Finding Ace

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Chapter 2. Disney World

Aria

The kids took off to get onto a ride. The fact that the kids still had any energy left at all surprised me. The sun sat low in the sky and didn’t give off much light. The lights of the park started to turn on. Disney Land had been a good idea. There weren’t a lot of people.

“I’m glad you came,” I told Austin. “I truly am sorry for the mess with Kalia.”

“As I said, it isn’t your fault,” Austin said.

We watched the kids as they get onto a ride and waved at us. We waved back at them.

“You keep saying that, but I don’t believe it,” I muttered. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me sooner. All those times that I asked what her problem was, and you didn’t tell me she thought you were cheating? And with me of all people.” I rolled my eyes and scoffed.

Austin turned me to face him and forced me to look at him. “Like you said, Aria, you of all people. Kalia made a ridiculous accusation. There was no reason to tell you. You had your plate full. I wasn’t about to throw more bullshit on you. If it were a problem, I’d tell you. Did you forget how brutally honest I am? I don’t care whose feelings get hurt, remember?” Austin wiggled his eyebrows and chuckled.

I smiled and shook my head at him. “Whatever,” I said. “I just can’t help but feel like if I hadn’t leaned on you so much, maybe you two would have worked things out.”

“Honestly,” Austin said. “I think it was for the better. I haven’t felt so light in years. Kalia and I were too different.” Austin pulled me into him and threw an arm over my shoulder.

My arm encircled his waist, and I pecked his cheek. “Thank you for helping me. Not that your ego needs to be rubbed, but you are the best brother-in-law in the world. It’s too bad that lead turned out to be nothing,” I muttered and sighed.

“My ego could use a little rubbing,” Austin said and gave me a fake pout.

I snickered.

Austin grew more serious. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll keep looking,” Austin promised. “Come on.” Austin lead me in the direction of the kids.

***

By the end of the night, the kids were wiped out. We had a family suite. It had three bedrooms, a family room, and a kitchen. It had a beautiful patio, as well. Being here made me feel a lot better. The time with my kids helped, but it didn’t help me sleep.

After I fell asleep that night, images of Ace flooded my head. It wasn’t one of those dreams where I could stay asleep forever just to be with him. It was a horrible dream.

A gunshot echoed, and Ace came through the trees. At first sight, Ace looked fine, but suddenly he wasn’t.

Ace coughed, and blood spilled out of his mouth. Blood dripped down Ace’s chin.

My eyes widened in horror, and I dashed toward him. My feet were heavy as if I were running through sand.

Ace reached for me. “Bebita,” Ace choked. His eyes widened, and his hand dropped from his abdomen.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

Blood seeped through Ace’s shirt, and he slowly fell to his knees. Ace’s arm still outstretched toward me.

“No, Ace!” I screamed. My feet moved, but no matter how hard I pushed myself to run faster, I couldn’t reach him.

Ace fell face-first into the dirt.

“Ace!”

“Aria!” a deep voice pulled me from the dream. “Aria, wake up!” the voice coaxed.

I sat forward and gasped for air. Tears fell down my cheeks. Beads of sweat dripped down my forehead. My hair clung to my sticky forehead. I moved away from the voice, still in shock, but hands grabbed me. My lungs burned from the panic that shot through me.

“Aria, stop. It’s just me!” Austin stared at me, horror-struck. “Jesus Christ, that is some nightmare.”

As I slowly came back to reality, my breathing slowed. A sob built in my throat, and I climbed into Austin’s lap like a child that needed to be soothed. I threw my arms around Austin’s neck, rested my head on his shoulder, and sobbed. My tears soaked his shirt.

Austin sighed and wrapped his arms around my waist. Austin rubbed my back gently. It was pathetic how bad I relied on Austin. I depended on him because he was so much like Ace.

“I’m sorry,” I sniffled. I pulled away from Austin and started to crawl off his lap, but he stopped me. My chin trembled as I gazed into Austin’s eyes.

“Aria, maybe you need to see a doctor. You should get put on sleeping meds or something. You’re not sleeping, not eating, and these nightmares are getting worse and more frequent,” Austin said worriedly. Austin caught my face in his hands.

“I don’t—” I started.

“Promise me,” Austin demanded. “I can’t help you if you won’t even try to help yourself.”

I sighed. I knew he was just trying to help me. I nodded in agreement. “Fine, I promise. You can go back to bed. I’ll be fine,” I muttered.

Austin snorted. “With all that yelling, I’m wide awake now. I can’t believe the kids are not up.”

I grimaced. “Sorry.”

We climbed off the bed and went to the living room. It was too early to make breakfast. We sat down in front of the TV. Austin let me pick what to watch.

As I stared at the TV, I smelt something and looked at Austin. “Really?” I arched a brow.

Austin gave me an innocent expression and batted his eyelashes. Smoke rolled out of Austin’s mouth. “Want some?” Austin offered me the joint.

I laughed. “Austin, we can’t smoke that in here!” I hissed.

“Oh, come on. It’s not that big of a deal. They’ll just think we’re sacrificing skunks. Besides, it might help you eat or sleep, and you could use both,” Austin teased. Austin waved the joint in front of my face.

Austin had a good point. It probably would help me eat or sleep. I didn’t smoke a lot of weed, but when I did, it helped. Ace never smoked much either. Ace liked to drink more than smoke. Austin preferred to smoke more than drink. I took the joint from Austin and hit it. When I finished coughing, I hit it again and again.

