FBI Agent Hayes’s friend Thomas is kidnapped by a group of six men, trained and heavily armed. Though his wife watches the crime, her observation doesn’t result in arrests. Her description reveals though that a crime syndicate operates in the Washington, DC, area, kidnapping young men and taking them to an unknown hideout. Raiden Stout, Lesley’s friend, becomes one of the victims, and Agent Hayes joins the investigation to solve the crime and find his friends.
While the FBI agents Hayes and Beckham try to get leads on the kidnappers, more men are abducted, revealing the actions of a crime syndicate. The chase turns into a race against time.
Thomas Zutarski, ATF agent for ten years and husband for five months, lovingly rearranged the wedding photograph on the nightstand. He changed the linens in the bedroom, looking forward to Charlene returning from her visit with Vernon and Teresa Freeman. Now that his wife was six months pregnant, she didn’t leave the house alone anymore, and he was glad for her friendship with his superior’s wife. Teresa took her to the hairdresser, accompanied her shopping for maternity clothes, and invited her for nights at the movies. She claimed that Charlene needed to go out more often in hope that she would learn to trust other people and live a life of happiness. So far, Charlene took her strength from Thomas and was a nervous bundle the moment he wasn’t around to protect her. Thomas believed that the baby would help Charlene look more positively at the world around her. There were times when he thought that taking Charlene away from her former home had been a mistake. She was a girl from a rural town in Virginia and so far had been unable to cope with living close to Washington, DC.
He finished his work, took the laundry to the bin, and fetched a glass of water from the kitchen. He was about to check for a message from Charlene when the phone rang. He laughed picking up. “Hey, Nick, it’s kind of you to call. I know I promised to call you, but you know how it is. I hardly had an hour at home. Do you want to come to my place tomorrow around eight or eight-thirty? I bet Charlene will do one of her great pastries.”
“So there’s less booze and more food? I’m game.”
Thomas laughed. “Well then, that’s settled.”
“Bet that I’ll be hungry.”
“Oh, I know The night...has an appetite.” He laughed when Nicolas groaned. “You know me—the movie man.”
“We should send you to a TV show—the man who knows five hundred taglines.”
“That would be fun. See you tomorrow.” Thomas liked Nicolas, friend and FBI agent, more and more. Their friendship had started while they were both investigating the illegal activities of the Turner family in a small town in Virginia and grew when they fled together and brought members of three big criminal families to justice. When Thomas took a bullet on the run, Nicolas helped him to safety. The weeks they had shared, working as well as suffering, revealed similar character traits and created a bond they maintained and strengthened. Usually, they met twice a month for a chat and a few drinks at a bar in Washington, DC, but due to Charlene’s condition, Thomas preferred staying home. He considered himself lucky that Nicolas didn’t complain that their men’s night was no longer a private one.
Thomas put down the phone, smiling and looking forward to their meeting. On the spur of the moment, he took down notes for his weekly grocery shopping, then he heard a strange sound at the back door—rubber boots on stone. When he went toward the door, a hard object thudded against it. Thomas turned around to fetch his gun from the drawer. Simultaneously, the front and back door exploded into a thousand splinters and glass shards. In the quiet night, the noise was deafening. Stunned, Thomas gaped at the hole that had been a solid back door and the three men on each side invading his house. He reached for the phone on the counter, but it was too late. He looked into the muzzles of submachine guns, held by men in combat gear with night vision goggles. Judging by their aggressive approach, they were willing to shoot him if he made a false move.
“Drop it and put your hands behind your head!”
He couldn’t fight and win against six armed men, so he did as ordered but checked left and right for a chance to wrest the weapon from the man standing next to him. It galled him that they had surprised him so easily.
“What do you want from me?”
The man to his right swiveled the weapon around to hit Thomas’s stomach with the butt. “Shut up!”
Thomas gasped and doubled over.
The attacker stepped out of reach while two others closed in, kept Thomas upright, and put a leather belt around his waist. In a minute, Thomas’s wrists were locked in shackles and his hands were covered by an additional leather strap and thus rendered useless. Why would kidnappers in combat gear use medical restraints? It doesn’t make sense.
He had trouble speaking. “Who are you? Where are you taking me?”
Instead of an answer, Thomas was gagged and blindfolded.
Helpless, he was led out of the house. Upon a barked command, a powerful engine came to life. One of the men pushed Thomas into the cargo area of a van and pressed him onto a bench. A kidnapper locked a collar around his neck that was fastened with a chain to the van’s wall. Thomas choked when he moved his head.
“Sit tight, don’t make a fuss. It’s a long ride.”
The van left the curb quickly but without squealing tires. Thomas’s only hope rested on a few neighbors who might’ve noticed the unusual nocturnal ruckus outside their gardens.