by Zach. They saw Lacey and hurried over to her side. Jake put his fingers to her neck and felt for a pulse.
"Hardly anything there. Trevor, see what you can do."
Trevor put his hand on her chest and closed his eyes. Zach came up behind him and put his arms around him. Trevor's hands started to glow. He could feel the drug in her that was slowly killing her. He worked on helping her kidneys and liver, the two main filters in the body, filter out the impurities of the drug from her system. Finally after several minutes, she started breathing normally as if sleeping, not a drug-induced coma. Trevor relaxed and opened his eyes, practically falling back into Zach's arms. Zach helped him to sit on the other cot and rest for a bit. All of them had completely forgotten about Derek, who was now standing in shock with his mouth hanging open. They turned around and saw him staring at them.
"Wha... who are you?"
Trevor pushed in front and slowly walked toward Derek. Derek started backing up until his back hit the wall. Trevor stopped and held his hands out as he tried to look as harmless as he could.
"Derek, chill, bud. Trust us, we are the good guys, I swear."
"Who are you?"
"The boy who was here, you said he was the one you saw on the news, Jeremy MacLaren."
Derek nodded nervously.
"Well my name is Trevor MacLaren, and that's my dad, Jake MacLaren. Jeremy is my brother."
"Yeah, and we've been looking for him since he disappeared. The girl over there, Lacey, was taken with him. I would do anything for him, just the same as you did for your brothers."
Derek started to relax and he stood up.
"Okay, I can understand that, I'd do anything for my brothers."
"So, what was that? I saw your hands glowing when you touched her. Are you al... aliens?"
"No but it's a long story and I don't think we have time for that right now. Please trust us, we mean you no harm. We just want to rescue Jeremy and get him back with us."
"Son, I'm going to call your Uncle Tom and tell him where we're at. We need to get Lacey to the hospital. I'm going outside to get the address. Derek, you can trust us."
The boy nodded and then suddenly flung himself at Jake and held on tightly as he started crying. Jake put his arms around the boy and held him tightly. He comforted him as best he could. Trevor and Zach came up behind him and put their hands on his back and stroked his back to calm him down. After a few minutes Jake turned the boy over to Trevor and Zach. The three boys sat on the bed, with Derek between Zach and Trevor, Jared sat on the other side of Zach. They held onto him and kept comforting the crying boy.
"Take care of him, guys. I'm going to call in and have them get an ambulance over here."
Jake left the room and walked to the entrance. He stopped at the office door and decided to go in and check it for clues. He could tell that someone had left in haste. He started to leave the office when the phone caught his eye. He looked at it and an idea came to him. He pulled out his cell and punched a number.
"Hello... Yeah, this is Jake... Tony, call Jeff Gant... I'm going to give you a phone number; have him find out all the numbers that have been called from this phone in the last week... yeah, when you call him, tell him it's real important... it has to do with my son, Jeremy... yeah, we may have a lead... okay, here it is... 805-555-2774... yeah, it's a number in Oxnard... Okay, thanks, Tony... tell Jeff to get on this now... bye."
He left the office and went outside where he could see the address. He got the radio out of the Suburban.
"Tom, this is Jake. We need an ambulance over here at 11357 Lombard."
"Did you find him?"
"No, but he was here. We've found Lacey though and she needs an ambulance."
"Okay, we'll let the cops know."
"See you soon, buddy."
Jake put the radio back into the Suburban and went back inside to join the boys.
Tom watched as Jake drove off. Tom sat down beside his wife; he put his arm around her shoulders.
"I hope they find him, Tom."
"Yeah, me too."
Tom looked up as a couple of police cars pulled into the intersection. He gave Terry a squeeze before he dropped his arm.
"Well, time to start stalling."
"I'll take care of the boys."
Tom walked over toward the cops, holding up his investigator badge. The cops got out of their cars with their hands on their guns. They saw that he was holding a badge of some kind.
"Hi, officers. My name is Tom Browning of Spirit Wolf Security Consulting and Investigations, I am licensed to carry a gun and I am presently armed."
This got the cops attention, as they tensed a little.
He handed him his badge and gun permit. The officer took it and examined it for a few moments. He nodded to his partner and gave it back to Tom. All the officers relaxed.
"Okay, Mr. Browning, you appear to be who you say you are. Now, could you tell me what happened and how you're involved?"
