“I need your help.” I heard Ken’s voice on the other end of line. The call was on speakers so Jack could hear every word of the conversation too.
My eyes met Jack’s who silently mouthed me to say yes to Ken’s request.
“What do you need help with? And where are you right now, Ken? Tell me everything starting from the beginning.”
Ken didn’t give me an answer for the longest minute and I started to wonder if he had hung up the call like last time. “Ken?”
“Look, I don’t know where I am and I can’t give you more details. All I know is that I may or may not have much time left. I need you to do something for me.”
“You will get a text message on your phone right now that has an address. Jackson needs to be there, without the police or the FBI.”
“That’s the killer’s deal. He would let me go in-exchange for Jackson.” Ken said, and then in a soft voice he added, “I know what Jackson means to you, Riles. If you decide not to let Jackson know about the address then I won’t blame you. You deserve happiness, and if he can give you that then it would be worth it in the end.”
“What would be worth it?” I asked although I knew what his answer was going to be.
As informed by Ken, I received a text message ten minutes later with an address.
House number zero-seven-two on Boulder Street north of Garden Avenue.
Jack reached for his shirt and pulled it down over his chest. I watched as he buttoned up his jeans and ran a hand through his thick hair.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“Ken’s location.” He answered. Fatigue was so clear in his eyes. Jack looked like he was in need of a warm blanket, a hot cup of cocoa and a good night’s rest, neither of which he was going to get anytime soon with way things had transpired.
“I’m coming with you.” I had already pulled on a jeans and a t-shirt.
“No you’re not.” Jack said it in such a tone that there was no room for argument.
“This concerns my brother. He must be in danger.” I reasoned.
“This could be a trap and I can’t have you walking into them, besides Ken said I should come alone.” Jack picked up a gun from the bottom drawer of the dresser. I hadn’t seen it until this moment. He quickly stashed it in the waistband of his denim jeans. “Ezra told me something about your brother, but I refused to believe it.”
“What did Ezra say?”
He stared at me intently, probably weighing the outcome of me knowing this truth about my brother. “Ezra has the documents that your attorney James tried to retrieve from this apartment the same day that he was nearly assassinated.”
“What was in those documents?”
“Are you ready to listen to this?” Jack questioned. “It may change the way you see things.”
I licked my lips nervously, my mouth was going dry. “I’m stronger than you think. Please tell me.”
“Those documents had clear evidence that Ken was doing drugs.”
My mouth was slack open. I couldn’t think of anything to say. I had a lot of possibilities of what Jack was about to tell me but never in a million years had I imagined it would be something as bizarre as this.
Ken and drugs?
“But...but that’s not possible.” I said. “Ken would never do that.”
“Why? Because he’s your baby brother?” For the first time, I noticed Jack appeared a little pissed. “Have you entertained the thought that maybe Ken was doing drugs all this time and murdered those people under the influence of it?”
I put a hand on my ears and shook my head. “No! That’s not true.”
“The truth was right here, Riley but you were just acting blind because it’s hard to think a person you love would butcher people mercilessly.”
“Stop it.” I whispered.
“I will stop talking but that won’t change anything.” Jack pointed out.
The tears rolled down my eyes. “Why are you being so mean?”
He crossed the distance in two steps and grasped my chin in a firm grip. “I was always mean, you just failed to notice. We all have darkness inside us, Riley; it’s only a matter of choice when we decide to unleash it.”
“Take me with you.” I pleaded.
He let go off my chin. A sense of sadness crept into his eyes. “It’s a trade. Either he lives or I do. Take your pick.”
I sobbed, “I can’t choose. Both of you are important to me.”
Jack smiled; again it wasn’t a happy smile. “I won’t ever ask you to choose between your brother and me. I was only kidding.”
“I love you.” I said. “Please stay. You don’t have to go alone, we will figure it out.”
“You already know how much I love you. I would be glad if Ken is not the killer. And I promise that you will see him here within an hour.”
“What about you?”
“It’s a gamble, Cotton-Candy. One life for another. That’s what the killer wants. ”
“Jackson, please. Take me with you.”
He seemed reluctant to make a decision, but he’d made up his mind. “I don’t want to see you hurt.”
Before I had time to react, he’d already made his way to the door. “I’m sorry, Riley.” He shut the door after him.
“Jack!” I called out as I walked to the door. I heard the lock turn. “Please. Let me out.”
I tried turning the knob but he’d locked me in. What was I supposed to do now? I wouldn’t be able to leave the room unless the police or someone found me.
Think, Riley. Think.
The phone. I still had it with me. Jack had forgotten to take it with him. I found it lying on the table and dialed Ezra. He picked the call on the second ring.
“Ezra, I wouldn’t call you if this wasn’t important. Jack’s life is in danger.”
“What happened?” He asked.
“Promise me you won’t inform this to the police department.”
“Okay, okay. Just tell me.” Ezra was getting impatient.
