Chapter 11. No Recollection
The hood fell and revealed the man’s face. A gasp escaped me. His hands squeezed my neck tighter. I choked and gasped for air. I refused to die like this. I threw him off of me. He huffed and landed on his back. I flipped backward, landed on top of him, and straddled him. I held him down. He struggled against my hold.
“Ace!” I screeched. “What the fuck are you doing?” How didn’t I know it was him all along?
Ace stared at me in confusion. He attempted to throw me off, but I punched him in the mouth. Blood came out of the corner of his mouth and ran down the side of his face. Ace glared at me with a murderous expression. I wasn’t unfamiliar with the look in his eyes at all, but I had never been on the receiving end of it — it was a look he only gave to people he despised or wanted to kill.
“Die already, you fucking bitch!” he shouted.
I must be seeing things. I have to be. There is no possible way, but it is. I jumped to my feet and darted back into the kitchen. I grabbed my gun and light. I sprinted into the foyer.
Ace’s heavy footfalls followed behind me. He shot at me as I ran behind a statue. The statue started to fall, and I dashed behind the next statue. He shot at me again but missed. I turned and fired a shot at him. He hissed in pain and fell to the floor.
I approached him and stood over him.
Ace stared at me in wonder. His gaze swept over my body and his lips parted. He gritted his teeth and looked away. “You won,” he spat. “Shoot.”
“I don’t think so,” I whispered. Instead of shooting him, I struck him over the head with my gun, and it knocked him out. It took me a long time to wrap my head around it. It was like he wasn’t even Ace anymore. Ace was trying to kill me.
The shock wore off, and I dashed down the long hallway to the study to call Austin.
“Hello?” Austin asked.
“You need to get here now!” I shouted.
“Okay,” he said and sighed. Austin hung the phone up.
I took my cell phone and gun with me when I went back to the foyer. I stopped and tilted my head. The front door was wide open, and Ace wasn’t where he had been.
“Fuck!” I hissed.
When Austin came into the mansion, the door was still open. I sat on the steps in the foyer and stared at the spot Ace had laid before he escaped. The shock hadn’t completely worn off. In all the years that I had done this job, I had never been so stunned by a situation. I sat there in a trance as I tried to piece together what possessed Ace to try to kill me.
“What happened?” Austin ran toward me.
“You’re going to think that I’m crazy. I’m having a hard time believing otherwise myself,” I muttered.
“What?” Austin asked, confused.
“It’s Ace,” I murmured. “The Chinese don’t have him. They’re not hiding him. He was here.”
“What? Where’d he go?” Austin’s voice came out barely above a whisper, and his voice shook.
Benny dashed through the front door of the mansion, which was still open. “You guys are not going to believe this shit!” Benny shouted.
I stared at Benny with a blank expression. “At this point, I would believe just about anything,” I argued.
“Ace was in that store. He bought a burner phone from there just an hour before the text to Bohai. I know it’s hard to believe, but it was him. I’m not crazy. I—” I cut Benny off.
“I already know,” I said. Unwillingly, I got to my feet.
“What?” Benny and Austin chorused.
“Ace was here tonight. He tried killing me. He’s the same one I kept seeing anytime the incidents happened. That means the Chinese have him trying to assassinate me,” I murmured. The thought of him trying to hurt me petrified me, which said a lot because I didn’t scare easily. Ace was always my protector.
Austin pulled me into him and hugged me.
“I think he has no memory,” I said softly. “Ace couldn’t. . .” I trailed off and swallowed hard.
“Of course, he wouldn’t, Aria. He must have been brainwashed or something. We need to find him. I know my brother this isn’t like him,” Austin said. “Ace is capable of a lot of things, but betrayal isn’t one of them. He loves you. I know he does. He wouldn’t—” Austin stopped and inhaled sharply. He shook his head as if he wanted to shake the thoughts out of his head.
“Do you know what is worse?” I whispered. My eyes locked with Austin’s eyes.
“Hm?” Austin hummed. His eyes filled with concern.
