Finding Ace

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Chapter 6. Confession

Aria

A beeping noise woke me. When I opened my eyes, my vision blurred. My head pounded as if I suffered from a severe hangover.

“Aria?” a voice asked worriedly. Austin’s hand caught mine before I could pull out the oxygen tubes.

“Austin?” I breathed. “What happened?”

“You tell me? You lost control of your car?” he asked worriedly.

A groan escaped me. “Someone cut my brake lines, I think,” I said.

“Jesus Christ. This is getting out of hand, Aria. I’m going to have to lock you away to keep you alive! Whoever is doing this has to be stopped,” Austin snapped. He stood up.

“I’m fine, Okay? Don’t leave,” I pleaded.

He sighed and slowly sat back down on the chair beside my bed.

“Get me out of here. Hospital food sucks,” I muttered.

Austin chuckled. “I can fix the food part, but I can’t get you out of here.”

“What day is it?” I asked.

“Sunday.”

“Oh god,” I grunted. “Did you call the Chinese?”

“You would be more concerned about that.” Austin rolls his eyes. “I did call them. We’ll fly out next week.”

“Austin, maybe we shouldn’t,” I breathed. A realization struck me like a flash of lightning. “What if they’re responsible for Ace? What if it is them after me?”

Austin gritted his teeth as I spoke. “N-noway, Aria. They have been our allies for years.”

“True, but they wanted Ace to fly out there to come to an agreement. What if they didn’t agree to anything?”

“Bohai said he paid Ace before he left. We’ve been dealing with them since he vanished. That would not make any sense. Why would they continue to deal with us if they’re responsible for Ace’s disappearance?” Austin asked.

“They could be secretly trying to take out the Latin Kings,” I pointed out.

He shook his head in denial. “For what?”

“Money, power, guns? Who knows,” I muttered.

“So. . .” he trailed off. “You think they are the ones trying to kill you? Wouldn’t that mean Ace is dead?” he asked.

Tears built in my eyes at the thought. “Maybe,” I murmured and looked away. “We all know it is possible. That is what anyone would do, right? It’s the only thing that makes sense. They took the strongest and the smartest members we had. It left the rest of us unprotected in a sense. The next one they would take out is me, the leader.” I hated admitting it. Every cell in my body rejected the thought that I would never see Ace again.

“If what you’re saying is true,” he paused, “It’s time to go.”

“W-what?” I stuttered. My eyes widened.

“We are getting the fuck out of here. That’s what,” he grunted. Austin turned my machines off. I threw the oxygen and started pulling the needles out. Austin ran toward the door to keep watch. He kept his back turned as I got dressed.

“I’m ready,” I said.

He grabbed my hand, and we ran down the hallway. I ran with a limp. An intense pain shot through my right leg, but I did my best to ignore it.

“Hey!” a nurse shouted.

We looked back and saw her chasing after us.

“Fuck, run!” Austin hissed.

I ran in front of him.

“I’m parked on the side,” he said.

We made it into the elevator and pressed the button for the first floor. We ran down the hall that took you to a side door for parking.

“This way!” Austin growled. He grabbed my arm and pulled me toward his car.

We peeled out of the parking lot.

“Call the boys. Tell them to come to the mansion. We are going to China, but the Chinese won’t be informed of this visit,” Austin said.

“What are you thinking?” I asked.

“I’m thinking that if there is the slightest chance they’re holding Ace or Benny hostage, we’re going to find out!” Austin spat.

“Huh, good idea,” I grunted as I dialed my dad’s number first.

I reached all the boys before we made it back to the mansion. Once inside, we headed straight for the study.

“God, my leg is killing me,” I muttered.

“Rub some alcohol on it,” Austin said.

“Good idea.” I chuckled as I reached for the Bourbon.

Austin took the bottle from me and poured himself a glass. By the time we get our second glass down, the boys came into the study. Miguel, Diego, Luis, Abel, Joey, and Dad let themselves in.

“Miguel, Diego, we weren’t expecting you,” I said.

