“Are you trying to say they’re after Emily because she knows something?” Maxwell squinted at him.
“You’re smart, man! Emily has some information they can’t risk letting out,” Henry exclaimed.
“If she does, she would have told the police already,” Paul opined.
“That’s only if she’s aware that she has valuable information,” Henry argued. “We might have to press it out of her.”
“Press?” Maxwell flashed a glance at him.
“Not press in that way,” Henry scowled. “I’m not talking about using force, we just have to make her remember everything she knows or have heard concerning those men. I’m sure we can pick a lot from whatever she says to us.”
Maxwell heaved a sigh of relief.
Agent Mark walked for the first time after holding the Press conference. He opened his drawer and reached for the devices he kept in it. As expected, he had already missed some calls. He resisted the urge to open and check the caller.
Before he could settle down, one of the phones began to ring. He reached for the phone and checked the caller. A mischievous smile escaped his lips as he saw the caller’s ID. It was the President.
He settled in his chair before answering the call.
“Hello, Mr President.”
“F*** you, Mark. What the heck do you think you’re doing?” the President barked from the other end.
“I’m not so sure I understand you, Mr President,” Mark feigned ignorance.
“Why the heck did you drag the office of the Presidency into this sh*t?”
“I didn’t do that, Mr President, This allegation surprises me,” Mark replied confidently.
“Stop taking me as a fool, Mark. The whole Bethanna and many other nations just watched your press conference. You’re dragging us into a mess. Why did you have to drag the Vice President into the FOX’s sh*t?”
“I didn’t drag the Vice President into it, sir. The Vice President has always been in it. I just told the world the real situation,” Mark replied calmly.
“You did that without minding the effect it’s going to have on the country?”
“That’s not mine to worry about, sir. The office of the President should worry about it.”
The President went quiet for a while, obviously irritated by Mark’s replies.
Mark smiled lightly as he waited for the man’s response, knowing that he was having the effect he wanted on the man.
“Do you know you could be punished severely for this?” The President finally spoke.
“I’m not so sure the President has enough powers to punish the Chairman of an independent association,” Mark fired back.
The President paused again, obvious surprised by Mark’s reply.
“Do you know that it is your job as the FOX chairman to also protect the countries’ reputation in times like this? Didn’t you see it in your rules and regulations as an executive?”
“I know that, Mr President. But that’s a f***ing rule that we’re going to change soon. The FOX shouldn’t be answerable to your office. The FOX protects and saves the life of the people, your office should protect the reputation of the nation.”
“I’m gonna strip you of that position right now, assho*le,” the President threatened.
“That’s the only thing your office gives you the power to do, appointing and removing the Chairmen according to the law. But you can’t do anything to me, Mr President. International bodies have got eyes on you and they’ll know you’re trying to hide something by firing me. They’ll know you did it because I mentioned the Vice President at the Press conference. The best you can do now is prove the Vice President innocent before firing me. Or you’ll be in the mud too.”
This time, there was a prolonged silence from the President.
“Mr President, I know you’re trying to keep the country running smoothly,” Mark continued. “And I’m trying to keep the FOX running too. I’ll like to let you know that your Vice President will have to prove his innocence. At the moment, he remains the number one suspect for the death of the three FOX executives. And I’ll advise that you let these investigations go smoothly and do not get in our way.”
The connection was cut without a reply from the President. Mark dropped the phone on the table and leaned back comfortably in his swivel. Now that he was done with the pressure from the President, it was time to face the real job.
“Hutton, we’ve got the policeman who processed Emily’s protection,” Kahn announced as he walked into the room where Hutton’s room.
Hutton had just taken a shower and was stepping out of the bathroom. “Have you forwarded the details to our man?”
“Yeah, they’re trying to locate his address already,” Kahn replied.
“Can I see his profile?” Hutton proceeded towards Kahn after drying his feet on the foot mat in front of the bathroom. He moved closer to the bedside
Kahn tapped on the iPad in his hand and quickly opened the mail which Agent Michael had forwarded to him.
“Here’s it,” Kahn got the mail and opened the attached file. It was a PDF file that contained the policeman’s profile.
“Any info concerning his family?” Hutton glanced at Kahn.
“Yes,” Kahn replied. “Check the other attachment in the mail.”
Hutton minimized the PDF reader and switched to the mail app again. He opened the other attachment as told.
“He’s got two kids,” Hutton said aloud thoughtfully while staring at the file. He turned to Kahn. “What did you instruct our men to do?”
“According to our findings, the officer is on duty and is yet to return home. Our men are to stop him from entering and get him to tell us the location,” Kahn replied. “From there, they go straight to get Emily, holding him hostage so he doesn’t communicate to anyone else.”
“Naah,” Hutton shook his head disagreeing with Kahn’s methods. “Connect me to the leader of the team,” he said and got up. He walked to the wardrobe and picked out a robe after wiping his body dry with the towel around his waist. He returned to the bed after putting on the robe.
“Here,” Kahn handed him a phone after dialling a number.
“Mr Kahn,” a voice spoke as the call was answered.
