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Secrets, Lies and Private Eyes

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oOo



Leslie hadn't meant to fall asleep but eventually pain, exhaustion and blood loss had won out over her weakening resolve. Even though she had only planned on lying down and closing her eyes for a few moments, she must have dozed off. The next thing she knew, Sydney was standing over her and daylight was shining through the gaps in the shutters of the window. She definitely had been asleep for more than a few minutes, she realized in alarm before turning her attention back to her captor.

"Good to see you're awake, I was afraid I was going to have to wake you up after all," Sydney said. "We have big plans for today," he added cryptically.

Leslie didn't answer. She levered herself up into a sitting position instead, carefully cataloging every ache and pain in her abused body. If anything sleeping seemed to have made the pain worse and what little relief the tablet of paracetamol she had taken the night before had offered had long since faded again. It felt like she had been run over by a car, which in retrospect wasn't too far from the truth. She had been hit by one after all, plus she had been beaten and shot. It was a minor miracle she had slept has well as she had. Still ignoring Sydney, she glanced at the bandage encircling the wound on her upper left arm. Dried blood was visible on it, but the wound had clearly stopped bleeding hours ago. Blood loss wasn't going to kill her, of that she was fairly certain. However the dull throbbing pain didn't reassure her in slightest. Her fears of the previous night that the wound was becoming infected appeared to be confirmed. And also there was still the possibility that bone had been splintered by the bullet as well.


It was then that Sydney broke in on her thoughts. "You better get changed." Leslie look up half alarmed, half curious at what Sydney might have meant by that. She had hardly noticed before, but now her gaze fell upon the shopping bag that he carried with him. The label proclaimed it to be from one of the local department stores.

God help him if he had brought lingerie, Leslie thought, but Sydney was already pulling out the contents of the bag and much to her relief, it contained nothing of the kind. Instead, he produced a pair of sand-coloured slacks, a matching jacket as well as a light blue blouse.

When Leslie didn't react, Sydney went on. "Come on now, you wouldn't want to frighten poor Jake."

At that Leslie could only stare at him. What on earth did Jake have to do with whatever Sydney had planned for her? Jake was dead. It was because of him that she was doing this and as bitter the irony was, Leslie had to recognized that Jake had managed to land her in more trouble dead than he had ever done when he was alive.

Sydney suddenly laughed. "You don't know, do you?"

"Know what?" Leslie demanded sharply.

Sydney continued to laugh as if the situation was the most hilarious thing ever. "And they make me out to be the villain in this!"

Leslie had to hold on to every shred of self control she had not to get up and force an answer out of Sydney. Not that she would have been able to in her present condition.

"Jake Doyle is alive," Sydney spat. "Your copper friends only put out the story that he'd been killed. Guess they neglected to fill you in?"

The shock at this revelation was immediately joined by the faint sting of betrayal at having been kept in the dark, even though she rationally understood the need for secrecy in such a situation.


Leslie would have loved to deny the truth of Sydney's words, but her reaction had made it obvious that Jake's survival was news to her, always presuming that Sydney could be trusted. However she could see no reason for him to lie to her about Jake's survival, given how much he probably wanted him dead. Plus, telling her that Jake had survived meant that Sydney and his goons had failed, something he probably wasn't too keen on admitting. That brought up a fresh, unwelcome train of thought. If Sydney knew that Jake's death had been a ruse then Jake was in great danger. Sydney was sure to try again to have him killed if only to prevent him from giving evidence in court.


"I take your silence as a yes," Sydney went on. "But don't worry, you'll have your chance to get back at them. You are going to kill Jake."


Leslie had been on the verge of an angry retort, but for the second time in as many minutes, she was speechless. Finally, her brain managed to catch up with the rapid development of events and she managed to speak: "You're insane!" she exclaimed. "I'm not going to harm Jake, no matter what you do to me, so just forget about it."


