Tommy Oliver's red mustang jerked into the driveway and died, perfect timing. He suppressed a whiny sigh as he gathered his things and pulled his waist length leather jacket up over his head and jumped out of the car into the pouring rain. The key got stuck in the lock, of course, just long enough for the rain to soak him completely and then it gave, allowing him entrance to the dry warmth of his living room. His shoes squeaked the entire walk up the stairs and down the hall where he kicked them off, flinging them at the wall. I had been one of those days, literally nothing had gone according to plan right down to his car messing up on the way home. It was Friday night, the one night a week that he ever got to look forward to. He knew he was running late so he hurried into the closet to find some dry clothes and then back downstairs to rummage through the cupboards because the kids would be there any minute and dinner wasn't going to cook itself.
Despite the boxes of Ramen noodles, Chef Boyardee and Easy Mac there was hardly anything dinner worthy in the cabinets and against his better judgement he broke down and ordered some pizza. Personally he much preferred to feed them organic vegetables and lean meats but it had been such a hectic and terrible day that there just wasn't time. So with dinner on the way he sat down on the couch to catch up on some work and paper grading. If one thing in his life was a surprise to him it was his current career as a high school science teacher. The regularity of the job was something that at one time would have driven him crazy but strangely now it was like a second nature.
He was in the middle of one shamefully bad essay when the doorbell rang. Still reading the paper he held he crossed the room and opened the door. When he lowered the paper he expected to see his four children, instead he saw their mother...and she was very upset.
"Kim...what's wrong?" He asked, forgetting about the rain in his confusion.
"Freezing to death, Tommy. I have to talk to you. Can I come in, or what?"
"Of course." He said, stepping aside and closing the door behind her. Kim was wearing a mid thigh length pink dress with a white sweater over it and she was soaked to the bone. The look on her face told him that she was there on some kind of serious business and probably wouldn't appreciate a comment on how sexy she still was to him. So in true gentleman fashion he retrieved his own bathrobe from the closet door and put it around her shoulders before sitting down on the couch beside her. She was trembling all over and though the rain was pretty cold, he could see that she was very upset.
"What is it, Kim?" His voice was concerned and she immediately broke down into tears. Always the caring gentleman he reached out and tried to comfort her but she pushed him away.
"Tommy, I'm so sorry. It's the kids..." She was sobbing and buried her face in her hands.
Tommy's stomach hurt. They'd been divorced for two years and never once had he missed a weekend with their children. Never once had she failed to drop them off on time. They'd been so respectful to each other on the issue and this was untrod ground.
"What?" he demanded, the suspense becoming too much. "What's happened?"
Kim's body was heaving violently with each loud sob, and though Tommy had never been able to see her cry without being overcome with sympathy, he was now becoming impatient and the fear in his gut was growing nearly unbearable.
"Stop! Kim stop, dammit! Tell me what's going on, now!"
She was startled by the tone of his voice, one of urgency she'd never heard before. His eyes were pleading with her, so she took a deep breath and spoke.
"The kids...they're missing."
"What?" Tommy was on his feet in a split second. "What do you mean missing?"
Kim began sniffling and seemed to be on the verge of tears again.
Grabbing her by the shoulders, he forced her to look at him.
"I realize you're upset Kim but you have to get ahold of yourself. You have to tell me what happened."
She nodded, wiping her nose on his bathrobe. "Well I started that new job a few weeks ago, as you know. I thought the hours were going to be better but I usually don't get off until around six o'clock. The kids get home from school around three and so Kiki was babysitting for a couple hours in the evening. She's stayed home alone before, you know, and she knows not to answer the door for anyone who doesn't have a key. I don't know what happened. But I came home tonight and they were supposed to be ready but all the lights were out. I went in to hurry them up and the house was empty. I found a letter taped to the t.v. And...and then I came over here."
"Where's the letter? Did you call the police?"
Kim retrieved the letter from inside her purse and handed it to him, shaking her head. "Read it."
Tommy held the wet paper in his hand and quickly read over the letter before looking up at Kim.
"This is a ransom note..." He said, meeting Kim's gaze. She nodded. "They want $50,000 dollars in 24 hours or...they're going to kill them."