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Chapter 18. Too Late

“Angel? Say something. You’re freaking me out,” Mia said. Mia’s eyes pleaded with mine. She stared at the glass of Bourbon that I was handing her. “I don’t think I want that,” she murmured.

“Trust me, we’re both going to need it,” I said softly.

She took it from me slowly. She raised the glass to her lips and took a sip. She lowered the glass and waited for me to speak.

“I should have told you this a long time ago, and I’m sorry I didn’t. I was scared of losing you, and I wanted to be sure that I could trust you,” I started. My heart felt like it was about to break free from my rib cage.

“Okay...” she trailed off. “What?”

“Remember when you asked me if there was any truth to what your father accused me of?” I asked.

Her hands trembled. She started to slam the Bourbon that was in her glass. She sat silent for a long moment. “Yes, and you said no.”

My lips pursed, and I shook my head. I turned away from her and slammed the remainder of the alcohol in my glass. I sat the glass down before I turned around to face her.

“I lied,” I said softly.

Mia stared at me with a blank expression. She blinked several times. Her chest started to rise and fall rapidly. She cleared her throat. “What?”

“I lied to you. I am exactly what your father accused me of. There has been speculation for hundreds of years of what we are. Every generation has gotten away with it. It gets harder with how good forensics got, but we’re smart. We live by one real big rule, that is brains. We’re not stupid. I’m not just running legitimate businesses. I’m the leader of the Latin Kings,” I said. My chin raised just a fraction.

To my surprise, Mia laughed. “What? No. No...” Mia trailed off and laughed again. She rose to her feet and stepped toward me. As soon as she was right in front of me, she spoke. “Tell me you’re kidding,” she murmured and stared into my eyes.

“The Mexican Mafia is our number one enemy; it’s been that way for generations, long before my time. Ricky’s father is the leader, Kal Rivera. Ricky will take that over one day, too,” I said. “I think they took your parents because of me, but I’m not sure. Your father was friends with Kal, and maybe Ademar fucked Kal over. I’m not sure,” I admitted. “I was planning to tell you tonight. That is why I asked you to come over.”

Mia balled her fists up and slammed both of her fists into my chest. “You son of a bitch!” She shrieked. “You lied to me! You’re going to get my parents killed! You tricked me!”

“Mia, stop,” I murmured as she shoved me away from her.

She came at me with her fist balled up. She aimed to punch me between the legs, but I caught her fist and pulled her into me. She balled up the other fist and swung at my nose.

I dodged her fist, and it collided with the bookshelf behind me. I grabbed her hand, and she screamed in pain. Her scream took me by such surprise I dropped both her hands. She clutched the hand that collided with the wooden bookshelf.

Mia came at me again.

This time I grabbed both of her arms, spun her around, and restrained her. “Stop it, Mia! Attacking me won’t change anything! I need you to keep it together so we can find your parents. I promise after we do, I will leave you alone.”

“I hate you,” she sobbed.

“Mia, I’m sorry,” I said as I felt my heart shatter.

The doors swung open. Mia and I watched as my parents and many others filed into the study.

“From the look on her face, I’m going to guess that you told her,” Austin said and chuckled. “Same fucking look your mother gave Carlos when he told her.”

We both stared at them in silence.

Austin let out a low whistle.

“Need an extra minute?” Dad asked.

“Yes,” I muttered. “Come on,” I said. I let go of Mia to assess what she would do.

She stormed out of the study.

I followed Mia down the hallway. When I realized she was heading for the front door, I quickly caught her around the waist.

“Let go of me!” Mia shouted.

“We’re not done, Mia,” I growled. I carried her into the living room down the hall to one of the spare bedrooms. I sat her down and shut the door, blocking her way out. I flipped the light on and stared at her.

She looked over at the bed and knitted her eyebrows together before she looked at me.

My gaze fell to the bed too. I was sure she was thinking about the last time we were in this bedroom, but I couldn’t let my head go down that path right now.

“Mia, I plan to get them back alive. Okay? Keep in mind that I don’t have to do anything. I’m doing it for you. Your parents mean nothing to me at all, apart from the fact that I care about you and you care for them. I can’t keep you safe if you leave. Do you understand that? You want to go separate ways after this, that is fine. I’m not trying to make you forgive me. Yes, I lied to you, and I shouldn’t have, but I was in a hell of a situation. I had to choose between my family and you. I have been walking on thin ice since I met you. You have to understand that you can’t tell anyone. Actually, if you did, I would have no choice but to silence you.”