"Oh, I'm not going to hurt you, Leslie," Sydney said with a gentleness that sent shivers down her spine. "You simply won't have any choice whatsoever. You see, if you don't kill Jake, a lot of innocent people are going to die. However if you chose to comply like the good little public servant that you are, he'll be the only victim," Sydney paused for a moment. "Now, get dressed, we wouldn't want to be late." There was new a hardness in his voice that Leslie had never noticed before. It was as if he had made up his mind. As to what, she had no idea. Swiftly, Sydney bent down and unlocked the handcuff around her right wrist and without another word, he left the room, locking the room behind him.


Leslie sat on the bed, her mind reeling from the revelations of the past ten minutes. Any joy she might have felt at the news that Jake was alive was suppressed by the dilemma she was facing. There was no doubt in her mind that she and Jake were going to die that day if Sydney had his way, no matter what she decided to do. He probably only wanted her to be the one to do it just to torture her. But that didn't make a lot of sense, not based on his behavior so far. If he wanted to torture her, he had had plenty of opportunity since the previous night. And yet, Sydney had left her alone most of the time. Urgent business elsewhere, maybe?


Leslie didn't understand Sydney's motives at all. On one hand, Sydney had her pegged fairly well. He knew that threatening to kill innocent people was the only way to get her to even consider having any part in a murder. Yet on the other hand, his creepy advances showed that he had no insight into her psyche whatsoever, especially if he thought that she would ever change loyalties. That was another thing. Only the previous day had he talked about her joining him in his criminal doings and today he was happily talking about her dying. It all confused her to no end. If only she could figure him out, then maybe, there would be a way out of this. But right now, he just seemed to be all over the map to her and she had no idea what she could do or say that would persuade him to change his plans, provided that there was anything in her power that could accomplish that.


oOo


In the end, Leslie had decided to change into the clothes provided by Sydney. Now that her right hand was no longer attached to a chain fastened to the radiator, she actually was able to do so. While she was changing, she mulled over her options. She doubted that being free of the chain would give her any advantage. Sydney was bound to compensate for her increased freedom by some other means. If he chose to aim a gun at her, she would only have two options, either comply or allow him to kill her. For now, complying seemed to be the smarter option. Assuming that Jake was in hospital, then there might be a chance for her to escape or warn someone when they got there. Sydney would not be able to completely isolate her there, nor would he be able to openly threaten her in public. Part of her wondered how credible his threat of killing innocent people really was and if it was serious, how he was going to go about it. But all pondering wouldn't be of any use, she would just have to stay sharp and wait for things to develop.


oOo


Indeed, Leslie did not have to wait long for developments. She had barely changed into the new clothes the size of which Sydney had guessed with rather unsettling accuracy, safe for the jacket which was a size too large, when the man himself returned. Much as Leslie had predicted, he was armed. But it wasn't a gun he was carrying. It was much, much worse than that. He was carrying a vest strapped with what looked like enough plastic explosive to blow up a small building, the entire thing wired to explode. Suddenly, Leslie had a very good idea of how Sydney was going to realize his threat. If he had somehow been able to plant a bomb somewhere in a well frequented place, then he might very well be able to kill any number of people at the push of a button if she didn't go through with killing Jake.

"Here, put that on underneath the jacket," Sydney ordered. When Leslie made no move to comply, he added. "Don't worry, I'm not going to blow you up. At least not if you stick to the plan and follow my orders down to the letter. The vest is merely insurance on my part, to make sure that there are no loose ends, even if you do decided to try and trick me." Sydney stepped in close, running the barrel of his gun along the outline of her face. "But you wouldn't do that, would you now? Not with the lives of all those people at stake. You see, I had an associate of mine plant a bomb in a well frequented location - and no I'm not going to tell you where, just in case - which I will detonate if you don't kill Jake Doyle."

"You're insane!" the words escape Leslie without thought. There was nothing else that came to mind when confronted with such a crazy scheme.

"Maybe, but you have to admit it's pretty clever," Sydney said arrogantly. "And to make sure you don't get any ideas, I got this," he pulled a small microphone and earpiece from his pocket. "That way I will know if you try to warn anyone. You do and I will detonate both bombs."

TBC