Wednesday, October 30, 2013 | By: Drotuno

Fire & Ice Chapter 4 & Pics

Chapter 4
Propping open the barn doors, I eyed the horse paddock. Over the years, I’d slowly replaced the entire fence when I’d visit Aunt Kate, and it seemed to be holding up. I walked back to the horse stalls, setting Samson and Goliath loose into the paddock. Both were getting up in age, but they were still in good shape. Samson was the color of butterscotch, with an almost-white mane and tail – a purebred Palomino. Goliath, on the other hand, was as black as pitch, a mix of different breeds. Next, I let Mary and Ruth, who were much younger and smaller, out of their stalls. They were auburn-colored quarter horses, with white stripes down their faces.
Once the barn was empty, I set to work on the stall gates. All of them needed replacing. Their hinges and locks were rusty and old, and I was pretty sure Goliath knew that, simply because he was capable of opening his own.
I snorted, shaking my head at that thought, but got to work. Lock and Load found a comfy pile of hay in an empty open stall and watched me with sharp blue eyes. I needed to stay busy, to keep my mind occupied on something other than the waiting game. The twelve-hour difference between Alaska and Moscow was driving me fucking crazy. It was early morning where I was, which meant, my father and Esme were about to go to bed, and I didn’t expect to hear from them for at least another eight hours or so. Even worse, it would be midnight before they’d be boarding the plane. That made for a long damn day ahead of me.

I stacked the old doors off to the side, setting up my sawhorses to build the new ones. I’d finished two by the time I heard a voice.
“Hello, boys,” Bella crooned to Samson and Goliath as she approached the fence. I watched her through the open barn doors, and her smile was soft, sweet, and calm when she rubbed their noses and patted their flanks. She laughed softly when Goliath nuzzled her hair, sniffing, snorting, and loving on her. They followed her along the fence until she stepped into the barn, and then they went back to their bale of hay.
She leaned in the doorway, her arms folded across her chest. “Emmett and Rose just got here, baby. Alice and Mickey are going over everything with them, Kurt, and Mack now.”
Nodding that I’d heard her, I flipped on the saw, cutting the next set of boards for two more stall doors. It was easier to put them all together and then hang them one by one, instead of doing it all one door at a time. I went to reach for the drill, but Bella’s hand stopped me.
“Let me help you, Edward.”
“I’m okay, love,” I argued, but she smirked at me. “What?”
“You’re fine now, but how are you gonna hang them without someone to help you?” she asked, holding my drill hostage.
Chuckling, I looked from the open stalls to the new doors. “Huh. I’m sure I would’ve figured it out.”
Smiling, she handed me the drill. “C’mon, I’ll help. You finish these, and I’ll remove the old locks and hinges from the posts, okay?”
We worked in silence for a little while, Bella almost reading my mind with what I needed each step of the way. In less than an hour, the doors were all up. I sat down on a bale of hay, not really ready to put the horses away, so I watched them wander about the paddock.
Bella sat down between my legs, and I wrapped my arms around her, inhaling deeply the scent of her hair. It was flowers, the same as always, but now included hay and fresh-cut wood. Her mere presence was calming, easy, and I suspected she knew that.
“We need a backup plan for tonight, sweetness,” I sighed softly, the first thing I’d said since her offer to help me. “If something goes wrong with my dad and Esme…” My voice trailed off.
She turned sideways, draping her legs across one of mine and leaning her back against the other, which was bent at the knee. “Why are you thinking worst case scenario, Edward?” she asked, placing her hand over mine when I dropped it down to her thigh.
Shaking my head, I shrugged one shoulder. “I don’t know. H-Habit, I-I g-guess,” I stuttered nervously. “My dad never lets someone lead him around like this, and I don’t know why he’s doing it now. Normally, he would’ve told these assholes to kiss his ass, sold it…or told them to fix their shit. But the fact that they’re changing the itinerary makes me wonder, ya know?”
She nodded once, tucking her hair behind her ear when a soft breeze blew through the barn. “The Cold War’s over, baby…”
“I know, I know!” I chanted, nodding a little. “It’s not that, though there are some problems still over there – underground bullshit. But maybe it’s because my dad isn’t exactly young anymore.” I frowned at the truth of that, and it almost hurt to say it. “Maybe he’s missing something…not as sharp as he once was.”
“You think Carlisle’s gone soft?” she asked incredulously, a small chuckle escaping her.
“Not soft, no. Just…lackadaisical…m-maybe?” I said, though it came out like a question. “Sweetness, I know he isn’t stupid, but still, I worry.”
