Ties That Bind
By Peg Keeley


Part 2

The large fireplace was filled with flaming logs that turned the hearth into a blazing inferno. There was no other light in the room. The brilliant firelight danced unevenly across the highly polished wood floor and dark oak walls. There was a single old armchair the color of which was impossible to discern by existing light. Heavy velvet drapes were hung across the two high windows, perhaps more to keep out the cold than the outside light. They effectively did both. Lincoln Adair stood before the hearth dressed in a floor length maroon robe, a cup of something hot in his left hand, right arm leaning against the mantel.

The effect was impressive and clearly staged, Danny decided analytically. The ruler of the castle -- lion in his lair.

Lincoln only half way turned to face him as Danny approached. "The matter of Audrey," the old actor said bluntly. "I wish you to follow it. Be sure these small time sleuths are doing their job."

Danny cocked an eyebrow. He and Adair had not met in over 40 years and this was the hello. "I'd hardly call the FBI 'small time.'"

"Hum." Adair turned back to the fireplace for took a drink. "Your opinion is of no matter -- I paid your way here to have your ability and expertise. If it is money you want, name your price."

Danny bit his lip to keep from snapping back. Instead he said calmly, "I came because I might be able to prove comfort to Juliet."

"Juliet," Lincoln sneered. "If she had not been an unfit mother, this would not have happened. I insisted Audrey remain here -- protected. Juliet foolishly left anyway."

"I can understand that," Danny replied quietly.

Lincoln whirled back to face him full, even though they were still ten feet apart. There was simmering rage in his eyes as he stood in silence a moment, sizing up Danny. Adair gave a flash of a grin. "Well, time, I see, doesn't change everything." He shrugged, as though conceding that his show had not intimidated Williams. "Very well. Detective O'Keefe is expecting you shortly. Kenneth will drive you down after you have breakfast."

"I can drive myself."

"Kenneth will drive you. I assume you will also want to interrogate Juliet and the day care director."

Danny picked his words with care. "I came here to offer whatever help I could. I will not interfere with the investigation just because of who you are."

"I did not ask you to." Lincoln replied. He took another drink and noticed Gideon at the door holding a tray. "Aha, breakfast!" He gestured to the small table beside the chair and to the straight-backed chair near the four-posted bed. "Come, join me." Lincoln crossed the room, then eased himself slowly down into the soft chair, his ninety-three years showing.

Danny moved the straight chair to the table, hating every moment. The last thing he wanted to do was to be trapped in here with Lincoln Adair. He fought with himself.

He's an old man. Humor him. He probably regrets the past.

Regrets? Adair takes great pleasure in stepping on others to have his way. He sucks the very life out of others. He tried to do that to Aunt Clara -- to me. Now he's going to try again.

He's just an old man who's afraid he'll lose a little girl he cares about -- but he's too proud to admit it.

The kinder voice won out as Danny sat down on the straight chair.

"Well, then." Lincoln picked up a muffin and spread jam. "Gideon tells me you were checking out my photo collection. What do you think?"

Danny blinked at the change of subject. The memory of the painful photos suddenly washed over him. "You've gone to a lot of trouble. Clara would have loved it." Clara would have hated it. She'd have called him a meddling old bastard.

"She saw it -- once. It was much smaller then, of course. She would send me updates occasionally. It is still incomplete."


"I have never seen your son."


"Lonnie. Gideon tells me you brought him with you. I am glad. I have wanted to see him."

"I guess you shall." Danny felt suddenly uncomfortable in a way he never would have in Hawaii. "I can show you his picture." He pulled out his wallet and removed Lonnie's latest school photo. For the first time ever, Danny felt a need to make someone understand that his son was not white. He detested Lincoln and New York. I want to go back to the Islands -- not go back -- flee back. Lincoln was sitting there, awaiting the picture. Danny slowly passed it over.

