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Secrets, Lies and Private Eyes

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The first thing Leslie became aware was a nearby voice. It was high pitched - decidedly female, but didn't sound familiar. Leslie couldn't make out any of the words at first, and only picked up on a general sense of excitation and panic. Then slowly, the stream of noise coalesced into distinct words.

"I don't know! She's still alive, but I think she might be unconscious," the increasingly agitated voice was saying.

Then there was a pause and Leslie wondered what had happened to make the voice stop all of a sudden.

"Yes, I will. Hold on," the voice was saying now, followed by footfalls that seemed to be coming closer. A sudden loud wrenching and tearing noise startled Leslie, causing her to flinch. However something was wrong, she could feel it. It wasn't the pain in her head and neck, but something else. She opened her eyes, trying to get a better idea, but something was obscuring her vision, something very white.

"Um, ma'am?" the woman's voice was back, this time much closer.

Leslie turned her head, trying to find the source of the voice. The action caused her to cry out as searing hot pain shot through her neck and head.

"Hold still," the woman was saying. "I don't think you should move just yet."

"What's going on?" Leslie managed to ask. She was surprised when her own voice came out slurred.

"You had an accident," the woman told her.

Accident. Leslie pondered what the woman had said. She tried to recall what happened before she'd woken up here, wherever 'here' was. Driving! Yes, she'd been in her car, driving.

"Car accident?" she finally asked, as some of the puzzle pieces slid into place.

"Um, yes," the woman answered. "I called the paramedics, they should be here soon. Just hold on."

Something was niggling at the back of her mind, a sense that there was something very important that she was forgetting.

"Anyone else hurt?" she asked, still trying to get a grasp of the elusive idea that was just beyond reach of her conscious mind.

"No, not as far as I can see," the woman replied.

At least that was relief, Leslie thought. The feeling however only last for a fraction of a second before she remembered. She hadn't been alone in the car. Jake had been with her.

"Jake!" she exclaimed as the memory hit home. When there was was no answer she rephrased. "There was a man in the car with me," she tried, "Is he okay?" It was unlikely that Jake had escaped unscathed, because if he had, then he'd certainly said something by now.

The pause before the woman answered seemed interminable but finally it came again, hesitant: "There is no one in the car with you."

That couldn't be. Leslie thought, she clearly recalled Jake being in the car with her. Maybe there was more missing from her memory than she knew, she considered. Maybe she was just confusing things. Deep down however, she knew that she wasn't just confusing things. Jake had been in the car with her - of that she was convinced.

Despite her earlier experience, Leslie tried again to move her head, this time turning it toward the passenger side. The pain was considerable, but she clenched her teeth and eventually manged to turn her head far enough to see the passenger seat. The car was upside down but that was not what made her blood run cold.

It was what she saw - the airbag had deployed just as it had on the drive's side, and smeared on the white fabric were crimson traces - blood without a doubt. The passenger door was open. In the distance a siren sounded. Probably the paramedics her good Samaritan had summoned, Leslie thought tiredly. The urge to close her eyes was becoming stronger with each passing second. The woman was talking again, but the words were lost on Leslie as her own thoughts were racing. What had happened to Jake? Had he walked away from the wreck and if so why? Had he been trying to get help? Leslie was trying to think straight, but she could feel her thoughts growing slower and increasingly muddled as she fought against the lure of unconsciousness. Several times, she caught herself dropping off only to startled awake once more in confusion.

In the end, she must have lost the fight against unconsciousness eventually, because when she opened her eyes after what had felt like only a fraction of a second, she found herself staring at the steel gray sky overhead. Presently a face appeared in a her field of vision and suddenly a bright light was being shined in her eyes. She squeezed her eyes shut immediately, but it still felt like someone was driving an ice pick through her skull.

"Sorry about that," a voice, male this time apologized. Leslie experimentally opened er eyes a fraction, pleased to find that the bright light was gone. That was when she remembered - Jake. She had to find him, make sure he was all right. Leslie tried to sit up, but found that she could barely move. Panicked, she struggled, unheeding of the pain it caused her.

"Don't try to move just yet. Just lie back and rest," the male voice from earlier advice. Leslie could feel a light reassuring touch on her upper arm.

"We're going to take you to hospital now," the calm voice continued. "Just try to relax."

