Harry Boxton carried the sleeping toddler into the run down hotel room. He had made good time, getting to the Michigan town just after sunset.
He had been grateful that the kid hadn't waken up during the long road trip.
Getting through the road blocks had been tricky enough without having a screaming kid. The chloroform had worked better than he had expected.
Harry gently set Rachel down on the center of the bed before collapsing into a nearby chair. He closed his eyes. It felt good to finally stop moving.....if only for the moment. He knew that he couldn't stay in Michigan long.....it was too close. Hopefully after a few days he could get across the border.
At seven o'clock most of the police officers had left. Leaving only a contingent of necessary FBI agents and Detective Samantha Choe.
Several cartons of Chinese food lay virtually untouched on the kitchen table.
Nobody had much of an appetite
Donna and Josh stood in each other's arms near the stairs. Neither of them having been able to sit in one place for very long. Josh had tried to get Donna to get some rest but she had refused.
Josh pulled Donna closer against him and rested his head on top of hers closing his eyes. He was worried about his wife. She hadn't said much since Choe had asked her questions about Boxton.
At the thought of the man who had nearly taken Donna away from him Josh's blood began to boil. Memories of that long agonizing weekend came at him unbidden.
'I'm sorry, Mrs. Moss......'Alberts began quietly but Donna's mother interrupted him.
'Donna's gone?' Julie Moss asked in a shaky voice as she clutched Thomas's right arm.
Alberts nodded keenly feeling all eyes on him. 'I'm sorry.....Boxton shot her before the Agents could enter the house.'
Josh physically shook his head in an effort to push away the horrific memories. If Boxton had been crazy then what had five years in prison done to him?
Could he really be insane enough to take his revenge on a helpless, innocent little girl?
A sharp ringing sound pulled Josh away from his thoughts. It also caused Donna to jump three feet and break away from him. Josh opened his eyes his anxious gaze instantly flying to the living room phone. It was only when Sam walked toward the front door that Josh realized it was only the doorbell.
"Leo."Sam greeted as he opened the door wide enough for the older man to step through.
Josh moved through the living room to his former boss and he knew Donna was close behind him. "Thanks for coming, Leo."
Leo embraced him quickly. "We'll get her back, Josh."
By nine Toby and CJ had arrived and it took some convincing on Leo and Sam's part for Detective Choe to allow everyone to stay. Something about too many people and interfering with the investigation.
"Maybe some of us should get a hotel room."Toby suggested a half-hour later as everyone settled into the living room. The police were talking by the kitchen table.
Donna shook her head as she placed a hand on Toby's shoulder. "No, Toby. We have plenty of room here. You guys all dropped everything to come support us....Josh and I wouldn't want you to stay anywhere else."
Toby squeezed her hand gently. "Okay."
Sam and Caitlin stood near the bay window slightly away from the group. Sam turned to face his wife gently pushing a stray brown hair away from her face.
"Have you eaten?"Sam asked quietly.
Caitlin didn't break her gaze away from the huddle of police officers. "Sam, I think something's going on."
"With the baby?"Seaborn asked with concern.
"No, with the police."Caitlin replied with a soft smile. If Sam was this overprotective now she could only imagine what he'd be like when she was further along. "And yes I did eat."
"A fortune cookie doesn't count."Sam stated quietly.
Before Caitlin could reply Choe walked over to Josh
Josh swallowed hard and took Donna's hand in his. "Do you have news, Detective?"He asked fighting to keep his voice even.
Samantha Choe shook her head. "No, which is what I would like to talk with you and your wife about." She looked at the group gathered. "Perhaps in private?"
"Whatever you have to say to us, Detective."Donna replied firmly as she held tightly to Josh's hand. "You can say to everyone here."
"I've consulted with the FBI and Secret Service and they agree."Choe began with a nod."The time for a ransom call has come and gone. If Boxton was going to ask for money he would've done so by now."
