Justice Page 26

’’May I look at your ankles, please? I\d like to see if I can get those shackles off and looking at the lock will tell me if they are easy to pick or not.’’

’’Okay,’’ she agreed hesitantly.

Jessie reached through the cage to gently grip one of the shackles. There were key holes in each one and the metal was heavy, solid and wouldn\ break with what they carried. The locks were complicated and that didn\ bode well either.

’’Look for keys,’’ she said into her mic. ’’They have her chained to a bolt that\s going to be tough to remove since it\s through the floor and picking the locks isn\ an option. I could get into the cage they have her in but those shackles are another story.’’

’’I don\ know where they are,’’ Beauty whispered.

Jessie set the flashlight down so it gave off enough light for them to see each other as she released her ankle. She reached up and pointed, turned her head to show the other woman. ’’I have a device inside my ear that lets the people who helped save you hear what I say. I can hear them as well. I was telling them to look for the key. If they can\ find it we\ll try to cut the chain. We will get you out of here. That\s a promise.

Okay, Beauty?’’

’’Yes. You really are going to take me away?’’

’’I swear to you I\m getting you out.’’

’’I found a set of keys on a dead guy.’’ It was Tim speaking. ’’We also found an extension cord and a lamp.’’

’’Just get me the keys and send in Trey since she\s already seen him. Have him come in slowly.’’ Jessie smiled at Beauty. ’’That man in here a few minutes ago is going to bring in keys we think are for the locks. Don\ be afraid of him. He\s my friend and he\d never hurt a woman.’’

Beauty looked scared but she nodded bravely. Trey crawled into the room and eased down to sit next to Jessie. In his other hand he had four flashlights turned on to light up the room. Jessie flashed him a grateful smile as she accepted the keys. He backed up a few feet.

’’Go or stay?’’ His voice was soft.

Jessie studied the woman who stared at Trey but she didn\ seem panicked or terrified. ’’Stay,’’ Jessie decided.

Trey didn\ move as Jessie tried the keys. She unlocked the cage first, eased open the door and hesitated before touching Beauty. The other woman pushed her feet closer to help. Jessie gave her a warm smile and the other woman smiled tightly in return.

’’Bingo. We have a winner.’’ Jessie smiled at Beauty as she unlocked the ankle cuff.

’’See? We found the keys.’’ Jessie unlocked the other ankle. Beauty was free.

’’Clear out and give us an open path to a vehicle,’’ Jessie ordered softly. ’’We\ e bringing her out.’’

’’You got it,’’ Tim sighed. ’’Good work, Jessie. We would have missed her if you hadn\ found that hidden room. Your ass is still mine when you secure her.’’

Jessie rolled her eyes but continued to smile at Beauty as she backed up to give the woman room to leave the cage. ’’Okay. Can you stand?’’ Jessie rose to her feet slowly and held out her hands to the woman. ’’You can take my hands and I\ll help you.’’

The woman hesitated before slowly leaning forward, crawled a few feet until she cleared the open door of the cage and reached a trembling, pale hand to Jessie. Jessie gripped her carefully while fighting back tears. This part got to her every time. The fear in their eyes to even hope, to trust and believe someone wasn\ just f**king with them always broke her heart. Jessie helped her stand.

’’We\ e on the move,’’ Jessie informed the team. ’’Are we cleared?’’

’’Cleared,’’ Tim answered softly. ’’We have a vehicle right out the front door and we dragged the dead out of sight. Jimmy tore down some curtains to drape over the blood.

She\ll probably smell it if she inherited the Species sense of smell but she won\ be terrified by the sight.’’

’’She\s primate,’’ Jessie answered, letting her team know that the freed woman was less likely to pick up the scent of death or spilled blood. The primates didn\ have such an acute sense of smell. ’’Contact Homeland right away and ask where they want her taken so other primates are there when we arrive. She needs to meet her family.’’

Jessie kept hold of the frightened woman. Beauty only stood about five feet tall and her rail-thin body revealed she\d been half starved. Jessie could have carried her slight body out of the house if the woman couldn\ have walked on her own. She fought back more tears as they walked through the house slowly. The woman had been beaten recently and she hadn\ been bathed, in Jessie\s estimation, for a few days. Her hair was ratted, a little greasy and dirt clung to her legs and arms from the dusty, hidden room.

Trey remained a silent sentry at their back and she knew he\d remain there in case the female Species passed out from her weakened condition. Jessie led Beauty out the front door into the fresh night air and directly to the open back door of the SUV. She smiled at her charge.

’’We are going to get inside this thing and then we\ e going to do something really exciting. We\ e going to fly in the sky in a bigger thing to get you some medical help and you\ e going to meet up with your family. They are going to be so happy to see you.’’

’’You won\ leave me?’’ Beauty looked terrified as she clutched at Jessie.

’’No, Beauty, I\m not going anywhere. I\m going to hold your hand the entire time.’’

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