Chapter 10, Retrieve and Leave
[BY AMBER MARIGOLD]
As soon as I hear Daniel tell Xavier over the walky-talky system where to find Blake and Owen, I turn on my own device to speak to my fiance.
“How long will it take you to get there?” I ask Xavier.
“Ryan and Bryan just sent me a route that’ll have the least amount of cars on. We need to avoid any southern lookouts. It’s a ten-minute drive so I’m guessing it’ll take me two minutes to get there,” Xavier answers. I can hear the engine of his car roaring as he makes his way to Blake and Owen.
“Just be safe,” I tell him, “I’m getting ready to leave as well.”
“You better meet me at Isabella’s in one piece, Marigold,” Xavier says. I can hear the smirk in his voice. “I promise you that I’ll bring Blake and Owen back.”
I smile at his words before hearing him cut off. I’m about to cut off as well, but then realize that Daniel still has his mic on. And the voice I hear sends a chill down my spine...
“What were you two doing in here?” I hear Jane ask.
Oh no... Have they been caught? There’s no way I can rush in there to help Nessa and Daniel... Everyone in that ballroom would recognize and then stop me... But I can’t leave my friends to chance either... I have no choice. I’ll have to go in there and take down every last person. There’s no way I’m allowing anyone to take any more of my friends away from me. I’m done seeing the people closest to me get hurt.
Drenched in panic, I aim to get out of the limo, but a voice over the walky-talky gets me to stop.
“Amber, wait,” Ryan says.
Almost enraged, I grab my walky-talky. “How can you expect me to wait? You heard that voice! Jane has Nessa and Daniel caught! I have to go help!” Seriously, what are the twins thinking? If anyone thinks I’m going to just sit here while my friends are captured, they’re insane.
“Amber, please. If you step foot in there, you’ll get gunned down for sure. You’re our leader along with Xavier. We can’t afford to lose you,” Bryan adds.
“What good is it being called a leader when you can’t even save your friends?” I demand. Deciding I’ve had enough, I get out of the limo and move to the back where I can retrieve the guns I need to set the building ablaze. The thing about losing your friends... about going through hell... Is that once you know that feeling... Once you know what hell looks like... You can bring it with you anywhere. So let tonight be the night when I bring hell to Earth. I’ll happily become the devil if it means saving my friends. All my friends.
“You can trust them!” the twins shout over the walky-talky - as if they can read my mind and realize what I’m about to do.
The words get me to pause. Trust them? What do they mean by that? Or are they just grabbing at straws to try and stop me? “Of course I trust them,” I say, “But I also trust in Jane’s ability to kill them. She doesn’t think about death the way we do. She’ll shoot them without hesitation.” I don’t know how I can explain it in any better way to them.
“Trust in Nessa and Daniel’s ability. They’re not only you’re friends. They’re gang members to and for a lot longer than you’ve been. They’ve faced worse odds and came out on top. Trust that they have a plan,” Bryan insists.
Just as I grab two revolvers, I pause once again. The cool night breeze blows past and I let the air fill my lungs. A leader has to think clearly in times of panic. A leader needs to put up a strong front. A leader needs to... A leader needs to protect their friends... But a leader also needs to trust their friends... Trust or protect? Which will it be? If I decide to protect and I only go in there to make it worse, they’ll hate me. If I chose to trust them, but they have no plan and die because I couldn’t save them, I’ll hate me.
“You can’t carry all the weight on your shoulders,” Ryan says sympathetically. “Let us shoulder some of the burdens. You don’t have to save the whole world by yourself.”
I grit my teeth. I grit my teeth because even though it breaks my heart, Ryan and Bryan are right. I wish I was strong enough on my own, but I’m not. I’ll buckle under all the weight. And more than that, it’ll be a slap in the face to my friends if I can’t trust them.
“Are you guys still in control of the security system?” I ask - this time with more determination. I close the trunk of the limo and move back to the driver’s seat where I strap myself in. If Nessa and Daniel come running out here, I’ll have to be ready to race in a moment’s notice.
“Of course,” the twins answer. “If you turn on the screen in front of you, we can display the camera footage from the storage room where Daniel and Nessa currently are.”
“Okay, got it,” I say. I push every single button in front of me until the small screen turns on. For a few seconds nothing happens, but then the security footage is displayed. The quality isn’t all that great, but beggars can’t be choosers.
“There’s a fifteen-second delay on the video so everything you see happened fifteen seconds ago as you watch it,” Ryan explains.
The camera angle isn’t exactly what I’ want. It’s very focussed on Jane’s glare, but only shows the back of Nessa and Daniel’s heads.