"So this was purely done for revenge?"Caitlin asked quietly as she leaned into Sam's embrace.
"Yes."Choe replied grimly. "He doesn't have anything to lose. In his eyes his life was over when he went to prison five years ago."
"What do we do?"Donna asked fighting back tears. If Boxton wasn't going to ask for money how were they going to get their daughter back?
"We wait."Choe replied knowing it was the last thing they wanted to hear. "We feel that Boxton will contact you to gloat if nothing else. Which will enable us to get a trace."
By eleven thirty everybody realized that no call from Boxton would come that day. Donna started to pull blankets and pillows out of the closet but CJ stopped her insisting that it'd give her something to do.
Donna nodded and tried to flash her a brief smile but failed miserably. CJ reached over and placed a supportive hand on the younger woman's shoulder.
After a few minutes Donna regained her composure enough to move back into the living room. But once there she felt closed in. Everywhere she turned were memories of Rachel. First step, first Christmas, first word.
Donna quickly turned and bolted past CJ and stepped out the back door and stepped onto the deck leaning against the wall. It was mid January and the night wind was brutal but Donna didn't care.
After talking with Detective Choe Josh glanced around the living room and didn't see Donna anywhere. At his questioning gaze CJ gestured toward the back of the house.
"She went outside."CJ explained softly as she handed a pillow and blanket to Leo before stepping over to Sam and Caitlin.
Caitlin started to walk toward the back door but Josh shook his head.
Caitlin nodded and moved over to the sofa.
As Josh stepped out onto the dark cold deck he didn't see his wife at first.
Then a cloud moved out of the way of the moon and he spotted her leaning against the wall by the kitchen window.
Josh walked over and instantly pulled her into his arms alarmed at how cold her skin was.
"Let's go inside, Donnatella."Josh urged quietly tucking a stray blonde hair away from her face.
Donna shook her head. "I'm fine....just needed some fresh air."
"It's January, Donna."Josh reminded her gently. "January in Chicago.....it's twenty below without the windchill."
Donna sniffled but it wasn't from the cold. "That's just it, Josh.....our daughter could be out in this."
Josh tightened his embrace fighting his own tears. "Don't think about that, Donnatella. We have to believe that she's safe and warm."
Donna turned in his arms so she was facing him. "Why? Why do we have to believe that? He turned a gun on me, Joshua.....he fired at me....."
Josh pulled her against him as her voice broke.
"He won't destroy our family, Donnatella."Josh vowed his voice trembling. "I promise you that."
CJ lay uncomfortably on the right side of the sofa. Toby was next to her and Leo was on the other side of Toby. In any other situation CJ would've laughed at how riduculaous they all looked camped out in Josh's living room. All that
was missing were sleeping bags and pillow fights.
CJ squinted at the vcr. Even in the dark and without her glasses she could just barely make out the time....three fifteen.
"Okay, fess up, anybody actually asleep?"CJ asked as she sat up.
"No."Caitlin replied wearily from where she and Sam sat against the wall in each other's arms.
"I haven't slept normal since we left the White House."Leo commented as he stood trying to work the kinks out of his back.
"Toby?"Sam prompted not having heard a response from his former boss.
"Between grading papers and preparing lectures I haven't slept for three days so why should tonight be any different?"Toby replied gruffly as he stood and walked toward the kitchen. Since everybody was up he might as well make them all a supply of caffeine. He had a feeling this was going to be a very long day.
"Think they're asleep?"CJ asked softly her gaze resting on the stairway. Josh had finally convinced Donna to get some sleep about one thirty.
"No."Sam replied as he rested a hand protectively on Caitlin's stomach. He couldn't even imagine what Josh and Donna were feeling. If this happened to his family.....Sam shuddered and pushed the thought away. As if sensing his
thoughts Caitlin covered Sam's hand with hers.
"I hope Donna's at least getting some rest."CJ stated as she stood.
