Time continued passing quickly by. Vera’s mother was ill, and Vera made the hard decision to move to Twinbrook and take care of her. That meant that Jim would need a new assistant.
Cillay had finally gotten her college degree through online courses.
“Jim, why don’t you let me take Vera’s place?”, she suggested. The children are older and they should be fine with a sitter for a few hours everyday.”
Jim thought about it for a few moments. He knew that she was more than capable of doing the job. They would be spending more time together and relieve some of the guilt he felt at the increasing hours he had to spend working.
“If you can stand working with me everyday, I’m all for it!”, Jim told her.
So Cillay started working with Jim at the office. One of the first things she did was remodeling his office to a style that better suited his personality. She tried to relieve some of the stress of his position by taking over responsibilities that were not really a part of her duties. Sometimes she presented presentations and reports to department heads, so that Jim could have more time off. Cillay really loved the job.
Before they started working together, Jim had considered only serving for one term, and then finding a job that would allow him to spend more time with Cillay. Now that Cillay was working there with him, they decided that he should run again at the next election.
Richard had started preschool. He really seemed to enjoy it. Janel was walking and talking up a storm.
Cillay’s days had fallen into a routine. Jim had to be to work at 9:00 and so she usually got up early, dressed and cooked breakfast for them both. After breakfast, she got Richard dressed for school and Janel’s babysitter arrived. Then she would drop Richard off for preschool and join Jim at the office. Richard got out of preschool at 2:30. She usually left the office at 2:15 and took him home. Then returned to the office to work until 5:00.
It was 2:15 and Cillay was on her way to pick up Richard. She stopped at the intersection, and her car was suddenly struck hard from behind. Although her airbag went off, she was disoriented. She felt herself being removed from the car and carried. Then everything went blank.
At 3:00 o’clock Cillay still had not returned to the office. Jim was not really concerned. She may have decided to stay longer with the children. Then his phone rang.
“Hello, Mr. Benedict?”, a female voice said.
“Yes.”, Jim answered.
“This is Mrs. Henderson, the principle at the school. No one has come to pick up Richard, and we were growing concerned.”, she told him.
“My wife hasn’t contacted you at all?”, Jim asked.
“No. We haven’t heard from her.”, she told him.
“Thank you for calling, Mrs. Henderson.”, Jim said. “Someone will be there to pick up Richard as soon as possible.”
Jim called Cillay’s cell phone and just got her voicemail. As he rushed from his offiice, he called Kay and explained the situation. She agreed to pick up Richard and take him home and stay with both children until she heard from him.
Jim jumped in his car and followed the route which Cillay would have taken. Eventually he saw her car at an intersection, and he quickly pulled over to the curb and ran to her car. The car appeared to have been hit from behind, and the airbag had deployed. He did not see Cillay. He looked in the car and saw her purse still inside, resting on the passenger seat.
A police officer approached him. “I’m sorry sir, but you’ll have to stay back away from the car.”, the officer told Jim. Then he recognized him.
“Oh, its you Mr. Benedict. Your wife was in an accident, and I’m still processing the scene.”, he told Jim.
“Is she okay?”, Jim asked anxiously.
“Well witnesses said it was an ambulance that struck her vehicle and that the paramedics took her in the ambulance. I haven’t received word on her condition, but I’m sure that if you call the hospital they will update you.”, he said.
The officer’s radio beeped. He answered and a look of concern crossed his face.
“I’m sorry Mr. Benedict, but it appears that the ambulance which picked up your wife was stolen from the hospital just before her accident, and the paramedics who took her away were not from the hospital. We’ve issued an ‘APB’, on the ambulance.” he told Jim.
Jim’s face went white. Cillay had been abducted! He wondered if Tony had had anything to do with it. He jumped in his car and headed over to the police department to speak with the police chief.
Cillay slowly regained consciousness. Her throat felt so dry from the chloroform that they had used on her. She slowly opened her eyes and looked around her. She was laying on a bed in an unfamiliar room. She climbed off the bed and stood unsteadily. She could feel motion as though she were on some sort of boat. She walked to the door and tried to open it. She was not surprised to find that it was locked.
She remembered the accident and wondered why they had taken her. She sat down in a rickety chair feeling very dejected. Then she heard the sound of approaching footsteps and then a key unlocking the door.
Jim was sitting in the office of the Chief of Police. The Chief hung up his phone.
“It looks like Antonio Sanders is attending a football training camp in Sunset Valley where he has been for the past week. So it wasn’t him who abducted Mrs. Benedict, although he could have hired someone to do it for him. The ambulance has been found abandoned just on the outskirts of town, empty. It looks like they must have transferred her to some other vehicle and left the area. We are still trying to locate witnesses, but so far none have come forward.”, he told Jim.
He looked at Jim. During the last hour, Jim appeared to have aged ten years. He had known Jim’s family ever since Jim was a child and Jim was not known to be hotheaded. However, this involved Jim’s wife, and the Chief would not put it pass Jim to head to Sunset Valley and confront Antonio Sanders himself.
“We’ll find her, Jim.”, he said kindly.
“Excuse me for just a moment.”, he said. He went out of his office and had his secretary put through a call to Jim’s brother-in-law for him.
“Hello, Mr. Lassiter? This is Chief Quinn. I’m calling because I don’t feel that it is wise for your brother- in- law to be alone at this time. Young men have a tendency to be foolish in times of stress, especially if it involves someone they love. I’m afraid he may try and find Mr. Sanders himself.”, the Chief told him.
“I’ll be there right away.”, Marcus told him.
Fifteen minutes later, Marcus and Kay walked into the Chief’s office. Kay sat next to her brother and squeezed his hand in hers. Jim looked at her questioningly.
“Terrance took all of the children to his home.”, she told him in answer to his unspoken question.
The door opened and a man walked in carrying a tray that contained a can of coke and some fruit. Cillay did not know him.
“Here is your lunch.”, he told Cillay. “Eat up! The boss said to take good care of you. He doesn’t want you to be skin and bones when he sees you.”, he told her. He placed the tray on the nightstand and then turned to leave the room.
“Wait!”, Cillay said. “Who are you? Why are you keeping me here?”
He looked at her for a few moments before answering. “I’m not being paid to answer your questions!”, he told her and then left the room. Cillay heard the key turn in the lock and then his retreating footsteps.
Antonio had purchased a special disposable cell phone. He knew that there was no way for the calls on that phone to be traced. It rang, just as he finished practice for the day. He smiled, looking at the caller ID. He answered the phone.
“Do you have my package?”, he asked.
“Yes. It is ready and waiting to be picked up.”, the caller answered.
“Is it undamaged and being treated with care?”, he said.
“Yes sir. It is in perfect condition.”
“It had better stay that way if you know what is good for you!”, Tony said threateningly. “I’ll be in touch.”, he said, then he disconnected the call.