Why the fuck is the phone ringing? It’s three in the morning? Maybe they’ll go away?
Why is that phone ringing?
Elliot scrambled for the nightstand to grab the burner hidden inside the drawer. Her phone. She was the only person with that number. “Hello?”
Voice was young. A kid?
“Hello. Who’s this?” Elliot modulated his tone, trying to encourage the kid to speak.
“My name is Noah Benson. I’m six. Mommy told me to call this number if something bad ever happened to her.” He was quiet for a moment. Elliot could hear what sounded like him shuffling around. “Hello? Are you still there? Uncle Fin’s gonna be back soon. I don’t have much time.”
“Where’s your mom, son?” He climbed out of bed, flipped on a light, and began hunting for his clothes.
“A bad man took her. I heard Uncle Sonny call him Rob Miller. He made the police stop Mommy in her car. She was really scared. And then she didn’t come home for spaghetti night.” Noah sniffled a few times. “She’s been gone two whole days.”
“Noah. Noah. It’s going to be okay. Your mommy’s the bravest and strongest person I know. Now, my name’s Elliot. Can you tell me where you are?” Elliot wanted as much information as possible. He struggled to get a shirt on while not dropping the phone.
“I’m at the police station. Uncle Fin’s been taking care of me. I borrowed Uncle Sonny’s phone,” Noah admitted. “I hope he’s not mad. But Mommy made me ‘member your phone number. She said to call you in a real emergency.”
“You did good, Noah. Your mom is going to be so proud of you.” Elliot made his way through his hotel suite to the table where he’d left his laptop. “Listen. I’m going to find your mommy. I’ll bring her home.”
“I promise.” Elliot didn’t have a chance to say anything else as the phone went dead. He sat at the table and stared at it. “Time to go home.”
For the past six months since his divorce, Elliot had been working private security with a client in Dubai. He’d had no reason to stay in Rome where Kathy and Eli had made a home. He’d planned to eventually return to New York.
This hadn’t been how he’d wanted to do it.
Unbeknownst to everyone in their lives, Elliot had reached out to Olivia after leaving the NYPD. He’d made certain she always had a number for him Emergencies only. They’d made that promise to each other.
Anything else had been too hard. Tested their willpower. Tempted them to be different people. Lesser versions of themselves. It had been so complicated.
Now, though, Elliot was desperately grateful she’d had his number.
Rob Miller. Well-connected. Wealthy. Powerful. Ruthless.
How had the man gotten a hold of an NYPD Lieutenant without anyone stopping him? How had she been missing for two days? Again.
During the William Lewis mess, Elliot had been out of cellphone service with a client. Kathleen had been the one to break the news a month after he’d returned a month later. His first call had been to Olivia.
Breaking their emergency only rule. She’d understood. Been happy to hear his voice. They’d talked every night for a few months until her night terrors stopped.
And then they’d gone back to not speaking.
She had a son. A child. Elliot wanted to know everything about Noah. He wanted to hear about it from Olivia, though.
Forcing himself to focus, Elliot began making calls. First to get a flight plan to New York started. Then he began calling in favours.
His years working private security around the world had left him with a few powerful people who owed him favours. Saving someone’s life (or their child’s life) tended to make them willing to go the extra mile. Rob Miller might be a powerful shark of an attorney in New York City—in other circles, the man was barely a minnow.
Elliot had made friends. Powerful ones in the past few years. Friends who cared about him--and the people he cared about.
Olivia was someone he cared about more than his own life.
Two hours after his early morning wake-up, Elliot boarded a private jet bound for Paris. There he’d get a second flight to New York. He dropped his bag on the seat beside him and nodded at the only other passenger on the flight.
“Noah?” Elliot answered his burner phone while they waited for the plane to taxi.
“This is Detective Carisi with the NYPD. Who is this?”
“A friend of Lieutenant Benson. She gave my number to her son for emergencies.” Elliot didn’t know Carisi. He had no intentions to give any information to the man. “Do you know Detective Tutuola?”
“He’s here with me.”
“Let me speak with him.” Elliot trusted Fin, particularly when it came to Olivia.
“Who’s this?” Fin demanded.
“Good to speak to you too.”
“Stabler? Are you shitting me, man? How the hell did Noah get your number?” Fin sounded completely shocked. “I knew it. Man, Munch owes me fifty bucks. I told him you two stayed in touch.”
“Fin. I don’t have much time. My flight’s leaving in a few minutes. I’ll be in New York tomorrow afternoon at the latest.” Elliot checked his watch. “Can I give your number to a contact of mine? They might have a lead on where Miller’s stashed Olivia.”
“Yeah, yeah. Let me know when you land. We’ll get someone to pick you up at the airport.” Fin hung up a second later.
Tossing his phone to the side, Elliot leaned back in the sent. He sent a prayer for Olivia’s safety. Then he went back to obsessively checking his emails. There was nothing else he could do before he reached New York.
Make plans. Send messages. And pray.
What if I’m too late?
What if this bastard kills her to avoid being caught with an NYPD lieutenant?