Authors: Ursula Dukes
Hide and seek
Copyright © (2014) by Ursula Dukes
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This eBook is a work of fiction. The names, characters,
places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been
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For my friends and family, thank you for your support.
Madison was struggling. She tossed and turned in the bed,
sheets twisted around her legs and ankles. Her head thrashed against the
pillow. No matter how hard she tried, she could not catch her breath. A man
with no face had his hands around her neck. Cold, icy fingertips touched as
they squeezed the life out of her. Her screams were garbled and throaty as she
tried prying his hands from around her neck.
“Don’t fight it,” the man said. His voice was incredibly
calm, so calm in fact, that it almost soothed her. The thought of giving in
crossed her mind, but only for a moment.
“I’ve been dreaming of this moment Miss West. Each night, I
fantasized about what it would feel like to watch the life drain from your eyes
and then your body. It’s what kept me going all these years.”
The air around her grew thick and dense. A heavy fog was
rising up from the floor and the only sound was the rapid beating of her heart.
She could feel his hands clasping tighter around her neck
with brute like strength. With each struggling breath, she could feel the
arrant sense of satisfaction coming from the masked man as he squeezed tighter
Tristan had just gotten out of the shower when he saw that
she was withering around in the bed, clawing at her neck.
“Madison! Madison!” He tried shaking her awake. “Baby wake
up. You’re having a nightmare.”
“No!” She screamed before her eyes flew open. She stared at
Tristan, a blank expression on her face. It took her a moment to come back to
reality, and when she did, she threw her arms around her husband.
He kissed her on the forehead and wiped away the tears that
had fallen down her face.
“It was just a nightmare, that’s all.” He tried soothing
her. “My God, look at your neck.”
Long scratches ran along the sides of her neck.
Tristan cocked an eyebrow. “Maybe I should stay home today,”
“I’ll be alright,” she whispered and touched the wounds on
“It’s been a long time since you’ve had a nightmare. In
fact, I can't remember the last time. You want to talk about it?”
She shook her head, threw off the covers, and got out of
“I’m fine. No need for you to stay home, unless of course
you want to.” She smirked and wrapped her arms around him.
“Don’t tempt me.” He kissed her long and deep.
“I’ve got to go in to Portland and serve an arrest warrant.
After that, I’m all yours,” he said and finished toweling off.
“Mmmm, I like the sound of that. I can get some work done
while you’re gone and maybe get a call in to Zoe. See how she is doing. I miss
“Me too,” he said and glanced at a photo of Zoe that was
hanging out in the hallway.
“Her first year of college and it’s almost over. I can’t
wait until she gets home. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.” Madison smiled
at the thought.
“I can’t wait to see her either, but are you sure that
you’re alright? I mean, that must have been some nightmare. You’ve never
physically hurt yourself before. I’m worried.” His eyes met hers, searching.
Madison sat down at the vanity table and rubbed her forehead
with the palms of her hands.
Tristan walked over, wrapped his arms around her, and kissed
Being wrapped in his embrace made her feel safe and she
“I’ll be fine once I take a nice hot shower.” She reassured
Tristan gently pulled her to her feet to meet his searching
gaze. He smelled of soap, a crisp, clean masculine scent.
Immediately her body was aware of his strength, the feel of
his arms around her.
Her heartbeat sped up as she felt the warmth of his breath
on her cheek.
“I love you,” he said and held her tight. “I’ll always keep
you safe Madison. You know that right. You do believe me, don’t you?”
She nodded her head, not trusting herself to speak at the
moment. If she did, she’d break down in tears. At the moment, the nightmare
held a tighter grasp than that of her husband’s.
He ran his hand along her back and kisses as light as a
feather caressed the scratches on her neck.
A sudden sense of foreboding came over her and she moved
closer into his embrace.
“I love you,” she said.
His hand dropped from her back as the shrill ringing of his
cell phone interrupted their moment. It was time for him to go to work.
“I love you too and I am going to show you just how much when
I get back,” he said with a teasing grin.
