Chapter 8. Hacking
Benny thanked me as I sat a cup of coffee down in front of him and stood behind him. Benny sat in front of the laptop and brought up my email.
“See.” Benny pointed at the screen.
I read it from over his shoulder. I sighed in frustration. How could I have missed it? “God, Benny, I’m so sorry,” I muttered.
“They have no idea that I sent you this shit. I should probably hack in and delete it,” Benny explained.
“Good idea,” I said. “Make sure they don’t know where to find us, either.”
“They won’t,” he promised.
“Do you think you can hack into the cameras that are in the building?” I asked.
Benny sighed. “It’ll take a while. To be honest, though, I don’t think you should go back until I’ve looked through all the footage.”
All of the guys watched us. I moved away from Benny and sat down on a couch beside Austin.
“He’s right. We should see how much we can find out about them first. Let Benny do his job. You know damn well if Ace is here, Benny will find him,” Austin said soothingly.
“Clearly, the Chinese had something to do with Ace, too,” I muttered. “What all happened, Benny?”
“The Chinese were upset. They told us they weren’t taking the deal. They tried saying we were ripping them off. Ace and I told them if they didn’t like the price to find it elsewhere. We left got on the private jet. All I really recall is the pilot saying the engines stopped working or something. When I woke up, I was in that room you found me in. They tortured me for information. For the longest time, I didn’t give them shit. Then they were about to kill me, so I decided to give them false information,” Benny explained. “They also found me useful for hacking into things.”
“Wow,” Dad huffed. “What else?”
“I hacked into their emails. I started sending you those emails a few months ago. Not trying to come out right and say it was me because I didn’t want to take the chance of one of them seeing it.” Benny ran his hand through his hair in irritation. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter. As I said, I haven’t seen Ace at all since the crash. I had asked about him. They just laughed and walked away. For all I know, he’s dead, Aria. I’m sorry, but you might have to accept that we may not ever find him. God only knows what they did with him.”
“We could grab one of them and torture it out of them,” Austin said and grinned widely.
“Let’s see what Benny finds first. Being irrational about this situation isn’t going to get us anywhere. As a matter of fact, if we don’t watch our moves carefully, we’re all going to be missing next, and who the fuck is going to find us?” Luis grumbled.
“I agree with Luis,” Dad said.
“Okay, fine. Nobody is going anywhere until Benny finds some shit out. Okay?” I huffed in irritation.
They all quietly agreed. The only sound in the room after that was Benny’s fingers moving across the keyboard.
After a while, my dad decided to lay down. Abel and Luis chose to play a video game. Austin went out the back door with a joint in his hand. Joey sat beside Benny to watch him work. It was hard to wait. I waited so long already to even get this far. It felt like we were at a dead-end again.
At least we have Benny back — I reminded myself. It’s better than not having either of them. After several minutes, I decided to follow after Austin. I probably needed that joint as bad as he did. On my way out, Diego and Miguel were at the counter talking. I caught enough of the conversation to know they were talking about Ace. They wanted to find Ace too. It had been hard on everyone.
I stepped out the back patio door. Austin looked at me curiously. He offered the joint to me. I took it from him and hit it.
“It’s so fucking hard to wait,” I muttered.
“Yeah, I know. Let’s hope that Benny finds something,” Austin muttered.
Austin and I stayed silent for a long time as we stared out over the large backyard. The silence wasn’t uncomfortable. The events we had encountered left both of us speechless.
“Maybe you should try to get some rest,” Austin suggested.
“Are you insane? I’m not going to sleep. Not when we could be just hours from finding Ace,” I said and snorted.
Austin chuckled and shrugged. “Just a thought.”
After we finished the joint, we went back into the house.
“Anything?” I asked.
“I’ve got a couple of the cameras up if you want to come take a look,” Benny said.
Austin and I stopped behind Benny and Joey. Benny did manage to get into a couple of cameras.
“I also got into their email. Now I’m trying to hack into Bohai Chen’s phone,” Benny said.
“You can do that?” Austin asked in disbelief.
“Yeah,” Benny said and nodded. “I’m not sure how secure the phone is, but I might be able to get something. I have to warn you, I may not be able to get much.”
