BY GODDY FRANCIS
I sit opposite Alexa on the kitchen stool as she goes about her plan on Alejandro. My phone rings and I pick it up from the countertop. My heartbeat stop at the caller ID. Oh God, what am I supposed to tell her?
What? Who’s that?”
Holy f**k.” She sighs and runs her fingers through her hair.
What am I supposed to tell her? I’m just gonna break it once I hear her voice. She’s obviously gonna ask me where is Gray and I’ll start crying again.” I say. I haven’t even talk to her and I’m about to sob.
I nod and take several deep breaths as I answer the call.
” Oh my God Ariel. How are you?” She asks on the phone.
I inhale and sigh. I wipe a tear that slip out of my eyes at once.
I’m good, Mia. How are you?”
I’m fine. How’s the baby? Hope you’re eating well? Have you started medications and doctors appointment?”
Talking of which. I haven’t. I still can’t bear the news of Gray missing. This doesn’t feel right.
The baby is doing okay too. My doctor appointment starts next week. School has taken a lot of my time lately.”
Oh dear. I know school is important but your health is more important. Do you eat?”
Can’t tell her I haven’t eaten a thing since her son got shot and announced missing. This feels like a nightmare each time I think about it.
Yeah. I’ve eaten. I do eat sometimes even when I don’t have an appetite.”
Are you okay?” She asks on the phone, noticing my voice.
Yeah, I’m fine Mia.”
Is Gray looking after you? You know what type of son he is.”
Yeah, he’s been good.”
Is he there with you? I’ve been calling his phone and he’s not answering.”
Uh…” I mute the call at once and turn to look at Alexa for help.
What am I supposed to tell her?”
She’s gonna freak out and have mom sickness if you tell her Gray got shot three times four days ago at a dinner date with your father. And now he’s missing and nowhere to be found. Don’t let her freak out Ariel.”
I sniffle and clean my eyes as I unmute the call.
Ariel, are you there?”
Yeah. The reception is kinda crappy. Yeah , he’s fine. He’s been good.” I lie and I hate it.
Alright, dear. Do tell me if he starts acting like a d**k. I’ll make sure I discipline him.”
Do take care of yourself, will you?”
I nod.” Yeah. I will take care of myself.”
She giggles on the phone before hanging up.
This is insane.” I mutter and drop my phone.
Ariel, you need to eat something. What ever thing you’re planning to do needs food. The baby needs food.”
Gray is missing Alexa after being shot. Where’s the appetite gonna come from?” I sob.
Ariel..” Alexa stands up from her feet and cuddle me. I cry into her chest as she caresses my hair.
It’s okay. He’s gonna come back. Gray will be back, alright. He’s a strong man and I’m sure of that.”
I know, right? There’s always this doubt. Like I don’t trust myself anymore. I can’t loose him.”
Shh..” she shush me.
Breathe. You wanna pay the Russians a visit, you know you can’t do this with all these emotions intact. You need to be strong for Gray and the baby.”
I can’t. I can’t do this anymore..” I pull away from her and clean my eyes.
You need food. Don’t want you to fall sick.” She says and opens the Chinese food. She hand me the chopsticks and gesture for me to take it.
Ariel, please you need to eat. You said you can’t stand and watch the murderers of the people who we love go scot free. You need food to make that wish come true. Now eat up.” She says and i look up at her.
I bet he gave you that promise ring…” she says and point the chopsticks to the ring in my finger.
I sigh and nod.
Good. Then you shouldn’t doubt your man. He’ll be back for you and Gray junior, okay. Please eat.”
I smile and nod. She giggles at me and gives me the chopsticks. I take it and she wipes my eyes and pat my hair.
Now that’s a good girl.”
What’s your plan in finding Alejandro?” She asks and opens her own Chinese food.
You wanna impersonate a stripper?” Alexa asks in disbelief and scoffs.” You can’t do that. You wanna be a stripper. You’ve never strip once in your life.”
You wanna do it? Dance round the pole and make sure Alejandro notice you.”
I dated Vladimir remember? What if he noticed me amidst my disguise.”
That’s why I need to do it.”
I can’t let you be a stripper. I want you to stand guard.”
I flash her a big smile.” Yes, boss.”
I walk down the hospital’s hallway and stop in front of my father’s room. I slowly open the door and peek inside. Aisha sits on the chair next to him and Cage’s father stands close to his bed.
Really princess..” I jolt and turn around startled at the voice.
