Owen wanted nothing more than to pound Nathan to death, as he kept himself to the shadows watching his car pull away from the sidewalk.
The fury made him shake and clench his jaw, as he imagined the sick thoughts that bastard was probably having about Rory. After being gone, doing some work around Alexander’s place, Owen needed to……..he needed to see her.
The Shadow’s arrival was imminent, which meant that he might show up this week, making his extraction even better timed. Though Alexander had not disclosed a date and time, at least Owen’s instincts told him the meeting would take place in Alexander’s place. Security had been tripled and all deliveries had been halted until further notice.
He took out his phone and texted a few words, hoping for the best.
Much to her dismay, the high spirits which had carried her all the way back home had evaporated when she’d taken a look at her bed, and images of herself and Owen, tangled in each other’s arms deflated her good mood. Since then, she’d been sulking and feeling sorry for herself. Rory was about to put her pity party into action by indulging on a glass of white wine, when her phone buzzed on her nightstand. Figuring it was probably Kyle, calling back after she’d left him a voice mail telling him Terry wanted to know how he was, she went to get it.
The text read.
“Can I come up?”
Even before checking it came from an unblocked number, she knew it was Owen.
Now, not only was she getting texts from Kyle, but Owen had begun texting her non-stop since her mistake of sleeping with him. At least, Rory had been strong in that sense and had ignored the constant messages. After a full day of neglecting to reply, the last thing Owen had texted was:
Just be safe, Ror. I’ll make it all better, I promise.
Right, as if he could erase the past two years and hope she forgave him and they could pick up where they left off.
Tonight…………….tonight she just couldn’t fathom the idea of facing him, especially after giving Terry those earrings, and remembering when her mother had done the same, hoping her only daughter would wear them for her wedding. If she was going to solve at least one of her ongoing problems, then she had to put an end to this.
This time, she did reply.
Seconds later, her phone buzzed again.
-We need to talk.
She wanted nothing more than to hurl the stupid phone out the window, hoping he’d get the message then. Instead, she pressed angrily on the keys.
-There’s nothing to talk about. Sleeping with you was a mistake. Go away.
-I love you, Ror. I never stopped loving you.
That did it. She pressed call on the screen, and waited until he picked up. He did after the first ring.
“No, stop bothering me. Stop it. You can’t do this to me.”
“I know about Kyle and Terry, I’m sorry that I….”
“Accused me of sleeping with your best friend? Well, too late.”
“For Christ’s sake, Rory. I need to see you.”
And she knew, deep down, she wanted to see him too. However, she wasn’t going to keep hurting herself like this, not when it would be her alone to pick up all of the pieces while he vanished again.
“I……..I can’t. It hurts too much, Owen.” She whispered, determined not to cry again over him. And hung up.
Hours later, she was clutching her chest willing her heart to stop its frantic race, as the pounding on the door pulled her back from her tear induced sleep. Her head weighed a ton on her shoulders, and her eyes felt gritty and swollen. Disoriented, she waited until she could catch her breath, before the pounding began again, followed by Owen’s desperate tone.
“Open up, Ror.”
Owen thought of just kicking the door down, using it as an excuse to let out his own frustration at the sick turns his life had taken recently. Instead, he placed both palms on the door and said.
“Please, Ror, open up.” He sounded tired and pleading. He’d felt her pain across the phone, and it had sliced him in two.
To hell with everything else. He was determined to get her back, even if it cost him this entire operation. It no longer mattered. Tonight was the first time he had truly felt what he’d done, what he’d done to her, and he wanted nothing more than to erase it, forever.
Rory was already at the door debating on whether to go back to her room and shut out Owen and his attempts to talk to her, or calling Kyle and have him deal with this.
“No. I…………………” She was cut off by the sound of her phone ringing. Owen heard her footsteps fade away, and then speak in a shaky voice.
Silence on the other side of the line.
“Hello? Who is this?”
All she could hear was heavy breathing, which chilled the blood in her veins.
Owen’s own blood did the same, because he had a good idea who was on the other line.