"No, you don't understand," Leslie protested weakly. "There was a man in the car wit me. I need to he all right?" Jake would have a field day if he could hear her right now all frantic, Leslie thought. Right now she didn't care though what anyone thought. She needed all her strength to concentrate on staying awake.

The face hovering above her frowned. "There was no one with you, ma'am." Still, he moved out of her field of vision, shouting to someone Leslie couldn't see that they should check the car again. Good, at least someone was looking for Jake, Leslie thought. Despite her best intentions, she found her eyes drifting shut.

Again, it felt like only an instant had passed, but when she came to again, the scenery had shifted once again. It was quite disconcerting. She was no longer outside, but inside a moving vehicle, judging by the faint vibrations running through her body and by what little she could see of the ceiling. Ambulance, most likely, she concluded.

She tried to turn her head to get a better idea and see who else was there with her, but once again found that her movements were being severely restricted.

"Jake?" she asked, hoping to get an answer.

She did get an answer, but it wasn't the one she had been hoping for.

"The police will notify your next of kin don't worry," a calm voice replied. "Just lie still and try to relax. We'll be at the hospital in a few minutes."

"No," Leslie protested at the misunderstanding and once again tried to sit up, but only ended up causing herself more pain. "He was in the car with me," she clarified.

"It's all right. We checked and there was no one in the car with you. You were the only one who was hurt," came the reply. The tone had a gentle and calming quality, like one would use when speaking to a frightened child. Clearly the paramedics thought she was confused as a result of a the accident. It was beyond maddening and if she hadn't been having the worst migraine of her life, Leslie would have given the paramedic a piece of her mind. But as things stood,even the mere act of speaking required all the conscious effort she could muster.

The ride in the SUV's trunk, although not his first such journey, had been particularly uncomfortable. The two goons had been none too gentle with him when they'd forced his arms behind his back, tied his wrists together with had felt like plastic zip ties and then thrown him into their vehicle's trunk. Despite his efforts to reposition himself, he was unable to take the strain of his injured shoulder due to the unnatural position of his arms and it had begun throbbing painfully once again. Despite his admittedly rather dire circumstances, there was one thing giving him hope that this might yet end well for him. The two goons hadn't neither searched his pockets nor taken his cell phone from him. It was still in his jacket pocket where he'd put it last. With his injured shoulder, he couldn’t twist himself in such a way that he could read it, but since his phone was still on, it would be possible for Leslie and the police to trace its location.  His abductor's clearly weren't professionals. If he had to guess, he'd say hired muscle. However that left the question who'd hired them. They couldn't be after money,  there was no point in demanding a ransom in his case, so it had to be for another reason that he'd be abducted. The most likely explanation suggesting itself to him was that it had something to do with the case he was working. After all, he might have made some enemies in the past, but not to the point where he was first poisoned and then kidnapped the next day without a very good reason. The two events were likely connected. So far, Jake had assumed that the poisoning was connected to the abduction he'd witnesses, but what if it was something else entirely? He ran his mind back over his last few cases, trying to figure our who'd want revenge on him and who'd be in a position to carry it out in this manner. NO one came to mind. Sure there were people who bore him no particular good will, in fact most of the people he knew would probably fall into that category, but there seemed to be no one likely to have him kidnapped in broad daylight. Whoever it was must have been following him for a while, otherwise, they wouldn't have known where to find him and Leslie. No one, as far as he knew had known that they were on their way to see Alonzo Sanchez at his cabin in the woods, save Leslie and himself.

They had been driving for at least twenty to thirty minutes when the SUV came to a stop. The engine was switched off and Jake could hear the sounds of car doors being opened and then slammed shut again a few seconds later, causing a jarring vibration.

For a while, nothing happened. Jake strained to hear something of what was going on outside, but could make out nothing. They had to have taken him somewhere off the beaten track, as he couldn't even hear any other cars driving by. The wait was so long that he was starting to wonder if they planning to simply abandon him in the middle of nowhere.

His thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of a cell phone, coming from where he was inside the trunk. He could actually feel it's faint vibration in the pocket of his leather jacket. How on earth had it gotten in there, he wondered. He definitely had had it the previous day, not after his father had taken it with him, so that he, as Mal had put it, didn't drive everyone crazy and instead got some actual rest. Well, that had worked out as planned, Jake thought sarcastically to himself as  he vainly tried to twist his arms far enough to reach the phone.