Shades of Grey
Having been separated from his friend was bad enough, but hearing the desperation in Sam's voice drove him dangerously close to the edge. He'd been warned. They'd use Sam against him. He had a hard time believing Rashid would actually harm either of them, but the threat still loomed. It hung over his head like a pendulum.
Damn it, he had to know Sam was okay. Josh took two steps and found a gun in his face. He stopped short. His breath caught, and everything went black.
Images assailed his mind. Lights. Sirens. Screams. Events from two months ago came back to haunt him. He'd thought he'd conquered it.
No. Sam. He had to keep it together for Sam. Josh averted his gaze, trying to unclench his fists. His teeth ground together as he held back the expletives he so wanted to shout. Very slowly, he turned his head until he could see his old friend.
Rashid issued a soft-spoken order. The gun was reholstered, but Josh's path to the door was still blocked.
"I want to see Sam."
Rashid sighed, slipping his hands into his pockets. "No."
"Sit down, Josh."
Josh didn't move.
One of Rashid's eyebrows quirked. He pulled his hands from his pockets and took the few steps necessary to bring him face to face with Josh. "Don't test me, Josh. I don't make idle threats. Sit down."
A rectangular table with folding metal chairs had been set up in the room, a room that at some point had probably been a dining room. He pulled out one of the chairs and sat, shivering at the coldness of the metal. The two space heaters in the room did little to take the bite out of the air.
As Rashid sat across from him, Josh hunched forward, resting elbows on his legs and clasping his hands between his knees. His headache was back, worse than before, making it hard for him to think.
He wished he had paid better attention while Rashid had been driving. Before he had gathered his wits enough to remember, they were halfway to where they were going. He knew they were in a not so good section of DC. The old brownstone they occupied had probably been beautiful twenty years ago. Not that any of it mattered now. Who could he tell?
Against the wall next to a swinging door was another table on top of which lay all his personal belongings. Watch, keys, comb, wallet, White House ID. Funny how his life could be summed up in that little pile of things.
"Looking for this?"
Josh looked up in time to see Rashid push a cell phone to the center of the table. Josh's phone.
Propping his elbows on the table, Josh ran his hands over his face. He rubbed his temples with his fingertips. It didn't help. "What do you want, Raj?"
"You didn't get where you are today by being stupid, Josh. You tell me."
"You want us to free Riaz."
"Ain't gonna happen."
"That would be too bad."
Voices caught his attention and Josh turned as three young men entered the room. He recognized them as the ones who had taken Sam upstairs. One of them carried Sam's coat and suit jacket, another his belongings. They deposited the items next to Josh's.
Renewed fear for his friend made Josh's mouth go dry. He knew Sam Seaborn. The younger man would not have given up his possessions easily. He remembered Sam's cry. Then...
His heart was beating faster. It pounded in his temples. "Rashid"
His phone rang. The ringing startled him; he usually kept it on vibrate so he didn't have to remember to turn it off during meetings.
"That's gonna be for me," he said. Had his voice just cracked?
Rashid sat back in his chair.
Josh's face flushed as he leaned forward and stabbed a finger at the phone. "You have to tell them what you want, Rashid. They don't have a God damn crystal ball!"
Crystal ball. Donna. It would be Donna on the phone. He wondered if he'd ever see her again.
Rashid stood and placed his palms on the table. "I will speak to them when I'm ready."