Finding Ace

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Chapter 15. Stay With Me

Aria

Even though it was Ace’s idea to go out with the kids tonight, he stayed quiet. He seemed far away. There happened to be a fair in town tonight down by the beach. The kids ran off to get on a ride. Aiden, who is nearly four years old, didn’t get to go on too many rides.

“You’re quiet,” I said. Suspicion coated my voice, even though I tried to hide it. I would explode if I didn’t say anything about the way he acted.

“Am I?” Ace asked. He tilted his head toward me. “I’m sorry, bebita. I just have a lot on my mind.”

My jaw dropped in shock. The air escaped my lungs, and my steps faltered. Aiden sat on Ace’s shoulders with an ice cream cone. Aiden stared down at me in wonder.

“What’d you call me?” My voice came out barely above a whisper.

His gaze met mine, and his eyes widened slightly. He bit his lip, unsure of how to answer.

“Do you even know what that means?” I asked, surprised. I moved closer to him without thinking about it.

Ace sighed. “Yes, I know what it means.” He didn’t look at me as he answered. “It means baby girl.”

“Do you remember Spanish?” I asked.

“Yes,” he admitted.

“Ace, that’s great!”

“Stop it, Aria,” Ace spat. “It’s not. Okay? It doesn’t mean anything.”

“It does, Ace. You called me—”

“I know what I called you, okay? I’m guessing I used to call you that a lot. I only know about it because of this dream I had. It just slipped. I shouldn’t have called you that. It got your hopes up, and I’m sorry. My memory isn’t coming back.” The confidence in his voice broke my heart into pieces.

My expression became torn. “W-what do you mean?” I stuttered.

“I didn’t know how to tell you earlier. I didn’t want to get your hopes up, and I was right not to. Last night I had a dream only I think it was a memory. In the dream, I called you bebita. When I woke up, I realized I knew what it meant. When I came into the study today, you spoke Spanish, and I knew what you said. I thought maybe it was coming back,” he muttered.

“Maybe you could go see the doctor—”

“So, I went to see that doctor. He told me I might become more myself the more I get around you. He explained that I might get a few memories back through dreams. However, he’s pretty sure I’m not getting it all back. My brain was too damaged in the accident. I’ll never be the same,” he muttered. Ace looked away to hide the disappointment in his eyes.

It takes me a long moment. I grabbed his face and forced him to look at me. “You look the same to me,” I murmured.

His eyes danced at my words. His chest rose and fell against mine. I stood on my toes and pecked him on the cheek. He gave me a small smile. I took his hand in mine and pulled him toward the ride the kids were getting off.

After the fair, we stopped at Mamicon’s Mexican Restaurant. The kids told Ace more about themselves. They told him some memories they had of him. Aiden didn’t recall anything about Ace. He was too young.

When we got home, Ace helped me put the kids to bed. We stopped outside Aiden’s room, not far from our room.

“I suppose I should go,” Ace said. He didn’t sound like he wanted to leave.

“Would you stay?” I asked quietly.

He looked at me, confused. “Do you want me to?”

“Stay with me,” I insisted.

“Why? What is the point? Doesn’t it bother you that I don’t remember?”

Instead of responding, I grabbed his hand and pulled him to our room. I closed the door and turned to face him. “Of course, it bothers me you don’t remember, but you’re the same person.”

Ace watched me as I walked into the closet. When I came back out, I was in the lingerie I wore the night he almost killed me. It just happened to be his favorite.

It was apparently still his favorite. He sat on the bed. His eyes widened when he saw me. He may not remember, but he looked at me the same way he always did.

“Damn, no wonder why we have so many kids,” he muttered.

A giggle escaped me as I climbed onto the bed beside him. “Will you tell me about that dream?” I asked curiously.

We changed our position on the bed. Both of us laid at the head of the bed and faced each other.

Ace grimaced but didn’t answer.

“What?” I asked.

“Why does it matter?”

“Maybe I can tell you if it happened or not,” I said and shrugged. “You must want to know.”

Ace sighed. “We were at this beach house and. . .” he trailed off. Ace knitted his eyebrows together and mashed his lips into a straight line.

From the look on his face, I could already see where this was going. A giggle bursted out of me. “You had a sex dream?” I arched a brow.

Ace nodded sheepishly and bit his lip.

“That most likely happened,” I said.

“Do we own a beach house?”

“Yes,” I said. “You bought it as a surprise to me. You proposed to me there. We spent a lot of time there together. It was kind of our getaway.”

“Oh,” he murmured.

We changed the subject and talked for a long time. I told him about our lives together. Ace listened curiously and even laughed at times. I told him about some of the things he liked and didn’t like. Ace told me he was still a clean freak, which I already knew by how clean he kept his apartment. He was surprised to hear some of the things I knew about him that he still did.

“See, you’re not much different. You are still you, just without a memory. Having no memory doesn’t change who you are,” I said.

“At first, when I woke up after the plane crash, and the Chinese told me I was an assassin, it fit. It was the one thing that made sense. It’s like that part of me never vanished. When I woke up, I still remembered how to fight. I knew how to take a gun apart and put it back together in a matter of seconds. I felt like I was some kind of machine. I didn’t feel any kind of emotion until I saw you. It didn’t make sense why I thought the woman I was trying to kill was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen,” he said.

