Crimsonova Castle: Red Scrod  by lobo on 12/31/2010

"So what's going on with you and Wayne?" Cindy Thomas said from the shotgun seat. "Bad news," Grace Van Pelt replied gripping the steering wheel hard to whiten her knuckles. "The new boss Madeleine Hightower figured out we were dating. Since we're in the same unit, it's against CBI rules. If we wanted to date, one had to transfer out. I hate to say it, but working with Teresa Lisbon is too good to pass up. I wouldn't Wayne transfer out. It's hard, but staying in the unit for both of us in the unit is best thing." "I notice you didn't mention working with Patrick Jane?" Cindy said carefully. "He works with Lisbon, and maybe Cho," Grace said tightly. "Wayne and I are his favorite toys." 'Right," Cindy said not buying it. "Despite your Iowa manners, if you didn't think it was worth it putting up with it, you'd rip him a new one." "Okay, I'll admit," Grace, said. "It's fun watching Patrick work his angles. That is, just as long as he's not working one on me."

Cindy had only meet Patrick Jane once. While he fascinated part of her, she was mostly scared of him. She tried interviewing, only to have him scare her off in less than five minutes. Scared off wasn't right, but it was the closest the English language had to what she felt.   Cindy had wondered this ever since she heard about the murders at CBI HQ. "Do you think Red John will come after you?"

Red John was a west coast serial killer. Current body count, 18 women, six men, included in the total are Patrick Jane's wife and daughter. Killed was mild, butchered was closer. Tracking him was bad enough, worse was his Svengali like hold over his followers. Not only were they will to kill or kidnap for him, they would willing die before betraying him.   One of his followers worked with CBI Sam Basco for years before killing him and his team. After they caught her, someone poisoned her while she was walking to her cell.   Grace believed in God, she didn't believe in pure evil until she saw Red John's handiwork.

Grace chewed on her lower lip. Given the number of nights, she had woken up and reached for her gun when she heard something, that question was never far from her mind. "I don't know," Grace finally said. "One of his disciplines killed Sam Basco to cover up Red John's first murder. What he did to Kristina Frye was worse than killing her. I worry about it, but I don't think he'll come after us unless we get too close." "Or he decides to torment Patrick more," Grace said. "Of course, he could do it if he gets too bored." "Enough of depressing talk, we're supposed to have fun," Grace said. "How's your love life. "What love life?" Cindy chuckled. "If I talked to a cop, Lindsay growls at them, they go Code Three for the nearest exit. If an ADA talks to me, Jill glares at them, they file way. Defense attorneys, one look from Lindsay and Jill, they fill their briefs. I think Claire has threatened to autopsy anyone on her staff that asks me out. Face it; the only time I go out is when I'm kidnapped."

"That was what last week?" Grace joked. "It's been month, and that one doesn't count," Grace haughtily. "He wasn't guilty of the murder, only the burglary. Once Lindsay kicked in the door, with Gary on the ground and her shotgun in face, he was able to convince her he hadn't killed the husband. That left the wife and mistress." "According to Lindsay, totally innocent people only account fifteen percent of your kidnappers. Another ten percent have committed a felony other than murder. Granted some of the actually murderers do try to con you. Apparently, you're getting better about seeing through them. Too bad your poker face hasn't gotten better, then they try killing you.   SFPD Homicide has a pool on how long from the first call before you're kidnapped. Lindsay's banned, but her partner Warren Jacobi paid off his car with his winnings." "You're joking," Cindy accused Grace. One look on Grace's face, "Oh, God, you're not. They're going to drum me out of the club." Grace said solemnly, "As an honor member of the Women's Murder Club, I'll put a good word in for you." Reaching over to pinch Cindy's cheek, she adds, "Besides every club needs a cute little mascot, and you're it."

A few weeks after being assigned to Teresa Lisbon's unit, Lisbon sent her to check out some San Francisco Police Department files. Lisbon also suggested checking in with an old friend of hers from her SFPD days, Lindsay Boxer.  Short version, the case Grace was looking into, one of the players was tied into a homicide Lindsay and her partner Warren Jacobi were working. Grace was new to California law enforcement, but there was something strange about her dealings with ADA Jill Bernhardt, coroner Claire Washburn, and reporter Cindy Thomas.   Grace's questions were put on hold when Cindy's parallel investigation resulted in her being kidnapped by the murderer. Grace was the one on Lindsay's tail when Lindsay kicked in the door to rescue Cindy.