“I didn’t even suspect him, but I should have,” I said and shrugged. Tears filled my eyes and brimmed over.
Benny and Austin stared at me, stunned.
“What are you talking about, Aria? You couldn’t have known. Ace would never—” Benny started.
“Except that he did,” I snapped. “I saw it in his eyes. He was going to kill me. When I said his name, he held no recognition of me. I should have known because I know him so well. I especially know how he fights. I know how he fights, drives, and walks. . .” I trailed off. “It was all there, and I didn’t recognize any of it. I should have known that night at the club or the warehouse. I should have known when I fought him off in the kitchen, but I didn’t until I pulled his hood off.”
“He’s not himself,” Austin argued.
“No, he isn’t, but memory loss doesn’t change who you are as a person. People without a memory can pick up habits and do things without having a recollection of ever doing them. The way he fought wasn’t different. The way he walked and drove wasn’t different, but I didn’t realize any of it. I feel so idiotic. I searched for him for so long, and all along, he had been searching for me too,” I muttered.
“I’ll find his ass,” Benny huffed and started for the study. “He must be in Los Angeles,” Benny called over his shoulder.
“I’m going to go get dressed. I’ll be down in a few,” I told Austin.
Austin nodded and headed for the study as I started up the stairs.
Benny searched through our cameras and found Ace’s plates. He ran them and got an address.
“He has an apartment in National City,” Benny said.
“Let’s go get him,” I huffed.
Austin grabbed my arm to stop me. “We will get him you stay put,” Austin said.
“No way,” I argued.
“Yes,” Austin barked.
“I took him down once. I can do it again,” I said sternly. If anyone could handle Ace, it was me. However, some part of me wondered how I was still alive after tonight. Ace should have been able to kill me.
Austin pursed his lips. He had no argument, and he knew it.
Benny grabbed a bag out of the secret bookshelf where we hid the guns. We went out to the garage. We decided on the BMW. Once in the car, Austin backed it out and drove toward National City. It was only about twenty minutes from the mansion.
We pulled up to a large building. We strolled into the lobby. There was a man at the counter. “How can I help you?” he asked politely.
“We need to get up to apartment C12,” Austin said.
“Sorry, but the man in C12 is private, and he doesn’t allow visitors,” the man said and shrugged.
“Hmm,” Benny hummed. Benny pursed his lips and looked at Austin. Austin gazed at me, and I shrugged.
Austin whipped his gun out, grabbed the man by the collar of his shirt, and put the gun under his chin.
The man tensed up, and his eyes widened in shock.
“See, I don’t think you understand,” Austin said and smiled politely. “I’m not asking. You’ll push that button and live, or I’ll push it, and you will die.”
“Don’t waste your time calling the police. We’ll be gone by the time they get here,” Benny said and smirked.
The man pressed the button to allow us into the elevator.
We went up to the eighth floor. Benny got out his computer to hack Ace’s code for his door.
“Please,” I snorted. I approached the door and punched in the code. The boys stared at me in awe when the door unlocked.
“How?” Benny breathed.
“Did you forget I’m his wife?” I asked in disbelief. “I know everything about the man,” I muttered.
The boys laughed as we strolled through the door and into the apartment.
“His memory can’t be too far gone. He still picks the same pin for everything,” I scoffed.
“Why does he pick that pin?” Austin asked.
I rolled my eyes. “It’s easy for him to remember. If he picks anything else, he will forget.”
The apartment was quiet. I pointed at the stairs that most likely led up to his room. We made our way up them.
We opened the door. I stopped the boys with my arm. Ace laid on the bed fast asleep. I put my finger to my lips. The boys nodded. I tiptoed over to Ace.
Carefully, I got on top of him and straddled him. Ace didn’t move. I pulled the syringe out of my pocket and lowered it to his neck. My pulse quickened as the needle neared the side of his neck.
Before I could stick him with the needle, his eyes flew wide. Quickly, I stabbed it into the side of his neck as he tried to fight me off. It was lights out for Ace. He wouldn’t wake any time soon.