He didn’t think, he was about to lunge himself at the closed door, when he heard the click of the lock. The door opened to a pale faced and wide eyed Rory, holding the phone to her ear, her entire body shaking.
Owen took the phone from her and pressed the speaker button. All of a sudden, Nathan’s sick voice poured out into the apartment around them.
“I’m going to see you cry in terror, then I’m going to do things to you…… I love it when they fight, then you’re going to please me anyway I want. I can almost taste you, Rory. I bet you taste so fine………….you all do. Dream of me, sweetheart……” Then his sick laugh was followed by the sound of the line disconnecting.
Owen hurled the phone into the wall, and groaned in despair. All the while Rory simply stood there, like a ghost, trembling and revolted by what had been said to her over the phone.
“He knows my name.” Her voice was merely a whisper but it sounded ominous to her ears.
He whirled around, saw her and muttered.
“I’m going to kill him.”
He began to exit the apartment and was stopped by Rory’s hand on his arm.
“No, Owen, don’t do this.”
“He won’t stop until he gets to you. I’m not going to let that happen.”
Sudden panic choked her and she tried desperately to think of a way to make him stay, not to go out and…….and murder someone. All of her anger, all of her resentment toward him melted away, an ice wall finally uncovering her wounded but alive heart.
As much as this sick man knowing where she lived, her name, her phone number, chilled her blood, the idea of Owen facing him terrified her far more than the call.
“I take it back. Don’t go, please don’t leave me again. Owen, please.”
Her pleas disarmed him, and cut through the blind rage that had taken over him. When she flung herself at him, he caught her. This time, it was Rory who kissed him first. She kissed with everything she had.
Owen tasted despair, passion and fear. Not for her, but for him. And that alone was enough for him to part from her, his hands holding her steady on the floor, and a fierce determination that pounded inside him.
“Listen to me. Do not leave this place until I tell you so. You hear me?”
“Owen, don’t do this.”
“If I tell you to leave, you get the hell out, you hear me? You call Kyle and get him to come get you.”
Rory tried to hold on to him but he backed away and closed the door behind him. Her heart was pounding out of her chest, and images of Owen killing someone, or of this man Nathan hurting Owen were enough to have her rushing to the bathroom and throwing up.
“We need to talk. He’s going to screw this up.”
Owen spoke over the phone, as he made sure Nathan was no longer outside Rory’s apartment, before heading to his own personal hell.
Alexander sighed over the phone.
“Nathan. What is he up to now?”
“He has his sights on a girl, for you.”
“I’ve been following him, and he’s losing his grip. Next thing we know, she’s calling the cops and putting us in danger.”
Alexander had come to trust Patrick’s advise, which had gotten them out of trouble once or twice. At first, he’d let Nathan’s suspicions get to him, always acting weary around the man, but ever since Nathan had disobeyed orders and killed that girl without waiting for Alexander’s orders, he had come to rely more and more on Patrick. With The Shadow’s arrival soon, he couldn’t let Nathan or anyone else put his ass on the line. The Shadow wasn’t a compassionate man, and if he saw Alexander wasn’t capable of keeping his men in check, then there would be hell to pay.
“I’ll talk to him. I might need you close by to make sure the message gets across.”
“I’ll be there in ten.”
When Owen entered Alexander’s sprawling mansion, he knew things wouldn’t go down smoothly, as he could hear raised voices coming from the open window leading to the dinning room. He lifted his head, wondering if the girls Alexander kept were in the upper rooms, but all was dark and quiet.
He nodded to Alexander’s guards, they nodded in return and let him inside. The scene before him stopped him dead in his tracks, for it was probably the first time he saw Nathan showing fear at anything. Still, it was probably the first time he had a gun pointed to his head, while Alexander yelled and then kicked him in the ribs, before the other man curled into a ball, moaning, wiping blood from his parted lip.
“Understood? No one does anything until I say so. You want this girl? Wait until the Shadow leaves.”
“Fine.” Nathan grunted and then his eyes turned vile and murderous at the sight of Owen looking down on him.
“Patrick. It seems I won’t be needing you tonight.”
“You bastard. Why didn’t you tell Alexander you didn’t have the balls to pick her up that day we saw her?”