She nodded, cupping my face and kissing my lips. “Your dad is still sharp. He was spot-on when we had to get you in China a few years ago. Not to mention all the stuff that went down with Kyra.”
Grimacing, I nodded. That was the last really big case we’d dealt with – Kyra. It had originally been a security case, which had turned into more. I’d met Kyra when I’d been stationed overseas. She was a singer, and our history wasn’t so innocent. She was doing extraordinarily well now living in Los Angeles with her new husband, Jordan. However, Bella was right. My dad had been pretty sharp then.
Bella sniffed once, letting her breath out slowly. “Okay, sweetheart. Let’s say you’re right. Let’s say Carlisle’s missing something. What do you wanna do about it?”
Shaking my head at her questions, I sighed deeply. “I honestly don’t know.”
“What aren’t you telling me, Edward Anthony?” she asked, her eyes shrewdly narrowing on my face.
Snorting humorlessly, I took a deep breath. “You didn’t know Garrett, though he would’ve adored you, but he was always telling stories, things he and my dad had done. My dad’s old crew, his first crew, was deadly. They’d just come out of the Gulf War, and they’d seen shit through the years that would make what we’ve done look like child’s play. There wasn’t a country they hadn’t been in, a mission they wouldn’t at least consider, and none of it was public knowledge. They were paid to be a black-ops team. Period. They went to Russia once before, and Garrett told me that they’d almost died there.”
Bella waited patiently for me to go on, her fingers linking with mine.
“Garrett, my dad, and…a-and S-Sam, they’d been asked to take down a guy that the higher-ups thought was responsible for Chernobyl. You remember that incident?” I asked her, knowing my girl was smart as fuck, but I wanted to make sure we were on the same page. With the mention of Sam, her sweet brown eyes filled with sadness, which wasn’t helping me any.
“Yeah, yeah,” she said with a nod. “I remember. The whole thing was supposedly a test for a power outage, but it went horribly wrong. The nuclear reactor had a meltdown. It killed hundreds – a few at the time of the explosion, but then many more later on due to radiation poisoning.”
“Exactly, sweetness,” I praised her, kissing her temple. “Well, apparently, it wasn’t an accident. Someone had tried to set it off on purpose, and my dad’s crew went in to…solve the problem. Some people paid them to remove the scientist, just in case he decided to try again, only somewhere else. It had been several years since Chernobyl, and the guy had gone silent, but I guess whoever wanted him out had bided their time.”
“Oh.” Bella’s voice was soft, but I could see her putting two and two together. “It was a hit.”
“Straight up,” I concurred with a nod. “Nothing more. Nothing less. They were given the intelligence of where this guy was, they went, and they removed the problem. But the scientist wasn’t stupid either. He’d become all paranoid and shit over the years. He must’ve known they’d come for him, because he had some nasty shit in his lab where they found him. My dad and his crew almost didn’t make it out.
“Garrett told me this story when I was just a kid, probably to shut me up or just to placate me, but it fucking stuck with me,” I sighed, shaking my head. “Mom was already gone. I’d already met you, but… The thought of losing my dad, too… Well, that fucked with my head. Hard, Bella. I’m not kidding.” I frowned, dragging my thumb up the outside seam of her jeans. “I flipped the fuck out, told my dad that he was an asshole if he did stupid shit. He got pissed at Uncle Garrett, but in the end, he swore to me that he’d take different missions from that point on.”
“So that’s when he started taking only the retrieve missions. No hits,” she guessed, tilting that gorgeous head at me.
“There were a few hits, but they were easily solved by a long-range weapon. Sniper.”
“Garrett was a sniper, right? Like Jasper?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I sighed, swallowing nervously. “I don’t know. I just don’t like him over there. The second he told me where this meeting was, I felt off. Maybe it’s from that story I heard as a kid, or maybe it’s gut instinct, b-but I-I d-don’t l-like i-it.”
Bella’s face was unreadable, but she reached up, took my hat off, and ran her fingers through my hair. “Garrett shouldn’t have told you that story, baby…not so soon after your mom. What the hell was he thinking?”
I smiled at her protectiveness. We both had lost our mothers at young ages, so we tended to nurture that between us. “Maybe he was thinking a fourteen-year-old that wanted to be like his dad when he grew up would appreciate a good story, sweetness. I’m sure he meant no harm. Like I said, he was a good guy.”
“Hmm,” she hummed noncommittally. “Did they tell you names?”