Ace looked as if he were embarrassed or weak to admit that. He rubbed his face with his hands fiercely. When he looked at me again, there was an indescribable emotion in his eyes.

“Ace, it’s okay. I get it,” I started.

“No. You don’t get it. It’s been ruining me. I’m afraid to get close to you, just knowing what I nearly did to you. I’m almost afraid of getting my memory back. If I remembered who I was and knowing that I hurt you. . .” he trailed off and shook his head. “How could you ever truly forgive me for what I did? When I can’t even forgive myself,” he said and swallowed hard.

“Ace, I’ve already forgiven it. It wasn’t you, and I know that. You had no way of knowing,” I said sternly.

“How come you never moved on? I don’t get it,” he murmured. “It must have been lonely.”

I shook my head. “I never considered moving on. That would never happen. I don’t know how to be with anyone else.” Tears built in my eyes as I looked down at the blanket. I clenched the blanket in my hand. “I know you might not, but I love you, and I don’t want anyone else. You are the biggest part of who I am. You don’t understand because you don’t remember. Maybe you will understand over time.”

His lips parted in surprise at my answer. To my surprise, he wrapped an arm around my waist and pulled me into his chest. I buried my head in his chest and let the tears stain his shirt. He buried his face in my hair and kissed the top of my head.

It didn’t take long before I calmed down and fell asleep in his arms, for the first time in a long time. Part of me thought I would never get to again.

***

When I woke up, I groaned and sat up. Ace wasn’t in bed with me. He probably left last night or early this morning. I threw the blankets off of me and grabbed the robe that matched my lingerie piece.

I was taken aback when I entered the kitchen, and Ace stood there talking to Austin. The kids were at the table, eating breakfast. Ace held a cup of coffee and leaned against the counter. Ace looked up at me. I was frozen on the spot. His eyes danced in amusement at my surprise.

“Coffee?” he asked.

“Please,” I murmured and stepped forward. I sat down at the island. Austin sat beside me, and Ace slid me a coffee cup.

“Are we still on for tonight?” Ace asked.

“Yeah,” I said.

“I told Bohai that I had another failed attempt at you,” Ace said quietly, so the kids didn’t hear. “He was wondering what was going on.”

“I’m not sure how much longer we can put it off, Aria,” Austin said. “We can’t let them figure it out.”

“Yeah, I know,” I said. “We’ll get over there soon. We just need to train a little longer first. Let’s just see how tonight works out, okay?”

The boys quietly agreed and dropped it. After a moment of silence, Ace spoke. “Don’t they need to get to school?”

“No. They’re homeschooled,” I said.

“Why is that?” Ace asked.

“Mom says the teachers and principals are stupid assholes!” Aiden shouted.

I facepalmed.

Ace gave me a dubious look. He shook his head and snickered. “Is this what you teach our kids?” Ace asked and chuckled.

“No sense in lying to them,” I said. I batted my eyelashes innocently.

“I’ll give you that, I guess,” he said.

“When are you going to pick back up on Angel’s training?” Austin asked.

“Soon, I just have to find the time,” I answered.

Ace choked on his coffee, and he set the cup down. “Jesus, he knows? Isn’t he a bit young?” Ace stared at me as if I was insane.

“Um, yes?” I grimaced. “Okay, so what? I thought the earlier he starts, the more successful he’ll be. He’s the one who will take over,” I explained.

“Okay,” Ace sighed. “How about I do it then?”

Austin and I stared at Ace, but neither of us spoke. Ace had no memory, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t do it, right? Ace still knew how to fight, and I could vouch for that from personal experience.

“Wasn’t I the one who trained you?” Ace pressed.

I sighed. “You are supposed to train Angel. You weren’t around, so we made arrangements for Austin and me to deal with it, but I suppose if you want to do it. . .” I trailed off.

Austin nodded in agreement.

“I’ll do it. I’ll start him tomorrow,” Ace said.

***

The other boys walked in. My dad agreed to go with us, too, and help us. We all headed for the study. Rosa took the kids to help them start their homework.

“So, what is the plan?” Luis asked.

“First, we’re going to wire the place. Benny, that’s your thing,” I said.

“You do realize if we blow the place up, it’s going to kill hundreds that are innocent,” Ace said.

“Not innocent. They do associate with the Chinese the more of them dead, the better,” I argued.

“Even children?” Ace arched a brow.

I’ll admit he had me there. No matter who the child belonged to, I didn’t like killing kids. “Fine, someone will evacuate the children,” I huffed.

Ace smirked. “We have to make sure they don’t find out the place is wired,” Ace added.

“We will plant extra bombs around the mansions. We have to sneak in. Benny, you are going to have to get all the tapes from the cameras,” I said.

“What am I an idiot?” Benny chuckled. “No worries. Last night I got over there and hacked into their cameras. I’ll turn them off when we go in.”

“Alright, everyone understands?” I asked.

They all quietly agreed.

“Be back here at eight o’clock tonight,” I said.

All the boys but Ace left the study.

“Why did you stay?” I asked quietly. “I didn’t think you would be here this morning when I woke up.”

He looked surprised by the question. “Why wouldn’t I, bebita?” he paused. “I belong here. I’ve got to call Bohai, so I’m going to go to the apartment for a bit. I’ll be back soon.” Ace leaned over the desk and kissed my forehead before he walked out of the study. I couldn’t help but smile at what he said. He seemed more and more himself every day.

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