“Probably because I wasn’t there with you on work, I was watching you.”
Yes, recently, whenever Nathan went out on a job, Alexander instructed Owen to go to keep an eye on this very unpredictable man. Ever since the Shadow had announced his much too dreaded visit, the Russian criminal wasn’t going to take any chances. Because if there was one thing Alexander feared, it was his own boss. Which meant that if Owen had thought the Russian was ruthless, then the Shadow was his worst nightmare.
“You made a mess with that girl. I couldn’t take any more chances.”
“If your men hadn’t been so stupid, then she wouldn’t have escaped. You know she had already talked to the cops. How long until she started giving them more details about us? If only, I did us a favor.”
Alexander snorted and gestured impatiently with the gun in his hand.
“A favor? You think a few broken ribs and a gun to your head are bad? Damn it, Nathan. The Shadow will do much worse, and I for one won’t have my balls burned to hell because you did us a favor. When you want to keep something quiet, then you do it right.”
Owen almost had it in him to enjoy seeing the great Alexander squeal like a scared child. He didn’t flinch when the Russian threw a couple more kicks into Nathan’s ribs, before he straightened his Armani suit, put the gun away, and went over to pour himself a glass of vodka. As if nothing had happened, he served another glass to Nathan, then offered a third one to Owen, who downed it in one quick gulp, barely containing his need to take out his own gun and kill both Nathan and Alexander here and now.
“Now that we have this shit sorted out, let’s get this over with. I hate it to have someone breathe over my neck. The Shadow will be here on Friday night. He’ll come, he’ll inspect, and he will be gone on Saturday. You boys are invited to the party.”
“Is it safe to have it here?” Owen tried to mask his sense of triumph for he now knew where and when the meeting would be taking place. Every key player of this monstrous organization would be under the same roof. And if what Nathan had said about Alexander’s girls was true, then pinning these men for the atrocities committed and all those women, wouldn’t be hard to do. His information was already part of a main case that depended on apprehending The Shadow, Alexander, and Nathan.
“I’ll have one of the guards do one, but so far, the cops have no idea we even exist. We just have to convince the Shadow of the same. Are we clear?” He spoke to Nathan, who sat on the floor, nursing his drink.
Alexander left the two men, while he spoke over his shoulder.
“Take the night off, Patrick. I need you here tomorrow.”
“I’ll be here.”
Dismissed, Owen turned to leave, eager to find a safe place from where to text Rory that everything was okay. Nathan would have to have a murder wish to defy Alexander’s orders. Which was precisely what would happen to Owen if he didn’t get out soon.
He knew Nathan was following him after ten minutes, and decided to wait for the man to see what the hell he wanted. Unfortunately, two other men came from the sides and held him there, while Nathan took his time, lighted a cigarette, and blew out smoke into the quiet neighborhood around them.
“You’re Alexander’s pet now. Must feel good.”
“I did what needed to be done. I sure as hell don’t want to end up on the wrong side of The Shadow’s list. It takes a lot to scare Alexander, I certainly don’t plan on paying for your mistakes.”
Nathan laughed, though there was nothing funny about the sound. Everything inside Owen tightened into a ball, and he waited for the man to approach.
“That’s the thing. Who the hell do you think you are to decide that?” He threw the first punch right into Owen’s stomach. Though he tried to double over from the pain, the men holding him steady prevented him from doing so. He tasted bile and blood in his throat but refused to give in to Nathan’s provocation, not when he should be the one pounding the man to oblivion for going after Rory.
“Apparently,” he coughed and spit blood on the asphalt, “that back there wasn’t clear.” Owen grunted, paraphrasing Alexander’s words.
“Oh, it was crystal. I just have all this extra energy I was planning on using on that woman, now you’ll just have to do.”
The beating was brutal. Nathan used his boots to kick him again in the stomach, then his hands to bloody his face, before Owen fell to the floor and felt blows from everywhere as the three men used him as a soccer ball.
“Next time, don’t mess with me, Patrick.” Nathan gave out one last kick that had Owen seeing stars and hearing something crack, before they carried him over to lean next to a house, and then get into their car to drive off.