Forgiven

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The Mystery Man

Chapter 51:

Leaving the apartment to follow the investigation himself when he was more needed at home was a hassle, but it had to be done anyways. The guy he put in charge was getting nowhere with the mystery man. Alec believed he deserved some of the blame for that because he was the one who was adamant about not resorting to force at all this time. It would have been easier to just ruffle the mystery man up in order to get him to speak, but Alec did not want to rush into anything yet. It was vital to first make sure where the mystery guy’s allegiances lay before any drastic step was taken. There was no rush. He could keep the informant locked up for as long as needed.

As expected, the mystery man knew who Alec really was. As such, it was necessary for Alec to deal with the matter himself and figure out what he was after. There were so many questions that he wanted to ask the guy. However, seeing how insistent the guy was on keeping his identity hidden for years, there was no guarantee that Alec would get any of those questions answered. Still, meeting the informant was vital. Even if he refused to speak, Alec could manage to develop a better understanding of the guy’s motives simply by observing his body language.

The drive to the old cabin where the man was being held was not a pleasant one. It was a chore, a painful one. The cabin was almost an hour away from the city, and since speeding up or even driving at a normal pace was not an option given the poor weather conditions, getting there required a lot more time than he hoped it would take.

At last, Alec finally made it to his destination. Thankfully, it had stopped raining a few minutes ago. However, he still had to waddle carefully through the soaked soil to get to the cabin. His contact, Jonathan, was waiting on the porch with a lit cigarette. He immediately ushered Alec in and guided him to the room where the informant was being held.

“Did he say anything at all?” Alec asked as he followed Jon.

“Not a word,” Jon answered.

“How did he seem?”

Jon shrugged. “For someone who knows who you really are, he does not seem worried one bit. Either he has an ace up his sleeve, or he’s just incapable of grasping how serious the situation is.”

“I’ll handle it from here,” Alec announced as he attempted to open the door to the room where the informant was being held, but Jon stopped him.

“He’s not handcuffed.”

“So?”

“Maybe I should go in first,” Jon offered.

“He’s wise enough to know that attacking me is not gonna get him anywhere. He tried it before and failed.”

Jon was confused. “When did he attack you?”

“It doesn’t matter. Just be on the lookout.”

Jon nodded and watched Alec go in and lock the door.

The informant smiled instantly the moment he saw Alec. “You finally showed up.”

Alec kept a straight face as he leaned against the door and crossed his arms over his chest. “I wouldn’t be so excited about that if I were you. You do realize that I have to take certain precautions now that I’m here.”

The informant’s smile deepened. He understood too well what Alec meant by that, but it did not bother him one bit that Alec was threatening him. He kept a laidback attitude as he addressed him. “I’m not so worried about that. Whatever plan you’re cooking up in that head of yours, it won’t work.”

Alec smirked, “You seem awfully confident.”

“I’ve got every reason to be.”

“We’ll see about that. For now, let’s discuss this little endeavor of yours.”

The informant shrugged. “What about it?”

“What does Collins have to do with it?”

“I could ask you the same question. Don’t you think you’ve caused her enough trouble?” The informant asked.

“And how exactly did I do that?”

“You’re the reason she got dragged into this mess five years ago.”

Alec laughed, “This sounds rich coming from you.”

“I’m aware of the role I played in what happened,” the informant explained. “After all, it was because of the tip I sent her anonymously that she ended up in that building five years ago.”

“And instead of leaving her alone, you continue to drag her into one messy situation after another,” Alec interjected.

“If I hadn’t gotten her there, you would’ve been dead.”

“The irony was not lost on me, believe me. Still, I can’t help but ask why you insist on getting her involved after everything she had gone through.”

The informant’s response was short and cryptic. “I have my reasons…”

Alec examined the man in front of him. The subtle change that had overcome his facial features was not missed. It was clear that his act was crumbling. The Mason Arch incident was clearly a sore topic for him. This made Alec push at that angle a bit more.

“The ends justify the means. I get it.” Alec stated casually as he walked towards the table. “If anything happens to whoever you’re using in the process, it’s the cause that matters, whatever that is,” he continued as he pulled a chair and sat in front of the dark-haired individual.

