Kelly and Sally almost bumped into Lou on his way out. Jack gave them both a hug and black coffee. He thought, What could be wrong with a woman who drinks her coffee black? Kelly took the coffee gratefully. “We are wiped. I thought those girls would never settle down. They were still frightened and afraid to be alone. They all crammed into one room. No trouble at the motel. They were happy with the business. The girls were dubious about not calling the police. I gave them the talk about an ongoing investigation and their own safety. Plus all the negative notoriety and without any evidence some people would not believe their stories. They were all a new batch of prisoners. The longest anyone was a captive was five days.
“I told them those people would never bother them again. Sally told them she was once a captive and was rescued by the same team, who are a very small, special, super-secretive government unit. She followed their advice and was glad she had. Testifying before an open court can be very dangerous when dealing with a ring of kidnappers. Sally’s story calmed them down and they all managed to convince loved ones they would be home the day after tomorrow and asked them for no media or police. It’s almost too good to believe. So I don’t. Some parent, sibling, or friend will tell the media or the police. I see why you wanted them to have no way to reach or identify us. One more thing. One girl was from Philadelphia and she asked for the lab Sally brought from the farm. We gave it to her. I helped her with a rental car. She left this afternoon for Philadelphia. Fortunately, some of her documents and credit cards were in the stuff you and Kathy picked up.”
“Good job, both of you. Now the lecture. Do you remember me telling you to stay together? I meant exactly that. You both, especially you Kelly, showed bad judgment. You knew about the dangers of being alone in a parking lot. When is the prey the most vulnerable? Not when parking, unless you park in the same spot all the time, the hunters have no way of knowing where you’ll park but they do know you will be coming back. To come back alone, probably carrying packages, not thinking about the danger and not being ready with your weapon is a serious lapse. If you’re going to be careless how can I trust you with my back or Kathy’s?”
Kelly said, “I’ve no excuse. Sally even asked me if it was okay if she watched the packages and I went to get the car. It was dumb.”
“If you want to stay on this team and do the work your mother did, you must, and starting now, use your head. This business isn’t only about bravery and skills. It is mostly about judgment and details. In your case it is also about following orders. You do not yet have the necessary experience to act on your own. You are a boot, a new recruit, and you will have to work hard to move up the chain. Understand?”
“Yes. I can do better.”
“Okay. Listen carefully. No more mistakes. This is the second serious one. If you didn’t have so much potential and if this wasn’t mostly my fault for pushing you along so fast, there would be no more chances. Normally I would not critique you in front of Sally, but I wanted her to hear me. It may prevent a future problem. Now tell me your story.”
For the next hour Kelly told Jack and Sally what had happened to her, starting with the stun gun in the parking lot. Jack praised her for her actions after she was taken. When she was done, Jack nodded and they left. Jack hoped he hadn’t been too hard on Kelly. Her mother died in his arms from taking a bullet meant for him. He had promised his dying friend he would take care of her daughter and he was going to do just that. Even at the cost of her friendship.