68 ...And Looking
Meaghan was battered, inside and out. Shel kept up her interrogation while the older mercenary applied painful pressure points or physically struck her, until Meaghan felt wrung out.
"I didn't even know they were spies! I don't know anything about this!" She protested, mumbling through bleeding lips. Shel shrugged.
"Meg, they still could have hidden a thumb drive or memory card somewhere." Shel sat back, annoyance cracking her previous expressionless demeanor. "This is getting tiresome, and we've been here long enough." She reached for an incongruously pink phone with a Hello Kitty case and dialed.
Rick throttled back the boat's engine until it was quiet. His phone was ringing, and he recognized the previous phone number of the kidnappers. One he minimized any noise that would clue in his location, he answered it.
"Mr. Ahmad, so glad you picked up the phone, but next time do so quickly. You know we are serious about this. The Tornos wouldn't like you putting their daughter in such a situation."
"I won't do anything until you let Meaghan go," Rickie bit out, still scanning around him for anything, any clue to stop this feeling of helplessness.
Shel chuffed. "You know that's not how it works, Prince. Yes, I know of your reputation in the government. You also need to know how serious we are."
She nodded to Shuk, who proceeded to twist Meaghan's upper arm until she elicited a cry from the kidnapped girl.
"Okay! I'll find it! Just don't hurt her anymore."
Rickie gritted his teeth, overwhelmed with the need to pummel something.
"Very good," Shel purred, "I'll call back in an hour." She disconnected the call.
In the meantime, Shuk was on the radio with someone, and, when she signed off, she walked over to Shel and respectfully nodded.
"Shao Xiao, Tiger Team advised the Maritime boats are getting nearer to our current location."
"Then, we are going to split up and reconvene at our rendezvous point. Call in Tiger to pick me up; you'll proceed alone so don't bring attention to yourself. We'll make the diversion."
Shuk saluted and took the ladder to the upper deck.
Shel looked at Meaghan huddled on the cushion.
"Your lover has run out of time. Pity all his effort will be for nothing." With no further words, Shel left Meaghan alone in the cabin.
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Through the open door, however, she could faintly hear their conversation abovedeck.
"We'll see up at our next location. Shuk, ever forward."
"Thank you, Shao Xiao. Good hunting!"
Meaghan felt the boat rock, then the sound of an engine accelerating away. The cabin door was momentarily blocked as the figure of Shuk descended the ladder. She pulled a heavy tarpaulin out of a locker, and, without warning, tossed it over Meaghan, completely enveloping her in its heavy folds.
"Just stay still like a good little girl, si manis, until I come back down here."
[A/N: "si manis" is "sweetie" in Malaysian. In this case, it's used sarcastically]
She climbed back out, shut the door, and the boat started moving. Meaghan desperately tried to wiggle out from under the stifling cloth, and do anything to stop them from leaving.
Fatigued after a short time, she could only concentrate on pulling air into her lungs as the vessel moved farther away from shore and safety.