“It’s been two days since I woke up. I have done everything I was told to. Now I want to get out of here,” Jason said, looking at his mother.
“Jason, I understand how you feel . . .” Monica began, but Jason cut her off.
“Do you? Did you stand by and watch the person you love be shot in cold blood? Did you have to raise a little girl and try to explain to her that her mother is in heaven and can’t be with her? Did you have to stand by, be shot in the leg and hear your daughter’s screams as she and another woman you care about were taken away? Did you spend days unconscious while your daughter has been in the hands of a psychotic killer? Because unless you’ve been through all of that, then you don’t understand,” Jason said, the anger building up inside of him. He was ready to pull the IV himself – he’s done it before – and go and look for his daughter and Sam himself.
Monica let out a breath. “Okay, so I don’t completely understand Jason. But Elaina is my granddaughter, too. And I am scared for her – and Sam. But I cannot, in good conscious, discharge you after the injuries you have suffered.”
Jason glared at her. “I’ve been shot before,” he said simply, as if it was a daily occurrence and didn’t warrant this much attention from her. “I know how to take care of myself and I refuse to continue to sit here while my daughter is missing. Now, you can help save your granddaughter’s life by releasing me, or I walk out of here on my own.”
Monica looked at her son. She saw the determination in his eyes. And she knew if their positions were reversed, she would feel the same way. “Okay,” she said. “Let me run a couple of more tests and I will have you discharged in two hours.”
Jason knew this was the best he was going to get. “Fine. Two hours. No delaying,” he said. He needed to get out there and find his daughter. And Sam. He couldn’t lose another woman he loved.
“Mommy, why Daddy no come get us?” Elaina asked as she cuddled next to Sam. The room they were in had a window this time, but it was locked. Elaina could see the sun shining and wished she were at home riding Goldie with Diego watching her. “When we go home?”
Sam tightened her arm around Elaina. “I don’t know sweetie,” she said. “But I do know that Daddy and Poppi are looking for us and they are going to come and get us.” She hoped she sounded reassuring. It had been almost a week now. And still, there was no sign of help arriving. But Sam was not giving up hope. She knew her brother would not let them down. And she knew, deep in her heart, that Jason was alive and that he was going to find them. And with the way Manny had been moving them around, not staying in one place for more than twelve hours at most, Sam knew he was running from Lorenzo and Jason. He had to be. She saw a slight change in him. There was some desperation there. The smugness dissipating. He was running scared. Which meant he was going to slip up soon, and when he did, that was when they would be rescued. Or killed. But she refused to consider that option.
Elaina was a real trooper through all of this. Sam was so proud of her. She didn’t complain and she did everything Sam said without argument. Sam had given in where the food was concerned, knowing Elaina needed to eat. And if Manny were going to kill them, he would have done it a long time ago. He needed them and he needed them alive.
“Mommy?” Elaina asked, looking up at Sam.
Sam looked down at the little girl who had her mother’s eyes and her father’s patience. When Elaina called her Mommy, Sam’s heart pulled. She knew there was no way Jessica could be there for her daughter, but knowing that this little angel trusted her enough to think of her as her mother – it made Sam’s life feel purposeful. “Yes, Sweetie?” she responded.
“Is my Daddy in heaven with my Mommy Angel?” Elaina asked with wide eyes.
Sam had to swallow the lump in her throat. “No. No, you’re Daddy is not in heaven.”
“But the Ugly Man hurt Daddy,” Elaina said.
“I know. But your Daddy is strong, and I’m sure he’s fine and looking for us,” Sam said, gently brushing the little girl’s hair out of her eyes.
Elaina snuggled back into Sam, resting her head on Sam’s lap.
Lorenzo finished going over a report on a shipment that was expected to come in that night. Neither he nor Jason were going to be there, so he made sure someone reliable was there to keep everything going smoothly. He looked up when his son came into the office.
“I saw Spinelli a minute ago,” Diego said. “He said something about having to bow down to me.”
Lorenzo shook his head. “I told him that he was going to have to answer to you,” he said. “I want him to stay on . . . and I’m taking him to the safe house.”
Diego nodded in agreement. “So you think you can put up with him?” he asked.
