Tony’s eyes snapped to the door where Bane was standing. Bane had his hands open in front of himself, and Tony could see the others standing behind his best friend.
"Tony? What's going on? Why do you have a gun?" Bane's voice was calm, but his shaking hands betrayed his agitation. He took one step toward his friend but froze when the gun's muzzle was swung toward him.
"Don't fucking come any closer, Bane," Tony snarled, his eyes narrowing, "or I'll shoot you first." Then he turned the gun back toward Anna's temple and tightened the arm around her neck. "I told you I'd kill her in front of you, friend, and that is exactly what I'm going to do. You get to watch your little fuck toy die, and then things will be like they were before she showed up."
"Tony, please," Bane whispered. "Please let her go. I'll do anything, just let her go."
Tony stared at him, and his face showed sadistic glee. "Anything, Bane? Would you take me to your bed? Would you fuck me, Bane Raimond Scott? Would you do that to save her life?" He chuckled, and Anna shivered. "I don't think so. You're not gay, Bane; I know that, but I am, and I've loved you since that first day I saw you." Tony's voice cracked on the last word, and his gun hand trembled slightly before he forced it to stop. "But you never loved me, did you, Bane? Not like I love you."
Bane just shook his head slowly. "I love you like a brother, Tony, but never like a lover. I love Annabelle. Please let her go."
Pressing the muzzle tight against Anna's skin, causing her to cry out, Tony said, "Do you have any idea why I got you all those women over the years, Bane?" At Bane's head shake, he continued, "Just to watch you and to wish it was me underneath you. You're beautiful, Bane, and to watch you fuck was exhilarating. Every night for the last seven years I watched you fuck and drooled as I pictured my mouth around your cock and my cock up your ass." He took a step backward, dragging Anna with him. "And then this bitch came along, and that fantasy was shattered! Why, Bane? Why did you have to love her instead of me? Why?!"
There was no answer from Bane, for he had been dragged out of the room by the three police officers who had their weapons trained on Tony. Two had MP5 submachine guns and the other had a Glock 9mm, and Tony knew they were SWAT.
"Let her go, son," the one with the Glock said. "You don't want to do this. Let her go."
"Son?" Tony's arm tightened even further, and Anna struggled to breathe. Her hands came up to his arm and clawed at it, but Tony paid her no mind. "I'm not your fucking son! I'm not anyone's son!" He looked over the officer's shoulders at Bane who had tears streaming down his face, ruining his makeup. "Did you know that, Bane? My parents disowned me when they found out I was gay! They told me never to come home until I was cured! Cured! That's what they want from me! They want me to come home with a beautiful girl on my arm and tell them that I'm cured!" He sneered at the officers then. "Never going to happen."
"Put the gun down, boy," the same officer said. "Don't make us shoot you."
Tony's finger tightened on the trigger, and he snarled, "You shoot me, and I'll make sure to shoot her first." He looked at Bane again. "What will you do then, Bane? I'll be dead, and your little bitch will be, too! Will you cry for me, Bane, or will you only mourn her?"
"Get him out of here!" the officer said to someone behind him. "He's not helping things!"
"No!" Bane screamed as he was dragged away. "Tony, please, let her go! Please!"
When he was out of sight, Tony could still hear him screaming, and he grinned. "What now, officers? You going to try and talk me down? Also not going to happen. This little bitch ruined everything! She deserves to die!"
"Tony? My name is Andrew. If you don't put down the gun, you're going to force us to shoot you, and I promise you that you won't have time to pull that trigger." He raised the Glock in the air. "Look, I'm going to holster my gun. Let's just talk, okay?" He put the pistol in its holster and held his empty hands out in front of him.
"Why the fuck should I care what your name is? And talk? About what? About how Anna here took my love away from me? About the fucking pain I've felt every single time Bane fucked a girl instead of me? About watching him get his rocks off with thousands of girls instead of me? What do you want to talk about, asshole?"
"I will talk about whatever you want to talk about, Tony. Just relax your arm a bit and let Anna breathe, please."
"Why should I do that? She's going to die anyway. What difference does it make if I shoot her or choke her?" Then Tony tilted his head and studied the girl. "Although I promised Bane I would kill her in front of him, and he's not here, so why not?" He loosened his arm, and Anna took a deep breath.
"Thank you, Tony. Now how can I get you to put the gun down?"
A harsh laugh burst from Tony. "You can't. She's going to die even if Bane can't see it happen."
"We can't let you do that, Tony. If one of my men sees your finger tighten on that trigger by a millimeter, they'll shoot you. Through the head so that you have no chance to kill this girl. Now put the gun down, please. You don't want to die, do you, Tony?"
A frown creased Tony's forehead. "I don't know. I can't have Bane now; he won't have me. Can I live with the thought that he is off somewhere happy with this bitch while I rot in a jail cell somewhere? I don't know."
"Tony, listen to me," the officer said softly. "You can find love again, I promise you. Don't throw your life away like this. Put the gun down and come with us, please. Let the girl go, please."
Anna felt something wet hit her on the cheek, and she realized that Tony was starting to cry. "How do I do that, Andrew? I've loved Bane since we were eight years old, but he doesn't love me. He loves her!" Tony pressed the muzzle of his gun against Anna's temple so hard he could see a bruise forming. "How can I find love again? No one loves me. Not even my family!" The hand with the gun started to shake, and Andrew was afraid it might accidentally discharge and kill the girl. He took one step toward Tony.
