To start at the beginning, use this link: Link to chapter 1
Dave sat in his office at the police headquarters, looking up at Marta, who stood before him with her hands cuffed behind her back. A stern looking police woman held her by the elbow.
“Why did you do it Marta?” He asked her. “We’ve worked together for years now, and I thought we were friends.”
Tears streamed down Marta’s cheeks, taking a smear of mascara with them. She didn’t say anything for a moment as she struggled to control the sobs.
“He has my little sister.” She finally said. “I had to cooperate or he would sell her to some horrible man. Now I don’t know what will happen to her.”
Dave stood up and gathered Marta into a hug. “I thought maybe it would be something like that. Carlos is in jail now. We’ll track your sister down. Do you know where he took her?”
“He said she was a very good waitress, and that she looked very attractive in a leotard. So I guess she’s at some kind of restaurant? He threatened that she would be doing more than waiting on tables if I didn’t tell him what he wanted to know.”
“I think that may be enough for me to find your sister. What’s her name?”
“Monica. You really think you can find her?”
“I have an idea where she might be, but it will be very hard to get to her. I will have to do some investigation for a few days and see if she is where I think she is, and if we can figure out how to free her. Do you have a recent picture of her?”
“Yes, at my desk.”
“Can I borrow it for a while?”
“Of course. Now what happens to me?”
“I will talk with the prosecutor and see if we can get the charges dismissed. But you will lose your job for sure, and you may have to spend a night or two in jail.”
“None of that matters if we can get my sister back.”
“I promise you I’ll do everything we can.”
The policewoman led Marta away and Dave spent an hour or two contacting his sources. The end of the day came and he stopped in the bathroom on the way out. He took his tie off but made sure there were no stains on his shirt and that his short haircut looked neat. Janice had agreed to spend some time with him that night and he wanted to look his best. When he got to the apartment, Janice answered the door. She was wearing a dark green pencil skirt and a matching blouse. That was one of the things he liked about Janice. She wasn’t afraid to dress like a woman.
“You look lovely as usual.” He told her.
“Thank you. You don’t look so bad yourself.”
“What would you like to do tonight?”
“I don’t know. Did you have anything in mind?”
“Well, I would like to talk to your daughter for a few minutes, and then I thought we might just take a walk in the park.”
“Why do you need to talk to Katherine?”
“You remember Marta?”
“Your assistant? I spent enough hours chatting with her in your office. Of course I remember her.”
“It turns out that she was the one who was reporting to Carlos.”
“Marta? That’s hard to believe.”
“It shocked me as well, until I found out why. It turns out that Carlos kidnapped her sister and he was using that to force Marta to tell him what he wanted to know.”
“I understand now. What does this have to do with Katherine?”
“It was something she saw while they were captives. I have a hunch but I want to ask her some more details.”
“Well, I often go visit her in the evenings. We could go together.”
“That sounds like a good idea.”
“There is one catch, though.”
“We’ll have to change clothes. If you want to talk to a mermaid, you have to be willing to get into the water.”
Dave looked closely at Janice, imagining her in a swimsuit. “I can think of some side benefits to that. But we’d have to stop at my place so I can get my suit.”
“Come in and have a seat while I change, then.”
Janice spent a few minutes in the bedroom while Dave sat on the couch. When she came out, she was wearing a black one-piece swimming suit and a colorful wrap-around cover-up. She had braided her long brown hair and tied the end with a little red bow.
“I’m going to have a hard time keeping my mind on my questions.” He said.
Janice just smiled. They drove to Dave’s house and Janice waited while he put on his swimsuit. He slipped a pair of shorts and a t-shirt on over the top and then they were ready to visit the mermaids. When they got there, Janice pressed a buzzer by the door and one of the guards answered it.
“Hi Paul.” Janice said. “We’re here to visit Katherine.”
“Who’s your friend?” The guard asked.
“This is Dave Johnson. He’s with the police department. He’s the one who went to Belize to rescue the mermaids. And Dave, this is Paul, one of the guards with the new security company.”
“Nice to meet you, Dave. And thank you for rescuing my friends.”
“If you could just show me some ID and sign in I’ll escort you back to the mermaid quarters.”
Dave was happy to see that Paul took his guard duties seriously. He didn’t want anything else to happen to the merfolk. After signing them in, Paul took them down the hall and up the stairs to the practice pool. He pointed to the locker rooms.
“You can change in there. Do you want me to help you into the pool, or do you plan to just dive in?”
“We can dive in.” Answered Janice. “Thanks for your help.”