Over beers later, Grace found out about the Woman's Murder Club. Since then, between investigations and weekend visits, Grace was made an honorary member of the club.

Granted homicide investigations were grim work, but watching Lindsay and the crew alternate between being infuriated and overly protective of Cindy always amused her. Grace had to admit Cindy was a good investigator. Downside was Cindy's habit of following leads she had developed usually lead her being kidnapped.

As the two newest members of their respective groups, both Grace and Cindy had found a kindred spirit in each other. They also became the conduit for their respective groups to stay in touch.

Cindy, Jill, Lindsay, and Grace decided go to Northern California for a week of R&R. Due to a last minute break in old case, Lindsay and Jill had to stay behind. Cindy would have stayed, but her editor made her take the time off. Same problem with Grace, Hightower wanted her to spend some time away from the Wayne.

The change in numbers meant a slight change in plans. Grace and Cindy were the only scuba divers in the group, so they decided to spend the time diving. Saturday, they had spent with a locale dive master diving off the beach to refamiliarize with dive procedures. They had also made reservations with a dive boat she recommended for the following Monday.

After spending Sunday in church, they walked their aching muscles out window shopping, they arrived at the Blue Rubicon's dock bright and early Monday morning at 6:00 am.  Surprisingly, give what they were told Saturday, they were the only ones on the dock. "Ahoy, on the Blue Rubicon," Cindy yelled feeling very nautical. Climbing out of the cabin, a dark haired woman, yelled back, "Ahoy on the dock.   I'm Captain Irene Byrd. I take it you're Van Pelt and Thomas? Welcome to the Blue Rubicon, come on board," She added. After exchanging handshakes, Grace asked, "Where is everyone else? I thought we got the last two spots?" "You did," replied Captain Byrd. "I was taking out a family reunion party today, but last night they called and cancelled. They were playing touch football yesterday, two sprains, wrenched knee, and some food poisoning. Normally, they cancelled too late to get a refund, but I felt sorry for them, so they're getting half back." Cindy always liked meeting new people, so not meeting the group was a mild disappointment. "Are you going to cancel today's trip?" "Nope," Captain Byrd said. "I'd go out even if there was only one of you. Besides, while you're below, I'll fish for lunch. Bad day fishing beats a good day at the office. I usually don't have bad days fishing. Depending on what I catch, we'll have for lunch after you finished diving this morning."

They went out for about two hours. Grace and Cindy had decided previously to stay shallow on the first dive. Between their air tanks, and snorkeling, they were down well over an hour.

When they came up, they saw the tuna Captain Byrd caught for lunch. After coffee to warm and switching tanks, Grace and Cindy went deeper on their second of three planned dives.

Counting decompression stops, they were under just under an hour. Following the anchor cable for the dive flag buoy, the duo broke the surface about fifty yards away from the Blue Rubicon.

When they broke the surface, Grace pulled her mouthpiece out and asked, "Where's the top half of the buoy? The dive flag is missing." "I've a better question," Cindy replied. "Where's the boat?" Both women did a quick 360 scan of the horizon. There was no sign of the Blue Rubicon. "Oh, Crap," Both women said. "Okay," Cindy said. "Work the problem. Could have the boat exploded and sank while we were below?"

Grace took a few breaths. She wanted to yell at Cindy for being stupid, but she knew Cindy was trying to avoid panicking. "Doubt it," She said more calmly than she felt. "The boat was diesel. They don't explode that easily. Even if they did, the wreckage would still be on the surface, we would have seen it hit bottom, or at least have felt the shock wave. An explosion wouldn't remove the buoy's top." "Point taken," Cindy said. "Did someone come along and hi-jack the boat?" "Slightly more likely, but I can think of at least two reasons for them to wait for us to surface before leaving," Grace said. "We have a low but possible chance of rescue. They'd like to remove that." "The main reason for them sticking around is we're attractive women," Cindy said bitterly. "Okay, Irene Byrd deliberately left us here. Why would she want us dead?" "Cindy," Grace said. "We used her tanks for the second dive. If she wanted us dead, she would have filled the tanks with carbon monoxide. If she didn't use a gasoline powered air compressor, she could have put dry ice under the exhaust. Carbon dioxide would have killed us just as well. We were deep enough for pure oxygen to poison us. She doesn't just want us dead, she wants us to suffer."