The mystery man tried his hardest to keep a straight face, but it was obvious that the words his opponent spoke cut deep. His voice came out low as he attempted to explain himself.

“I’d never put her life at risk like that.”

“And yet you did, time and again,” Alec argued back.

“I was always there to make sure nothing bad ever happened.”

“She almost died last night because of you.”

“That wasn’t me,” the dark-haired man answered with a hint of agitation. “I never asked her to meet me there.”

Alec’s cold gaze remained. “It doesn’t matter what you did and did not ask. Someone was after her because of you.”

The mystery man maintained a calm demeanor, but Alec could tell that the conversation was taking a turn the man was not comfortable with. The fact that he went silent and did not answer right away perfectly betrayed the cool act.

Eventually the informant spoke, “I had to leak that footage five years ago to make sure no one came for her afterwards. It worked…for a while…until you leaked the Stevenson’s footage.”

“What does that have to do with what happened five years ago?” Alec asked with a frown.

“No one bothered her for years. I was careful not to draw attention to the fact that she had a source. Then you leaked that footage, and all hell broke loose.”

“They’re looking for you,” Alec clarified to the man who seemed to be trying to shift the blame on him.

“They wouldn’t have suspected a connection to me if it weren’t for you,” the informant shot back.

“It seems to me you found your perfect scapegoat.”

“I acknowledge my role in what happened.”

“It doesn’t seem like you do,” Alec pointed out.

The man sighed loudly in exasperation as he ran a hand through his thick dark hair. He stared at Alec and tried his best to keep his composure, “That’s why I’m here, to do my part and try to fix the situation.”

“What exactly are you planning to do by coming to me?”

“I need to ask you face to face what you intend to do with her?”

Alec tapped his fingers lightly against the table. His empty gaze was locked with the dark-haired man’s the entire time. “What do you think I plan to do with her?”

“You wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for her, Lang,” the informant responded.

“I’m aware of that.”

“Why are you keeping your identity hidden then?”

“I should ask you the same question,” Alec argued back.

“I could have exposed you if I wanted to.”

“Why didn’t you?”

The informant went silent. He simply stared at Alec with a pained expression on his face. This pushed Alec to answer his own question.

“Let me tell you why. You know deep down that I could do what you could never do. You believe she would be safer with me. That much I figured out the moment I sat in front of you. What I can’t figure out is why you care so much.”

The informant still would not respond. Alec leaned his elbows on the table and examined the man carefully. “Why did you go back for her and only her five years ago? Why was she the only person you were interested in saving?”

Alec’s question was met with silence once more.

“What is she to you?”

Not a single word came out of the mystery man’s mouth. His body language spoke volumes, though. The man might not have said much, but Alec managed to get his initial conclusions confirmed. Indeed, the guy was just as invested as he was. For what reasons, though? That much was still not clear. In addition to that, he seemed to genuinely care about Lesly. The fact that he risked exposing himself to Alec just to see for himself that Alec was serious about paying his debt back to her was proof enough. Yet again, the reasons for his willingness to go to such lengths were still not clear.

Alec’s cold gaze examined the man once more. The man had thick dark hair, grey eyes and a light beard covering his jaw. There was a faint scar just above his left eyebrow, but it was not very noticeable. On top of that, he seemed to be a well-built man who was just a few centimeters shorter than him. Something about him was oddly familiar. Alec was almost sure that he had seen him before, but he could not figure out where or when exactly he had encountered him. There was also the question of his loyalty to Lesly. Was it possible that he knew her personally or was he connected to her somehow? If yes, would it be wise to alert Lesly to his identity this soon before he managed to develop a full understanding of the situation? Indeed, Lesly might be able to help get some of those questions answered. The informant would surely speak to her since he appeared to trust her more, but how wise would that decision be?

When Alec’s questions went unanswered, he stood up and attempted to leave the room. His hand was hovering over the knob when the informant stopped him. “Do you really care about her?”

“What do you think?” Alec asked without turning back.

“I think you’re using her for God knows what purpose.”

“If this is indeed what you think, then nothing I say will make any difference.”

“She could get hurt. Is that how you want to repay her?”