“Let me know,” I told him. I grabbed a book and sat down on the couch with it. Austin plopped down beside me as I opened the book. I had to do something to keep me preoccupied.
After a few hours, my dad came out of his room. “How’s it going?” Dad asked.
“Benny has been in every camera in the building. There is no sign of Ace,” Joey explained.
“I’ve managed to get a few of his text messages, though. I’m tracing the phone number now. These texts are strange. It’s about an assassination. Mine and Austin’s heads snapped up. We stared at Benny in shock.
“Let me see those!” I huffed as I jumped off the couch. Austin followed behind me. We stood behind Benny, and he showed us the text messages.
Bohai Chen: Is she dead yet?
Unknown number: My attempts were failed. Don’t worry, sir. I’ll get her.
My jaw dropped in horror. Austin and I gave each other a look of disbelief. We both looked back at Benny.
“What?” Benny asked, confused.
“Hurry up, Benny. Find out where the fuck those texts are coming from,” Austin demanded.
“Why? Is something wrong?” Benny looked at Austin and back to me.
“It might be about me,” I murmured.
Benny stared at me in horror. “For real?” Benny asked, and I nodded. “Damn,” Benny grunted. Benny spun around, and his fingers moved swiftly across the keys of the laptop.
All of us stood behind Benny as his fingers moved fast across the keyboard. He was trying to trace the number.
Benny sighed. “The number is untraceable. It must be a burner phone. However, I might be able to find out where it was bought. It’s going to take me a while,” Benny said. “I’m sorry. I wish I had better news.” Benny threw his hands in the air in frustration and let them fall back onto the desk.
“Take a break, Benny. You’re tired. You need a shower. We need to go back into Beijing for some supplies anyway,” I explained.
Benny nodded in agreement and stood up.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how bad I want to go sit outside. I haven’t been outside for such a long time,” Benny said and chuckled. He walked to the back door and let himself out.
“Who’s coming?” I asked. Abel and Austin agreed to go to town with me. We climbed into the van and headed into town. The house had no food. I hadn’t planned on staying here anytime soon. Benny needed some clothes, and the boys knew his size. Since our things were still at the hotel, we decided to take our chances and go there as well.
We went to a market first and grabbed whatever we could for food. We went down the street to a clothing store to get Benny some clothes. The clothes were a bit odd since they were foreign, but they were better than what he had.
“We need to be careful,” Austin said.
I nodded in agreement.
Austin, Abel, and I walked into the hotel from the back. We quickly jumped into the elevator.
We came out of the elevator, and a man stood near our hotel door. He drew a gun. “Fuck!” Austin shouted.
The man pointed the gun and fired a shot at me. Abel grabbed me around the waist to pull me away from the shooter. The gun fired again, and Abel groaned in pain. Abel staggered.
“Go!” Austin shouted.
The three of us took off down the hall. When I looked back, Abel fell to the floor. The man came around the corner, and he saw Abel and raised his gun.
“No!” I screamed. I grabbed a knife from my pocket. My heart pounded against my chest. I had never thrown a knife at this far of a distance, and I didn’t think it would make it to him. However, that wouldn’t stop me from trying. I whipped the knife in the direction of the man. The blade flew through the air.
The blade hit him, but not where I had aimed. It entered his abdomen.
“Fuck,” I hissed. I raced up the hallway to grab Abel off the floor.
“Just go, Aria!” Abel shouted.
Austin came up behind me. We both grabbed Abel and dashed around the corner.
Austin pulled a gun out. “Stay,” Austin said. He moved out from behind the wall and fired shots. I moved closer to get a better look. Austin had managed to drop the guy.
“We should get our things while we have the chance,” I hissed.
“Are you kidding, Aria? We’ll never get out of here alive if we don’t get out of here now. We should have brought Miguel and Diego too,” Austin said.
“Okay, you’re right. Let’s just go,” I said.
“Are you okay, Abel? Should we take you to the hospital?” Austin asked.
“No, man. I’m good, I think,” Abel said breathlessly.
We got back out to the van. I helped Abel into the back. As I slid the van door shut, an engine revved, and tires squealed — a black car with tinted windows sped toward me. I gasped in shock. I grunted as I jumped out of the path of the vehicle.
“Get in!” Austin shouted.