I shook my head. “No, and by then, I’m pretty sure they weren’t keeping records.”
“Right,” Bella agreed, but she was quiet for a moment. Her eyes locked onto mine, but she nodded once. “Okay, Edward. Fair enough. We’ll talk backup plan, okay? But I prefer to do it with everyone.”
I took a deep breath and let it out. “Fine. Let’s go pull them all into the computer room.”
“Daddy, where’s Poppy and Gamma?” Bethy asked as I tucked her into bed.
I glanced up when Sammy leaned against the bed, saying, “I miss Gamma’s cookies.”
Smiling at him and then back to Bethy, I said, “They’re coming, guys. Poppy’s working, okay?”
Bethy’s little hand reached up to rub the spot between my eyebrows that I didn’t even know had scrunched up. “Soon?” she whispered. “Poppy promised he’d take us camping in Aunt Kate’s woods.”
I shook my head, grinning. “Did he now?”
“Yeah,” Sammy said softly with a slow, mischievous smile. “He promised campfires and s’mores and scary stories. And he said we’d sleep in sleepin’ bags and tents.”
“Why wasn’t I invited?!” I gasped in shock, unable not to tease them.
They both laughed – the exact reaction I’d wanted.
Bethy sat up, grasping both side of my face. “You hafta come, Daddy. You make the best s’mores!”
That earned her sloppy, loud, raspberry smooches to her neck, which caused her to squeal and give a raspberry right back on my cheek.
“Bedtime, little soldiers!” I ordered, snickering when Sammy shot off to his bed. “Only sweet dreams, little sweetness,” I sighed against her forehead once she’d fallen back down to her pillow.
“One more ’mooch,” she ordered, puckering her lips, and I was powerless to resist. “Love you,” she sang.
“Love you, too.”
I walked to the other side of the kids’ room to tuck Sammy in, hearing Abby and Caleb fighting bedtime with Sarah and Rose in the hallway, despite the fact that we’d promised them a movie. My son sat wide-eyed in the middle of the bottom bunk bed, watching me.
“Get under the covers, buddy,” I told him, and he did, still gazing up at me with eyes that matched his mother’s so much, it was uncanny. “What’s wrong?”
“Caleb says…there’ll be bears when we go campin’,” he whispered, like it was a secret.
“There are bears around here, son, but Aunt Kate’s fence keeps them out,” I explained, ruffling his now-shorter hair. I was pretty sure Aunt Kate cut us to look identical. “But if it makes you feel better, I promise no bears will get you,” I growled, tickling him until he was red-faced and panting. “Sweet dreams, pal,” I snickered against cheek as he sagged, still giggling a little. “Love you.”
“Love you, too, Daddy.”
I passed Caleb in the hallway. “Hey, Caleb…no bear stories, okay? Try not to scare everyone.”
He grinned, and I swear to fucking God, he was his father made over – dimples and scrunched eyes and all. Rose snorted, shaking her head and giving me an apologetic look.
“Sorry, Unca Edward!” he chanted, looking impish, yet smug at the same time.
“Mmhm,” I hummed, rolling my eyes at him, but he shot me a high five on my way by.
It had been a long damn day, and I knew it wasn’t over. We were expecting a phone call at any time. It had been decided that the kids would go to bed early with the promise that they could watch a movie in their room. We didn’t want them close to the computer room should something go wrong. Though, Bethy was damned sharp and could read her mother’s and my stress, no matter how hard we tried to hide it, and surprisingly enough, she didn’t argue the early bedtime. She was as intuitive as Bella and had simply urged the rest of the kids to go with her. It was probably why she’d asked about her Poppy and Gamma in the first place.
I walked through the main living area to the dining room, only to be handed a plate. “Hot damn! Really?” I gasped, eyeballing the giant-ass piece of apple pie that was still warm and melting the ice cream plopped on top.
Bella laughed. “Edward,” she sighed, rolling her eyes. “You’d think I never made apple pie for you.”
I shoved a huge bite into my mouth before falling down into a chair at the table. “It never gets old, sweetness,” I mumbled through a mouthful, licking my lips and smiling at her.
“Just eat, you silly thing.” She kissed my forehead and sat next to me.
There was no better dessert on the planet. Bella’s apple pie was outstanding. She’d taught me how to make it years ago, but it always came out better when she did it. It had been her Aunt Jane’s recipe, the lady that had taken care of Bella when she was a kid after Renee had died. I’d had one piece the day I’d met my girl the first time. I’d been a nervous, shy, stuttering thing at thirteen, but the pie – and the sweet, outgoing twelve-year-old girl – had made me feel calm, comfortable. Esme, being a therapist, assumed I associated the pie with those feelings instead of simply loving the damn dessert. I’d told her ages ago to stop analyzing my damn head, to which she’d merely laughed and ruffled my hair.
