Chapter 33: Chapter 33

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 57

Hazel slowly exhaled as she navigated her silver Benz over the pothole and puddle laden road that led to the bar. She pulled up but sat for a moment before she cut the engine. She couldn’t help but feel the quiet serenity of the morning surrounding the building was deceptive. She found herself staring at the brick and mortar exterior in a daze of exhaustion. Her constant overthinking to Kate and Alex’s reaction to the destroyed gravesite had her tossing and turning all night. There was a permanent ache in her heart for all the pain Kate had been forced to endure. Knowing there was no way to ever end the cycle of grief, Hazel spent so much energy trying to be a positive light and encourage healing, especially between the two friends. Now the destructive act coupled with Alex’s actions to confront Damian once again put Hazel’s anxiety for their safety in overdrive. She had not considered that there was still a serious threat. Damian didn’t appear mournful to the loss of his father and basked in the power of his new position, while Caleb had been silent. More so, neither Kate nor Alex had ever indicated any concerns, even with the possibility that Caleb was just waiting for a perfect time to strike constantly hovering over them. Hazel had always hung onto the hope that the suffering Kate had endured and had to continue to live with was enough for him not to seek ultimate revenge for his brother. 

Hazel gently pushed out of the driver’s side and lightly closed her door not to disrupt the quiet. The door to the bar was propped open and Rontu happily greeted her as she stepped across the threshold. Hazel couldn’t help but feel unease to the lack of activity consuming the space. When she caught sight of Alex her heart jumped. Alex stared blankly at a multitude of files strewn around the floor in front of her, but it was the brunette’s appearance that intensified Hazel sense of foreboding. She looked worse than she had the night before. Hazel had expected to see more swelling on her cheek, but the woman leaning against the desk looked like she had taken another beating and left out in the rain. Hazel’s presence and quick movement had Alex lifting her head. 

“Hazel,” she acknowledged softly.

Hazel tried to smile a greeting but her concern overpowered her and she quickly approached. Alex only showed mild surprise at Hazel’s sudden proximity.

“What happened?” she asked looking her injured friend over.

Alex dropped her head again and was clearly trying to control her every reaction. “I don’t know where-” she paused and closed her eyes. She exhaled a sharp breath as she continued, “Kate. Something has happened to Kate.”

Hazel felt every fear realized at that moment and asked her next question carefully. “How do you know?” 

“Something happened last night-”

“Yeah,” Hazel interrupted, her anger suddenly began to rise at the situation, especially at Alex’s constant reckless behavior. “You almost got yourself killed by confronting Damian and Caleb, again. He must-”

“No,” Alex interrupted back, her voice raised in defense to Hazel’s accusatory tone. “It’s not Damian or Caleb. After you left,” she paused again. “I think I was drugged somehow. I’m still not sure but all I remember is trying to get outside to Kate and then nothing.”

“Do you know who?”

“In short, I’m damn sure Peter had another son.” 

Hazel straightened, but held her tongue for Alex to continue.

“His name Kyle Ramirez, it’s all I really have at the moment.”

Hazel shook her head but didn’t want to go down the hole that was widening in front of them. Wasting time rehashing any how’s or why’s would do little to finding Kate.

“You can fill me in all the details later. What can I do?”

“I need to figure out where he would take Kate. There’s a box on the bar that has some files I think I need.”

“Okay, but shouldn’t we call someone for help.”

“I did. I’ve been working with Luke. I’ve told him everything.” 

“Everything?”

“Pretty close to everything, but Byron has swooped in. I have to figure this out first.”

Hazel felt the urgency more with the drop of Byron’s name. Before she could engage further her cell was chiming. She apologized as she dug it from her pocket and quickly answered. The summons being requested on the other end had her regretting that she hadn’t just ignored it. She moved away but continued to apologize to Alex for the interruption. 

Alex signaled her understanding with a quick motion of her hand. “Go, someone needs your brain. I’ll keep you in the loop.”

Hazel placed her hand over the receiver. “I’m not leaving. Nothing else matters until Kate is safe.” Content that she had Alex’s attention and was making her point, Hazel gestured towards the phone cupped in her hand. “Let me deal with this then you have my undivided attention.”

“Sounds good,” Alex whispered with her focus returning to the paper she had been studying.

Hazel hastily excused herself to take the call outside, and tried to listen to the man on the other end, but couldn't get the idea of Kate in danger out of her mind. Rontu kept at her heels as she paced frantically making phone calls to get someone else to cover her job. Her efforts were interrupted by Rontu’s sudden sharp bark and sprint back to the door. He whined and scratched at the barrier. Hazel had not remembered closing it behind her, but without thinking and still speaking she grabbed the handle, but the door didn’t budge. Uncertainty and confusion began to rise and was enunciated when a crashing sound had her jumping back. Without care to the person she had been talking to, she hung up. Before she could reach for the handle again Alex appeared in a sliver of space between the door and frame.

“What the hell was that?” Hazel asked trying to see around the woman blocking her.

“Nothing, I tripped over a table coming to see if you left yet.”

“What? I told you I wasn’t.”

“Oh, maybe it's better if you did.”

“No way! I left last night and regret it now.”

Alex shook her head and using her foot pushed Rontu away from trying to enter. “You’ll just get in the way honestly, what could you do to help?”

“Excuse me? What changed in the last few minutes?” Hazel stood in shock to the three-sixty in attitude that Alex now exuded.

“I just came to a realization I won’t be able to concentrate with your constant emotions about everything.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” 

Alex rapped the door in irritation and impatience and looked down to the dog making noises at Hazel’s feet. “If you really want to help, take Rontu.” 

“Take Rontu and what?”

“To your place. I can’t be worried about him too, please.”

“Fine,” she said with suspicion. “But I’m coming right back.”