“Hey, don’t smoke all of my weed, woman. I only brought five joints with me,” Austin said and chuckled.

I gave him a devious look, hit it again, and handed it back to him.

We decided to start breakfast before the kids woke up.

Grease from the bacon splattered Austin’s bare chest. “Ah, mother fuckin’ cock sucker! This is why I don’t cook!” Austin hissed through clenched teeth. Austin rubbed his chest.

Laughter spilled out of me. “Wow, the big tough guy is afraid of bacon grease,” I said.

“You zip it short shit,” he said and chuckled.

The kids came out of the bedroom, and we dished out the plates.

“When are we going home?” Angel asked.

“We’re going to do some shopping and head home, honey. Austin and I have a lot of work to catch up on,” I said.

The kids nodded in understanding.

After breakfast, we headed down to some of the stores in Orlando. Arizona, Adelina, and Arianna found dresses. Austin was very huffy about Arizona in a dress.

“You know, you’re going to have to get used to that,” I said. A smile stretched across my face.

Austin rolled his eyes. “I’m okay with it until they’re sixteen and dating. When that day comes, I’m taking all of their dresses and burning them. Don’t even think you’re going to stop me,” Austin grunted.

I laughed. Austin sounded exactly like Ace.

We left the store and started down the sidewalk toward the Suburban that we rented. A gunshot echoed in my ears.

I gasped and spun in the direction that I thought the shot came from. There was no trace of anyone.

Another shot fired, and the shop window behind us shattered. People that filled the sidewalks and streets screamed in terror. People ran in different directions as they screamed. The entire block became total chaos.

I held Aiden tighter to me.

“Get down!” Austin shouted. Austin pulled me to the ground, and another shot fired.

The kids got down beside us and covered their heads with their hands.

“Fuck!” Austin shouted. “Get up!” Austin pulled me to my feet.

The kids jumped to their feet.

“Go, go, go!” Austin shouted at all of us.

The Suburban was parked across the street. We dashed across the street. The kids ran in front of us.

We were halfway across the street when a horn blared.

I gasped and spun around. A city bus came toward me.

Austin’s hands grabbed me and pulled me off the street. Austin lost his balance. Austin, Aiden, and I fell to the ground. More shots fired. Austin covered Aiden and me with his body. Austin hissed in pain.

Austin jumped to his feet when the shots let up. “Run!” Austin demanded.

Aiden screamed and cried in my arms.

I jumped to my feet and dashed toward the truck. I kept my hand over Aiden’s head protectively.

We made it into the Suburban.

A red dot appeared on Austin’s forehead.

“Get down!” I screamed.

Everyone in the truck ducked, and the windshield shattered. Austin put the truck in reverse, still ducking. A camera on the dash appeared as he raced the Suburban backward and spun it around. Aiden was in my lap, staring at me in shock with tears in his eyes.

“Go faster!” I demanded.

Austin raced towards the highway.

I spun around to check the kids and count heads. “Are all of you okay?”

“Yeah,” the kids chorused.

I checked Aiden to make sure he was okay. “What the fuck was that?” I gasped.

Austin looked at me, dumbfounded. “Hell, woman, your guess is as good as mine.”

“Get us to the airport so we can get the fuck out of here,” I said.

Austin nodded in agreement.

I looked Austin over and gasped. “You’re bleeding,” I breathed. Blood seeped through the side of Austin’s shirt.

“It’s a graze. I’ll be fine,” Austin said. “Keep the location off on your phone.”

“Yeah, it’s always off,” I said. Did a charter from California send someone after us?

***

I plopped down in my chair at my desk. “I want to find out who the hell shot at us.”

“Without Benny, that could take a while, Aria,” Austin said.

“Then find someone to hire like Benny,” I suggested.

“There is one problem with that,” Austin said.

“What?” I raised an eyebrow.

“There is nobody like Benny. Nobody is as smart or as fast at that stuff. The only person that I know that can do the stuff Benny can do is Benny’s old man, and he is dead,” Austin said and shrugged.

I sighed. I bit down on the top of my pen. “There has to be somebody,” I argued.

“Look, let’s deal with this later. We have to go deal with the Russians,” Austin said.

Right on que Joey, Abel, and Luis walked into the study. Miguel and Diego went off on their own a few months after Ace went missing. They said being around here without him is too depressing.

“Yeah,” I muttered. I stood up and grabbed a set of keys to a van.

All of us headed for the garage, threw our guns in the back, and climbed in.

On the way to the meeting, we informed the boys about what happened.

Austin parked the van beside our warehouse. We went into the building and pulled out the artillery for the Russians.

The Russians pulled up. They dropped a duffel bag of money, and we loaded their guns up.

After we finished the drop, we left. The sun lowered over the hills and shined through the trees.

The boys stuck around for a while. All of us tried to look into what charters might be in Florida.

“Notta,” Joey grunted. Joey stood up and stretched.

We studied for hours. There wasn’t much left that we could do. Austin had been right. There wasn’t anyone that compared to Benny.

“Time for bed,” I muttered. “Thanks for trying, boys.”

“We’ll keep looking,” Austin said.

“Maybe it was meant for you, not Aria,” Luis suggested. Luis pointed at Austin.

“They shot at me. Austin blocked the shot,” I muttered. “Besides, I’m the boss. Wouldn’t it make the most sense if I were the one being targeted?”

The boys all nodded in understanding. They hated the idea of me being the target, but they knew that I was right. The boys said goodnight to me before they walked out of the study.

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