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A loving couple are kidnapped by a schizophrenic criminal who is out to play off one against the other. What must they give up to get free?
Nine years ago Jazmin brought a Colombian drug lord to justice. His son, Raoul, finds out where she lives and kidnaps her husband, Ethan, knowing she won’t deny his invitation. When Jazmin walks into Raoul’s lair, she doesn’t know if she can save her husband and herself, or if they will both die trying to escape the schizophrenic criminal, who is determined to play off one against the other.
“Jolina, my wonderful and very talented police officer, you know that I’ve always cherished and respected you. So what’s the problem here? You called me. And now you’re having second thoughts? Do I look so disgusting that you don’t want to talk with me anymore? Come on, you know I won’t let you go before you tell me everything—a fact that is quite obvious—and I know I’ll get the information to the last tiny word, because you don’t want to see one of your beautiful kids run into a car, right? So what’s keeping you?”
Jolina pressed her lips tight, cursing her helplessness. Looking at the handsome, dark haired man, who was still in good shape in spite of his jet-set life, made it abundantly clear that he was right. He was rich. He had influence. He had men with arms behind him, who would do everything he ordered, and not only because he was ruthless when it came to dealing with his foes. Once she had truly admired him. She had envied her girlfriend, who had been his love affair, but now that girlfriend was gone, and Jolina was solely interested in bringing up her twins. One of them was sick and needed surgery, and she had tried everything to get the money elsewhere. She sniffed and licked her lips, pondering what she was about to do. He waited, cigar in his right hand, sunglasses in his left, his five foot nine frame standing at ease. He looked completely the gentleman in his white pants, sailing shoes and white dress shirt with button-down lapels from some foreign manufacturer whose name she couldn’t even spell.
“Do you remember Isabel?”
Mentioning her name had the same effect on her girlfriend’s former lover as heroin had on a heavy addict. He shot his brown eyes wide open and stooped to her. Glasses and cigar landed haphazardly on the table. Irrationally she thought she heard his heart beat.
He swallowed his utter surprise to bring out the words in a strangled whisper. “What did you say?”
The cigar rolled off and landed on the stone floor. He ignored it, eyes glued on Jolina. His jaw dropped.
She was startled and moved backward on the chair. “I asked you if you still remember Isabel.” Jolina tried for a firm voice. She still held all the cards. She only had to play them wisely.
“Of course, I remember Isabel!” He grabbed her shoulders, breathing his cigar breath in her face. “Tell me, did you see her? Meet with her? Where is she?” He shook her, but Jolina was stout and hardly moved on the chair. “Speak, woman!”
“We first have to talk about the price.”
“Ah, damn you!” He pushed away from her and made three steps across the patio, bumping into the jacaranda pot. He kicked the pot and hurt himself, but bit down the pain. “I’ll give you what you want. Just name it, and it’s on your account.” He came back, staring at her. “But I want Isabel. Now. Today. Don’t let me wait, or it’ll cost you!”
Jolina’s heart pounded against her ribcage. She had expected him to be generous when it came to Isabel, but not that he would offer her riches beyond her imagination. She pursed her lips, swallowing fear. It was never good when a flamboyant, not certifiably sane criminal wasn’t out for haggling.
“Two hundred thousand American dollars. One-hundred thousand for each of my kids. That’ll be—”
“Done. I’ll write a check.” He pulled the slim book out of his jacket pocket and a pen from another. “I write and you talk. Hurry.”
Jolina thought she couldn’t talk with her heart beating in her throat. The situation was going from weird to surreal. She watched him write in his elegant handwriting. He had slender hands with manicured nails that had never done any hard work. The numbers were precise, his signature a fluent line. Up close she realized that he had just been to a hairdresser. His hair still smelled of shampoo, and his beard was trimmed short, stressing his expressive lips. The two rings on his fingers and the watch were worth more than she earned in two years.
“I met her at the Marriott Hotel here in Bogotá.”
“Why? When? What did she look like?”
Jolina was afraid she had let a devil out of the box. His sudden agitation frightened her more than any act of aggression she had known from him so far. There was hunger in his eyes, a great insatiable hunger.
“She wears her hair very long, almost to her waist. It’s still dark brown. And she looked good. Very good.”
“Come on, woman, hurry!” He pushed the check across the table. His hands shook when he played with the pen. “Does she still have the same name? Where does she live now?”