“So, you’re suggesting I sign these documents and just give it all away?” Liam Pace asked, in disbelief, of Charlie Hume.

“That’s exactly what I think you should do,” Charlie replied.

“What kind of idiot do you have for a boyfriend, Megan?!” Liam asked.

Megan Pace shrugged, “Dad, they’ve threatened to kill Char!”

“They’ll kill her anyway!” Liam replied, “and probably both of us to eliminate any witnesses!”

“So you want to do nothing, Dad?!” Megan angrily asked, “No! We have to do something!!”

“Okay, lets think this through!” Charlie began, “Mr. Pace, you feel that no matter what you do, Char is not going to be released and will likely be killed, right?”

“I don’t feel,” Liam answered, “I know!”

“Then this is what you have to do,” Charlie continued, “you sign those papers. Call the kidnappers, tell them its “signed, sealed, and ready for delivery.” Then listen to what they instruct you to do next. I’d guess they’ll have Megan drop the documents off someplace. Then I’ll follow whoever picks them up. Those documents will lead us, if not directly to Char, then at least to someone who knows where she is. Then we’ll play it from there.”

“How you going to follow anyone without them knowing you’re following them?” Megan asked.

“Come on, Megan! Give me some credit for being a clever detective,” Charlie answered, “but I’ll call my friend, Pavlov. He’s an ex-military intelligence officer. He always comes up with something useful.”

“Well, I don’t like any of this,” Liam said, “don’t like any of this one bit.”

“We don’t have a choice, Dad,” Megan said, “if Charlie thinks it will work, then we should try it!”

“Well, do you think your idea will work?” Liam asked Charlie.

“I think your daughter is right,” Charlie, avoiding Liam’s direct question, answered, “we don’t have a choice!”

“Terrific!” Liam mumbled, lighting up another cigarette.

Charlie excused himself and walked outside give Pavlov a call.

“Pav, ol buddy,” he said over his cell, to a groggy Pavlov Florensky, apparently sleeping in on this sunny day, “I need your help. What’s the best way to place an undetectable trace on documents?”

Charlie listened intently to Pavlov’s answer.

“Okay,” Charlie replied, “how fast can you get down here to Santa Rosa? Great! See you then!”

Charlie put his cell away and headed back in. Along the way, he noticed a woman with long, gray-blonde hair, sitting on a bench just outside the entrance.

She appeared to be in her mid to late forties and still very attractive. She was singing softly to something she was holding on her lap. Charlie glanced over to see that it was a doll. He didn’t recognize the song she sang, it had something to do with falling stars, but he knew this was another example of why this kind of place always freaked him out.

Next: Chap. Seventeen “A Cynical Smile of Internal Hatred”

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