"At least Red John isn't the one doing it," Cindy joked. "There's no place to draw the crying smiley face."

Red John's main signature was drawing a smiley face in the victim's blood over the body. The blood runs slightly creating the effect of the face crying, hence the crying smiley face.

"Last year," Grace said sharply. "We worked a case of woman found dead on state land. We knew Red John was involved, but there was no place for him to draw his signature. Turns out he hired a skywriter to draw over the field where the body was while we were there."

Grace didn't mention the killer had been obsessed by the woman's twin sister. It was an elaborate trap for Patrick. The killer, a local sheriff, after he was arrested unlocked his cuff. After grabbing his deputy's gun, killed him. Just before he was going to shoot Lisbon and the victim, Patrick Jane picked up a shotgun and killed him. While he saved Lisbon and the victim, he cost himself his best chance to catch Red John.

Both women looked up, other than clouds; there was nothing in the sky.

"This isn't about killing us, it's about making us suffer before we die," Grace repeated. "I don't remember seeing her before and the name doesn't ring any bells for me." "Same here," Cindy said. "She also didn't remind me of anyone."

Both women had near total recall, so personal reasons were probably out.

"Working on anything interesting?" Cindy asked. "Other than the usual homicides, about the only thing I had going was rumor about missing evidence from the property warehouse. It was evidence from closed cases. You know guns, drugs, counterfeit money, and the like. Most of it was paperwork problems, but two civilian employees were caught lifting some of the stuff. There was a little sound and fury for a few days, but it didn't really have much traction."

"Nothing really," Grace said. "There's a few cold cases, but nothing pops out."

"I checked the average survival times before we left," Cindy said. "Given water temp, exposure, and dehydration, we may have three days."

Privately, Grace figured they didn't have that long, but didn't say anything. "I don't think she took us were she was supposed to. Even if she did, I think the current in this area heads slightly west of north, so we may head farther out to sea."

"We'd better drop out tanks and weight belts," Cindy said.

A Few hours later

"What do you suppose Captain Byrd did with our stuff?" Cindy asked.

"She probably dropped out clothes in the drink," Grace said. "I figured the purses and gear; she put back in my car. She probably dropped the car off somewhere with the keys so it would be stolen. She might be able to throw off suspicion." Just after dark

"You know we just might have a better chance of rescue now," Cindy said, just after she turned on the life vest-mounted flasher. "We're kind of hard to see in the daylight, but if an airplane or a ship may spot our flasher at night."

"I'm not sure if the Coast Guard or Customs patrol this area, but you're right," Grace said. Just then the flasher died. Grace turned on her flasher, only to have it die after a few minutes.

"Figures," Grace said. "While I put new batteries in it before we left, we left our gear on deck while we went below to put our wetsuits on. She must have put in almost dead batteries."

"Too bad the flashers used AA, while the dive lights uses C batteries," Grace said. "Given a Swiss Army knife, duct tape, and dry work area, we could MacGyver the flashers to them."

"I got a better one," Cindy said. "I remember an old Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode where Admiral Nelson and another diver rigged their wetsuits as raft. I just don't remember how they sealed the neck openings."

"We also don't have any rope," Grace replied. "I remember the episode. I think they used their head covers were attached to their suits, so they just tied them shut."

A few hours after dawn on day 2

Both women had stopped talking; their throats were too dry to continue. Their faces had gotten some sunburn the day before. Today they were expecting worse. Normally they enjoyed the attention being a redhead brought them, but exposure was always a problem.

They tried licking the condensation off their facemasks, but it was too salty.

"Grace," Cindy croaked, "I think I'm seeing things."

"Well, Cindy," Grace said. "If you're talking about boat heading towards, I have the same hallucination."

Both women waved their arms to attract the boat. They weren't sure it worked, but the boat continued to close on them.

It stopped a short distance from them. While they probably could have swam it, the man on the boat tossed them a line and helped pull them in.

Once he saw the shape the two women were in, he didn't say anything, but helped them get seated on the stern. After bringing both tomato juice, and a pitcher of water, he asked, "What happened?"

Grace gave a quick rundown, without mentioning the fact she was an agent of the California Bureau of Investigation.