The thought of my stepmother made me smile, but it fell quickly. My dad needed to fucking call soon before I lost my damn mind. I glanced up into the open door of the computer room, where Rose, Makenna, Alice, and Kurt were all sitting in front of screens. Jasper, Alec, and Emmett were at the table in the center, with papers strewn from one end of it to the other.
I finished my dessert, picking up the plate.
“Edward Cullen, if you lick that plate…” Bella warned, raising a sexy as all hell eyebrow up at me.
“I wasn’t!” I laughed as the lie came out pitifully.
“You were, too, pretty boy,” Mickey countered with a snort. “Some shit never changes, I swear.”
Plastering an innocent expression on my face, I handed the plate and fork to Bella. She opened her mouth to say something, but the computer room was suddenly filled with beeps and excited chatter.
“Edward!” Alice called, running to the door. “They haven’t called, but they’re on the move. Get in here.”
Mickey, Bella, Obie, and I all ran into the room. Jasper had installed a rather large flatscreen on the wall, and that was where everyone was looking. The map grid on the screen was split into a few views – an aerial view, the hotel layout, and the floor plan for the top floor where my dad’s room was located. Two dots – one red and one green – traveled down the hallway to the elevators.
Spinning to Alice, I ordered, “I want inside their security cameras. Now.”
“Igor, on the far back wall, put up the hotel’s real-time security feed. All of them,” Alice ordered, but turned to me. “I figured you would, so I went ahead and hacked in.”
I smiled a little and nodded, but walked to view the holographic screens Igor was popping up onto the wall one by one. The hotel was fucking ridiculously high end, but high end meant better protection. The lobby was situated in the center of the thirteen-story building, with the rooms facing the atrium going all the way to the top floor. The floors and rooms were wrapped around the atrium, where the elevators were clear glass. My dad said he liked that he could see the front door no matter where he was inside the hotel.
If Alice was impressive, Igor was pure fucking genius, because with every step my dad and Esme took inside that hotel, Igor would switch to the closest camera feed, zooming it forward so I could see it better – down the corridor, at the elevator bay, inside the elevator, and finally the main lobby on the first floor. I took a small breath of relief when they stayed inside the lobby, merely stepping into a small shop.
Pacing, I gripped my hair, giving a few glances up at the footage. They were getting a cup of coffee, some breakfast, and Esme was toting around a magazine or two.
“Edward,” Bella said softly. “Look at your dad. Watch him.”
I stepped closer to the wall, and Igor zoomed in on the small table and chairs where they were sitting. Esme’s attention was sharp on my father, but his eyes were every-fucking-where.
“His ass is on high fucking alert, dude,” Emmett muttered, coming to stand next to me. “Look at him.”
“Yeah, he is,” I agreed softly, searching the rest of the screens. “What’cha see, Dad?” I murmured to myself. “Call me, you jackass.”
As if he heard me, he pulled out his phone, and I swear his eyes met mine in the camera. He tucked his Bluetooth in, sliding one to Esme across the table. My phone blared in my pocket.
I slid my thumb across to answer the call, and he didn’t even wait for me to say anything.
“I’m assuming you’re patched into the security cameras, yeah? And I’m assuming Alice is listening.”
“Yes, sir,” I answered, setting the phone onto the table.
“Good. Alice, patch Esme’s Bluetooth into my phone,” he ordered in a quiet tone.
“On it, on it, on it,” she chanted, rolling across the floor in her chair. Her fingers flew over the keys. A few clicks of the mouse later, and I could hear another voice patch in over the line.
“Hey, guys.”
“Hey, Esme, you okay?” Bella asked, but my father didn’t give her a chance to answer.
“I need you to listen to me, guys,” he said, and on camera, his eyes were moving all around him – the window next to him, the doorway of the shop, the back of the store. Everywhere. “I’ve got three tails.”
“Talk to us,” I grunted, studying each camera. “Where? Describe them.”
“Front desk, to the left. Dark hair, overcoat, beard. Got him?” he muttered.
“Here!” Jasper called out, pointing to the screen. “Igor, send that footage to Mack’s computer.”
“Next,” my dad went on. “We’ve got two men – one overweight, the other not bothering to hide his weapon very well. Baseball caps and black leather coats.”
