Johnny followed Barone out to the back parking lot behind the club.
"You coming with us?" Johnny asked him.
"Nahh, I don't think Carlito would want me to interrupt with your... training." He winked at Johnny.
"Oh, no man, no, it's nothing like that." Johnny did his best to convince Barone with his body language that he was not romantically involved with Carlito.
Johnny looked out into the street, but still didn't see the truck. Johnny needed to change their topic of conversation. He got an idea. "So, uh, what's your plan for finding your kid?" He tried to make the question sound like small-talk.
Barone shrugged his shoulders like it was no big deal. "I have an in with the police; I'll find the foster home." His face was emotionless.
"You think that's where they put her?"
"What else would they do with her..." he said. "They're idiots."
"Yeah, yeah, I guess you're right," Johnny added quickly. "I don't really know how any of that foster care stuff works, so..."
"The feds think they can have control over my family. I am the one in control." As the aggression crept into his voice, Johnny immediately imagined Jessie, hiding in some small corner in fear of what he would do to Katia or herself. He shook his head and tried to erase the image from his mind. He was brought back to reality when he heard Carlito pound on the horn of the 18-wheeler.
Johnny watched the truck pull into the lot. He did everything in his power to not to break Barone's face, but Johnny's fist was itching to strike.
"We should uh," Johnny mumbled, "get together soon. Celebrate when you get her back."
Barone put out his hand to Johnny. "I'm sure our paths will cross, Johnny."
They shook hands and Johnny turned to climb up into the truck.
Johnny shut the door and put on the seatbelt.
"Joseph likes you," Carlito said abruptly.
"As a businessman, Johnny." Carlito reached over to him and placed his hand on Johnny's thigh. Johnny forced himself to smile at him.
They turned out of the lot and sped off onto the highway, headed for the bus garage.
Overall, Mike was pleased with how his team had set up the surveillance and support for the drug pick-up.
Jakes had been told by his boss where to put the barrels so that they could be "disposed of" when the garbage van arrived. Jakes knew the comment about the contents being "garbage" was bullshit, but he was grateful to find out where they needed to be set up for Carlito.
Mike had gotten help earlier to put tracking devices on each of the bags in the barrels. He was now waiting, from a distance, with his team to grab surveillance on Johnny and Carlito. They had considered arresting Carlito at the pick-up, but wanted to see if he would lead them to a new drop off point.
He felt his cell buzzing and expected to see Johnny's name, but when he looked at the home screen, he saw that it was Charlie. He immediately felt a sting in his gut. What was wrong with Jessie? Why would Charlie be calling him now?
"Mike, it's me," Briggs answered. "My phone's dead and Johnny has my charger."
"How do you have this cell—"
"There's a reason I'm calling you, Mike."
"Briggs, where is Charlie?" His heart was pounding. "Where is Jes—"
"Charlie spoke with Clarke. She couldn't get him to call off Sid.... He's coming Mike. Tonight. Charlie couldn't get ahold of me or P, so she followed the tinker bell's GPS tracker."
"She WHAT?!" He stormed away from the team at the bus site and started pacing in the parking lot.
"Where is she?! Where's Jessie?!"
"She's right behind me, Mikey. Out cold on the back seat. We're parked away from the warehouse." Briggs reached out to Charlie, and she grabbed his hand.
"So Paige is-is with her, right? Jessie's... ok?"
"Well, Mike, that's the reason I'm calling."
"What reason? Briggs?" Mike could see the 18-wheeler pull up to the garage. His attention shifted from the Briggs to Carlito.
"Mike, something happened at the second bus station. The tinker bell wouldn't go through with it, Mike. Paige—she, she took her place."
Mike was speechless. He was trying to listen to Briggs, but was focusing with his binoculars on the barrels. He identified Johnny and Carlito Solano, and watched as they transferred the cocaine to the truck.
"Mike?! Can you hear me?!"
"Uh, yeah." He stopped and tried to recall what Briggs had said. Something about Paige taking the place of...
He felt like he had been slapped in the face when he processed what Briggs had said.
"Where. Is. Paige?" Mike asked. He was fuming.
"Mike, I'm staring at the building. She's under as one of the girls. It was her decision. Let's see where Carlito takes the coke and then we'll go from there. We'll get her out tonight." Briggs spoke with a steady voice, partially to keep Mike calm, and partially to prevent Jessie from waking up in the back seat. He was still holding onto Charlie's hand.
"Tell Charlie to get Jessie out of there. Go back to Graceland."
"I really don't want to send them back alone. And then I have no way of contacting anyone. I can't leave Paige, Mike."
"I know. I know. Ok, well–"
"Mike, I got this. Did Johnny get there yet?"
"Uh, yeah." Mike focused his attention back on the truck. He squinted when he saw Carlito push Johnny up against he bumper. He couldn't believe his eyes. "Briggs, you're not going to believe me, but, Carlito and Johnny are making out."
"Mike, cut it out. This is not the time to be messing with me."
"No, Briggs, I'm serious. I think Carlito's... gay. I-I need to hang up. I'll call Charlie's phone back when we're tailing them."
"Sure thing, Mike."
"Oh, and Briggs?"
"Keep the girls safe for me." Mike could feel that Briggs was smiling through the phone. Briggs knew he wasn't talking about the trafficked women.
"You got it, Mike," he said.
Mike hung up the phone and Jakes came running over to him. "Did you see what I just saw?!"
"Yeah... crazy shit," Mike said. He was still trying to process what Briggs had told him about Paige and Jessie.
"Johnny's never going to live this down," Jakes said. He shook his head and started laughing.
"Briggs called. Apparently Paige went under as the tinker bell. She's in the warehouse with the girls. We have to get her out. Tonight."
Jakes shook his head and rolled his eyes. "I don't even wanna know how that happened. We'll get her out, Mike. Briggs is there with a team, right?"
"Well, that's what I thought too, but he never called it in. Said something about not having a cell." He paused. "Charlie found out from Clarke that Sid was on the case. She packed Jessie up and the two of them drove out to find Briggs and Paige... to warn them."
"Damnnnn," Jakes said. He ran his hand down the side of his face. The two of them snapped their heads over at Carlito's truck when they heard the engine start up.
Mike felt a surge of energy pulse through his body at the movement of the 18-wheeler. "Alright!" he yelled to the small team. "We're moving out!" They packed up the area and loaded into the vans to follow the truck and tail the drugs.
For as much as Mike wanted Carlito to stay away from Paige and Jessie, a part of him was hoping that Carlito would lead him right to them.
Paige was given new clothes, a grey tank top and some cotton shorts. She hastily changed and was led out into an open common room. She counted twelve girls and wondered how many more were scattered in holding rooms throughout the compound.
The guards walked away and Paige sat down next to some of the older girls on the beat-up couch. She waited a few minutes before leaning her head over towards the girl sitting next to her.
"Hi," she whispered. "Is someone here named Katia?"
The girl looked at her with big eyes and nodded. She pointed to a frail-looking teenager who was sitting on the floor with her knees tucked up into her chest.