“He’s . . . interesting,” Lorenzo said as he put his phone into his pocket. “But he’s good and even I can’t overlook that.”
“True,” said Diego. “Are you going to go and see Jason?”
“There’s no need,” Jason said as he came into the office, limping, but doing his best to stand up straight. Max followed him, carrying the cane Jason had refused to use.
“Jason, what are you doing here?” Lorenzo asked in surprise.
“I need to find my daughter Lorenzo. No one is going to stop me . . . not even you.”
“You know I won’t stop you. I can’t,” Lorenzo said. “But I will tell you this Jason. My granddaughter is not going to lose both of her parents. So Diego and I will watch your back, and you are not to take unnecessary risks.”
“Understood,” Jason said with a nod of respect. “Just know the same goes for you. You and Skye have a baby of your own on the way. And I don’t want to have to face Skye if something happened to you.”
“Then we’re all in agreement,” Lorenzo said. “A shipment is coming in tonight. Juan is taking it in. We’re free to go after Manny. I have Spinelli working on a project for me that should draw Manny out.”
“Spinelli?” Jason said, not recognizing the name.
Diego laughed. “Oh, yeah, Spinelli.” Now, that was going to be an experience.
Skye was relaxing on the couch when the front door opened and Carly breezed in. “Okay, I’m here,” Carly announced, dropping a couple of bags on the floor by the door.
Skye looked up. “Good for you,” she said, turning back to her magazine.
Carly shook her head. “Pregnancy making you cranky much?” she asked as she picked up her bags. “You should be glad I’m here.”
“Because?” Skye said, barely looking up as she turned a page.
“Come on Skye. You need a friend who has lived this most of her adult life. I can help you through this.”
“I have Esmerelda,” Skye said. “And Lulu is here.”
“Whatever. Look, I’m scared too. The boys are with my mother and I came here to help.”
Skye sighed, put down her magazine and looked up. “I’m sorry Carly,” she said. “I’ve been on edge the last couple of days.”
Carly plopped down on the couch next to Skye. “It’s the hormones. They can wreak havoc on the emotions.”
“Tell me about it,” Skye sighed.
“When did you last hear from Lorenzo? How’s Jason? Have you heard anything?” Carly asked anxiously.
“Lorenzo called a couple of days ago. They were able to track down Manny through this new computer whiz Diego found. But by the time they got there, they were gone. Jason’s been getting better – Monica said he’s going to make a full recovery.”
“Thank God,” Carly said, letting out a breath of relief. Jason was her rock and she didn’t know what she would have done if he hadn’t pulled through this.
“Okay, now that you’re here,” Skye said. “You can keep me from going nuts here. And I know Lulu is starting to go a little stir crazy. And Esmerelda is doing her best to keep us calm and comfortable.”
“Well, we’re going to get through this together,” Carly said. “And Lorenzo will find Sam and Elaina and bring them home.”
Skye hoped Carly was right. She didn’t want to think what losing Sam and Elaina would do to Lorenzo and Jason.
The accountant looked over the numbers again, making sure he had the right account. This wasn’t possible. He checked again to make sure. There was no mistaking what he was seeing. Picking up the phone, he knew he was not going to enjoy making this call.
“Ha! I did it!” Spinelli said, pumping his arms in the air. The sound of a throat being cleared had him turning. “Hey! Big Al! The Jackal has prevailed and the Nefarious One’s accounts have been depleted.”
Jason stopped and looked up. He looked at who he assumed was this Spinelli, then to Lorenzo and Diego and back. “What is he talking about?” he asked.
Lorenzo held up his hand. “Can it be traced?” he asked.
“Nope,” said Spinelli. “And The Jackal has built so many firewalls and safeguards, there is no way the Nefarious One will know where his precious dinero went.”
“Good,” Lorenzo said. “But I’m sure he’ll figure out who was behind it. I want you to pack yourself up. We’re leaving for the safe house in thirty minutes.”
