Finding Ace

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Chapter 17. Bo Staff

Ace

On the way back to the apartment, endless thoughts of Aria filled my head. As if I didn’t have reason enough to despise Bohai. He interrupted Aria and me, which pissed me off more. I sound absolutely fucking whipped, and I don’t even care. It was a lot to wrap my head around. My feelings for her were so undeniably strong.

I never felt something so intense, at least not that I could remember. When I first saw Angel, it was a strange feeling too. When I met the rest of the kids, it was also intense. I couldn’t begin to describe it. It was like even though I didn’t remember them, they were somehow important to me.

This would be the first time I had to face Bohai since I found out the truth. I understood the importance of him not knowing, but it didn’t make it easier. I wanted to torture him to no end physically. It wasn’t even that I wanted him dead — I wanted to torture him to death.

It sickened me to my core, knowing I nearly killed the mother of my children. With no memory of them, I somehow felt them there, in body and soul. The more I got around them, the stronger that feeling got.

The lobby guard greeted me and opened the elevator. Once I got up to my hallway, I found Bohai already outside my door.

“Ah, Ace,” Bohai greeted me.

My stomach twisted in rage. It took everything I had not to show my anger in my expression or voice. “Hello, Bohai. How are you?” To my own ears, it sounded like I could care less how he is doing.

“Good, yourself?”

“Not too bad,” I muttered as I punched the code in. The door opened, and he walked in.
“Can I get you anything?”

“No, thanks,” he paused. “Ace, how is it going with Aria?” he asked.

I grimaced and gritted my teeth in agitation. I knew that I had to direct my anger to her so he wouldn’t notice it was actually directed at him. His expression became confused. I unclenched my jaw.

“The bitch just won’t die,” I huffed. I hated talking about Aria that way. “Sorry, man, but she gets away from me every fucking time. Maybe I’m not cut out for this job,” I said and shrugged.

“What would you do? Come back to China?” Bohai tilted his head.

“I’m not sure,” I said. “I like it here. I might stay.”

“We could use you in China,” he pressed.

I suddenly realized why he didn’t want me to stay here. He didn’t want me to wind up with the Latin Kings because, without me, they were strong, and with me, they were unstoppable. “I’ve got a few more plans to try to take her out, sir,” I said. “Give me a few more weeks.”

“I suppose I can do that,” he said and shrugged. “Try getting her alone. That is your best bet.”

“I had her alone, and I still failed. She’s tougher than you think, Bohai. I understand the point of the vengeance of my sister and to take over the Latin Kings business, but we’re nearly as strong as they are. What’s the point?” I asked.

“I hate competition,” he said. He made his way for the door.

It would be a while before I could leave. I went upstairs and messaged Aria to let her know what happened. She pleaded with me to come back to her, but I told her it wouldn’t be wise to leave right away.

It was beyond frustrating not being able to destroy the man who destroyed me. Anger pulsed through me just knowing I could have easily ended Bohai tonight.

After I showered and changed my clothes, I left to go back to the mansion.

There weren’t many lights left on in the mansion. I went inside and heard no noise. All of the workers had gone to bed.

Aria had the TV on and the lights off. Her black hair fanned across the pillow. She still had no clothes on. Her eyes were closed.

I took off my shirt and jeans, which left me in nothing but boxers. I threw the covers back and got into bed with her.

She rolled over and got closer to me, but she was still sleeping. Aria did it subconsciously, and it made me realize everything she said about how she felt for me was true. Gravity pulled us together. Nobody could understand it because I didn’t even think we fully understood it. I would have found my way back to her memory or not — I thought to myself as I stared down at her perfect face.

I wrapped an arm around her and made no attempt to wake her. For a long time, I had problems sleeping. When I slept beside her, I slept like the dead.

***

When I woke up, Aria was still asleep. Careful not to wake her, I moved her and got out of bed. I agreed to do Angel’s training — Mostly because I wanted to, but it felt like it was my place to do it.

“Did you stay again?” Angel asked when I entered the kitchen. “Things between Mom and you must be getting better?”

A chuckle escaped me as I poured a cup of coffee.

“Me too, please,” Angel said.

I turned my head and stared back at him with a bewildered expression. “What? Come on, boy. You’re twelve. You don’t seriously drink this shit? You shouldn’t need it. You should be full of energy,” I said and chuckled.

“I started about three months after you went missing. Mom was such a mess. At first, she didn’t even care. The first few months you were gone, Mom barely got out of bed. Austin helped her and us a lot. She was so bad that Austin, Kalia, and their kids moved in. I was taking care of the other kids a lot. Of course, I couldn’t take care of the other stuff. Mom only recently told me what we are. I shouldn’t be surprised. You guys aren’t exactly normal parents,” Angel explained. “Rich people don’t act the way you guys do.”

It was the most I heard Angel speak. I wasn’t sure if Angel just didn’t talk much like I didn’t or if he was upset. He had every right to be upset. His father didn’t know him. That would upset any kid.