"My family and I were driving down this road here when we saw that Yukon come barreling into the intersection, lose control and flip over. We pulled over and started to get out and see if we could render assistance to the occupants when we saw that car come flying into the intersection and skid to a halt near the overturned Yukon. Two men got out and went over to the Yukon. I saw that they had guns, so my men and I detained them."
"Your men? Are you in the habit of traveling with guards?"
"Not normally, but lucky for us they were in the Suburban behind us. In the Yukon we found three boys, the oldest might be thirteen at the most. Once we secured the two men with guns, we gave first aid to the boys and luckily they were not too badly injured; they do need to be seen by a doctor just to make sure they are all right."
"We have one on the way; the security guard of the company over there called in the accident. Let's go find out what we can about these men."
The lead officer pointed at the other two officers.
"You two go check out the injured kids."
Tom led them over to where Jed and Phil were guarding the men.
"These are two of my men, Jed and Phil. Guys, pull out your ID's and show them to the officers."
They pulled out their ID's and showed them to the officers. They gave them a cursory look and nodded.
"Okay, let's get these guys out of the car and see what we can find out."
Phil and Jed placed the guns they had taken from the two men on the hood of the car, and then went to the back and pulled the men out of the car and turned them over to the officers. The officers put the men against the car and searched them. They found their empty holsters and tossed them on the hood. They started pulling other items from the pockets of the men. They opened the wallets and looked at the driver's licenses. The lead officer handed them to his partner.
"Go check for wants and warrants on these two."
The remaining officers turned the men around so that their backs were to the car.
"I don't suppose you guys would like to tell me what's going on."
"I'll tell ya what's going on. We was just driving nearby when we saw that crash and stopped to see if we could help. These crazy sons a bitches pulled their guns on us and handcuffed us. Just take these cuffs off and let us go. We need to get going and we ain't done nuthin."
"Yes sir. I'll wait until I check. If we find nothing, then we'll talk about these guns you're carrying. I assume you have permits to carry them."
Wayne said nothing; he and Mace just slumped against the car. After a few minutes the other deputy rejoined them.
"They have no current wants or warrants. However, they both have records. They were both recently released from prison after serving time for assault. They have a reputation as muscle for hire."
"Thanks. So gentlemen, care to explain yourselves?"
"We got nuthin' to say until we see a lawyer."
Sergeant Stephenson called the other two officers over to assist with the two men. Jed and Phil helped them change the cuffs on the two men and took their personal cuffs back.
"Very well, read them their rights."
"You have the right to remain silent... "
Officer Stephenson led Tom and his men away just as the ambulance pulled up. They walked over to where the injured boys were. Brett was still unconscious, but Jordan was awake and Terry and Jared were taking care of him. A Fire Paramedic truck also pulled up. The EMT's from the ambulance set their equipment down near the boys. They looked at Terry.
"Do you know anything about these boys?"
"Not really. I just know that the little one here is Jordan and the other is Brett. They say they're brothers"
"How long has Brett been unconscious?"
"Since the accident, at least fifteen minutes ago."
The paramedics joined them.
"Ma'am. Can you move to the side and let us take a look at this guy?"
"Sure. Jordy, listen to these men; they'll take care of you."
"Okay, do you know when Derek'll be back?"
"Uh, I'm don't know, honey. I'm sure it will be soon."
"Derek? Who's Derek? Wait, you said there were three brothers, where's the other one."
"Well he, uh, went with my partner to the place the boys were running from."
"What were they running from?"
"I don't know; my partner hasn't contacted me with an update."
"Do you know which way they went?"
"I know they went that direction, but I don't know exactly where they are now."
"Have you tried contacting him?"
"Yeah, but I he hasn't answered me yet."
"Well, keep trying."
"Sure, officer, I'll try again. Jake, this is Tom, do you read me? Jake, give me an update."
He looked at the officer and shrugged. They stood by as the EMT's and paramedics worked on the two boys. They had now splinted Jordan's injuries and both boys had cervical callers around their necks to immobilize them. They had already called for another ambulance.
"Tom, this is Jake. We need an ambulance over here at 11357 Lombard."
"Did you find him?"
"No, but he was here. We've found Lacey though, and she needs an ambulance."
"Okay, we'll let the police know."
"See you soon, buddy."
The officer called it in.
"Dispatch, we need a car to 11357 Lombard. Someone appears to have been hurt; paramedics are on the way."
"10-4, 78. Officers are on the way."