“I want to look around,” I huffed.
“No, Aria, we haven’t got time,” Austin said.
I noticed Ace’s jeans on the floor. I quickly grabbed his phone out from the pocket of his jeans.
Benny and Austin stared at me, surprised.
“Some things never change,” I muttered.
They chuckled as I stuck the phone in my pocket. When Ace went to bed, most of the time, if the phone wasn’t on his nightstand, it was in his jeans.
We snuck right past the cops.
Once we were all in the car, we headed back to the mansion. The two boys got Ace into the basement, into a chair, and tied him up.
“I still can’t believe. . .” Austin trailed off. He shook his head. “For how long? It doesn’t make sense.”
“He was right under our noses for so long,” I murmured.
“That plane crash must have fucked his head up good if he thinks he’s Chinese,” Benny snickered.
We all stared at Ace for a long time, not speaking. What was there to say? We were so dumbfounded over it all.
After a couple of hours, Ace began to stir. He groaned and moved his head around. He was not much different than when I saw him last. His hair was cut the same way, and he had no facial hair. All of his tattoos were the same, as far as I could see.
Ace looked up at the three of us in confusion. “What the,” he stopped as he stared at the ties. There were ropes around his chest, wrists, and ankles to hold him to the chair. We weren’t idiots. We all knew how strong he is. It took a lot to hold Ace down.
Ace glared at me. “You,” he growled. “What the fuck do you want?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I said and shrugged. “We could start with why you are trying to kill your wife?” I smirked.
Ace stared at me for a long moment and laughed. “My wife? I don’t think so,” he said and shook his head.
“Who do you work for?” Benny asked.
“You’re all so incredibly smart. Why don’t you tell me?” Ace smirked.
“The Chinese,” I said.
Recognition clouded Ace’s eyes. His smirk fell, and he looked away.
“Wow, I must be getting close,” I snickered.
“They said you would play mind games with me. Wife, though? Really?” he rolled his eyes. “Why would a bunch of Chinese men send me after my wife?”
“You were in a plane crash,” I started.
“I know,” he said. “On my way to assassinate you.”
“On your way home to celebrate your birthday. . .” I trailed off. “And your son’s birthday. Did I mention we have kids? Our youngest son was born on your birthday.”
Ace laughed and shook his head. “You’re wrong. I work with the Chinese!”
“There is one problem with that, Ace. You’re a Latin King. You are not Chinese!” I screeched.
“So? I don’t need to be Chinese to work for them,” he said and tilted his head. “I refuse to believe this until you show me proof!”
“You want proof?” I screamed. I lowered my head to his. “Oh, baby, I’ll give you proof,” I said and smirked.
His eyes lowered to my chest. He could easily see down my shirt.
“Of course, your attraction to me should be all the proof you need,” I said.
His eyes flickered to mine. “According to who?”
“Are you really going to deny it? After the way you looked at me last night and just now? Think about it,” I hissed.
I stood upright and stormed upstairs. I pulled out documents from the safe and photos from different places. By the time I got back downstairs, I had a box full of things.
Austin and Benny observed him with curious eyes. I dropped the box at Ace’s feet, and he stared at it in shock. I held his driver’s license up to show him.
“See that?” I asked and pointed to the driver’s license. “What’s that say?” I breathed.
Ace didn’t answer me. His jaw clenched, and he looked away from me.
“Look at it!” I spat.
Ace sighed and looked back to the card in my hand. He stared at it for a long moment.
“Your name, date of birth, and our address,” I smirked.
He swallowed hard.
I threw it to the side. “Check this out. This is one of my favorites,” I teased. I held up our marriage license for him to read. I showed him his birth certificate. A picture of us and all the kids. A photo of the two of us the day we got married.
The more I showed him, the more confused he became. “Stop!” Ace spat. His chest rose and fell. His face reddened from anger. “No way,” he whispered.
“Yes, way. You belong to me, baby,” I said and chuckled.