“Don’t worry,” he said and kissed her on the forehead.
“Everything is going to be alright, want to walk me to my
Madison reached for his hand and didn’t let go until he was
behind the wheel.
She leaned in through the car window and kissed him one more
time before waving goodbye.
Several members of the Marshals Service, along with local
police surrounded the outside of a brick apartment building in downtown
Portland. This was the spot they believed housed fugitive Anthony Maston.
Maston was wanted for violating parole, aggravated battery
with a deadly weapon, three counts of sexual assault and being a felon in
possession of a firearm.
When the signal was given, Tristan, wearing his badge on a
chain around his neck, and his partner Bill, knocked on Maston’s apartment
After only a few seconds, Maston himself opened the door and
allowed the marshal’s inside.
“Hey, how are you? Thanks for inviting us in,” Tristan said
in his most friendly tone.
“We are with the U.S. Marshals; do you know why we’re here?”
When Maston nodded his head, Tristan then asked if anyone
else was in the apartment.
“No, it’s just me,” Maston said and gave them permission to
Once the apartment was secured, the two marshals led Maston
outside to an unmarked car that was waiting to take him to jail.
The first few shots came from up high and hit their target.
Tristan was shot in the leg before being able to get Maston inside the car. He
shoved the man inside and got low to the ground.
His partner was lying on the ground bleeding from a head
wound. As he called in the ambush and requested more backup, gunfire erupted
from all sides of the street. The police and marshals descended upon the area
and began returning fire. Several of the gunmen were shot and killed. Even
though more police arrived, the gunfight had not died down.
While he pulled his partner beside him, Tristan glanced
inside the car and saw that Maston was gone. He quickly turned around and
opened fire again. Bullets flew by him making a whizzing sound.
They needed more help. They needed S.W.A.T.
Things had clearly gotten out of hand and in between the
bullets flying and screams of pain, he thought about his wife Madison and his
He knew that they would be mad as hell when they found out
about the shooting. Mad as hell, but thankful that he'd come home to them safe
He climbed through the open car door and scrambled to the
other side of the vehicle that faced the sidewalk. At least he was no longer
out in the open. He had some cover now.
He stuck his head out from the backside of the vehicle and
began firing several rounds in the direction of the shooters.
The rumbling sound of the large black S.W.A.T truck was like
music to his ears, they needed all the help that they could get.
He didn’t notice that someone was slowly opening a window in
the first floor apartment that stood directly behind him.
Another gunman, a
lone one, stuck the muzzle of a shotgun through the small opening and fired a
United States Marshal, Tristan Calloway died instantly.
Zoe knocked softly on the bedroom door. When she heard
Madison mumble the words,
she tiptoed into the room and gently closed the door behind her.
When Madison saw her, her spirits lifted. Zoe looked and
spoke wiser than her years and Madison knew that losing her father had a lot to
do with that.
Zoe walked over to her stepmother and gave her a warm hug.
“You sure that you won’t change your mind and come with us?
A holiday abroad may be just what you need.”
Madison took a deep breath and shook her head. “I’m sure
you’re probably right, but I’m in no mood to leave the house, let alone the
Zoe was worried. It had been over a year since they buried
her father, and the anniversary of that horrible day had just passed.
However, time seemed to stand still for Madison, she still
felt cut off from everything that she thought was her life. Zoe wondered if her
stepmother would ever recover.
Madison turned towards the window and as the sunlight caught
her eyes, she shut them and sighed deeply.
“I bet you’re excited though,” she said and reached for
Zoe took it willingly. “I am. Taking some time off from
school was unexpected, but taking this trip with grandma and grandpa has always
been a dream of mine. I have to admit though; it is a trip that I thought would
include the entire family. Madison, I miss him so much.” Zoe broke down in
tears and leaned on her for support.
Madison cradled Zoe in her arms and gently rocked her back
“I know you do sweetheart. Your father loved you very much.
You were his reason for living and I know that he would be so very proud of
you. He’d want you to take this trip with your grandparents. So I want you to
go and try to have a great time and remember that your father will always be
with you right here,” she said and rested a hand over her heart.
