Jenna and Jim left early hoping to procure seats they preferred since this was a special movie and many would attend.
Emma was delighted. Dressing warmly, with a large bag in hand, she hurried out to the car with a new driver installed at the helm. Martin (she’d asked his name upon entering the vehicle) asked where to and Emma gave him directions to a mall about five minutes west of Harold’s home. When he would have entered, she suggested he might be more comfortable waiting in the vehicle as she was shopping for intimate apparel. She left him watching her entrance through the mall doors.
Hurrying to the side entrance, she found a bathroom and quickly donned black gear and cap before hustling outside. Peering both directions, she set off at a good clip toward Harold’s abode. Nearing the house, she noted the Christmas lights were on, but it was difficult to tell whether anyone was home. Making her way to the back door, she knocked furtively. When she received no answer, she knocked again, more loudly, with purpose. As she stood waiting, listening, she heard what sounded like uneasy shuffling. Turning, she came face to face with Harold pointing a gun in her direction. “Harold?” her startled expression barely discernible in the dim light from the dome overhead.
“Emma! By all that’s holy, what the hell are you doing here?”
“Coming to check on you!”
Hastily he made his way to her side, opened the screen door then using a code, unlocked the door and practically shoved her inside. “I nearly shot you!” he commented between huffs and puffs.
“I can see that.”
Harold motioned her into the kitchen and motioned toward the table. “I got coffee on. You interested?”
“Yes, sure. I think I need to catch my breath after that little episode.”
“You shouldn’t be sneaking about.”
“I wasn’t sneaking about. I used the back door so no one would see me since your note was so cryptic, I felt I had to investigate and make sure you were alright. I didn’t feel I had time to place an ad then wait for a response.”
He’d filled two cups, brought milk and sugar to the table, set them down before landing in his chair with a thump.
“Ok, mind explaining what’s going on? It required some planning to arrange this and I don’t have much time.” Emma sat watching him curiously.
“I sent the family away for the foreseeable future to an unknown aunt in Connecticut. They’ll be safe there.”
Emma blanched, “Why was that, Harold?”
“Seems your ‘antics’ for lack of a better word, have garnered ( the wrong or right attention) and as a result, my family was threatened should I published anything relating to your article. Right attention, proving you’re on the right track since you’ve captured the attention of perp. I’m made of sterner stuff, dug my heels in. I can work from here as well as anywhere making sure to get to the office a few hours per day, but it was impossible to protect my wife and kids without involving the police which needless to say was the impetus for the threats. I might have concrete evidence of threats, albeit not the who. I figured I’d find other avenues of attack while protecting them best I could.”
“God, Harold, I’m so sorry. I wished you’d managed to get a message to me. Nathan could and would have provided protection.” She went on to explain the happenings at the homestead and the lengths Nathan had used to procure protection for the entire family.
“Seems your definitely onto something. You say Jessop is behind this?”
“All evidence would indicate so.”
“He has fingers in local government, police and even state authorities with far reaching tentacles. Safely unravelling this whole shit pile will take an unseemly amount of work especially verifying every detail. He’s well protected, well seated to disseminate every contingency written or suggested.”
“Do you want me to back off, Harold?”
Staring in stunned shock he replied, “Hell no! We’ve got him by the short and curlies. Enough that he’s squirming. We continue and we bring him and his cohorts down!”
“Mind if I explain this to Nathan? See what he can provide regarding protection for you?”
“Part of me says no, since I’m still unsure of his connections to Jessop, but I’m no fool and I’d rather see the enemy coming. If he can help, so be it. I’ll take it and thanks.”
Emma stayed for a while longer and they discussed further communication then she left.
Entering the mall through the side entrance, she changed back into her previous gear and left. The driver was waiting in the vehicle, a look of consternation upon his face. “That took longer than I expected. I was about to send out a search party.”
“Oh you know us girls, we like to take our time, get the best deals, the right fit.”
“Sure.” He wasn’t sure what she’d been up to, but trying on clothes wasn’t part of it.