My Sweet Lisa is Book Seven in the Operation Quickline fiction series – Lisa’s kidnapping spurs a host of changes in both hers and Sid’s lives. Yep, it’s finally Real Love. Now what? You can read Chapter One here, or check out all the episodes so far here.
It was Thursday and another meeting with Dr. Heilland. I was really nervous on the way over. But after my nightmare that night, Sid and I agreed it was time to talk about the kidnapping. In the session, we did mention the fight the day before, that had probably been triggered by the trauma, and that it was time to do something about it.
“Alright,” said Dr. Heilland. “Remember, this is about de-sensitizing you to the trauma. This is why relaxation and remembering that this is a safe place is very important. I want you both to get good and relaxed and to remember that you are in a safe place.”
So, Sid and I closed our eyes and held hands, and I told them about what had happened.
I’d wakened up in the room feeling nauseous. As I spewed onto the floor, I realized that I’d been sedated. A man in black fatigues watched, then shoved me back onto the rickety metal bed with a thin mattress and squeaky springs. My ankle wore a manacle, and I was chained to the bed. I had a piece of spring steel in my hair – Sid says you can always hide something. But with the man watching me I couldn’t use it.
He cleaned up the mess I’d made without a word. The room was roughly paneled in wood and looked unfinished. Light came from the window above the bed. I was scared and let myself act scared. I didn’t want him to think I was an operative. And then I was cold, and I was glad I still had a sweater on and socks. I didn’t know where my shoes were.
For those first couple, three days, I was watched constantly. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without them watching, which was really embarrassing. All I had was a can to go in, but it was cleaned after every time I used it. I could tell from the sounds of the voices in the other room that there were four of them total. They switched off watching me, but at least one was always watching me until… It must have been Sunday night. That’s when I scratched a signal for Sid into the wall. Proverbs Twenty-Seven Fourteen: “He that greets his brother with a loud voice in the morning, a curse shall be laid to his charge.” It’s my favorite verse. I’m not a morning person and Sid is.
I was so scared the entire time. I had my nightmare about the first kill every time I went to sleep. But I was bored, too. The men all spoke Spanish, although one did speak a little English. But he wouldn’t talk to me at all. I did look out the window, and all there was around me was desert scrub. I wondered where I was. Sometimes, I could hear one of them leave in the black van I saw out the window.
Finally, two of them came into the room. They handcuffed me in front of myself, then unchained my leg, and dragged me to the other room. There was a phone on the table. My shoes were on a kitchen counter behind me.
“Call your husband,” the one man ordered.
“I’m not married,” I squeaked.
“Call your boyfriend, then. We’ve seen him before.”
I picked up the receiver, then dialed Sid’s personal line. Then the receiver was ripped from my hands. The man made his demand and my heart pounded when he mentioned Eliana Martinez. I didn’t want them to trade that sweet girl for me, but I also wanted to go home.
The man put the receiver to my ear and mouth.
“Hi,” I said. “I’m scared.
“Are they treating you okay?” It was Sid’s voice, and I was so glad to hear it.
“Yeah. But I’m scared. I’m really scared.”
“It’s okay. They’re all praying for you here. Be strong, honey. I—”
The receiver was ripped away. Then the two men pushed me back into the room and chained me back to the bed. They’d said Wednesday.
With at least three of them in the other room, I didn’t think I could take them. So, it was back to waiting. Then, the next morning, there was an argument of some kind. I saw three of them getting into the van and could hear the fourth pacing in the next room. It was the best chance I’d had.
I got my spring steel out of my hair, popped the lock on the manacle, and got the other end open and off the bed. Then I waited. The other man eventually came into the room. He was so startled when I rushed him that I was able to whack him in the head with the manacle chain, and he sank to his knees. I ran from the room, locked the door behind me, then looked for my shoes. Given the scrub outside, I was not going to get very far in stocking feet. The shoes were still on the counter, and I got them on as fast as I could. I also found a canteen and filled it with water from the kitchen sink.
