Jae awoke with a splash of cold water in her face. She gasped for a few seconds as she shook off of the water droplets from her face. She didn’t know if it was second, minutes, or hours later but she was groggy and a bit upset. She saw Hugh facing the blazing fire, deep in thought. Before she recognized him, Blaine moved in her periphery, looking menacing.
She wriggled in her seat, trying to assess herself but a large fist collided with her face. Apparently Blaine was mad about something. The blow had toppled her over in her chair, landing on the left side of her body. She landed hard on her shoulder as a regrettable whimper escaped her lips.
“Jae.” Her names escaped his lips. Hugh slowly turned and his eyes pierced hers. He walked closer and she reflexively lifted her chin for the strike or for the shouting.
He was inches from her as his face contorted with disgust.
“Untie her.” Hugh’s voice was sharp as it cut across the room.
Blaine didn’t move; shock or anger immobilized him.
“I said untie her, she is no threat to me.”
“Father,” Blaine started making his way into his line of vision. “She killed Mr. Barnes distastefully in the other room. Zachary and Xavier are nowhere to be found. I think she killed them too. Father, do not trust this…”
She didn’t hear the insult Blaine wanted to call her. Hugh’s back hand was quicker than Jae realized. He stepped back from the blow with a dazed face.
“Untie her and leave, I will not repeat myself.”
Blaine huffed and yanked the curtain ties from her wrists and her ankles.
“I’ll be just outside when you need me.” There was a sneer in his voice.
She knew he would press his ear to the door to hear what they would talk about. She took a large breath and rubbed the pink tint on her wrists.
“Stand up,” he said after a few seconds of silence.
“I would rather sit.” She said politely, getting comfortable on the seat. She was thinking about her odds and about the chance she would get out of the mansion alive.
He gave her an airy chuckle and sat down in his accustomed winged back arm chair.
“So you shot and killed Mr. Barnes?” He said giving Jae a quizzical look.
“Yes.” She said. She debated on a lie but the truth would be easier to remember if she was living through the night. “He got out of the shower and I was waiting for him in the closet. I never really liked him. I felt like he was getting in the way.”
He nodded, staring at the floor. “Where are Zachary and Xavier?”
“They’re in the forest.” She said off-hand, looking at the space around her, gauging the useable weapons and the possible gun locations in the study. Somehow she never knew where the weapons were hidden in this particular room. She wanted to stay away from it as much as possible she didn’t care about the process when entering a room. She saw the shotgun she was sporting while she jumped balconies. It was within her reach but it would be too obvious if she made a move for it. She started to shift her chair slowly towards it when he looked away from her.
He chuckled and clapped his hands, standing and making his way to the fire. This burst of youthful energy was startling. He was actually glad that three people were dread on his property.
“You really are the best I’ve ever known. You’re just as good as your dad. Now your dad, he was the best hand to hand combat, and sharp shooter. He wasn’t good at anything else. He couldn’t hold together his marriage or control your sister for that matter.”
“Don’t call her that. She’s not my sister.”
There was a pause as he stared back at her. She shook off the queasy feeling from her limps and made her look away.
“Jae?” He asked politely. “Why do you intend on destroying me?”
She stared at him, closing her gaping mouth.
“My business, my people, my company, everything I have I would easily have given it to you if you wanted it. I have always loved you and I have always cherished you above all else. I have always been the most lenient when it comes to you. I even casted Zachary and Xavier away from you when they entered this family.”
This struck a nerve. When she was outside with them she remembered them saying that she was off limits.
“Your freedom was given to you,” Hugh continued. “I knew you wouldn’t have it any other way. I molded you, and I shaped you. I wielded you into one of two perfect soldiers above all else, and above my family. I demand an answer, why must you ruin everything I built for you.”
She shook her head. She thought about what he said, he did not love, cherish, or been lenient to her. If he was, he would’ve let her attend public school she begged in her teenage years. He didn’t mold or shape her, her mother molded her and her father alone shaped her into this perfect soldier she hated to be. He didn’t have a family she would be put above.