The second ambulance pulled up and the EMT's joined them. They quickly loaded the boys into the ambulances. The fire paramedics left to go to the Lombard location.
Jake was in the room with Lacey and the boys when they heard sirens approaching. He looked at the boys.
"Well, here comes the cavalry. There's going to be questions but first. Boys take off your vests and guns and give them to me. I'm going to stow them in the Suburban. If they see you guys armed, there will be even more questions that we don't want."
Zach and Trevor quickly removed their vests, took the guns out, ejected the magazine and cleared the chamber before re-holstering them and handing them to Jake. He ran outside and quickly stowed them in the bags in the back. He closed the hatch just as the paramedics pulled up. He waited while they got out and grabbed their equipment. Jake waved for them to follow him and hurried into the building. He led them to where the others were waiting. He saw that the boys had covered Lacey up with a blanket from the cot. The paramedics immediately went over to Lacey. They pulled the blanket back and started taking her vitals. One of them turned to Jake.
"Is this how you found her?"
"She seems to be drugged."
Jake spied a small case on the table nearby so he went and checked it out. Inside he found the vial used by Harvey. He turned to paramedics.
"I think this was used. It was in this bag along with some syringes."
One of the paramedics looked at the vial and handed it back.
They watched the paramedics work on Lacey. More sirens were nearing the place. Jake ushered the boys out of the room. Once they were outside near the Suburban Jake turned to the boys, focusing on Derek.
"Derek, I have to ask you something very important. You saw something unusual happen with Trevor. We need to ask that you keep it to yourself. There would be a lot of questions that we don't want to have to answer, okay? We'll answer your questions later when we have some privacy, but for now, please don't tell anyone what you saw. If you did that, Trevor might not be able to help anyone like he did you and your brothers. Your youngest brother may not have lived if Trevor hadn't helped him."
"Yes, sir. I'll keep it a secret."
They looked up as a couple of patrol cars and an ambulance pulled into the parking lot. Jake waved his hands to get their attention. They pulled in next to the Suburban and got out. Jake waited until the EMT's got their gurney out of the back of the ambulance.
"Boys, you stay here. Guys, follow me, I'll show you where your patient is."
Jake led them back into the building and down the hall to the room where Lacey was. As they ran by the studio, one of the cops glanced into the open door and saw what was in there. He stopped and went inside the room. He went over to where the photographer lay under the light. He took in the blood pool and the camera and computer that lay partially under the photographer's still body. He looked around the room and saw the studio set up and grimaced. He felt for a pulse on the photographer's neck before he stepped back and keyed his mike.
"David 78, this is David 29."
"78, go ahead."
"Sarge, we got a crime scene over here. One dead male, mid thirties."
"78, 10-4, on my way."
The officer left the room and went outside to await the sergeant. Sergeant Stephenson drove up with his partner just as the EMTs were bringing Lacey out of the building. Jake went to stand by the boys as the officers walked over to him. Stephenson came up to Jake and held out his hand.
"Sergeant Stephenson, I assume you are Mr. Browning's partner, Jake."
"Yes sir, Sergeant. This is my son Trevor and Tom's sons Zach and Jared, and this is Derek. He was one of the boys who was in the accident. He told us about the girl and led us here so we could help her."
"Okay. Derek, I'm going to have the paramedics look you over to make sure you're all right."
He motioned for the paramedics to come over. They had Derek sit down in the Suburban while they checked him out. Stephenson went over to the officer who called him.
"What do you have here?"
"C'mon I'll show you."
They walked into the building and the officer led the way into the studio. They looked around at the bed and the way it was arranged. The large lights, video camera and bed. He walked over to where the body was pinned under the light. His lips compressed into a tight line as he surveyed the scene. He motioned with his head for the other officer to follow him back outside.
"Dispatch, David 78"
"This is Dispatch, I read you."
"Dispatch, we need homicide and vice to 11357 Lombard."
"78, Dispatch, 10-4."
He walked over to the Suburban as he opened his notebook. The paramedics were bandaging some cuts and scrapes on Derek.
"How's is he, guys?"
"He's got some minor injuries. We would like to get him to the hospital to make sure everything's okay, but I don't think there are any hidden injuries."
The paramedics packed up their gear and went back to their truck, while one called for another ambulance. Stephenson turned his attention to Derek.
"Do you feel up to answering some questions, Derek?"
"Good, what's your last name?"
"Where are you from?"