Her expression became horrified at what I said. She swallowed hard. “F-fine. When this is over, I will not tell anyone, but I never want to see you again!” Mia hissed.

Whatever was left of my heart shattered until there was nothing left. I stared back at Mia with a blank expression and nodded. I turned around and opened the door.

Mia and I walked back into the study. Someone had flipped my desk upright. Mom was placing things back on it. I noticed some were missing.

“What’s going on? Where is Dad, Austin, and Benny?”

“They left to go see what they could find at Mia’s and on the Mexican Mafia,” Joey answered.

“We thought it would be best to be certain that; that is who took Mia’s parents,” Luis said.

“What happens after that?” Mia asked.

“We find where they are keeping them,” Abel said tiredly.

“And then...” I trailed off.

Mia spun around to face me.

“It’s war,” I murmured.

Mia swallowed nervously.

“I’m really sick and tired of these wars,” Luis muttered as he plopped down on the couch.

“Wait until you have lived through as many as I have,” Papa said as he came into the study.

“I don’t even want to think about that,” Mom murmured and looked sadly at Luis.

Luis’s father was lost in a war.

“What are we supposed to do?” I asked.

“Wait for them to call,” Joey muttered.

“How long?” I asked.

The study phone rang.

Mom picked it up. “Hello?”

Mia sat beside me with a nervous expression.

Part of me wanted to console her, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. She hated me. It was over, and I knew it.

“Okay,” Mom said and hung the phone up. “Benny found where they were located.”

“Really?” Mia asked.

“Benny is pretty sure it is one of their old buildings in the city,” Mom said.

“Downtown? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” I groaned.

“Is that bad?” Mia asked.

“It’s not a good place for a gang fight to go on,” I said.

“We have to move,” Mom said.

“Fuck,” I grunted as I stood up. When I opened the bookshelf, I heard Mia gasp. I ignored her as I started handing guns out. When I turned around, I looked at Mia with pursed lips.

“What?” Mia asked.

“Who is staying here with her?” I asked.

Everyone but Mia remained silent. “Like hell, I’m staying here. You will take me with you!” Mia roared.

Mom and I looked at each other, then shrugged.

“Alright, whatever. We’ll meet you guys in the vans.”

Thirty of the Latin King members piled out of the room with guns. Mia and I stared after them until the door closed.

“What?” She asked.

“Ever shoot a gun?” I asked.

“A handgun,” she answered.

“What kind?”

“A forty-five millimeter, I think,” she said.

“Come here,” I said.

Mia walked over to me slowly. I grabbed a handgun and loaded it for her. I quickly went through how to reload it and fire it.

“You stay behind me,” I said sternly.

She rolled her eyes. “Fine, whatever,” she said.

We headed out of the study and to the garage. Mia and I climbed into the front seat of the van. Mom backed the van quickly out of the driveway. Two other vans followed behind us.

The city was dimly lit by street lights. The city wasn’t very populated because it was so late.

“Keep your gun beneath your jacket,” I murmured in her ear as we climbed out of the van.

She nodded in understanding.

Dad, Austin, and Benny came walking up to us.

“The place isn’t heavily guarded,” Benny murmured.

“This may not mean war,” Dad said.

“Benny intends to destroy their cameras, so they don’t know it was us for sure,” Austin said.

Luis snorted. “Come on, man. They’re going to know.”

“Who cares?” I growled. “Look, if we don’t need to go to war, then we’re not. I’m not going to try to kill my men over something that may have nothing to do with us!” I spat.

We headed across the street toward the six-story building.

“They are on the fourth floor,” Benny murmured.

We all headed inside going separate ways. Mom, Dad, Mia, and I were headed for the fourth floor. The rest of them would split up and cover all the other floors.

Mia gasped in shock when one guy came out from around a corner and aimed a gun at us.

A growl escaped me as he pointed the gun at Mia. I pulled Mia behind me raised the gun and fired it. The bullet hit him the throat, and he sank to the floor.

“Come on,” I hissed to Mia as I pulled her forward.

