The Queen of Bad Things

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Chapter 19. Setup

Carlos hung up the phone and turned to us. “It’s Colima. They took Angel. In trade, they want a free shipment of guns and for me to deal with them.” Carlos clenched his jaw in anger.

Aria and I stared at Carlos, completely dumbfounded. Aria took a deep breath and stepped forward.

“You tell them, we will give them the guns,” Aria said.

“I already did,” Carlos said, and his eyes flickered to mine. “But they shouldn’t get away with this.”

“And they won’t,” I sneered.

The study door opened. All the guys filed into the study. My cousins Miguel and Diego followed after them.

“We heard you got a situation on your hands,” Miguel said.

Aria and I turned to look at them. I wanted to add Miguel and Diego to the team a few months earlier, but they were caught up in something. They both smiled at the shocked look on my face.

“We weren’t expecting you guys,” I said.

“Well, we decided to accept your invitation,” Diego said and smirked. “Impeccable timing, apparently.”

“Something like that,” I agreed.

They stopped in front of Aria and me.

“Oh, not bad. The wife, right?” Miguel said.

I rolled my eyes at his flirtatious tone. Miguel had always been the flirtatious one. Diego had always been more laid back. They both had a strong sense of humor.

“Aria, this is Miguel and Diego. Guys, this is Aria,” I introduced.

“Nice to meet you both,” Aria said.

“Likewise,” Miguel and Diego said.

After the introduction, we got everyone up to speed about the kidnapping of Angel. We agreed to meet at our warehouse to do the exchange since the guns they wanted were there, and we had an advantage they didn’t — we knew the area better than they did. Most of the boys would be hidden out of sight. Tammy would hide out in a separate vehicle, and Aria would take him to her. Aria would come back and fight with Colima. We intended to take out as many Colima members in the area that we could, but it wouldn’t be simple.

We loaded up in a few vans and took off to the warehouse. The only disadvantage we had is that it’s dark outside. We turned on the security lights, and it gave off enough lighting to know who we were shooting at.

All of us had small mics and earbuds to communicate. Aria, Carlos, and I were the only visible ones. We pulled the guns out and put them in large duffel bags.

A dark blue van pulled up the driveway and rolled to a stop.

“Do not take off until they have turned their backs. We want to give you a head start,” I told Aria.

Aria kept a straight face and gave me one solid nod.

The men climbed out of the van, with our son wrapped in a blanket. Aria crouched and started to move forward. She sneered in their direction. I grabbed her arm, and she looked up at me. I narrowed my eyes at her and shook my head. Aria took a deep breath to calm herself and straightened up.

“Don’t worry, Aria. They’ll be dead soon enough,” Luis said through the mic.

The men of Colima approached us. “We meant your son no harm. He is totally fine. We just want the guns and the relationship back that we had years ago. We weren’t sure if we could trust the new leader. Dealing with Ace is one thing, but we know nothing of this girl,” Raefel said. Raefel led the Colima cartel and is the same age as Carlos. Years earlier, they had a relationship, but Colima found a deal they liked better, and Carlos refused to lower the price. They needed us more than we needed them.

“We could have settled it differently,” Carlos said. “My daughter is very trustworthy. You made the wrong choice.”

“It isn’t one we will repeat,” Rafael said.

“Damn straight,” Austin said through the mic — having heard the conversation through the mics.

It took all I had not to smirk at the comment my brother made — since my thoughts were in line with his. I stepped forward and took my son from the man that held him. I handed Angel to Aria. “Wait,” I mouthed to her.

Aria gave me a slight nod.

The men checked the bags to be sure the guns were to their liking.

“Next month, same place,” Carlos said simply. “I’ll bring Ace and his brother Austin with me.” Carlos lied so smoothly that even I nearly believed what he had said.

The men agreed to the terms, grabbed their bags, and started to leave.

Aria looked up at me, waiting for my signal.

As soon as they made it halfway back to the van, I mouthed to Aria, “Now.”

Aria turned and took off in a sprint.

Carlos and I raised our automatic rifles and began to fire. Other shots were heard from a distance. Men started to drop like dominos as our guns went off.

Aria got into the van and sped off.

The boys came out from their hiding places.

The men that had not yet been shot turned to fire back at us. Gunsmoke filled the night air and made it difficult to see.

Carlos approached Colima’s van to be sure nobody hid inside. By the time he came back, there were no Colima members left standing.

“Austin, Diego, and Miguel can stay and clean this up,” I instructed. “The rest of us need to find the other members.”

The van that Aria drove came back into view. She climbed out and laughed at the sight of the dead men on the ground. We took out about ten men.

“Wow, nothing left for me to do, huh?” Aria teased.

