CHAPTER ELEVEN

BA shut off the parking lights as soon as they saw the house. Tovey started to open the door, but Hannibal stopped him.

"You wait right here, Fred. I mean it. Let us handle it."

Hannibal sent BA around to one side, Murdock the other. He himself moved up on the front of the house, crouched behind the long, low hedge that bordered the drive. When he was close enough to see the front door, he stopped and waited. Moments later, his radio clicked once, followed in seconds by two clicks.

His men were in position, and so far not a sign of movement within the house. Hannibal's jaw tightened. Face would know they were here. He would have signaled, somehow. If he could.

He pressed the button on his own radio. Move in. Slowly.


*****

They had slid, more than walked, down the spiral steps. Face was mumbling about some woman, and a knife. But mostly he kept saying one thing, over and over.

"Mary."

Amy was having a hard time keeping her own mind on business. Her memories of what had happened over the past hours were convoluted and frightening. Over-riding all of it was one thing. That Face, regardless of whatever circumstances had caused all of this, had murdered three children.

And according to him, some woman she had no memory of at all.

She had stumbled to the railing, looking over despite her revulsion. It was too dark, and the branches of the trees were in the way, but she could see something white on the ground below. She'd almost lost it herself, right there, but one look at Face and the instincts born of running with the team kicked in.

They had to find Hannibal. Hannibal would get it straightened out, one way or another.


*****

BA had moved carefully through the trees along the side of the house until he could see the back of the house. When Hannibal's signal came, he hurried across the open area between the house and the pool and stopped at the back door. He carefully tried the handle, and pushed the door open. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust before he stepped carefully through the kitchen.

Murdock, on the other side of the house, crept up to a window and gave it a slight tug. His anxiety rose a notch when it slid open easily. He pulled himself in and got his bearings. From the furnishings, he decided he was in the client's study. He forced himself to breathe slowly, and moved forward.

Using his penlight, Hannibal cautiously checked the front door for any booby traps or alarms. No telling what Face might have done if he realized the threat coming, but the door was clean. Inserting the key, Hannibal carefully unlocked the door and stepped inside.

He couldn't help but think it had been the easiest front door maneuver he'd ever had.


*****

They stopped at the top of the main stairs, and Amy adjusted Face's arm over her shoulders. He was mainly standing on his own, but didn't seem to notice where they were going. He still held his hand tightly to his side, and Amy knew they had to bind it up somehow. That near freefall down from the widow's walk had not helped. But she had bigger concerns about him.

By the time they got downstairs, Face's mumblings, what she could understand of them, were taking on an alarming tone, particularly when she realized he still had his revolver. She had thought to go and check the bodies, but she dared not leave him alone. Reluctantly, she admitted to herself that no one would have survived a fall from that height. Especially...

She pushed those thoughts from her mind, concentrated on getting them to the kitchen. She settled Face in a chair and started searching for something to bandage his side. She thought briefly about anyone who might be outside, and bitterly dismissed them.

Their job had already been done.


*****

Murdock had wandered out to the van. He, like the others, was worried and confused. The house had been empty and dark. Hannibal had found the phone in the living room, but it had, indeed, been dead. Hannibal had been able to reassure the client somewhat. There had been no sign of a break-in, or other "damage".

He climbed into the front seat, and half-heartedly checked the answering machine for the van's phone. Hannibal and BA, joined now by Tovey, were going over the house one more time. Murdock would wait in the van, hoping someone would try to contact them.


*****

Amy looked around, trying to remember the area around the house. They had to get to a phone. A working phone. She had no idea how close the nearest neighbor's house was, but she did know there had been no phone booths on the road in front. Coaxing Face along, she could only hope she was heading in the direction of help.

Face had fallen silent once out of the house, and Amy wasn't sure he even knew where they were any more. He simply went where she did. He was shivering now; she could feel the tremors as they worked their way through the trees. At least concentrating on Face and their current problems kept her from thinking about other things.

She took another look around. The storm seemed to have completely dissipated now. Only an occasional cloud skittered across the full moon, and the wind was more of a light breeze. Amy thought they must be getting close to another road, as the trees were thinning and she thought she could see lights in the distance.


*****

The four men were back in the van, driving to another house a few miles from Tovey's. During the second search, BA had found a note from the nanny lying on the floor of the study. Apparently it had blown off the desk when Murdock entered through the window. The nanny, alarmed at the storm and then finding the phone out of order, had taken Tovey's children to her mother's house.

She hadn't mentioned either Amy or Face.

They had just pulled into the driveway. Tovey had already jumped out of the van and run to the front door. The others were starting to follow when the phone in the van rang. BA grabbed it, listened for a moment, and started talking, low and fast. Hannibal listened as best he could; he was worried about BA's tone, the one he used when talking to his kids at the day care. BA hung up abruptly, and started the van.

"Get in. They're at a gas station across town, and Amy don't sound good."