A/N: First of all, I would like to thank everyone who read and/or liked the previous chapter despite its flaws. This is one of the reasons why am still in WordPress. The community here is supportive and I appreciate it. Here’s another chapter just for you. I hope you’ll enjoy it. 🙂
Louis covered a yawn with his hand. He sat languidly on the bench with Cheska still oblivious to their current situation. His words hovered in the tense atmosphere.
“Negative. We need to verify his identity before he can enter the main house,” the security personnel said.
“Either he comes or my father comes to us,” Louis said. He flicked a speck of dust on his shoulder.
Fred stared incredulously at him. What was wrong with him? Had Louis forgotten why he had to reconcile with his father? To top it off, he wanted Gerry – a virtual stranger, who could be a double agent for all they know, to come with them.
“Sir, standard procedure dictates that unverified guests during lockdown must answer to inquiries,” the man said patiently.
The word lockdown had Fred whip his head towards the speaker. For a moment, he was confused until he remembered what the computer said at the secret entrance.
“I know the protocol, Allan,” Louis said to the security personnel. “I activated it. Then I changed my mind just now. I’ll vouch for Gerry, alright?”
“Sir, we are under strict orders—”
“Gods above, man,” Luis cut in, his eyes flashed in annoyance.
Allan clamped his mouth shut.
Louis let out a huff. “Tell your superior,” he searched for the name of the new guy, “Smith what’s-his-name that I’ll take full responsibility of my guests. Good enough?”
“Very good, sir.”
“Now that we’re through with the niceties,” Louis’ voice dripped with sarcasm, “could someone be kind enough to bring me a hover chair?”
While waiting for the requested equipment, Fred checked Cheska’s vital signs. Her pulse and breathing was normal. A small frown marred her sleeping face. Unable to help himself, he tucked a stray hair under her ear. Fred straightened from his crouch. His eyes fell on Louis’ unreadable gaze. The chair arrived and the moment had gone.
On their way to the main house, Fred and Louis walked at the head of their company. Gerry followed behind them, pushing the hover chair Cheska was on. They were still surrounded by guards, but they kept a good distance from the trio to allow a private conversation.
“Why the lockdown?” Fred asked Louis, low enough not to be overheard even by Gerry.
“Trust doesn’t come easily in my social circle,” he replied. “Money is power. Trust can be bought by the highest bidder until another one comes along. Your savior sounds like one opportunist. He didn’t rescue you and my sister because of a change of heart,” Louis shook his head. “He knows something and I want to find out what it is.
“I activated lockdown to trap him with us. Gerry wouldn’t be able to escape this place with his life without,” he hesitated, “proper procedure.”
Fred stared long and hard at him. No one would recognize this person for the nine-year old from eleven years ago. The younger Louis knew how to trust despite the emotional scars he bore when they first met. He knew how to smile. The adult walking beside Fred hadn’t cracked a single genuine smile. At first, he thought Louis was impulsive. That impression changed when he appeared, pulled them out of the accident site and brought them to safety. Louis may be rash at times, but he knew how to make snap decisions and what resources to pull to make things happen. Then there was Louis’ behavior: his hunger for love from a long lost sister and the sardonic troubled person that he showed to the world.
“Staring won’t do you any good, you know,” Louis said. He shoved his hands into his jeans’ pockets. “Out with it, Fred.”
“It’s nothing,” Fred looked away. Then his stomach decided to make itself known by growling.
Louis paused in the hall lined with white paneled doors. Everyone stopped in their tracks. His brow rose when he heard the sound, but didn’t comment on it. He took Cheska from Gerry while Allan opened the door closest to them. Louis issued orders to the security personnel and didn’t wait for an answer. He pushed Cheska into the room while Allan relayed the instructions in his earpiece.
After Cheska was laid on the bed, one of Allan’s subordinates stood guard outside the room. The rest moved further into the mansion.
Fred felt unnerved when they reached the gallery. The holograms of Louis’ ancestors were lifelike that the hairs in his arms and neck stood on end. Their dead eyes trailed after them as they crossed the cavernous room.
He let out a breath when they exited the gallery. If that was intended to intimidate anyone who wishes to speak with Mr. Roucan face-to-face, it might actually succeed,” Fred mused.
“Almost there,” Louis drawled. He nodded his head to the door at the end of the corridor.
The door creaked when it opened. An enticing smell escaped, weaving its way towards Fred. His mouth instantly watered. Before he could search for food, a blonde woman threw her arms at him.
“Fred! I’m so glad you’re safe,” she said. The tremor in her voice spoke volumes of how scared she had been for him.
“Mom.” Fred patted her back awkwardly and tried to breathe through the stranglehold she considered an embrace. “Can’t breathe.”
“Oh, sorry.” She uncoiled her arms from his neck. Her eyes searched for a specific person over his shoulder. “Where’s Brent?”
Guilt sank to the pit of his stomach. Fred hadn’t known the bodyguard for long, but the man had been a constant shadow of his mom for a decade. Her face fell at his expression. Her blue eyes glazed with tears.
“I’m sorry,” Fred said.
