Chapter 10. Hooded Figure
It had been two weeks of torturing Feng, and we were still no closer to finding Ace. The anger that built up inside of me had to come out. My earbuds were in my ears as I danced around the punching bag.
Since Ace had gone missing, I had nothing better to do but train. I trained, worked, and took care of my kids. If it weren’t for the kids, I probably wouldn’t get out of bed.
The punching bag swung violently back and forth as I punched and kicked it. Suddenly, someone grabbed my earbud and pulled it out of my ear. I growled, grabbed the arm, and pulled. The person flipped over my shoulder.
It was Benny.
Benny stared at me wide-eyed. Admiration clouded his eyes. He laid on the floor, breathing heavily.
“Fuck! Sorry, Benny! Why the hell would you sneak up on me like that, huh?” I huffed.
He smiled widely. “That was awesome!” His laughter filled the room. I rolled my eyes and smiled.
He took my hand, and I helped him to his feet.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“I wanted you to know we found out that the texts were definitely coming from Los Angeles. So, whoever bought that burner phone to talk to Bohai bought it here,” Benny explained.
“Figures,” I said and sighed. “I’m betting he sent one of his men over to try to kill me.”
“What I don’t get is wouldn’t they have sent Feng? He’s the assassin,” Benny said and shrugged.
“One of their best assassins, not their only assassin,” I pointed out.
“Well, if they were using their brain, they’d send the best. They’re dealing with someone who is supposed to be the strongest of all the Kings. Right?” Benny raised his eyebrows.
“Maybe, but not necessarily. Zhang Wei is just as good of an assassin as Feng is. Maybe they sent him,” I said.
Benny and I went to the study. I sat down at my desk, and Benny grabbed a chair to sit in front of me.
My study door suddenly swung open. We both looked up.
It was Kalia. She glared at me. “Where is Austin?” she sneered.
“He’s on a date,” I said innocently. Actually, I wasn’t sure where Austin was. I just said it to piss her off. “You could try calling Carley’s phone. Of course, I’m not so sure they’ll answer. They’re probably busy,” I said and smirked.
“You bitch! This is your fault!” Kalia stormed toward me.
Austin dashed into the study and grabbed Kalia. To make things more interesting, Carley came in behind him.
I chuckled. I guess I wasn’t too far off. My face grew serious. “My fault? It is my fault you assumed your husband was disloyal? It’s my fault he moved on? Get a fucking life, Kalia. He doesn’t love you anymore!” I sneered.
“Ugh! I’m going to kill you!” Kalia screamed. She attempted to get out of Austin’s grip but failed.
A giggle escaped me. “I’d love to see you try, honey,” I said. I wiggled my eyebrows at her.
Kalia smirked evilly at me. “It’s going to happen,” she murmured. Kalia’s blue eyes darkened.
“You’re leaving!” Austin shouted. He pulled her out of the study.
Carley sighed, rubbed her eyes, and shook her head. Carley looked at Benny and me as she spoke. “Can’t he pick them, or what?” Carley followed Austin out of the study and shut the door.
“Well, that was fun,” Benny said and chuckled. “Honestly, out of all the girls Austin dated, Carley was the only decent one.”
“Yes, Kalia is so much fun.” Sarcasm colored my tone, and I chuckled.
Benny shook his head. “You guys weren’t kidding. She really did go crazy,” Benny muttered.
“Something like that. I don’t understand what would have her thinking that Austin was cheating on her with me.”
Benny shrugged. “Maybe because Austin admitted to having a thing for you.”
“That was ages ago, Benny. It was never a problem until Ace, and you vanished,” I muttered.
“Yeah, maybe she thought since Ace wasn’t around, you’d go for Austin,” Benny said.
I shook my head and rolled my eyes.
“Do you want to get out of here?” Benny asked. “We can try to figure out where this phone came from? Maybe we can find whoever bought it on camera.”
“Sweet, let’s go,” I said and got to my feet. We headed out to my Corvette and backed out of the garage.
Benny cranked the radio, and we drove into the city.