"Oh, Crap," he said. "That's nasty way to kill someone. Got any idea what you did to tick someone off that badly?" "Afraid not," Cindy said. "I don't suppose we could get something to eat?" "Of course," He said. "I'm Mathew Luke John. I'll start on something to eat, and then call the Coast Guard."

Grace looked around while John was in the cabin. On the lift ring near the cabin door, was the boat's name Rot Schnitteisen. Grace had grown up speaking German, the English version was Red Cut Iron. Red John had once used the alias Roy Tagliaferro, Italian for Cut Iron. Next to was a framed picture of a Crying Smiling Face.

She didn't know how he did it, but they were Red John's boat. Grace's mind raced. She didn't what he had planned for them, but she wasn't waiting around to find out.

Grace considered getting Cindy's attention, but she looked like she had dozed off. Reaching down, she pulled her dive knife from the ankle shealth. Getting up, Grace was a little unsteady on her feet, but she started creeping toward the cabin door.

When she was half way, John stuck his head out the door. Seeing Grace with a knife in her hand, he ducked back into the cabin. Grace started her sprint towards the door.

Her first step was her last. A combination of hitting a slick spot, weak legs from spending over a day in the water, and a large wave made her stumble to the deck.

Just as she got to her feet, she saw Red John come out of the cabin.

He had a shotgun in his hand.

The impact took Grace high on her chest. It also woke Cindy up, so she saw Grace hit the deck.

Cindy just stared at Grace's body. She felt something hit. Looking up, she saw Mr. John pointing the shotgun at her. "Grace is a cop, why did you shoot her?"

"She came at me with a knife," John said. "I told you, either hit the water or hit the deck. I don't care which or how you do, but you're doing one NOW!"

In a daze, Cindy lowered herself to the deck. Knowing what was coming next, she crossed her hands in the small of her back.

John put one knee on her neck as he used a Ty-wrap to bind her wrists. Before repeating with her ankles, he crossed her ankles.

"So I shot a cop," John said. "I have you, and Pacific Ocean. What am I going to do with you?"

Cindy was too numb to care.

When Grace came to, she was in darkness. At first, she thought she had died and gone to Heaven. When the pain started, she thought she was in Purgatory. She felt the deck rock and the fact she was tied up, she remembered what happen.

Grace tried sitting up, only to find out her wrists had a cord on them holding them down. The twisting motion made her wince from impact point on her chest. She had felt it before.

During training, her instructors used the less lethal devices on the students. While she was able to hit the instructor despite the pepper spray, the Taser had knocked her to the ground long enough to be handcuffed.

Grace had volunteered to take the beanbag round. Since she was closer and not wearing soft body armor, this impact hurt worse. It shouldn't have knocked her out, so why had it?

Taking stock of her situation, the news wasn't good. While she was wearing her wetsuit, the salt left from the evaporated seawater was grating all over. Given the binds on her ankles, thighs, wrists and around her upper arms, Red John didn't want her escaping. Since her limbs were asleep, she had been out for a while.

Grace couldn't tell much about the cabin she was in since it was pitched black. She was on carpet and the rocking motion, she was still on the boat, and it was at sea. She couldn't feel the engines, so they weren't moving.

Grace couldn't hear Cindy, but that didn't worry her too much. Given how much Cindy talked, the first thing her kidnapper usually did was gag her. At least that's what Grace hoped, if the alternative was true, she'd never forgive herself. After several minutes of struggling, the only thing Grace accomplished was banging her head against something. Just then the hatched opened, Red John didn't bother turning on the light. If he was trying to scare her, Grace had to admit it didn't work as well as he planned. While there was fear, Grace mainly felt a strong desire to kick his butt off the boat. Once he was satisfied he had intimated her enough, he turned on the lights. Once the lights were on, Grace squint her eyes. She was inside an unused berthing area. Taking a deep breath Grace said, "I'm Grace Van Pelt of the California Bureau of Investigations. You're under arrest of assault of police officer."

While it was probably too late, no point in tipping Red John she was on to him. "Fine, Officer Van Pelt," John said. "You came at me with a knife, so I'm making a citizen's arrest on you for attempted murder." That threw Grace for a loop. She knew Red John liked to play games, but she hadn't expect that. He moved a few steps closer, and said, "I'm waiting for an explanation on why you attacked me." Grace noticed he kept far enough away, so she couldn't hit him. Grace wanted to kick herself. Patrick Jane, Lisbon, or Chou would have a ready story, but Grace couldn't think of one. "I know you're Red John," Grace said. "I also know you recognized me."

