The war has begun
***POV - Damion
Boring, boring, boring! Can anything be worse than going from one place of waiting for tests to the next place and waiting again for more tests? At least I’m about halfway through, just a brain scan left, but they shifted an emergency in before us.
I understand the situation, it’s just that I’m not very good at waiting and sitting motionless for long periods of time. My leg is bumping up and down impatiently; neither waiting nor patience is my strong suit. Sitting still is a challenge for me … it’s always been. A mischievous grin creeps over my face as I recall the number of times I got in trouble at school for this exact reason. This quarterly checkup that Mark insists on is the worst part of my job.
I take a sip from my Starbucks coffee, envying Sean sitting quietly in his chair reading a magazine. Shifting in the chair for probably the hundredth time, I give the girl at the desk a lopsided smile, her constant flirty stares towards me not going unnoticed. A year ago I would have been flattered, maybe even seduced myself into a quick blowjob on the go, but all that’s in the past. All I can think about is Melaena and how I’ll never get enough of her. I put my hand inside my pocket, my fingers brushing over the velvet box with the ring. I hope it’s not too soon.
I shake my head thinking about how Jackson always warns us to not get hooked by a voodoo pussy, and here I am, slam-dunked by his sister’s spellbound vagina. But that’s not why I’m in love with her. Even if I can never have sex with her again – and I might burst and blow op if that happens – but if it does, I still want to be with her forever. She’s just the cutest thing out there in the world.
The ringing of my phone gets my head out of Melaena’s womanly parts, while the busty brunette at the counter gives me the no-phones-allowed look and points to the sign that proves it. So I get up and walk outside, thankful for the distraction. Before I can even say hello my mom shouts hysterically and I almost drop the cup of coffee in my other hand.
“Damion, Luke is gone … kidnapped!” I can hear she’s terrified - crying, sobbing uncontrollably.
“Calm down mom.” I put the Starbucks cup on the ledge – I’m currently standing in the hallway looking through a huge window, barely noticing the hustle and bustle on the other side.
“Mom, are you sure? Where?” I try to keep calm, needing her to give me as much information as she can in her state.
“Yes, I was late and he was not there. One of the kids saw him getting into a white van, so I went home, but he’s not here either.”
“He’s busy calling Luke’s friends.”
“I’ll be right there.” I hang up and instinctively call Mel – needing to hear her voice, to know that she’s safe. Her phone goes straight to voicemail. The same thing happens when I call Kiara. I yell at the brunette that we need to go and pull Sean from his chair unceremoniously. He throws the magazine onto the table and we run down the hall.
While I run to my truck I try Mel’s phone one more time. This time it is ringing and I sigh with relief, but it’s short-lived. Somebody hangs up without answering! What the fuck?
I stare at the phone in disbelief, the message ties my already knotted guts up even more.
Mel: Mayday! Mayday! Crash boom bang!
Then a photo appears of a mangled-up car – Mel’s car! Fuck! I grab the bulbar of my truck when my knees buckle, feeling faint and my heartbeat increases heading for the checkered flag. Fucking asshole has her phone.
I look at the time, I’ve been in that fucking hospital for almost 4 hours, while the whole time she’s been … what? … dead, kidnapped, injured – WHAT? I look at Sean and tell him to keep on calling Kiara’s phone.
My thumb pushes the little green telephone symbol under Mel’s name - waiting with anticipated breath - I hope to hear her voice this time. But the fucking universe is against me, like usual.
“Loverboy, just the person I was looking for.”
“Who’s this? Where’s Mel?” The guy makes some clapping sounds with his tongue. I know that voice. Forcing myself to listen, to remember, but I just can’t place it in my screwed-up head.
“Tsk-tsk, so many questions. Just call me Darren … or D for short. I need you to do exactly as I say.” I stop dead in my tracks, waiting for him to continue. I need to stay calm and collected, he’s going to try and rile me up. I take a deep breath. My hands are trembling.
Breathe, breathe, breathe! Don’t let him see my weakness, stay in control. If I lose control now, he wins the battle. Sean signals to me that Kiara is not answering her phone with a worried look in his eyes.