Spinelli nodded and closed up his computer, slipping it back into the bag he always carried with him. Slinging the bag over his chest, Spinelli grabbed his bottle of orange soda and turned, almost running right into Jason. “Whoa!” Spinelli stumbled back and looked up into Jason’s piercing blue eyes. “Wow, you’re Jason Morgan . . . you’re like . . . like a legend man.” Spinelli knew he was gushing, but he couldn’t help it. He had heard about Jason Morgan and what he was capable of.
Jason looked at Spinelli, his gaze unfaltering, hard and cold.
Spinelli deflated somewhat. They weren’t kidding when he had heard about Jason’s stone cold gaze. “Ummm . . . sorry,” he mumbled and looked to Diego for some kind of direction.
“Jason, Spinelli here is the one who was able to get us back into the computer systems after they were shot done. He also was able to get back into the tracking program and locate the first hideout. Now he’s working to help us flesh out Manny,” Diego explained.
Without acknowledging what Diego said, Jason turned to Lorenzo. “Has there been any contact from Manny?”
“No,” Lorenzo said. “I have teams raiding his safe houses . . . I have a feeling he doesn’t stay in any one place for too long.”
Jason didn’t like the sound of that. “It’s been a week Lorenzo. Is there any guarantee they are still alive?”
Lorenzo hadn’t wanted to think that way, but he knew they had to. “No,” he said. “But I am not giving up until I have proof.”
Jason nodded in agreement. “I’ll get my gear together, then we start searching – going back through the safe houses that were already checked. He might start backtracking.”
Lorenzo, Diego and Spinelli watched Jason limp away. If they didn’t get Sam and Elaina back alive, there was no telling what Jason would do.
Manny slammed the phone down. If the accountant had been in front of him Manny would have wrapped his hands around his neck. He knew who was to blame. And he was going to make them pay.
Getting up, Manny stalked down the hall and slammed the door open, watching in satisfaction as both Sam and the little brat jumped. “Get up,” he growled at Sam, standing over her.
Sam slowly rose to her feet. “Is there a problem?” she asked, seeing the rage in his eyes. Something happened.
“Shut up!” Manny seethed, the back of his hand connecting with her cheek.
Elaina gasped and moved to a corner of the room, out of the way. She saw that the door was still open.
Sam had managed to stay on her feet and looked back at him. She had also seen the open door and how close Elaina was to it. They needed to do something now. “Scared? Do you really think terrorizing a woman and little girl is going to make you feel better about yourself?” she asked, crossing her arms in front of her.
“It seems big brother dearest took something that doesn’t belong to him and I want it back,” Manny growled.
“Oh . . . like you did?” Sam challenged, an eye on Elaina.
Elaina watched Sam and the Ugly Man. He was mad and Elaina didn’t want her Mommy to get hurt.
Sam watched Elaina, nodding very slightly. If Elaina was able to get out and get help they had hope. And even if she didn’t find help wherever they were, at least she would be able to get away. And that was important to Sam.
Elaina saw her Mommy’s nod. She knew it was okay to leave. Very quietly, but quickly, Elaina slipped out of the room. She had to find a phone and call her Poppi. Her Poppi would save Mommy.
“Skye are you okay? You’re looking a little pale,” Carly said as she munched on a slice of frozen pizza.
“You keep eating that in front of me and I am going to be more than pale,” Skye said, glaring at her. “That’s disgusting.”
“It’s not disgusting,” said Carly. “Are you telling me that you’re going to throw up over my pizza?”
Skye jumped up and raced to the bathroom.
“You’re lucky she didn’t throw up on our pizza,” Lulu said with a shake of her head. “Carly, the smell made her sick.”
Carly shrugged. “You can’t be telling me that before I got here she wasn’t throwing up over other food.”
“No, she was,” Lulu said. “But at least the rest of us were considerate enough not to have it right under her nose.”
“It’s okay Lulu,” Skye said as she returned to the living room. “Carly didn’t know that her disgusting frozen pizza was going to make me sick.”
Carly got up and put the pizza back in the kitchen, returning with a glass of water and handing it to Skye. “You don’t look too good,” she said.
“I don’t feel too good,” Skye admitted, as she sipped the water.
“Maybe you should go and lie down,” Carly said, eyeing her cautiously. Skye was still very pale and even her breathing looked labored.