Traffic was crazy today, but it was no surprise. It was a beautiful day out. When it was nice out, I took my Corvette and put the top down.
We stopped at one of the first places on Benny’s list. We went inside to ask if they had burner phones. They did sell them. Now Benny had to hack into their cameras and look for anyone suspicious.
As we crossed the street, Benny said, “Oh shit!”
I looked up and saw a vehicle racing toward us. Benny grabbed me and pulled me from the path of the vehicle. The vehicle spun around and fired shots. Benny covered his body with mine.
“Go, Aria!” Benny shouted. Benny picked me up and threw me into the passenger seat. A red dot appeared on Benny’s forehead.
“Get down!” I screamed as Benny jumped into the car. We both ducked. My windshield shattered. Benny put the car in reverse as we continued to keep our heads down. More shots fired. I grabbed a gun out of the glove box.
“Are you insane?” Benny shouted. He sped up the four-lane highway. I turned around to face the car behind us. The vehicle was right on our ass. I knelt up in the passenger seat as Benny weaved through traffic. My hair blew around in different directions.
“Die, you bastard,” I hissed under my breath. I fired a shot at the driver’s side tire. The tire blew. The car spun out, rolled three times, and crashed into a coffee shop. I spun around and plopped down in my seat. Anger seared through me.
Benny stared at me in shock. “You are a badass bitch,” Benny said and laughed.
I huffed and smiled at him. “Me?” I asked in disbelief. “You saved me for once,” I said and chuckled.
Benny laughed. “I owe you a few more.”
“Damn right, you do,” I snickered.
We pulled into the driveway and parked the car in the garage. We walked into the foyer together.
“Look, it’s going to be a long night looking through these cameras. So, I’m going to head home. If you need me, just call. As soon as I know anything, I’ll call you,” Benny promised.
“Okay, no problem. Thanks, Benny,” I said.
Benny nodded and walked back out the front door.
Austin strolled into the foyer from the kitchen. “Find anything?” Austin asked.
“Not yet,” I said. “We got shot at.”
Austin stared at me, surprised. “What the hell happened?” Austin asked.
“Andersen?” I called.
“Yes?” Andersen strolled into the foyer.
“I’m going to the study. Please bring Austin and me a cup of coffee,” I said.
“Of course,” Andersen said courteously and bowed out of the foyer.
When Austin and I got into the study, I launched into the story. By the time I finished, he had looked at me like I was crazy.
“Wow,” Austin breathed. “You should have gone after him and killed him.”
“I don’t know who was in that car, Austin. I want to know more first. We need to turn the tables. Kill them before they can kill us. Also, we need to find out which person it is first.”
Andersen walked into the study and gave us our coffee.
Austin groaned in frustration and buried his face in his hands. “Have we not already proven in the past that sometimes waiting isn’t a good idea? You have had too many close calls with this assassin, Aria.”
“What do you think, Andersen?” I asked.
Andersen pointed at himself and shrugged. “Austin has a point, Aria. I just don’t want anything to happen to you, sweetheart.”
Austin crossed his arms over his chest and looked as if he wanted to stick his tongue out at me.
“However, it might be wise to learn more about the person before killing them. You might be able to kill the person easier if you know who it is and what they do,” Andersen argued. “I’m not much help with these things. If you don’t believe me, ask your father. Perhaps he is the person to talk to about this.”
“You’re probably right,” Austin said to Andersen. “I don’t think there is any real way to say how it will turn out.”
“Thank you, Andersen,” I said.
Andersen left the room.
“Do you need me tonight? If not, I’m going to Carley’s,” Austin said.
“Go. Have fun,” I said and waved him off. I had paperwork to catch up on anyway.
Austin chuckled and left the study.
After a couple of hours, there was a knock on the study door.
“Aria?” Mom asked.
I looked up, surprised.
Dad and Mom walked into the study with all of the kids.
“We’re taking the kids to Sea World today,” Mom paused and took in my expression. “You didn’t forget, did you?”
“Oh, fuck. Yeah, I did forget. Could you just keep them overnight? I’ve got so much work to do it isn’t even funny,” I muttered.
