Melinda woke late. She lay there a second smiling, remembering the night before.
Ken, her husband, had just got home from a two week trip, the longest he had been away from her son in their nine year marriage. He played and tussled with their seven year old son until his manic joy of his dad being home faded. Then a simple dinner and off to bed.
Later, as quiet descended on the house, she snuggled gently with him on the sofa.
"I hope you left a little energy for us" she whispered as she stroked his cheek.
"Two weeks worth, my love. I swear, if this trip hadn't worked out, I was ready to give up. We don't need the money that bad for me to ever be away from you and Kenny that long ever again."
She smiled in the muted light, wondering how many CEO husbands would have made that statement. And she knew he meant every word.
When they went to bed, each thought to constrain their passion, but it was a lost cause. They mated like tigers, hard, fast, giving in to the primal urges they felt.
Later, they explored each others' bodies like they were trying to reclaim their territory, moving languidly over ever square inch.
Waking again later, they made love with passion and joy. She didn't see how he made it into work that morning.
"Just an update, honey. Then I intend to take four days off, and spend every minute loving on you and Kenny." His kiss held a lot of promise.
She rose, bathed, slipped into his favorite sundress. The housekeeper was to get Kenny off to school, to give her a chance to sleep in.
She heard the soft bong repeat three times and stop, then repeat as she brushed her hair ... It was a state of the art system. That pattern meant an intruder was in the house.
At first she thought Mrs. Miller had forgot to reset it when she took Kenny to school, it was a bad habit she had. But she remembered the repeated admonitions from her husband about never taking anything for granted, so she went to check.
There was a man in her kitchen, with his head in the fridge. A man she didn't recognize.
"Who are you? What do you want?"
The man turned around with a bottle of orange juice and poured a glass before he spoke.
"May I pour you a glass? No? All right then, you can call me ... Dave. Yes Dave, I've always liked that name. And I'm the man who kidnapped your son. Sure you don't want some juice?"
It took a second for his words to register.
"I've kidnapped your son. Well not me, physically, my partner did the actual deed. It's my responsibility to handle negotiations. You know, arrange payments, the return of your son, that sort of thing."
He was surprised at her calm.
"How do I know you aren't just bluffing?"
He sighed and handed her his phone. There was a picture of Kenny, bound and gagged, on what looked like the floor of a van. She paled a little.
"What do you want?" she asked in a shaky voice.
The man smiled widely.
"Not much, really. Just all your liquid assets. I've done my research, here's a list."
He slid the paper. It was pretty accurate, bank balances, stock portfolios, safety deposit boxes. It also had the instructions of where to send the money.
"Isn't technology grand?" he said, openly grinning.
"We'll go to the bank first, for the deposit boxes, then we'll come back here for the transfers. While we're waiting, you and I will have a little fun. My own personal bonus, so to speak. If you fight me, or refuse, my partner will get a call. He'll curt his thumb off. Do we understand each other?"
Cold fury blazed from her eyes, but she nodded.
"Let me get my purse."
He smiled and held the juice glass up.
Melinda came back ant they walked out on her deck.
Dave looked at her car.
"Wow, a CTS-V Cadillac. I always wanted to drive one of those. You don't mind, do you?"
She reached into her purse, but instead of keys came out with a Ruger .22 target pistol. Dave jumped back, waving his arms.
"Now lady, don't do anything foolish. It's just money."
She leveled the pistol and fired off a round, shooting his little toe on his right foot off He was screaming, rolling across the deck. He rolled close to her and she raked the pistol across his cheek, opening up a pretty deep gash. She walked over to the hot tub and got some towels, tossing them to him.
"It's not just money, it's my child, you asshole. Now, wrap these towels around it to stop the bleeding. And stop crying like a little bitch."
He managed to get into a chair and started ranting about what was going to happen to her son. She aimed the pistol right between his eyes.
"Whoa lady, stop! We can work something out."
She smiled, and with her pale skin and the white sundress, he thought she looked like the angel of death.
"Here's what's going to happen. You're going to pull your phone out, call your partner, and deliver my soon back to me. If he's over fifteen minutes away, I shoot you again. You have three minutes."