“This is Hutton, not Kahn. Just listen to me. What’s the progress with Cyruff?”
“We’re tracking him already,” the voice replied. “He just left work and he should be here in the next thirty minutes.”
“Don’t wait for him any longer,” Hutton ordered. “Go into his home and take one of his kids, then tell him where to meet you. A police officer like him wouldn’t tell you the location except you threaten him with his family member.”
“Understood, sir,” the voice replied.
“The abducted child ensures that he gives you the right information. And you ain’t going to release the child until you confirm that his information is true.”
“Get it done smoothly, no room for mistakes,” Hutton charged before ending the call.
The protection house was as silent as the graveyard. Three policemen were sitting outside and guarding the place. Three others were inside at different positions. Emily was in the living room, working on her laptop while her mother and child were already sleeping.
“Mrs Emily,” the leader of the police protection team walked into the living room.
Emily turned and took in a breath. She already knew what he was there for.
He got close to her and sat on the stool opposite hers before he continued talking. “We’ve been here for days and there’s been no threat. There’s also been no sign in the outside world that someone is trying to ki*ll you. I guess we can safely assume that nothing is going to happen to you if we leave here…”
“Let’s cut short the stories officer,” Emily interrupted. “You guys are leaving because I no longer have the money to pay for your services.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. We’ve got no choice, we have to return to the office tomorrow,” the officer said with a pity face. “But it’s good to know that you’re safe. I advise that you get back to work as soon as possible. The inspectors at the office have also been checking your claims that the DIA chairman is involved in terrorism. There’s been no significant proof to back that up.”
“It’s okay, officer. Thank you so much,” Emily replied.
The officer got up to leave but stopped as a phone began to ring. He turned. It was Emily’s phone. He took out a phone from his pocket and stared at her face.
“It’s an unknown number,” Emily said to him.
“Go ahead, answer it,” the officer urged her.
He placed his phone close to his ear as she answered the call. Her phone was connected to the one with him, so he could listen to her calls. It had been that way since she was taken in protection.
“Hey, Emily…” a voice cooed from the other end, “I’ve missed you so much, baby.”
Emily’s eyes widened in shock as she recognized the voice. The police officer noticed her shock and urged her to speak on. He hurried on to the dining area where a laptop was and tapped it on. He switched to the running tracking app to start processing the location of the caller.
“Shh…Emily, you don’t need to speak. Just listen to me,” the voice continued before Emily could say anything. “I don’t want the man beside you to suspect our conversation.”
The last statement got the police officer’s attention and he quickly stared at Emily. He was now more interested in following the conversation.
“I’ve been at your office to look for you but I was told you’ve not been there in days,” the voice continued. “I got your voice notes and I know you must be enjoying Solace at the moment. That your new boyfriend, Oliver must be in bed with you right now. I just wish you could choose me over him. I’m sure I’m better than him in bed, ain’t I? Remember those times we spent f***ing in your office? We did it in your toilet several times and we both enjoyed it.”
Emily glanced at the officer again and he had an embarrassed look on his face. The conversation wasn’t what he was expecting. He took the phone off his ears, uninterested in listening to the conversation anymore. He also close the laptop, but only after seeing the location displayed.
Emily was a hundred per cent sure it was Oliver speaking but she was getting confused with what he was saying.
“Emily, I’m sure you know it’s Oliver. I know you’re in protection and I’m very close to you,” the tone changed immediately after the officer stopped listening. “Disregard everything I’ve been saying. I just wanted to irritate the other listener and it’s worked. Is he still there with you?”
“Yes, I miss you too,” Emily stammered, trying hard to play along. The officer was still staring at her face. “Oliver isn’t in bed with me like you think, but I’m walking to the bathroom now, so I don’t risk anyone hearing our conversation.”
She got up to leave but the officer stopped her and signalled that he was going to excuse her instead. She sat back and watched him go.
“I’m alone now,” she said after he was out of sight. “But he could start listening again because he has the device with him.”
“Don’t bother about that, I’ll know if he’s listening,” Maxwell replied from the other end.
“Where are you?” Emily asked and got up. She walked to the window and opened the curtain to check if she could see anyone outside. “How the heck can you see us? All the curtains are closed.”
“I can’t see through the walls, Emily. I could tell someone else was listening to the conversation. I’m reading the signals here,” Maxwell answered. “How have you been, Emily?”
“I’m fine,” she gasped. “I’m scared. They’re looking for me, Oliver.”
“I know, I’m sorry for making you go through all these. Thank God I listened to your voice mails at the right time. That’s how I got to know you’re in trouble. But we’re here to get you out.”
“We? You and who?”
“With my team,” Maxwell replied. “I understand that you paid for private protection. Can you just stop the payment from tomorrow, so that you can come with us?”
“It expires tonight by 12. The officers will be leaving as early as 5 AM tomorrow. They’ve asked me to decide whether or not to leave with them. But I chose to stay.”
“Great, we’ll wait and watch until then. Make sure you don’t let them know you have anyone close. Don’t tell anybody about it too.”
“See you tomorrow, Emily. I…love…you…Emily,” Maxwell concluded.