“I never asked for this.” Jae answered in a low voice. “I never wanted to be part of your company. I didn’t want any part of this. If you would’ve asked me I would have denied it with every living cell of my body. I don’t trust you, and you shot my father.”
She lunged for the shotgun and rolled from the table it sat on. There were loud popping noises and three twinges of pain shot through her body. The door flew from its hinges, adding to the racket in the room. She paused behind the upturned table and grasped the gun tightly. Ignoring the sear in her lower body she pointed at Hugh’s shocked face and pulled the trigger two times. The first shot was directed at Hugh with successful results, the second shot was ducked by Blaine as he twisted behind a chair. His return fire was relentless as she hid behind the large office desk. She rifled through the opened drawers and shot a round of bullets in Blaine’s general direction.
The barrages of bullets were coming closer to her as she felt one whistle past her left ear, dangerously close. She found a revolver and started on that gun as soon as the other weapons were useless. She heard a distinctive thud as a gun hit a book case to her immediate right. She reloaded the shot gun with bloodied fingers. A silver blade struck her in her left arm. She let out an involuntary shriek as she pulled away from the blade. She kicked the office chair in Blaine’s direction, distracting him for a bit as she got some feet away from him. She faced him but was drained of energy, and possibly blood. The silver streaked across her and she ducked and nearly fell off balance. She pulled her shot gun parallel to the ground as he attempted to hack her in two. Blaine launched at her again. The anger in his eyes was as hot as the blazing fire. The death of Hugh made him fight harder, the rage made his onslaught dangerous but easily defendable. Blow after blow, she struggled with the force and strength, causing the blade to catch her clothes or her skin a few times.
Jae felt the blade slide a bit deeper into her body as she backed away from the advancing man. Blaine smiled as he lifted the blade for the final blows. The silver caught her leg and she knelt to the blow. The blade slid sideways across her shot gun, causing her to hold the butt of the gun. She repositioned her hand and pulled the trigger. Blaine face was delightful before the barrel was facing him. He fell to the floor, his face dissolved. She turned away from the dead Blaine and made her way to Hugh. She pulled the gun from his slacken grip and raised it to his face, getting the revenge and severing all ties from him.
She did a quick evaluation over her body. There was a dull pain everywhere, across her chest, her arms and across her thighs. The breath she took was pure bliss as she was free of Hugh. She hobbled out of the metallic smelling room, to the next one. She recognized Geoff’s scent as she pulled a several clothes from his dresser, socks and towels. She found cash in the bedside table and took all of it. Shoving it in a makeshift bag she walked to the equipment room and gathered the necessary weapons and clips she needed to complete the rest of the mission for her freedom. She walked out the mansion to the garage. She saw a grey M5 and gladly took the key for it.
She opened the bathroom door and turned on the light. It flickered a few times and stayed on. Her expression was shocked as she looked over her face. The gas station attendant gave her a startled look and she realized how broken she looked. There were bruises staring to form and she felt tender from the fists that were thrown at her over last hours. Her exposed skin was sweaty or tinted pink with blood. Removing her shirt from her shoulders and arms caused a groan from her lips. She wound a bandage around her arm and secured it tightly with her teeth. When her arms were washed and bandaged, her legs were next. Her jeans were gently pulled down, she accessed her wounds. Her right thigh was still securely bandaged and thankfully free of blood. She was certain the bandage would’ve been soaked red due to her movement and the abuse she took all over her body. They weren’t any serious injuries as she wiggled free of her jeans and gave her a quick sponge bath. She threw her clothes in a bag and wore Geoff’s V-neck shirt and gray sweat pants. Jill’s clothes would be better suited but she didn’t feel like going into her room, or going through her clothes.
She drove to a quiet neighborhood and pulled up to a sleeping house. She remembered meeting Thomas and Eve at their house once before during a Christmas party a lifetime ago. She walked through the white picketed fence and around to the back yard. It was empty as she reached for the rock hiding the keys to the back door. She crept up the stairs and walked down the hallway to the only shut door. She turned the knob easily and aimed her silenced gun at the sleeping couple. There were four shots total as she ended their lives. The red stain started to spread as she went to their safe and pulled out all their cash. She went through the house turning over beds, wreaking photos, and throwing everything crashing to the floor. She broke the front window and left the front door unlocked. She left out the back door, relocked the door and replaced the key beneath the rock. The car was started and she was driving in the next second to the next couple.
