Something inside me feels broken. Like a piece inside me is missing. A piece they’ve taken from me.

I don’t even try to fight the guy stomping beside me. In fact, I want to return to the cell, to its safety.

Reaching the bottom of the stairs, I try to tune out the whimpers and cries of the other prisoners, but I can’t stop the sounds of despair coming from the youngest ones from affecting me.

There are children here, I know it. Children, for fuck’s sake. I swear I even hear a little boy sniffling for his mommy.

The despair, the humiliation I’ve been feeling starts to warm until I’m so angry I’m nearly seeing red from it.

The door to my cell is unlocked then pushed open. For a wild, crazy moment, I consider trying to make a grab for the goon’s gun.

But then he shoves me inside and slams the door shut behind me.

My shoulders sag and my knees start to give out. I just want to curl up into a little ball and be near Sophia.

Looking around the cell, I spot Amanda sitting up on the bed.

“Where’s Sophia?” I ask, my eyes going over the room again, thinking somehow I missed her.

Amanda wipes the back of her hand across her red-rimmed eyes and sniffles. “They took her after you.”

8

Johnathan

Placing the small microbud inside of my ear, I shake my head, making sure the transceiver doesn’t become dislodged. The little piece of technology is so small, that if not seated properly, it can fall right out with just the slightest movement. When seated correctly, though, it should stay in even if I were getting in a fist fight.

When I don’t feel it fall out, I reach in very gently to lightly brush my finger against the microswitch.

“Testing, testing. Touch my testicles,” I murmur quietly.

“Fuck you, asshole,” comes Andrew’s grumble. Thankfully it’s at the correct volume.

“If you could stop playing like children…” Simon says quietly.

“What’s the range on this again, Simon?” I ask while walking into my bedroom.

“One mile as the crow flies. Thick concrete walls shouldn’t be a concern, but if there are too many layers below ground, we might run into trouble.”

“I’ll do it on the fly then. Any activity on the cameras around the warehouse?”

“Not much. Two limos have entered the property, but nothing has come back out.”

Dropping my towel to the floor, I grab a pair of new dress slacks then the new black dress shirt. I’ve got a lot of suits, but with Simon’s insistence, I’m wearing higher quality tonight.

I finish getting dressed and look out my bedroom window to the brand new, blacked out silver Lexus LC. It has all the bells and whistles. How the fuck he got a brand new one of those is beyond me. And while I never usually go for one of these kinds of cars, it sure does have beautiful lines to it.

“Tell Lucifer I’m keeping the car,” I say as I turn back to the bathroom to give myself a once-over.

“That car is worth more than your—” Simon starts.

“Now, now, boys, play nice,” Lucifer’s voice slides through the bud in my ear.

Fuck. I didn’t know the big guy was watching over the happenings. He must be doing it from the ops center at his compound. Fuck, that makes three different sets of ears listening in, not counting James and Peter.

Ignoring the elephant in the room, I ask, “James, are you set up yet?”

“In position,” comes his soft voice. “I’ve got eyes on the front.

“Peter?”

“In the rear,” he says. “Not much going on, but they’ve opened up the back gate and I’ve seen some scuttling. They aren’t frenzied, though.”

“Move your video feed two degrees to the west,” Simon says.

“Stop there,” Andrew says. “See those three semi trucks, Simon?”

“Yes. They must have repositioned them. This will be their exit when they are done for the night.”

“Agreed. Peter, if they move even the slightest, you need to get behind the one that shows the most strain as it leaves the lot.”

“Yeah, I doubt they will have that much hardware in it. So, we’re hoping they leave with the slaves in it?”

“That’s my guess.”

“Simon…” I say as something occurs to me. I’m getting an itchy feeling in the back of my head again. “Or Lucifer. You need to call in more guys. We need to have those trucks tailed, if at all possible. All three of them.”

“Why?” Andrew asks.

“A gut feeling.”

“Fully understood,” Simon says. “I’ll pull Phillip and John in. Thaddeus, and James the second, are still in Ohio.”

“Have them pulled back as far as possible, Simon,” I say. “Use used cars, but not ones that can be traced to us.”

There’s a silence as everyone on the line begins to work.

Then Andrew breaks through. “You alright, big guy?” he asks me jokingly, but he knows I’m serious.

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