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Jamee would never knowingly accept protection but when she meets Ian McCall, tenth laird of Glenlyle, she is unaware that the proud ...
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Jamee would never knowingly accept protection but when she meets Ian McCall, tenth laird of Glenlyle, she is unaware that the proud Highlander is a top kidnapping expert secretly working on her behalf. But there is no mistaking the quiet strength and steely confidence which pulls her inexorably toward his powerful, sheltering embrace and wakens within her a desperate yearning -- as well as intense memories of an ancestor who lived, loved and made three solemn wishes generations before.
Now, here in the windswept hills, with Jamee's courage, Ian's trust, and a bit of otherworldly help from the irrepressible spirits of draycott Abbey, miracles can take place -- and even ancient wishes really can come true.
For a big man, Ian McCall's hands were amazingly gentle as he eased the dial of the short-wave radio. Inside the crowded van greenish diodes left trails of cold light across his face. "Any answer yet?"
The man beside him shook his head. "They're still counting the money."
Ian McCall fought his exhaustion. As Security International's most seasoned kidnap negotiator, he knew the next decision was his. "They've had fifteen minutes to count the money. It's time to push them. Otherwise, they'll run—and they'll put a bullet in that little girl first," he said harshly.
His boss, Sir George Rolland, rubbed his neck impatiently. "It's your call, Ian. You've been mediating with them for three months now. If anyone knows what these animals will do, it's you."
"They aren't professionals. They're unpredictable and probably shot high on drugs. If we don't act now, we lose our edge. Then there's no telling what they'll do to their hostage."
The director nodded grimly. "Take over."
Ian drew a hard breath and flipped on the broad cast switch near his left palm. His voice was precise, but carried the hint of soft Highland cadences. "Largo, are you there?"
There was no answer.
"Largo, this is Baker." The code name rolled smoothly from Ian's tongue. Field personnel in hostage situations knew better than to use their real names. If they didn't know that, they didn't survive for long. "What the hell is taking so long in there? We want the girl out now. Get her in front of the cottage where we can see her."
Static rose in a sharpwave, followed by a voice rough with exhaustion and raw excitement. "We're still checking the money, Baker. Three stacks to go. Your people had better not have left anything out."
"Listen to me, Largo. Get the girl out now or a team will be in with dogs and infrared tracers. If that happens, there won't be enough of you left to enjoy a single bloody pound."
"Threats, Baker? I thought smooth negotiating was your style."
"My style just changed. Something tells me you've lost control over your comrades in there. If you're not careful, you're going to end up a splotch on a wall." Ian lowered his voice. "You might be interested to know that the Italian has done this before. Both times he pulled the trigger on his victim minutes after the ransom was paid. Then he vanished with the money. Do you catch my drift, Largo?"
The kidnapper made a low, crude sound. "How do you know that?"
"We're in touch with Interpol, of course. The Italian's M.O. was clear from week one. The only one who didn't know his style was you. Obviously, he's setting you up for the same trick."
A string of curses filled the wire.
Ian flipped off the transmit button and sat back. Sweat glistened green over his brow in the light of the shifting diodes.
"What happens now?" Rolland asked anxiously.
"Now we pray. The next move is up to Largo." Ian studied a video screen to his left. "Still no movement at the site, damn it."
"You did everything you could, McCall. It looks like you were right on target about that bloody fellow Alberto. Let's hope Largo gets to the girl first."
Ian swung off his headset and motioned to the officer at his left, who immediately took his place. "It's finished, Rolland. I can feel it. They've got most of their damned money and now they'll start tidying up." Suddenly he bent over the video screen. "Wait a minute. . ."
A moment later the air crackled with the urgent voice of one of Security International's support team. "Baker, are you there? The door is opening. Some one's coming out. Hold fire until my order, under stood? Baker, do you read me?"
Ian shoved his headphones back in place, responding to his code name. "I'm here, Able. We can see the field. Any ID on who's coming out?"
"It looks like the girl. It's—she's out! Baker, do you copy? She's out!"
Copyright ) 1997 by Roberta Helmer
Posted July 28, 2004
Posted June 16, 2009
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