I explained him the call we received from Ken and the address he’d given us. I told him what Jack planned to do.
“Is he fucking nuts? He’s supposed to inform me before acting on his own. He thinks he’s a damn hero!”
“Is it possible for you to come here and unlock the door?”
Ezra went silent on the other end for a while. “If Jack doesn’t want you involved then I think it would be best if I didn’t do that and went there alone.”
“You don’t understand. It’s my brother. If he’s killed people, there is a chance he may listen to me and not hurt Jack. Please.” I pleaded. “Take me with you.”
“Alright. I’m on my way.”
“You look like a wreck!” I told Ezra as I slid into the passenger seat of his car.
His dark hair was disheveled, and his eyes had bags like he hadn’t slept a wink in forty-eight hours. He was wearing the blue FBI Jacket. I had never seen him in uniform before.
“Thanks. You look even worse.” Ezra retorted, I couldn’t miss the humor in his tone.
“Why, Ezra thanks for the compliment.”
My gaze dropped to the car console, he picked up the tall Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cup and sipped, then took a large bite of the sugar glazed donut that oozed with a jam filling.
I stared at him incredulously. He pointed at the box, his lips covered in sugar. “Help yourself.”
“Are you kidding me? Your brother’s life is in danger.”
“So? I’m supposed to not have donuts or drink my coffee?” He asked. “Do you realize how many hours I spend in this car watching and waiting in the shadiest of places for criminals to make the tiniest of mistakes? I gotta keep myself fed, and coffee is my best friend.”
I suppressed an eye-roll and looked at the address in my hand. “It’s Garden Avenue.”
Ezra frowned. “Isn’t that like the most abandoned neighboring town?”
“Well, that’s exactly the point. Anyone screams or calls for help, there’s not going to be anyone for miles.”
“Can I be honest with you?” He asked.
I gave him a smile. “There’s nothing else I like more than honesty.”
“How can I be sure I’m not driving into a trap?” He asked, sneaking a look at me and then turning his gaze back to the road ahead.
“For all I know, maybe Jack isn’t even at this location. Maybe you and Ken plotted the entire ′address′ thing to get me to drive there on my own, so naturally I would be bait to get Jack there.”
I gave out a laugh. I couldn’t help it. “You’re smart, because that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
There was an uncomfortable silence in the car and then I flicked the side of his head with my thumb and index finger. “You’re really naive, you know. Makes me wonder how you became a Special agent.”
“Well, what can I say. I’m really smart.” He said in a fake conceited tone.
“You knew about Ken and yet you never told me about it.” I said.
He shrugged. “Well, I know a sister would never like to hear about her baby brother being a drug addict. I thought I would talk to you when things settle down a little. Eventually, he’ll be questioned by a DEA agent.”
I nodded. “It’s hard, you know.” I bit back a sob. “I hope he didn’t hurt people. Makes me wonder if I went wrong somewhere, if it happened because I wasn’t paying attention to him.”
He took my hand that was resting on the seat and gave it a little reassuring squeeze. “You’re almost the same age as him, Riley. Cut yourself some slack. Besides, if a brother turns out rotten, it’s hardly the older sisters fault.”
He decided to change the subject. “So how’s things with that other doctor? Paul Bennett, right?”
“He’s been quite friendly as of lately which makes me suspicious.”
I opened google maps in my phone. The battery was only ten percent, and there was no charger in Ezra’s car. I wasn’t stupid, but I realized Ezra thought I was. He was taking a detour from the actual road by engaging me in frivolous talk, although if I should admit he was being nice and gave me some encouraging words.
“You know that isn’t the way to Garden Avenue right?” I pointed out and then asked. “Where are you taking me, Ezra?”
He cleared his throat. “I told you before. I can’t involve you in this, and I know mi hermano (my brother) would want the same thing.”
“Ezra, we made a deal. We would go there together and I would stay in the car.”
“I changed my mind.” He said simply. “Last time we went together and I told you to stay in the car. We know how that turned out. Jack got shot and almost died.”
“Well that won’t happen again.” I said.
“I am. Not. Taking. You. Period.” He said each word slowly like I was a baby and it was hard for me to comprehend a full sentence. “And that’s final.”
Well, I really didn’t have any other choice now did I?
His face met with the muzzle of the revolver in my hand. I loaded the barrel with a round of bullets, it snapped into place. Ezra’s expressions turned from smug to shunned in a few seconds. As expected, fear did not even cross his features.
“You’re shoving a gun in a Federal Agents face! Do you understand what an offense that is?” Ezra asked me, his voice as cold as ice.
“You don’t leave me any choice.” I nudged him with the gun. “You are driving to the address and you’re taking me with you.”
A.N: hey loves, Normally it’s not allowed to write author notes in Inkitt but this is kinda imp. The next will be the Final chapter which will be followed by the Epilogue and Bonus chapters ❤️