Intensity overrode the room’s rising humidity. The claustrophobic staleness of the tight quarters pushed the confrontation between interrogator and suspect to the extreme.
Emily Stone calmly watched her partner from her cramped vantage point.
His eyes, dark and piercing, focused on the suspect. Sculpted biceps appeared pumped and ready for action – nerves heightened. He showed restraint, but clearly wanted to unleash mayhem.
“Where’s the little girl?” Rick Lopez demanded with his jaw clenched.
“I… I… don’t know who you mean.” The man’s voice wavered and he couldn’t keep eye contact.
“You know where she is. Give me the address. Now!”
Rick pushed the skinny, young man backward against the wall. Cornered. Sweat saturated his receding hairline of straggly, sun-bleached hair as his shoulders slumped forward making him appear older. Weakening, he would cave in and spill the truth.
Time stood still for the trapped man.
He rubbed his stubby fingers tightly against one another on the bottom fabric of his loose Hawaiian shirt. The bright yellow pineapples and colorful surfboards twisted and morphed on the garment beneath his sweaty hands.
Rick took a deep breath. He backed up a couple of feet from the man and averted his gaze for a few seconds, hands slightly trembling; obviously he wanted to pummel the guy’s face out of pure hatred.
Time ticked away for a nine-year-old girl.
The corner of the cramped depot conveniently used for storing small sailboats, catamarans, and kayaks remained still and silent. Cluttered with miscellaneous parts, the room waited, quiet like a strange fiberglass tomb.
A calming breeze wafted in with a comfortable, steady eighty-degree temperature. Trade winds never disappointed in the time of need as the distinct trace of Kauai’s moisture integrated into the atmosphere, from the concentrated outside plant growth, daily rainfall, and close proximity to the Pacific Ocean.
Emily stood in the corner, shifting her weight somewhat from side to side, and continued to observe her partner’s interrogation. She surveyed Rick closely as his frustration level accelerated. All of his typical warning signs radiated in the room with his clenched jaw, brusque voice inflection, prominent vein in his forehead, and a stare that could stop an angry mob dead in its tracks.
She loved Rick for his skill and perseverance; but most of all, making her passion of hunting down serial killers, child abductors and pedophiles his own.
She knew Rick felt at a disadvantage without his trusted Glock pressed firmly in his right hand.
The exhausting clues for three days led them to Kauai from the San Francisco area; the island provided a stopping point for child slavery brokers. They were able to determine that this man provided transportation and they weren’t leaving until he gave them all of the information he knew. They hoped that they weren’t too late and that the little girl wasn’t already on her way to another country, only to disappear into the mass culture of black market slavery.
Emily’s fists clenched as her knuckles protruded an ashen white. Occasionally, her hands brushed by her side out of habit. Absent of her own Beretta, she couldn’t get used to being unarmed and vulnerable on the island paradise. Her petite body braced. She waited for the right moment to move into the conflict, as her unwavering eyes never averted from the weakening man.
The young man began to weep. “Look, I don’t know…” He slowly sank to the floor with his head in his hands.
Forcefully, Emily stepped forward with purpose and thrust a photograph into the suspect’s face. “Where is she?” In the picture, a beautiful little girl with long brown hair and wispy bangs smiled sweetly at the camera. The photo represented a much happier time taken during a family picnic at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
The man couldn’t bear to look at her, but finally focused his gaze on the innocent, shining face.
The man knew. Eventually he would break.
Emily slapped his face with the photo and insisted, “Where is she!” The picture with dog-eared corners and moisture damage from the humidity shook slightly in her hand as she waited for an answer.
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