"Don't think about trying anything," Ben said after his father left the garage. He was still behind me, but his hold on my throat had lessened somewhat. I found out why when he told me to put my hands behind my back.
"Hard to do when you're holding me like a lover," I muttered. "Unless you want me to feel you up."
That earned me another cut to my throat. Not deep, but enough to draw blood again. He gripped my bicep hard and stepped back, pressing the point of the knife between two of my ribs. "Hands behind your back I said. Now!"
So I did. Quickly—even as I tried to move away—he snapped cuffs on one wrist then yanked my other arm hard and finished the job. Finally, he came around to face me.
"I know you," I said in surprise. "You go by Danny. At least at the grocery store."
"That would be me."
He was tall and slender like his parents. Other than that he didn't take after either of them—although as I studied him I could see traces of Carlo in the line of his mouth, and a bit of Ms Engel in the shape of his eyes.
"Why the bit with the food bank?" I asked.
"Those people need help and I can give it to them." He smiled dryly. "If I had to hold a menial job, the least I could do is make it worth while on some level."
"My client said you've been working for her for six months." Since he wasn't holding on to me any more I moved away from him, hoping to find an opening to attack if he lowered the knife, which he still held defensively. "That's would have been around the time your grandfather died."
"Carlo told me you'd grown up to be a fine young man. I took that as an implication you probably went to college and were holding a good job. Was I wrong?"
"No. I was all of that until after grandpa's death."
I think on some level he wanted to tell his story because he actually replied to my question. "I'd taken time off from my job to be with dad and grandma for a while to help when they needed me to. About a week after the funeral, grandpa's lawyer called dad. He said a woman claiming to be dad's ex-wife had been inquiring about where to find him so she could, to quote, 'Offer her condolences'. He said he hadn't given her dad's address, but that didn't stop us from worrying, knowing my”—his mouth tightened—"mother." He practically spat out the last word and began to pace angrily. "We, well I, because it was my suggestion, decided I should quit my job and move here where I could keep an eye on her."
"You knew she lived here?"
"She left her phone number with the lawyer. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to track a person if you have that. Something I'm sure you're well aware of."
I was, of course. I was also aware that I didn't have much time before Carlo returned to say he hadn't found anything. First, thought, he'd have to figure out where the safe was, since it was well hidden and somehow I'd neglected to tell them where. Luckily it hadn't occurred to them to ask, but eventually he'd locate if he was persistent.
"So you found a place to live," I said to keep Ben talking, "and got the job at the grocery store."
He nodded. "After that, it was just a case of using my spare time to watch her." He scowled. "She was one busy bitch." By now he was so into telling his story he seemed to have forgotten about the knife. He was still holding it, but his hand was at his side as he paced.
I took a quick glance through the window in the side door of the garage to be certain Carlo wasn't on his way back yet. I had one chance, and only one, to take Ben down. If I got lucky. I waited until he was within a couple of feet of me, talking about her job and the men she 'trained'. "Trained being a lose description of what she really was doing," he muttered.
Tensing, I charged him like a rampaging bull. The top of my head hit him squarely in the face and I heard something crack. Not exactly graceful but it did the job. He howled in pain as we both went down. I was at a distinct disadvantage as my hands were cuffed behind me, but I was also on the top of the pile. I heard the knife skitter away and prayed in had gone under the car or the workbench or anywhere else where he couldn't get to it.
The kid was strong and he struggled to push me off, but I had weight and experience on my side and he was bleeding badly from his broken nose. That, hopefully, would begin to weaken him. I shifted quickly, managing to set myself at an angle so I could bring my cuffed hands around and grab his arm. Then I rolled fast, trying to slam him against the car. Slam didn't happen, but he did hit it hard enough that he gasped in pain. I managed to sit up, drew back one leg and kicked him on the chin just as he was trying to get to his feet.
That was all she wrote for him at the moment, but I still had Carlo to worry about. Using the car as leverage I managed to stand. I made it to the hinged side of the door just as Carlo opened it. Hitting it with my shoulder, I knocked him back. He stumbled, fell, I rammed my foot against the side of his head and he was out like a light.