"Great Falls, Montana."
"You're a long way from home."
"Yes sir, but it wasn't our choice."
"So how did you get here?"
"A gang of people broke into our Aunt and Uncle's ranch in Havre a few weeks ago while we were visiting there. When they broke into the house, I got my brothers out to the barn, but they found us. I'm guessing my Aunt and Uncle are dead because I think they were going to kill us, but one 'o them stopped 'em. They tied us up and took us with 'em. We were kept in the back of a van so I don't know where we went. They kept our eyes covered the whole time. The next thing I knew we were on an airplane flying here."
"Do you think you could identify any of the people who took you?"
"I don't know. It was at night and I didn't get a good look at 'em."
"All right, go on."
"Well, once we got here, they put us in a van and brought us here. It was still night time when we got here. Those two guys who were chasing us were there. The blond guy who was in charge was there too."
"Yeah there was some blond guy who was in charge; they called him Mr. Smith."
Jake and the other boys did a double take when they heard that. Jake interrupted the questioning.
"Did you say Smith? Did you ever hear his first name?'
"I never heard his first name; they always called him Mr. Smith. No one ever said his first name."
"Jake, do you recognize that name?"
"Maybe. If it is him, he went by the name of Roger Smith, but I think that was an alias. If it's the same guy, he is wanted for assault on a child and murder in LA."
"I think the detectives are going to want to talk to you about this guy. Derek, when you were first brought here, what happened?"
"The blond guy told us that we were going to do what he said or he would hurt one of us. When I yelled at him to let us go, he pointed to one of our guards, and the guy grabbed my little brother Jordy and put a knife to his neck. That's how they got us to do what they wanted."
"What did they want you to do, Derek?'
"Sex stuff with each other, while they took pictures or films of us."
"Yeah, that's what I thought."
"Are we going to jail?"
"Why would you go to jail?"
"They said that we would be sent to jail for doing that stuff."
"No, you're not going to jail?"
"What about Jerry?"
"The photographer, I pushed the light over and it hit him. Is he dead?"
"That the guy we found in the room with the bed and lights?"
"Yeah, that's probably him."
"Yeah, the light hit him, and he's dead."
"So I guess I'm going to jail for killing him, 'cause I pushed the light onto him. But that's okay, I got my brothers out of there and that's the important thing."
"No one will blame you for that. What they were doing was wrong. You did not do anything wrong, you were only protecting yourself and your brothers. You said you've been here for a few weeks, any particular reason why you decided to try to escape today; what changed?"
"We saw that they had the kidnapped kids here."
"What kidnapped kids are you talking about?"
"The one's that are on the TV. His son and the girl."
When Derek said his son, he pointed at Jake. The sergeant looked over at Jake.
"Uh, yeah... my son. Jeremy MacLaren."
"Yeah, I heard the Amber Alert. So that girl is the missing girl?"
"Yeah, Lacey Phillips. She was with Jeremy when he was taken last night. Derek mentioned that he saw them here, and that's why I drove over here, to see if I could rescue my son."
He studied Jake for a few moments before he continued the questioning.
"Did you stay here when they weren't taking pictures? Do they have a place for you to sleep?"
"No, we wer... Oh no, I forgot about the others."
"The others? The others what?"
"The other kids."
"What other kids?"
"The other kids that they took pictures of."
"Where are they? Do you know where they're at?"
"Not exactly, but I think I can show you. And you need to go quick because we should have been back a long time ago."
Stephenson jumped up, and started yelling orders.
"Richland, stay here and guard the crime scene. Devore, get in your car and follow me. Derek, I'm going to take you in my car. You show us the way."
"I could take him, sergeant."
"I don't think that's a good idea."
"Sergeant, I was an LA Sheriff before I formed the security firm with my partner, and I was a SEAL in the Gulf War. I have my vest in the back and I'm armed. I know what to do."
The sergeant looked at Jake for a few moments before he nodded.
"Okay, but you do what I say. When we get there, you stay in your truck with Derek."
Jake turned to his boys.
"You boys stay here with this officer... "
"But Dad, what if Jeremy's there. He'll need us."
Jake leaned close to Trevor and whispered.
"Trev, can you find Jeremy?"
Trevor closed his eyes and started searching. After a few moments he shook his head.
"Just stay here, I'm going to call Tom on the way and let him know what's going on. But I want you guys safe right here. Okay?"
"Okay, Dad. But hurry and get there to help those kids."
