"Is the plane ready for us?" Edward asked through the phone.
His contact responded with an affirmative and he immediately hung up. The group was currently speed walking through the airport with only fifteen minutes before full lock down. The DA was already on their tail and Marcus could feel that Officer Garrett was in a shit load of trouble.
The bullet he'd given him should ease off some of the suspicion but he didn't doubt that the DA was a smart guy. Garrett would have to figure his way out of this one on his own. Edward motioned toward Exit 21 where a middle aged man stood at the door. The group drew closer and picked up speed.
The man unlocked the door with his card and pointed at a small airplane closest to the hangar. The steps were down and the engine was already running. Edward nodded to the man while everyone else rushed toward the plane. It was a nine hour flight to Italy.
"Take her," Edward shouted above the roar of the engine to Ellen. She glanced at him calmly before slipping a quiet Lily into her arms. She took the bag from him as well and went into the plane. Edward watched as the man loaded their additional suitcases onto the plane, keeping a look out for anyone coming. Once he was done, Edward went inside and signaled to the pilot to hoist the stairs.
In a few minutes they were off and the group settled into separate seats.
"How does the rest of this journey work out now?" Ekon asked, being the first to break the silence.
Edward settled into his seat at the front and yawned. "We've got nine hours until we land in Italy. As Marcus said, one of you will be useless by then so choose wisely with what you're about to say."
Marcus slid into the seat across from Edward, Ekon sitting behind him and Ellen sitting on a wide seat in the back. It was a small ten seat employee plane that his contact made available. Lily was now fully asleep to the adults surrounding her.
"Ekon, how do you intend to prove your worth?" Marcus asked him calmly.
Ekon stared at the back of Marcus's head while contemplating his next statement. He hadn't thought the question would be directed to him so soon as he barely processed it back in his cell. Obviously Marcus didn't expect him to die if he were to seek revenge for his family's killer but what did he truly mean by paying in blood. Ekon hadn't fully realized until now that this man was as serious as they come.
"That's a good answer," Marcus chuckled.
What? Ekon thought. He hadn't said anything as yet, right?
Marcus still didn't look at him as he tilted his head to the side.
"There's really no right answer," Marcus stated plainly. "When the right time comes, I'll know."
Ekon was baffled but instead of remaining dumb, he responded in thanks. Edward smiled at him then focused his attention to the woman behind him. Ellen was almost half asleep against the soft goodness of the ottoman styled seat. Her legs were up and a pillow perched under her injured arm. Her eyes narrowed at Marcus as he stood to his feet and came walking down the aisle.
He stopped in front of her and sat on the remaining space. She felt hard cold steel press against her upright temple and a sudden rush of nausea hit her.
"How did you find my log?"
She swallowed slowly. "I was looking for something to help me with my upcoming tests when I found it on the shelf."
She could hear him breathing sharply above her.
"Did you share it with anyone?"
"No," she weakly replied. "I thought it was just a joke at first but after reading the fifth log, it felt all too real. I couldn't share it with anyone."
Ellen still felt the slight pressure from the gun against her still. Edward wasn't looking at her anymore and neither was Ekon. Bastards, she screamed in her mind.
"Why exactly should I believe you?"
Marcus's voice brought her back to the issue at hand.
"I don't expect you to believe me. At this point, I'm dead anyway."
Marcus thought about her statement for a moment as she laid un-moving next to him. Usually this wasn't a hard decision but he had more important plans to consider at the moment. If she wasn't a threat then his undivided attention wasn't needed. For the time being however...
Ellen watched as he stood up and towered over her. She looked up the exact moment the frame of the gun hit her temple and she was knocked unconscious. "Ahh," Marcus breathed. "So...much...baggage"
Edward started to respond but Marcus shushed him with a blank stare.
"First the baby, now a stray college student...who else should I expect?" He rashly cursed.
Edward tried his best to remain numb and not respond but he had grown to love Lily, become accustomed to being her rock, being a father. He wasn't ready to drop it at a moment's notice. It was more sensible to return her now that leverage was no longer necessary but he could also feel her attachment to him as well.
"Please understand that I need her" Edward forcefully responded.
Marcus carelessly pointed the gun at him.
"Well, what are you going to do when she gets older and realizes she look's nothing like you, huh?"
Edward knew that would come up soon. He'd handle it then.
"I guess you got everything under control, right? Is that what you're about to say? For fucks sake Ed, we kill people for a living, did you forget that?"
Edward made a low growl in his throat, frustration clouding his better judgement. He hadn't expected Marcus to understand.