She heard them awake and move through their house easily. The gun lay on the breakfast table in front of her, waiting for her hand. She didn’t want to hold it but she was ill at ease. They were closing in; Kathy’s laughter was light as they planned to make eggs and pancakes this morning. A smile tugged at her lips but she pulled it back as Kathy’s long hair was seen through the kitchen walkway. There was a small squeak from Kathy’s throat as Quinn rushed ahead and faced whatever made that noise escape her.
His face was cautious as he peered at Jae. The gun was in her hand as she pointed it at them. She regretted it but she didn’t want to take any chances. There was a bit of jealousy as Quinn placed himself securely in front of Kathy. Rhys would’ve done something like that if he and she were faced with a threat. Her small frame was blocked by his mass but her fingers were visible on his shoulders as she took a peek from behind him.
“How did you get in?” Quinn asked looking at the space around her and at the armed security alarm.
“I have my way.” She said pleasantly.
Quinn’s face was flushed as his anger got the best of him. He mumbled something beneath his breath and shook his head at her. “I would appreciate it if you lower your gun.”
It was a demand, not a request. The gun stayed poised and positioned in the same place, not swaying an inch.
“I rather not,” she said, taking a steading breath. “See last night, wasn’t the best night for me. You wouldn’t believe what I went through. I would rather hold my gun like this until I get my answers.”
Kathy peeked from behind Quinn. Her face was shell shocked. Her hair was disheveled as she face fell slightly.
“Jae, we’re friends.” Her voice croaked.
Jae, on the other hand, stood up and pulled the chair from the table. With a simple motion she ordered Quinn and Kathy to the breakfast table.
“Keep her out of it.” Quinn barked loudly, throwing his arms wide to shield her, and keeping her securely behind him.
“Can’t or won’t.” He contradicted.
“Sit down or I’ll have to hurt both of you.”
They took a second to stare at one another. There was a brief conversation as she urged him to obey. His eyes screamed no and her to run as fast as she could. She shook her head and gave him a pleading look. Without a second glance, she turned her face away and made her way slowly and timidly to the table.
“Hands palm down on the table.” She instructed.
They did as they were told. The silence between them lengthened as Jae stared from Quinn then to Kathy. She was truly innocent. She was a second grade teacher’s aide. Her only mistake was falling in love with Quinn. Quinn was staring daggers at Jae. She thought she could trust him, that’s why she left them alive, unbound, and pain free.
“Why?” he said, catching her eyes as it fell on him.
“Mine first,” she stared. “If your answers are satisfactory, then I’ll answer yours truthfully. What happened at the meeting last night?”
“Hugh told us what you were going to do.” Quinn started. He turned to look at Kathy and he sighed. “I didn’t want to believe him. I knew you wanted out. I didn’t know at what expense.” He turned away angrily.
“What do you mean?” Jae said leaning toward the table.
“You were going to turn everyone in.” Kathy said. “Quinn felt like you stabbed him in the back. After everything we’ve been through, personally and emotionally, he felt like you betrayed him.”
“I was never going to reveal you two.” Jae said defending herself.
“Well once you mention Hugh, Zachary, Blaine, and Xavier, it’s sort of difficult not mentioning me.” Quinn said, his temper rising. “When you mention me, then you mention Kathy. She has nothing to do with the company.”
“I know that. I would never hurt you or Kathy.”
“Well you will when you turn yourself in. Do you actually think you’re the only one who wants out of the company?”
This stopped Jae short. She thought about Quinn leaving the company, but she didn’t know for sure until he heard it from his mouth. He was a constant and a very good marksman, Jae didn’t see anything else he could do. “I didn’t think…”
“Of course you didn’t think.” Quinn wanted to say more but with a touch from Kathy he stopped talking.
