Diego couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He didn’t want to believe it, but it was happening right in front of his eyes.
“We need to get him out of there,” he said to no one in particular unable to tear his eyes from the screen.
And he continued to watch as a man came onto the screen. Diego sucked in a breath and held it, not wanting to see what was going to happen, but not able to not see what was going to happen.
Lorenzo heard the door open, but it was out of his immediate vision. His arms ached and felt like they were about to be pulled out of the sockets. He wasn’t sure how long ago it had started, but the pulley holding his arms up and begun slowly pulling him up, then stopping, then starting again. His entire upper body ached and his shoulders burned.
Then there was the temperature. When he had first woken up and realized what was going on, the room had been freezing. Then the temperature rose rapidly and then cooled down. He went from sweating to freezing and back again. More of Manny’s psychological games.
Added to that, he couldn’t remember when he had last eaten or had anything to drink. His mouth felt as if it was stuffed with cotton and his head swam with dizziness from lack of food.
The door closed, but he felt the presence of another person there. He wasn’t sure if it was Manny or not, but he knew it wasn’t going to be good for him either way.
He was right. With no warning, a sharp, searing pain hit his back. Lorenzo bit his lip and squeezed his eyes shut. He was not going to give them the satisfaction of crying out in the pain he was feeling. They weren’t going to win.
Diego’s blood boiled and his fists clenched at his sides as an unknown, masked man proceed to whip his father’s back mercilessly.
He heard Lulu’s gasp as she watched. But other than that, nothing else in the room could be heard but the sound of the leather whip hitting the bare flesh of his father’s back.
“I cannot wait to get home,” Skye said as Sam pushed the wheelchair toward the bank of elevators. “Have you heard anything from Jason yet?” she asked.
“Not yet,” Sam said. “I’m sure he’ll update us when we get home,” she added, knowing how Skye wanted to be kept informed on what was happening. Sam just hoped that Skye and the babies would be able to handle it.
Skye nodded as she settled back in the wheelchair. All she wanted was to get home. She wanted to be there when Lorenzo was found and brought home. Then she could tell him about their daughter. They could start coming up with names and planning the nursery. She had already decided that she was not going to do any of that until he was back with her again. They were in this together.
The attack ended as suddenly as it had begun. The whipping stopped and his tormentor left. Nothing was said. No threats were made. Sweating, breathing hard, his back slick with his own blood, all Lorenzo could do was hang his head and try to reserve some of his strength for whatever was to come next.
Diego turned to Jason. “Why the hell aren’t we over there getting him out?” he demanded angrily.
“Diego . . .” Lulu said, putting her hand on his back.
“No!” Diego snapped, shaking her off. “Why the hell are we just standing here watching my father be tortured?”
“I know you want to rush over there Diego, I do too, but we can’t,” Jason said. “We need to plan or we’re all dead.”
“So until we have this fabulous plan, my father is going to be put through hell?” Diego asked incredulously. “Well, you can stand here all you want Jason, but I won’t.”
“Diego!” Lulu hurried out of the room after him.
“Don’t Lulu!” he said, not stopping. “I need to do something.”
Lulu caught up to him and darted around him. “Diego, stop. Think. Do you think you’re father would want you charging in there, possibly getting yourself killed? He’s already lost Jessica; he shouldn’t have to lose you too.”
That caught Diego’s attention and he stopped, looking down at her. “I can’t just stand by and do nothing,” he said, swallowing past the lump in his throat.
“I know,” Lulu said softly. “And I’m not asking you to do that. But you need to stop and think, Diego. Work with Jason. Do this together – you’ll have a better chance of saving your father and still coming out of it with your own life intact. Please.”
It took a moment, but Diego nodded. She made sense and in his anger, frustration, and fear, it was hard for him to think sensibly. Pulling Lulu into his arms, Diego hugged her tightly.
Sam could feel the charge of tension as soon as she entered the house. She wondered if Skye felt it too. Something was going on.
“Let’s get you settled and I’ll see where Jason is. There should be an update by now,” Sam said.
“I’ve rested enough, Sam,” Skye said with a shake of her. “And Dr. Lee said it was okay for me to move around more I’ll rest later.”
Sam breathed out a huff of air as she followed Skye. She knew there would be no changing the other woman’s mind. Shaking her head, Sam followed Skye down the hall, past the kitchen and toward Lorenzo’s office.
“Skye, I’m sure if there was an update Jason would have been waiting for us when we got here,” Sam tried to at least reason with her.
“He might not even know I’m home yet,” Skye said, not slowing down.
“Skye, he sent the guards to pick us up,” Sam reminded her.
Skye didn’t respond as she continued on her way, her eyes on the double doors of Lorenzo’s office. She needed to know what was going on.
“Boss, Skye and Sam are here,” Max informed Jason as soon as he got the call from the guards on her detail.
Jason nodded. “Thanks, Max,” he said. “Listen, I need you to do me a favor.”
“Anything, Boss,” Max said.
“I need you to stick close to Diego,” Jason told him. “I don’t want him running off and doing something crazy.”
“You got it,” Max said with a nod.
Jason left the office to intercept Skye. There was no way he was going to let her know about the torture Lorenzo was enduring.
“Skye, it’s good to see you up. How are you and the babies?”
“What’s going on Jason?” Skye demanded. “You don’t do forced pleasantries. Now talk.”
Jason looked over at Sam, who shrugged. “Alright. We have evidence that Lorenzo is alive.”
Skye gasped, tears springing to her eyes. “Oh God, where is he? Are you going to get him? Is he okay?”
