Seventeen minutes. A lot could happen to a person in seventeen minutes. Hondo knew he’d never make it in time. Even with his team close behind, he would never make it in time to save Jessica. Still, he kept driving pressing the accelerator past the safety limit wishing he could do more, knowing more would not be enough.
The closer he got the further away he felt; Hondo had gone to war with a man that relished in evil and his partner in crime was his darker mirror image hungry and eager to indulge his blood lust to prove his loyalty to a man who had been shaken by a cleverly crafted lie against him.
Jessica and the feds had spent nearly two years on a plan that seemed brilliant, and Herman had allowed himself to believe that Jessica was who she presented herself to be. After all, his arrogance had seduced him into believing that no one would dare come so close to bringing him down; he was too smart to be fooled. He’d killed lesser men and women to prove it.
Jessica Cortez was a force unto herself and Hondo knew that as well. That fact was what scared him the most. She was confident, too confident perhaps and it had worked against her this time.
Lauder Enterprises –
Herman Lauder stood by silently as Maurice carried Jessica’s limp body toward the elevator and down to the private executive parking area. From his Penthouse window, he watched his friend throw her into the trunk of his car. Just before getting behind the wheel, he glanced up at Herman and nodded. In that moment the two men renewed their allegiance to each other, and Maurice would work out the man’s forgiveness as he took the woman’s life.
He checked his watch; it wouldn’t be long before the feds and the police would come rushing through the doors. Herman hadn’t finished his work, there was still so much left to do to prove to his father that he was man enough to make the city pay for their misdeeds against him. Maurice had been the final piece to a puzzle that had taken years to construct and to cut into tight interlocking pieces. No one had been able to stop him before…until now.
Defeat was something that he had not planned on and even now he was still not ready to accept it. He wasn’t going to surrender; surrender was for losers. Herman took a moment to look around the office. He’d accomplished a lot some of it was even good; perhaps in the end that’s what he’d be remembered for. He stopped in front of an old picture from his college days. Picking it up he ran his fingers lightly across the two people smiling and remembering those times when he lived, really lived not having to be his father’s son and heir but just living a young man’s life away from home with a woman who didn’t care about the money, or family pedigree. The woman next to him merely loved him for him. His smile turned to sorrow as he replaced the picture and quickly left the office without looking back.
Even before pulling the door open, Hondo knew he would not find her but protocol and training insisted that he play it out and so he took the stairs two-by-two toward her office. Deacon split the team into twos sending them in separate directions in search of their former captain. It was quiet, too quiet, a fact that was a distraction that would only slow them down.
Hondo met his team in the large penthouse office which was also empty, and his heart sank.
“She’s not here Hondo!” Deacon reported sorrowfully.
“Yeah, yeah, I know.” He replied out of breath.
“Where would he take her?” Chris asked. It was hard to forget that Jessica had been more than her boss, she was a sister.
“I don’t know. They could be anywhere.”
Luca watched his friend struggling to keep it together in their presence. As long as they had worked together, Hondo had never let anyone too close, insisting that he was a rock and the self-appointed caregiver for the rest of them. Being promoted to Twenty-David made it even harder to crack the armor that concealed his humanness.
“Boss, are you okay?”
“We have to find her, Luca! I know what those men are capable of. I still have the scars!”
“We’ll find them, we’ll find her!”
Unknown location –
Jessica’s body slammed against the concrete floor. It was enough to jar her awake. Her eyes slowly opened, and her mind fought to adjust and react to what had happened…what was about to happen.
“Welcome back, agent!” He snarled in her ear. His hot breath burned against her face. “Good, good, I wouldn’t want you to miss any of this…so much fun…so much fun…” He chuckled.
Maurice leaned back against his knees and closed his eyes as he inhaled the dusty air and the anticipation of the next moments. She’d almost succeeded in destroying him; no one had been able to do that before. He was going to take great pride in making her pay. Her screams and suffering and blood would be enough to confirm in his mind that he was unstoppable.