Grace was expecting many things; most of them involving a large knife, but John surprised her. "Who's Red John?" She wasn't sure what game he was playing, only the fact he was playing one. Given the confusion in his face, he was a better actor than she thought. Not having a better idea, she played along. "Red John is a serial killer, body count in the double digits. His signature is drawing a smiley face in the victim's blood. The blood runs creating a crying smiley face, just like the one you have near the hatchway into the cabin."

Without a word, John turned and left the room at jog. Grace looked through the door, but couldn't see any sign of Cindy. When he came back, he had two frames in his hand. Showing the crying smiley face, he said, "This one." After Grace nodded yes, he went on, "The crying smiley face as you call it was inspired by this one." This one was a smiley face with three bullet holes, one for each eye, and the third dead center in the forehead. "I have what you could call an extreme dislike for smiley faces. The last company I worked at, they knew that. One practical joker decided to put one on my door Friday afternoon while I was in a meeting. I don't golf, I shoot. After my next range visit, I hung it back up on the door inside of my office. I got the other when I left the company."

Grace relaxed slightly. There was something off, but she didn't think he was Red John. What he was, she wasn't sure. "Didn't you get in trouble for that with your boss?" "I owned the company," John said. "I sold the company for $40 million. I kept $15 million, and gave out the rest to the employees. The largest three checks I handed out were for $1.2 million, I got the smiley face." "The boat name is German for Red Cut Iron, Red John used the Italian version for an alias." "My mother's maiden name was Schnitteisen," John said. "I'm not sure why, but I always used a color in my company names. After founding three companies, I decided I had enough, so I bought a boat, to go with my vacation house."

Grace decided to probe Mr. John. "Why did you have beanbag rounds in your shotgun?" "If I have to use that gun, I don't want to punch holes in my boat. I've got other guns with more potent ammo in them." Grace's bad feeling was increasing. A reasonable answers, but made her more uneasy. Trying not to show it, Grace asked, "So what do you do?" "I collect rare, hard to obtain items," John said. Half a dozen cold cases, late night talk with Wayne, talk in cop bars, and even a few car talks with Lisbon, Grace knew the cause of her dread. "You mean you collect women."

John knelt down and reached for Grace's hair. Grace tried biting his hand, but missed. John grabbed her hair and twisted hard. "It's always nice when the woman is smart enough to figure it out. You did it quicker than most. How did you figure it out?" "Most missing person goes missing for the usual reasons. Problem is, there's always a few women each year that are outliers, 18 to 32, attractive, no reason for them to go missing. Add in a few more that thought to be crime victims, but a body is never found. There's been rumors about an organized non-prostitute white slavery network, but anytime law enforcement gets close, people die, go missing, or political pressure shuts the investigation down." "You could be right," John said. "I've had hints about buying women, but I figured it was like hiring a hit man. While you might get one, more likely it's a cop." John unfastened the rope holding Grace's wrists to bunk. Despite Grace's struggles, John was able to hogtie Grace. While engaging in a little groping, he said, "Women are fun, but expensive. Keeping a mistress costs, wives even more so. Getting rid of them costs an arm and leg. Due to my tastes, it's much more fun to kidnap them." "Redheads always fascinated me," John said. "I've also always wanted a cop to play with, now I redhead one, another redhead beauty to boot. You need to simmer for a while before I have you." "You won't get away with this," Grace said. "If you hurt either one of us, I'll kill you." Privately Grace already decided he wasn't leaving the boat alive. Making it happen, she hadn't quite worked out how. "Well Grace," John said with a laugh. "I've gotten away with this for over 20 years." Then turning cold, "The normal response is, you'd better hope I do, otherwise you'll go swimming with an anchor around your neck. Problem is, you'd prefer that considering what I have in mind for you. I've already hurt Cindy. You should start worrying what I'm going to do you first, then tomorrow, and next week."

With that, he turned the lights out and left Grace in the dark again.

