The stinging bite of cold air brought Lorenzo out of the depths of darkness. His head fuzzy, Lorenzo blinked a few times before fully opening his eyes – and knew right away that things had gone from bad to worse.
Fighting for full alertness, Lorenzo lifted his head, finding it was the only part of his body he could move. He was standing in the middle of a large non-descript room, shackles secured to the side walls were clamped around his bare ankles – his shoes and socks had been removed. His arms were secured above his head by more shackles. As his head cleared more, Lorenzo looked down at himself, taking in his bare feet and chest. At least they left him with his pants.
There was nothing in the room that would help him figure out where he was or what was going to happen to him. But he tried to take in what he could anyway. The walls were painted a bright white, the floor left its original gray concrete color. This must be another room in the basement, he thought. Like the other room, there were no windows and the lights were dim. What he was able to determine was that this was not the same room he was in when he first woke up.
Looking above him to the ceiling, Lorenzo could see the shackles around his wrists were attached to a pulley of some sort with plenty of room to elevate him – and he was sure that was part of the plan. Not taking his gaze from the ceiling, Lorenzo saw some kind of box, like a projector, facing one of the white walls. Turning his head as much as he could, Lorenzo saw the speakers and cameras mounted in the corners he could see. He was sure there were two more in the corners behind him as well.
Swallowing past the dryness in his throat, Lorenzo tried to keep a hold on his nerves. Panicking was not going to do any good. The fact was that he was alive – for the moment – and he was going to have to make sure he stayed that way, no matter what was thrown at him.
Manny sat back in his chair and smiled as he watched Lorenzo Alcazar become aware of his surrounds and begin to wonder what was going to happen to him. Now it was time to have some fun.
“Wouldn’t putting a bullet in his head and dumping his body on his own doorstep be faster?” Johnny grumbled from his own seat. He didn’t understand what was with Manny and all these theatrics.
Manny shot a look at Johnny. The kid was going to have to learn sometime. “Too easy and it would accomplish nothing,” he said, bringing his eyes back to the large, flat screen TV mounted on the opposite wall. It was top of the line and was proving to be just that. “Killing Alcazar would not bring down his organization. He set it up that way. He dies, the organization continues on as if nothing happened. I want to break it down from the inside out.”
Johnny shook his head. “And keeping Alcazar captive is going to do that?” he asked.
Manny laughed. “Oh, we’re not just keeping him captive Johnny . . . we’re going to mess with him. Show Morgan and all the rest of them what happens when they cross us and then start making our demands. The first will be Morgan’s head on a platter. Then we’ll move on from there.”
“This better work,” Johnny grumbled again.
Manny didn’t answer this time. He just focused on the screen in front of him. When she was sure Alcazar was alert enough, he hit a button on his remote that activated the projector mounted on the ceiling.
Now it was time to see how strong Lorenzo Alcazar really was.
“There you are,” Sam said when Jason returned to the hallway where Skye’s room was.
“Did something happen?” Jason asked, looking at the door to Skye’s room.
“She’s sleeping – she needs it,” Sam said, taking Jason’s hand and leading him to the armchairs they had been sitting in earlier. “Jason, she’s carrying twins. A boy and a girl.”
Jason let out a breath and ran his hand through his hair. It was getting long again. “Wow,” he said. “How is she doing?”
“As best as she could under the circumstances,” Sam admitted. “We talked and I was able to get through her head that these babies are her priority right now and that there are a lot of people looking for Lorenzo.”
“Good,” Jason said with a nod. “Thank you. I don’t know if I would have been able to be there for her like that.”
“Now tell me what’s going on. Where were you?”
“I ran into Lainey. She’s over at the house with Elaina – she wanted to check on her, see how she’s doing with all of this. And Lainey also said it was unnecessary to tell Elaina anything about Lorenzo until something is known for sure,” Jason began.
“Okay, that’s good,” Sam said. “Lainey is great with her.”
Jason agreed. “Max and Diego are on their way to the crash site now to see what they can find out about what happened. And Spinelli is working on hacking into Manny’s systems. I know he’s behind this Sam.”
Sam squeezed his hand. “And you’ll know what to do as soon as you have all of the information,” she said. “I am here Jason. I will support you in any way you need.”
It was what he needed to hear. Jason pulled Sam from her chair into his lap, wrapping his arms around her. He needed her strength a moment before going back out there. “Can you stay with Skye as long as possible? I have guards posted, but I don’t want her left alone.”
“Of course,” Sam said.
Leaning in, Jason kissed her gently. “I’m going to check on Skye and then I need to head back to the house for a little bit.”
Sam nodded as she got up off his lap and watched Jason go into Skye’s room.
“Come on, come on,” Spinelli muttered. He had just encountered another firewall and it was giving him a little more trouble than the others, but he was sure he would be able to get through it. This meant he was getting closer to where he needed to be.
“I’ve got your soda,” Lulu said as she returned to the room and put the bottle of orange soda in front of him. “How‘s it going?”
“I can feel it Blonde One. The Jackal will be victorious.”
Lulu bit her lip as she watched Spinelli work. She had never seen anyone moving as fast through a computer system as he was. It was amazing to watch. After a minute though, her mind started to wander and she went over to the window.
The increased security detail on the grounds was evident. She had seen Dr. Lainey Winters arrive earlier and figured Jason had asked her to be there for Elaina. It was getting dark. And Diego wasn’t back yet.
“You know he’s with the Fearless One,” Spinelli commented, breaking into Lulu’s thoughts. “He’ll be fine.”