"Please, Tony, please put the gun on the floor and move away from her. Don't make us kill you, please. No one wants that."
"Maybe I do."
"No, you don't. Please, put it down."
Tony stared at the officer for a moment, and then he moved the gun away from Anna's head. Andrew breathed a soft sigh of relief, but then held his breath when he realized the gun was turning toward him instead.
"Don't do it, Tony! You point that gun at me, and you die!"
"So what?" Tony said as he released Anna. She dropped to her knees just as two different sounding reports filled the tiny dressing room. She covered her ears, but her eyes remained open, so she saw when Tony fell to the ground, a hole in the middle of his forehead that oozed blood onto the floor as his open, unseeing eyes stared at her. She felt a hand on her arm, and she pulled against it, but the man it belonged to was too strong, and she was hauled to her feet.
"Anna! Come with me now!" Andrew yelled at her, but his voice was muffled to her, and she couldn't stop staring at Tony. The officer drew her out of the room, and as soon as she couldn't see the body anymore, she started to shake uncontrollably. So much so that she couldn't stand, and Andrew swung her up into his arms. "Shh," he whispered, "you're safe now." She heard none of it, and the next thing she knew, she was lying on a couch by Sharon's makeup station with Bane kneeling at her side, clutching her hand tightly in both of his.
"Anna? My bella, please talk to me," Bane sobbed. She said nothing as she turned her face into the back of the couch and closed her eyes. Then she snapped them open again when the image of Tony's dead eyes filled her brain. She stared at the blurry pattern on the couch and pulled her hand from Bane's. She turned her back on him, rolled onto her side, and stared at the back of the couch.
"You can look at it now, Mr. Scott. We don't need to worry about fingerprinting it. We know who put it here." A deep voice behind her caused Anna to flinch as she opened her eyes. She had fallen asleep, and to her surprise, she hadn't dreamed at all. "It explains everything. I'll leave you to it." Footsteps came toward her, and she curled into herself.
"Miss Fortelli? May I speak to you, please?" The voice was close to her now, and she rolled over. A large man in a dark suit was sitting in a chair next to the couch, and his hands were clasped in his lap. Anna sat up and pulled her knees to her chest.
"About what happened tonight. My name is Detective Cole of the Atlanta PD. Tell me what happened in your own words, please." He pulled out a notebook and looked at her expectantly.
Anna sighed and rested her cheek on her knees. "Allan told me to go into the dressing room and lock the door after they figured out Bane's stalker was here. I did as he said, and then I heard Tony at the door. He asked me to open it, but Allan had said not to open it to anyone. Then Tony shot the lock off the door and grabbed me." She took a deep breath and held it for a moment. "He held a gun to my head and blamed me for taking Bane away from him. Then Bane showed up and tried to get him to let me go. He didn't. Finally, the cops came, talked to him for a while, and when Tony turned his gun toward Andrew, they shot him." Tears trickled down her cheeks. "He's dead," she whispered.
"I know he is, but it's not your fault and it's not Mr. Scott's fault. Mr. Fitzsimmon was responsible for his own actions, and he paid for it."
"Do you need to know anything else, Detective?"
"No, I just wanted to check your story with that of the officers. They match, so I'll leave you alone now." He looked over his shoulder. "I think Mr. Scott wants to talk to you."
Anna looked up and saw Bane standing behind the detective. He held out a piece of paper as Detective Cole stood and took it from him. "Thank you, Detective. I appreciate it."
"No problem, Mr. Scott. I'm truly sorry about all of this." He looked at Anna. "For both of you."
Bane just nodded and sat down on the couch next to Anna. He still had his concert outfit on, although his makeup was completely ruined. He dropped his head into his hands and sobbed. Anna put her arm around him and pulled him close to herself. His arms encircled her, and he rested his head on her chest just above her breasts as he cried.
"Shh, Bane, it'll be okay."
"No, it won't, Anna." His grip tightened in her blouse, and he gasped. "You didn't read his last letter to me. You don't know what he was planning."
He held his breath for a long moment, and shuddered as he released it. "He was going to kill us all. You first, then me onstage, and then himself, also onstage, after he told the audience why." Great sobs came from Bane's chest, and he couldn't speak for several minutes, but then he sat up, took a deep breath, and took Anna's face in his hands. "All because I loved you and not him." He kissed her softly then, and her hands went to his hair. She ran them through the gel-stiffened locks and kissed him back. When he sat back, he was crying again, and she wiped his face, getting white and black makeup all over her hands. "I do love you, Anna. I know I said those words have no meaning to me, but they do now. I never want to let you go, my bella. Stay with me forever, please." Anna frowned deeply, and so did Bane. "What's wrong?" he asked.
"I love you, too, Bane. I really do, but I don't think I can handle this anymore. I want to go home."
"No, my bella, please!" He dropped to his knees in front of her and grabbed her hands. "Please don't leave me, please!"
Anna just stood up with no expression on her face. "You promised, Bane. You promised to send me home if I wanted it."
Bane let go of her and dropped his head. "Fine. Tell Allan. He'll book you on the next flight back to Dallas." He didn't move as she walked away from him, her heart breaking a little more with each step she took.