“Hugh told us what you were going to do.” Kathy said, pulling the conversation back on track. “Everyone didn’t want the company to be revealed to the authorities. Hugh called a vote to kill you. After you were sentenced there was the matter of the actual killing. Once it was mentioned Zachary and Xavier offered themselves to do the job. They were happily to oblige, apparently they are still touchy that you got the big assignment.”
Jae nodded as Kathy explained what happened. “What was your vote?”
“I’m not allowed to vote.” Kathy said abashed.
“I meant Quinn; I wanted to know what he voted?”
“I voted against. I hated the thought of you snitching but we’re still friends.” His voice was kind in spite of his anger.
Jae was silent as she listened to his answer. There was something warm spreading through her body as the word ‘friend’ was used again by Quinn. She believed them and the warm feeling spread through to her cheeks as she averted her gaze.
The silence was broken by Kathy clearing her throat.
“I know that Zachary and Xavier were going to assassinate you but you’re here, clearly not dead. So what happened tonight?”
Jae kept her lips tight as she thought about what Quinn said earlier. ‘Do you actually think you’re the only one who wants out of the company’.
“If you were given a choice, freedom or the company, what would you choose?” Jae said directing the question to Quinn.
He gave her a grin, and shook his head playfully.
“Freedom.” Kathy’s voice was sure and confident. “When Quinn has a mission, I am always scared for him; for you. I don’t know how you do it every day. I don’t know everything but I know enough to not like Hugh’s company.”
Jae’s lips twitched into a smile. The sound of Hugh’s name from someone else’s mouth was somehow reassuring. Somehow she knew she was telling the truth. She relaxed a bit more. She trusted them before and nothing they did changed her opinion of them. She took a breath and told them what happened after the meeting was adjourned. How Mr. Barnes gave orders and how she was beaten. They were taken aback as she recounted Zachary’s and Xavier’s death. Quinn smiled as she killed Mr. Barnes in the closet.
“I never liked him.” Quinn injected. “Something about him always annoyed me. I didn’t trust him with Kathy either. I think it was his accent of the fact that in the decades of Hugh’s company was solely directed by Hugh, he was able to step in and start ordering people around.”
Jae smiled and nodded and continued with the death of Blaine and ultimately Hugh.
“Eve and Thomas are no longer alive. I didn’t want to, but they’re guilty by association.” She was silent for a bit. “I don’t want to keep looking over my back and I want to live on my own. Sorry for not trusting you.”
“You had a bad night, I would be just as cautious or more so if that happened to me.” Quinn said off-hand.
Jae stood up and gave them a smile. “I should head out now.”
She grabbed her jacket and started around the table to the front door.
“Wait.” Kathy’s voice sounded behind her. “Why don’t you stay? You’re already here and I can see you need a good eight hour sleep.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t.” Jae said, jingling her keys in her hand. “They’re going to be looking for me. I have to keep moving.”
“Who’s looking for you, no one knows you’re alive except us.” Kathy questioned.
“Jill and Geoff,” Quinn’s voice was serious as he pulled Kathy to his side.
Jae nodded. She stared at the floor to avoid the PDA. Quinn’s simple movement made her feel deprived, a mood only relieved by Rhys. “They weren’t present during my killing rampage.” She tried to sound nonchalant but she really needed to leave. “I don’t want to put you in danger and staying here is the not the best plan. Once they find out about the mansion they’ll be looking for everyone else and you both. They’ll make sure you’re alright and make sure you’re still alive. They’ll try to marshal an attack, so they’ll be here in person.”
Quinn was shaking his head, trying to think about another plan, another safe house for her.
“Quinn,” she said pulling him out of his concentration. “It’s okay, I don’t mind leaving.”
“There must be another way.”
“There isn’t.” Jae said absolutely.
“You can stay for a little bit, right?” Kathy said. “They won’t be going to the mansion for a while. It’s their anniversary and it think they’re spending it in San Diego.”
Jae gave her a curious look.
“She was bragging to me and Eve before the meeting started.” Kathy said rolling her eyes. “She said she planned something romantic. Anyway, please stay, eat, and then you can go if you must. You’re with friends.”
“I’m making my famous ‘Q omelets’ and Kathy’s makes the best blueberry pancakes.” Quinn said his face lighting up proudly; Kathy’s face blushed as he complemented her.
