Chapter 21. How Is This Happening?
“How is this happening?” I shouted.
“Dad? What’s wrong?” Angel asked.
“N-nothing go back to bed,” I told him. I redialed Aria’s number but no answer. “Fuck, bebita, answer the phone!” I hung the phone up and looked at Angel.
“Where is Mom?” he asked quietly.
“Look, stay here. Call Benny to come over and sit with you guys. I have to go find your mom,” I explained as I headed for the door.
“Dad!” Angel shouted. “I’m not some little kid. What the hell happened?”
I sighed and turned back to face Angel. “I’ve been calling your mother for a half hour. She went out to get some food. I don’t know why but she didn’t tell me she was leaving. I called and talked to her. She said she was on the way, but that was a while ago. Now stay put. I’ll be back.”
Angel stayed silent as I walked out of the study. He followed me down the hallway. “What if the Chinese got her?” Angel’s voice strained.
“Don’t even think that, boy,” I said. Because I can’t even think that way — I thought to myself.
“If they did, it’s your fault,” Angel spat through clenched teeth.
No part of me could deny that. It would be my fault. Even though I agreed with him, I wouldn’t allow my son to talk to me that way. I turned around to face him. My expression murderous, which wasn’t a look I should have given my son, but I was angry — I was angrier with myself than Angel.
Anger soared through me like I had never known before. I grabbed onto Angel’s arm, not enough to hurt him but enough to show him what he said pissed me off. My heart pounded hard and fast at the thought of something terrible happening to her.
“Don’t you ever fucking talk to me like that, boy. Memory or not, I’m still your father, and she is still my wife. I will get your mother back if it is the last fucking thing that I do,” I hissed. I spun around and stormed out of the house. I pulled my phone out and sent a text to everyone to let them know Aria went missing.
Aria didn’t tell me where she was. A couple of weeks ago, I recalled we walked past a new doughnut shop, and she wanted to go in. We never went in because we were too busy.
I sped down the highway at eighty miles per hour. The city blurred past me. Traffic wasn’t heavy because it was late.
I drifted into the parking lot of the doughnut shop and saw her car.
My phone rang. “Hello?” I asked.
“What the hell do you mean she is missing?” Austin asked.
“I’m at that new bakery in town. Do you know the place?” I asked.
“On Fourth Avenue?” Austin asked breathlessly. The wind from Austin running echoed through the phone.
“Yeah,” I said. I threw her car door open to look inside. “Her car is here, but she’s gone. There is a note,” I said.
“What the fuck does it say?” Austin asked as I opened the letter.
“It says, if you want Aria to call this number,” I read.
“Do you recognize the writing?” Austin asked.
“No. It’s not Bohai’s writing. I can tell you that much,” I said. “That doesn’t mean someone didn’t do his dirty work for him.”
“I’m nearly there,” Austin said and hung up.
A few breaths later, Austin’s car whipped into the parking lot. Austin jumped out of the car and ran toward me.
We both stared at the number.
“I don’t know it either,” Austin muttered. “Should we call Benny?”
“No,” I said. I pulled my phone from my pocket and dialed the number that was on the paper. The phone rang three times.
“Hello, Ace,” a deep voice answered. “You found my letter.”
Austin leaned closer to hear the voice on the other end of the phone.
“Where the fuck is my wife?” I shouted.
The deep voice laughed. “You are in no position to talk to me like that. If you want your wife alive, you’re going to have to do some things.”
“If you want me to do anything, you better prove to me she is still alive,” I spat.
“Sure,” he said. “It’s for you, sweetheart.”
“Ace!” Aria screamed. “It’s Arturo—” A loud smack echoed through the phone. Aria hissed in pain.
My blood curdled at the sound of her pain. “You son of a bitch!” I shouted.
“Shut up, Ace. If you want her back, you better be nice,” he said and chuckled.
I gritted my teeth and clutched onto her driver’s side door so hard that it’s a wonder I didn’t take the door right off the hinges.
“What do you want?” I spat.
“I’m glad you asked,” he said and chuckled. “I want two hundred million dollars and all the guns you have.”
I scoffed. “How much fucking money do you think we have?”
“Oh, I have a pretty good idea,” he said. “You better figure it out, Ace. You have two hours. Meet me at the docks with the guns and the money, or you don’t get Aria.”
Before I could respond, Arturo hung up the phone. I turned to Austin. Austin paced back and forth.
“Fuck, seriously?” Austin asked and stopped. “I bet it was him behind everything. Arturo always was a crooked son of a bitch.”