“This one,” Bella yelled. “Igor, send camera feed seven to Mack’s computer.”
“Last one…outside. Loitering by the curb like he’s waiting for a cab. He’s got a newspaper open, and he’s smoking a cigarette.”
“He isn’t alone,” Mickey stated, pointing to the outside security footage. “There’s a black van parked at the corner. Igor, send that to Mack’s computer, too.”
Mack was working furiously to freeze, record, map, and process each of those faces. She had two monitors flooding with facial recognition software. Hundreds of identities were blurring by as they tried to match who was following my dad. She was working quickly and silently.
“Carlisle, we’re going to get you out of there and to the airport. Security there won’t allow someone to get to you, so you need to listen to what we can see,” Bella told him firmly.
He was already nodding in agreement. “No matter what happens, I need you to get Esme on that fucking plane. Am I understood?!”
I bit down hard on my bottom lip at that order, because it was not to be ignored, but it also meant he’d sacrifice himself for his wife, something I completely fucking understood – though, I didn’t have to like it. Esme’s mouth opened to say something, but my dad shot her a sharp gaze, shaking his head.
“Dammit,” I sighed.
“Promise me, Edward,” he urged over the line.
Everyone in the room turned to me, and my hands balled up into fists. I was shaking my head slowly, trying to see everything all at one time.
“I fucking swear, Dad,” I said through gritted teeth. “But we’re going to get you out of there. And unfortunately, it’s not through the front fucking door.”
“Guys,” Kurt called, rolling over and standing up. “We’ve got another set of men at the side entrance. They’re not so subtle about their weapons.” He spun to Bella. “We should call the Moscow police.”
“Go! Do it,” Bella ordered, and Kurt dove for his computer, pulling a headset on.
I blinked twice when flawless Russian flew from his lips. “The fuck?”
“His grandmother is from Russia,” Alice stated softly.
“Jasper,” I growled low, looking to my right. “Find me another exit out of this goddamn hotel. Make sure it’s clear and empty.”
“Got it.” He sat down at the computer, scrolling through the blueprints.
I turned to the camera where my father and stepmother were still sitting casually in the shop. “Can you leave your shit behind?” I asked him, thinking they could replace clothes and toiletries.
“No,” my dad answered. “My laptop is upstairs. I can’t leave it.”
“Are you armed right now?” I asked him, trying to see the best way to get them upstairs to the room and then out.
“Good. You’re gonna get up, leave the fucking table, and walk back to the elevators. You’re gonna do it like you don’t see a motherfucking thing. Got me?” I told him, snapping my fingers at the room full of people. When all eyes were on me, I said, “I need eyes on cameras now! If you see something, you speak up!”
Alice came to stand beside me. “Igor, split the feeds into three sections – one for me, one for Edward, and one for Bella.”
As you wish…”
Igor did as instructed, and Alice, Bella, and I now had different sets of video feeds. They swirled and rotated in front of us anytime that someone would move. The cameras seemed to be high-tech, with movement activation software. It sure as hell made shit even easier, because Igor had my father’s face locked in. Those were the feeds I was watching.
“On you, Dad. Go,” I told him.
My focus was the couple getting up from the table, but the voices in the room were making it so I was unable to hear. Pulling out my own earpiece, I popped it into my ear.
“You focus on my voice and do what I tell you, clear?” I asked.
“Yes, Edward,” Esme stated back.
I stepped back, looking to Bella, who pointed to the lobby’s far right corner. “You’ve got two assholes to your right. And two assholes to your left. They’re awfully fucking interested in where you’re going. Ignore them. They make a move now, they’ll cause a scene. Take the elevator to your floor,” I instructed.
Once the two of them were inside the car, I turned to Jasper when he stepped up beside me.
“Service stairs back down. He’ll find it at the end of his floor. If he takes that, he can’t be seen from the lobby, and it’ll bring him out down by the laundry. The laundry room has its own exit through a service bay,” he reported quickly.
“Ten-four,” I muttered back, glancing back up.
“Their floor is clear so far,” Alice told me, and I nodded, seeing she was right.
“You’re clear to the room, Dad,” I told him, “but don’t fucking take your time. Grab the least amount of shit you can take and go! And make sure you have your passports.”
There were no cameras inside their room, but their GPS chips showed plenty of movement. In less than sixty seconds, his voice was gruff in my ear.
“Ready,” he stated, and I saw the green and red dots move toward the door.
“Hold up. On me when I tell you,” I commanded, looking first to Alice and then to Bella.