Lulu turned back to Spinelli. “I know he’ll be safe with Max,” she said. “But that’s not what I’m worried about. What if Lorenzo really is dead, Spinelli? Do you know what that’s going to do do Diego? He didn’t get the chance to grow up with his father in his life and once he found him, it wasn’t easy for him to open up, to accept Lorenzo as his father. Diego lost his sister horribly . . . and he and Lorenzo have become so much closer over the last couple of years. I don’t want him to lose his father as well.”
“The Alcazar the Younger is very lucky to have you fretting over him,” Spinelli said.
“I’m lucky to have him in my life,” Lulu said, turning back to the window. “I just want him to be okay.”
“Wow,” Diego said as he looked around. He and Max were lucky that Stan was able to do some fancy talking with the authorities – no one was out there. “If my father managed to walk away from this . . .”
Max nodded in agreement. “Let’s start looking around. Be careful and if you find anything, don’t touch it without your gloves.”
Diego pulled his black leather gloves on and started moving around the crash site. He would be surprised if anyone was able to walk away from this one.
An hour and a half later he and Max met where they started. “Nothing,” Max said. “Which doesn’t make any sense.”
“I know,” Diego said, still looking around. There had been nothing to indicate that his father had been on this plane at all when it went down. Or that it was his plane to begin with. “Call Stan. See if he can get a team out here. I want to make sure this was my father’s jet.”
Max pulled out his phone to make the call.
Diego looked around. He could feel it. His father had not died here. He was still alive somewhere out there.
Not wanting to get in Spinelli’s way, Lulu wandered from the room. She figured she would check on Lainey and Elaina, see if they needed anything.
As she crossed the living room she saw Jason come in. “Hi,” she said, stopping. “Have you heard anything?”
Jason looked up and saw Lulu. “Not yet. I came to check on things here.”
“Ummm . . . Jason? I just wanted to let you know that if you need me to do anything, just let me know. I want to help.”
“Thanks Lulu. I’ll keep that in mind. Have you heard from Diego yet?”
“No, not yet. I’m hoping to hear something soon. He and Max left a while ago.”
“Okay, call me when you do,” Jason said before heading down the hall to where Spinelli was working.
“Do you have anything?” Jason asked as he walked into the room.
Spinelli held up a hand, motioning for Jason to wait as he keyed in a couple of more codes. He had stumbled onto something which he felt was going to be big.
“Yes!” he crowed when he broke through the system. “I’m in!”
“Good,” Jason said, slapping Spinelli on the back. “See what you can find that will link Manny to Lorenzo’s disappearance.”
Spinelli nodded and started navigating through the system. Then he stopped and his eyes widened. He looked over his shoulder up at Jason, seeing the same look in his eyes.
An image had come onto the screen when Spinelli had clicked on a folder. It was a live video feed of Lorenzo, shackled in the middle of a large room.
“My God,” Jason whispered as he got a glimpse of what was being shown on the wall – images of Jessica’s death two years ago.
Even if he closed his eyes, he could hear the gun shots, the screams. He could hear Jason’s voice yelling Jessica’s name. He could hear Sam calling for an ambulance. Lorenzo didn’t even have to open his eyes to know what images were playing on the wall in front of him. They were engraved in his brain.
He swallowed hard. He wasn’t going to let Manny win. He wasn’t going to let them get to him. He had spent the last two years trying to get through what had happened. He was going to be strong. He was better than they were.
Spinelli watched open-mouthed as Lorenzo fought not to let what he was seeing and hearing get to him. “D-do you want me to do something?” he asked Jason.
Jason had to swallow a couple of times before he could answer. “No. They can’t know we’re seeing this. Not yet,” he said, unable to take his eyes off the screen in front of him. “I want this feed to stay up . . . if you need another computer for whatever else you have to do, then get one. Do not break this connection. And make sure they don’t know what you’re up too.”
Spinelli could only nod. With a few clicks of the mouse and some taps on the keys, he also started making a copy – if they needed to, it could possibly be used against the assailants, although he wasn’t sure how just yet.
Needing some air, Jason left the room and headed right outside. He hadn’t realized he was shaking until now. Having to live through the events of Jessica’s death had been hard enough at the time . . . he couldn’t image what Lorenzo was going through now, being forced to relive it over and over. In the time he and Spinelli had watched the live feed, the video had replayed over and over again at least five times.
Jason was sure that wasn’t going to be the end of it. Manny wouldn’t stop at the video – Jason was sure Manny was planning a lot more. He had to get Lorenzo out of there before it was too late.
“Thank God you’re okay!” Lulu said as she rushed into Diego’s arms. She hugged him tightly.
Diego hugged her back. “What’s going on? Did something happen?” he asked, feeling her shaking. “Lulu, what is it?”
Lulu pulled back and looked up at him. “Lorenzo’s alive,” she said, tears glistening in her eyes. “He’s being held captive.”
Diego’s eyes widened. “How do you know?” he asked, not wanting to get his hopes up and failing.
Lulu swallowed. “Spinelli hacked into Manny’s systems and found a live feed. He’s being monitored by cameras . . .”
“Does he still have the feed up?” Diego asked, pulling away from Lulu and headed toward Spinelli’s room.
“Diego, wait!” Lulu rushed after him, stopping him in the hallway. “I don’t think you should go in there.”
“Why not?” Diego asked in confusion. “If my father is alive, I need to see it.”
“He’s being tortured Diego . . . and Manny’s videotaping it.”
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