I jumped into the van, and Austin peeled out. I watched my side mirror.
“He’s on your ass! You can’t head back to the house. You have to be sure you lose him first,” I hissed.
“What the fuck do you think I’m driving, a Lamborghini?” Austin asked sarcastically. Austin swerved in and out of traffic.
Austin managed to lose the car that had been after us.
I smirked at Austin. “You may not be driving a Lamborghini, but he can’t drive that Bugatti worth a shit.”
Austin chuckled. “I thought that is what that was. I’ve always wanted one.”
“For your mad driving skills, I’m going to buy you one,” I promised.
Some things we knew for sure was that Ace wasn’t in the same building that Benny had been in. Maybe they had him somewhere else. Perhaps they didn’t want Ace and Benny in the same building.
We pulled up to the house and helped Abel inside first.
“Dad, we need help,” I said.
Dad took in Abel’s condition, and he rushed to Abel’s side to help him.
Benny walked into the living room with a robe on. His skin was wet from the shower he took. “What is going on?” Benny asked. Benny had no beard and a buzz cut. He looked much more like himself.
“Abel got shot,” I said.
Dad removed the bullet from Abel and stitched him up. Abel went into another room to lay down.
Benny went back to sit behind the computer. Instead of feeling useless, I decided to make supper.
As I dished the food out, Benny came into the kitchen. Benny stopped beside me.
“Some of those texts were coming from Los Angeles. So, they must have sent someone out there after you. I’ve got nothing on Ace. Aria, I think we should grab Bohai Chen and take him back to Los Angeles to torture him until he talks. That is probably our best bet,” Benny said.
“Come on, Benny. He’s the fucking president of the Long Zi Group. That man is not going to sing no matter how much he is tortured. We need to pick a weak link or something that would chirp like a bird,” I said and chuckled.
Benny laughed, rolled his eyes, and nodded in agreement.
“How about that new guy, oh what’s his name?” Joey asked.
“Feng Zhao,” Benny said.
“That’s it,” Joey said.
“He might know something. However, since he is new, I doubt it,” Luis said.
“Well, he’s been there a few months. He is their new assassin. He probably knows something. Maybe he is the one that has been after you. From what I understand, he has been gone a lot. The mother fucker is smart,” Benny said and sighed. “Seriously, though. Kidnapping an assassin is a big job.”
“Like an Ace job,” I said and arched a brow. The boys all stared at me with a sad expression, but they didn’t speak. “I’ll do it,” I said.
“No, Aria. It’s dangerous. Maybe we should—” Dad started, but I cut him off.
“Ace trained me, or did you forget? I’m not an idiot. I know what I’m doing,” I snapped.
“The Chinese are strong fighters, Aria. That is what makes them so strong. You need to think this over,” Luis argued.
“This is not a debate!” I spat. “Have you all forgotten who is in charge? I will deal with it!”
The room grew so silent you could have heard a pin drop. I stormed out of the kitchen to the back porch. After a long silence, I heard the door open. It was Benny.
“I can keep you off the cameras, Aria,” Benny said. “Look, I get why you want this done so bad. I’m hoping you have enough sense to keep yourself safe, though. I know you miss Ace. Everyone misses him, but don’t get killed over finding him. Ace wouldn’t want anything to happen to you. Don’t make it a suicide mission.”
“Benny, come on. Don’t you have faith in me?”
“Of course, I do. I’ve seen what you can do, we all have, but I also saw what they could do. This is a big job, and you know it. Just be safe,” he said softly.
“I’m not afraid to die, but I’m not trying to die. I’m just trying to do my job,” I said. “Ace isn’t just my husband. We need him back just as bad as we needed you. Ace is one of the best assassins that the Latin Kings had seen in generations. He never trained anyone but me. I know what I’m doing. If everyone believes Ace stood a chance against this guy, they should believe that I do too,” I sneered.
Benny nodded slowly as he processed what I said. “You’re right. You got this,” he said with a confident smile. He opened his arms for me.
A smile spread across my face, and I stepped into his arms.
We embraced for a long time. “I’m so glad we found you, Benny.”
“Me too, their food sucks. I can’t wait to get home and eat something that isn’t Chinese food. I’m never eating that shit again,” he said and chuckled.