Leaning carelessly on the door ledge stood Deborah Gander; her presence materializing Jonathan’s wish. His lips made way for an unconscious smile, and for the first time in the night he felt a strange relief taking over him. Was it really five years ago?, he questioned himself. The very next moment, the e-mail, Peter Murphy, the murder-all came rushing in his mind. He could not afford to risk everyone’s life the second time. Best to keep everyone at bay from the very beginning, he thought to himself, as he regained his cold composure again. The smile disappeared as instantaneously as it had come and he inquired, “How did you?”
“Find you?” said Deborah, her casual voice a sharp contrast to his, as she sauntered towards the chair, “I kept a track. A very close track.” She positioned herself cozily, legs on the table, and said, “Don’t pretend to be so disappointed. I know you are pleased to see me.” She flashed her unique sarcastic smile. Jonathan turned to examine the main entrance. It was locked, exactly the way he did it. He returned his gaze to Deborah, his blue eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“Come on!” she shrugged, “the door is not the only way you can enter into someone’s house. Perhaps, you ought to be more careful.”Her open hand gesture cleverly pointed to the study window which Jonathan was quick to notice. His features relaxed slightly, and he silently stared at the documents.
Deborah observed him for a while, and then took out a packet of cigarettes from her leather jacket. She lazily flicked the lighter on. Jonathan shot a cold glance in her direction, and said brusquely, “How many times have I told you not to smoke inside the room?”
“I remember,” Deborah nodded, drawing deeply from the cigarette. She stood up and walked towards the window. Puffing out the smoke, she added, “I just wanted to hear it again.”
Jonathan paced about the study, browsing through the documents; Deborah sat comfortably on the window ledge, her eyes duly following his movements. An anticipated silence prevailed for few minutes. After a few minutes, Deborah softly spoke, “They’ve taken Murphy.”
The words awakened Jonathan’s fear. So they were serious, he thought, but Andrew said it was fine. The pieces didn’t fit together. Baffled, he asked, “Are you sure?”
“I know Andrew told you that Murphy went on a vacation. Andrew will never look beyond the routine,” she replied, tossing her half-finished cigarette out of the window.
“You have been following me as well?”Jonathan asked, disgusted. And you never noticed, a voice in his head added.
“Don’t you think it is quite co-incidental that you receive an email the same day?” she hinted, jumping off the window ledge. She leaned against the study table and watched Jonathan’s features transform. He was livid.
A sudden anger engulfed Jonathan. Why does she never let go? Why does she need to get to heart of everything? Why doesn’t she ever realize the gravity? Angry voices pounded in his head. She had to get out of this. He moved towards her and said, in a ferocious low tone, “Deborah Gander, I know you prize yourself for solving the most difficult of cases, but I would like to remind you that this one is more than just a game. This case was solely mine, and I do not want a single casualty. So let me handle this and leave me alone. Beginning from NOW!” He was shouting by the end.
Deborah pushed Jonathan against the shelf. “This war that you call your own, what do you even know about it, Detective Scott? They took Murphy today, and you know that just because you received that email. Last month, my sister was taken, and she was almost electrocuted. She is safe only because they realized that we did not know your whereabouts. It was rather lucky I think, because I don’t think they are going to show mercy this time. The case may have started as yours, but from the day we started to work on it, it turned its vengeance on us as well. All our loved ones are in danger. That is why I am here. Like it or not, I am going to stick till the very end!” she said, and abruptly turned to leave.
Jonathan hung his head guiltily. They should have told him in the very beginning. How could they?, questioned the voice, you never let them know. He cursed himself for running away. “Deborah, please,” was all he managed to say.
Deborah turned back and walked towards him. There was an injured look on her face, and from the way she approached him, he was sure she was going to slap him. You deserve it! said that voice, you have been acting like an idiot recently. Instead she just smiled. Then, rather impulsively, she hugged him and said, “We missed you, Jon”. Jonathan was taken aback. After all these years, these people still cared about him. He shed off his usual closed demeanor and put his arms around her. His hands found their way into her soft, raven-black hair that cascaded down to her waist, and he caressed it gently. Jonathan whispered, full of reproach, “Deb, I am very sorry…”
“It is alright,” she spoke before he could complete, “I promise we will finish it this time.” She let go, and said, “But you have to bear with me.” Jonathan let the smile rule this time.
“What do we do now?” he asked, still holding her hands.
“We should go to the headquarters. We are going to need a lot of support,” said Deborah, her brows furrowed in thought.
“But I resigned,” he said. This was clearly not feasible.
“And I burned that letter. DCI Wilson is still under the impression that you are on that Russian case. He believes you died in Siberia, and mourns deeply. He would be very pleased to see you.” she stated plainly.
Jonathan didn’t know how to react. “Deborah, you are–”
“I know. Thank you,” she interrupted, “Now you would better hurry. We don’t have time to lose.”
He rushed to the living room, loaded his Glock, and took some extra bullets. He was putting on his overcoat when he heard Deborah call. He strode to the study. Deborah had switched off the lights. “We cannot leave right now,” she spoke, her voice filled with anxiety.
“What happened?” Jonathan asked. Something was definitely not right.
“They are waiting for us. Downstairs.”