Jae couldn’t help but smile. “Only for the morning, I’ll leave after breakfast.”
Quinn hid Jae’s stolen car in the garage. Kathy followed Jae to the guest room where she got situated for a shower. Jae winced as she pulled off her shirt. Kathy reassured her, whatever she needed, she’ll get.
Jae took a much needed shower. It was hot at first and then cold after she washed off properly. She soaked up as much water as she could. It was possible this would be the last shower she was taking. Her mind idled to Rhys at this moment and she sighed. He was probably sleeping still or finding a way to get to her. She wanted to see him one more time before she drove to San Diego to kill Jill and possibly Geoff. Geoff was the unknown. He was a friend but he was also with Jill, the enemy. She wanted to speak with him in person but Jill would be within close proximity and she couldn’t be seen, not when she was supposed to be dead by now. The shower was turned off and clothes were placed on the counter, along with a large first aid kit. She dressed and tied her bandages securely.
The smell wafting from the kitchen made her stomach turn. She wondered when the last time she ate. She felt ravenous as she entered the kitchen. Kathy was mixing blueberries in a big bowl as she said a hello to each other. They conversed easily as if they were regular people, not trained assassins. Quinn entered later calling out that the car would make the journey to San Diego safely.
Jae enjoyed both omelets and pancakes and got extra helpings. The lack of sleep, and her full stomach was getting to her. The friendly and soothing atmosphere made her relax more as she stood to help clean.
“No, no,” Kathy said, stepping on front of her, and blocking her from the sink.
“Kathy, you guys cooked, I’ll clean.” Jae said sidestepping her.
“No you’ll sleep.” Kathy said. She pulled the plates from her hands and placed it on the kitchen counter. She grabbed Jae by her shoulders and led her to the spare bedroom she used earlier.
She didn’t say anything else as she was pushed into the room.
“Sleep, I’ll wake you up in a couple hours.” When Jae opened her mouth Kathy continued. “Don’t let me get Quinn involved. He’ll tie you up and knock you out.”
Jae looked at the inviting bed and at the lavish light green sheets. The bed was super comfortable as she sat on the bed, her feet dangling off the side. She gently moved to the middle of the bed and then under the covers. The scent of lavender and chamomile engulfed her as she slowly fell asleep.
Her body was slightly throbbing as she woke up. The lighting in her room was strange as she sat up running fingers through her messy hair. She remembered waking up around lunch time. There was a plate of food near her and she took advantage of food in bed. She must have fallen asleep because it was near sunset when she finally woke up. There must have been sleeping drugs in the water to make her sleep another six or seven hours. She massaged her wounds and slowly got up and out of the bed.
The house was oddly quiet as she exited the spare room. The other guest room was dark as the door was wide open. The bathroom to her right was empty as well. After she visited the bathroom for a much needed break she stared into the living room, and dining area to the right. Odd shadows were making her skittish as the light and the open window made everything creepier. She stayed close to the walls as she took everything in. She rolled up a magazine and held it in her hand just in case something attacked her.
She stopping creeping around the room as the thought where of Quinn and Kathy were. If Jill or Geoff got them in order to get information out of them she would never forgive herself. She shouldn’t have come to their house, and spend the whole day in bed. She should’ve left that morning after breakfast and rent a cheap motel to spend the day recuperating.
There was a muffled noise outside near the backyard where the garage was. The garage. Jae made her way to the garage. They would be tied and gagged in the garage and tortured and possibly close to death. She grabbed a kitchen knife and made her way to the door leading to the backyard. The noise turned into laughter and she could distinguish Kathy’s giggle. The door opened and Quinn stepped inside and stared at Jae with a shocked face.
“Oh, Jae.” He said abashed. “We weren’t expecting to see you for a couple of hours.”
“So it was you that drugged me?” Jae said innocently, returning the knife in its place and turning to look at the happy couple.
“We got you something.” Kathy started but with Quinn’s shaking head she backtracked. “I bought you some things you would like.”
