Chapter Twenty Six: Secrets Revelead
Andy was wiped-out. It had taken about an hour for him to realize that Jay was gone and probably not coming back. Some had suggested that he had probably gone for a walk, but Andy knew Jay well enough to know that he wouldn’t have stayed away that long especially with his mother there and it being Christmas. He had walked outside with Ben and Micah upon suspicion and noticed right away that Jay was nowhere to be seen. Moments later Carmita had joined them and was in total shock to see her limo gone.
“Dios Mio! Where’s my limo?” she had asked looking quite scared.
“Is it possible your driver went to get gas?” Ben had asked.
“No chance Ben,” Carmita had replied. “He doesn’t leave without letting me know first. Something’s up.”
After recalling those first moments, almost like a vision, Andy found himself back in normal time in the common area of the Praeses Locus.
No one was leaving and Lauren had set everyone up with rooms in the hotel. Considering there would be no guests tonight anyway there was no issue regarding space and before long everyone had taken their own room, divided into couples. Ben and Micah had chosen to stay with Andy and Ms Taylor would share a room with Carmita. This left Debbie to share with Rick much to her happiness and yet his horror, not wanting to spend the night with a woman 4 times his age.
Not too much later Mel called everyone back into the foyer for a discussion on how to handle the news.
“Obviously this is a great shock to all of us,” she had started while everyone else sat around the now one big table that had been made by pushing the others together.
“We all love Jay and we all want him to be safe. We’ve tried calling him and he’s not answering which can only mean he’s in trouble.”
“Thanks for the update sweet-cheeks, but we already know all this,” Deb chimed in. “How about discussing what we can actually do?”
The others murmured in agreement, all except for Andy and Rick. Andy just felt so helpless. Finally everything was going right with Jay and the Christmas Party had really shown him that life was actually coming together. He had even managed to forget about B. But now, he felt lost and despite everyone else seated around him, he felt all alone and quite afraid for Jay.
Rick meanwhile had no idea what to do. He hadn’t received the money yet and was eager to but on the other hand he had no idea that the situation would get this bad. He knew he had to call Bryce and planned on doing so the moment he got a chance.
“Thank you Debbie,” Mel continued bringing both boys back to attention. “For leading me exactly to where I was going.”
She offered the older woman a wry smile and then continued.
“I think we should split-up into groups.”
“Groups?,” Debbie yelled out.
“Split-up?” Carmita questioned.
“I don’t know how forming a band will help,” Lauren offered, receiving a nudge from Rein.
“I mean…” Mel started clenching her teeth. “Rescue groups. We could have a techie group, a searching group and a contact group.”
“And a strategist group,” Andy offered for the first time in the conversation. “Some of us could even get the police notified and at least have them on side.”
Whether they felt sorry for his loss or actually agreed another collective murmur sounded out among the crowd.
“Good point Andy,” Mel said. “Well actually Andy you know everyone so maybe you’re the best person to assign the groups.”
For a fraction of a second Andy wanted to tell Mel to keep him out of it. But he came to his senses as his practical side took over forcing him to stand up and take charge.
“Ok. Thanks Mel,” Andy replied surveying the room as Mel sat back down.
“Ok so Techies, I’d say Rick, Rein and Micah.” He continued, pointing to each in turn. “Try to see what you can find out, maybe we can track down the location of his phone or something?”
“Yeah if his GPS is on it could lead us to him!” Rein said excitedly.
All three rose at once and, taking their orders, walked off to execute the plan as Andy turned back to the rest.
“As for the searching group, I’ll say Ben, Ted, Debbie and Ms Taylor…if that’s good with you?” he asked his boyfriend’s mother cautiously.
“It’s perfect Andy; I need to keep moving I can’t sit for too long. Thank you,” she gave him a quick hug in thanks.
It may have been quick but nothing about it was small. There was definitely a connection there between the two being the only ones that shared the loss of a loved one.
“Ok,” Andy started after the hug. “You guys can search out there, I don’t care how foot, cab, whatever, see if you can see him out there in the snow, for all we know he is walking around.”
“Ay-ay son,” Ben saluted and the four made for the exit right away.