The question triggered something in Alec. All the anger he had been bottling in since the night before suddenly poured out. Without thinking, he took hastened steps back to the dark-haired man, hauled him by the shirt and pushed him against the wall.

Alec’s voice was menacing as he spoke. “You’re the last person to lecture me about her safety when you’ve done nothing for her. I swear to God if I didn’t need to get to the root cause of this entire mess, I would kill you right now for everything you’ve put her through.”

The informant smiled. He did not exhibit the least bit of an attempt at freeing himself from Alec’s hold, but rather continued to provoke him. “Can you visualize what would have happened that day if she had not run into you? If she had just decided to turn back or even walk through a different hallway, she would have never met you. She wouldn’t have saved your life, and she wouldn’t have suffered afterwards. Everything that happened from that point onward happened because of you. You’re the reason…”

The dark-haired man never managed to finish what he was saying. Alec’s fist immediately sent him to the floor. The informant chuckled as he wiped the blood in the corner of his mouth at finally succeeding to get a response out of Alec. This further infuriated the prosecutor who picked him up and pushed his head against the wooden surface of the table. Jonathan walked in at hearing the commotion and tried to get Alec to release the man, but Alec would not leave him.

“Do you think it’s wise to provoke me?”

“It’s worth it if I can get an answer out of you.”

“What use would an answer be to you if you’re dead?” Alec asked as he began pushing on the man’s neck, thereby obstructing his breathing. Jonathan immediately tried to get Alec to let go. He held Alec’s arm and spoke sternly to him. “You’ve got to release him. We need him alive!”

Alec reluctantly released the man and took a step backward as he absentmindedly held his wrist and knuckle which had become a bit strained after the blow he just delivered. The mystery man coughed violently as he struggled to catch his breath, but his laughs would not be deterred by what just happened.

“You should leave. I’ll take it from here,” Jon spoke to Alec in a low voice.

“You can try killing me, Lang. You’d be wrong to assume, though, that I’d walk in here without taking the necessary precautions.”

Alec took a threatening step forward, but Jon pushed him back as he directed a question to the informant, “Someone knows you’re here?”

“Wrong again.”

“He’s bluffing,” Jon muttered before he turned to Alec who was still glaring at the man.

“I could be bluffing, or I could be telling the truth,” the informant casually stated after he struggled to stand up. He grabbed one of the knocked chairs, fixed it and slumped down on it. Then he stared at the two men and carried on. “The question is, are you two willing to take the risk?”

“Who do you work for?” Alec asked with an emotionless face.

“No one. I work alone.”

“Why was the man who attacked Lesly after you?” Alec asked again.

“Because I know too much, Lang.”

“And how much of what you know would you be willing to share?”

“It depends,” The dark-haired man answered. “I still haven’t made my mind about you. I can tell you this, though. Lesly is safe…for now. The man who assaulted her was working alone.”

“I doubt it.”

“You can run your own background check to make sure. I guarantee you, though, the man was so paranoid that he trusted no one.”

Alec frown intensified as he thought about what the informant said. “Lesly mentioned that he was talking to someone on the phone when he first assaulted her in her apartment.”

“He’s dead. I took care of him.”

“And the one who hacked into your account?”

“I already have an idea on who might that be. If he is who I think he is, he knows nothing. He was paid to do a job, no questions asked. I’ll deal with him later.”

Alec smirked, “You seem so sure that you’re gonna get out of here.”

“I told you,” the informant responded with a laugh, “I wouldn’t have come to you without taking the necessary precautions.”

“We’ll see about that,” Alec answered before he walked out of the room.

Jon followed behind him and immediately began locking the door. “Do you think he’s telling the truth?”

“I don’t know, but he’s definitely up to something,” Alec responded. “You have to keep an eye on him.”

“Don’t worry. We’re in the middle of nowhere. Even if he manages to get out of here by some miracle, he can’t go too far.”

“Still, you have to be careful,” Alec warned.

“It’s not my first time handling an assignment like that, Lang.”

“I know. You’ll keep me posted?”

“Sure thing.”

Alec nodded and walked out of the cabin and towards his car. Jon was right. There was no way out for the mystery man. Still, he had that nagging feeling that something was not right. Unfortunately, he had no way of telling what the man was up to.

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