Dripping With Suspicion 9
Part Nine—Unlikely Allies
Steve manages to navigate the limb with only minor scratches and cautiously climbs down the tree. Her small feet miss a spot and she unceremoniously lands on her bottom on the ground.
“That could have been better.” A voice chuckles when Steve manages to right herself again. To her astonishment, she is facing Rico.
“It was YOU who rescued me—Rico, the security guard?” Steve replies in total amazement.
“Yep Rico aka Antonio Alverez, I am an undercover agent for the FBI. Sorry, I can’t show you my badge—it would be stupid to carry it around these thugs.” Antonio explains while handing Steve a pair of slightly worn sneakers.
“I don’t understand ...” states Steve as she gladly accepts the shoes and sits back on the ground to put them on.
“We needed this little subterfuge to corral the entire Jessup ring. Robert Merewether reluctantly agreed to assist us in this charade by allowing you to think that he was going on a routine retrieval to get Jessup back to Dripping Springs.” Antonio further explains while helping Steve to her feet again.
“You mean that Uncle Bobby knew all about this?” Steve inquires still shaking her head in disbelief as she follows Antonio to a small clearing where a late model sedan is parked.
“Yes, he knew, this was why there was the confrontation between Jessup and your uncle. However, it took a lot of convincing to get him to go along with involving you in this charade. Bobby knew that if anything happened to you; he would be indirectly responsible. However, I assured him that nothing would.” Antonio answers smiling.
“How could you be so sure of my safety?” Steve persists in her questioning as Antonio starts his car and heads north.
“First, I would be there all the while. I managed to infiltrate the organization some time ago and second, from what I’ve heard about Stephanie Merewether, you are definitely a force to be reckoned with.” At this explanation, both Antonio and Steve laugh.
“You had better believe it, Rico—Antonio. But who are the other players in this drama and how do they fit in? I take it that my father and Hamilton were not in on this?” Steve concludes.
“Of course, not—neither would have allowed you to be put into a dangerous situation like this. Besides, the less who knew about this the better. We knew that there were leaks in the Justice Center and we were hoping to plug them all.” Antonio replies in a casual way.
Continuing, he adds “We couldn’t even let Chief Gestapo or Dean Davis in Philly know about this caper. It’s much too big of an operation to involve a bunch of locals. I’ve always found that a lid that is tightly sealed will never drip.”
“You know, if someone had just asked me, I would have been more than happy to help. It didn’t take all this drama.” Steve replies stubbornly.
“I’m afraid it did. It was necessary for it to be authentic and as they say—too many cooks spoil the broth. So, the kidnapping had to be this way. You responded exactly how they expected. Although now things are getting sticky.” Antonio says with a concern look on his face.
“How so—aside from your overworked use of clichés?” Steve questions half smiling.
“Yeah right—my cover has been compromised. It won’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I was the one who allowed you to escape. Now, they will be looking for you, me and Sabrina Brown.”
“Sabrina Brown, what does she have to do with it? I thought she was just an interim secretary for dad until his permanent secretary Celeste returned.” Steve says.
“The Bureau requested that Celeste leave a little earlier than expected. She received a generous compensation for her cooperation. Then, we allowed word to leak that there was going to be an opening in the DA’s office. It didn’t take long for Clinton Jessup to persuade his sister to take the position. We also arranged for that as well.” Antonio finishes.
“You mean that Sabrina was in on this as well?” Steve asks.
“Not entirely. You see the agency where she is employed helps the Bureau on several occasions with people who have certain expertise. Sabrina knew we were after her brother but didn’t understand how you fit in other than being Bobby’s niece.” Antonio replies.
“The Bureau seems to have their fingers in a lot of pies.” Steve smiles.
“You don’t know the half of it, lady.” Antonio returns the smile.
“I need to get in touch with her to let her know she is in danger.” Antonio says.
“Do you think Jessup would have his own sister killed?” Steve asks unbelievably.
“He may feel he has no choice, and besides that partner of his would kill his own mother on a bet.” Antonio informs her.
“You rather like Sabrina, don’t you?” Steve picks up from his seemly more than ordinary concern for her safety.
“It’s not her fault that she has a creep as a brother and the lady has a rough time of it.” Antonio adds.
“So, where are we going now?” Steve wants to know.
“Somewhere where you will really be safe.” Antonio winks.
To be continued ...
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© 2018 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS