Alec did not know how to talk to Lesly after learning the truth about what had happened. He tried, but he felt that he needed time to process everything. He put all his energy into investigating the matter and looking for clues in her apartment in the hopes that he would find the culprit, but there was nothing to be found. Only one thing remained and that was to talk to her directly about what had happened. Michaela had already told him what she gathered from Lesly after she had woken up. She told him that he could come talk to her if he wished, but that she preferred it if he gave Lesly more time to recover. Alec took this as an excuse to keep his distance until he had managed to handle the matter without jeopardizing his cover. After all, it was vital that he kept his real identity hidden, especially from her.
She was not hospitalized for long. Michaela notified him that Lesly was discharged and that she was currently staying with her in her apartment. That was good news, but he knew from the way she was behaving when he found her and from what Michaela told him that she must have suffered a great deal. He hoped that the fact that Lesly was ready to talk him would be a sign that she was feeling much better, but he was not sure what he was going to see when he got to Michaela’s apartment.
It did not take Alec too long to arrive to Coldwick and locate the building where Michaela was staying. She told him to come at eleven in the morning, but he could see that he got there earlier than planned. He stayed in his car for a bit. Then he decided to leave and make his way towards her apartment. When he knocked on the door, Michaela immediately opened the door for him and gave him an enthusiastic greeting.
“Great. You’re here!”
“I hope I’m not early.”
“Not at all. Lesly’s getting ready. She’ll be out in a moment.”
Michaela grabbed a coat that was hanging by the door, and put it on. “I’ll be stepping out for a bit. I’ve got errands to run. You keep her company until I get back.”
“Sure,” he responded hesitantly. Then he asked, “How’s she handling it?”
“Better than I hoped actually. Then again, she might be putting an act. It usually takes me a while to figure out. Maybe you’ll have better luck.”
“I’ll let you know.”
“Please help yourself to anything you want. I just made a fresh pot of coffee, but if you’re going to have some, don’t let Lesly talk you into giving her any. I need her to cut down on the caffeine.”
“If that’s the case, then maybe I shouldn’t,” Alec said as he took his coat off and hung it next to the door.
“No, she needs to learn some restraint.”
“You’re not serious, are you?”
“It’s called tough love,” she explained matter-of-factly. “That woman has an unhealthy addiction to caffeine. If allowed, she would ditch water entirely and drink coffee instead.”
Michaela was about to go on complaining about Lesly’s caffeine consumption habits when she saw Lesly coming out of the bedroom.
“There she is,” Michaela announced before she walked towards her friend to help her get to the couch.
Alec watched Lesly as she struggled to walk with one crutch in hand since her other arm was in a cast. It was obvious that she was not used to it yet because she needed Michaela’s help to get to the couch. Michaela helped Lesly sit down, took her crutch and placed it next to her, then spoke to her, “I’ll be stepping out for a bit.”
“Go, I’ll be fine.”
Michaela ruffled her friend’s hair playfully, and then turned her back and walked towards the door. Once she was sure that Lesly could not see her, she mouthed the words (no coffee) to Alec before she walked out the door and shut it behind her.
Alec looked at Lesly and smiled before he greeted her, “Hey there. How are you holding up?”
“Fine, no complaints,” she said smiling back.
“I wanted to pay you a visit earlier, but I thought you needed your rest,” he said as he sat in the seat opposite to hers.
“It’s alright. I was asleep most of the time.”
He did not know what to say next. He just looked at her as she sat in front of him and smiled back. She had a violet oversized sweater on that covered most of her, but he could still see some of the cuts and bruises she sustained on her neck and face. Her ruffled dark locks managed to hide the gash on her forehead, but he still remembered how serious it looked when he first found her. She seemed serene. It was as if nothing had happened at all. However, he found no assurance in that whatsoever because her visible injuries presented a noticeable reminder of the incident.
“How’s everything, Alec?” Lesly asked after a moment of silence.
“Fine,” He said smiling.
“Did you get the statements from the people you spoke to? You told me you had them relocated to a safe place. That’s what you wanted to talk to me about that day, wasn’t it?”
“They’re fine. I told you I’d take care of it,” Alec responded with a reassuring smile before he took a glance towards the kitchen and asked, “Do you want something to drink?”
Alec walked towards the kitchen with the intent to give her time to gather her thoughts before they got to the matter at hand. When he walked inside, he noticed the fresh pot of coffee that Michaela told him about. However, instead of taking her advice, he decided to make tea instead. He found a selection of herbal teas next to the electric kettle and wondered what Lesly wanted to drink.
“Care for some tea?” He asked from the kitchen.
Alec took his time in preparing the tea and came back moments later with two mugs. He sat to Lesly’s right on the couch and placed the two mugs on the coffee table. Lesly examined the content of his mug and smiled when she noticed that he also had chamomile.
“Michaela spoke to you, didn’t she?” she asked with a laugh.
“Actually, she wanted you to learn some restraint by having me drink coffee in front of you.”
“I thought you’d jump on the opportunity.”
“I was tempted, not gonna lie” he responded with a shrug before he took a sip of his tea.
Lesly laughed and reached for her mug. The two drank their tea in silence, each swimming in their own thoughts. It was not long, however, before Alec announced the reason behind his visit hesitantly, “Lesly, you do know why I’m here today?”
“I know,” she said as she maintained the same smile.
“I’m aware that it’s not a matter you wish to discuss, but we have to talk about it in order to figure out what to do next.”
“It’s alright,” she replied softly. “Did you find anything in my apartment?”
“Aside from the fact that he copied certain files on your laptop, nothing.”
“So it’s as I thought?”
“I’m afraid so. I was actually hoping that talking to you might get us somewhere. I spoke to Michaela, and she told me everything that you told her, but I have some questions.”
“What do you wish to know?” She asked calmly.
“What did the culprit want from you? Michaela said that he kept asking you about a person?”
“And he didn’t exactly tell you who?”
“He didn’t give me a name,” she said shaking her head, “I assumed he was talking about the anonymous informant who’s been emailing me for years, but now that I think about it, I’m not really sure.”
“Why did you think he was asking about the informant?”
“At that moment, he was the only person I could link to what was happening,” Lesly responded as she subconsciously held her injured arm. Her smile had disappeared, and her expression began to show signs of agitation. “Michaela told you about former Mayor Davis, didn’t she?”
“I was rescued and taken to a hospital before the video was leaked. The other women remained there. Someone took me out. I was barely conscious. I don’t remember what he looked like and I don’t know why he came for me specifically. Hospital staff told me that a guy in a hoodie brought me over. They tried to take a look at the security footage of that day, but it was deleted. The video that exposed Davis was leaked the same day. I guess whoever that rescued me wanted to make sure that I was far away from Davis before the video that condemned him got out so Davis wouldn’t hurt me.”
“And you think it’s the informant who did that?” Alec asked curiously.
“Possibly. As I told you, I’m not sure. I tried contacting him. He wouldn’t respond.”
Alec took a moment to process what Lesly had just said to him. Kim had already informed him of every measure they took to handle the matter, but there was no mention of an informant or a person whom his father had hired to get Lesly out of that house. In fact, Kim told him that they tried looking for her when she was first reported missing, but they had no luck. They only got to the people responsible for what had happened to him and her after she was rescued. Lesly might be right in assuming that it was the informant who did all that. This made discovering his identity all the more important. However, there was one other angle that needed exploring before he focused his attention on the informant.
Alec tried to think of the best possible way to phrase his next question. He wanted to know if they had overlooked any other possible way that the culprit might have utilized to learn about the incident. However, it was important that he approach the matter carefully without letting Lesly know that there are certain details that he couldn’t have possibly known from Michaela.
He cleared his throat and proceeded to sum up what he had learned from her friend so far, “Michaela said that no official record of your ever being involved in that incident exists. She also said that every single person who was responsible for what happened there is dead. Davis and another guy were first declared missing, but their bodies were found months later.”
“Yes,” Lesly answered calmly.
“What about the women who were locked up with you?”
“We’ve never met. I don’t know them, and they don’t know me. Whatever I know about them came from reading about the case later,” she answered while trying hard not to shudder at the memory of hearing their cries of anguish.
“And the detectives responsible for the case?”
“I was not there when the police raided the place. That’s why it was easier to erase my connection to the incident.”
“Why were you so insistent that no body finds out?”
“I have more than one reason. I’m not gonna go through them all, but if you must know, I didn’t trust the police back then. I still don’t. Did you know that a few of the high ranking officers knew about Davis and his hobbies for years? They refused to do anything about him. He paid them to keep quite. The only reason they decided to investigate the case later on was because of the public outrage that followed the leak. Of course, it was easier for them to do so because everyone involved was found dead.”
Lesly looked at Alec as he tried to piece together everything that had happened and hoped that he would not see the pattern. She knew why everyone involved was dead. She knew that Lang was behind it all. He had accomplished the task masterfully. Some of those deaths looked like suicide. Some were left as obvious murder cases, but they were pinned on other culprits. Lang made it look as if those involved were trying to settle the score amongst themselves. No one was left alive.
Alec did not dwell on the matter because he already knew about his father’s involvement. He could pretend, of course, and ask the one logical question that should have followed the answer she just gave him, but he did not wish to risk it by pulling at that thread. As a result, he chose to take their discussion back to the identity of the informant. After all, pursuing the informant and finding out how he was related to this whole mess would be the best possible course of action to be taken under the current circumstances.
“Lesly,” He began.
“We need to find that informant.”
“I’m not sure he wants to be found.”
“We have to. It’s the only way. We also have to find you a safe place to stay, but we’ll get to that later. I don’t want to scare you, but I’m sure you know that it’s not over yet.”
“That whole ordeal you’ve been though years ago, you know it was done in retaliation, don’t you?” He asked with a sympathetic expression on his face.
“I do,” she answered softly.
“Any idea if that was also the main aim behind the recent assault?”
“I don’t know. I’m not even sure why he didn’t kill me.”
“If he’s after the informant like you said, he might have figured that he still needs you to lure him out.”
Lesly bit her lower lip as she contemplated the matter. Then she asked in a low voice, “Does that mean he’s still not done with me?”
Lesly’s hold on her arm tightened. Her gaze was fixed on the floor as her thumb began to nervously stroke her arm. Alec noticed that she was trying to take deep breaths to calm herself and knew that he could not continue discussing the matter with her.
“Are you okay, Lesly?” he asked with concern evident in his voice.
“I’m fine,” she replied as she nervously tried to reach for the mug in front of her, but she decided against it and went back to holding her arm again when she noticed that her hand began to shake. Alec noticed the tremor and tried to read her face, but she kept her head slightly bent as she stared into space. Her dark locks covered the side of her face that should have been visible to him. He tried to push them away to get a better look at her face, but she immediately told him not to in a shaky voice. He realized immediately that she was struggling to maintain an act of indifference and that any gesture of support on his part was going to make that entire act crumble in an instant. He didn’t want her to deal with it alone, so he ignored her feeble attempts to hide her face from him and held her arm as he pulled her closer to him.
Her control over her act quickly slipped away as she shed silent tears. Her hand gripped the front of his shirt as he held her head to his chest. She tried to keep her thoughts to herself, but something overcame her that instant that filled her with the urge to let him know exactly how anxious she was. Her voice would surely shake if she spoke. He was going to know how broken she was, but at that moment, she did not care.
“I don’t know what would’ve happened if you hadn’t showed up that day.”
“It was nothing,” he responded as his hold around her tightened.
“I can’t stop thinking about it,” Lesly continued, her voice shaking. “What if I hadn’t called you that day? What if I hadn’t asked you to call me back? What if you hadn’t heard my message? What if you had picked up when I tried to call you the first time?”
“Shh it’s no use thinking about it,” he said gently as he brought her closer to him.
He continued to hold her and stroke her back as she wept silently. He kept her in his embrace even after she had calmed down and stopped shaking. She did not pull away either. There was only one phrase he kept on repeating.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”