Chapter 1

Nate was not home when Sophie arrived however she had left the theatre early so she was not worried. She poured herself a glass of wine then returned to the sofa and turned on the TV. An hour later Nate had still not arrived, so Sophie decided to take a shower while she waited for him and the rest of her family. Eliot and the rest had just completed their job and had asked to have a family dinner to celebrate. She walked into the bedroom and immediately saw the note that Nate had left propped up against her dressing tables mirror.

"Oh Nate what now…" She sighed as the took the note and opened it.

Sophie I have had to go to LA. Tell Eliot and the others I am sorry to miss dinner. I love you Sophie always remember that.

As she read the note her face clouded with concern. Why had Nate had to go to LA, why had he not called to tell her earlier, where was he going to in LA and more importantly why did he say, 'always remember that?' She pulled out her phone and dialled Nate's number, but it went straight to voicemail which did nothing to sooth her worries. She then dialled Eliot's number telling him what had happened and asking him when they would be at the house. Eliot told her they would be there in thirty minutes and not to worry they would get to the bottom of the situation.

Eliot and the others walked through the door a half hour later. Sophie handed him the note and saw his face darken as he read it then he looked up at Hardison.

"Can you trace his phone?"

"It's off, I already tried." Hardison said. "The last time he used it was at the airport then he switched it off."

"What the hell is he up to?" Eliot growled.

"Oh no." Hardison said suddenly brining their attention to him. "Maggie is dead, she was murdered."

"What?" Sophie blurted out.

"Nate must have gone to LA because of that." Parker said her voice full of emotion because Maggie was not just Nate's ex-wife she was a friend.

"There is more." Hardison said and his voice told them it was not good. "She was murdered in the same way as seven women were seven years go and the police think it was by the same man. He left a note addressed to Nathan Ford." Hardison told them and then brought up the image of Maggie from the police files he had hacked.

Sophie gasped as she stared at the dead woman. She was placed on her bed, her hands folded over her chest and in her hands she held a piece of paper, she presumed it was the note left for Nate. Her eyes filled with tears as she looked at her friend.

"Does it say what the note said Hardison?" Parker said not taking her eyes from the dead woman on the screen.

"Yeah…" Hardison said and the image changed to a photo of the note. Silence filled the room as they read the note.

Nathan Ford. You took my freedom, so I have taken something precious to you. Should you not meet me I will take something else precious to you, perhaps your current wife. You will meet me alone at a place of my choosing and you and I will settle our differences. Just the two of us Nathan it is the way it should be. Do not meet me, do not come alone, and their blood, her blood will be on your hands. I will send you the details of where and when and II will give you three days to comply. J.

"Who is 'J'" Eliot asked quietly.

"He is the serial killer that Nate took down seven years ago, one Jackson Poll known to the police as 'J', he always left notes for the police at his crime scenes, taunting them. Before Nate took him down he had been operating for about a year in the LA area killing woman and laying them out like…like he did Maggie. The police were nowhere with the case before Nate helped them out." Hardison said working on his computer and pulling up the files. "Nate was not after him, he was after a piece of art Jackson was buying, apparently he was an art aficionado as well as a serial killer, one that was insured by IYS and he stumbled onto him. When he worked out what the man was doing, who he was he took him on. He worked with the police and took him down. Jackson was tried and sentenced to death. He escaped a week ago from a maximum-security prison."

"And now he is going to meet the man alone." Sophie said her chest tightening at the thought.

"Dammit." Eliot said as he processed the information.

"Hardison we need to get to LA, and we need to get there yesterday."

"Done man, I will get us organised on the way." He said picking up his computer and putting it in his backpack. They had to get to LA, and they had to get to Nate before he got himself killed.

By the time they arrived at the airport a charter plane was ready to take them to LA. It was a better option than commercial considering there was not one leaving for at least two hours. While they were on the plane Hardison got everything he could on the case Nate had worked, including how Nate had almost been killed taking chances and a note by the lead detective that he thought the IYS agent was trying to get himself killed.

Sophie shook her head at that, seven years ago Nate's life had fallen apart, his son had died, and he was spiralling out of control. The lead detective may have very well been right, Nate might have been trying to get himself killed and that is why he had taken on this Jackson in the first place.

"He was probably right." Sophie whispered to herself, but the others heard and looked at her quizzically. "Sam had just died." She said in explanation.

"Where do we even start looking?" Hardison asked the group.

"I don't know but he said he would send him the details for where and when, Nate's phone was switched off so he was not going to contact him that way so how was he planning to get a message to Nate?" Eliot said softly talking to himself as he tried to figure this out.

"Where is Nate staying?" Parker asked also trying to figure out some way of finding out where Nate was going to meet this man.

"There is no booking in his name at any hotel around the city, but that does not mean he has not booked in somewhere under an alias." Hardison said checking his computer.

"Maggie's place?" Sophie asked.

"No that is a crime scene I doubt he would be able to stay there." Hardison said shaking his head.

"Hardison check if Nate has an apartment there." Eliot said, it was not a definite, but it was a maybe and that is all they had to work on now.

"And if he is not, then what?" Parker asked looking at Sophie.

"Then I don't know Parker…" Sophie said sadly, and she didn't, how do they find Nate, how do they found out where this man had wanted to meet him, how did they get to Nate before something happened.

"Ok guys there is an apartment registered to Nathan Ford in the city." Hardison said happy to announce that something had fallen their way.

"Right then that is where we go." Sophie said.

The rest of the flight was spent in relative silence, they all hoped that they would get to Nate before he did get himself killed by this Jackson Poll.