Jeez, Cage.” I chuckle softly and run my right hand down my arm.
You’re okay? Sorry I startled you like that.”
It’s fine.” I breathe out as we step inside the room. De Luca and Aisha looks up at us as we enter.
Aisha’s face beams with smile once she sees me.
” Hi Aisha. Hello De Luca.” I greet.
Aisha returns my greeting but De Luca only grunts and nods. How did he became Cage’s father.
Nothing. Still in coma.” Aisha says holding dad’s hand. I sigh and breathe out.
Why did the Russians have to shoot him?” De Luca asks.
I don’t know. Maybe because he was trying to defend me.”
You did this to him you know that right? The Russians will never start a war with us. You brought Gray to that dinner of yours and now he’s in coma.” De Luca abuses.
What is he saying?
Dad stop. It was a normal dinner night with father and daughter. You shouldn’t blame her for anything that happened.” Cage defends me.
Oh really? You know everyone hates Gray and yet you brought him along because of what? You want to stop whatever thing that transpired between your little sweet boyfriend and your dad. I mean I know you’re naive but I didn’t expect you to be this naive.”
De Luca stop.” Aisha says.
” Stop it okay.” Aisha adds.
Cage scoffs and walks out of the room.
What did the doctor say Aisha?” I ask and hug myself.
Same thing. He said your dad might sleep for a month or so except he’s willing to fight it.” She says. I exhale sharply and bite my lip.
Sleep for a month?
So what’s gonna happen to Gray?
Where’s he right now?
I turn my back on them and walk out of the room. I can’t take it. I’m about to break down. I sob and bite my lip when someone wrap their arms around my shoulder. I breathe in the scent and it’s Cage. I badly wish it was Gray.
” It’s okay.” He whispers.
I nod and wipe my eyes.” Thanks Cage.”
So what’s your plan? Heard from Gray about his disappearance? He’s been out for days now.”
Nothing. And I’m getting worried.”
It’s okay. I think he will be back, you should think positive.”
I look at him and smile.
It’s the least I can do to help. I’m sorry about my dad. He’s always an ass. Sorry about how he spoke earlier.”
Yeah. He’s just being paranoid. It’s not his fault.”
Nick died because of me. Maybe if I didn’t make Gray come with me to dinner with my dad, this might not have happened. I feel like I cause this.
” Hey, this isn’t your fault okay.”
And just that assurance, I burst into tears again.
Come here.” He pulls me to himself and rub soothing promises on my arm.
Whatever thing that happened, happened for it’s own purpose. It wasn’t your fault alright?”
I nod in his arm and clean my eyes. This is so embarrassing. Can’t believe I’d cry like this in a hospital’s hallway.
I pull away and rub my hand down my arms.
I gotta go check on Alexa.”
I nod and give him a small smile as I walk down the hallway to Reid’s room. I bet he should be dead too by now if it wasn’t for a bulletproof vest. I knock on Reid’s room and enter. Alexa sits on his bed with their fingers intwine. Now I’m jealous.
Have you been crying?” Reid asks. I sigh and shake my head sideways.
I’m fine, thanks. How are you?”
I’m good. I’m healing.”
” I can see that.”
I stuck my hands inside my jeans back pocket and bite my lip.
I don’t think he’s dead , Ariel. Gray doesn’t give up on anything and that includes death.”
But where’s he?” I ask.
He might be anywhere Ariel. He’ll be fine and he’ll be back.” He assures me.
The promise ring is the only thing that is keeping me going. I always remember his word , his promises that he won’t leave. Even if he does, he’s gonna come back. I can’t raise a baby without a father. Without Gray, my world will just be worthless.
Ready for what?” Reid asks.
We’re going shopping. She needs the air.” Alexa says and stands up.
Are you sure it’s safe? You should get Manny or even Spencer to drive you out.”
We will be fine on our own.” Alexa says and kisses him on the cheek. A quick peck.
When will you be out Reid?” I ask him.
Tomorrow. So says the doctor.”
I smile at him and nod.
You’re ready, princess?”
Yeah, sure.” I reply as she hooks her arm with mine as we leave.
I stare at my reflection on the mirror and run my fingers down the wig. I don’t know why , but i choose red. Alexa says who ever we’re impersonating is a redhead and she’s supposed to be stripping at Vladimir’s strip club tomorrow. I run a little comb down the bangs that sits on my forehead. I drop the comb and brush the wig. Alexa walks into my room and stands next to me as she stares at her reflection. She wears a a grey colored bob wig with an extra heavy make up. Her eyes are black and I hate to admit she looks a little different with her red lipstick and blue lens.