Lincoln squinted at it critically in the dim light; took the time to get out his glasses and put them on. "Hum." He glanced at Danny. "Well, I suppose you made sure he was yours."

Danny resisted the urge to punch a ninety-three year old man. "I'm not even going to dignify that with an answer," he remarked. He rose from the table. "I'll let you know when I have something to report."

He left the room


Danny left Kenneth and the silver Mercedes at the curb and walked up the old concrete steps into the brick police station. He knew that O'Keefe would already have noticed the ex-detective delivered by chauffeur. That was not going to help.

The sergeant on the city desk looked up as he entered. "May I help you?" The man looked bored.

"Detective O'Keefe, please," Danny asked.

There was a gleam of humor in the beer-bellied sergeant's eye. "Hey, Ian, your -- partner is here!"

There were about ten desks scattered around the large room. Detective O'Keefe rose from one and motioned Danny over.

Danny quickly assessed that O'Keefe and his very Irish features of bushy red hair and eyebrows, height of easily six foot three inches and weight approaching two hundred twenty could be a formidable foe -- or friend. He was aware O'Keefe must be doing the same as he came over.

O'Keefe collapsed back at his desk and pulled a chair over for Danny. "Coffee?"

"No thanks. Look, before anything else: I don't want you to think I'm here to second guess you or look over your shoulder. I wouldn't tolerate that myself."

O'Keefe raised a hand to silence him. "Relax, Williams. In the old days I wold probably have raise a holy fit about something like this, but --" he shrugged and leaned back putting his hands behind his neck "--to be honest, neither you or I can change this. We'd might as well get along. We're short staffed in this office anyway. Nobody's had a partner here in over two years. So, I'm gonna be privileged. Besides, I checked you out."


"Not bad at all. I don't understand why you gave up a real career for changing diapers for a bunch of college brats, but -- hey that's your life." Before Danny could say anything Ian added, "I just want to two things."

"They are?"

"First -- lose the driver. Second -- I get credit for arrests."

Danny offered his hand and they shook.

O'Keefe pulled out a file and flipped it open. "Juliet Harven went to the Days Dream daycare to get her eight year old daughter, Audrey, two days ago and the child wasn't there. Day care worker, Marianne Towns, claims to have sent the child out to the mother's car an hour before."

"Towns never saw the mother in the car? Was she certain of the car?"

"Juliet Harven drives the only blue BMW beamer in town. Mom says she doesn't know anyone who'd abduct the child. There's been no ransom demands. Child's father is deceased. Because of the connection between Lincoln Adair, we have to conclude it's possible there is a money motive."

"How well known is it that he's got a pseudo grandfather role? They aren't blood relatives," Danny commented.

"If it wasn't well known before the kidnapping, it certainly is now," Ian supplied. "Look, I'm tied up here this morning. Why don't you go up to Juliet's place, talk with her and the daycare people again. Get your impressions and we can compare notes this afternoon."


Lonnie was awake and dressed when Danny returned to the Adair estate. After convincing Kenneth quietly to turn over the keys to the Mercedes, Danny had to face the harder challenge: that of keeping Lonnie home.

"I wanna come," the boy pouted.

"Lonnie, you knew I had to check some things out here."

"I could help you!" He implored.

"Oh yeah," Danny said sarcastically.

"Come on, Dad. You've been tellin' me detective stuff all my life. This is my first real chance to help -- and nothing can go wrong. Aunt Juliet is family, so I could meet her, right?" His look was hopeful.

Danny sighed.

Sensing his father yielding, Lonnie pushed just a little harder. "Isn't it better than sitting in front of my Gameboy all day?" He waved the little device. "Here." He laid it on the table in the foyer. "Okay?"

Danny cracked a grin. "Okay, get your coat."


The first stop was the day care. Danny asked questions of the workers and director, looked at the building lay out and listened to the Towns explain how the beamer had pulled into the portico, honked, and she had sent Audrey to the car.

"Audrey never looked back," the woman said wringing her hands. "No indication. She opened the door, got in."

