269 Suspicion

After making very sure their kids were okay – at Reid’s request Lydia had checked the room and had assured him that both Danny and Zoë were in their bed, fast asleep – they had hurried to the suite where the Snyders were up and panicking.

Jack had slid into his detective role without thinking and was taking notes when Reid and Luke came in. It was telling how Ethan ran up to Reid and after being lifted to Reid’s chest, the boy literally clutched his arms around Reid’s neck. Taking into account that the boy’s father was in the room too, it made Luke proud that his little brother had chosen Reid as his safe haven.

While Reid just held the boy close, they were quickly filled in about the details and the outcome was disturbing. Nobody knew what happened. Ethan had told them that Natalie had been thirsty and wanted a soda. Not willing to disturb their mother in the next room – Ethan had shared how they had heard her cry – Natalie had told Ethan to stay in bed while she took a quick visit to the vending machine outside their room.

“I’ll be right back,” she had said. But she never returned.

“And you didn’t hear anything, right?” Jack asked, making Ethan move even closer to Reid. The doctor recognized the signs immediately. After living with the boy’s big brother for months, he knew what was going on and he also knew exactly what to say.

“This is not your fault, E. Not in any way, shape or form.”

“But I…”

“This is not your fault,” Reid repeated in a calm tone. “The vending machine is a few feet away from your room. How could you have known something would happen?”

Ethan shrugged, still not completely convinced, but at least calmed down by Reid’s words. He pulled the big white fluffy teddy bear close and that attracted Molly’s attention. Her shocked face started to show some hope.

“Ethan, did Natalie take her bear with her?”

While the boy frowned, trying to recall the last moments he saw his sister, Lily rolled her eyes.

“Really Molly? My daughter is missing and you’re worried about the toy you gave her?”

Molly bit her lip and took a deep breath, clearly to stay calm, and then shook her head.

“Not even I am that shallow, Lily. But it’s not just a toy. These bears have a little device in them, especially designed to keep track of the children…”

That had Jack’s attention immediately and he was looking at Ethan too.

The boy looked confused.

“I think she did, but I’m not sure…”

“If she didn’t, the bear must be in the bedroom,” Carly concluded and was already on her way with Jack in her tracks and when they returned, all their attention was for Molly.

“No bear. So now what?”

“I have a receiver in my suitcase,” Molly looked in pain, “I never thought we would actually need it, so I don’t know how it works…”

“Don’t worry about that. We’ll figure it out,” Jack assured her with a kind smile, “you just get it.”

Lily felt clearly ashamed by her earlier remark and tried to save face.

“A tracking device in a teddy bear. Never heard of it.”

“Let’s just be grateful Molly did know about it,” Luke gave his mother a stern look. “Maybe it will save Natalie’s life.”

“Let’s hope she just got lost…” Damian said, against his better judgment.

“The vending machine is just a few steps away from the door…how could she get lost?” Emma was visibly annoyed and worried. “My hope is on the bear and…”

She stopped mid sentence when Molly returned with a small device and an even smaller booklet and handed it to Jack. After some technical looking operations that included his phone, his victorious look told everybody he made it work.

“This is a very clever design,” Jack gave Molly an approving nod. “It works with the GPS in my phone and look…there’s a small red dot indicating where the bear is…and it’s still in the hotel…”

Jack made a quick call to the hotel lobby and a few minutes later the hotel manager and a security guy joined the group.

“We’ve distributed her photo on our media system, so her face will be seen throughout every part of this hotel,” the man came to business immediately, while shaking Jack’s hand, “So now let’s go and see where this tracking device will take us.”

Jack scanned the room and focused on Holden.

“I think it’s best if I go and the rest of you stay here.”

Holden, visibly in shock, nodded.

“Thanks Jack.”

“Don’t mention it,” Jack gave his cousin a quick tap on the shoulder. “I’ll let you know as soon as we find her.”

It sounded optimistic enough, but Reid noticed the worried glance in the eyes of the detective and he shared that concern. Little nine year old girls didn’t just disappear in huge hotels. Not even in Vegas. Especially not in Vegas. The security in these hotels were well known and topnotch. Nobody in their right mind would even consider taking a child.

Clearly Holden was on the same thought path, as he rubbed his eyes.

“Whoever took my little girl, just signed up for some serious trouble.”

When he saw Damian nodding, he couldn’t help but frown.

“Please tell me you had nothing to do with this.”

Damian’s surprise and indignation was huge and genuine.


Holden shrugged, not ready to admit his accusation was uncalled for.

“You can’t deny that several kidnappings in the past had a direct link with you,” he said almost provocatively.

“And you think it’s appropriate or fair to bring that up now?” Damian tried very hard to stay calm, but everybody could tell he was really hurt.

“I do,” Holden said, with a stubborn face.

“What would I possibly have to gain, Holden?”

“To ruin my wedding, my honeymoon.”

“Really?” Damian shook his head. “You think I’m better off now, with Lily all upset and the family in shock, than I would be if you would be enjoying your wedding night outside my visual field?”

Holden had to admit Damian had a good point and he lowered his head.

“But for the record…I had nothing to do with this.”

Both men looked at each other and finally Holden gave in.

“Good. I believe you.”

“Good,” Damian wanted to say more, but was distracted by a sound and he watched a piece of paper being pushed under the door. For everybody present it felt like the world stopped turning for a moment and then started to move in slow motion.

Finally it was Lucinda who stood up and picked up the paper. Without looking she knew what it was, so reading the words didn’t shock her and her voice was calm when she passed on the news.

“They want a million dollars.”