They went into the locker rooms and took their clothes off. Dave saw lockers with Allen’s and Fernando’s names on them, but there were several other empty lockers as well. He put his t-shirt, shorts, and shoes into one of them and went back out to the pool room. He had the picture of Marta’s daughter with him, sealed in a baggie. Janice was waiting for him. She looked appraisingly at his muscular chest, and noticed several large scars marring the view.
“Where did you get those scars?” She asked him.
“Oh, I got into a few scrapes back in my Army days.” He answered.
“I’d like to hear that story sometime.”
“And I’d like to tell it to you, but I can’t. Unfortunately the details are classified. Why is there such a big drop down to the water?”
“Audra said it’s in case they need to store extra water for the aquarium.”
“How do we get back out when we’re done?”
“See that crane thingy over there? We call one of the guards and they use that to lift us out.”
“OK. Shall we dive in?”
Janice sat on the side of the pool and slid off the edge into the water. Dave gave a little hop and dove headfirst. Once they both popped back to the surface, Janice told Dave to follow her and swam over to the tunnel to the greenhouse pool. Dave followed her through. Janice could tell by his easy quiet strokes that he was a very good swimmer. Once they were in the greenhouse pool, Janice dove and swam underwater for a bit so that Dave could get a look at the underwater plants. Once they surfaced for air, Dave commented on what he had seen.
“This underwater garden is quite beautiful.” He said. “I’m surprised it’s not on display.”
“It’s a place for the mermaids to relax, and it serves as a connection between the various rooms in the mermaid quarters.” Janice explained. “Katherine is probably in the recreation pool, but we’ll go through the cafeteria so you can see it.”
Janice swam through the tube leading to the cafeteria. When she came up on the other side, she saw Renna, Daphne, Anna, and Fernando seated around one of the tables playing a card came with laminated cards.
“Hi Janice.” Daphne said. “Katherine’s in the rec room.”
Dave’s head popped out of the water beside Janice and the merfolk at the table did a double take.
“Captain Johnson!” Fernando said. “What brings you here?”
“I just had a few questions for Katherine, and Janice suggested we come here to see her. What are you playing?”
“It’s called Dominion. Lacy showed us this game but she always wins. We figured if we practiced a few times without her we might have a better chance.”
“It looks interesting. Maybe we’ll stop by and watch when we’re done.”
“You’d be welcome.”
They swam through the next tube into the recreation pool and saw several merfolk on the couch watching a movie. Katherine and Allen were there, along with Lacy. Audra was sitting by herself in front of one of the computers. They all turned to see who had entered the room.
“Hi Mom.” Said Katherine. “And Dave. It’s a surprise to see you here.”
“We were headed out on a date but I wanted to ask you some questions, so Janice suggested we stop here first.”
“What do you think of our watery house?”
“It’s pretty impressive. Where are Maria and Carla?”
“I think they went to the mermaid swim pool to get some sun. What did you want to ask me about?”
“Actually, just about any of you could tell me what I need to know. You said the servers in Carlos’s restaurant wore leotards?”
“Yes. With tights and little short skirts. More like a dance outfit than a waitress uniform.”
“Did one of them look like this?” Dave said, pulling out the picture of Monica.
Allen and Lacy joined Katherine in looking at the photo.
“What do you think?” Katherine asked.
“I think it does look like one of the serving girls. It wasn’t always the same girl every time, but I think I saw this one a couple of times.” Said Allen.
“I agree.” Lacy said. “Her hair was in a ponytail instead of nicely styled like this picture, but I’m pretty sure it was the same woman.”
“I agree as well. Who is she?” Said Katherine.
“She’s my administrative assistant’s sister. Carlos was holding her hostage to blackmail Marta into passing information to him.”
“So that’s how he knew where to find us!” Allen said.
“Yes. Now that we have Carlos in jail, I’m not sure what’s happening to his organization. But whoever is in charge isn’t likely to let Monica go. I promised Marta we would try to rescue her.”
“Why just her? I’m sure the other women Carlos had working there aren’t any better off than she is.”
“That is definitely true. I would like nothing better than to take out the whole gang and everything they’re involved with. But since they are in a different country and since they have several high officials in their pocket, we’re limited in what we can do. We already stretched the boundaries almost to breaking when we rescued all of you. We’ll do what we can for all of them.”
Janice and Dave went back to the cafeteria and ended up playing a few games with the mermaids there instead of going out for the walk they had planned. They had a fun time and didn’t regret the change of plans.