"Coffee will be ready in a few minutes."Toby reported as he came back into the living room. He glanced around at the group gathered and felt a weird twing of deja vu. How many late night meetings had they had in the White House? How many times would Josh argue a point to death until the other party caved either from boredom or a pressing schedule.
"We need something besides coffee."Leo commented as he moved away from the sofa. "Anybody want eggs?"
"Too early."Sam replied
"There's probably some left over Chinese in the refrigerator."CJ suggested as she walked over to the window. Choe and her partner were still in the unmarked police car across the street. CJ could also make out two FBI sedans
parked down the block at either end of the street.
"Works for me."Sam replied as he stood and helped Caitlin to her feet. "Caitie, want to split some Moo Goo Gi Pan?"
Caitlin shook her head as she felt the morning sickness kick in once again. "I'm not hungry."She mumbled as she quickly went upstairs to use the bathroom.
Sam watched her go trying to mask his worry. He knew morning sickness was a normal part of pregnancy, but Sam just wished he could take away some of her discomfort. After all she was giving him the greatest gift-their child.
Leo followed Sam's gaze. "She okay?"
Sam nodded quickly. "Yeah....just a touch of the flu."
Josh heard the others moving around downstairs and glanced at the clock....three forty five. Guess he wasn't the only one who couldn't sleep.
The furnace hadn't yet kicked on so Josh buried himself deeper under the covers and pulled Donna closer against him. He was grateful that she at least was getting some sleep even if it was a restless one.
Donna had a nightmare about an hour before but she hadn't waken. Josh had soothed her and held her tight until the dream went away. Josh shook his head at the memory....how often over the years had Donna done the same for him
when he had nightmares about the shooting? He had prayed that she never experienced anything so painful that it would disturb her sleep. Now was not only Donna having nightmares that Josh couldn't protect her from she was living in her worst nightmare.
The new day ahead just had to bring them some good news of Rachel's safety.....for all their sakes.
By seven a.m. Detective Choe was in the living room checking the wire taps on the phone and modem lines to make sure they were still in working order. None of the officers stationed outside had noticed anybody near the house which meant it could be days before Boxton made his next move known.
Josh padded downstairs and flashed Caitlin a grateful smile as she handed him a cup of coffee. He hadn't had the heart to wake Donna just yet.
"Anything from the roadblocks?"Josh asked anxiously as Choe approached him.
The dark haired woman shook her head. "No, but we've faxed Boxton's record and picture to every police station and sheriff offices from here to the Canadian border. The Canadian authorities have also been alerted."
"What if he went the other direction?"Josh inquired beginning to pace slightly. "The Mexican border is fairly easy to get across these days. Rachel has dark hair, Detective they could easily disappear."
"Mr. Lyman, I assure you all possible bases are covered."Choe replied quietly wishing she had some good news to tell him. "The Border patrol has been alerted to the situation along with the Mexican government."
"Detective?"Leo began as he approached them. "Is there anything we can do to help with the search? We may not still have offices in the White House but there are certain strings we can still pull."
"My parents are aware of the kidnapping."Caitlin interjected softly as she leaned into Sam's embrace. Her parents were visiting Elizabeth that week for Annie's birthday.
Choe turned to face Leo. "Mr. McGarry, officially I can't authorize you to do anything that might jeopardize this child's safety."
"Unofficially?"Toby prompted from his spot by the kitchen table.
Choe met his gaze for a long moment before moving to gather her coat and purse from the arm of the sofa. "Unofficially, do whatever you can."She replied quietly before turning back to Josh. "Mr. Lyman, I have to stop back at the station for a few hours but I'll be back around noon."
"Thank you, Detective."Josh replied quietly as he sat slowly down on the last step watching as Choe crossed the livng room and quietly left the house. He'd watched enough police shows over the years to know that with each passing hour the trail to find his daughter grew colder. Something had to break soon....it just had to.
His little girl deserved a chance at a happy, safe, normal life.
go on to the next part