Finding Ace

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Chapter 5. Goldfish

Aria

“You won,” I grunted. I threw my cards onto the table.

Andersen chuckled. “Don’t be a sore loser kid,” he teased.

“It’s okay. I probably would have given you the money anyway,” I said and winked.

Andersen laughed and nodded. “So, are you still going to China next week?”

I sighed. “Probably.”

“You are taking someone with you, right?” Andersen asked worriedly.

“Yes, Dad, Luis, Abel, Austin, and Joey,” I said. I gave Andersen’s shoulder a gentle squeeze.

“Good, I’d hate to see you go by yourself. I should never have let you go to the warehouse alone,” Andersen said. He shook his head.

“Andersen, that wasn’t your fault. Besides, you hold the fort down here,” I joked. I stood up as he did and pecked him on the cheek. “Night Andersen.”

“Good night, kid,” he said.

We were all going to China next Friday to speak with the Chinese. The Chinese were the last ones who saw Ace and Benny. I needed some fucking answers. It had been far too long. Bohai insisted that they parted on good terms and that he paid Ace for the artillery before he left.

The thing about sleeping is that I didn’t do much of it, no matter how hard I tried. It took me a couple of hours, but I finally fell asleep.

***

My alarm clock rang. I grunted and turned it off. Instead of going straight downstairs, I showered instead. When I finished, I went downstairs to my study.

Austin sat at my desk on my phone. “Sounds good, see you then,” he said and hung the phone up.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Just a meet-up later. First street gang wanted to be sure we were still set up for today,” he explained.

“Hm,” I hummed.

The phone rang.

I answered it. “Hello?”

“Hello, is this Mrs. Garcia?” the woman asked.

“Um, this is. Can I help you?” I asked, confused.

“This is Angel’s teacher. My name is Patricia Gold,” she said. She sounded like a complete bitch.

“Mm, what can I do for you?” I asked. I matched her snotty tone.

“Angel has gotten into trouble today. The principal and I would like to speak with you,” Patricia said coldly.

“I’ll be there soon,” I said in a stiff tone. I hung up as Austin came back into the study. Austin had two cups of coffee in his hand. He handed me one of the cups.

“What was that about?” Austin tilted his head and arched a brow.

“Angel’s teacher and principal want to see me. He apparently got into some trouble,” I grunted. “God, I hope he didn’t get caught with weed.”

Austin laughed. “You’re shitting me, right? That boy has been in trouble since before he could walk. Don’t worry. I doubt it’s weed. Angel isn’t stupid enough to get caught with that shit.”

“Well, he got caught with something. This is the first call I’ve ever gotten,” I said. “He’s usually good at school.”

Austin looked surprised but nodded. “Want me to come with?” he asked.

“Nah, I got it. If I’m not back in time, you’ll have to deal with First Street,” I muttered.

“No problem, boss,” he said.

I headed out of the study to the big garage. My red Ferrari sang to me instead of the BMW. The top was already down. I put my sunglasses on as I backed out of the garage.

Some part of me thought I should just home school Angel.

Angel wasn’t like other kids. He is more intelligent than most twenty-year-olds. Angel learned how to forge my signature at the age of eight years old. He can also forge his dad’s signature. Not that it’s a good thing. Angel got into a lot of trouble for it.

Angel could also take a gun apart, clean it, and put it back together. Not only all of that, but he had straight A’s. The school had been contemplating on advancing him a grade. I was even sure that Angel didn’t even study for his tests.

A blond receptionist about my age sat at the front desk. She looked up at me as I approached.

“Hello, I’m Aria Garcia. I’m here to see the principal,” I said.

“Oh, yes. They’re waiting for you. Right, this way.” She gestured for me to follow her behind the counter.

The woman opened the door for me, and I stepped into a small warm office. An older man behind the desk stared at me. The teacher sat in a chair across from him.

“Mrs. Garcia,” the principal greeted me. “My name is Gary Hadley,” he said. The man had only half his hair left and light blue eyes. His glasses slipped down the bridge of his nose.

“You are Ace Garcia’s wife, is that correct?” Gary asked. He raised his brows curiously.

“I am,” I said.

“Ah, yes, I had him when he was young.” Gary gestured for me to take a seat. “And his siblings. How is Mr. Garcia?”

“He went missing a year ago in a plane crash. What is this about?” I asked rudely.

“Sorry to hear,” he said. He didn’t sound the least bit sorry. “Let me start by saying that Angel is a brilliant young man.”

“Hm.” I gave him a cheeky smile, and then it faded to a glower. “Gary, I’m well aware of my son’s intelligence. Probably more so than you are. Get to the point. I’m a busy woman,” I said.

Gary looked taken aback by my hostility, and he gestured to Patricia to explain.

“Angel was gambling and cussing at recess,” she explained. Patricia sat so straight up it made me think she had a stick shoved up her ass.

I waited to see if she would say any more, but she didn’t. I snorted. “You have to be kidding me? That is why you drug me all the way down here?”

“Mrs. Garcia, these are both very serious. We do not condone bad words or gambling,” Gary said in a severe tone. The phone on his desk rang. Gary answered the phone. “Send him in,” he said. “I’m sorry, but Angel has been expelled.”

I snorted. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. The entire god damn family cusses and gambles. You should be more concerned about the students who bully kids or hurt kids. Do you know what I think? I think you guys have had it out for my son. You know who his father is. You didn’t like his father in school. I’ve heard of you, Gary. I’m no fool. Go ahead and expel him. I don’t care. None of my kids are coming to this ridiculous school again,” I spat and stood up.

Angel walked into the office.

“Let’s go,” I sneered.