"You know I will."
Stephenson gave Jake a radio. Jake got in the Suburban; he and the two cruisers quickly pulled out and headed off. They sped through the streets with Jake in the lead. To anyone who saw them, you would think it was a chase. Jake followed Derek's directions as they drove. Derek's directions soon led them into the farm country. After about five miles, Jake pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. The two patrol cars pulled him behind him. Jake got out and walked back to Stephenson's car.
"Derek says that the next driveway leads to the house where the kids are being kept. He says that there are probably two guys who stayed at the house. He also said that he thinks they have guns. Sergeant, I know you don't like it, but I think you're going to need me. If there are two guys with guns, what about the blond guy that was in charge? He might be here too. I'll follow your orders without question. I know procedure, so you tell me what to do and I'll do it."
"What about the kid?"
"He stays back here with the cars. You have more units on the way, so they'll be here soon."
"I don't like it, but the other units are fifteen minutes out, so I'll accept your help, but you got to do what I say. Get your vest."
Jake ran back to the Suburban and opened the back gate, and got his vest out and put it on. Derek looked at Jake.
"Derek, you stay here and stay down. I'm going with the officers, in case that blond guy you were talking about is there along with the two other guys."
"And there's the black guy too."
"What black guy?"
"There was a black guy there today."
"Okay, stay here and stay down. In fifteen minutes there are going to be more officers arriving; you stay out of sight until then."
Jake nodded and went to join the officers. He told them about the black guy that Derek mentioned. Once everyone was there Stephenson gave them instructions and they moved off down the road to the turn-off. They made their way down the short lane. There were lights on in the house. They moved quickly but silently to the house. There were a couple of SUVs parked near the house. They kept the SUVs between them and the house as they studied it. Stephenson gathered them together.
"You two go around to the back, I'll take Mr. MacLaren with me. We'll go in through the front. When you hear me announce myself, you come in the back. Let's go."
Stephenson and Jake made their way across the yard to the front door with their guns out. When they reached the door, they heard voices from inside the house.
"Nobody's answering at the studio. I don't know what's taking so long; they should be back by now. You think there could be something wrong?"
"Nah, maybe Smith wanted to play with the boys for a while once they were finished."
"Yeah, they are pretty boys."
Stephenson motioned for Jake to open the screen door. It gave a loud squeak as he opened it. They heard one of the voices again.
"Oh, that must be them now. Hey, Wayne, where you been? Did Smith wanna play for awhile?"
Stephenson put his hand on doorknob and nodded to Jake.
Stephenson charged in with his gun pointed ahead of him, Jake close behind him. As they entered the room, they saw one man standing up in the entrance of a doorway, facing the front door with a beer in his hand. Another man was sitting on the couch.
The one in the doorway froze, the one on the couch jerked at the yell and started to reach down to his waist. Jake moved toward him, with his pistol pointed at the guy's head.
The man froze. From the back of the house they heard the door crash in as the two other officers joined them. Jake and Stephenson covered the two as the officers handcuffed the two men and put them both on the couch. Both of the men were armed. There was a sound at the hallway on the left. Jake and Stephenson swung their guns in that direction. Standing in the doorway was a young boy. Stephenson motioned for him to come forward. The boy hesitantly walked to the officer. Stephenson leaned down to the boy.
"Are there any more adults back there?"
The boy looked at him with kind of a glazed look in his eyes. He looked drugged. Stephenson turned to the other officers.
"You two follow me, Jake, you stay here with the boy and those two."
The officers made their way down the hall. As they came to a door, they looked inside. Each room had a kid inside. Most of them appeared asleep. A teenage boy looked up when they came to the door.
"Hey, man, what's with all the noise. I'm tryin' to sleep here."
They swept through the house until they were assured that there were no more adults in the house. They returned to the living room. Stephenson pulled out his radio and told the other units to come in. They heard cars drive up.
"I don't suppose either of you want to tell me anything?"
The men just stared at them. He went outside and told one of the officers to call for paramedics. Since the new units were there, Sergeant Stephenson led Jake and the other officers back out to their cars.
Jake got in the Suburban. He smiled at Derek as he started it up. Stephenson made a U-turn and Jake got in behind him.
"Good job, Derek. You saved a lot of people, including your brothers. You may even have stopped other kids like you from being put in this situation by helping the police find out about these people."
"Do you know how my brothers are?"
"No. I'll check with my family and find out what's going on."