Castillo was in his cell reading when LPN, John Higgins was
escorted inside by a prison guard.
Higgins knew that high security risk prisoners must first be
screened before going into the health clinic. It was his job to determine
whether or not Castillo’s illness warranted a trip two floors down to the
Higgins greeted Castillo and asked a few medical questions
while he examined him.
After a few minutes, Higgins told the guard to call for an
escort down to the clinic. “Your cough seems to have gotten worse and there’s a
wheezing in your chest. I think you need to come down to the clinic Mr.
“Whatever you say nurse,” Castillo covered his mouth with
his hand and tried stifling back a cough.
When the second guard arrived, Castillo stood up and waited
for them to put the shackles on his hands and feet. Higgins walked behind the
small procession, and was not left alone with Castillo until they reached an
exam room in the clinic.
The clinic looked almost like a dormitory or military
clinic. It was sterile, but held none of the aesthetic features that a clinic
in the outside world would have.
There were exam rooms, nurses bustling about and there was a
small infirmary for inmates who required a longer recovery time.
It had been several
months since Castillo had been in the clinic and it looked the same.
Once the guards escorted Castillo into the private exam
room, they nodded at Higgins before closing the door.
“So… do you have any good book recommendations for me Mr.
Castillo?” Higgins bent down and took out a nebulizer from underneath a cabinet
and began setting it up.
“No,” Castillo shook his head. “Still reading that horror
novel that I was telling you about, how about you?”
“Right now I happen to be reading a pretty decent book. I
think it’s a series, but right now I’m on book one.”
“Oh yeah, what’s it called?”
“It’s called, My Favorite Witness. It’s a mystery, a law
mystery with just a touch of romance. My wife recommended that I read it. She
thinks I’m not romantic enough or something. Anyway, so far, so good. I'll tell
you all about it while you take in your asthma treatment, all right? You won’t
have to talk. You can just listen. Sound good?”
When Castillo shook his head, Higgins continued.
“Well it starts off with a single witness who was thought to
be dead, but isn’t. He used to be in the witness protection program, but is
released from it because the DA decided that after a year, it was getting too
costly to keep him in the program. Besides that, there was another witness who
had far more to offer up to the feds than this average citizen. Now this
witness had inside information and was also put into the program.
Anyway, witness number one agreed to withdraw himself from
the program. You see, this person was married to someone who was in law
enforcement, so he felt pretty safe already.
“Sounds intriguing.” Castillo inhaled the fine mist into his
mouth and asked Higgins to continue.
“Well, months turn into years and things are back to normal.
The person has a job that he loves and his wife, although away for long periods
of time because of her job, always comes home to him.
By all appearances, things seem pretty damn good. But then,
something awful happens, the wife gets killed in the line of duty and that
leaves the husband absolutely devastated. Besides leaving for the funeral, it
took weeks, almost months before he even had the strength to leave the house.”
“That’s just awful,” Castillo feigned sincerity. “Now tell
me, do they have kids?”
“Just one, a step-daughter. She was in college when her mom
got killed, but took some time off during the fall semester. Her grandparents
are planning on taking her on a trip overseas somewhere.”
Castillo cocked an eyebrow. “A trip?” Just the daughter and
her grandparents? Why isn’t the husband going?”
Higgins shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. I haven’t
gotten that far into the story yet. But I think it’s because he isn’t ready to
leave the house yet. I think he still needs some time to grieve. After all,
they were in love. I think his wife’s death hit him hard. But I can guarantee
you that this is one book I will not stop reading Mr. Castillo.”
“I hope not because it sounds incredible. What luck you
have, to have stumbled across such an interesting book and subject matter. I
hope that by your next visit, you will have finished reading it, so that you
can tell me the conclusion.
I am particularly interested in finding out what the poor
husband plans on doing with no one around to keep him company. I wonder if
he’ll go insane and try to harm himself. All of this heartache could have
probably been avoided.”
“How so Mr. Castillo?”