“I guess our aim is good tonight,” I said and chuckled. “We need to find some of the others.”

“I’ve got a few locations on where they might be,” Benny said. Benny showed me his phone. There were red dots of locations as to where more Colima members may be.

“Great, let’s go,” I said.

Aria danced her way back to the van, now satisfied that the men that took our son were no longer standing.

***

Aria and I stood over Angel’s crib. I rubbed her back gently. We stood over his crib for nearly an hour, watching him sleep. Aria leaned into me and rested her head against my chest.

“He’s fine, bebita. We won’t ever let anything like that happen again,” I said.

“Can you imagine if something had happened to him?” Aria whispered.

“I don’t even want to think it, and you shouldn’t either. It’s over. Let’s go to bed,” I said.

“I don’t think I can sleep. Maybe I should stay in here tonight with him.” Sadness and regret clouded her eyes. I knew she blamed herself, but it wasn’t her fault.

“We’ll take him to bed with us,” I said. I grabbed Angel from his crib and carried him to our room.

Angel laid between Aria and me in our bed. We had taken out as many Colima members in the area that we could, and as always, Austin cleaned up our mess.

Aria and I stared at each other for a long time. I’m not even sure which one of us fell asleep first, but it took a while.

***

The Colima members from other charters didn’t figure out which gang had taken the Los Angeles charter out. No evidence linked us to the crime.

Miguel and Diego now worked for us. We got them set up in a condo. We were happy to have them. They were intelligent and strong like the rest of us, and they made a great addition.

Months had passed, and we hadn’t figured out what to do with the Aryan brotherhood. They were a large group and big. They hid out well. We were still working on it.

Kalia and Austin had a girl. They named her Arizona. Aria and I had our girls too. They looked just like their mother, and I already plotted to kill their first boyfriends. We named our girls Adelina and Arianna.

Things had gone back to normal for the most part, except for the fact that we were still trying to hunt down the Aryan brothers. We were trying to link Nicolas to them and why they were so obsessed with getting vengeance for the death of Jim.

Aria and I got married, and Carlos got to walk her down the aisle. I’m not sure which one was happier about the fact, Carlos or Aria. Angel is now two years old and can talk better than most four-year-olds.

“Awe, that’s so sweet,” Aria cooed.

I looked up from the book I was reading. Angel walked away from the girls and sat back down on the floor. He continued to play with his blocks. The girls were in their swings beside Aria’s desk.

“What did he do?” I asked, confused.

“Adelina was crying, and Angel got up and put her pacifier back in her mouth,” Aria said and giggled.

I smiled at Angel. “Good. I’m going to need someone to help me keep boys away from the girls.”

Angel looked at me and smiled.

“I wonder if the girls will be as advanced as he is,” I pondered. Angel knew how to speak both English and Spanish. Part of that is thanks to Rosa.

Aria looked thoughtful for a moment. “It’s strange, isn’t it? It’s like he understands things he shouldn’t.”

“If he continues to be this intelligent as he gets older, we are going to have our hands full during his teen years,” I snickered.

“Like father like son,” Aria teased.

Kalia and Austin came into the study with Arizona.

“Aria, I got the three girls matching outfits,” Kalia said excitedly.

Austin chuckled and shook his head. “We need more guns.”

“Definitely,” I agreed.

Austin plopped down on the couch beside me.

The girls cooed over the outfit that Kalia bought for all the girls. Kalia and Aria gave birth the same night. Arizona is the same age as the twins, which is weird.

“Nobody is here yet?” Austin asked.

“Dinner will be done in two hours,” I said. We were having everyone over for dinner tonight. The sun sank low in the sky and shined bright through the tall windows of the study.

“Poker game tonight?” Austin asked.

“You know it,” I said and fist-bumped my brother.

The phone rang on Aria’s desk. Aria put it on speaker. “Yes?”

“Aria, everyone is here,” Andersen said.

“We’ll be out shortly,” Aria said.

“I guess it’s go time,” I said.

Aria grabbed Arianna, and I grabbed Adelina. Telling the twins apart wasn’t easy. Typically, we told them apart by fingernail polish on their toenails. They looked exactly alike. Angel followed us out to the foyer.

“Where are Benny and Bailey?” I asked.

“I’m sure they’ll be here soon,” Aria said.

“They just pulled up. They’re in quite a hurry. . .” Andersen trailed off and looked up at me.

Aria and I handed the girls to Tina and Tammy. I made it to the front door before Aria could and opened it. Benny flew past me, and Bailey followed.

“What the hell is your problem?” I asked.

“We need to get to the warehouse. Someone is tampering with the alarms. We have more than six hundred guns in there,” Benny said breathlessly.