Mom and Dad took out two men down the long hallway.

When we reached the second floor, a man jumped out from a side door at Mia and I. He jabbed his knife toward Mia.

Mia grabbed his hand that he held the knife with and kicked him between the legs. She grabbed the back of his head, bringing it down on her knee.

He stumbled back but came at Mia once again.

I raised my gun and fired a single bullet at him. The bullet hit his forehead. His brains splattered across the door behind him.

Mia and I ran after my parents, who were fighting off three men.

“Go,” Dad ordered.

We ran past my parents as my dad tilted one of the men’s heads back, and my mom slid a knife across the man’s throat.

By the time we reached the fourth floor, Mom and Dad had caught up to us.

“Did I mention I’m getting too old for this shit?” Dad huffed.

Mom giggled. “Me too, babe.”

There was a set of double doors halfway down the hallway, with bars on the windows.

Dad nodded toward the door.

Mom and I nodded in agreement.

Dad and I counted to three under our breath before charging at the doors and busting them open. There were only six people in the room, two of whom were Mia’s parents.

We all raised our guns, firing a bullet at the four men simultaneously.

Mia let out a sigh of relief when her parents looked at her. Mia ran toward her parents. They were both tied up to chairs.

Mom and Dad cut them loose as I stood in front of them.

Both of Mia’s parents were weak. We had to help them walk. Mia helped her mom, and I helped her dad.

When we got downstairs, Benny, Joey, Luis, Abel, and Austin were at the front doors.

“We’re going to blow it,” Benny said.

“Poof,” Austin added.

“Let’s just get out of here, Benny. We don’t have time for you to wire a fucking bomb to this place,” I said.

“Please, kid,” Benny said and rolled his eyes. “It’s already done. All I have to do is push the button.”

“Light ’er up,” Dad said with a smirk.

Mom threw her head back and let out a laugh.

We climbed into the vans and headed back to the mansion. I looked back at Mia and her parents.

“How are they?” I asked.

“Weak,” Mia murmured. “They beat them up pretty bad.”

“They’ll make it, Mia,” I murmured.

Her gaze met mine, and she nodded.

When we reached the mansion, we headed into the house. Dad helped Ademar into the living room, and Mom helped Mary.

“Mia, go into the kitchen and grab two glasses of water,” I said. “I’ll grab the first aid kit,” I told my parents.

By the time I got back with the first aid kit, Mia was already back.

“Thank you,” Ademar murmured to my father.

“I feel it’s best that you all stay here tonight,” Mom said.

Mary nodded in agreement. “Thank you,” she said softly.

“I’m going to bed,” I said. It was hard to fight those men off tonight because I was so exhausted. At this point, I wasn’t even sure if I would make it up the stairs.

When I reached my bed, I didn’t bother taking any clothes off, not even my shoes. I didn’t pull back the covers either. My head hit the pillow, and I was out. I wanted this nightmare to be fucking over.


When I walked into the kitchen, Ademar was sitting there at my table. I never thought I would see the day. I walked over to the coffee pot.

“You’re up early,” Ademar said.

“So are you,” I said as I turned the coffee pot on to make.

“I didn’t sleep,” Ademar said.

I stayed silent as I waited for the coffee to make. I didn’t really know what to say. There was a cop sitting at my kitchen table. The same cop that set out to destroy me. The only reason a cop was sitting in my house having coffee with me was that we had one crucial thing in common.

When the coffee finished, I poured two cups and sauntered over to the table. I sat across from Ademar and slid him a cup.

“Thanks,” he murmured.

“You’re welcome,” I said.

“So...” Ademar trailed off and looked up at me.

“Why did they take you?” I asked bluntly.

He sighed and looked away from me as he spoke. “I agreed to work with them to bring you down. I told them they had to do a deal with you. Instead, the idiots burned down your warehouse and took the guns. I told them I couldn’t use it as evidence because it wasn’t a deal with you there on camera.” Ademar took a deep breath before continuing.

“They expected me to pay them for handing the guns over, but I told them it wasn’t good enough. I needed you, or I couldn’t pay them,” Ademar explained. “They wanted to keep the guns as payment, but I wouldn’t allow that either. They tried taking all three of us, but Mia got away and obviously came to you.”

“So, are you going to hand me over?” I asked.

