S.W.A.T. Headquarters – Morning –
Luca arrived earlier than usual hoping to catch Hondo before the others arrived. He noticed that his car was not in the lot, but he headed toward his office anyway. He wasn’t there; it was odd that he hadn’t arrived because he was always the first one in especially lately. No matter how hard his boss tried to hide it, Hondo was distracted; more than that, he was bothered, and Luca wished that he could get him to talk about it, but that wasn’t who Hondo was. His strength was bigger than his badge, which wasn’t always a good thing. It was too early to call Hondo and so Luca headed toward the locker room, maybe he would get a workout in before starting his day.
Community General Hospital –
Hondo stared at her still body; he hadn’t left her bedside since she’d been brought in last night. The doctor’s description of her injuries made his blood run cold and with each passing minute he vowed to make Herman Lauder pay for hurting her. This was his fault and Hondo wouldn’t rest until he made it right. He needed to let his team know that he’d be in later but for now he sat close watching her breathe and praying that she would wake up and forgive him for what he had done.
Hondo’s phone rang; it was a blocked number which normally he would not answer but this time he did.
“Did you get my message?”
“Who is this?”
Nia slowly began to moan and stir; Hondo stood and moved to the furthest part of the room so as not to wake her.
“Answer me, who is this!” Hondo repeated.
“You’ve been looking around in places that are none of your business! This is just a warning…stop looking!”
“I’m coming for you! Do you hear me you son-of-a-bitch! I’m coming for you and when I find you, you’ll…”
Then the line was dead, and Hondo glanced at Nia as the phone buzzed in his ear. He had to do something; the doctors had already told him that Nia could have been killed. He knew that the intention was not to kill her, it was to scare the hell out of him; and it did.
S.W.A.T. Headquarters –
Luca had managed to temporarily take his mind off of Hondo with a workout and a hot shower; just as he finished dressing the others joined him in the locker room. Chris and Street seemed to be in yet another one of their silly debates on dating and finding true love while Deacon followed close behind them shaking his head at the fact that neither one of them had a clue about real love. Luca glanced at his watch and frowned.
“Glad you all could join the rest of us hard working folks this morning!” Luca joked.
“Oh, come on Luca; we know why you’re here all early.” Street countered back.
“And why is that Street?”
“Because it takes a lot longer to get those bones moving these days!” He laughed.
“Are you calling me old, youngster?”
Luca jumped up and grabbed Street placing him in a playful choke hold. Street, pretending to be in distressed pleaded for help from his younger partner.
“Okay, okay, enough is enough!” Deacon began. “Besides, Luca and I have already done more work this morning than you two will do all day!”
“Yeah okay, okay we’ll see about that.” Chris chuckled. “By the way, where’s Hondo? His car wasn’t here when we pulled in?”
“What? What do you mean his car isn’t here?” Luca checked his watch again.
“Maybe he decided to sleep in; relax he’ll be here.” Deacon answered.
Deacon watched Luca pull his phone from his pocket to make a call. He noticed that Luca seemed worried. While Chris and Street returned to their conversation, Deacon turned his attention to his friend.
“Are you calling Hondo?”
“Yeah.” Luca slid the phone into his pocket and continued getting dressed. “It went straight to voicemail.”
“Come on Luca, Hondo’s been putting in a lot of hours here lately, maybe he’s decided to take a few hours back and sleep in.”
“Maybe, I don’t know, it’s just…never mind.”
“No, no, what’s going on; talk to me.”
“I don’t know, maybe I’m being paranoid, you know too many years on the job, always having to have our heads on a swivel and never taking anything for chance.” He rambled.
“Hold up, stop! Tell me what’s going on.”
“Remember that case we had the other day; at the bakery?”
“Sure, of course.”
“There was this guy there, watching us, like every move we made watching us especially Hondo.”
“Okay, so we have a fan so what?”
“No man, I’m telling you this dude has been in the crowd at our last three cases! I’ve seen him and he’s watching Hondo like…”
“Like he’s taking mental notes of his every move, it’s crazy!”
“Maybe he’s a reporter; there’s always one around waiting for us to slip up, especially now with what’s going on the country.”
“Maybe, I just have a bad feeling about this; a very bad feeling.”
Office of Herman Lauder –
Maurice strolled into the office with two large coffee cups. He knew instantly that his boss was upset because he was standing in front of his window staring at nothing in particular while absentmindedly twirling his Montblanc pin between his fingers. He could see fire in his eyes as he slowly turned to face him.
“Large Americano with a double shot.” Maurice announced placing a cup on the desk.
“What’s up? You look like you’re ready to get things popping early!”
“That…that fool threatened me. He had the nerve to threaten ME!”
Maurice took a seat and waited he knew there was more and there was no use in trying to calm him down; in fact, he like seeing him heated because it meant he’d get to have more fun inflicting pain on some poor unsuspecting victim.
“He’s coming after me; like he’s calling the shots! Is this man crazy? Does he really want to know what I can do?”
“I know you’re upset but think about it this way; you got his attention and that is what you wanted, right?”
Herman took a sip of his coffee and exhaled seeming to relax a bit at the thought.
“Yeah maybe you’re right; he was pretty pissed! But I don’t take kindly to being threatened.”
“And that’s why you have me. Listen Herman this man is no match for you because he doesn’t know how or when you’ll strike next. So the less you talk the less he knows, right?”
The two men sat in silence for several minutes enjoying there early morning brew. They were the most unlikely best friends both willing to do anything for the other even if it meant losing their lives.
“I was just thinking.” Herman began again. “Maybe it’s time to pay Sgt. Daniel Harrelson a visit; up close and personal.”
“Now you’re talking.”
S.W.A.T. Headquarters –
Deacon wasn’t convinced that Luca’s onlooker was a threat to Hondo or the rest of the team, but he knew his friend and he knew that Luca was a man who had survived on his instincts. He’d grown up in a family of SWAT officers and he was the best. So, if he was worried about a possible threat to any of them, it was worth checking out.
Deacon assembled the team including Hicks and now video from their last three cases were displayed on the large screens around the room. One by one the videos were examined and then frozen on the shots where the mystery man appeared. Their database matched the stranger as one who had a very long association with the law.
“Maurice Jamison, entered the system at an early age with several arrests for petty crimes that eventually graduated to assault and battery, attempted murder and terroristic threats.” Tan began.
“Nice guy.” Chris chimed in.
“So, what’s his connection to Hondo?” Hicks asked.
“There is none in fact, he’s originally from New York and moved here about twenty years ago to take a job with a big real estate developer. He’s listed as his security specialist and personal assistant.” Tan continued.
“Interesting combination. Who’s the developer?” Deacon asked.
“The Herman Lauder? Luca asked.
“The one and only.” Tan answered.
Community General Hospital – Afternoon –
Hondo was relieved when Nia finally opened her eyes. He stood and gently took her hand in his. She grimaced as she tried to talk.
“Hondo.” She whispered.
“I’m right here. How are you feeling?”
“Like I just did ten rounds with Mike Tyson; the young one, not the old one, I could probably hold my own with the old one.” She tried to laugh but grimaced again in pain.
“Take it easy. Did you see who did this?”
“No, he had on a ski mask and gloves.”
She saw the look in his eyes, the guilt and the knowing that he was the cause of her being here. She wanted to console him, but the pain was too much, and she wanted to blame him too but she knew that she couldn’t.
“Nia, I’m sorry this is my fault and I won’t rest until I find the man who did this!”
“Stop, please. Listen to me.” She took a breath against the pain. “He had a message for you.”
“He said, stop looking! Hondo, what’s going on?”
(photo credit: pinterest.com)