“Uh... we were hoping not to get caught,” Daniel chuckles - he rubs the back of his head like he’s just been caught stealing cookies and not infiltrating a gang gathering to get information. I can’t see anything out of the ordinary on the screen, but I only have one angle to look from so I can’t tell if there’s something out of place in that storage room that maybe Jane can see.
“Oh, is that so?” Jane asks, “And why were you hoping not to get caught?”
“Well, uh, not many people approve of siblings getting a little freaky with each other,” Daniel laughs.
I can see Nessa’s fist clenching, but she doesn’t actually punch Daniel which is honestly a miracle on its own. “But to be honest,” Nessa interrupts, “You might not like this since you’re such a respectable leader, but there was one other thing we wanted to discuss...”
“Which was?” Jane asks - folding her arms across her chest.
“If we could convince you to join us for the night,” Nessa boldly states.
Fifteen seconds... Fifteen seconds have already passed while I’m watching this and for that suggestion alone, my friends could already be dead.
To my surprise, Jane arches an eyebrow and smirks. “I’ve never had a threesome with siblings before. What a daunting concept,” she says.
Maybe I prefer watching my friends getting killed than actually sleeping with Jane. What the hell are those two thinking?
Nessa takes a step closer to Jane. “My brother ain’t anythin’ special, but I promise you that I could show you a real good time.”
“Well, this is a hotel... I’m sure we could find a room,” Jane smirks right back.
“Then what’s stopping us?” Nessa asks and takes a step past Jane, Daniel is right on her heel.
“Oh, nothing at all,” Jane says as she turns to Nessa. “I just need to know one thing.”
“Which is?” Nessa asks.
“Is it before or after we have sex that you’ll be telling me about Amber’s wedding?”
My heart literally stops.
Fifteen seconds... Fifteen seconds too late...
What nearly kills me is the sudden frantic knock on the limo window. They found me! They found me and they’re going to kill me and-
I watch as Daniel sucker punches Jane on the screen and when I turn to the knocking on the window, sure enough, Nessa has lost her black wig and is shouting at me to drive. Without missing a beat, I start the engine just as my friends jump in the back. I can hear the shout of people coming from the hotel and some armed men even jump into their own cars. Fine then. Let’s see what this limo can do.
I race ahead as fast as possible. A limo isn’t the best getaway car, but I just have to make it past the border. I just need to get into Northern territory and I know I’ll be safe. Nessa and Daniel already did their part. They got the information needed to find Blake and Owen. I have to trust in Xavier to get my guys safely back. All that’s left is for me to safely get Nessa and Daniel back to Isabella’s. How can I call myself a gang leader if I can’t even protect two members? I have to do this!
With adrenaline pumping through me like crazy, I glance at the side mirror and swear under my breath. Three sleek black cars are right behind us. They’re keeping up just fine, but the fact that one of them hasn’t passed me already tells me that Jane isn’t driving one of them. Good. That’s good. Thanks to the skills my uncle Taminn taught me, the only person in Tygerwell that has a shot of beating me in a car race is Jane.
“Too bad for you guys,” I smirk just as I violently grab the clutch and ebrake into a spin. My timing is perfect because just as we reach the docks, I slide the limo and with its extended length, I manage to hit one of the cars in persuit of us. With the road wet from the night air, the impact of the limo sends the sleek black car shooting for the water and sure enough, it falls in.
“One down, two to go,” I say with a smile.
“WHAT THE HECK AMBERRY! YE ALMOST KILLED US!” Nessa yells from the back.
“Oops,” I shrug. I might have to remember that I have two passengers before I try to body slam a car with the limo again.
But before I can start moving again, one of the remaining two cars rams right into us. The impact sends the limo skidding to the very edge of the cement slab we’re on. I think I might have hit my head because when I look through the cracked window next to me, my vision is blurry. I try focussing on the cracks formed on the tinted glass. I try grabbing at anything that’ll give me enough focuss to get back to my senses. Somewhere far off I hear my name being called. Is that Nessa? Why’s Nessa calling for me?
By the time I can distinguish between the different microscopic cracks in the window, my name is being screamed. I’m about to turn around and ask Nessa what’s wrong, but through the cracks, of the window, I watch the black car that just rammed into us, reverse and speed twards us again. One glance at the oppasite window and it’s clear that if we get pushed one more time, the limo will fall into the water.
Without even thinking, I thumble to start the engine again. The car protests and refuses to wake up and just when I think we’re done for, I practically slam open my car door and reveal my face to the incomming vehicle. In that split second where the driver probably realizes who I am, they swerve to the side, but not fast enough. Narrowly missing me, they hit my open door and bumb the front of the limo, making us turn ninety degrees to watch as they dive into the water.