I sighed. “Bebita, just stay here. We’ll deal with this.”

Aria pursed her lips as if she wanted to argue about it, but she didn’t. She shrugged. “Whatever.”

The guys and I headed out and loaded up into a black van. I sped up the driveway and drifted out onto the highway. The tires of the van squealed.

“Benny, did you see anyone?” I asked.

“A few men. They were all in black. I couldn’t see much more. They were trying to get into the building. When the alarms went off, they didn’t even leave or seemed surprised. Usually, when people try to rob us, they’re surprised by the alarm. It must have been a planned attack,” Benny explained.

“Vehicles?” Austin asked.

“One white van. I couldn’t get the plates,” Benny said. “Whoever it is. They really know what they’re doing.”

“Are you all armed?” Luis asked.

“Yes,” everyone chorused.

By the time we got to the warehouse, whoever had been, there was long gone. The door of the building swung back and forth from the wind.

We climbed out of the vehicle and went inside to check things out. I went to move a box out of my way to get back towards the gun when I heard someone scream.

“Run!” the voice echoed through the large building.

All of us turned and dashed out of the building. We made it about fifty yards away, and the building exploded. I threw my hands over my head to protect it from debris, and we all dropped to the ground.

Abel turned and sat up first. The rest of us joined him, and we stared at the building. It lit up the dark sky.

“Who the hell found the bomb?” I asked.

“Me,” Abel said.

“I saw it too,” Benny said. “That fucking thing was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and that says a lot.”

“Homemade?” Luis asked. Luis squinted at the building and rubbed his head.

“For sure,” Benny said.

Something occurred to me. It’s one of those gut feelings you get, and it wasn’t a good one. “It’s a setup,” I whispered.

“What?” Austin asked. Austin’s eyes locked with mine. “Ace, what are you talking about?”

“It’s a fucking setup,” I said and jumped to my feet.

The boys followed me as I ran for the van. We all climbed in. The van shot forward before the boys could even shut the side door.

“What the hell makes you think it’s a setup?” Luis asked.

“Think about it, man?” I hissed through my teeth. “The mansion blew up with Aria in it. They waited until we weren’t there to be able to protect them. We’re the strongest of the family. They knew that if they separated us, it would be easier, or they would have a better chance of taking all of us out. Not only that, but Benny pointed out that it was planned, but they didn’t take anything.”

“You think it’s the Aryan brothers,” Austin said.

“After dealing with them for this long, I know their tricks, and I should have known. Fuck!” I shouted. I slammed my hands down on the steering wheel. “God only knows what is going on at the mansion. Someone call over there, please.” My lungs felt tight like someone squeezed them.

“No answer,” Abel said.

“Keep trying!” I shouted.

All the boys took their phones from their pockets. They continued to try to call everyone at the house. I had the gas pedal to the floor, but these vans didn’t move very fast.

There were no strange vehicles in my driveway. It looked exactly the same as we left, but I didn’t trust it. We ran up to the house with our guns and bursted through the front door.

All of us dropped our weapons instantly. We had no choice. More than fifty men surrounded us. Guns were pointed at our entire family and us. If we fired any shots, the men would kill our wives, girlfriends, parents, and kids. It wasn’t even a fair fight, and I had no idea how to get us out of this one.

I looked around at the men, and my eyes stopped on two familiar people. My eyes widened in shock. “No,” I said and shook my head. “No, fucking way. You’re dead. I killed you!”

“Well, you didn’t do a very good job, did you?” Jim asked and laughed. Jim looked at Aria and smiled. Jim looked back at me. “I’ve been planning this day for a long time, Ace. You wouldn’t believe the things I know about all of you. Oh, a tip. Next time you kill someone, make sure they’re actually dead.”

I smirked. “Mother fucker, I don’t miss twice. You won’t walk out of this mansion alive.”

Jim pursed his lips and looked back at Aria. He looked at Tammy, AJ, and Ariel. “The betrayal. Imagine my shock when I found out that Aria’s biological father was raising my children and bedding my wife.”

“Had you treated them better, you probably wouldn’t have had that problem,” Carlos said.

One of the men hit Carlos on top of the head with his rifle, and Carlos fell to the floor. The blow to the head knocked Carlos out cold.

Jim gestured for one of the men to bring Aria to him. Nicolas stood beside Jim and smiled at me.

“I’d like to know how you fit into all of this, Nicolas?”

“Jim is my father,” Nicolas said.

Tammy stared at him in shock.

Aria stared at Nicolas in shock, as well.

The man pushed Aria forward. Aria stumbled into Jim, and she spat in his eye.

