Chapter 69 & 70
Rickie racked his brain on the best course of action in this situation. The fact that the kidnappers hadn’t gotten any information from Meaghan likely meant she was ignorant where those files, if they existed, were located. On impulse, he called his home.
Surprisingly, his father answered. “Ahmad Residence.”
“Selamat, bapa. I’m looking for Tina. Is she there?” His father gave a half-amused, half-exasperated laugh.
“She and Sethe are currently pulling out every branded shoe and dress in your sister’s closet. The staff are all chattering about it.”
“How do you feel about it?” In spite of the gravity of the current situation, he wanted his father to accept the Torno sisters. He shouldn’t have worried.
“She is a delightful young woman, and has brought smiles to your sister as well. I think she’ll make a fine and enjoyable addition to this family. And I can picture your expression right now, son. Just because I’m a little slower doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with my eyes and ears. You have my approval.”
“Terima kasih, bapa. I promise we will have a formal introduction soon.” Rickie felt tight in his chest at the love he felt for his father. He waited a moment to settle himself.
“I’ll get her on the phone right now. And Rick, be careful. After the scare at Compliant # 3, I just want my son to be happy and safe. I love you, Rick.”
“I love you, too, bapa.” With a throat-clearing sound, his father put the phone down, and Rickie thought neither one of them expressed their feelings well.
Soon enough, Tina’s voice came on the phone, sounding livelier than he had heard it recently.
“Abang Rickie! Have you found her yet?” He was sad to squelch the eagerness in her voice.
“Sorry, Leaf, I haven’t. But I wanted to ask a question. Did you parents leave anything with you two when they left this world? Any files, paperwork, memory cards? It might be important.”
There was a pause, and Rickie held his breath.
“Nothing that I know of,” Tina replied, and Rickie deflated. “We kept some personal stuff, you know, like their wedding album, family pictures, things like that. Our old couch, but it’s all torn up from whoever broke into our home. I can’t think of much else.”
Rickie pondered for a moment while he moved alongside a skiff that had a family of five. One of the little boys pointed at his boat, excited, and Rickie absentmindedly waved.
“Did you bring any of the papers with you to the estate?” Rickie asked.
“Most of it, why?”
“I’d like you to go through it and look for anything…” Rickie suddenly remembered that she didn’t know about her parent’s job, “…not related to the family. Something with names, dates, events, along those lines.”
“Okay, I’ll look right now. Will it help find my sister?” Tina clearly was focused on Meaghan, even though she was having fun with Sethe. Rickie understood the sentiment.
“I think it will. Call me if you find anything, okay?”
Rickie had worked his way to the outer edge of the flotilla. Away from the raceway, the boats were larger and grander, stately reminders of the disparity between the classes. Rickie was about to power up when Raine called his cell phone.
When he answered, she immediately spoke.
“We’ve got a runner, a gray cigarette boat. The APMM are chasing it, but it’s got some muscle in the engine compartment. I wanted to let you know.”
Ricke felt excitement. “Where is it headed?”
“Northeast, towards Pulau Burung. They’ve launched the bird, but they don’t have a visual by air yet. The rib boats are doing the best they can to keep up, though.”
Rickie started looking around, trying to plot a way through the larger ships. He needed to reach the open water quickly, to see if he could assist in any way. He frowned when a familiar boat peeked between two large yachts, also heading out of the harbor. Something about it reminded him of something.
“Rick? Rick? Hello? Are you still there?” Raine’s voice brought him back to the conversation at hand.
“Yes, I’m still here.”
“Good. The commander doesn’t want you haring off as part of the chase. He requests you stay here until they have secured the other vessel and confirmed the identities of the persons aboard.” Raine paused. “And I don’t think it was so much a request as a demand. Please sit tight for now.”
By now the big black and white cruiser had reached the mouth of the harbor, and white froth erupted from behind as the powerful engines were engaged, and it began accelerating. Rickie’s eyes went wide when he made the connection.
The black and white Bayliner, underneath his gas rig. The one Ani escaped in, disappearing into the night sea.
“Raine, did they ever find the boat that was at the sabotage scene?”
“No,” came the reply, and Rickie knew where Meaghan was.
“Raine, I think I found something. I’ll call you later.”
“Rickie? Rickie! Don’t you…” The rest of the call when unheeded when Rickie switched off his phone, tucked it in his back pocket near his gun holster, and through the jetsprint into drive after the larger vessel.
Meaghan felt every bruise on her body as the boat bounced along. She had managed, with great effort, to slide the tarpaulin off, and sit up. Nothing could be seen through the narrow windows but white sprays of water as the boat struck another wave.
She looked around to see if there was anything useful to her, but all she saw were safety orange life jackets, rope, and other safety items. Nothing that could help her with the chains or use as a weapon.
She knew Rickie would never give up looking for her, and held that thought like a tiny flame to chase away the coldness of despair that threatened to overwhelm her.
The swells threatened to throw the little boat out of the water, but Rickie grimly hung on, fighting the steering as he incrementally closed the distance between him and the black and white Bayliner.
Suddenly a large wave struck the starboard side of the speedboat, causing it to slew around, and Rickie was nearly tossed over the side. By the time he gained control, the other vessel was much farther away. He pounded the steering wheel in aggravation. He pulled his cell phone out, still keeping an eye on the direction of his prey. He only had one bar of signal, so far from shore, but he managed to call Raine; it promptly dumped into voicemail, and he cursed his luck before leaving a message.
“Raine. Look, she’s in a big black and white Bayliner, approximately 10 metres long, with a white airwing stabiliser. We’re heading northwest out of Kuching Harbor. I’m almost out of sight of land now. Hurry!”
With that, he tossed the phone to the floorboard, and aimed the little jetsprint for the retreating yacht.