He grabbed his radio and called.
"Tom, this is Jake, do you copy?"
"Hey, Jake, where are you?"
"I'm following the sergeant right now. How about you guys?"
"We're following another officer. We just picked up Trevor and Zach and are being escorted somewhere. They tell you anything out there?"
"Nothing, I was just told to follow them. We're probably going to the police station. I'm sure they have some questions. They know that we know Lacey, so I'm sure there are going to be a lot of questions. We've got to get our story straight before we talk to them."
"Yeah, so what do we tell them?"
"Let me think about it."
Jake put the radio down and continued driving. Five minutes later he picked up the radio again.
"Tom, I got an idea. Give me a minute and I'll tell you."
"Okay, but just to let you know, we are turning into the parking lot of a hospital... St Johns Regional Medical Center."
"Okay, I'll be right back."
He turned to Derek.
"Derek, I need to ask you to do something for me, well for us. The police are going to want to ask why we were in the area. We can't really tell them why, and it's because of what Trevor can do. It was because of him that we knew Jeremy was somewhere around here. It's kind of the same thing with how he was able to help your brothers. Do you remember when you saw the news announcement?
"Yeah, I remember."
"There were two phone numbers on the screen. One was for the LA Sheriff's Department, the other was for my company, Spirit Wolf Security. I have to ask you if you will please tell the police if they ask you that you called our number and told us what you saw. Will you do that for us, please?"
"Sure, you helped my brothers and me, I'll tell the police that I called you."
"Good we'll do the rest. Thanks, we owe you."
"No, I think this makes us even, sir."
"Well I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, but thanks."
Jake picked up the radio again.
"Tom, do you read me?"
"I got you, Jake. I'm out in the company's Tahoe. Everyone else is in the hospital. I told them I'd be right in after I secured my weapon."
"Here's the plan. We tell them that the company received a call from what sounded like a kid that he had seen Jeremy. We were trying to find the area that the boy described when we saw the accident and it was just lucky chance that the boy who called was one of the victims."
"Well it's not great, but it's better than anything I can think up. So we'll go with it. What about the kid, Derek?"
"He's with us, he'll tell the police that he was able to get to a phone after he saw Jeremy and he had remembered the phone number."
"What phone did he use?"
"Uh... Derek did you see a phone in that room where you saw Jeremy?"
"No... wait, there was a cell phone on the table in there."
"Tell them you called the number from the TV with that cell phone."
"Tom, he said he's going to tell them that he used a cell phone that was in the room... and... .I know... he meant to call the Sheriff's number, but it was our number that he called."
"Well, I hope he can do that."
"He can... .Can you do that, tell them that you thought you were calling the Sheriff's and called us instead?"
"Yeah, I can do that."
"Okay, Tom, we've done what we can. I can see the hospital, so we'll be there momentarily."
"Roger, see you in a few. I'm just now joining the rest of the family."
Jake pulled in and he helped Derek get out of the car. Stephenson escorted them to the emergency room entrance. They were quickly shown into the emergency room. When they got there, Jake turned Derek over to the staff and then followed Stephenson to another room. Once in the room he saw that it was a conference room of some sort. The families were all there along with a couple of police officers. When Jake came in Trevor jumped up and ran over to him and threw his arms around Jake's waist.
"Did you find those kids? Was Jeremy there?"
"Yes and no. We found the kids, but Jeremy wasn't there."
"Oh. Well, I'm glad you found the kids."
"Yeah, me too. How are you guys doing?"
"We're doing okay."
Trevor directed Jake to a seat next to him. They were there for at least an hour before some men came in who identified themselves as detectives. With them was Sergeant Stephenson.
"Mr. MacLaren, Mr. Browning. First, I would like to thank you for your help this evening. However, we have a few questions for you. First, we've identified the girl as Lacey Phillips, reported kidnapped along with your son Jeremy. Quite a coincidence; care to explain how you just happened to be in the area?"
"We, uh, were following a lead on my son. My firm received a call this afternoon. They said it sounded like a kid, they thought it was a crank call, you know sometimes kids make crank calls like that when they're bored. Anyway, they thought it was a crank call, but when I called in to see if there had been any calls on the info line, they reported the call to me. Since we set up the line to record any calls on it, I asked them to play back the call for me. Once I heard the call, I wasn't so sure that it was a crank call, so I wrote down the information."
"Why didn't you call the Sheriffs and pass the info on to them."