“I don’t even know how much money we have,” I muttered.
“You have more than enough to get her out. I don’t understand why the fuck they’re doing this, though. We had a great relationship in the last couple of years. Then, poof, Arturo is back to being a stupid asshole!” Austin shouted.
The phone call replayed in my head. I turned and kicked the driver’s side door of Aria’s car with so much force the door bent forward too far. I kicked the door three more times with the same force. The glass shattered, and the door fell off the hinges.
“Fuck!” I screamed. I ran my fingers through my hair and pulled it angrily.
Austin and I got into our cars and raced back to the mansion.
As far as I knew, everyone in the house was asleep. Austin and I dashed into the study.
Austin threw the rug back that laid between Aria’s desk and the red velvet couch.
“What the. . .” I trailed off.
Austin threw the hidden door open. He disappeared down a ladder, and I followed him. Austin turned on a light, and we looked around.
“Holy shit,” I breathed. We stood in a gold mine. Gold, jewels, and money filled the room. It was stacked and spread out all around the large room. The large room was easily the size of the study or possibly bigger. “You weren’t kidding,” I said and swallowed hard.
Austin looked at me and shook his head. “No, man, I wasn’t. Aria is smarter than fuck. Our fathers before us were smart. This is money that has been made over centuries,” Austin explained. “You and Aria together have made more money than any other Latin King.”
“But doesn’t everyone cash out at the end?” I asked.
“Yes. We all do, but a certain amount is agreed to leave for the next one to take the chair. However, more than half of this room belongs to Aria and you. You two have made billions of dollars,” Austin explained. “It’s far too much to leave in a bank. So, Aria built a vault under the house to put it all in.”
“She’s smart,” I said.
“That she is,” Austin agreed. We threw cash up into the study.
“What are you guys doing?” Angel asked. “Holy shit!” Angel stood above the door and looked down at Austin and me. We were knee-deep in cash. “Damn. We are rich,” Angel breathed in shock. “Did you find Mom yet?”
“Kind of. Don’t worry about it, Angel. We got this,” I told him.
The study door opened up. Miguel, Diego, Carlos, Luis, Benny, and Abel walked through the door.
“What did you find out?” Luis asked.
“Arturo from the Cali Cartel has her. He wants money,” I explained. I raised the duffel bag we just filled. “And guns,” I added.
“He wants all of them,” Austin muttered. “We should probably give him all we have. He might have a way of knowing how much there is,” Carlos said.
“We need to hurry up. They only gave us two hours,” I said. I walked past them.
Carlos got into one of our black vans, and Luis got in with him. The other guys and I climbed into the Expedition.
“We need to have snipers ready,” I said.
“Abel and I can handle it,” Austin said.
We had three warehouses we had to stop at. We had two hundred and fifty guns. Once we had everything gathered, we raced toward the beach. Arturo texted me the dock I needed to meet him at. When we got to the pier, Austin and Abel went to hide. The boys and I took several bags to the dock. The boys all ran off to hide.
Arturo told me that they had to stay in the vehicles. I prayed like hell that Austin and Abel didn’t get caught. Six speedboats came into view. I waited quietly as they closed the distance.
I caught a glimpse of Aria. It looked as if they had her tied and blindfolded.
They stopped, and a woman came into view. I didn’t recognize her, but she was familiar somehow. “Hi, Ace,” she said and smirked.
Arturo pulled Aria off the boat. Arturo had Aria gagged, blindfolded, and tied at her ankles and wrists. Arturo’s men put the guns and money into the boat.
“Count it all,” Arturo demanded.
“I did everything you asked. Give her to me,” I spat.
“Patience,” Arturo snapped at me.
We waited several minutes before his guys insisted to him that it’s all there. Arturo stepped back and held onto Aria.
“A deal is a deal. Give me my wife, mother fucker!” I shouted.
“You do remember how to swim, don’t you, Ace? I sure hope you do because you’re going to have to catch her,” Arturo said.
“No!” I shouted.
Arturo lifted her and threw her into the water. She screamed before she hit the water, but the gag muffled it. I ignored them as they made their escape. My only concern was getting her alive.
I dashed down the dock past Arturo and dove into the water. I swam toward the spot she went down. It wasn’t going to be easy to find her. There was very little light, and it was dark beneath the water. I dove under the water and felt around for her. My eyes opened, but It was too dark to see anything.