Then I slid outside and ran. I stayed to the scrub, heading south and down the hills. You can usually find people that way, although I had no idea how far I’d have to go. I don’t know how long I’d been running when I first saw the chopper heading toward where I’d been held. It was coming from the west and flew over where the house was, then circled back, coming closer to me, and I saw the LASD on the side. I tried waving, but it went on. So, I went back to running. It did come back, circling over where the house was, then further and further out. I waved again, and it flew over right on top of me. The loudspeaker asked if I was okay, and I gave them the thumbs up. They told me to stay put, that the Forest Service paramedics would be there soon. Then a red chopper flew up and landed nearby, and the guys came running out with a board, got me loaded up and away we went.
Dr. Heilland smiled. “You did that very well. How are you feeling?”
I took a deep breath. “A little shaky, but okay.”
Sid chuckled. “I think you were more traumatized by the idea of marrying me than you were by the kidnapping.”
“But the kidnapping changed everything, Sid. That’s when you said you loved me.”
“Sid, how are you feeling?” Dr. Heilland asked.
“A little shaky, I guess. It was a pretty rough five days.” He looked at me, then put his arm around me. “I also feel immensely proud of you, Lisa. You did everything just right.”
Dr. Heilland tapped his pen on his notepad. “Lisa, you said you had nightmares while you were held?”
“Just the one. I keep having it. My first kill. It happened last summer.”
“With your values, I can imagine you’re having trouble with it.” He sighed. “However, we are out of time. Will I see you two next week?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Yeah,” said Sid.
Outside the office, our pagers went off. We both groaned.
“My turn to call, I think,” I said.
We went to a coffee shop near the office, and Sid watched me fondly as I dialed in, got the receiver code and our orders.
“Well?” he asked.
“We’ve got an evidence swap tonight. Turns out Mr. Danschenko is hiding out in his warehouse after all. FBI will be raiding at twenty-three-thirty. We’ve got to get in and out of the office by twenty-three hundred. Oh, and one more fun little piece. If we could just happen to get Danschenko trussed and ready to go, that would be good.”
Sid made a face. Evidence swaps were tricky. The job was to slip in, find a piece of evidence that was highly classified, then exchange it for other evidence that wasn’t quite so sensitive. That wasn’t so hard. That the places we were breaking into often had people in them who neither wanted to be arrested, nor wanted us to get the evidence, that was the hard part.
“Well, at least we know the layout,” he said, finally. “Back to house hunting?”
As the afternoon wore on, though, we didn’t see anything that excited or interested us. Sid wanted plenty of bedrooms for when Mae, Neil, and the kids visited. We needed office space. I wanted a big front window to put a Christmas tree in. We both thought a more open layout would be good for when we did entertain, although we did want to keep a library room. I needed a sewing room, too.
We got home in time for dinner, then went to work on all the stuff we should have been working on that afternoon. I was typing away at the computer when I sat back to consider my next line and looked around. I liked my office, with its dark paneling and the photos I’d hung on the wall. I did think I might want the walls a little lighter, maybe nice floral upholstery on the couch.
I got up and went into Sid’s office. He looked up from his computer.
“Yes?” he asked.
“I just had an idea.” I flopped into one of the chairs in front of his desk. “Did you see anything yesterday or today that looked even remotely workable?”
“Not a damn thing.” He looked at me and frowned. “We’ve only been looking for two days, though.”
“I like this place,” I said. I looked around. His office could use some lightening up, too. “Do you think if we redecorated, maybe did some remodeling, we could make it ours enough?”
Sid sat back. “That’s a good idea.”
“You don’t mind having your home remade?”
“Nah.” Sid smiled. “Frankly, this was just the first place that looked livable when I was assigned here. Any attachment I have to it is what you’ve brought to it.”
“Okay. I guess we just have to find a contractor now.” I checked my watch. “And we’ve got to get into our break-in clothes.”
“Meet you at the garage door in fifteen.”
