Chapter 103

Emily heard the car start and felt every bump along the road as Tiny made his way towards the exit. She was surprised when he stopped the car soon after he started driving and heard him climb out of the car, opening up the trunk. She thought for a moment that he'd had a change of heart and didn't want to kill her after all, but her hopes were quickly dashed when she saw him holding a roll of duct tape.

Sit up.” he said, gruffly.

Emily did as she was told as he roughly grabbed her arms and bound her hands behind her back. He did her feet next and then stuffed a rag into her mouth. She could barely breathe, let alone scream.

The cops are all over the place. You try anything at all and I will shoot you through the backseat of the car, got it?”

Emily nodded as she fought to breathe through her nose. She lie back down and he shut the lid of the trunk again and drove off. Up until then she had thought there would be a way out of this. She was quickly coming to the realization that Tiny was completely serious and that she was in extreme danger. Her gut was telling her that it was in her best interests to cooperate with him for now and not try and escape. She had to wait for him to calm down a little.

She squeezed her eyes shut as she felt the car stop and prayed for someone to save her. She listened when she heard voices.

What were you doing on the access road, sir? Are you aware that's for park officials only?”

Yes officer, I'm fully aware. I'm Mrs. McLean's body guard. When I found out she ditched out on me, I came here to look for her myself. Officer Knight can vouch for me.” Tiny said, in a perfectly calm and polite voice.

The officer radioed for Knight to come over and a minute later, he appeared.

Tiny, you see anything back there?” Knight asked.

Tiny shook his head. “Nothing at all. What the hell is going on? I thought she was just going for a walk.”

Knight sighed. “She wanted to bait him. He was better than we expected.”

I'm going to drive by her house and check it out.” Tiny said. “Let me know if I can help.”

Alright.” Knight nodded.

Tiny smiled as he drove out of the park. “Fucking cops.” he muttered.

When AJ woke up, he had no idea where he was or what had happened. He tried to sit up but it caused his head to start throbbing and forced him to lay back down. The pain triggered his memory of what had happened but it only got him so far. He remembered the accident, the ER, he even remembered Emily coming to see him. But after that, his mind was blank. Had he just fallen unconscious again?

Emily?” he called, his voice hoarse.

A nurse hurried in. “Mr. McLean you're alright. My name is Karen, you're in the ICU. Do you remember what happened?”

I remember the accident.” he said, still feeling confused.

You had a bad head injury when you were brought in. You had a seizure in the emergency room and were brought up to have surgery to relieve the pressure on your brain two days ago. You're going to be just fine, I just need you to relax.”

Where's Emily?” he asked.

Your wife? She stepped out a few hours ago. Let me go see if I can track her down for you. Stay put, I'll be right back.”

Karen walked down to the waiting room where she'd seen Emily a few times before talking to some people. She didn't see Emily but she did see the couple that had been there with her.

Excuse me, are you relatives of Mr. McLean?” she asked.

We're...I...for the most part.” Brian said.

Karen looked a little confused.

They're basically brothers, they just don't happen to be related.” Leighanne explained.

Karen nodded. “He's awake and asking for his wife, do you know where she is?”

I thought she was back there with him?” Brian said.

No, I saw her leave a few hours ago. She said she was going to go for a walk, didn't she tell you?”

Brian sighed. “No, she didn't.”

Well in any case, he seems a little agitated. Do you think you could come back and sit with him? It's really important he stays calm to keep his blood pressure down.”

Sure.” Brian stood up. “Call Tiny, would you?” he said to Leighanne as he left.

Brian walked in AJ's room and had to try really hard not to act surprised at how bad he looked. “So Sleeping Beauty finally woke up.” he said as he sat down by the bed.

Where's Emily, is she ok?”

She's fine, she just needed some air. She hasn't left the hospital for two days. Leighanne's trying to get a hold of her now for you.”

AJ breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank God...when she wasn't here I thought...well I thought maybe something had happened while I was out of it. How bad do I look, anyway?”

Pretty bad.” Brian admitted. “Could have been a lot worse though. Everyone sends their love, we've all been worried about you.”

AJ sighed and closed his eyes. “I feel...lucky. I'm glad it was me in the car and not Emily. Have you talked to Knight?”

Brian nodded. “He was in the other day. He confirmed your suspicion about the brakes, they're searching for any shred of evidence. Oh and your mom is on her way. She'll be here this evening.”

AJ chuckled. “Don't let her fret over me too much, ok? I don't think I can handle it.”