“He’s got two coming up the south elevators,” she said, pointing to the lobby goons.
“Perfect,” Jasper said, rolling over. “The service stairs are opposite that.”
“Do we have cameras there?” I asked, spinning to each of them. When I received nods in the affirmative, I said, “Dad, now. Take a left out your door, head to the end of the hallway, and take the employee door.”
I could hear Rose behind me. “Faster, Mack. We need to know who these assholes are!”
“If they aren’t in the international database, we’re shit outta luck,” Makenna muttered back.
“Edward,” Kurt called over my shoulder. “The Moscow police are on their way.”
“They’re gonna be too late,” I told him, shaking my head and gripping my hair. “I’ll have them out before then. But call a fucking cab. I want it sitting downstairs at the bay doors.”
He nodded, rolling back to his desk. The holographic video feeds shifted in front of me, giving me every angle and almost every floor of the stairway.
“Bella, watch those other floors for any movement. Alice, I need eyeballs on the laundry exit,” I ordered.
“Edward, fourth floor stairwell.” Bella’s voice was sharp, but her finger pointed to three men entering the employee door.
“Dad, Esme…freeze!” I ordered. They came to a stop on the steps between the sixth and fifth floors. “You’ve got company, and I wouldn’t shoot, if I were you. Gunshots will alert the three assholes on the floor above you. However, you can go down to the fifth floor out to the elevators…”
“Fuck that,” my dad interrupted, pointing to Esme and putting a finger to his lips. He crouched down, making Esme do the same, but I heard him mutter to her to stay put as he pulled out his Glock.
“Aw, hell,” Emmett said softly. “Stay low, stay low…”
All eyes were watching my feed. And I was pretty fucking certain that we were all holding our breaths.
“If you’re gonna take ’em by surprise, then you have about…twenty seconds,” I told him, watching as the three men in leather jackets ascended the stairs. “In four, three, two…now!”
At least he didn’t come out fucking shooting, but he did get the jump on them. Using the butt of his gun, he pistol-whipped the first guy, knocking him into the second and third man. Both stumbled down a few steps, but before they could recover, my dad was on them. Several punches to each, and kicks to their heads, and three men were left unconscious in the stairwell.
“Go, go, go!” I ordered, making sure Dad grabbed Esme’s hand before turning to Bella.
“Pfft…my godfather is not fucking soft, Edward,” she said with a smirk.
“Yeah, well, he ain’t on the plane yet, Bellsy,” Emmett countered. “We’ve still got a couple of floors and a bay to get out of.”
“They’re tracking him,” Alice suddenly stated. “How!? How in the blue fuck are they tracking him?” she practically yelled, running from one end of the video feeds to the other. “No one would know where my chip is! No one…”
“Shit! The bay isn’t clear…repeat, the bay isn’t clear!” Jasper stated at the end of the wall.
On the video footage, I could see the back exit. Clearly, in the background, a taxi waited, but it was the three guys stepping in off the back alley that my eyes locked onto.
“You’re gonna have company on the way out. If you shoot, you’ll cause a whole lotta chaos, Dad,” I warned him, “but you may not have a choice.”
“We have weapons!” Emmett warned, having now joined Bella in front of her screens.
“It’s me they want,” my dad stated over the line. But on the screen, Esme was shaking her head no.
“No, Carlisle…just…” she started to argue, but I could see that there were two more men coming in through the lobby’s employee entrance. They would be surrounded soon.
“You gotta make a move, Dad,” I sang in a warning. “Go out shooting, or back up the stairs and we’ll find you another way, but you gotta move!”
At this point, I didn’t give a fuck if he was arrested. At least then, they’d be safe, but the police were, so far, still absent.
His eyes looked up at the camera. “You promised me, Edward. Now…where are my targets?” he asked, handing the one bag he was carrying to Esme and pulling his Glock back out. To Esme, he stated, “You’re gonna run straight. Stay low, keep running.”
My nostrils flared with my temper, but I answered him. “From the door…ten o’clock and two o’clock. Aim at a downward angle; they’re below you in the bay. Esme, you’ve got no choice but to run straight out and to the left behind the box truck. On my mark…” I waited until the three men were in the perfect spot. “In three, two, one…go, go, go!”
The stairwell door flew open, and my father shot twice, causing two men to fall to the floor. The laundry workers scattered, giving Esme enough coverage to get behind the box truck. However, despite my father’s flawless aim and lightning reflexes, the third man in the bay rounded his weapon on him.
“What is that?” Bella asked, but before we could see, Esme’s cry rang out.