At first, I didn’t understand why Aria would tell Angel at such a young age, but I understood the more I got around him. Angel was very mature for a twelve-year-old. It made me wonder if Aria and I were wrong for leaning on him like this, though. He is a kid and should act like one, right?

“What I don’t understand is if you don’t remember us. . .” he trailed off. “Why are you even here?”

“Not remembering and not caring isn’t the same thing, Angel. When I found out the truth, it made more sense than anything else. The more I spend around all of you, the harder it is to stay away. Even though I don’t remember, you are all still there deep inside of me. I can feel it. Every time I look at every single one of you kids or your mom, I can feel it,” I explained.

“Will you ever remember?” Angel asked.

I took a deep breath and let it go before I looked back at him. “Probably not,” I admitted. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t start over.”

“Do you love Mom?” Angel’s voice came out barely above a whisper. “You used to. A lot of kids my age worried their parents would get divorced. I never had to worry about that with Mom and you. You guys were always so in love with each other, but after you came home with no memory, I thought maybe you wouldn’t stick around.”

My breathing hitched. What kind of question is that? How am I supposed to answer that? What is love anyway? I’m not even sure what that feels like. Before I could answer, Aria walked into the kitchen and rubbed her eyes. She had smeared mascara under her eyes. Her hair was a mess.

Damn, she’s a hot mess. “Hey, sleeping beauty,” I teased. “Nice hair.”

Aria swatted at me, and I jumped back.

“I’m just kidding, bebita. It looks. . . good on you,” I said and licked my lips.

“We can’t all wake up drop-dead sexy, so zip it,” Aria said and chuckled.

I grabbed a coffee cup for her and poured it. She sat down beside Angel. Angel looked half like Aria and half like me. It was pretty evenly divided. As I looked at the two of them, a realization struck me like a bolt of lightning. It hit me so hard that I had to put effort into not dropping to my knees.

Of course, my sudden demeanor change didn’t go unnoticed by Aria. “What?” Aria asked curiously.

“N-nothing,” I grunted and shook my head. Angel and she stared at me. “Are you ready?” I asked Angel.

“As I’ll ever be,” he muttered.

We went down into the basement, where there is a workout area. Angel used the area often. I told him to do his usual. I wanted to see where he was at. I couldn’t deny that for a twelve-year-old, I’m a bit awestruck. He. was damn good with the punching bag. I grabbed some boxing gloves and told him to get into the ring.

Angel swung at me. I blocked his moves with some effort. He wasn’t a stupid or weak kid at all.

“You’re pretty good, man,” I said and chuckled, messing his hair.

He smiled at me. “So, when do I get to shoot a gun?”

“Come on. You’ve never shot one?” I asked.

“I have quite a bit, but not very much since you went missing. You taught me a long time ago. You guys wouldn’t ever let me do it unsupervised.”

“Well, let’s go out there and see what you got,” I said and shrugged.

We went outside to the rifle range building in the backyard.

“You never answered my question,” Angel said as I pulled out a couple of guns.

“Which one?” I asked. If I was being honest, I had a pretty good guess as to which question he was referring to.

“Do you love mom?” he asked.

A part of me wanted to deny it. How could you love someone that fast? A part of me wanted to say yes. What kid doesn’t want to hear you love their other parent? The realization that I had in the kitchen is that I did love them — all of them, with all my being. However, I wasn’t sure that I was ready to voice it. A part of me thought I didn’t love them the way that I did before I lost my memory.

“That’s not an easy question, Angel. I’ve spent time with your mom. I understand who she is to me now and what she was to me before. The problem is the only memories I have of her are recent,” I explained. “I’m not sure how fast it happens. I know that love can be a tricky thing. Sometimes we think we feel something for someone only to find out we’re wrong. People can be misleading. Lust and love don’t always hold the same company. I care about your mom. I don’t want anything bad to happen to her.”

“If you loved her, you wouldn’t question it, Dad. Maybe you’re overthinking it,” Angel said. Angel pulled the gun up and fired a shot.

The truth was, I was hanging on by a thread. I knew that I was falling in love with her. I was afraid to let myself feel it. What if I were to lose her all over again?

After several targets, I realized shooting was another thing that Angel was good at.

“Man, I don’t think you need training on a gun. I’ve got some other shit I can teach you, though,” I said.

“Like what?” he asked curiously.

“Ever hear of bo-staff?” I asked.

“Uh, no,” he said and shook his head.

“Yeah, I didn’t think so. It’s something I learned while I lived in China,” I said. “I’ll have to run back to my apartment for some stuff.”

“Okay,” he said.

“Do me a favor and let your mom know,” I said.

Angel nodded in understanding. He went inside, and I went out to the front of the mansion to get to my car. Bo staff is a form of martial arts. If there was anything good that came from the incident in China, this is it. I learned a lot of other fighting techniques in China.

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