We took my truck that night. Danschenko had seen Sid’s Beemer. We wore black pants with lots of extra pockets and loaded down with tools. Our black zip-front sweatshirts were in the jump seat behind us with black leather gloves and all-over ski masks tucked into the pockets, and we both had light-colored shirts on. It was a little after ten when I parked on the street just outside the industrial park. Fortunately, mine wasn’t the only vehicle around. Sid and I got our sweatshirts on, then did a quick walk around the building where Danschenko’s office was. There were lights on over every door, but no video cameras. I knew from our orders that an armed security guard patrolled the buildings every other hour, and that he would have just passed. After getting our gloves and masks on, we squeezed behind the shrubbery next to the boarded-up front door of the office and peeked in. We could see the faint glow of a light coming from the main office, but not where, exactly, the light was.
We went around to the back door. Sid had the locks picked in several minutes. I pulled my gun from the holster in the back of my waistband. Sid opened the door very softly and slowly. I rolled in. The warehouse was mostly dark, with weak lights at the tops of the shelves. I listened. There was no sound of movement.
“Clear,” I hissed, and Sid slid in behind me, shutting the door. I crept along the wall toward the packing station, then grinned when I saw something lying on the counter. A roll of strapping tape. I showed Sid and he nodded. We made our way along the front of the warehouse to the door into the main office. I put my ear to the door and listened. Someone on the other side was humming something mournful and pacing.
“Now what?” I asked Sid.
“Wait a few.”
Sure enough, the humming and pacing faded behind the sound of a door closing. Sid checked the door. It was locked. I kept listening as Sid went to work. He looked up at me and nodded, his blue eyes twinkling in the dim light. Again, I went to the side of the door that opened, and got my gun braced. Sid slowly opened it. I rolled in.
The main office was dark, but a light glowed under the closed door to Danschenko’s office. The other back-office door was open and there was no one inside. Sid slid in behind me and silently shut the door. We could hear the faint humming from Danschenko’s office. Sid pointed to the front of the secretary’s desk, and I nodded. He got some pencils from the top. I crouched behind him in front of the desk. Sid tossed one of the pencils at the door to the warehouse. The humming abruptly stopped. Sid tossed a second one. The door to the inner office slowly creaked open. Danschenko, carrying an automatic pistol, slid out of the office, then cautiously up to the door to the warehouse. He turned and walked straight toward Sid and me, but his eyes were on the door to the foyer. I held my breath.
He had just gone past us when Sid pounced on his back and knocked him to the ground. I scooted the automatic Danschenko had been carrying out of the way as Danschenko struggled. He rolled on top of Sid and drew his hand back to punch him, but I caught it and yanked it further behind him.
Danschenko howled in pain, still he did not give up struggling. Sid punched him in the jaw, then rolled out from underneath him. I still had Danschenko’s hand, and was about to lose my grip, when Sid kneed him in the belly. Danschenko fell on his face, and Sid got his knee in Danschenko’s back. I had the tape out in an instant, whipping it around Danschenko’s wrists as Sid held them up for me. A couple minutes later, we had Danschenko’s feet and left him hog-tied in front of the desk.
We were breathing heavily when we hurried to the inner office and started going through it. I searched the desk and credenza while Sid went through the files. We didn’t care about it being messy. The FBI wouldn’t mind.
“Got it,” Sid hissed. I handed him the substitute evidence, then hurried out to the front office. Danschenko was struggling and the tape on his wrist strained. I whipped some more tape around him, then turned. Sid was rummaging through the refrigerator. He palmed something into the pocket on his leg as I yanked him to the warehouse door. We slid along the wall, but we could hear tires rolling across the pavement outside. Underneath the crack between the roll-up door and the ground, we saw the glare of red and blue lights. The Feds were there.
Sid nodded at the ladder to the roof. I went up first, and then he did.
“Federal agents!” growled a voice through a speaker. “Open up or we’re coming in.”
