"She knows it."

Jack had already looked up the general number for the UN, and just like with Colonel Scripps, Lola started on a phone maze. She finally reached the translation department.


"I'd like to speak to Raven Pierre, please."

"Raven is off for a few weeks."

Lola sagged. Of course, Christmas was right around the corner. Didn't that scrawny tree in the center of the great room proclaim it to be true?

"But she always checks in for her messages...sometimes several times a day. Would you like her voice mail?"

"Absolutely."

Jack whispered. "Use the code."

Lola nodded and when Raven's sultry voice stopped and she heard the beep, she left the message. "Caliban says there's a storm coming."

She recited the phone number of the prepaid cell and dropped it on the table. "Do you think she'll get the message today?"

"You heard the lady. Raven checks her messages compulsively."

Lola paced toward the tree, flicked some dry needles and spun around. "I'm going to the hospital to visit Eddie."

"No."

She knew he was going to say that. "He won't be there much longer. I have to be with him."

"And how's Eddie going to feel if something happens to you? An accident? A kidnapping? A disappearance?"

Lola shivered. He had a way of painting a very bleak picture. "I'll be careful. C-can't you come?"

"I could, but I'm not. And you're not, either. The Colonel knows your name, he knows where you work and he knows what you look like. He also knows I'm still flapping in the breeze on my own. We can't risk it.

"Can you give Eddie a call? The kid's starved for any kindness. He'll be almost as excited by a call as by seeing you in person. Trust me."

Lola scooped the phone from the table and perched on the end of the couch. She said a prayer that Jack's faith in his team was not misplaced. If those guys, Buzz, Ian and Riley, didn't come to Jack's aid, he'd be devastated...not that he'd show it.

She punched in the number for the pediatric ward, and Shawna from the nurses' station picked up. "Shawna, it's Dr. Famosa. Could you please put me through to Eddie Hidalgo's room?"

"Oh, my God. I'm so glad you called, Dr. Famosa. W-we were just about to call you."

"I'm still technically on vacation, Shawna."

"I know that, but it's Eddie."

"Eddie?" Ice water ran through Lola's veins. Had he taken a turn for the worse?

"You didn't take him home?"

"Home?" The ice had spread throughout her body, and Lola shivered, bouncing her legs up and down. "What are you talking about? Where's Eddie? He's supposed to be in his hospital bed."

The nurse choked out a sob. "Eddie's gone."

Chapter Fifteen

Jack caught the phone as Lola dropped it. He'd been hovering over her shoulder as soon as he saw her face blanch and her eyes widen.

"Hello? Hello?"

"Is Dr. Famosa okay?"

Lola had recovered from her shock and was tugging at his shirt. "Where is he? Where's Eddie?"

Jack put the phone on speaker. "She dropped the phone. She's listening now. What's going on?"

"The boy, Eddie Hidalgo, is missing. We've already called the police. We think it's his mother's murderer."

Lola gasped beside him.

"How long has he been missing? When did you notice?"

"This morning. We're ordering the tapes from security, and the police are going to put out an Amber Alert."

The nurse recounted for Lola everything that had happened in Eddie's room up until the moment they'd realized he was not in the hospital.

When the call ended, Lola sat beside him like a wax figure. Staring straight ahead, she said, "They have him, don't they? Hector Villagrande isn't smart enough to pull this off."

Jack wrapped his arms around her stiff body, trying to rub warmth and life back into her. "Farouk obviously knows that hospital. He's been following you around for weeks, even before I got here."

A sob wracked her body. She was rigid before; now she clung to him for support, as if her bones had melted.

"We have to give them what they want, Jack. We have to give them Gabe's formula."

Jack plucked a few strands of hair from her wet cheeks. "They don't want the formula, Lola."

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