“See you, Oliver, Thanks,” Emily replied and hung up.
“Hahahaha,” Paul Edwards burst into laughter as the call ended. It was on loudspeakers, so he and Henry were also listening to the conversation in the car. Paul glanced at Henry in the backseat. “Carl, your man fell in love so much while on a mission.”
“Come on, I was just trying to reassure her, that wasn’t about love,” Maxwell defended himself.
“Haha,” Paul laughed again and even Henry joined. “You meant it, young man. You’re in love with that lady.”
“Loverboy!” Henry jeered. He tried to mimic Maxwell in a funny tone. “I love you, Emily.”
Paul burst into laughter again, a louder one this time.
Maxwell was embarrassed as the two of them laughed at him. He regretted trying to defend himself. That had made him feel even more stupid.
There was silence in the car for a while until Paul spoke again.
“In missions like this, you need to learn how to keep your feelings away,” he counselled, looking straight at Maxwell’s face. “What if you’ve had to do the same task with four to ten ladies, would you fall in love with all of them?”
“Paul is right,” Henry supported. “When you’re on a mission, you need to be neutral and keep your heart out. Everything you do should be to fulfil your mission and should not be affected by feelings.”
“Maybe if he knew this earlier, he wouldn’t have fallen in love with her. Maybe we won’t be here now,” Paul smirked.
“Of course, I knew. Henry reminded us all of these during the training,” Maxwell fired at Paul.
“We’re not here because Maxwell fell in love with Emily,” Henry joined again. “Emily could lose her life because of our mission, that’s why we’re here.”
“Well, it still wouldn’t have happened if Max wasn’t in love,” Paul argued still. “He wouldn’t have known she was here and we would just have heard the bad news later.”
“Unfortunately, that has happened to so many people, especially those we create relationships with during FOX missions. Some of them get to pay with their lives,” Henry added in a sad tone.
“But the FOX always prepares a compensation for the families,” Paul put in.
“The compensation doesn’t return the life, Paul,” Henry countered.
Paul heaved a sigh. He knew he wasn’t going to win the argument. “Well, let’s just consider Emily lucky. She’s lucky that she got a sissy to fall in love with her,” he added and laughed.
Maxwell glared at him.
“Max is not a sissy,” Henry supported Maxwell. “It’s just unfortunate that sometimes, the heart connects to people even at the wrong occasions. And when this happens, we lose control. That’s what happened with Max.”
“Enough of this, Carl. We need to discuss how we gonna spend the night.”
7: 15 AM
The Red Wolves men arrived at the protection house in three cars. Following the instruction of the leader, they began to surround the house immediately.
After following Hutton’s order the previous night, they got not just the location from the policeman but also information about how the protection was expiring the previous night. However, the protection house was far from Benuit, so it took them almost six hours of driving to get to the place.
The leader of the team lead a group of six men into the house while the others surrounded the place. The door to the main entrance of the house was locked and had to be open with a bullet. Once it opened, the six men rushed in and spread around tactically. The leader also followed in.
“Comb everywhere,” the leader ordered. “They must be in this house.”
After fifteen minutes of searching around the house, all the men returned to the living room without finding anyone.
“We’ve searched everywhere, there’s no one here. But there are signs that people just left,” one of the men reported. He brought a dirty plate of food forward. “This still looks fresh. It must have been eaten here yesterday.”
The leader smelt the leftover food and confirmed the man’s word. “If the policemen protecting her left here by 5 AM, that means she must have also left. But she couldn’t have gone far without a personal car. We need to ask around and go after her.”
He turned and was walking to the door when a loud ringing tone stopped him.
“Whose phone is that?”
“Not ours,” the man closest to the phone picked it. “It was left here.”
The leader of the gang immediately suspected what was going on. Someone else must have come to take Emily and her family away and dropped the phone.
He collected the device and answered the call. He placed the phone close to his ear without saying anything.
“Don’t drop this call if you want to survive,” the caller began with a threat.
“Who the heck are you?” the leader scoffed, unruffled by the threat.
“My name is Carl Winston, you must have heard of me,” the voice replied. “I want you to know that my threat is not ordinary. So why don’t you open the pouch of that phone and see what’s there?”
The man’s heart skipped a beat but he calmed himself by taking a deep breath. He did as he was told and took off the pouch. He discovered that the phone’s back cover was missing and the battery in it wasn’t the correct one for the phone. There were wires connected around it.
He gasped in surprise. He’d never seen the kind of bomb trigger.
“How do you expect me to believe this sh*t?” he said into the phone.
“Check under the three-seater sofa, man,” the voice ordered again.
The team leader did as he was told. He ordered his men to lift the three-seater sofa. They all stared in shock as they saw a bomb with a timer there. The timer was at zero minutes and seconds already.
“That’s only one of the bombs we’ve set up there,” the voice continued. “As you can see, it’s time for the bomb to go off. But the only trigger remaining is the end of this call. Once I end the call, it goes off.”
The team leader heaved a sigh of frustration. He didn’t understand the connection between the phone and the bomb but he decided to play safe.
“What do you want me to do?”