Cindy's shoulders were starting to ache worse. Being hogtied always aggravated an old shoulder sprain. Instead of wondering how long before Lindsay would kick the door in to rescue her, she was worried what would happen to her next. Considering how many times she had been kidnapped, Cindy was always grateful she hadn't been raped before this. While the first time wasn't as bad as it could have been, Cindy knew that was just the first time. What he'd do next worried Cindy. Cindy had run into depravity before, John she expected would exceed those. Cindy couldn't help flinch when John removed the gag. She thought he had gone past her earlier, but the blindfold had blocked her sight too well. Not having much to lose, Cindy worked her mouth. "What did you do to Grace?" John kept going through the drawer. He was slightly bemused by the lack of threats coming out of Cindy's mouth. Women's responses ranged from threats like Grace, to bargaining, and the ever-irritating passive aggressive.

Cindy's had been similar to Aikido, in that she tried redirecting things around her. He wondered if her friends found that trait annoying. He was rather intrigued. He had thought Grace would be the most fun, but Cindy might be more challenging. John found what he was looking for, a CIA letter opener. It was a fiberglass copy of a Russell Stinger Boot Knife. While a decent soft tissue stabber, being fiberglass it didn't hold an edge, therefore it was a lousy letter opener.

Sitting down next to Cindy, he ran his hand over Cindy's butt. He gave her credit she barely flinched. The CIA Letter Opener had one thing it did excel at, making someone who couldn't see think it a knife. Starting on Cindy's thigh, he started tracing the tip along one muscle. After a few minutes of Cindy trying to hold still, her muscles started to tremble. "Careful," John said. "You don't want to be cut by mistake." The reason he used the fiberglass opener instead of a real knife, he didn't see any reason to risk cutting them this early in the relationship. If you worked at it, you could draw blood, but that was about it. "I haven't done anything to Grace yet," John said. "I'm going to let Grace simmer before bringing her to a roiling boil." It took about fifteen minutes, but Cindy finally started twitching. One zig was the same time he zagged with the letter opener. "That's a good sign." John said, "Blood. It's always nice when my toy play along." He hadn't drawn it yet, but give it time he will.

Grace took the last spoonful of oatmeal John fed her. Her all over body ache was getting worse, but she was determined not to let it show. She met concentrated on looking him meeting his gaze. She did manage to not to smirk at the black eye she gave him. "You ate too fast," John "Didn't your parents teach to eat slower?" Grace ate only as fast as John feed her. Instead of pointing that out, she shot back, "It's a fact of modern life people eat too fast. When you were working, how many meals did you take at your desk?" "Too many and too many rushed meals to count," John said. After rinsing the bowl and spoon in the sink, he walked over to where Cindy was tied. "Let's see," He said pulling on the drying leather cord around Cindy's neck. "It's tighter than I expected," He said. He slid the paramedic scissors under the cord and cut. Both Grace and Cindy breathed a literal sigh of relief. Earlier that day

The next time the door opened, Grace knew what was coming. She was going to put up a fight. She'd probably lose, but John wasn't going to get off scot free. John had that same satisfied look that boys in Iowa had when they found out she was the coach's daughter. They figured she'd be an easy lay. She quickly devolved a good right. She wasn't sure how, but she was going to deliver the same surprise to him. Problem was Grace was the one surprised. Despite her struggling, John managed to stuff a large lump of cloth into her mouth and seal it shut with tape.  With another piece over her nose, she started struggling to breathe. While she never quite passed out, the next few minutes were in a haze. John periodically took the tape off her nose to let her get some oxygen, then put it back on.

When he was done, John yanked off the all the tape. Once Grace regained her facilities, she realized the following, while her wetsuit top and bikini bra were still on, the suit was unzipped. She was naked from the waist down, and her ankles were shoulder width apart and tied to a dowel. She was also gagged with something holding her mouth open. The rape itself was hard, brutal, and mercifully fast. Grace wasn't sure why he didn't make it more of an ordeal, but she breathed easier when he walked out. A few minutes later, Grace's heart sank when he came back in, that was foreplay, and this was the real attack. Granted she wasn't the most sexually adventurous person on the planet, but she wasn't a prude. She and Wayne had a good time in bed, and had fun trying out new things.

This was the polar opposite from being in bed with him. This wasn't pleasure, but sheer torture. John did things to her that she never had done before and didn't think was humanly possible. Grace wasn't sure how long the ordeal lasted, but she was too tired to move after he got off of her the last time. The only consolation Grace had was the black eye he got from the head butt she landed. While she missed the nose (and missed driving the bone fragments into his brain, killing him), at least he knew she wasn't cowed by her ordeal.