“Okay. Talk.” I sound a lot cockier than I feel, but he’s not going to know that. And whoever this is, the fucker is dead.
“You’ll get a message soon. Just follow the instructions.” That’s it, he hangs up, but almost immediately a message comes through, a photo of Mel, Kiara, and Luke sitting on an old bed, clinging to each other.
Mel: Mayday! Mayday! Three prisoners waiting.
FUCK! I show it to Sean and we stare into each other’s worried eyes when the phone beeps again. I’ve had it with this guy and his fucking ‘mayday’ messages.
Mel: Mayday! Mayday! The little boy will pay!
Another photo, this time of Jackson tied to a chair, his head hanging, telling me that he must be unconscious. Double fuck! This guy has me by the balls and he knows it. Heat rises inside me like hellfire, but it’s not just anger, there’s a fair share of raw-set panic burning with it, trying to blaze free. Gripping my hands into fists, I strike out and hit the metal dustbin next to me, sending it flying a few meters down the parking lot. Grabbing onto the bulbar again with white knuckles, I bend forward and gag painfully, spitting it out onto the ground.
Fucker! Another message appears and taking a deep breath I slowly lift the phone to stare at the little screen, scared shitless at what I might see this time.
Mel: Next instructions at 6 pm.
As soon as we sit inside my pickup I make a phone call.
“Hi, dude.” Judging by his voice tone, Ilkay is still clueless as to the current predicament.
“Ilkay, Plan A is ruined … time to think of a plan B. I need you to get all the boys to my house asap! And bring all the bikes. Include your uncle and tell him to bring Garcia. I’ll explain later.”
“What the fuck?” He knows it must be serious.
“Bro, just do it. And be careful what you say over the phone, we don’t know who’s listening. It’s a matter of life and death, no fooling around.”
“Fuckit. I’m on it.”
“Oh, and Ilkay, tell your uncle to bring all the gear and the hi-tech stuff … that spray he was talking about.”
“Got it. See you in 30.” Next, I phone my father and tell him to get to the meeting spot with my mom and Alejandro. It’s going to be all hands on deck for this one, and my brother has training that will definitely come in useful. Hitting the steering wheel as a fresh swell of rage rises in me, I swallow down my frustration and start the pickup, my mind racing at 200 miles per hour laps in my head.
Sean is dead quiet and I let him be, not in the mood of making small talk myself.
The song on the radio seeps into my swinging mind and the words hit me with so much ferocity that I have to gulp for air.
’Get out your guns, battles begun … Are you a saint, or a sinner?
If loves a fight, then I shall die with my heart on a trigger’
Well, if it’s a war Harry wants, it’s a war he’s going to get … and this time he messed with the wrong family. Together, we have enough demons to fill half of hell and then some, demons he’s personally going to meet face to face. I smile, thinking that he might just have captured the most deadly of the Blackburn brothers as his prisoner. Like I said before, Jackson is a force to be reckoned with and partly crazy. He’s not going to take being captured lightly that’s for sure.
’They say before you start a war, You better know what you’re fighting for
Well baby, you are all that I adore … If love is what you need, a soldier I will be
I’m an angel with a shotgun, Fighting til’ the wars won … ’
I know what I’m fighting for, Melaena, the girl I love, the girl I would gladly stop breathing for so she can take another breath. And today I might just have to fulfill that promise, but she’s worth it. My mind drift again … the guy’s voice … I’ve heard it before, but where?
‘Don’t you know you’re everything I have? And I, wanna live, not just survive, tonight’
If all ends well tonight, my life is going to begin, I’m going to stop surviving and start living. I’m going to ask Mel to marry me. I pull the velvet box from my pocket and throw it in the glove compartment.
I stop at the house, seeing the bikes parked out front … meaning the guys are already waiting for me inside.
My focus moves to the black SUVs pulling in, Garcia and Uncle John get out covered by at least a dozen bodyguards. Then mom and dad arrive with Alejandro, Noah, and Jesse. My brother puts an arm around my shoulder as we walk inside. Everybody looks at me with worried, stressed eyes, nothing of the usual playful, cockiness in sight, so I fall with the truth right through the door.