“I don’t have proof, I can’t even if I wanted to,” Ademar said. “I think the least I can do is turn the other cheek. I’m assuming you are sparing my life?”

“I didn’t save you just to kill you, so you assume correctly,” I said.

“About Mia...” Ademar trailed off and looked up at me.

“What about her?”

“I suppose she could do worse. I thought Ricky would be good for her, but clearly, I was wrong. The Mexican Mafia is far worse than you guys seem to be. I’ve known Kal all my life. Our fathers grew up together. Anyway, if you and Mia want to be together, I’ll butt out.”

What an asshole! He would wait until it was too late to get off my back about dating Mia. “You’re too late on that,” I said softly. I took a sip of my coffee before I looked back up at him. “We’re over.”

“Why is that?”

“I lied to her. She confronted me about the truth, and I denied it as I had to you. She said if she found out I was lying, it was over. I told her the truth after you and your wife went missing because I thought the Mexican Mafia took you in spite of me. We have fought with them for years. She said once we got you two back, she never wanted to see me again,” I said.

“One of the best yet worst things about Mia is how forgiving she can be. You could change her mind, it might take a while, but you could if you tried hard enough,” Ademar said.

A smile formed across my face. “Thanks, but I don’t think so. You forget how stubborn Mia is. You didn’t see the look on her face, Ademar. She hates me and with good reason.” It was strange. I would never have guessed things would have turned out this way. Her father forgave me, and she was the angry one now.

“Don’t be so sure,” he said. “Mary and I have decided to relocate to Goleta.”

“Be safe. I can’t protect you there. You know that,” I said.

“I know, and if they find us, we will leave. We’ll be careful.”

“Okay,” I said. “Instead of going home, let me have some men grab some of your things. I’ll make sure you get out of here without anyone seeing.”

“That’s generous. More than I deserve, thank you,” Ademar said.

I looked at him with a blank expression. “Come on, man. We both know it isn’t you that I’m doing it for. Mia needs you two around. She may hate me, but the feeling isn’t mutual by any means.”

After that, I stood up and placed my cup in the sink. I headed for the study to make some calls.

A moving truck showed up with all of the Martinez’s belongings. Ademar, Mary, and I stood out in front of the mansion.

“Thank you,” Mary said and pecked my cheek.

“Yeah,” I murmured.

Mia came outside. She stopped in confusion. “What is going on?”

“We’re moving to Goleta. We have to relocate for our own safety,” Ademar said. “You can come with, of course, unless you would rather stay.”

“I’m coming,” Mia murmured.

“Okay,” he said.

I slipped Ademar a check without Mia noticing. “It’s for whatever you three need it for,” I murmured. “Don’t take your vehicles.”

Ademar nodded in understanding. Ademar and Mary climbed into the moving truck.

Mia started for the truck, but I grabbed her arm to stop her. She spun to face me with a blank expression.

“Think about this for a moment, Mia. There is no guarantee they won’t find you three. I can’t protect you there. Your father made a deal with them that went bad. It had nothing to do with who I am. For whatever it’s worth, I’m sorry. I don’t expect you to forgive me, but if you stay, I can keep you safe,” I explained.

“I can’t,” she said. “I can’t trust you. Maybe if you told me the truth the day I asked, I could have looked past all of this,” she gestured behind me. “I can’t stand liars. I never lied to you about anything, Angel. All I asked you was for the same courtesy, and you couldn’t even give me that. I will be fine. I don’t want you to worry about me. Don’t come looking for me.”

My lips pursed, and I shrugged. “Fine.”

Tears built in her eyes. “Bye.”

“Bye,” I said coldly.

She spun around and headed for the U-haul. She climbed into the truck.

Ademar started the truck and pulled away.

I stared after the truck as it disappeared through the trees down my windy driveway. I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked to see my father standing beside me.

“You okay?” Dad asked.

“Define okay,” I mumbled. I took a deep breath. “It is what it is. I got work to do,” I muttered darkly.

I spun around and headed up the stairs of the mansion. I refused to let it hurt me, so instead, I shut down. I couldn’t think about it, and I sure as hell would never talk about it again. I would work and stay busy because there was no other way to deal with it. One thing was for sure I would never get over her. She destroyed me just as I always knew she would.

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