The Prodigy

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Chapter 19

The next day flies by quickly, except Josh remains very quiet. Apprehension starts creeping over me as the morning wears on. Dr. Morehouse calls our team into his office and goes over our progress that week. Sensing our anxiety about the upcoming conference, he assures us we will be ready. Josh and I feel relieved but Kevin still exhibits signs of anxiety in the form of his nervous eye tic. After lunch, we double- check our files to make sure all the MRIs are grouped appropriately for the arrival of the neuroradiologist on Monday. By mid afternoon, we are finished and pack up to leave. Josh still has not cracked a smile yet. Kevin comes to me and asks if Josh is angry with him. I spend a few minutes reassuring Kevin that he has nothing to worry about, although I start to fear that Josh is going to cancel the weekend.

To my relief, Josh comes and asks me to leave. I ask if anything is troubling him again and he just says not now. We stop first at my apartment to pick up my bag. We both wave to George on the way to the elevator. Mom arrives home shortly after we do to pick up her overnight bag. Sensing Josh’s discomfort, Branna goes into maternal mode and offers him something to eat. Josh admits he hasn’t eaten anything that day. She makes an omelet for him quickly. The intercom buzzes announcing the arrival of Jax and mom leaves. Josh and I depart a few minutes later and take a cab to his apartment to grab a few things. I don’t say a word. Josh’s body language is telling me to remain quiet.

After Josh drops off his dry cleaning, we start walking over to the boat basin. Josh has us detour into the Whole Foods Market and we pick up some specialty items. After check out, he grabs my hand and leads me out the employee entrance in the back. As soon as we walk out, Josh whispers we have a tail and that he hopes my mother is already at the boat basin.

When we arrive, we are relieved to find mom sitting in the kitchen gallery reading the newspaper. Jax had taken her out to the boat in the dinghy and dropped her off. Josh motions for mom to be quiet by holding a finger to his lips. Josh sweeps the boat for any listening devices and manually inspects the underside of all the furnishings. He is deadly quiet as he performs the task. Mom gives me a questioning look and I just shrug my shoulders.

After smashing the listening devices he locates, Josh starts the engine and asks me to come up with him. He politely asks mom to stay below deck.

“Josh, you are scaring me. What is happening?

Josh shakes his head. “Take the binoculars and look at the shoreline. See if you recognize anyone.”

I feel shivers go up and down my spine. I’m not sure if I see a bald headed man on the shoreline that I had seen just minutes before in Whole Foods. Fortunately, there are no boats following us. As we pass the Statue of Liberty, I note that Josh is starting to soften his stance. I walk over and put my arms around his waist.

“I think we’re safe now. Can you talk to me?”

“Why don’t you bring your mother up? You both should hear this.” He holds my hand to his mouth and kisses it.

I walk halfway down the galley stairs and tell my mom it is safe to come up. My mom whispers to me as we walk up the stairs. “Thank God. I was beginning to feel like a small child banished to her room as punishment. Something must have happened.”

Josh calls out. “I’ll explain in a minute what is going on. For all our evasive maneuvers, I suspect my mother will be tailing us at the beach. I’ve always thought she’s known for years exactly where my grandfather’s house is located. Property records are easy for her to obtain. I don’t think she is just tailing the two of you anymore.”

“Is that what is bothering you?” Mom asks, but I can tell she suspects something more sinister.

“No, not by a long shot. Do you remember the file I gave you last week made by my grandfather’s friend, the retired policeman?” Mom and I nod our heads yes and Josh continues. “He was found severely beaten down by the Pine Barrens in New Jersey. He is in a medically induced coma. All he did was research the names on that list. Analia had given me the message last weekend about my mother’s people tagging the names of the Rosewood detainees on law enforcement software. I called him immediately on the burn phone I gave him. Told him to dump his phone and get out of town. I offered to pay for him and his wife to have a vacation. But the old man laughed at me. Said he was honored to help me and would be fine. I feel awful now.” The news horrifies mom and me. We are at a loss as to what to say.

“ Oh Josh, I’m so sorry. How did you find out?” I finally ask.

“Francesca saw the paper and called me. She referenced another story in the paper as a decoy.”