“Whatever you need, as long as you leave.” With the last statement, Alex turned and shut the door hard locking it just as fast.

Awestruck at what just happened, Hazel clenched her fist in the anger that had begun to build up. She was so furious, and as much as she wanted to storm back in she knew she needed to be the one to maintain placidity. She’d give Alex a moment to regain her sanity before she entered the picture again. She decided to walk off her frustration and summoned Rontu, but he didn’t budge and his whimper grew louder. His behavior indicated that something was wrong and it was more than Kate’s absence. He would normally listen to any command she gave. Even when she gently tugged on his collar to redirect him, he shifted his weight away from her and began to growl and bark at the sealed door. She tried to calm him and that was when the thought came to her. Alex’s change in attitude and actions was more like she was protecting her from something or someone. It was the only conclusion she could come to because Alex would want all hands on deck to find Kate, especially since she mentioned Byron. Hazel took the hint but wasn’t about to let Alex slip through the cracks. She’d pretend to leave to play along and call Luke. 

***

Alex locked the door and carefully turned. She was fully aware that any abrupt or hasty movements could result in a trigger pull. Instead, she exaggerated her compliance by raising her arms and widening her stance. She then made eye contact with the man holding the threat. He responded with a tight laugh and gestured for her to move away from the door. She was both confused and curious about why Kyle would make himself known to her. The only conclusion she could come up with was that Fred had thrown off his plan and he came back to mend it. But him being there confirmed his identity that he proudly boasted when he had casually walked in. His sudden appearance caught her off guard, and he used it to his advantage.

“I’m almost impressed, except I don’t hear a car leaving.” He sidestepped and slightly parted the blinds. “That damn dog, I should have just ended him when I had the chance.”

“Kyle,” Alex called over to regain is attention to her. “What do you want?’

“I thought you were a better liar,” he said ignoring her question. “I wonder who she’s calling?”

“Leave her out of this.”

“That’s up to you,” he challenged.

“Don’t put your actions on me.” 

“Actions that can be directed by you. You’re all about control aren’t you?”

“You know nothing about me.”

 “I know you wouldn’t be able to sit here knowing I could take you to Katelynn. I’ll give you that illusion of control if that’s what you need, but I think the control you really have right now is whether Hazel lives or dies.”

“The only illusions I see is that you think you have it all figured out.”

“Am I wrong?” 

Alex pointed to the weapon in his hand. “You’re the bad guy with the gun, so you tell me.”

“Perception and relativity, my dear.”

“Excuse me?”

“Your skewed perception that I’m the bad guy, and the idea of who has done wrong is relative.”

“Wow, that’s bold and twisted.” She huffed, but couldn’t help but express her truth to his demented interpretation of reality. “Did daddy tell you it was okay what you did to those poor women? But then he didn’t fight for you. He let your Uncle deny your existence and cover up your handy work because it would taint his fake business persona. A business you’ll never be a part of.” 

As she spoke Kyle’s expression slipped. It gave her encouragement to push and continue to crack him and reveal his insecurities. “Now you’re trying to make up for it because you really messed up when you killed Tyler and Kate didn’t die.”

He readjusted the gun in his hand and straightened in defense, but chuckled softly to cover his brief faltering. “You’re stalling now, but to what end?”

Alex was acutely aware that she was stalling. At that moment she just didn’t know what exactly for. Maybe for Luke, but she wasn’t sure Hazel was even calling him, and he wouldn’t be prepared for Kyle. He’d walk into an ambush and she couldn’t allow that, and she definitely couldn’t allow Hazel to be caught in the middle either. More so, she was trying to figure out how she would dare go with him and still have some sort of an upper hand. For some reason, he needed her and Kate in the same room, but on his terms. Hazel being there was leverage for him and he knew it. But, she hesitated. There had to be a way to tip the scales back to her favor. He came back for her, and when he couldn’t take her by force or drugged he tried to play a mind game. She smiled to herself as she saw what he was doing more clearly. 

“Tick tock, Alexis.”

“Who is to say I let you leave here?” she asked.

With the comment, Kyle began to laugh. It was a laugh that came from somewhere dark, and Alex couldn’t deny how unsettling it was, but she held herself strong.

“Oh, Alexis, you have no play here.”

“You don’t want to kill me now, you want me and Kate together, and now I’ve gotten Hazel to leave you’re the one on the clock.”

“I know what you’re thinking, that you may have a chance to be the hero, but let me assure you, you are anything but a hero.”

“You’re not winning me over here.”

The sound of tires kicking up gravel and the cutting of an engine had them both redirecting their focus. Alex felt her initial anxiety return with the thought of Hazel or Luke in danger. While Kyle’s original over-confidence was restored and revealed in a bolder more arrogant smile that overtook his features. 

“The choice is once again yours. We can always bring Hazel along, that might be fun.” He taunted and looked past the blinds again. “Oh, this just got so much more interesting.”

“Okay, stop.”She pleaded and threw her hand up, not wanting to know who he thought he saw. “Just stop.”

Alex couldn’t believe what she had decided at that moment. That she was about to let a man that she knew would kill her take control. Maybe in her stalling, it gave Luke more time to figure out where Kate was. 

He smiled at the obvious submission and slid a pair of handcuffs along the wooden floor. She looked down at them and then back at Kyle.

He dipped the gun in their direction. “I think you know how to put those on.”

She considered how she could use them as a weapon, but his anticipation to her thoughts halted her. “Hazel is still an option for me,” he warned. “I really have no problem replacing you with her.”

With reluctance, she complied but felt immediate regret as he carefully approached and secured a thick cloth sack over her head. The darkness was about to be enhanced when she felt the needle pierce her skin. 

“I’ve learned I can’t take any chances with you,” he whispered as he guided her away.

 

 


Submitted: November 05, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.

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