“Stun gun,” Mickey said, rushing to my side. “They’re taking him.”
“Fuck me,” I growled, gripping my hair, because the two men coming in from the lobby were already on the task of grabbing up my father.
“Get her out! Get her out!” Bella said, smacking my shoulder.
“Esme, listen to me! You have to run,” I told her.
“And not that cab!” Kurt yelled, pointing to the one at the bay. “That’s not the company I called! Tell her to look for an orange and black cab. Not fucking yellow!”
“Southeast corner facing the river,” Alice called out. “It’s waiting for her.”
Over my father’s Bluetooth, I could hear gruff voices speaking Russian, but my focus was now on Esme.
“Run, Esme. Take a left out of the bay doors. Look for an orange and black taxi,” I ordered her, trying to ignore her cries, even as everything in me was cracking in two when three men grabbed up my dad.
“Edward, please!”
Swallowing thickly, I shook my head. “I know. But you’ve got to do as I tell you. He’s gone. They’ve already loaded him up in the black van. But you have two on you now. You’ve got to go!” I used the outside security feed to follow her, not to mention her green GPS dot. “Do you fucking see it?!”
“No,” she breathed, rounding the corner. “Oh, wait! Yes.”
“Good. Get in,” I told her, snapping my fingers and pointing to the screen where the van was still waiting. “Follow that as far as you can. I want everything you can fucking get!”
To watch the two GPS dots start to separate was almost too much for everyone in the room, but they weren’t listening to Esme’s tears. Gripping my hair and putting the phone back on speaker, I watched the security feed as she slammed the back car door, telling the driver to go to the airport and to make sure they weren’t followed. But it was Kurt’s voice that caused us all to stop.
“They’re…instructions…take off his shoes, belt…and…watch?” he translated, looking to me. “We lose the watch, and we lose his GPS chip. And Esme has his phone. We can’t track him.”
“No, no, no!” Esme sobbed, breaking my heart even further.
“Fuck!” I growled, unable to stop my temper. Pulling back, I punched a hole through the plaster wall. “Goddammit!” I yelled, spinning to point to Emmett. “I want everything on that van! Every-fucking-thing.” Turning to Mack, I said, “I want to know the second you identify those men. Any of them.”
Esme’s Bluetooth clearly caught the sound of the police sirens, so I turned to Kurt. “Get on the phone with the police. Give them the van’s description. See if they can keep up.”
He nodded, but tapped his headset, indicating he was already on it. Esme, however, sounded inconsolable, so I turned my Bluetooth back on.
“Esme, listen to me. We will find him, I swear to fucking God, but you have to keep going. You hear me?” I asked her softly, stepping toward the back of the room.
She was quiet for a moment, and I feared the call dropped, because I definitely heard the snap and crack when my father’s earpiece was removed, the sound of Russian being cut off mid-sentence. Glancing up, hope swelled a little when the red dot indicating my dad continued to traverse through the streets of Moscow in the opposite direction of Esme’s green dot.
“Esme, please answer me,” I begged softly.
“Don’t wait for me,” she suddenly stated, sounding much more in control. “Edward, don’t you dare wait. That’s a twenty-one hour flight. You get here. You find him.”
Grimacing, I took a deep breath. “Okay, but you stay on this phone until the last possible second. Will the battery last?”
I could hear her fumble a little, but she sighed, “Yes, it should.”
“Good.” I sat down hard in the closest chair, dropping my elbows to my knees and fisting both hands in my hair. “Tell me what you know, Esme.”
She cleared her throat, sniffling a little. “He wasn’t worried until you said Boris Zukov was off the grid. Edward, I think…maybe if you can find him?”
“Okay, okay,” I soothed her. “What else? Talk to me.”
“He didn’t trust Sergei, not one bit. He said the guy could do the job at Norilsk, but…he said you were right, that the man kept changing plans. He said Sergei was fishy,” she explained, though I could tell she was calming down.
Esme Cullen never panicked. Ever. She was always calm, always in control, and always cool under pressure. It was from years of dealing with military personnel, from her brother being a Navy Seal and then a CIA agent, and then later, married to my dad. I knew she was in a touch of shock at the moment, but I also knew that once that shock wore off, she was going to be hellfire and brimstone incarnate. She was going to want answers and for someone to pay, and it would me and the crew she was going to want to exact revenge. And I wasn’t sure I blamed her one fucking bit. In fact, I was already planning in my head.