“OK now,” Andy looked around at those remaining. “Emmett and Carmita, I know from firsthand experience that you guys are awesome cooks. I was thinking you guys, with Lauren’s permission, can make food for everyone because after all good sustainable food makes for what Emmett?”
Emmett smiled happy to finish an over-used phrase between the pair.
“Happily motivated people, Andy.”
“Exactly,” Andy replied.
Lauren nodded her permission and the two joined hands and almost danced towards the kitchen.
“Nice to see some people are having a good time,” Mel mumbled though loud enough for the other three to hear.
Andy ignored her.
“Ok so that leaves us 4 and…”
“And don’t tell me,” Lauren cut him off. “I’m on coffee duty, right?”
“Um, well,” Andy replied. “I wasn’t exactly thinking about that, I was going to make us the legal/strategist division. We could use your smarts Lauren.”
“Smarts?” she laughed.
“Yes, smarts.” Andy replied indignantly. “Don’t underestimate this one ladies, she’s a sharp tool that we can use.”
“Ok,” Linds replied standing. “I’ll do coffees then.”
“No, Linds…sweetie,” Andy stopped himself as he was moments away from blasting at her. “You and Lauren can do coffee if and when we need it. This team was not created by accident you know. Lauren has street-smarts, Linds is creative, Mel has legal know-how and I have…so much motivation to find whoever took my boy,” he glared off into space as though imagining the look he’d give whoever was responsible for this.
“So,” he continued racing right back to the present. “Let’s start by thinking of a plan. First of all Mel, what about getting the cops involved?”
And the foursome went into business mode from there coming up with many ideas. Most of which were shut down quickly but some which really seemed like they would help. Despite feeling down about what had happened to his boyfriend, Andy was happy that at least all hands were on deck to find him.
Rick traipsed back towards his room. The ‘techies’ group, as Andy had labeled them had no such luck with locating Jay’s phone and for now they planned to have a nap and then work throughout the night. For Rick this was a great chance to call Bryce and see what exactly was going on. It had been very hard working with Micah and Rein, two of the nicest people he knew and lying about what he knew. But then again, Rick wondered what he actually knew himself.
The last thing he could recall, Bryce was simply going to talk to Jay. Talk and that’s it. The next thing Rick knew Jay was gone. Granted he could have come clean easily and told everyone the little he knew. But would good would that have accomplished? He knew a man that knew Jay. That was simply it in a nut shell.
Rick opened the door to room 204 the one that he would be to stay in that night and looked around for any sign of the woman that he thought of as the ‘busy body’. Though he didn’t really know his roommate Debbie that well, from what he had seen she really did seem to be up in everyone else’s business and so the last thing he would need would be for her to hear his phone call to Bryce.
Fortunately it seemed that Debbie was not there and so he quickly closed the door. Taking out his cell he dialed the number for Bryce, but there was no answer.
“Hey Bryce,” he started into the guy’s voicemail. “It’s Rick here. Ah…so I have no idea what you and Jay are up to, but I feel I need to warn you that everyone is in a blind panic searching for Jay. Maybe it would be best if you just brought him back here so they could all calm down. Also when are you going to pay me? I…”
But the message time had run out and that seemed to be all Rick could leave on the machine. Rick hung up the phone and tossed it aside in disgust. Where was this guy? It’s not like he hadn’t received everything he wanted, why would he refuse to take Rick’s call?
Just then there was a light tap on the door and moments later Rein walked inside.
“Hey…” she said softly. “I just want to check on you and make sure everything was ok.”
Despite not finding Jay’s phone Rick had actually been quite short with both Rein and Micah throughout their time together and Rein suspected it was because of what had happened to Jay.
“Yeah,” Rick sighed. “I’m fine. I just…it’s hard you know, to lose someone like this and not know where he is. It’s hard to not…”
“Jump to conclusions?” Rein offered.
“I get it Rick,” Rein replied. “I do. I remember when I was younger I had this friend Jesse…” she trailed off for a moment, smiling into the distance.
“I’m guessing he was more than a friend,” Rick replied smiling knowingly.
