Half an hour had passed since Leslie had arrived at the hospital and her patience was rapidly running out. She had tolerated, mostly because she kept blinking out, the x-rays, but after it had been established that she had suffered no broken bones, Leslie had decided that it was time to turn her attention to more urgent matters such as the question of what had happened to Jake.
"I strongly advise against it," the doctor, probably some poor overworked and underpaid intern, was telling her, no doubt referring to her decision to forgo further treatment.
"I understand," Leslie said through gritted teeth as she struggled to put her jacket - torn and blood stained as it - was back on. Her head and neck still hurt like hell, but as a spinal injury had been ruled out and the concussion she'd suffered had been pronounced mild, she was determined to not waste any more precious time being poked and prodded by doctors. "Just give me the forms I need to sign," she said.
The doctor looked like he was going to protest, but one look from Leslie silenced him and he hurried from the room, presumably to go fetch the forms for her discharge.
She used the opportunity to root around her jacket pocket for her cell phone an was relieved to find it intact. First, she dialed Jake's cell phone number. While she still hoped that there was an innocent explanation of how and why Jake had vanished from the site of the accident, in her heart she knew that Jake wouldn't have willingly abandoned her when she was injured. So it was no great surprise that her call wasn't answered and eventually went to voice mail. Next she called Hood. Likely as not, the police had probably been alerted to the accident, but calling her partner would be the fasted way of getting a search for Jake under way.
"Bennett?" Hood asked.
"Yes, listen, I need your help. I've been a car accident. I think someone ran me off the road and.."
"Are you all right?" Hood interrupted her.
"I'll be fine," Leslie said, hoping it wasn't an outright lie. "I'm at the hospital right now. I need you to trace Jake Doyle's phone."
"What's Doyle got to do with this?"
"He was in then car with me when we were run off the road. I already tried calling him and his phone is still on, but he isn't answering."
"I don't know," Leslie said with no small amount of exasperation. "All I know is that he was in the car with me, but when I came to after the accident, he was gone."
There was a moment of silence on the other end of the line.
"Do you know who ran you off the road?" Hood asked.
"No, but it was a black SUV. I couldn't see the driver, but I got the registration number," Leslie dictated the number to Hood. At that moment, the doctor returned to the room, a bunch of papers in hand. He looked at her sternly when he saw what she was doing.
"There are no cell phones allowed in here," he admonished her sharply.
"I have to go now," Leslie told her partner. "I'll call you back as soon as I can." Leslie ended the call before Hood had a chance to reply. "So, where do you need me to sign?" she asked the doctor.
As soon as she was clear of the hospital building, Leslie pulled out her cell phone again and hit re-dial. It had taken longer than she liked for her discharge to be finalized and she was anxious to hear what Hood had uncovered. Leaning against a wall for support, a she still felt rather dizzy, Leslie listened to what her partner had to say.
"I've gotten on to the officers working the accidents scene and they are looking for Doyle right now, just in case he wandered off. Meanwhile, I had his cell traced and according to the GPS it's currently about fifteen miles from where you were run of the road, off an access roads out in the woods. I'm on my way there now with a couple of guys from uniform."
"Thanks" was all Leslie could manage. She knew that it was highly possible that whoever had taken Jake had simply ditched his phone to avoid being traced, but at least it was a start and gave them a place where they could begin looking.
"Oh and the SUV was reported stolen this morning from a garage in town," Hood added. "I'll call you back when I know something, okay?"
"Yeah," Leslie didn't relish the passive role she had been relegated to, but she wouldn't trust herself to get behind the wheel right now. Not that she could as her car was lying wrecked in a ditch somewhere, Leslie realized belatedly. Maybe she really was concussed. Leslie stifled a mirthless laugh at the thought. She probably better take a cab.
Leaving the support offered by the wall behind, Leslie made her way to the taxi stand near the entrance. She wasn't very steady on her feet, but enough not to fall straight on her face. Still, she was glad when she made into the cab and was able to lean back against the worn upholstery. When the driver asked her where she wanted to go, Leslie was about to give station's address but at the last second, sh chanced her mind and gave Malachy Doyle's address instead. If Jake really was missing, she wanted to give his family the news.
Jake was sure that the two goons had to have abandoned him to his fate, when the trunk was suddenly opened. The man staring down at Jake was wearing a ski mask and sunglasses, completely obscuring his face. Still, based on his build, Jake didn't think it was one of the two men from earlier. This one seemed slimmer, less muscled than other of the men who'd kidnapped him. However like these two, he also had a gun.
"Get out," he ordered.
Jake attempted to comply, but the task was no easy one with both arms tied behind his back and his injured shoulder was only adding insult to injury. When he was too slow her his captures taste, the man grabbed him roughly by one arm. As luck would have it, it was the arm on his injured side. The harsh tug send Jake reeling with the pain that was tearing through his body. The actions did however give him Jake an opening. His legs hadn't been tied by his captors, leaving him able to land a solid to the gunman's chin. There hadn't been much force behind the kick due to his awkward position, but the relative desperation of his situation had mobilized strengths he hadn't realized he had. As soon as his boot connected with the man's chin, he let go of Jake, grunting in pain. He did not however lose grip of his gun, but the pain momentarily kept him from aiming properly and the shot he fired went wide, missing Jake by several feet.
Jake scrambled to get out of the trunk, trying to make use of the momentary distraction, but in the end he simply wasn't fast enough. The gunman recovered too quickly. He savagely backhanded Jake with the gun, sending stars across his vision. Before Jake had gotten his bearings back, he was being dragged from the car. The man wasn't very powerful and moving Jake like this had to be hard work for him. Jake ended up face first on the ground. Breathing in the scent of dust and earth, Jake was still slightly dazed from the hit he'd suffered to the face when his captor started rifling through his pockets.
"Hey!" Jake protested, "You-" but the witty repartee was lost when he was struck once again with the butt of the gun.
"Keep your mouth shut!" his captor advised. Jake was only peripherally aware of the pockets of his jacket and jeans being emptied and the contents being tossed into the undergrowth bordering on the dirt road on either side.
"On your feet."
At least the guy was kind enough to pull him up by his good arm thus time, Jake thought wearily as he staggered forward. He was still dazed from having been hit twice in the head in such quick succession, but he was nonetheless keenly aware of the gun poking in his back. The goals was their trek was soon obvious. About fifty meters further down the dirt access road, there was a second vehicle parked. It was also an SUV, charcoal gray and spattered liberally with mud. Someone clearly drove off road a lot, Jake surmised, attempting to take in as many details of possible. There was no license plate on the rear end of the car. Once again it looked like he was destined to ride on the trunk when the man unlocked the trunk and opened it.
"I get it, no need to get violent-" Jake began hoping to forestall another blow, when a felt a sharp prick to his upper arm. Looking to the side, he saw the villain withdrew a syringe and toss it aside.
"Just in case you get any more ideas," the man said in way of an explanation, chuckling to himself.
The drug, whatever it was, was kicking in very fast. Jake felt his knees buckle under him. A pair of arms must have caught him, as he never hit the ground. The rapidly dimming world suddenly tilted around him and before he had chance to process that new development, everything went dark.