“It seems Kiara, Mel, Luke, and Jackson have all been kidnapped by Harry.” All the eyes change to anger and frustration – everyone in the room has a lot to lose.
“They will send us instructions at six, so we have around 4 hours to come up with a fool-prove plan.” I send my phone around so they can see the photos.
“Fucking bastards! Why is he picking on Jackson all the time – it doesn’t make sense.” Enrique’s fist hits the wooden wall and he starts walking up and down.
“There must be a reason why he picked those four especially. I mean what has Luke got to do with it all,” Ilkay speculates and I think he might have a point. My father was not part of any of this … so why take Luke. Unless … he knows who his real father is … but not even Garcia knows so how could he.
“Guys, maybe I can shed some light on that. I’ve found out a few things that might be useful,” Garcia grabs all of our attention and we circle around the heavy dark-wood table. Mom gets busy in the kitchen and starts making snacks and coffee. I know it’s her way of keeping her mind occupied.
“Harry sent me a message earlier, he wants me to officially appoint his son, Darren, as the leader in my place, and I must surrender myself to him. We should not underestimate this Harry guy … he’s anything but stupid, and he’s been planning this for quite a long time. He took over one of the gangs in the upper north side under a false name years ago. The reason I never put two and two together is that I’ve never met him in person, he always sent his second in command and later his son, Darren, to the meetings.” We stay silent, waiting for him to continue.
“And another gang from the south side is working with them. Their leader is Alex, your uncle.”
“Uncle?” Ilkay asks with a frown, and we all look at Uncle John.
“Yes, um, your grandfather kidnapped Garcia’s younger sister. She was only 14 at that stage. He hid her with this same gang, Alex is now leading. My father continuously raped her until she became pregnant and eventually gave birth to a boy … hence your uncle Alex. Then he killed the poor girl and dropped her body in front of Garcia’s house. We never knew who killed her until Alexander died and left half of his inheritance to his son called Alex. We got one of the gang members to tell us the truth. But since Alex swore to be loyal to Garcia, we let him be. But turns out that he’s as evil as our father,” Uncle John explains.
Garcia’s eyes flicker with something that I’m not sure I want to analyze. He has the same cold-blooded look you can sometimes find in Jackson’s eyes.
“So are you going to give him what he wants?” Enrique asks.
“I have to, else he’s going to kill Luke,” Garcia says quickly glancing at my father.
“I know he’s my kid, I’ve always known.” The expression on my dad’s face tells me he was somehow expecting this. The rest of the people are all rather shocked by the news.
“Luke is your son?” Logan gasps. Garcia bobs his head.
“As soon as I found out Sophia was pregnant, I let her go back to you, knowing you would look after the baby. I didn’t, and still don’t, want anybody to know that I have a son, it’s too dangerous and I didn’t want him to grow up like us. I want him to be a normal kid in a normal family.” There are tears in Garcia’s eyes while he looks at my dad. My father nods at him.
“Okay, so now we know why he took Luke … what about Kiara?”
“I know that too. He’s blackmailing her father to kill some dude that’s in the same jail as him. He’s going to handle it tonight. As for Jackson … well, I’m not sure I should tell you this, but the poor boy went through loads of shit because Alexander saw him as a pissy … not man enough to be his grandson. And that day Jackson was with us. All I’m going to say is that Jackson was forced to hurt Darren.”
“Fuck me!” Enrique chokes out in shock. Must say, I’m also rather appalled. Why would they force a kid to do something like that? No wonder the guy is so screwed up.
“And Mel … she’s the one that would force everybody in this room to do as he says … his golden ticket.” Garcia is looking between me and Uncle John. “But there’s one thing Harry and Alex do not know.” Garcia motions to one of his guards and the man place a beautiful pink flower on the table.
“It’s a Protea,” Alejandro comments.
“Yes, it’s the sign of the Old Man. He’s the leader of the most feared mafia group in the world. Lately, he’s trying to get a foothold in California. I’ve promised to do business with them if they help me sort out the unloyal parts between the gangs in return. They assured me that they’re on standby already, and as soon as Harry sends me a location, I’ll let them know.”
“Can we trust them?” I don’t want to put Mel’s safety in the hands of some grandpa I don’t even know.