Jim smacked her across the face, and I stepped forward. Jim raised a gun to her head and looked at me. I stopped dead in my tracks.

“I’m going to kill her, Ace, and you’re going to watch,” Jim said.

“How didn’t we know about Nicolas?” Tammy asked.

“His mother was frightened of me, and she left. I never could find her, but shortly after I supposedly died, he came to me,” Jim said. “I hid out for a long time, too long. Carlos is going to watch you die too, Tammy.”

I looked past Jim and saw Andersen peek out from the hallway. I realized at that moment what we needed to do to survive. Andersen is our secret weapon. Jim must have missed Andersen when he gathered everyone into the foyer. Andersen showed me that he had a gun.

As bad as I wanted to be the one to kill Jim, I knew it wouldn’t happen. Andersen would be the one to kill Jim.

“This place is wired with bombs. We’re going to make sure you’re all dead and stay dead,” Nicolas said and smirked.

I nodded as I looked past them at Andersen, but they didn’t notice the gesture. My eyes flickered to Aria. I waited for Jim and Nicolas to look away.

“Be ready,” I mouthed to Aria.

Aria stared at me, surprised, and looked around to try to figure out my plan. I stood ahead of all the boys and put my hands behind my back. I held up three fingers.

Andersen looked at Jim and raised the gun.

I put one finger down and looked back at the boys to be sure they were paying attention. They stared at me, confused. I put another finger down.

Andersen fired the gun right before I could put the last finger down. Aria dashed forward, but Nicolas caught her around the waist. Jim laid on the floor, and a pool of blood surrounded his head.

Andersen shot again, and Nicolas went down. Aria took the gun from Nicolas. The boys and I had our guns and began to fire them.

“Aria!” Joey shouted. Joey ran toward her.

A gun went off. I turned to look back. Joey and Aria were on the ground. Aria got up and turned Joey over. As much as I wanted to be sure Joey was okay, I knew I had to keep going before someone else got shot.

“Benny!” Bailey screamed.

Benny was on the floor. Blood soaked the front of his shirt.

“Fuck!” I sneered.

A man had Austin at gunpoint. I raised my gun and shot the guy before he could shoot Austin. Austin took the man’s gun and started firing more shots.

People started to run out of the mansion.

Once the gun smoke settled, I realized we had taken out all of the men, but at what price?

“Let’s get Joey and Benny out of here!” I shouted.

The guys and I carried Joey and Benny out of the mansion. Tammy managed to wake Carlos.

As soon as we were all out, I turned to go back in to be sure we didn’t leave anyone behind, but a hand stopped me.

“Ace, you can’t. The place is wired. It’s going to blow any minute,” Andersen said.

“There is a couple of ambulances on the way,” Tina announced.

“Alright. Everyone get back. There’s a bomb in the mansion,” I shouted over everyone.

We all moved up the driveway as far from the mansion as the front yard allowed. I got beside Benny and checked for a pulse. His pulse had slowed way down. Bailey was performing CPR on him.

“Keep going, Bailey,” I whispered. “He still has a pulse.” I spun around and looked for Joey. Joey was on the ground. He was breathing, but barely.

A loud explosion went off. We all turned back and watched as the mansion blew up. The explosion lit up the night sky and the entire front yard.

I turned to look at Aria. “Are you okay?”

Aria nodded. “Tina has the kids.”

The ambulance pulled into the driveway. We crammed into different vehicles and followed the ambulance to the hospital.

Joey and Benny were in bad shape. From the wounds, I could tell the area they were shot was vital, and it wasn’t good. No matter what happened, I would forever be grateful to Joey for saving my wife.

All of us gathered in the waiting room. Cops came in and took statements. We told the truth to a point as we always did. The cops didn’t harass us too much about the situation since we were all concerned about Joey and Benny.

I approached Andersen. “You’re a hero, man.”

Andersen chuckled. “Not a coward for hiding?”

“Are you kidding?” Aria came up beside me and smiled at Andersen. “You saved all of us.”

“I didn’t know you could shoot so well,” I said.

Andersen smiled and looked past us at Carlos. “I had a good teacher.”

“You’re the best, Andersen. I don’t know what the hell we would do without you,” Aria said. Aria stepped forward and embraced Andersen. “I love you,” she told him.

Andersen hugged her back and kissed the top of her head. “I love you too, kid.”

The rest of us hugged Andersen one by one. I never realized until tonight how essential Andersen is to this family and how important this family is to him.

A doctor came into the waiting room. “Which one of you is the family of Joseph Rodriguez and Benjamin Alvarez?” he asked.

“All of us,” Carlos said.

We all stepped closer to the doctor. All of us wondered the same thing. Did either of them survive the gunshot wounds?

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