“Luis called us and told us about your accident. We came to check on you,” Diego said. “We just happened to get here when they showed up.” Diego nodded to the other guys.

“What is going on?” Dad asked worriedly.

“We have a theory,” I said. I pursed my lips and glanced up at Austin.

Austin slammed his glass of bourbon and gritted his teeth.

“Is that right?” Dad asked. “About?”

“Ace, Benny, and me,” I said.

They all stared at me in confusion.

I sighed. “Okay, so I thought that maybe the Chinese are the reason Ace and Benny went missing. I think they’re also the ones that are trying to kill me,” I admitted.

“Aria, that is crazy,” Luis said and crossed his arms over his chest.

“It is not,” I snapped.

“Why would they just now be coming after you? It’s been a year since they went missing. That doesn’t make sense,” Joey argued.

“Not if they don’t want me to know it is them!” I hissed. “Think about it that is the only part that doesn’t make sense! Why wouldn’t they wait? It would leave me to believe it is someone else!”

“That is a good point,” Abel said and shrugged. “You got my vote. So, are we going to China?”

“Yeah, except this time, they won’t know we’re coming,” Austin said in a low husky voice.

“So, when do we leave?” Miguel asked.

“Tonight, tomorrow? I don’t care, but it has to be soon,” I said.

“Tonight works for me,” Dad said and shrugged.

The rest of the boys agreed.

“So, war?” Diego asked.

“No, we’re going to see what we can find out about Benny and Ace,” Austin said. “We’re going to snoop around the entire Chinese charter.”

“Now, when Ace went missing, we went to China and found nothing,” Luis said. “How will it be any different this time?”

“The last time we went, we were under the impression that the Chinese were our allies, not our enemies. The different perspective could change everything,” Austin said. He earned a high five from me.

“We meet back here at nine o’clock,” I informed the boys. “Don’t be late.”

My study door opened before any of the boys could leave. A gorgeous redhead with green eyes walked in.

Miguel let out a low whistle.

“Oh my god, Sadie?” I breathed.

“Hey guys, did I crash a party?” Sadie chuckled.

“You couldn’t if you tried. Come here.” I grinned widely and gestured for her to come to me. I got off my chair. She made her way to me, and I embraced her tightly. “God, it has been way too long!”

“Yeah, it has,” she said and smiled warmly at me.

“Sadie, this is Diego,” I introduced. “The idiot that whistled at you is Miguel,” I said and chuckled. “They’re Ace and Austin’s, cousins.”

“Nice to meet you two,” she said politely. I can’t help but notice she is checking Miguel out.

“I had no idea you were coming,” I said.

“It was a surprise. I was looking for everyone. I figured everyone would be here. I was half right,” she said and laughed. “Where are the girls?”

“At home,” Luis said.

“Did I come at a bad time?” Sadie asked.

“Well, we’re leaving tonight,” I admitted. “Are you going to be in town for a while?”

“Permanently, I’m moving back,” Sadie said.

“Really? That’s great,” I said excitedly.

“Well, I guess I’ll get out of your hair. I’m going to see if I can find Kimmy,” she said and shrugged. “Um, can someone give me a ride? I told the taxi to leave,” she muttered.

“I’ll give you a ride,” Miguel offered.

“Oh, great. Thank you,” she said. Sadie turned to kiss my cheek before she walked out the door.

Once everyone left, Austin and I plopped down on the couch. Austin looked at me warily.

“What is it?” I asked.

“It amazes me she has forgiven us,” Austin admitted. “Especially you. You did kill her boyfriend of two years,” he said and chuckled.

“She told me she was beginning to feel something about him was off,” I said. Sadie was one of the first girls that knew about the Latin Kings. We went to her the night Gabriel died and told her the truth. She said she understood, but she split afterward. “I think she just needed a different life for a while, you know?”

“Yeah, that prick never did deserve Sadie. She was always really great to him, and I can’t count the times he treated her like shit,” he muttered. “I wasn’t even that big of a dick to women.”

“Did you see the way Miguel looked at her?” I asked and giggled.