“Yes, they’re businessmen. Maybe I’ve sold my soul to the devil, but at least I know everybody will be safe from now on. And they’re so big, it’s not as if I can fight them anyway. Better to have them on our side, is it not?”
“So what’s the plan then?” my father asks, looking at his watch. Time is running out.
“The Old Man told me that the last thing ever registered to Harry’s name is the old ghost house at the south side of the Sea Cliff area. If I remember correctly, it’s the house his wife hanged herself in.” What kind of sick-fate type of coincidence is the universe playing here? First my sister, now Mel … is this a joke?
“We think the hostages might be there.”
I jump up. “I’ll go take a look at the house.”
“NO!” My father blocks my way. “You’re going to stay here until Darren contacts you. Alejandro will go to the house.” I bite my teeth. I’m not happy with this. Not that I don’t trust my big brother, but I need to go get Mel. Ale takes a case that Uncle John holds out to him. He’s already dressed in black SWAT clothes, complete with bullet prove vest and all. Enrique gives him the keys to Jackson’s bike.
“What’s in the box?” Logan asks as soon as my brother leaves.
“A sniper gun. Alejandro is one of the best snipers out there.” Uncle John answers. Fuck, I didn’t know that. Seems I need to get to know my brother a little better.
“Maybe we should get dressed as well,” Enrique says.
“Wait, there’s more … “ Uncle John pulls a little box from his pocket. “This was delivered to me just before I left. The note only said that it is a gift from a friend. Be warned, it’s not good.” He drops the open box on the table and it’s as if the whole house sucks in the air all around us. I move my head forward as if it’s going to change the gruesome contents, but the bloody pinky still lies motionless inside the red-stained tissues.
“Who the fuck? Who’s …” Enrique starts but quickly has to jump out of the way since Sean next to him folds double and almost pukes on his shoes.
“Shit dude! Look where you aim that!”
Ilkay picks up the finger and turning it around, examines it slowly. “It seems to be male, and they used a sharp object and one quick blow.” He puts the finger back in the box.
Sean wipes his mouth and without looking at the finger again, he takes a few deep breaths and seems to get his color back, mumbling, “You guys sure have some sick-ass friends.”
“Let’s get ready, guys,” Logan shouts as soon as he walks through the door with Jesse and Noah, carrying some duffle bags. Some of Garcia’s guards are behind them with boxes, machines, and weapons.
I grab two more sandwiches from the kitchen table and slam my arm around my mom. The devastation I see in her eyes mirrors mine, hers just lacks the darkness I know is stuffed behind my soul.
Uncle John tells the men where to place what … most of it some sophisticated equipment any spying agency could kill to have … thanks to the Blackburn company. Logan drops the bags on the floor and drags Jesse to where the men are setting up a high-tech computer area, leaving him there to get acquainted with everything.
“Guys, there’s some gear for each of you,” Logan now pulls stuff from the bags, including a spray can, and he starts shaking it.
“You all know that the company created this new tracking device. You spray it onto the skin and it leaves an invisible tracker that makes it possible to locate the person for at least two days. It’s some next-level outer-space shit this.”
Walking around the room he sprays all of us with the invisible marker while Ilkay swabs our mouths, getting each one’s DNA, necessary for the tracker to work. Uncle John inserts each DNA stick into a small lab device, (something that is apparently a PCR, centrifuge, and more all in one – but let’s stick to gadget) and it, in turn, sends each DNA record it pulls up to Jesse’s computer where he links it with the tracker and combines it with a name.
This way, he knows exactly which dot on his computer belongs to which guy and where he is. When we’re all done, Jesse makes sure each of us is registered and displayed on the screen. Dad checks the radio contact devices. He’s going to handle that part with Noah.
Five-twenty-five, the flashing light on the computer screen displays. I’m fucking sure time is standing still. Scary thoughts trigger my demons and they start to tip-toe slowly around in my head. I close my eyes to try and still the pitter-patter of their feet, but just thinking about everything he’s maybe doing to her … Fuck!
The sound of my fist against the wall crowds out the noises in my head a little.