After a couple of minutes under the water, I started to struggle due to the lack of oxygen, but I refused to go back to the surface without Aria. I continued to swim and search.
My hand brushed against something. I grabbed her and swam toward the surface. When I came up, I gasped for air. “Aria, no, no, no!” I shouted. I patted her face, but it was useless.
She wouldn’t move. I tore the gag off her mouth swam toward the dock with her in one arm. The waves pushed me back, so I didn’t reach the dock as quickly as I would have liked. I got her onto the pier. I took the blindfold off of her.
“Aria!” the guys chorused. The guys ran down the dock toward us.
I started CPR. She wasn’t breathing. “Come on, bebita!” I shouted. “Don’t do this to me,” I whispered.
The guys knelt around Aria.
Aria suddenly coughed. I rolled her onto her side, and water spilled out of her mouth. “Ace,” she groaned. Her voice was hoarse, and she shivered slightly.
A strong sense of relief washed over me, and I held her to me tightly for a moment. I pressed my lips to her forehead.
The guys visibly relaxed and exhaled sharply. They helped me untie her the rest of the way.
I lifted her bridal style. “It’s okay,” I murmured to her. “I got you.”
“Austin,” Luis called. “Was that Kalia?”
“Yeah,” Austin said in a strained voice.
“Kalia?” I asked. “As in your ex-wife?”
Austin shook his head angrily. “Yeah,” he spat.
“Forget it for now. We have to get Aria to a fucking hospital,” I muttered.
I let Austin drive. I climbed into the van with Aria in my arms. Aria kept trying to fall asleep, but I kept her awake.
Her lips formed a pout, and she squeezed her eyes closed. “I’m tired, Ace,” she whined.
“Just stay awake until we get to the hospital, bebita. Please,” I said softly. I brushed her hair out of her face.
We reached the hospital. Austin let us out at the door before he went to park.
They took off with Aria on a stretcher and told me to stay in the waiting room.
I paced the room as I waited for Austin and the others to get in here. Carlos and Austin flew around the corner at the same time as the rest of the guys.
“They’re checking her out,” I muttered.
“How the fuck did Kalia get in on this?” I asked.
“I’m not sure,” Austin muttered.
“I wanted to take a shot, Ace. I’m sorry, but Arturo kept Aria so close that I couldn’t risk it,” Abel said. “There wasn’t a clean shot.”
“I know, man. It’s okay. She’ll be fine,” I said.
It took a long time before I could go back and see Aria. The rest of the guys went back home. Aria laid in a bed with oxygen in her nose. She had bruises all over her face.
“Bebita,” I murmured.
Aria looked up at me. “Hi,” she said sadly. “I’m so sorry, Ace.”
Irritation bubbled up inside of me, and I had to let it out. I wasn’t angry with her. I was petrified of something happening to her. “You don’t ever go anywhere in the middle of the night again,” I snapped. “Damn it, Aria. You scared the fuck out of me. You knew we had someone after us. I thought you were going to die. What the fuck am I supposed to do without you, huh?” I swallowed hard and ran my hands through my hair. The more it sank in, the more outraged I became. I balled up my fist up and punched the concrete hospital wall.
“Ace,” Aria squeaked. “Kalia—”
I narrowed my eyes at Aria. “I already know,” I spat. I looked away from her and crossed my arms over my chest.
“Oh, yeah? Did you know I was pregnant too?” Aria hissed
My head snapped up. “You’re w-what?” I choked. My hands trembled slightly. “P-pregnant?”
“I was,” she corrected. “I’m not anymore. I lost it. Kalia kicked me in the stomach over and over again. She told me I didn’t deserve to be happy. God, when I get out of this fucking hospital bed. . .” Aria trailed off. Aria clenched her teeth and balled her fists up. “She is a dead bitch, and I don’t give a fuck what Austin says.” Tears rolled down her face.
It took me a long moment to process what she told me. She was pregnant with my baby. Kalia killed our baby and hurt her. Without saying a word, I turned for the door.
“Ace, wait! Where are you going?”
I turned to face her. She swallowed hard at my murderous expression. “I love you,” I said.
My words were entirely out of place with my expression. That was all I said before I left her room. I heard Aria yelling for me, but I didn’t stop.
These mother fuckers are going to pay dearly for what they did to her. I’m going to kill every single one of them. Her beaten face and my dead baby raced through my mind. I had no intent on letting any of them live as soon as I knew they took her. I didn’t plan to kill them like this, but everything Aria said to me pushed me over the edge.