She took a fortifying breath as she composed herself. The next question she asked was, “Where’s Cheska?”
“She’s resting,” Fred glanced at Louis. “The accident took a toll on her.”
“She’s all right?”
“What are you doing here?” Louis’ father sliced through their conversation.
Fred turned to the man behind the desk. Mr. Roucan’s icy gaze regarded Gerry.
Unfazed, the man in question strolled to the center of the room.
“Why are you here?” Mr. Roucan demanded.
“The nature of my work takes me everywhere, sir. As luck would have it, it landed me right to your doorstep. Orders were to take the doctor fellow here.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“Alfred!” Fred’s mom exclaimed.
“Orders didn’t include his girlfriend Francesca Barbarossa. My men would have used her as leverage against him or worse.”
When Mr. Roucan didn’t say anything, Louis interrupted, saying: “How do you know her name?”
“It’s my job to know,” Gerry smirked.
Mr. Roucan stood from his chair and stared out of the window. Everyone waited for him to speak. “Everyone, leave,” he turned slowly and looked at Gerry, “except you.”
Voices erupted in the study:
“I’m not leaving. This concerns national security and I’m the Mysts’ guardian,” Louis said.
“He’s connected to the person who wants to take my son. I’m staying,” Fred’s mom reasoned.
“I’m involved. I want to hear what he has to say,” Fred said.
“All I ask is a few minutes to speak with him alone.” When no one budged, Mr. Roucan ordered: “Allan, please escort my son and our guests to the conference room. We will join them shortly.” Then he addressed the group, “Food and refreshments were brought in earlier. I’m sure some of you are feeling the aftereffects of your adventure.”
Their mad escape from the scene was really something to Fred. Louis, however, looked even more bored than before; as if the incident earlier was a regular occurrence to him. He righted himself from leaning against the wall and strode towards the door connected to the conference room. The sliding doors whispered shut with his back to them.
Fred’s mom sighed and tugged her son by the arm.
“Come along, Fred,” she urged.
He wanted to know the connection between Mr. Roucan and Gerry. Then again, the mention of food had reawakened his hunger. He let his mom tow him to the conference room.
Upon entry, Fred knew that they wouldn’t be able to overhear the pair’s exchange. The walls and doors separating the two rooms were thick. He was a little disappointed, but this vanished when Fred saw the spread prepared on the table.
Louis munched on an apple. He motioned for Fred to sit beside him.
“Thanks,” Fred said when Louis pushed a plate filled with food in front of him. His mom sat next with a cup of tea and biscuits.
“Here’s some music,” Louis said. He gave each of them a black earpiece.
Fred’s mom thanked the young man. She hooked the object in her ear. The cup hovered inches from her mouth for a second. Gazing at Louis, she said, “I never knew you have good taste in music.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Williams.”
“It’s Ms. Kruger now,” she corrected. “Fred, you should really listen to this.”
Fred looked up from his food. Two expectant faces gazed back at him. His eyes strayed to the stereo system opposite them. Why not use those instead? Still, he reached for the device to humor them.
A clear male voice spoke in his ear followed by another. He recognized to whom it belonged. Fred glanced at his friend. At this point, he would take the chance offered and ask questions later. “It’s good,” he said.
The corner of Louis’ mouth curled upward. He shrugged, leaned back, and took a bite at his second apple.
The table was quiet as the three listened in on the people in the study.
“You should never have come back,” Mr. Roucan said.
“Never? Should I presume that you sent me to Libya to die?” Gerry asked, ending in a resentful note.
“Your mission was simply to stay close to the target and report their activities. The intel you’ve gathered, especially now, would have been a step further to achieve our goals. Your being here has jeopardized everything.”
“My contacts have either died or disappeared when the plague broke out.”
“Why was your team sent here? What is Libya trying to do?”
“They sent scouts to look for the Dr. Williams fellow after the trail had gone cold. The first team killed his secretary to make him come out only to realize he was out of the country. They started watching the mother,” Fred felt his mom squeeze his arm. “It was only a matter of time before she reaches out to her son.
“Incidentally, rumors have been circulating that two Libyan fugitives ran here. My team was sent to apprehend them, but orders changed when the doctor’s mother booked a flight to the Mysts.
“Anyway, I was surprised myself when I saw Cheska with Dr. Williams and, doubly so, when your son came to our rescue. I didn’t think the frail looking boy could actually pull it off.” At the corner of Fred’s vision, Louis stiffened.
“I didn’t expect her to come here after we moved to Europe,” Gerry continued. “If I was naturalized here, I would say the land calls to her. But seeing how everything’s fallen into place, my guess is blood calls to blood.”
Mr. Roucan didn’t speak.
“You never asked me her name when I adopted her.” Louis leaned forward in his chair. “You probably know it by now though, through her brother.”
Fred didn’t hear Mr. Roucan’s next reply for Louis had jumped out of his seat and left the conference room.
Copyright © 2014-2016 Cecilia Beatriz. All rights reserved.
A/N: Has anybody guessed who Gerry is? Who does he actually work for? Stay tuned!
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