"This is your responsibility, do you understand me?"
Marcus threw the gun onto one of the seats then collapsed back into his. He was over this. Edward wasn't a child and as such Marcus expected better from him. A child and a woman was now in their grasp. He rubbed his temples in an effort to relieve the knots that were forming.
At that moment, Edward decided to put out some food for them. He quickly whipped up a few sandwiches and handed one to Ekon then Marcus. He also made a warm bottle for Lily and gently shook woke her up. She took the bottle from him and beckoned for him to cuddle closer to her. The three settled into a quiet flight. Nothing was left to be said.
With an hour left, the plane was still floating on its journey. Ekon and Edward were asleep in separate spots, Lily watching cartoons on her tablet and Marcus staring out the window at the graying clouds. Ellen was slowly coming to, her eyes cautiously glancing around the open space. She saw that Marcus and Lily were the only persons awake. Her head hurt like hell with a headache on full power and her throat was parched. She gently rose herself from her relaxed position and used her good arm to rub the sleep from her eyes.
A fresh pair of clothes was on the floor next to the ottoman. It consisted of a pair of black jeans, a green sweater and sandals. Underwear was also at the bottom of the bag with a fresh bra, clean bandages and a bottle of saline solution. She looked over at Marcus.
"Edward brought it for you," He answered without looking at her. "there's also an extra toothbrush in the bathroom and a cheese sandwich in the pantry for you."
Ellen carefully cradled her elbow to her chest and carried the bag to the bathroom to freshen up. It wasn't an easy task as the space was small and she had to be gentle with her arm. She managed to clean the wound with the saline and apply a fresh wrap to keep it covered. She then stripped off the tattered clothes, washed up and put on the fresh set. Her body rejoiced at the simple pleasures.
Her hair was a rats nest. She had to pull, pick and stretch for a while before the nest became smooth again and settled down her back. She felt better now. She came out of the bathroom and went to peek in the pantry. This entire time, she hadn't noticed Marcus keenly watching her as she tiptoed around quietly. She didn't want to get in his way. The less attention he gave to her, the better.
"I've decided not to kill you," he announced.
Ellen was now sitting on the ottoman again with her sandwich on a plate in her lap. Edward had taken the time to cut her sandwich into four pieces so she could eat without irritating her injury. She was grateful for it. She took up a piece and started eating as Marcus talked.
"You'll miss your first exam on Monday but for now play along. This isn't the Brady Bunch, my men are tough. They'll smother you if you're too soft."
Ellen nodded and continued eating. On her last bite, she watched him stand up and go towards Lily. The child was still watching her cartoons but seemed frustrated. Marcus retrieved a warm bottle for her somewhere from the pantry and sat next to her. Ellen watched as he took the tablet from Lily's tiny hands and gave her the bottle.
Lily looked into his face for a few minutes then took the bottle from him and started drinking slowly.
"Drink all your milk, then you can have this back," He said, gesturing to the tablet.
He put it on the seat in front and stayed next to Lily.
Ellen almost choked on her last bite. She hadn't expected him to be affectionate. In fact, she was almost sure she had died eight hours ago. She dusted off the crumbs and carried her plate to the pantry. Marcus still puzzled her. In his logs, he'd shown no mercy. She half expected to be disposed of without so much as a chance to explain herself but it was quite the opposite. And now, he was cozy next to Lily.
He really was a bit of a mystery.
She went back to the sitting area. By this time Lily was almost done with her milk and the sun was rising outside the window.
"Twenty minutes to landing," a brisk voice came over the intercom from the cockpit.
Edward slowly started to wake up as well as Ekon. Both men seemed to have refreshed while Ellen was out of it, Edward in blue jeans, a white T-shirt and boots, Ekon in black joggers, a red V-neck and sneakers.
Marcus was still in his orange jumpsuit. His hair was what she finally noticed. He was sporting a man bun when they had retrieved him from the prison but now his locks were shortened to the collar. It was combed back and the edges were well trimmed. His mustache and scruffy beard was also gone so she could now see his chin clearly. He was even more handsome.
Ellen groaned in frustration.
Edward and Ekon greeted her with a glance and a smile. Lily was now done with her milk and had dozed off at some point. Marcus got out of the seat next to her as Edward smiled at him.
"Wipe that stupid grin off your fucking face," Marcus nonchalantly said with a smirk.
"I did nothing," Edward played.
Ekon watched the two men with an amused expression. Despite what happened earlier, the two had rebuilt their patch and moved forward.
Ellen smiled as she peeked out the window at the city below.
Italy was finally upon them.