“This has gone to a whole other level. This is the first I have heard of severe physical violence. Usually, they only use tactics of intimidation. I am so sorry Josh. You must be worried about your brother and Francesca, as well. Whatever you do, you cannot go near that hospital, as much as you want to. Has your mother said anything to you to indicate she suspects anything?”

“No. But that doesn’t mean anything. I knew I was followed today. But she also followed Analia and me that first afternoon after Rosewood.”

“There are people who can keep an eye on your friend and help his wife. If you give me his name, I will see that someone watches over them. I doubt they would hurt his wife.”

“I would like to send her some money and find out if she needs anything. I also have a friend who can help in matters like this. I will get in touch with him.”

“The surveillance has increased all around. They are desperate to protect the secrets at Rosewood, as well as other past deeds. My best friend in the underground had to leave the city. They started a manhunt for her. We had reconnected through a mutual friend of ours whose wife we now believe is on your mother’s payroll. The mutual friend may be too for all we know. Jax had to become our conduit which is why we are pretending to have a relationship.”

“Are you sure he’s pretending?” I’m already suspicious of him from the night before.

Josh murmurs. “A little overprotective there Nali?”

Mom gives me a knowing smile. “I am not surprised you are suspicious of him. He has been building a cover in the district attorney’s office as being a staunch supporter of Rosewood and Halliday’s policies for several years. His father was a judge who tried a case connected to the Lucas Institute. Evidence was planted on him and he committed suicide. Jax has motive beyond that of a zealous prosecutor for being the de facto leader of the underground movement. However, I think you are suspicious of him for other reasons.”

I ignore that last statement. “Is that why you are dating him?” Josh smirks at me as I say this. I give him a nudge in return.

“That is my cover but I will admit he has a reputation as a player. He told his boss that I came in asking about your father’s whereabouts and that he told me there is no record of your father. Jax mentioned to his boss that he wanted to date me. That information got back to Katharine Lucas and she went to see Jax yesterday. She asked him to keep an eye on me and Jax said he would.” Josh shakes his head in disgust at this news.

“Mom, this makes me nervous. She is coming down hard on you.”

“Nali, I am used to it. I am more concerned for you and Josh.”

The three of us become silent as we digest the news. It is such a beautiful night and we are missing it. We have already passed Sandy Hook. Josh remains speechless for a while. I walk over to him and caress his cheek. “I am so sorry. It is not your fault.”

“It is Analia. I underestimated the ruthlessness of my mother and her cronies. Len is a good man. He didn’t deserve this. My mother needs to pay for her sins.”

“I hate to see you like this.” I hug him. “You know if you stop now, there is no reason your mother will ever suspect you. My mother and I would never tell anyone of your involvement.” I look to my mother for confirmation and she nods in agreement.

“There is no way I could stop. If I run from this now, I will be running from myself for the rest of my life. Besides, I would never feel safe bringing Bent back from Brazil until this is over. We need to end this.” Josh looks directly at mom. “I suspect you are going to try breaking out your husband and others soon given my mother’s plans to administer memory-altering serum to the detainees. My mother is pushing the other team in the lab to come up with preliminary gene therapy agent by the time we return from Milan. She wants to accomplish this by October. I learned that from Dr. Morehouse earlier today.”

“Yes, we are pushing to get them out sooner rather than later. Jax and I spoke at length last evening. We are trying to put together a media campaign to release information questioning the legality of how those at Rosewood are detained and the threat of the memory altering serum, which is a clear violation of human rights. We want the release to coincide with the rescue of Analia’s father and two other detainees. If we do that, the focus on Rosewood will hopefully deter the use of the memory altering serum.”

“How confident are you that you can get them out?” I ask.

“If they can get to the perimeter of the yard, they have a very good chance. If we could access the security cameras on the grounds perimeter, we would have an even better chance. We just have to decide if we lay low or move them to a more remote location immediately after the breakout.” Mom looks directly at Josh. “You do realize that Analia will have to go into hiding the moment we do this?”

“I have considered that and I am going into hiding with her. As for the three detainees involved, I would try to get them across state lines. It would take more time to get other jurisdictions involved, but it would only be a few hours at best. Connecticut is probably closer than Jersey.”

“The only problem is that we have to cross the Hudson River. That creates a potential checkpoint issue.”

