Jewell St. John never considered how much money she was worth. Her great grandfather, a man with astute foresight, was the instigator of the family fortune; each son thereafter had put his own stamp of brilliance on the business affairs.
The St. Johns preferred to avoid the ostentatious lifestyle, not that they lived in poverty, or even middle class, but there was a thread of character and integrity that seemed to run through each generation. Wealth was not flaunted, it just was. A charitable and kind demeanor was expected of every family member; that and a hard- to-define classiness.
Jewell was a young woman of unusual good sense and serenity. Her twin brother had neither and was jealous that she was smart and could think on her feet, another attribute he did not possess. That ability held her in good stead the day she was kidnapped.
The light bulb in the hall outside her apartment was missing. She was fumbling for her key when she smelled the unmistakable undertones of musk and sandalwood cologne. A hand was over her mouth before she could react.
A smooth and vaguely familiar voice, hardly more than a whisper, commanded, Keep quiet .Do you understand me?
She nodded. His strong gloved grip on her wrist was a serious deterrent to escaping. As they passed through the service entrance she caught a glimpse of a small gun.
A black van with the side door open pulled up at exactly the right moment; the first tip that this escapade had been preplanned. Unknown arms stretched out to whisk her inside. A silky feeling scarf was tied across her eyes. None of her captors spoke as they proceeded through town well within the speed limit. While they were stopped at a traffic signal she became aware that a hamburger joint must be on one of the corners. After awhile the van seemed to be on a country road. She smelled fresh mown grass with a hint of wild onion, and later the delicious air of honeysuckle.
She surmised there were three accomplices. Number one leaned close to her ear and faintly whispered. We will be stopping very shortly. You will step out and walk between two escorts. Get it?
Im not stupid. You dont have to keep asking me that.
When he chuckled at her spunk she detected wintergreen gum. The aroma of strong, French roast coffee assailed her nostrils as they entered a house, and for a second she imagined she smelled doughnuts too.
They left her standing in a place obviously cleaned with lemon oil. The door closed gently and the lock clicked.
She reached up tentatively and pulled off the scarf. The room was awash in darkness. Her eyes searched for a point of reference. In a few seconds she detected a sliver of light from what appeared to be a small tear in a window shade. Barely moving her feet, she shuffled in that direction, praying for guidance and deliverance from this confusing situation.
Inch by inch she crept toward that tiny glimmer of hope. Just before she made contact with her possible escape hatch she took a deep breath. The scent of musk and sandalwood ambushed her senses. That meant one thing. Number one was in the room. She stood perfectly still with no evidence of fear.
Who are you?
There was no answer, but she heard a small squeak, like the springs in a chair or a bed.
With one swift move she reached out and yanked hard on the shade .In agitated response it rolled itself up tightly. Bright light from the full moon flooded the room. She wheeled around, but not in time to see mystery man. The only sound was that unmistakable click
She quickly raised the window, not pausing to question why it was unlocked, and swung her long legs through to welcoming ground. Running at an easy lope she easily cleared a low fence covered with honeysuckle vines. Some distance after she crossed freshly mown grass with a hint of onion she saw a police cruiser sitting under a familiar neon sign. The aroma of fast food permeated the air.
The two officers in the front seat did not notice her. She had slowed to a cooling off walk. As she neared the patrol car, musk and sandalwood wafted from its open window.
Jewell St. John, a smart woman known to think on her feet, got a second wind and kept running.
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