“Well, that was a pretty big gamble...” I say to myself when I feel like I can breathe again. With a bit more confidence in who I am, I look up determined at the last remaining car. I’m sure Jane will send more after us, but if we can get away from this one, we can make it.
I turn my walky talky back on. “Ryan, Bryan? You there?” I ask.
“Uh yeah,” they reply after a moment.
The last remaining car revs their engine. Three guys in black suits climb out of the back and head towards us. I can hear Nessa and Daniel slowly get out of the limo to join me.
“What are the chances of receiving backup within two minutes?” I ask.
“You’re on neutral ground, but you’re in pursuit. By car, it’ll take someone from the North about five minutes to get to you. Xavier is on his way back, but he’s too far the make it within two minutes,” One of the twins reply.
I nod. “Put me on my fiance’s channel then,” I tell them before turning to Nessa. “Slowly go to the trunk and when I give you the signal, throw me a revolver,” I instruct my second in command.
Nessa looks grave, but nods all the same before turning around and slowly heading to the back. I watch as her wild red hair blows in the night breeze. My stare lands on Daniel and I give him a reassuring smile. “Get behind the limo. This is going to get messy,” I warn.
Daniel does as I tell him without having to tell me to be careful.
Knowing everyone’s in place, I turn towards the men slowly making their way towards us. They have automatics pointed right at me, so I raise my arms in surrender. If Nessa throws me the gun, I can headshot at least two of the three guys walking towards me. The problem is that it’ll only take a split second for the third guy to get trigger happy and put more holes in me than SpongeBob fricken square pants.
“Marigold?” I hear Xavier ask over the walky-talky. “The twins said to put me on your channel. Are you in trouble? Where are you?”
I smile at the voice of my fiance. Even though I want to get back to Isabella so I can save my friends, what drives me to get out of this alive is much more selfish. I just really want to get married to Xavier. I want to walk down the aisle and see him waiting. I want to say ‘I do’ and kiss him knowing he belongs only to me. Is it selfish to want that? To want a happy ending after everyone that’s died because of me? Or is this where it’s supposed to end? Will my divine punishment be that I’ll never get to marry the man I love?
“I’m at the docks. It’s not looking good. I can take out these guys and guarantee Nessa and Daniel’s safety, but it’ll probably be at the cost of a vital organ or two,” I answer.
“Wait for me, Marigold. I need you to keep those vital organs. You’re not allowed to have my heart stop beating in your chest. You hear that? Keep my heart beating,” Xavier says before cutting off.
That’s right... I have Xavier’s heart in my chest. If I die... Will that mean that Xavier dies too? We share one life now. I can’t throw away what he gave me.
With the approaching armed men being only about twenty meters away, I take a final breath.
“Nessa, Now!” I yell.
In less than a second, Nessa throws me the revolver she grabbed. I focus with everything I have to grab the gun and point it at my first target. Without even a breath going by, I send two consecutive shots. The first headshots one of the men as planned, but the second I decided last minute to change its course. Instead of going for something vital, I manage to hit the man’s hand that’s holding his gun. As expected, just as the third guy is about to send bullets flying towards me, the second guy can’t help but accidentally squeezing his trigger just as he turns with the impact - he kills his friend without meaning to and I smile with relief before putting him out of his misery as well.
With the three armed men down, it’s just those remaining in the car that I have to worry about. The problem is that I don’t know how many guys are remaining. I only have three more rounds left, so if there are more than three guys, I’m in trouble. And with the tinted windows, I can’t shoot at them.
With my revolver still raised, the car and I have a staredown. No doubt, the men in those cars are contemplating what to do. They have time on their side. It’ll be a matter of moments before their backup arrives.
When only a few breaths have passed, my heart sinks at their choice. They do the one thing I’m helpless against... They charge forward. Knowing that running to hide behind the limo won’t help me if they ram into us, I know I have no choice but to finish all three rounds by blindly shooting at the tinted window. Maybe that’s what they want... They want me to run out of bullets.
With only seconds remaining, I grit my teeth and take aim.
But just before I start shooting, I hear gunshots from somewhere else.
In utter amazement, I watch a familiar auburn-haired man, lean out of the window of his classic red Ferrari as he fires at the incoming car’s wheels. Sure enough, one of those bullets hit their mark and the car swerves out of control before narrowly missing me and following its friends into the water.
And as if he practiced it, my fiance drifts and stops his car right in front of me - door already open as he extends his hand with a devilish smirk.
“I see things have been going south for you,” Xavier says - mocking me from when I saved him not too long ago.
I can’t help but grin like an idiot. Not even the sound of more cars racing towards us can phase me right now.