“Not if you use a boat. I can do it although I would have to get a faster speedboat”. Josh is quiet for a moment. “You know, someone is selling a Riva down at the boat basin. That would be perfect.”

“I don’t like that idea. If we don’t get away cleanly, they will be hunting us down with guns. If you’re caught, you will wind up in prison or worse dead. You’re still a young man Josh, and you have done enough. I would prefer it if you could get Analia on a plane out of the country. I already have a fake passport being made for her.”

“What! Mom, I will be on the boat with Josh. I’ve seen dad only once and couldn’t even acknowledge him. What if this turns out to be my only chance? The two of you gave up so much for me. Please, let me see him. Let me help”

“It is too dangerous Analia.” Mom is shaking her head. “I can bear the thought of being separated from you, but not losing you. Not after everything.”

“Do you have anyone else that could drive the boat?” Josh interjects.

Branna shakes her head no. “Not that I know of. But we limit our knowledge about who is involved in case any one of us is arrested. Therefore we can’t be forced to reveal who the others are.”

“Well, we could be waiting with the boat actively running. If the situation becomes too dangerous and you are in imminent danger of capture, we can just leave. I will have a private jet waiting for us at White Plains airport.”

“Can’t we all get on the plane together?” A pleading note comes into my voice.

Josh and mom look at each other. Mom says slowly. “They’ll be looking for the detainees and staking out all the airports. You could get away but we couldn’t. Maybe weeks later, but not that night. I have fake passports for your father and me as well.”

It dawns on me that I will be separated from my mother without knowing when or if I will see her again. Josh softly announces he is directing the boat into the Manasquan inlet and we are about thirty minutes out from the yacht club. The sun is setting to the west as we pull in. Nature’s beauty is unfurling before us, but I barely notice it. The world has become instantly surreal. I had always assumed I would live on my own one day, but on a day of my choosing.

“I don’t want to leave you and dad. Not after all this. We deserve a chance to be a family again.” I have tears in my eyes as I say this.

“I know honey. But for your safety, we have to split. We can’t travel in big groups. I will find you no matter what happens. Josh will take care of you.” Mom looks at Josh. “You will look after her, won’t you?” Instinctively, Josh steps closer to me.

“Without question. We will go to Brazil until everything settles down. I will get a new, untraceable cell phone and give you the number right before everything happens. Will this breakout attempt at Rosewood occur before or after our Milan trip?”

“I believe we are aiming for the first or second week of October. I am tempted to have you go directly to Brazil from Italy.”

“No. My mother would instantly suspect something. She would heighten security all around, and that would make it harder to break them out of Rosewood.”

“I think we should make a presentation to remember in Milan. You know, we can butter your mother up. It might lower her suspicions.” As I say this, Josh turns back to the wheel and maneuvers the boat into the slip. The dockhand runs over to the dock in anticipation. Josh starts tying up the boat as mom and I bring the bags up from the galley.

Josh calls out. “I agree with you, but I find the thought nauseating after what happened to my friend. She wants me to take you to dinner at my parent’s place the week after next. Maybe we can start there, although I don’t know how I’ll be able to stomach eating a meal with her.”

The conversation is interrupted as Josh concentrates on securing the boat in the docking slip. I hop out and help the dockhand attach the ropes to their moorings. Josh quickly washes down the boat with a hose after mom and I carry the bags to the end of the dock. After Josh joins us, we walk through the back door of the club and follow the hallway to the reception area.

“You have the makings of a great deckhand Analia. If genetics don’t work out for you, you have another career to fall back on.” Josh turns to look at me with a half grin. Out of the corner of I eye, I spot Francesca’s car.

“Hey, I think I see Francesca.” I point in her direction.

“For the rest of the night, no more talk about the future. Let’s just enjoy it. Bent has been waiting to see you. He was so disappointed last week when you couldn’t come.”

Mom joins in. “I agree with Josh. It is time to have some fun. This club is lovely. It looks like something out of the early twentieth century.”

“Good eye. It was built in the late 1880’s. Some great sailors originated from this club. Maybe, we can actually go for a sail tomorrow and have lunch here.” We arrive in the oak paneled foyer. Josh makes the introductions between Francesca and Branna. We quickly hop into the car and drive to the beach house.

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