What he would do to punish her for it, she wasn't looking forward to receiving. John removed the gag from her mouth, and after freeing her feet, helped her to her feet. "Now it's time to clean you up," John said leading her into the other room. Grace was relieved when she saw Cindy was okay. She had a momentary flash of anger when she saw Cindy was unhurt. Grace calmed down she was realized that could be part of his plan to divide and conquer.

Using his hands, he positioned Grace's back to where Cindy was sitting on the couch. After removing all the bonds except for around her wrists, John told her, "Okay go take a shower. There's soap, shampoo, and skin conditioner for you to use." "It's going to be hard with my hands still tied," Grace said hoarsely. After he cut her wrists free with a knife, John said, "Don't take too long, but do a thorough job. After all, if you take too long, the more fun I'll have with Cindy." Glancing over her shoulder, Grace saw John starting to circle the knife's tip over her left nipple.

After stumbling her way to the shower, she checked her injuries in mirror. What surprised her was not how much bruising and discoloration she had, but where it wasn't. Whether by design or accident, he hadn't damage her face. Grace took her time showering. The hot water helped ease her aches and pains. When John started, "Tick, Tock," Grace figured her time was up. Grace looked around and couldn't see anything she could use for a weapon in easy reach. The fixtures were too solidly mounted to quietly remove and bottles were too small to be effective weapons. Wrapping the towel around her torso, Grace palmed the shampoo bottle in her left fist. Taking a deep breath, Grace stepped back into the cabin. Taking a lingering look up and down her, John nodded his head in appreciation. "Very nice," he said. Then turning dangerous, he added, "Drop the towel and show me your hands." Grace just stood there defiantly. She hoped he'd get in range so she could get one shot at him. Instead, he smiled a crooked smile, and nodded his head.

That's when she realized the knife he held against Cindy's stomach was in left hand and his right hand was hidden. Grace had just enough time to say, "Oh, Crap," when he brought the Taser into view. Grace wasn't sure the shock was so much worse than the one she took in training since she only had a damp towel on, or if the wet, bare feet grounded her better. Either way, combined with the thud she hit the deck with, she was almost knocked unconscious. The second Taser shock he delivered to her while she laying there was just plain mean.

The next thing Grace knew, John was finishing securing her to a pole in the cabin using straps. She wasn't sure why, but looking in a mirror, she saw he had dressed her in a shirt. While it was unbuttoned and just barely covered what needed covering, she was happy she wasn't naked any longer.   After checking the shower, he went over to Cindy and freed her ankles. Helping her to her feet, he freed her wrists. "Okay, your turn to clean up."

Once the door was closed, Cindy pulled off the tape gag and spat out the sodden lump of filthy cloth. She felt guilty over the fact Grace's ordeal had been so much worse than her's. Cindy hurried through the shower to make sure Grace wasn't alone with him any longer than needed.   She didn't bother wrapping the towel around her since she was expecting to get Tasered.  Opening the hatch, what she got was worse. John had taped Grace's mouth shut and wrapped a cord around her neck. "I've always loved the Mythbusters," John said. "One myth I've always wanted them to try was if a wet leather cord as it dried could strangle someone. Grace was kind enough to volunteer to test it out. Now, I know what you're thinking. I probably won't let her die, but well, I might miscalculate how long she has after she passes out. Not to mention how much accumulative damage she picks up from repeated tries. Now put on the shirt, and backup towards me."

Cindy stood there as John tied her up and bunny hopped her over another pole. After using the straps to hold her against the pole, he feed her a bowl of oatmeal. She wasn't a fan of oatmeal, but her last meal well over a day ago, so she didn't complain. Grace had the drying leather strap replaced once during the meal, but he hadn't played with them more than that. When it was Grace's turn for the meal, it took all of Cindy's self-control not to panic. After the cleaning both women up and putting the dishes into the dishwasher, John left the cabin and went back up on the deck. Both women relaxed slightly as the engines kick on, and they got underway.

While both women struggled to free themselves, they tried bucking up the other's spirits. Given John's skill and reality of their situation, neither worked out. When the engines stopped, both women dreaded what was coming. Instead, they had to smell, and then watch John grill a steak and eat it. After the meal, John poured a cognac and sat down to gaze at his newest toys. He had the TV on as background noise. Normally, he wouldn't drink unless his toys were under several different locks and keys. He decided to break the rule to celebrate.