“Call my brother,” she ordered, again, sounding a little bit more in control. “Eleazar will help you. He’ll have connections and contacts here in Moscow that will get you anything you need.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said, waving Bella over. Covering the speaker on my Bluetooth, I whispered, “Sweetness, get Eleazar on the phone. Tell him exactly what happened. Tell him I need him. Yesterday!”
“Okay,” she said with a fervent nod. “I went ahead and had Emmett and Mickey prep the chopper, Edward. You just need to tell us what, when, and where.”
Nodding, I kissed her knuckles before she walked away to call El. “Esme?”
“I’m at the airport, son,” she said with a sigh. “I won’t be able to stay on the phone through security checks. I’ll text you from your father’s phone when I’m seated.”
A glance at the clock on the wall told me she was right on time. She wouldn’t have bags to check, simply a carry-on. Her background was squeaky clean, so they wouldn’t detain her long in customs or for the security search.
“Actually, I want you to call me back once you’re checked in and at the gate, okay?” I asked of her.
“Okay, I’ll call you right back.”
The call ended, and I gazed slowly around the room. “Everyone, on me.” When all work came to a halt and all eyes were on me, I said, “This isn’t fucking over. I need a crew. And I need you all sharp.”
“Kid, we’re all in,” Alec stated, his face as fierce as I’d ever seen it. “Carlisle wouldn’t leave us, and we won’t leave him. You just tell us what you need.”
I sniffed, took a deep breath, and said, “Alice, I need a flight plan. It needs to be detailed, plotted with every fuel stop along the way. Jasper, Alec, I need the cargo hold of the chopper loaded up with everything we’ve got and supplies for a black-ops mission. Rose…remote access to you guys – laptops, satellite phones, tablets. I need access to info immediately and twenty-four-seven once we’re in the air.”
“Who are you taking?” she asked.
“I don’t know yet. I want to know what Eleazar thinks, but I’m pretty fucking sure that we’ll have to head all the way to Moscow and start from fucking scratch,” I said, locking gazes with my wife. “I can’t ask you to stay. I can see by your face you won’t fucking listen.”
She smirked, but it fell quickly. “You’re gonna need me, Jasper, Mickey, Alec, and Emmett.”
“Not to mention Kurt. Apparently, he’s fluent,” I said, eyeing the man in question.
“You never asked,” he snorted, shrugging a shoulder. “But yeah. My grandmother was Russian; she taught me.”
Nodding that I’d heard him, I looked back to Bella. “This is a hostage thing for you, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” she whispered, looking worried that I’d deny her, but in all reality, I’d need her.
However, leaving our kids behind was my biggest concern. But I also knew my wife, and having this situation so blatantly thrown in her face would bring back a shit-ton of bad memories, and with it, possible panic attacks. She loved my father as her own, and she wouldn’t just stay behind. She’d be useless at Aunt Kate’s, but with me, she’d be a sharp as hell force to contend with.
“There will be rules, sweetness.” I raised an eyebrow at her, knowing she’d understand. She’d have to listen to every damn word I had to say if she came along, but her ability to read info, her attention to detail, and her perfect fucking aim would be needed on this trip.
She nodded, but didn’t argue. “I’ve left El a message.”
“’Kay,” I sighed, gripping my hair again.
The room split in every fucking way imaginable. Aunt Kate watched worriedly from the doorway, but said nothing. It seemed forever before my phone finally rang again.
“Esme?” I asked after swiping my finger across the phone’s screen.
“Edward, I’m at the gate. The flight’s on time,” she stated.
“Ten-four,” I acknowledged, my heart settling a little. “Anyone following you?”
“Anyone watching you?”
“No, sweetie.”
“Good. If you feel uncomfortable before that fucking plane takes off, you go to the closest security guard. I don’t care who these fuckers are, but you’ll at least draw enough attention to make them nervous. Got me?”
“Yes.” She sighed deeply, emotion filling her voice with her next words. “I don’t want to lose him, Edward. You kept your promise to him; now make me one. Promise me you’ll do your damnedest to find him.”
I rubbed my face, feeling a thousand years old at the moment. The adrenaline from walking them through this shit was wearing off, and I felt like I’d been dropped out of a plane.
“You know I will,” I whispered.
“Promise me, Edward,” she begged, “before I board. They’re calling my flight now.”
Nodding and giving my already hard at work crew a glance, I sighed deeply. “I swear to you, Mom.
I squeezed my eyes closed at the small sob that ripped over the line.
“Thank you, son,” she whispered, and the call ended.


mrsvixter said...

loving this new addition to blood and glory fantastic as always
well done

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