"You saw that?" Danny asked.

"I-- I think so. There were so many children we were trying to get ready. I can't be certain. But I would have noticed something wrong." Her look was that of someone wanted to be believed and terrified.


As they left the daycare, headed towards Juliet's home Danny asked Lonnie, "So, Sherlock, what do you think?"

Lonnie was pleased to be part of the excitement and put on a grown up look. "I think she's hiding something. She kept twisting her hands and all like she was scared."

"Yeah, scared of getting sued," Danny remarked. "Anything else?"

"Well, they didn't have new workers. Nobody stopped coming to work. My guess is everybody's clean," Lonnie replied trying to look sophisticated.

Danny gave a small grin at Lonnie's attempt. "Okay."

"So?" Lonnie looked puzzled. "I don't get it."

"Get what?"

"What happened to her?"

"That's what we are trying to find out, Lonnie. It takes time. Now, what is the first question you ask yourself in an investigation?"

Lonnie's face brightened. He knew the answer and fired back. "Who profits!"

"Yeah," Danny agreed proudly. "So, here -- who profits?"

Lonnie scowled. "Not that day care. Nobody probably wants their kids there anymore. So, I guess the people who kidnapped Audrey profit when they get money to return her."

"Except there haven't been any ransom demands," Danny reminded him.

"I don't get it," Lonnie repeated, sounding defeated.

"Neither does anyone else," Danny said in comfort. He turned the Mercedes up before a small white frame house. There was one squad car out front, a black car in the driveway. Juliet's small blue sports car was in front of the garage.

They rang the bell and a serious young man in a white shirt and tie answered the door.

"Dan Williams for Juliet Harven," he told the FBI agent.

Juliet came up behind. "Oh!" she exclaimed. "Danny, is that you?"

He would not have known her either. Aside from Christmas card exchanges, they had not seen each other in twenty years. "Juliet, you look well," he told her politely, but it was plain to see she was under tremendous strain.

"Thank you for coming." She showed him back to the kitchen.

Lonnie lingered near the table with the phone and wiretap the FBI had assembled in the living room.

"Juliet, would you mind gong through this again for me?" Danny asked.

She brought over two cups of hot tea and they sat down at the small kitchen table. "It's a night mare. Just when we were starting to make it work. It was just coming together. I don't know what to say." Tears brimmed Juliet's eyes. "Why is this happening?"

Danny looked into her blue eyes. "We are going to answer this; we will find Audrey, I promise." He glanced at the childish artwork stuck by magnets to the front of the refrigerator. There was a small homemade diploma for cutest teddy bear contest. Kind of looks like my kitchen. "What about people you might have met -- who might have met Audrey?"

She blew on her tea as she thought. "Audrey is my whole life, Danny. When she was born, I dedicated myself to her totally. I didn't work, never even hired a babysitter. I tried too hard to do it right by her. When Bruce died, I didn't want to go to work." She wiped a tear with a tissue. "Lincoln offered for us to live with him." She stopped, then went on in a whisper. "No one but you could possibly understand that. It was like selling my soul."

"How long were you there?"

"Four years. Four long years of that suffocating power." She shivered. "Audrey loves him more than me. He began to use her against me."

"In what way?" he asked, his attention gripped. He hoped Lonnie would stay out of the room.

"To torture me. He'd tell her I was no good. I should do this, shouldn't do that. She was buying into it all. We moved out five months ago and it was the worst scene ever. Lincoln literally stood on the balcony of that old house shrieking at the top of his lungs. I thought he'd have a stroke on the spot." She gave a wry smile. "Would have done us all a favor. Audrey kicked and fought me all the way out to the car. For two weeks she kept trying to run away. We were a mess and I was so scared I would lose my child." More tears crept down her cheeks. "I got to her to a shrink. We both went. It's taken this long for things to start to come together."

"Juliet," he said quietly, "could Audrey have run away now?"

