Ties That Bind
By Peg Keeley
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 effect was impressive and clearly
staged, Danny decided analytically. The ruler of the castle -- lion in
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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."
"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
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.
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
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
"So?" Lonnie looked puzzled. "I don't
"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,
"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
"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
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
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
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.
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
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
"What's he doin'?" Ian grumbled.
"Just watch," Danny replied with a
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
She gasped and turned, dropping the
"Sorry!" Lonnie called. "It was an
"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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