Mady Bay -
January 4, 2009
The con had gone as planned. Or as well as they usually go – a few small glitches along the way, but overall, the Leverage agency set out to do what they'd planned. Over the past month, Nate and Sophie had come to the small town of Chenango several times, posing as a newly married couple, "Nelson and Linda Cooper," looking to buy their first house together. They were "starting their lives over" as they'd told the real estate broker, leaving their previous, loveless, marriages behind.
The real estate broker, Mr. William Ives, "seeing" through their current bank statements that they'd both gotten the better deals in their divorce proceedings (thanks to Hardison), that they'd be prime customers, quickly started showing them homes to buy. The fact that said homes were in slowly sinking marshlands owned by the realtor and not the names of the people on the deeds nor the fact that the homes' inspections and other pertinent paperwork for a legitimate home buying were all forged and/or fictitious, were never mentioned to Mr. or Mrs. Cooper. Nor to Mr. and Mrs. Frank Patterson, the Leverage agency's clients, a couple that had been swindled out of $400,000.00 by Mr. Ives and his band of thieves and crooked lawyers.
Yes, their con had gone as planned. Nate and Sophie managed to sell Mr. Ives "their" former homes – because, after all, they'd have to sell them first, before buying his land – and of course, there were no such homes. Hardison had done his magic in the computer world, right from his office, transferring monies electronically and illegally – his specialty. Eliot had been along for the ride, providing possible back-up – the team wasn't sure how much of the town, especially the local law enforcement, was in on Ives' dealings. He played chauffer for Nate and Sophie – nearby if they needed his special skills. Parker had sat this one out, her skills not needed.
The team had questioned Nate about this con, Hardison pointing out several times that they could do all this electronically, from their office, that a few keystrokes was all that was needed to transfer the monies from Ives' account to the Pattersons'. While Nate had agreed, he also knew that a certain sort of "revenge" was in order for Ives. The Pattersons were a young couple expecting their first children – twins – and Ives took them for all they had and more. Nate wanted to be there in person to see Ives go down for the count.
So when Nate and Sophie left the realtor's office, and headed for the limo, they didn't think twice about the fact that Eliot's hair was out of its ponytail. Or that his black uniform had some dirt on it. They'd heard the scuffle he'd had with the realtor's muscle – his brother-in-law – over their earpieces, shortly after the "Coopers" told Ives that their deal was off. He'd smiled curtly at them as he opened the door to the limo and then closed it after they'd gotten in.
It wasn't until they were well out of town that Nate and Sophie began to question the day's events, the small details of their con, when Eliot pulled the limo over to the side of the road.
"Eliot?" Nate called through the small window between the driver's area of the limo and the passenger compartment. When Eliot didn't reply, Nate called again, leaning forward, poking his head through the window. "Eliot?"
What he saw worried him. Eliot was pale and sweaty, looking like he would be sick any minute.
"Think you better drive, Boss," Eliot rasped, closing his eyes tight, obviously fighting off pain. Then he lifted his left hand up for Nate to see. "Bastard had a boot-knife," he said by way of explaining the blood that covered his hand.
"Oh, God, Eliot!" Nate exclaimed, hurrying for the door. "Sophie, call Hardison, find out where the nearest hospital is!"
Nate made his way over to the driver's door of the limo and opened it up. Taking a quick glance at Eliot's pale face first, Nate reached for his teammate's jacket and pulled it open. Eliot's entire left side was wet with blood.
"Got me just under my ribs. Broke one or two," Eliot gasped, trying not to cough.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Nate asked, taking his coat off and folding it to use as a bandage.
"Been hurt worse. Thought I'd get us home."
Nate stopped what he was doing, shocked, yet at the same time, not shocked at all by Eliot's statements. He didn't even hear Sophie arrive at his side.
"We're at least an hour's drive from the nearest hospital," She announced, successfully hiding the shock she was feeling inside upon seeing the amount of blood on Eliot's clothing.
"Help me get him in the back," Nate ordered.
Eliot tried to get out of the car himself, muttering painfully that he'd been in worse situations with worse wounds.
"We believe you," Sophie told him.
"But shut up and let us help anyway," Nate added.
After some shuffling and pain-filled groans, they managed to get Eliot to lie down on one of the bench seats. Nate pressed down hard on his jacket-turned-bandage.
"God dammit, Nate!" Eliot practically screamed, shoving back, nearly knocking Nate to the floor of the car.
"You want to bleed to death? Hold still!" Nate shot back, continuing to hold the pressure on the stab wound. He was about to tell Sophie to take his place, when he heard the car door close.
Through the window, Sophie called back, "Hang on!" as she started the limo's engine up and got them back on the road.