I hope this goes as planned or else we’re f**ked .” She says and I chuckle.
This is for the ones we love and lost because of a stupid drug deal. We’re putting an end to this.” I say and apply my own red lipstick. Green lens looks good on me.
We look like sluts.” She says and I chuckle.
I put on a thick lashes and blink my eyes several times. With a final touch of my eyeshadow, my eyes look darker than normal. So much for being a stripper. She throws an ID on top of the dresser and I pick it up.
Francesca Petrov. A lot of weird names.” I say and look at Alexa.
That’s you for tonight.” She says and walk to my bed to open up the duffel bag.
I got the gun from Gray’s mansion after telling Manny half of the plan. I step on my stilettos and grab my peach peacoat. I put it on and pick up a switch blade, tucking it inside the garter I’m wearing.
What if we don’t succeed?” Alexa asks.
Where’s my holy water? I bind away every bad energy and negativity. We gon’ succeed, alright?” I say as Alexa loads her gun.
Amen.” She answers and smiles.
I load my own gun and tuck it inside my peacoat. I tie the strap of the peacoat together and turn to look at Alexa. She picks up her black peacoat and tuck her gun inside.
” Let’s get the f**k outta here.”
I nod and allow her lead the way.
You can fake accent right?” She asks.
I chuckle as we walk out of my apartment.
I will give it a shot.”
Alexa parks her car outside the strip club as we step out. As expected, two men with black suits and sunglasses stands outside. We put up our biggest smile as we approach them.
IDs please?” One of them asks.
Sure.” I say , making sure there’s a little accent.
I open my purse and give him, while Alexa gives the other guy her ID.
Francesca Petrov? I thought you don’t have a strip show till tomorrow?”
Yeah. I’m here for a friend.” I say and point my thumb to Alexa who’s chewing a gun.
Monica.” The other guy says.
That’s me.” Alexa chirps in.
The men gives us back our IDs and pave way for us to enter. I flash the man a smile as we enter. Loud music attack my ears once we’re inside.
So we’re splitting?” I ask as we look around.
Yeah. Have fun at the bar while I go to the strippers room.” I nod at her as we part ways.
Mic check, Alex.”
Tink.” She giggles from the earpiece.
Don’t get drunk.” She whispers.
Becareful.” I say and stride to the bar.
I sit on the empty stool and call the attention of the bartender.
Alright, ma’am.” He smiles and leaves. I look around the club and the podium. A stripper with little clothing dance around the pole as two other strippers gives the audience a lap dance.
I turn to look at the bartender and smile at him.
” Thank you.” I collect the bottle water from him and pay.
I look back at these horny men as one of them slaps a stripper’s butt. He brings out money and tuck it inside the stripper’s panties. So gross. Thank God I’m not stripping. Alexa was right, I was just gonna freak out and ruin everything.
The strippers leaves the stage and someone walks in. Shit Alexa. She smiles at the men and they smiles back. Horny freaks. I follow her line of stare and it lands on a man. Black dress shirt with tie and he’s sitting opposite the stage with legs wide open and a stripper on his lap. Thank God for the mask she is wearing.
Hello beautiful.” A man says beside me. I turn to look at him and it’s obvious he’s in the Russian Mafia. Pricks.
I’m sorry I have a boyfriend.” I said in a Russian poor accent.
I’m willing to pay double.”
Not tonight, Mr. I have a boyfriend.” I say through clench teeth.
He stares me down and scoffs.” Bitch.” He mutters and leaves.
I look back at Alexa and she’s already spinning round the pole. Alejandro already pushes the stripper away from his lap and his full focus was on Alexa. She takes slow strides to his form and straddle his lap. I see him suck in a deep breath as she dance on him. She kisses his neck and stands up and walk back to the pole to continue her spinning. Men already started throwing money on the stage.
Francesca…” A lady calls my name. I actually forgot I’m supposed to be
I turn to look at these petite lady with her extremely dark hair. She’s ugly.
You visited the club all the way from LA. You look a little different, maybe because of the hair.”
You’re stripping tomorrow, right?”
I’m gonna need you at the inner room. You’ll be making a lot of cash today. Alejandro needs a strip dance and he’s paying three thousand grand.”
Yes. He needs Monica too. Both of you.”