Skye nodded in agreement. Leaning forward, she put the glass on the coffee table and stood up, swaying as her knees buckled and her head spun.
Moving quickly, both Carly and Lulu grabbed Skye before she hit the floor. “Esmerelda!” Lulu called out.
Esmerelda hurried into the living room. “What’s happened?” she asked, rushing over. Skye was passed out. “Lie her on the couch. Carly, run to the downstairs bathroom and get me a cloth,” she instructed as she sat next to Skye, placing her hand first on Skye’s forehead and then at her pulse point. It was racing. “Lulu, call Dr. Rodriguez. His number is in the kitchen by the phone.”
Lulu rushed off to do as she was told, passing Carly as she returned with the cloth and a small bowl of water.
Spinelli looked out the window as the car pulled up in front of a very impressive looking house. “Wow, nice,” he said, his eyes wide. He had never been in a safe house before, but this one definitely exceeded his expectations in a big way.
Lorenzo stopped the car. “There are a few rules while you’re here,” he said, turning in his seat to face Spinelli. Diego was sitting in the back so that Jason could stretch out his leg in the front seat. “You are not to leave the house for any reason without a guard with you,” he began. “My mother, Skye and Lulu Spencer are all staying there – you are not to drive any of them crazy, particularly Skye. Understood?”
Spinelli nodded. “Who’s that guy?” he asked, looking out the window to see an elderly man climb out of a silver SUV, a black bag in his hand. He looked like a doctor.
Lorenzo turned. “That’s Dr. Rodriguez,” he said. “Skye . . .” Getting out of the car, he left everyone else behind as he hurried to the house and the doctor who was waiting for the door to be opened.
Lorenzo, I am sure she’s fine,” Esmerelda said as she tried – unsuccessfully – to calm her son.
“She passed out Mama, how can that mean she and the baby are okay?” Lorenzo asked harshly. Then he took a deep breath and let it out. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap.”
“No apology is needed,” Esmerelda assured him. “I know that you are worried. We all are.”
“What happened before she passed out? Was she not feeling well? Has she been sleeping? Eating?”
“She was fine. She, Carly and Lulu were in the living room. Carly was eating some pizza, which understandably made Skye sick. She rushed to the bathroom and when she returned, from what Carly and Lulu said, she was pale and shaky. Carly got rid of the pizza and brought Skye some water. She complained of not feeling well and then lost consciousness.”
Lorenzo listened to his mother’s explanation of what happened and nodded. He could understand her getting sick over the pizza; the morning sickness seemed to be increasing the last week or so. But it was the passing out that had him worried. What was taking Dr. Rodriguez so long?
Elaina made it down the hall, passing closed doors whose knobs were too high for her to reach. She reached the end of the hall and peeked around the corner. There was no one in sight. She continued down, looking for a door that would lead outside.
There had to be a way out. And then she found it. The room she walked into was a kitchen – although it was not pretty like her kitchen at home. Keeping her eyes open, Elaina found the door she was looking for. The doorknob was up too high, so she found a box she could stand on. It was going to be tricky, but she had to be quiet. She didn’t want the Ugly Man knowing she was gone and come looking for her.
It took some doing, but she was able to get the door open and slip out. She made sure to push the box away and close the door behind her. Then she looked around. And knew exactly where she was.
“What are you going to do Manny? Beat me up because Lorenzo got one up on you?” Sam asked, pushing herself back to her feet after Manny had struck her again. She needed to continue this way in order to give Elaina enough time to get away. Then she would give Manny what he deserved.
“You are nothing but a cheap slut. I’m sure Alcazar and Morgan will be glad to get rid of you,” Manny said, going to backhand her again. He wasn’t expecting the kick that connected with his head.
“I don’t take very well to being called names,” Sam said, kicking him again before he could get up. She had seen Elaina’s little legs scamper past the window that was behind Manny. Knowing Elaina was safe –for now – Sam was able to give back what Manny had been giving her.
Elaina made her way to the park, finding the swing set that she liked to play on. She passed the playground equipment and kept going. She knew how to get home from here. She would tell her Poppi where Mommy Sam was and he would save her from the Ugly Man.
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