“Well…yeah,” Rein admitted. “We dated for a while actually. But no one seemed happy for us, he was…how should I put this?”
Rein scratched her head for a moment thinking of the right word to describe the boy she had dated so long ago.
“Different,” she settled with. “People didn’t really understand him and were very quick to judge him when he made a mistake. It made it very hard for him living in our town, believe me.”
“I do,” Rick smiled, knowing full-well what it was like to be judged. “I got a girl pregnant at 15 and…”
“And people were all over me with how I was a ‘good for nothing, bad seed’ kind of guy, so believe me I get it.”
“Is he…she…, sorry,” Rein paused fumbling for the right words. “Did…did she have the child?”
Rick pondered for a moment on what to tell Rein. She seemed like such a sweet girl with honorable intentions, but then again, Bryce seemed honorable too.
“It’s ok you don’t have to tell me,” Rein said quickly. “I’m so sorry I asked.”
“It’s ok,” Rick replied.
“No, it’s not,” Rein continued. “It’s private and I really have to stop sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong. I’m so sorry.”
“Rein, its ok,” Rick repeated. “She had the baby, named him Connor and he’s a very happy, very healthy baby boy.”
“Oh wow,” Rein smiled kindly.
“So anyway, you and Jesse…continue…” Rick reminded her, wanting to move on from the discussion of his child that now that he thought about it had missed Christmas with his father for the first time.
“Right Jess,” Rein recalled. “So yeah one day he got so overwhelmed and tired of the way everyone was treating him that he just up and left.”
“Wow,” Rick replied shocked.
“Oh that’s not the worst part,” Rein recalled holding her stomach as she recalled the painful moment she was about to retell.
“He never even told me he was leaving. We were still together and he just up…and left.”
Without thinking Rick put an arm around Rein’s shoulders and held her close.
“Rein, I’m so sorry. I had no idea.”
This was all Rein needed and instantly her face flooded with tears.
“Th-that’s ok. A lot of people here don’t know…or have forgotten. But it still hurts sometimes.”
She then quickly jumped up.
“Oh my god! Don’t tell Sam about this,” she said very quickly, brushing away the tears from her eyes. “If he finds out I’ve been speaking about Jess…well…let’s just say it won’t be good.”
“Oh,” Rick replied, having no idea what in the world to say to that. “Um, ok. I won’t say anything. Honestly Rein I wasn’t planning on telling anyone.”
But by now Rein had made her way up and off the bed and was heading backwards towards the door.
“Good,” she replied. “I-I mean thank you. Please don’t. Goodnight Rick.”
And with that Rein hastily opened the door and closed it behind her leaving Rick alone once more. Rick quickly shook his head as though trying to make sense of this abrupt end to the conversation. He couldn’t help but feel sorry for Rein about Jesse, but at the same time, felt worse when he heard her speak about Sam. Clearly this guy was a bad boyfriend if he wasn’t going to let her express her feelings about something that was clearly a very sore subject. One that if she didn’t talk about it, even professionally, could mentally destroy her.
He knew what it was like to keep things bottled up from childhood. His mother was a druggie who had been in jail a few times for possession and his father, well, he was the most abusive man Rick had ever met. Having gone through psychiatric help for everything he had to endure growing up he now knew that keeping all of this a secret had been a major contributor to his girlfriend getting pregnant at 15. And he feared this, if not worse, for Rein.
While thinking about this his phone came into his line of vision and abandoning all thoughts of Rein picked it up to see that indeed there was still no call from Bryce.
“Argh!” he screamed out slamming the phone back down onto the bed.
He flopped himself down onto it and looked directly up at the ceiling.
“Where the hell are you Bryce?” he wondered aloud. “If you’re done with me, you could at least let me know.”
Just then the door to the room re-opened and someone stepped inside.
“You won’t find him yet so stop calling,” the person said. “But don’t worry…he still needs you.”
Rick’s eyes widened as he realized that Bryce wasn’t working alone.
