By the time they arrived, the street had been cordoned off by the local police, no doubt set up by Raine. After showing his credentials, he was allowed to proceed to the estate compound. Meaghan sat upright in the passenger seat, her hands on either side of her thighs, gripping the smooth leather of the seats.
They drove to the staging area for the command, next to the wall around the compound, the cheerful pink of bougainvillea at odds with the seriousness of the situation.
Rickie was out of the truck almost before it stopped running, and strode over to where Scene Command was staged. The box-style truck, packed with electronics and communication gear, was a hub of activity. After introductions, the couple was escorted to desk and chairs situated under an attached awning. The scene commander began without any preliminaries.
"By the time we arrived, all access to the building was secured; it appears your security system was reset once the suspect entered the grounds, and cannot be remotely accessed any longer. We have completed a perimeter check, and all doors and windows are locked. There has been no answer to our hails or telephone calls. We wanted to discuss our options before taking this further."
"If she managed to surprise everyone, there should be four servants, my father, my sister, and my sister-in-law," Rickie spoke tersely, ignoring Meaghan's sudden start.
She reached out and laced her fingers with his and held on tightly.
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"JoAnne, my father's assistant, was outside the house at the time, but was on her way back. I thought she would make it here before us."
The officer made a few notes on the pad in front of him.
"Tuanku Ahmad, any idea where the hostages would be kept? And are there any blueprints of your house that we could review?"
Rickie shook his head. "Any blueprints would be in my father's study in the house itself.
"My guess is that she would still be on the ground floor, since she wouldn't know where the elevator is, and my father is wheelchair-bound. More than likely she would be in the study; it's one of the smallest rooms downstairs and only has a single window partially covered by sago palm."
He flipped the page over on the pad and began a rapid sketch.
"This is the ground floor footprint." He marked one room with an X. The officer looked over the drawing and nodded.
"My thanks, Tuanku." He keyed the mike attached to his ballistic vest, and sent soldiers to various points outside the perimeter. After finishing, he turned back to Rickie.
"I have a sniper in place aimed at that window. The next question is communication; we have been unable to do any type of negotiation because the suspect won't respond."
"I can help."
Meaghan popped up, causing everyone to turn and stare at her. Slightly flustered at the focus of so many stares, she took a quick moment to gather her courage.
"Shel was my neighbor this past year, so I have her phone numbers. If she has her cell phone with her, she will probably talk to me."
The officer took several steps towards Meaghan, held out his hand, and said. "Give me that phone number and my negotiator will call her."
"No," Meaghan refused with a small shake of her head. "I want to talk to her first."
Rickie grabbed her elbow. "Meggie, our negotiator is a professional. It would be best if the police handle this."
"No," she reiterated stubbornly, "I know she'll talk to me, because she is looking for my parents' files. I want to make sure my sister is safe, and she might open up to me enough to get more information."
Rickie nodded, and ran his hand along her arm before releasing her and turning to the scene commander.
"I think Meaghan should try, sir. I believe that would be the best course of action, especially since she knows her."
The commander thought a moment, and then gave a crisp nod. Reaching to a cell phone on the table, he handed it to Meaghan.
"This phone automatically records any conversation. Okay, if you are ready, En Torno, let's do this."