Kathy pulled the bags from the floor to reveal clothes, a slim cell phone, and a bag of accessories. All the things she needed to look her best. Quinn’s expression was cocky as he handed her a small duffle bad. She opened the zipper and gave a chuckle. Several new guns and plenty of bullets accompanied with a heavy duty bustier. She pulled out the black undergarment.
“I noticed yours was a little worse for wear.” Quinn said a grin on his face.
Jae nodded thanks and shoved it back into the bag.
“I just like to know that you’re wearing protection.” He said throwing his hands up mocking her.
When she turned away to the restroom, he called out again.
“I know you’re safe but I wanted to buy you one instead. Who knows how rough it’s going to be. I just want you to be prepared.”
“Thank s Quinn.” She called over her shoulder. She heard a slight thud. She imaged Kathy blushing and slapping Quinn to shut him up.
The clothes fit perfectly and the bustier was bulkier than she remembered. She needed a new bullet proof vest but she didn’t remember how uncomfortable it was. She tightened up all the buckles and the Velcro. She made her way out of the bathroom and stared at Kathy and Quinn. They were in the kitchen nibbling on cake. On closer inspection she noticed the mouthwatering sin they were eating.
“Is that a New York Cheese cake with caramel and chocolate?” Jae said her eyes solely on the plate.
Quinn nodded as his fork separated a hefty bite.
“That’s not allowed.” She said regrettably.
“Well, I don’t have a job and I don’t have a boss.”
“You’re welcome to some if you like.” Kathy said getting a fork from a cabinet. “Take some before Quinn eats it all.”
Jae stepped away and shook her head. She had a mission to do and she couldn’t be sidetracked with dessert. She made a mental note to pick one up when she completed what she needed to do.
“Look, it’s about time I finish what I need to do. Thanks for letting me crash here and for the food and the company.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Kathy said stepping forward and wrapping her slim arms around her. “You’re always welcome here.”
“I don’t think I’ll keep in contact for a bit. Just to distance myself until it’s done.” Jae said stepping towards the door. “I’ll let myself out, enjoy the cheese cake.”
“Who is it?” Quinn said in between another large bite.
“What?” Jae said, feinting.
“Who is he?”
“What makes you think there is a he?” Jae said blinking and shaking her head absentmindedly.
“Come on, I know there is someone you’re seeing. There is only one, well two reason for you to leave the company: revenge or there’s someone else. I know it’s for revenge but I think there is someone else too. And don’t forget I was surveillance you for a couple days. I saw him, so you might as well confess.”
There was silence as Kathy’s face was definitely avoiding Jae.
“Alright, there is someone, and I’m not comfortable enough to introduce him to you. He just found out about Geoff a couple weeks ago.”
“I’m not as important as Geoff?” Quinn said making fun.
“Good bye.” Jae said making her way to the back door.
“Wait I was just kidding.” Quinn said following her to the door.
The couple followed Jae to the back door where the said they real good byes. There was an awkward silence as they waited for the other to start.
“I don’t think I’ll keep in contact. If anything happens, I’ll call or you’ll find out one way or another. If I can’t complete this, you might have to run.” Jae said looking into Quinn’s and Kathy’s eyes.
“I know.” Quinn said pulling Kathy closer. “I knew that when you finished telling us what happened last night. Is there anything I can do to help you? I don’t want you doing this on your own.”
Jae looked into Quinn’s eyes and felt like saying yes.
“No,” Jae said stepping off the deck and towards the garage. “I have to do this by myself. You shouldn’t have to die for this. I don’t want you to die at all.”
She said chuckling to alleviate the tension. She knew if she asked for Quinn’s help she would be condemning both Kathy and Quinn to death. She didn’t want to be selfish and take Quinn away from Kathy. Jae turned away and rushed to the car.
They were watching her as she backed out of the garage. They waved once more before she made her way down the street.
“What do you think about Argentina?” Quinn said, kissing Kathy’s cheek.
“I’ll make a home where you are.”
They smiled at one another and started planning what they wanted to pack. Quinn didn’t want to leave his home but once Jill finds out about the mansion and about the undead Jae, she would need answers. He watched as Kathy placed the dished in the sink and made her way to their bedroom. He wished Jae could get the job done.