Zeb screeched to a halt on the street in front of his house. A dark grey SUV was parked in his driveway, just behind Zoe’s tan Sebring. He jumped out of his car and ran into the house.
The coffee table was shoved across the room and picture frames and other objects were scattered all over the floor. Zoe was seated on one of his dining room chairs placed in the middle of the living room, tied and gagged. Tears ran down her face and a purplish bruise was spreading across her right cheekbone. Zeb started toward her, but Dos stepped out of the bathroom behind her, a pair of scissors in hand.
“Not so fast,” Dos told him, weaving the scissors in the air before himself menacingly.
“Don’t touch her,” Zeb warned as Dos approached his sister.
Dos hitched up one corner of his mouth in a smirk. He made a show of opening the scissors and holding one blade up under Zoe’s chin. “You are in no position to issue orders, amigo,” he said.
Zoe’s eyes pleaded with him to save her, and Zeb’s heart broke and froze with fear. He prayed mentally at a frenetic pace, begging God to help him. “Please,” he said calmly, “let her go.” He spread his hands out to his sides to show he was unarmed. “She has nothing to do with this, okay? Let’s just work this out between us.”
“”Where are the photographs?”” Dos grabbed Zoe by her hair, eliciting a small scream that was muffled by the towel he had tied over her mouth.
“Stop, stop, stop, please,” Zeb said, reaching into his pocket for the memory card.
It wasn’t there.
He looked at Zoe and then at Dos. “Problem, señor?” He pressed the blade harder into her skin and a bead of blood welled up and trickled down her throat.
“Stop! It’s just – your goon showed up and I ran, but I -” he shifted his gaze to Zoe, giving her an apologetic look, “I left the memory card in a computer at the library on campus. I didn’t send them to anyone,” he hurried on to say, noting the angry gleam in Dos’ pale eyes. “There wasn’t time. But I can get the card, just let her come with me.”
Dos actually laughed, a highly unexpected sound to Zeb’s ears. “Oh, señor, you must be crazy if you think I am going to fall for that, eh? She stays with us,” he added, as Uno came into the house behind Zeb.
Uno took in the situation with a grimace. He crossed over to his partner and said something in quick and very low Spanish that Zeb could not hear. Dos growled back a reply that was likewise lost on Zeb. He then slapped the scissors into Uno’s hand, drawing blood as one of the blades bit into his skin. “Stay with her. If she gives you any trouble, start with her pretty face,” he told him with a gesture toward the scissors. He caressed Zoe’s cheek, laughing as she shot him a dirty look and jerked her head away.
Dos then crossed over to Zeb and drew his attention to the gun at Dos’ waist. He grabbed Zeb’s arm and shoved him toward the door. “Take me to the memory card.”
Zeb nodded. He looked over Dos’ shoulder at Zoe. “It’s going to be fine, Zo, I promise.”
She nodded back to him, whimpering lightly. Zeb gave a warning look at Uno, who merely stood behind Zoe’s chair and watched him leave with Dos. Once outside, Dos withdrew the gun from the waistband of his jeans and shoved it into Zeb’s back. “Get moving,” he ordered.
Zeb started toward one of the two other vehicles belonging to Uno and Dos, but Dos stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “No, senor, we take your car.”
Zeb changed direction and headed toward his car. “What difference does it make?”
“When we’re done and I have the memory card, it will need to be your car they find your body in,” he said almost flippantly. Zeb’s felt like someone had just thrown him into an ice bath. He stopped in midstride, making Dos bump into him. Dos shoved him with an irritated grunt. “Besides, in the meantime, I don’t think you’ll do anything stupid and risk damaging such a fine car.”
Don’t count on that, Zeb thought as he got into the driver’s seat.. Whatever it takes to save Zoe…