“Of course,” Mom said and smiled.
The kids came over to my desk and hugged me. I hugged them all back as tight as I could. I kissed all five of them on the cheek. “I love you,” I told them.
“Love you, Mom,” they all chorused.
I waved goodbye as they walked out the door. That is something I should do with them soon. I had been looking into different amusement parks. Aiden, however, was still a bit young for those. With everyone gone, it was really quiet. It was sort of nice because I didn’t get much of that.
“Aria?” Andersen walked into the study.
“Hey, Andersen,” I said. “What do you need?”
“Well, everything is done, and everyone is gone. Do you mind if I go out for the night?” he asked.
“Not at all. Take Rosa with you. You two enjoy your night,” I said.
Andersen thanked me and walked out of the study.
By the time eleven o’clock rolled around, I had finished my paperwork. I was so far behind from being in China for so long. In a few weeks, I had to go to New Jersey to set up a new restaurant.
The foyer was dimly lit. I locked the doors and set the alarm before I went up to the bedroom. The mansion was quiet. Nobody was here but me. Finally, some peace and quiet — I thought to myself.
I got into the shower and washed up quickly. I grabbed out my favorite lingerie piece. It was not very provocative. It fell just over my butt. It was navy blue and silky. The most alluring part about it was that it was mostly see-through on the chest.
It was Ace’s favorite too. Surprisingly, he never tore it to shreds because he liked it too much. Ace ruined a lot of my lingerie by ripping it from getting impatient.
As I laid down in bed, I turned the TV on. There wasn’t much on that I cared to watch. I settled for Forensic Files. Hopefully, it wasn’t an episode I saw before. I hated watching the same things over and over again.
Halfway through the show, the lights flickered. The TV shut off, and the room went dark.
“What the fuck?” I breathed. I reached for my cell phone and realized I forgot it in the study. Quietly but quickly, I went for the gun and flashlight that were always in Ace’s nightstand.
Halfway down the hall, I saw a shadow, but it disappeared. “Who’s there?” I gasped. “Show yourself!” I demanded. A shot fired in my direction, but it missed. Quickly, I barreled down the stairs.
When I got into the foyer, I ran for the kitchen. Whoever is in my house must be the one trying to kill me. I don’t want the person dead. I want to know who it is. I needed to know who had stalked me for the last few months, and I was about to find out. It became an obsession to find out the truth.
As quiet as I could, I grabbed a frying pan out of the cupboard and hid behind the kitchen door.
The door of the kitchen crept open. I gripped the handle of the frying pan tighter. My palms became cold and clammy. The hooded figure entered the kitchen. I jumped out and hit the person on the head. The person grunted and stumbled but didn’t fall as I expected. Well, aren’t you a tough son of a bitch — I thought to myself. The person grabbed the frying pan from my hand and threw it across the kitchen. My flashlight slipped through my fingers, and it spun around on the linoleum floor — the light from the flashlight and shadows danced across the kitchen walls and our bodies. My fist balled up, and I punched the person in the face.
The person wore black gloves. The figure’s hands flew out to grab me, but I jumped back. If I wasn’t mistaking from the build and sounds that came from the person, it was a man.
He pointed a gun at me. I grunted as I brought my leg up and kicked the gun from his hand. He balled his fist up and punched me in the chest.
The blow to my chest was hard. It knocked me breathless, and I flew back into one of the cupboards before I crumbled to the floor. “Ugh!” I grunted in pain.
He barreled toward me. I quickly jumped to my feet and sprinted out of the kitchen. When I reached the dining room, he was right behind me. I slammed the door into his face. He fell onto his ass but jumped back to his feet.
He attempted to knock my legs out from under me, but I jumped over his legs. I turned and ran back into the dining room. His arms wrapped around my waist. He threw me down onto the kitchen table.
A sharp pain pierced through my head from hitting it on the table. The guy climbed on top of me, wrapped his hands around my throat. If I’m going to die like this, I’m at least going to know who. I gasped for air. I reached up and pulled the hood off of the man’s head.