We peeked over the edge of the roof. The agents were focused on both the front and back doors. Sid nodded at the far end of the building. We’d seen a ladder there, too. Keeping low and moving softly, we hurried to that end and scrambled down the ladder, jumping when the ladder stopped about seven feet above the ground. We made our way around the side of another building, then hurried toward my truck. Somebody must have seen something, because as we were about to get in, we saw flashlights coming our way. Sid slid into the passenger seat.
“Wanna neck?” Sid gasped as he got his mask, gloves, and sweatshirt off, and I got in and shut the door.
“Yeah.” I pulled off my mask, gloves, and sweatshirt, too.
Sid’s eyes gleamed with mischief. “On my lap?”
I giggled, wriggled myself around so that I would face him and carefully slid onto his lap. The windows were getting nice and foggy as Sid moaned and I kissed him and moaned also. The truck rocked rhythmically.
“I could have sworn they went this way,” someone snarled.
A beam of light flashed through the windows.
“Oh, yeah. Oh, keep it going!” I cried.
The men cursed and the flashlights retreated. As soon as we were sure they were gone, Sid gave me one last kiss, then burst into laughter as I maneuvered myself around the gear shift and into the driver’s seat.
“Did I do that right?” I asked, blushing a little.
“Yes!” He laughed even harder. “Where did you learn that?”
“One of your girlfriends last spring. You two were doing it in the living room and I happened to go into the hall. I did not go any further.”
“I’m sorry about that.” He sighed.
I shrugged and started the engine. “Sid, I can’t worry about what all you did.” I slowly pulled the truck down the road away from the flashing lights and black cars. “And in some ways, I may even want to be grateful. As Angelique once put it, I will eventually reap the benefit of your antics. Speaking of, how are you feeling?”
“Ohhhh.” Sid laughed. “Pretty keyed up.”
I sighed. “I guess I’m sleeping in my own bed tonight.”
“I’m afraid so, honey.” He sighed deeply. “Yeah, we could be having some fun right now.”
“Hopefully.” He slid his hand along the inside of my thigh.
“Sid. I’m trying to drive and that’s not helping.”
“We’ll figure something out. And, by the way. I got some.” He held up two of the flat jars with the blue lid.
“You stole some beluga!”
“Who’s going to notice? And it’s the best caviar in the world.”
We both slept through the night, and the next morning, Sid showed me the file he’d found: Danschenko’s notes on my kidnapping and the CIA’s and the Colombians’ involvement in it. Turns out Danschenko had agreed to help the cartel get Eliana in exchange for the cartel taking out a target that the CIA wanted taken care of.
“Good lord. He was sucking up to everybody.” I grumbled.
“Looks like,” Sid said.
We never did find out what happened to Danschenko.
I didn’t have too much time to complain about it, though. It was the day before Kathy and Jesse’s wedding. Frank had twisted Sid’s arm into playing the organ for them and dragged Sid to the church to practice. The rehearsal dinner was a little tense, but that was just nerves and the fact that Kathy and Estelle’s parents were all but estranged from their daughters.
Then it was the big day. Sid and I were thrilled that we had again slept through the night without any nightmares. The wedding, itself, was gorgeous, and we ended up having a blast at the reception. Sid and Esther turned the air blue at our table, trying to one up each other with dirty innuendos. Janet and Sylvia saw us dancing together and smirked. Then Sylvia had to ask when we were getting married.
I just grinned. “Maybe we already are.”
Both their faces fell.
“Or maybe we won’t get married at all,” said Sid.
“You know, I just heard about a Celtic sexual initiation ritual,” I said. “We should think about that.”
Janet and Sylvia backed away. Sid laughed, but I was a little disappointed. We’d come up with about five or six scenarios that all avoided a wedding, each more ridiculous than the one before. I’d really wanted to see the look on Janet’s face when we told her we’d gone to Las Vegas and gotten married by an Elvis impersonator.
We sent Kathy and Jesse on their honeymoon, then Sid and I went home. He made toast points from good French bread and served them with icy, cold vodka and some of the beluga caviar he’d taken from Danschenko’s refrigerator. And I finally opened my birthday presents.