“Well, I just mean that if the witness had kept their mouth
shut, he would never have had to go into the witness protection program and if
he didn’t go into the program, then he would have never met the woman who was
to be his wife.” Castillo made a motion signaling Higgins to take a step
“I can tell you from
experience that leaving a witness behind is never a good thing,” he whispered.
“The minute my attorney told me that she wasn’t dead, I knew
that the D.A. had tried to pull a fast one on me. I knew that bitch wasn’t
dead." He slammed his fist down against the metal examination table.
But it's all good my friend. This plan has been three years
in the making. And I need you to remember Mr. Higgins, that time is of the
essence and you wouldn’t want your lovely wife Annette to have another
accident, now would you?”
“No, Mr. Castillo, I would not.
But I think this book will definitely have an
ending that no one will see coming.”
“I couldn’t have said it better myself Mr. Higgins.”
Three hours later, John Higgins entered Saint Francis
hospital in Memphis Tennessee. He climbed the elevator to the fifth floor, got
off, nodded at the nurses sitting at the nursing station, and made his way into
his wife’s room.
“How’s she doing?” He asked the nurse who was checking his
“She’s doing okay, a lot better than a few days ago, I’ll
tell you that. It’s a shame you had to go away on business though. Your wife
missed you, I can assure you of that.”
The corners of his mouth creased with excitement. “You mean
she woke up while I was gone?” He asked, with hope in his eyes.
The nurse on duty
shook her head. “No sweetheart, not yet. I meant that I’m sure she missed
hearing the sound of your voice that’s all. But listen, she’s getting stronger
and stronger every day. It’s just a matter of time before she wakes up.” The
nurse placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“And no one’s been in to see her right? I mean… no
The nurse shook her head. “No Mr. Higgins, no unexpected
visitors. The sheriff stops by daily to make sure she’s safe. So don’t worry,
they’re going to catch the people that did this.”
John nodded his head. “I don’t care if they catch them or
not, I just want my wife back.”
A young doctor dressed in faded green scrubs walked into the
“How are you today Mr. Higgins?”
“It's John, doc. Call me John.”
The young man shook his head. “Right. John, how are you?”
“I’m fine doc, but how’s my wife doing?”
“Well, we know that the second lung did not collapse, and
she’s stopped bleeding out. She’s going to pull through, but when she gets out,
her life may run a little slower than usual,” he said and checked her chart
“Annette is going to be just fine though, give it some
“Thank you doctor,” John said and shook his hand.
Once the doctor and nurse left, the room fell silent and
John moved his chair over to his wife’s bedside.
“I did it Annette. I did what Castillo wanted and now I’m
back. Hopefully, I won’t have to leave you again until after you’re discharged.
You know, sometimes I’m sorry that I did that stint as a
private eye all those years ago. Who knew that it would come up to bite me in
the ass?” He chuckled lightly before continuing.
“When I saw him today, I told him that I’d found the women
he’d been looking for. I used the ruse of a book, just as I was told to do. I
even changed the genders of the characters, so as not to raise suspicion. I
told him everything that I’d found out, I left nothing out. Just like they
And I could tell that Castillo was pleased with what I told
him. Plus…,” he leaned his head close to his wife’s ear.
“I checked our account, there’s fifteen thousand dollars in
it, just like he said there would be and plenty more once I finish the job. I
just have to make a few more inquiries, and I’ll have all the information ready
I'm also working on a little something extra that I know
will make him very happy. Sweetheart, when all of this is over, I’m going to
quit my nursing job over at Riverbend. I’ll have enough money to move us out of
Tennessee, and far away from Castillo and his gang of thugs. I’m so sorry that
I let you down.” His voice was shaky.
“But I promise you Annette, I will never let anyone hurt you
ever again. That’s why I’m doing all of this, sweetheart. I want you to know
that I will gladly sacrifice the life of a complete stranger if it means saving
yours.” He kissed his wife gently on the cheek and sat back.
For the rest of the night he would stay at her bedside
watching for and listening to the little green blips of light that formed a
steady flow of crests and gullies.