Angel sighed and turned around.

When we got into the car, I spoke. “Damn it, Angel. You can’t cuss and play poker at school!” I scolded.

“I didn’t. All I said was damn it, and she jumped my ass. We were playing fucking Uno. We were betting on goldfish,” he said and snorted.

“What?” I asked in disbelief. “You were expelled over goldfish?” I screeched. I slammed on my brakes.

Angel’s head bounced off the dashboard.

“Ow, Ma, damn!” he grunted and rubbed his head.

A chuckle escaped me. “Learn to wear your seatbelt. Well, whatever, I’ll put you in a different school,” I grunted.

“Why can’t I be homeschooled?” he whined.

“You should be around kids your age,” I said.

“Kids my age suck,” he grunted. “Besides, I’ll have to make new friends, Ma. I like my friends,” he huffed. He crossed his arms over his chest.

A chuckle escaped me. “You shouldn’t have been betting your goldfish,” I smirked.

Angel rolled his eyes and sank into his seat.

When we get home, Angel went upstairs. I walked down the hall to my study.

Austin left me a note to let me know he went to deal with First Street.

My phone rang.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Aria?” a deep voice asked.

I arched a brow. “This is.”

“This is Bohai Chen. Would you mind coming to China sooner? Maybe you could fly out tomorrow morning? We have a busy week next week,” he explained.

“Um, sure,” I said. “I’ll leave here at eight o’clock.”

“Sounds good,” he said, and the line went dead.

“Who’s that?” Austin asked as he strode into the study.

“Bohai. We have to leave tomorrow,” I said and sighed. “You’ll have to call around to see if everyone can go.”

Austin cursed under his breath and sighed. “That is really short notice.”

“I know, but we’ll just have to make it work. If it’s just us, so be it,” I muttered. “I’m going to go see if supper is done. I’ll be back,” I said.

Rosa informed me supper would be done in thirty minutes, so I went back to the study.

Austin hung his phone up as I came in. “So, partner, it’s just us,” he muttered.

“You’re kidding?” I breathed.

“Told you it was short notice,” he said.

“Not even dad?” I asked in disbelief.

“Nope, he has this important business meeting tomorrow afternoon,” he said and shrugged. Austin poured himself a glass of bourbon.

“Oh well, I guess. Pack your shit. We leave here at seven. Supper will be done in thirty minutes.”

We both walked upstairs to pack our things. By the time I got downstairs, everyone was at the table to eat.

“Mom, I don’t want to change schools,” Adelina pouted.

“That school ain’t no good for you kids. You’re changing school, and that is final,” I said in a stern voice. “You kids will stay here with Rosa this weekend. Austin and I have a business trip,” I said.

They all groaned in irritation. The kids hate it when we leave.

Austin’s cell rang. He looked at it and sighed. “I have to take this,” he muttered. He got up and walked away as he answered his phone.

When I finished with dinner, I took the kids upstairs and tucked them in. After that, I headed back to the study.

The study door was open. Austin had his feet kicked up on the arm of the couch, and his head rested against the other arm of the sofa. He held a book in his hands. “I need a raise,” he said and chuckled.

“Why is that?” I asked.

“I want a fucking divorce. After all her pouting of wanting a divorce, this bitch is trying to get me back,” he growled in irritation. “I have a feeling when we go to get divorced, she is going to take me to the cleaners.”

I chuckled. “Maybe she knows about Carley,” I teased. I sat down at my desk across from him.

“Oh, she does. I told her.” Austin gave me a devious smirk.

“Oh, you told the wifey. Shit must be getting serious,” I teased.

“Believe it or not, it’s serious,” he admitted. “I can’t explain it, but it’s way different with Carley than anyone else.”

“I can understand that,” I said. I stared down at my paperwork. “This job revolves more around paperwork than anything else,” I muttered.

“I can do it if you want,” Austin offered.

“No, it’s fine. I’m not ready for bed yet,” I said. “Go see Carley or something,” I suggested.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you’re more excited about my new relationship than I am.”

“I’d say that is about right,” I said and chuckled.

“I’ll go see what she’s up to,” he said and shrugged. He strolled out of the study.

***

When I finished my paperwork, I went out to the garage. I had a craving for Starbucks.

I got into my BMW and backed out of the garage.

In town, the traffic was light, so I made it downtown quickly.

“Hi, what can I get you?” a young girl behind the counter asked politely.

“A Caffe Latte, please,” I said and smiled politely back at her. My eyes wandered to the window as she made my drink.

For a moment, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a hooded figure.

However, the girl behind the counter caught my attention before I could get a good look. “Here is your drink,” she said.

“Oh,” I said in a daze. I reached for my latte. I paid the girl and tipped her.

She wished me a goodnight.

When I turned back, whatever I saw was gone. My stomach twisted nervously, but I ignored the feeling as I got into my car. I started my car and backed out.

The last stoplight in town turned red. I pushed on my breaks to slow down. My car didn’t slow. My brake lowered to the floor. “Fuck!” I gasped. I had no brakes. I sped right through the intersection. A semi honked as it came straight at me. I got on the gas and missed the truck. I steered through traffic the best I could. The only thing I could think about was that I didn’t want to be responsible for hurting someone or the death of someone. Another vehicle stopped in front of me.

“Oh god,” I breathed. I didn’t want to hit the car, so I swerved to miss it. Before I could regain control of the vehicle, the car headed for an embankment. The vehicle rolled, once, twice, three times. Glass shattered around me. I covered my head with my hands, but it didn’t stop my head from hitting things. By the fourth time the car rolled, I slipped into unconsciousness. The last thing I heard was honking and glass shattering.

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