“I’ve scanned the fingerprint on the finger and it belongs to a Xander Blackburn. Guess he’s family?” The question mark between Jesse’s brows spread across the room. The pinky belongs to Mel’s dad? Fuck me.
“Dad? Where in hell did Harry find him?” I’m sure Ilkay means that in the literal sense, seeing that hell has a special place for people like Xander and Harry.
“At least it’s not Jackson’s,” Enrique confirms and everybody sighs a breath of relief, our bro still has all 10 fingers for now.
“Don’t judge your father too harshly, guys ... he’s not the man you think him to be. There’s a whole other side to the story … one I’ll tell you all soon enough … but for now, let’s just say we were all framed, but Harry doesn’t want to believe it.” Garcia softly mentions, but he doesn’t elaborate too much. “Now is not the time to go into details, but just keep it in mind.”
“Guys, I’m in position. The Old person guy was right … Jackson is in one of the rooms on the first floor, talking to an old man that’s in poor shape. And I also have eyes on Mel. There’s a guy with her, but I can’t make out his face. No sign of Kiara and Luke yet.” Alejandro contacts us over the radio.
“Keep your position and let us know what you see. Sending backup to you now.” My father answers.
Putting on the black outfit, my phone laying on the bench beside me pings a few times, and I grab it quickly.
Mel: Opera House in Van Ness Ave – come alone.You have one hour.
Hopeful eyes are glued on me, waiting for any news, good news, bad news, but before I can say a word a photo hits my screen, and this time I feel my gagging reflex working overtime to swallow down the puke that pushed up into my mouth. Mel is standing against a pillar, her arms pulled back, probably tied up. He tore open her shirt leaving some lavender underwear exposed. In a flashback, I recognize it as the one I picked up in her room once; the same one she seductively paraded in after our first sex session … but this time there’s nothing sexy about it.
Her face is bruised and the look in her eyes sends up some more of the burning liquid, I swallow, I have to keep it in.
“Say something!” Enrique yells at me, but the clatter of creeping footsteps from my demons turns into a full-on stampede. My heart is torn from my chest, my body stuck immobile, then Ilkay takes the phone from my hand. Blood drains from his face and a single word drops from his lips, “Mel.” It’s so soft, I’m not even sure he said anything, but it’s enough to stop the sudden frenzied rush and push the demons back again – for a while at least.
“He’s fucking dead!” Okay, that part I heard loud and clear, expressing my own exact thoughts.
“I have to be at the War Memorial Opera House in an hour – alone.” Ilkay hands me back my phone.
“Okay, boys. The battle has begun. Damion, you won’t have any radio contact with us, but I can track your every move. The boys will be just out of sight behind you the whole time.” Jesse shakes his head and for the first time, I feel the tickling of hope trying to push through my broken thoughts. And who knew that having a computer nerd in the group would come in helpful?
“Logan and Axel, go find Alejandro … but do it quietly. We don’t want to alert them in any way,” Uncle John orders. “The rest of you follow Damion at a distance … just in case they take him to a different location. If you do reach the ghost house, find the other boys.”
The whole drive in the misty rain up to the opera house I force myself to gain back my control, to be the master of my demons, and as soon as I feel that familiar calmness-on-the outside-darkness-on-the-inside feeling I know that I’m ready to face anything. The fucker sent me the photos to break me down, to screw with my mind, but he hasn’t met this devil face to face yet. A small smile creeps onto my lips.
I stop my bike but don’t get off, and scout the area. I notice a white van and drive towards it, remembering that a white van took my little brother. Knowing my guys are close by reassures me; sets me at ease. Three huge, gang-type men are leaning against the van, watching my every move, and my guts turn a few times for what’s to come.
“And so it begins,” I whisper to myself and remove my helmet, hanging it onto the bars of the bike.
“You Damion?” The biggest troll asks as I swing my leg over my bike to stand up. I lift my chin and look him in his eyes.
“Who wants to know?” I sum them up and I can see that they are tuff, it will take all of my power to beat them, so if I can I need to avoid physical confrontation. They laugh and gesture for me to lean against the vehicle.
“Spread it, we need to check that you’re clean.” I do as they say knowing they’re not going to find anything. One guy body searches me, patting me everywhere, and then takes my phone from my pocket.