“Are you kidding me? I totally ship them two. They’ll be together by the end of the week,” Austin said and laughed.

Another giggle escaped me. “If we make it back alive, I guess we’ll find out.”

“We’ll make it, but in case we don’t, I have a confession,” he said.

I stared at him. “Oh, really? What’s that?”

“I bought an engagement ring for Carley. So, if I die, give it to her,” he said and smirked.

“Oh my god!” I gasped. “You didn’t! Austin, you aren’t even divorced!” I threw my hands over my mouth and bursted into a fit of laughter.

“It’s in my bedside table upstairs,” he said and chuckled.

“I want to see it!” I jumped to my feet and bolted for the door. I couldn’t contain the excitement I felt for Carley and him.

“Wait!” Austin laughed. He chased me down the hallway. “I got some other shit in there you don’t need to see! It will ruin my innocence!”

I snorted. “Whatever, Austin, you weren’t born with innocence!”

Austin laughed as we ran out into the foyer.

Andersen carried a vase and saw us coming straight at him. “Oh shit!” Andersen gasped, and his eyes widened. He raised the vase, and we ducked under it.

Austin and I laughed like lunatics as we darted for the stairs.

“Christ, you two are worse than the kids!” Andersen yelled after us.

***

“That was the longest fucking flight in the history of flights,” I grumbled.

“Beijing is nice this time of year, though,” Luis said and chuckled.

“It’s kind of nice. We have one of the best hotels in Beijing,” Dad said. “They do have room for us, right?”

“We’re getting that huge suite that has like six bedrooms,” I told him. “I keep it reserved strictly for us all year.”

“Good thinking,” Joey said and chuckled.

Once we checked into the hotel, we went up to the top floor. On the top floor, there is only one suite, and it is massive.

“Let’s get some sleep for tonight, and we’ll start in the morning,” I told them. They all agreed as we headed for different rooms to sleep.

I couldn’t help but toss and turn. I was afraid of what would happen. Any one of us could be going home in a body bag. I couldn’t describe how downright guilty I would feel, knowing I dragged them here. Part of me wondered if I should have come alone. This should be my mission, not theirs. I laid wide awake and stared at my ceiling. Fuck this. I need a drink — I thought to myself.

The living room and kitchen area had an open concept. It was dark apart from the light above the stove. I grabbed some whiskey off the bar and poured myself a drink. Before I could down it, a voice came from the dark.

“Little late to be having a drink, don’t you think?” Joey asked. His face came out of the dark.

“I couldn’t sleep,” I admitted.

“Me neither,” he said and sighed. “Pour me one?” Joey took a seat on a stool across the counter from me.

After I poured both of us a glass, we clinked our glasses together and downed it.

“Why aren’t you sleeping?” I asked.

“I’m horrible at sleeping without Jenny,” he said. “After all the shit we went through, being away from her tears me apart.”

“I’m so sorry,” I breathed. “You have no idea how sorry I am about the explosion and what happened to you, Joey. I never—”

“Come on, Aria. That wasn’t your fault. It is the life we all chose,” he said and shrugged. “Besides, I wouldn’t do any of it differently. I jumped in front of that bullet, knowing what could happen. You would do it for any of us. We would all do it for each other. It’s what makes us family.”

“I feel like I shouldn’t have dragged all of you out here. Maybe we came for nothing. Maybe one of us is going home in a body bag,” I murmured.

Joey took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “We chose to come here, all of us. You did not force a single one of us to come. Don’t ever blame yourself for our decisions. We got your back, and we all know you got ours. We all love Ace and Benny. We all miss them.”

Tears built in my eyes. “What the hell am I supposed to do if I never see them again, Joey?”

He stood up and moved around the bar. He wrapped his arms around my waist.

I sobbed into his shoulder as he hugged me tightly.

“You’re tough as hell. Don’t assume anything yet,” he said. He pulled away and smiled at me. “Get some sleep, boss. We have a big day tomorrow.” Joey kissed my cheek, and I kissed his cheek before he sauntered back to his room. I just hoped we didn’t come all this way for nothing.

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