Jessica closed her eyes again as the large man ran his rough hands down her arms. She could hear his thoughts and she wondered why evil men always deferred to their carnal power and need to dominate in such a vile way.
“Yes, you’ll enjoy it. At least you’ll try, right?”
She didn’t answer. She laid there pretending not to be affected as he undressed her, snickering as he removed her clothing piece by piece.
“That’s it, beg!” He moaned.
Then standing he looked down on her before walking away and then returning and dropping to his knees again. He loved it here, so quiet and private, no one around to hear or to object.
“You thought you had me didn’t you?” He asked, his hands trailing down her skin and then back. “You almost did too.”
“You won’t get away with this.” She didn’t sound as convincing as she wanted to.
“Why do you people always say that?” Leaning in he planted a wet kiss on her lips.
She felt a wave of nausea hit her and she tried to move but he pushed her back against the floor.
“Don’t worry, there’ll be time for this later. First, I need you to feel my pain; the pain of lies and betrayal…the pain of what happens when a bitch gets out of control!”
Lauder Enterprises –
“Hondo, I need you to head back to command, we have someone in custody that you might want to talk to.” Hicks ordered from the command center.
“I can’t come back, not until I find her!”
“Hondo you don’t know where to look! At least we can look from here.”
Deacon, Luca, Chris, Tan and Street, watched and waited for their orders. All of them were aware that time was not on their side.
“That’s an order Sergeant!” Hicks yelled.
“Wait! I think I know where he would take her.” Hondo began.
Hondo ran out of the building with the others close behind. There was only one place that Maurice would take a person who he wanted to spend time with, time hurting them…a place where no one would hear them scream.
Unknown location –
Her screams bounced off of the walls and danced with the sounds of his laughter as Maurice hit her again and again…and… again. He paused for a moment to catch his breath marveling at the damage he had caused to her body.
“I’m impressed. You’re quite resilient for someone so small.” He teased.
“Go to hell!” She mumbled. “Does this make you feel like a man?”
“Oh, hell yeah! It makes me feel like a man that’s going to make you pay!”
She watched him pull a cigar from his pocket and a lighter. Then with a smirk he placed the cigar between his lips and lit it, inhaling and then exhaling the smoke. Shaking her head as he came closer, knowing that things were about to get even worse.
“AHHHHH…..” She screamed.
“Oh yes, oh yes…” he moaned.
The smell of Cuban cigar and flesh choked her. Mercifully he removed the cigar and took another puff as he watched her squirm in pain.
“You owe me an apology.”
She could barely catch her breath to make sense of what the beast had just said.
“Did you hear me? You owe me an apology!”
Community Center –
Herman smiled when he saw the familiar number light up his phone. He killed the engine and opened the car door before answering.
“Sergeant Harrelson, to what do I owe this displeasure?”
“Where is she?” He yelled.
“I’m afraid I don’t know who…”
“Where did he take her, you sick son-of-a-bitch!”
The team continued to race toward the warehouse that had become Maurice’s quiet, private playground. Hondo was terrified imagining what was happening to her.
“You’ve lost Sergeant, you’ve lost!”
“Call him off, Lauder! I’ll kill you both if he hurts her!” Hondo promised.
“You know better than anyone, that he’s already hurt her. Remember Sergeant?” Lauder taunted.
“Don’t listen to him, boss!” Luca pleaded. “We already know where they are.”
“Sergeant, Sergeant, are you still there? By the way how are you feeling? Maurice can get…a little rough…and she’s such a tiny little thing.”
Hondo felt the rage and he was way beyond being able to control it. He felt the eyes of his team on him. Worry and questions were on their faces. Hondo ended the call determined to make Lauder, and Maurice pay for everything they’d done to him…to her…then the tears that he’d been so committed to control fell one by one by one.
(Photo credit: TVLine.com)
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