Jason held up a hand to stop her. “He’s being held by Manny. We aren’t sure where yet . . . but we’re working on it and once we know, we’re going to get him.”
“How do you know he’s alive? Did Manny contact you?”
Jason nodded. “Yes,” he said, although he wasn’t going to elaborate. In this case, it would do her more harm to know what was going on.
Letting out the breath she had been holding, Skye closed her eyes a moment. “Has he been hurt? Do you know if he’s okay?”
“I don’t know Skye,” Jason said. “But we’re going to get him out of there and bring him home. That I can promise you.”
Once Skye had left, saying she was more tired than she thought and wanted to lie down, Sam wrapped her arms around Jason. She could feel the tension in his body. “What happened?” she whispered.
Jason pulled back and looked down at her. “We do have proof Lorenzo is alive. And I’m sure Manny has him.”
“But there’s more,” Sam said, looking into his eyes.
“Spinelli was able to hack into Manny’s systems,” Jason began. He needed to prepare her. Although he was not going to allow Skye to see what was happening, he knew he wasn’t going to be able to hide it from Sam. “He found a live video feed that Manny is recording . . .”
Sam looked at him, could see it in his eyes. “Oh God . . . what happened? Is he okay?”
Keeping his arms around her, Jason looked into her deep, chocolate eyes. “He’s being tortured, Sam. Mentally and physically.”
Sam gasped. “No,” she whispered. “How bad?”
“Manny was able to get surveillance footage from a building near the park where Jessica was shot. He started out by replaying it over and over again. Lorenzo had no choice but to watch . . . listen to it.” Jason had to stop and swallow. He had watched and listened to it over and over again himself. “They have have him chained in the middle of the room, is arms cuffed over his head. From the looks of it he can’t really move more than his head . . . a half hour ago, a masked man came into the room and used a whip on Lorenzo’s back.”
Sam listened to it all. She was trembling, hot, angry tears stinging her eyes. “I want to see it,” she said.
“I know,” Jason said. “I just wanted to prepare you first. Also, I know I promised Skye to keep her informed . . . and I will . . . but she won’t know this Sam. And I won’t let her see the video if she ends up hearing about it. Everyone involved is under strict orders not to talk about it anywhere near her.”
“I understand,” Sam said, preparing herself for what she was going to see. When Jason turned to open the door and lead her inside, Sam stopped him. “Does Diego know? Has he seen it?”
Jason turned back to her. “Yes,” he said. “And I have Max sticking to him like glue. He was ready to go running after Manny without a plan or backup.”
“Thank you for taking care of him,” Sam said, hugging him again.
He kissed the top of her head. “He’s my family, too,” he whispered. “Until Lorenzo is brought home, I’ll make sure to keep him safe.”
Lulu sat with Diego. He hadn’t said a word in almost an hour. He hadn’t moved in almost an hour. This was killing him and Lulu didn’t know how to help him, or even if she could. All she could do was be there, support him, and keep him grounded.
Biting her lip, Lulu stood and went over to the chair Diego was sitting in. “I know you want to save your father, Diego,” she said gently. “I want to save him too. But we can’t go running down to Miami without a plan.”
“I know all of that already, Lulu,” Diego growled, not looking up at her.
Sighing, Lulu kneeled in front of him, taking his hands in hers. “Diego, look at me.” She waited until he did. “I love you. I love your family. You’re hurting . . . but you can’t let that anger control your actions. It’ll only get you killed. And I wouldn’t be able to bear that.”
Diego blinked. “What did you say?” he asked, his eyes focusing on her.
Lulu smiled. “I said . . . I love you.”
Diego swallowed. “I love you, too,” he whispered, leaning forward and kissing her gently. Then he pulled her into his arms, buried his head in her sweet smelling hair and let the tears – the anger, the fear – flow out of him.
Lulu tightened her arms around him, closing her eyes as he gently rocked him, letting him get it all out.
Letting his laptop continue to run the live video feed, Spinelli worked on another one he procured from the Younger Alcazar and continued to hack away at Manny’s systems. Whoever was handling The Evil One’s systems, was not a professional in any way – at least not in a way that rivaled Spinelli’s own skills.
Stretching his neck, Spinelli kept his eyes glued to the current program he was running. He was trying to see if he could access The Evil One’s security system. If he could get in, then Stone Cold wouldn’t have to go in completely blind.
Letting the program do its thing, Spinelli leaned back in his chair, taking a long drink from the bottle of orange soda.
“Are you sure you want to do this Sam?” Jason asked his hand on the doorknob to the office.
“I’m sure,” she said with a nod.
Jason opened the door.
“Oh! Stone Cold . . . ummm . . . I’m still working on breaking into The Evil One’s security systems. It’s a little more sophisticated than The Jackal expected.”
“Keep working on it,” Jason said. “And see if you can get blueprints on the compound. Someone had to have built it, so there should be schematics somewhere.”
“Will do,” Spinelli said. Then he noticed Sam and went to close the screen of the laptop with the live feed. Jason stopped him.
“It’s okay,” he said. “She needs to see it.”
Spinelli nodded and then turned back to his work, not wanting to intrude.
Sam took in a deep breath and slowly let it out. She nodded to Jason.
Jason turned the computer for Sam to see.
Manny shook his head. He had just reviewed the footage of the whipping of Lorenzo. He had to admit he was impressed with the man’s will power.
“You are a fool Manny,” Johnny said. “You have obviously underestimated this man.”
Manny glared at Johnny. “Do not be so sure. Every man has a breaking point – and I will find Lorenzo Alcazar’s breaking point.” And he was going to enjoy every moment of it.
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