Let’s go.” I drop my bottle water on the counter and follow her. We walk down a quiet hallway and stop right in front of a room. A man stands outside as the petite women ushers me in and leaves. Oh my God, I’m nervous.
I smile at the stiff man and walks in. Alejandro smokes a cigarette as he looks me down. Damn, man, he’s ruthless.
Alright, Ariel, you can do this. You can be a seductress.” I give myself a pep talk.
I’m waiting..” he says and tosses away the cigarette.
Distract him Ariel, while i take out this d**k in front of the room.” Alexa speaks through the mic.
I take in an invisible deep breath and walk slowly to Alejandro’s form. I bite my lip and run my hand down his chest.
” Make sure you impress me..” he says.
I smirk and gently push him down on the chair behind him. His eyes are filled with lust and he’s obviously aroused. What a prick. He reaches to grab my waist but I gently swat his hands away. I lean on him and run my fingers down his body as I kiss his neck. He breathes in sharply and squirm. I remove his tie and smirk at him.
” Let’s play dirty, yes?”
He chuckles and nods impatiently. I wrap both his hands behind him with his tie, and tied him against the chair. I look at him with a smirk and his eyes meets mine.
You look more pretty than i remember.”
You like the change don’t you?” I whisper and bite my bottom lip as I tie his wrist tightly.
He winces a little at the force and smirk.” A lot.”
I hear a thud outside and grunts follows. Alejandro is too occupy with my looks to notice. I pull away from him and glare at him.
” What princess?” He asks.
I pull out my gun as Alexa walks in, gun already drawn out.
What the f**k is going on?”
Your funeral, you piece of shit.” Alexa hisses and slam her gun across Alejandro’s face.
The f**k bitch.” He cusses.
Gray. Where the f**k is Gray?” I ask him.
He stays quiet a minute and stares at both of us for a long time. Alexa aims her gun at him and cocks it.
Oh I get it. You’re not Francesca and Monica. Gray’s little bitches.” He chuckles.
I’m gonna shoot you on the balls and no one’s gonna hear it. Now talk.” Alexa demands.
Your man is f**kin dead and you know it.” He laughs and I angrily punch him.
Talk. Where. The. Fuck. Is. Gray?” I ask him gripping to his jaw, as I press the gun against his temple.
Take a look at the barrel. It’s got a silencer on. No one’s gonna hear a thing.” I tell him and he smirks.
I don’t know. The last time I saw your man was on his own pool of blood outside that fancy diner four days ago.” He chuckles.
He went missing you f**khead. No body, just blood and it’s got no trace.”
Ooh. Don’t tell me he survived it.” I push his face away and blow out my breath. He can’t be dead right?
Where’s Moskov?” Alexa asks.
You thought because two little bitches are pointing guns at me and I’m gonna spill. You must be f**king crazy.” He says and tries to pull away from the chair.
Alexa rolls her eyes and shot his arm. He winces and groans.
” Alejandro…” A male voice says as he walks into the room.
I launch at at him with a punch as I pull out my knife and stab him on the neck.
He groans and holds his bleeding neck. I cock the gun and shoot him on the head.
You, talk now.” I say to Alejandro and aim my gun at him.
We know you’re gonna say it.” Alexa smirks and pulls out her phone. She shows her screen to Alejandro and he flinches at once.
That’s your son. His name is Paulo. He’s ten years old and he stays with his mama , Bianca. He attends windrich highschool and he’s a fifth grader. The school bus
picks him up everyday at 7.30 am in the morning, and his mom drives him back home. They live at 17 elm Street.” Alexa says as his face flushes with anger.
Now are you gonna talk or not?” I ask him with a smirk.
Don’t you dare hurt my son.” He chokes out.
Where’s Moskov? Or we’re gonna pay Bianca a visit and take your son for a ride?” I ask him.
Alejandro breathes in as he weighs his options.
There’s a warehouse close to the end of the city in Buffalo. It’s an underground warehouse and it’s highly guarded with close to sixty men. There’s a casino inside and a club. Moskov owns it and he’s been residing there.”
How can we find him?”
Once you successfully pass the guards and enter the casino. There’s a door at your left , a man always stands in front of it to stop people like you from getting in. Go through that door and i hope you survive. Cause it’s fully harmed.” He says.
Good boy.” Alexa blow him kisses and we turn to leave.
Who’s gonna untie me you f**kin bitch?” He asks through clench teeth.
You won’t be needing it by the way.” We say as we pull the trigger.
UNTIL I MET YOU