"I don't see how. What about the car? Where would she go?" She stared at her cousin. "Oh, no, you don't think...."

He shrugged. "Adair is certainly capable of renting a blue beamer, buying one for that matter."

Juliet's color was pallid. "You think Lincoln....?"

"Just a thought, Juliet," he cautioned. "How had Audrey been the last week?"

Juliet looked a little uncomfortable. "We were doing well, we really were. We were finally started to do well...."

"Did you tell the police all this?"

"Oh, of course not, Danny. This is family business."

He stared at her in shock. Family business? Dear God, is this why Adair called me here? He's got that child somewhere in that big mansion and needs me to steer the law away while he negotiates with Juliet.? I'd rather throw his aged ass in jail. And Juliet? "May I talk to Audrey's psychiatrist?"

As she opened her mouth to speak, the phone rang. An agent stuck his head in the kitchen door. "Get it out here," he told Juliet.

She hurried to the phone as it rang again. On the third ring, she picked it up, nervously licking her lips. "Hello?" she said at a near whisper.

The young man's voice was hushed. "I'll say this once. You want your girl, you leave three hundred thousand under the park bench closest to the river overlook in the park at four o'clock today." There was a click as he hung up.

"Not long enough," the agent muttered.

Juliet turned to face Danny, her face white as chalk.


O'Keefe had parked as closed as he dared halfway into a six foot high rhododendron shrub. They could see the bench where Juliet would leave the ransom, but the sun was setting soon and the light would fail quickly. Positioned carefully around the park were three other cars of Nyack and FBI personnel, but no one had the bird's eye view he and Danny did.

Danny consulted his watch. "She ought to be here any second."

"She should have let us use of police woman," O'Keefe grumbled.

"We tried to convince her," Danny reminded him. "She wouldn't give in."

"Stubborn to a fault," O'Keefe muttered. "I hear that runs in her family."

Lonnie sat in the back seat, transfixed. He'd never been permitted into an investigation before and to now be on a stakeout as well was exciting. He'd seen his share of cop shows and listened to enough of Uncle Steve's tales. He knew that many times the long waits were not rewarded at all.

"You know what was missing on that tape?" O'Keefe remarked.

"What?" Danny asked. He thought they'd played it so much he had not only memorized the man's voice and instructions, but where the voice had even taken breaths.

"He never said anything about coming alone, how the money should be bagged, you know, all that stuff," Ian observed.

Danny shrugged and dug himself deeper into his coat trying to get warm. "Maybe he didn't care. He has to know the police are already involved."

"Yeah, just seems a little odd," Ian remarked. "After going to all the trouble to get a vehicle like the mother's."

"Here she comes!" Lonnie announced as Juliet appeared on the sidewalk across the lawn headed for the bench.

She walked evenly, straight for the bench without looking to the right or left. The sun had been out earlier in the day, melting the snow off the walkways. Now, as the sun dropped to the west and shadows lengthened, the wet cement began to form puddles of ice. She stopped in front of the bench and looked out across the river. It was nearly frozen over, but the Hudson was a formidable body of quickly moving water, the center of the slushy water kept flowing towards the sea. She just stared at it.

"What's she doing?" Lonnie whispered.

"I don't know," Ian mumbled, wishing she'd just make the drop and move off.

His radio crackled. "What's happening, O'Keefe?" came a voice.

"She's just standing there with the money," he answered.

Juliet remained where she was, eyes on the river, little vaporous puffs of breath coming from her half-open mouth as she watched the water.

"She's losing her nerve," Danny muttered.

"It's after four, we've got to get her out of there," Ian commented.

"Well, we can't exactly go walking up without blowing our cover," came the voice of the FBI man back.

"I know something we can try," Danny said quietly. Dare I suggest this? Dare I risk my son like this? There really is not much risk to him. Nevertheless...

"Well?" O'Keefe was looking at him,

Danny glanced at Lonnie in the back seat. "How good is your pitching arm, Sport?"