"I know we should have, but there was always the chance that it was a crank call. I also thought it was time sensitive. If it was true, I didn't think the Sheriffs would get here soon enough. So we decided to see what we could find out. That caller had said it was in an area of industrial parks in Oxnard. Because of what happened, I had some of our security guys watching the house, so we had them follow us. We had just gotten off the 101 and were just entering the industrial park area when we saw the accident. I later found out that Derek was the one who called the tip line. When we helped them, Derek mentioned to us about seeing Jeremy and Lacey. That's when we found out that he had made the call. I was worried that we might be too late, so I had Derek show me where they were. The rest you know."
"Okay, I guess I can believe what you say. If my son were kidnapped, I would probably do just about anything to get him back myself. I guess you know what kind of business this was?"
"Yeah, I have a general idea."
"I have one other question. Sergeant Stephenson said that he believed that you recognized this Smith person, the guy who was in charge."
"Maybe, I don't know for sure. A few months ago, there was a man named Roger Smith who assaulted Jeremy and killed his mother. My wife and I were friends of his mother and he was close friends with our son, so we adopted Jeremy. At the time my company's investigators were working on an investigation into the disappearance of a young lady back East. We were able to find out that Roger Smith was probably the alias of a man named James Harvey, and he was the one who was suspected in the disappearance of the young lady. During our investigation we found out what kind of business he might be into. If this is the same Smith, then I think it confirms what kind of business he was into. My only concern is the safe return of my son. The LA Sheriffs and I suspected that Harvey may have been the one who took Jeremy because he can identify Harvey. We had recently heard that Harvey may have been back in the area, and that he may have had some work done to change his appearance and had bleached his hair. If it was the same Smith, then he might be the person Derek called the blond guy. I felt I had to do what I could to save my boy."
"I understand. We'll take it from here. You are free to go. We may be calling you to testify against the two men who were chasing the boys, but other than that you're free to go."
"What did you find out about the boys and the other kids?"
"The boys' story checks out. We have contacted their home town and their parents are getting on a flight as soon as possible./ They should be here tomorrow. The other kids have been forced into drug addiction and that is how they controlled them, we're guessing. We're still working on finding out where they came from."
"And Lacey, how is she."
"She was heavily drugged, but she's going to be okay."
"I'm real glad to hear about the boys; would it be okay to see them and say goodbye?"
"I'm sure that would be okay. Sergeant, could you show them to the boys' room?"
They shook hands and followed the sergeant. He led them through the hospital until they came to a room in the children's section of the hospital. He brought them to a door and said goodbye. The family went into the room and saw the three boys sitting up in bed eating some food. The boys looked up and smiled.
"Jake, did you hear? Our parents are coming to get us and take us home."
"Yeah, I heard, I'm real happy for you."
"Sorry you didn't find your son, Jake. I hope you can track him down and get him back from that evil man."
"I do too, Derek; thank you so much for everything you did. You helped us get Lacey back, you saved your brothers and you saved those other kids. You're the hero here. I'm just real glad you're all going to be all right. You take care of yourself. Maybe we'll see you again sometime."
"I hope so, I'd like to see you guys again. There is one thing, you said you would explain... you know."
"Oh... yeah... I did say we would explain that."
He leaned close to Derek and brought his mouth close to Derek's ear.
"Magic is real."
He stood back up and smiled. Derek looked at Trevor with wonder and then back at Jake. Jake just smiled.
"That is a very important secret, and it is important that you keep it."
"Okay, I promise."
"Bye, boys, it was nice to meet you."
"Bye, and thanks for everything."
They left the room and went up to the desk.
"Could you tell us which room Lacey Phillips is in?"
"Are you family?"
"No, we're friends. We're the ones who found her."
"I'm afraid that only family can see her."
"Okay, thank you."
The family turned around and saw Lacey's parents running toward them. Mrs. Phillips put her arms around Jake.
"Thank you so much, you saved our daughter."
"That's all right, we're glad we could help."
"We didn't find him with her. I think the people that took him left her behind and took him somewhere else."
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Jake. We're just going in to see Lacey; do you want to see her?"
"No, you should go be with your daughter. I'm sure it's been a pretty scary time for her. We can see her when you get back home. We were just on our way out. I'm glad you have her back. See you later. Let's go home, guys."
They said goodbye and went out to the Suburban, and with Jed and Phil following them, they left for home.