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The Panic Button

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Standing outside of the townhome, Olivia had a sense of trepidation. Icy fingers danced along her spine. She was painfully reminded of the night she’d gone home to find a monster in her home.

And the promise she’d made when he’d found out.

If Lucy was right, something was happening inside the home. Olivia made a quick decision. She ducked out of view of the windows and dug through her purse for her phone.

She quickly hit send on the first number in her emergency contact list. She had to leave a message. “Listen….I think something’s going on. My sitter asked me to visit one of her families. I’m going to check on them. Just have a bad feeling. I’m setting up the panic button app you put on my phone, just in case things go wrong.”

Hanging up the phone, Olivia opened the app. It had several functions. One required her to actually press a button and trigger the alarm. Another, the one she wanted, was set up in advance. If her phone was turned on or used for any reason, she had fifteen seconds to turn off the app before it activated an emergency response.

Private security at its finest.

It had been six months after Elliot left when he’d reached out to her. Given her his new contact information. Introduced her to his new boss, an old friend from the military, who now ran a private security firm.

They’d stayed in touch. He’d been devastated to find out about William Lewis. Both he and his partner had taken her abduction as a personal affront. She was in the hospital when they arrived with a new phone and walked her through the panic button.

She’d never used it in the past despite their grumbling when Lewis took her a second time.

What if I’m overreacting? What if I’m not? It was always better to be safe than sorry.

Not even ten minutes later, Olivia knew she’d made the right decision. She was sitting on the ground. Her head spun while she watched Joe Utley turn her phone on—taunting her with the picture of Noah on the front.

Yeah, yeah, screw you asshole. You have no idea the level of pain you’ve just brought in your direction.

He’d coldcocked her across the head. She was struggling to get to her feet. She didn’t want to risk anyone else getting hurt worse.

When Lucy called, it gave Olivia a chance to let her squad know what had happened. She only hoped Lucy realized something was wrong. She was thankful Joe had let her send the text in the first place.

Trying to talk the strung-out Joe down hadn’t worked. Olivia had gotten pistol-whipped for a second time. She came to on the ground with her wrists bound behind her back.

She breathed through a moment of internal panic. It was a little too close to her time with William Lewis. She slowly eased up to a seated position.

Glancing around the room, Olivia noticed one of the hostage-takers, Ralph, had disappeared along with the mother, Lisa. Roxie stood nearby with her gun loosely pointed toward the ground. Little Luca was trembling next to his sister while Joe paced nearby.

Olivia frowned at the haunted look on Tess’s face and her dishevelled clothing. How long was I out? What the hell did this psycho do?

They just had to survive.

Survive until either the security team showed up or the NYPD. Olivia would put money on the former arriving first. They’d moved their main headquarters to Manhattan a year ago. It wouldn’t take them much to find her.

She had no idea how much time had passed. No idea how they’d wound up in a bedroom. She hoped they hadn’t killed anyone.

Her phone kept ringing.

“Barba keeps calling. Why?” Joe stared down at the screen.

“Just my office.” Olivia knew her message must have gotten through to the squad. Rafael was supposed to be in the same conference that she had. “I’m late for a meeting.”

They were interrupted by the doorbell ringing. Repeatedly. Joe sent Roxie and Tess down to check. Olivia could only sit and wait, praying they’d all make it out alive.

She thought about Noah. Her sweet boy was at home with Lucy completely unaware of what was happening with his mom. She had to make it back to him.

“Who was it?” Joe was antsy. Definitely high on something, maybe several drugs. “What did they want?”

“Claimed to be contractors scheduled to do work on the place. She said to come back tomorrow.” Roxie shoved the teenager over to sit near her brother. “Gotta be cops. Joe. We should get out of her. Find Ralph.”

“Listen to me; they may have figured out that I'm here, so their next move is to call for backup.” Olivia knew the best case scenario was to get both Joe and Roxie out of the townhouse without incident. “Now is the time for you guys to go.”

“You just need to stop talking.” Joe pointed the gun casually in her direction.

“You know, maybe we should listen to her.” Roxie seemed to be growing more frightened both by Joe’s increasing manic behaviour and the situation itself. “Babe, come on. We need to get out of here.”

“There's no perimeter here. I'm telling you. Look out. Look for yourself.” Olivia knew what would happen if an ESU or HNT showed up. Joe wasn’t capable of clear, coherent thought. He’d be a nightmare to negotiate with. “There's no perimeter. Okay? Slip out the back before they figure out who you are.”

“Joe.” Roxie tried to grab his attention again. He shoved her away from him, almost knocking her off her feet. “Joe.”

Olivia managed to shift closer to where the kids sat side by side. She made sure they were a close group. Together. Less likely to be hit by any friendly fire. “They’re not going to go away. You’re holding a police officer hostage. You have a short window of time to escape.”

“Shut—” Joe was cut off by the door blasting up and a can rolling inside.

Olivia had a second to close her eyes. Only a second then the shock and awe part of their rescue exploded in a flash of smoke and light. Thank god.