Dave ranted, he cursed. He stalled. When the three minutes were up, she shot him in the top of his wounded foot. He screamed and cried. She tossed him more towels.
"Three minutes, then it's through the ankle. Next three minutes, the kneecap. Three minutes later, I blow off one of you balls. Three minute later, the other ball. After that, I'll consider you a lost cause and watch you bleed out."
He looked at her with sheer hatred, but dialed the phone.
"We're done here. Bring him back and dump him at end of the drive. I'll meet you there. Be gentle."
She was standing beside him, listening because she made him put it on speaker. She jammed the barrel in his ear.
"If be gentle is code for come in with guns blazing or hurt my son, and you won't live past noon. You understand?"
"Fuck you! I'm gonna call the cops."
Her smile got bigger.
"Do you know who my husband is? He's retired army. Intelligence branch. His company has only one customer, the U.S. government. Threatening me and kidnapping my son will be considered terrorism. I hope you like tropical climates. You and your buddy will most likely end up in Gitmo, never to be seen again. I'll ask a favor and put you in with the real terrorists. That should be a lot of fun for you."
Dave sneered through his pain.
"It'll be your word against mine. I disabled your security system."
She laughed again.
"You mean that bundle of wires we have for show? The real system is wireless state of the art with a satellite feed. I press one button on my phone, and it streams instantly to my husband and the military."
She kept her cell on, and soon saw the van pull up to the front and stop. A man got out without her child, holding a shotgun. She showed Dave.
"Call him and tell him to drop any weapons he has. If you don't, and I shoot him, my son better be in that van. If he isn't, you're about to live a very painful existence."
Dave believed her. He called, telling his partner to stow the weapons and bring the child.
The other man was huge, burly with muscles. He was smiling until he saw Dave with bloody towels over his foot and the woman holding the pistol.
"That's right, sugar, just send him on up to me and everything will be fine."
Damn, she thought. She had tried for years to erase her southern accent, and it still popped out when she was really stressed.
He hesitated until Dave warned him.
"Don't do anything dumb, man. She'll kill you."
She looked at her son lying in his arms. Anger threatened to consume her.
"What's wrong with him?"
"Relax lady, we knocked him out, with gas. He'll wake up in about an hour with a little headache. We've never hurt one yet."
She realized she was grinding her teeth, something she hadn't done since she was in her teens. Forcing herself to center, she turned to Dave.
"You don't mind waiting on us for just a bit, do you Dave? I waited until we were outside before I shot you. Do you know how expensive Brazilian hardwood floors are? I'm not gonna clean blood off them. We'll be right back."
She marched the big man into her sons' room, and had him lay him on the bed. While he was bent over she put the pistol up against his asshole.
"Where's my housekeeper?"
The thought of getting shot in the ass scared the guy half to death.
"She's not hurt! She got a text from your number telling her to take the day off, you wanted some time with your husband."
She filed that away in her memory. This seemed to well planned to be the idea of the two she was dealing with.
Dave had to be helped back to the van. He was groaning in pain. The big man looked at her with sheer hatred. She surprised him by shooting him in his thigh. He screamed.
"Oh, shut up. I didn't hit an artery. You won't bleed out, but it'll be awhile before you can run again. Too bad, too. In roughly three hours, when my husband gets home, I'm gonna tell him all about my interesting day, and show him the video. There will be no place you can hide, no rock big enough to crawl under. He'll find you, and when he does, what I did to you will look like a walk in the park. He'll never forgive you for touching his son. So shoo, try to hide. If I know my husband and his team, they'll start a pool on how many hours it takes to find you, and how many hours it'll take before he decides to put you out of you misery."
She made a little dismissive wave of her hand.
"Go on, now, shoo. Every minute you waste will bring him one more minute closer to you. Thanks for the entertaining morning.
She watched them pull out, then walked back up on her deck, stopping to look at the bloodstained boards. She went inside and called a 'company' construction business, they assured her the boards would be replaced by the next afternoon.
She checked on her son, making sure he was all right. His regular breathing reassured her, and she went into the kitchen to call her husband.