Meanwhile somewhere away from the hotel Jay awoke with a start. It didn’t take long for him to realize that he had been bound to a chair and couldn’t move. He couldn’t see though and this was what had him most panicked. Was he blind? But then he realized that rather than being blinded he had actually been blind folded. So he tried to use his other senses to work out where he was. The first thing he picked up on was just how hot it was which was very unusual considering that New Haven was in the middle of winter. But it wasn’t just hot; it was quite muggy so much so that it was hard to breathe. The next thing he noticed was the sound of a dripping faucet. Jay started panicking. He knew who had put him here and considering who it was, knew that they had no limits when enacting any sort of justice on a person, whether deserved or not.
“Hello?” he called out helplessly. “Is anybody there?”
But there was no answer.
Jay’s thoughts very quickly turned to Andy. Everything was going so well despite everything that B had put him through. Finally everything had come together in such a nice way. It was almost as though fate had stepped in and said ‘you know what? Things are just too good at the moment, time to turn up the heat a little’.
Despite the fact that Jay’s hands were tied behind his back he managed to feel around to his right hand and caress the bracelet that Andy had given him not 24 hours earlier. He recalled the words inscribed on one side of the bracelet.
Where you lead, I will follow.
And that was all it took for tears to start streaming down Jay’s face. Tears of sadness, of loss but also of frustration. How, after all, could Andy follow him if he didn’t know Jay was going somewhere? One reprieve that Jay was happy about was that Andy had in fact not followed him outside to see Bryce. If that had happened they both would have ended up here or worse dead.
Just then Jay heard a noise nearby that sounded very much like a small stone being kicked. Following that noise came the sound of voices. Though Jay could only pick up on a few things, what he heard turned his blood cold.
“Not until we finish our plans!” came the sound of a menacing man.
“But…torture…find…Andy,” came the little scraps that he picked up from what was unmistakingly a female voice.
“No!” came the first one again, just as menacing. “Andy…obey…life…still!”
In normal circumstances it would have really pissed Jay off hearing little snippets of a conversation. So much so that he either would have walked over and joined it or walked away. But since neither was an option he just sat there feeling a new mix of emotions this time combining annoyance with fear.
“Oh Andy,” Jay said quietly. “I miss you so much.”
Maybe it was a trick of the mind or just the heat of the room, but for a moment Jay felt the bracelet heat a little and he instantly knew Andy felt the same way. He was almost certain Andy would be looking for him by now. But being here, wherever here was, would probably make the task impossible and Jay wondered if he would ever see his boyfriend again.
Just then the sound of a very heavy door opening made Jay jump.
“Ah! Awake I see,” came the unmistakable sound of Bryce’s voice.
“Now do forgive me Jay, for having you bound and sightless, but you see we wouldn’t be able to carry out our plans otherwise.”
“We?” Jay questioned. “Who else is helping you with-”
But just then Jay felt a very sharp pain on his right shin and screamed out in pain.
“Uh-uh-uh naughty-naughty,” came a silky response. “I think it’s time we established some rules here Jay. Number 1, no talking unless you are asked to speak. Clear?”
Jay had no idea what to do. He feared if he answered verbally he would be burned again. But not answering seemed like a worse idea. So in the end Jay compromised and simply nodded.
“Good,” came the reply from Bryce. “Now then where was I? Ah yes, I want you to tell me everything you can about this Lauren woman.”
“Lauren?” Jay questioned automatically, shocked to hear her name come up.
But apparently this was the wrong answer as Jay felt another searing pain this time on the other shin.
“I think someone is forgetting the rules,” Bryce continued in a slimy way. “But I will be fair. After all, one must remember the noble Latin phrase quid pro quo mustn’t one?”
Again Jay nodded, knowing that this was the only thing keeping him from feeling more pain than he had already.
“Yes, there’s a good boy we are learning aren’t we? Now you ask who else is working for me Jay? Well suffice it to say I have a few people working for me actually. Some of which are here tonight and others…”
He paused making Jay feel very, very uneasy.
“Who are working for me from inside the Dètendez-Vouz.”
Jay drew in a very sharp, yet fortunately soundless breath.
“Yes, little does your little boyfriend know that there are at least two people happily lying to his face at this very moment,” he chuckled softly and menacingly.