“You won’t need this anymore.” He drops it and stamps it with his foot, breaking it into pieces before he pushes me into the van. We stay put for a while … just sitting there as if waiting for something. Then a voice hollers over a radio.
“Team A … come in.” The driver picks up the radio and pushes a button.
“Team A here. Is he alone?” Okay, so we were waiting for another team to check that I’m not followed … that I came alone. I smile secretly.
“We don’t see anybody following him … you’re good to go.”
“Thanks. Over and out.” The van starts moving.
“So, you guys watch Vampire Diaries?” I start up a conversation and they look at me as if I’ve just escaped the funny-farm. Great, exactly what I want.
“You know, I feel for Stephan. I mean, Elena was his girlfriend first, then she chose Damon in the end. But you can’t choose who you love, right?” I look at the guy closest to me, as if I’m waiting for his opinion, but actually I’m looking for signs that I’m affecting him the way I hope. I need to get them talking about their plans … maybe I can find a loophole somewhere I can use to my advantage.
“Shut the fuck up.” Yep, just what I want. “Not a fan, heh. Okay, then tell me this, why are you guys working for Scar-face.” One of them snickers, probably because of the nickname we gave Harry.
“We’re not working for him, we’re working for Alex. He’s going to make sure our families get out of that hellhole.” The one I’m secretly calling Guppy, cause of his thick fish-like lips, rolls his eyes and lets out a grunt.
“Huh, I see. And I guess all you have to do is ...” I look at Guppy, hopeful that he’ll finish the sentence for me. I need to know everything I can about Harry’s plans.
“Mmm. Suppose since you’re going to be dead soon I can just as well tell you. We just need to be the scape-goats when Garcia gets killed.” Guppy’s already bulging eyes pop out a little more, the man is scared, that’s for sure.
“So, let me get this straight, you three are going to get blamed for Garcia’s death, then executed while Darren takes over. And all this just to help your families?”
“More or less. But Alex is going to take over, not Darren.” This time it’s the driver talking to me while eyeing me in the rearview mirror. Think I’ll call him Hitler due to his thin mustache and even thinner hairline. Let’s just name the last one Trash, because by the smell reeking from him he probably sleeps in a garbage bin.
“Listen, dude, my sister is going to get enough money to go study in New York,” Guppy is the most talkative of them it seems.
“My wife and kids can also buy a nice house in a safe area,” Hitler explains, and I look at Trash, but he just stares at his feet.
“His brother needs an artificial limb after they shot off his leg.” I’m almost tearjerked by the unselfishness of these gangsters – guys most people would look at with a frown.
“And living there is worse than death... and if we don’t do it, Alex will just kill our family, so there’s no way out. It’s not that we don’t like Garcia, but Alex didn’t give us a choice. At least our families would be better off.” Fuckit, they are willing to give their lives to help the people they love. That’s freaking courage. And maybe I can help them and myself in one blow.
“How sure are you he’s going to hold up his end of the deal? I mean you would already be dead or in jail.” I give some time for my words to sink in, and I can see that they’re suddenly worried. Then I continue with my plan.
“What if you can get everything you want without betraying Garcia? And you get to live as well.” They look at me as if I’m from another planet, talking in a whole new language they don’t understand.
“Ok, just hear me out … I can give each of you a million dollars, you know I’ve got enough money. Then you can leave with your loved ones, start a whole new life somewhere, and Garcia will owe you a huge favor. How’s that?”
Please take it, please take it, I chant in my mind.
“Keep talking,” Hitler’s eyes catch mine in the mirror again.
“See, Harry has my girl, my little brother, and some of my friends, I just need them all back in one piece. But to do that, I need your help.” My eyes are pleading with them.
“And you promise to give us the money.”
“If you give me your phone I’ll transfer it now.” Guppy has been quiet for some time, his bulging eyes staring at me as if he’s trying to figure something out. Then his thick lips pull into an ugly-ass smile. The three look at each other for a little while.
“I’m in.” Guppy then says, Hitler and Trash also nod in agreement. Great. They hand me a phone.
“Okay, this is what I need you to do … “