He was a little upset, not with Grace for head butting him. That actually pleased him, it's always nice when he had a fighter. No, he was upset with himself. He hadn't planned on playing with Grace as long as he did. He wanted to get back home before dark. Taking as much time as he did with Grace prevented it. He could have gotten back a few hours after sunset. While he entered his cove under dark numerous times, he didn't want to do it with new toys after dark, at low tide, with no moon.

Watching John sip his drink and smile at them was getting to Grace. When he had come back down, both Cindy and Grace expected the worst. They thought their fears were confirmed when he unstrapped Cindy from the post. Instead of another attack, he took her to the head for a toilet call. After repeating the process with Grace, he started his supper.

Feeling things couldn't get much worse, Grace said sharply, "I bet you're feeling pleased with yourself about now." John was rather pleased with Grace's reaction. He needed to be careful how he handled her. Breaking her, while fun doing it, was ultimately unsatisfying in the end. While full domestication probably wasn't possible, taming her maybe possible.

Cindy on the hand, he wasn't sure what he could do with or to her. She had the makings of scapegoat, but he was more interested in, well, that was the question. "I'll admit I'm very pleased with myself," John replied with a chuckle after muting the TV Set. "I have a fondness for redheads and I've always wanted to have a police officer to play with. Now I have two redheads and one is cop to boot." "Too chicken to kidnap a cop?" Cindy said. That earns Cindy a raised eyebrow from both of Grace and John. "I will concede there is fine line between caution and cowardice, and I may have been on the wrong side. Besides, I've usually enjoyed the potluck captures more than the carefully planned abductions." "I had planned on abducting a young FBI agent working a VICAP unit out of LA. There was something off about her, so I dug deeper. Turns out, she had been kidnapped." Cindy interrupted John's revelry, and said, "Shut up and turn up the TV."

John raised an eyebrow at this, but looked at the TV set. On it were a split screen of Grace and Cindy. He got the TV turned up just in time to hear the commercial start. He got up, walked to the refrigerator. Getting a glass, he poured a glass of milk. Neither women could figure what he was doing with it. Walking over to Cindy, he held it up for her to drink. "I don't want it," Cindy said. "You did something good, so you earned a reward," John said. "If you don't drink it, then I'll have to punish Grace instead." After Cindy thought about it for second, she tilted her head down to drink. "Just be careful how you drink. Otherwise, Grace will get two punishments."

Cindy drank it without a problem.

The anchor quickly got through her intro. Turns out there was a live press conference involving the SFPD and the CBI. Lined up were Grace's colleagues and members of the SFPD, including Lindsay Boxer, Inspector Warren Jacobi and ADA Jill Bernhardt.

Teresa Lisbon (Grace's boss) was saying, "Late yesterday afternoon, the body of Charter Boat Captain Irene Byrd was found. Since it looked like she had been killed the day before, and it was known her boat left on a diving charter that morning, the Sheriff Department tried finding out who chartered it."

"That's when we discovered that CBI Agent Grace Van Pelt and San Francisco Register reporter Cindy Thomas were the only passengers. Since the boat hasn't come back, we're not sure where they went diving. The Coast Guard is checking the common diving areas, along with alerting all the ports within the Blue Rubicon's range."

A reporter asked why someone would be after them. Lindsay Boxer responded, "We're not sure, but there are connections with missing evidence reported by Cindy Thomas and cold cases Special Agent Van Pelt were working on."

"If they were smart, the fake captain took the dingy back to shore and headed the boat out to sea under autopilot with slow leak so it will sink in deep water. Either that, or they left it in small cove along the coast. Either way, she's probably a thousand miles by now."

After listening for another few minutes, John muted the sound again.

John laughed, "Grace you should be flattered, Patrick Jane actually put on a necktie."

Grace thought back to the press conference. Jane had a tie on. Except for court, he never wore a tie. In fact, his habit of not wearing ties, and only wearing the a vest and dress shirt, while well known to his professional family, wasn't that common knowledge.

"I thought you didn't know anything about Red John," Grace said.

"I lied."

That scared them more than they were.

Next time, Charles Spencer continues the story!

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