Lonnie burst into a wide grin. "Yeah, dad!" He nearly jumped over the front seat.

O'Keefe looked skeptical. "What? You wanna send a kid in there?"

"One well aimed snowball ought to do it," Danny replied, hoping he was right.

"I can't take the responsibility for-" the Nyack officer started.

"Lonnie, just-

He was already out of the car. "Don't worry, I know what to do. Just leave it to me!" Lonnie said in his grownup voice. Before he could be called back, he disappeared.

Ian glanced around. "Where did he go?"

Danny gave a wry expression. "He's a ten year old kid. They're good at that."

Lonnie slipped through the shrubs, unaccustomed to the snow that quickly melted into his shoes and made his feet cold. He knew that in it was already starting to get dark much quicker that it did in Hawaii and the police would want to be able to see the person who came for the money, so he needed to move quickly. He did not like the wet and the cold. Why would anyone want to live here? No flowers, no birds, the sun is not here most of the time. He stepped out of the bushes and ran across the open lawn, leaving footprints in the fresh snow. Funny, at dusk the snow looks sort of blue. He made a snowball like Gideon had shown him that morning and pitched it against the side of a tree. He ran a few more paces, made and pitched another against a different tree.

"What's he doin'?" Ian grumbled.

"Just watch," Danny replied with a grin.

Lonnie got closer and closer to Juliet, throwing his snowballs this way and that till he was too close to miss, then made a good sized one and pitched it right into the back of Juliet's head.

She gasped and turned, dropping the canvas bag.

"Sorry!" Lonnie called. "It was an accident."

"You little moron!" she shouted angrily, trying to dig the snow out of her hair. Instead it slid down her collar and her back.

"I'm really sorry. I guess you'd better tell my dad what I did, huh?"

Juliet finally seemed to come back. She blinked, licked her lips, and let Lonnie direct her away into the shadows. He followed his own trail back through the brush to Ian's car.

"You okay?" Danny asked of Juliet as she got in the back with Lonnie.

She nodded. "I-I guess I must have gotten a bit scared."

They waited. The shadows deepened. The street lights began to come on and the temperature inside the car dipped below 20 degrees, but Ian dared not start the engine and frighten away anyone who might be waiting to come after the bait.

"It's after five," Danny finally reported with a sigh. It was dark, the bench was barely visible by street light. Between the cold and his jet lag, he was feeling quite worn out. A cup of coffee right now would be heaven. We should have brought a thermos. Danny looked back a Juliet. "You doing all right?"

She started to nod, but Ian suddenly shouted. "There he is!" He brought the engine to life, slammed the car into gear, charging it across the snowy lawns towards the bench. The sole figure of a man, bag in hand, ran for hillside.

"He's going to the north!" Danny yelled into the radio and Ian spun the wheel. The tires slid sideways in the snow. "There! There"! Danny pointed and the shadowy figure sprinted across a playing field towards the woods beyond.

Ian floored the gas to gain more speed, the car threw snow in all directions as it bounced ahead. Another vehicle was approaching from the left also headed towards the running figure.

"Don't let him reach the trees!" Danny yelled as the car slid sideways again.

There was the whop of rotor blades as the police helicopter dropped down, spotlight illuminating the fleeing suspect. "Halt! This is the police!" blared the megaphone.

The running man jumped down into a ditch, the back up the other side.

Ian issued an oath, attempting to control the car, but the front end plunged downward into the shallow ditch at a forty-five degree angle burying the front end into the bank. Danny bounced off the dashboard as he still attempted to yell instructions into the radio for others to follow.

Lonnie almost flew over the front seat, but was presented from doing so by Juliet's hand grabbing his belt.

They all caught their breath for a moment. "Everybody all right?" Ian asked.

They all scrambled out and up the side of the ditch. There was a well-illumined spot of ground forty yards away where the second car had captured the "bag man" and had him down on the ground in the snow.



End part 2

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