It was hot in the trunk, there was no air circulating. Emily was still concentrating on slow and steady breathing. She knew if she started to panic, she'd start to hyperventilate and with a rag stuffed in her mouth, she knew she'd probably pass out if that happened. So instead of thinking about where Tiny might be taking her or why he was doing this, she just focused on a slow breath in, a slow breath out.

Finally the car pulled to a stop and she squinted at the bright light as he opened the trunk.

I'm going to take the tape off of you now but I'm warning you, I've still got a gun should you decide to try and escape.

Emily nodded. She winced as he ripped the tape off of her wrists and ankles. He pulled the rag out of her mouth and looked around to make sure no one was watching as he helped her out of the trunk. He put an arm around her waist as he led her across the parking lot. Emily realized he'd taken her to a motel that was actually not too far from where she lived. He unlocked a door on the first floor and shoved her inside, locking the door behind them.

Sit down.” he said, gesturing to a chair by the window. He walked behind her and pulled the curtains shut before sitting down across from her on the edge of the bed. Pulling his gun out of his pocket, he aimed it at her. “Remember what I said about trying to get away.”

Emily looked down, refusing to look at the gun. If she were going to remain calm, she could not look at the gun. She had to think of a way out. If she got up to run, he'd shoot her. And he was certainly no physical match for her. Not only was he a big and very strong man, he also had training. As a body guard he was probably used to weak punches and kicks and Emily knew they'd do nothing to stop him.

I'm sure you'd like to know what's happening.” he said.

Emily looked up at him. He had lowered the gun to his lap. “Why?” she whispered.

To teach AJ a lesson.”

Why AJ? I thought you two were close.”

There's a lot about your husband's past that you don't know about.” Tiny answered, bitterly. “Before the new guy came along, I had been his guard for years. And for years he never even thought about what I might be giving up for him. I had a beautiful wife. She was my world, I loved her so much. But then the job got to be more and more demanding and Lisa, that was my wife, she couldn't take it anymore. She begged me to quit, but AJ was at a real low point in life. He'd starting drinking and doing drugs, and we were close. I didn't want to leave him then. So I stayed by his side.”

But I'm sure if he'd have known he....”

I'm not finished!” Tiny snapped. “Lisa and I were trying to work on things. So one weekend when we were in Chicago, she flew out to see me. We got into an argument and she went down to the hotel bar. When she didn't come back to the room that night, I figured she'd either gotten a room of her own or she'd gone home. I couldn't get a hold of her and there wasn't much else I could do at the time. I had to get AJ up for an interview. I let myself into his room and do you know what I saw?”

Emily was afraid to hear the answer.

I saw my wife laying naked next to AJ, both of them passed out cold.”

Emily's jaw dropped. She had no idea about any of this.

I walked over and smacked him awake and told him to get in the shower to sober up. Lisa woke up while he was in the bathroom and realized what had happened. He must have overheard us yelling and came out of the bathroom and acted like he didn't even know she was my wife. He swore up and down the whole way down to the limo that she'd come up to him at the bar the night before, that she'd never said anything about being my wife. At the time, I didn't believe it. How could he not have known? He'd even met her a year before that! That was the day I quit. We switched guards around so that I wasn't watching him until they could find someone to replace me. I went home and found that Lisa had left me. Not long after, AJ went to rehab. I got a call from him while he was there, apologizing profusely for what he'd done even though he still maintained he didn't know who she was. At the time, I thought I could forgive him so I played it off like we were good. We kept in touch every now and then.”

But why all of this? Just to get back at him for something he didn't even mean to do to you?”

Because of him, I lost everything!” Tiny yelled. “And here he is with this beautiful wife and a great career and he doesn't even know what he has. He doesn't appreciate it the way he should, he's an ungrateful little bastard. He needs to know what it's like to lose everything.”

So by taking me away from him, you'll be punishing him.” Emily was understanding.

Exactly.” Tiny grinned.

But how did you even know he'd call you?”

I didn't.” Tiny shrugged. “But I thought it was a possibility. It just happened to work out perfectly!”

So all the letters and the threats, they were from you?”

They were pretty good, weren't they?” he said. “Especially the pictures of you and Brian making out in the kitchen. I knew that'd really mess with you guys.”

But why did you wait so long? You and I have been alone together a lot lately. Why did you wait until now?” she asked.

I just wanted to get to him. It wouldn't have been as satisfying if I did it right away. This way, I got to watch him squirm. When I was ready, I cut the brake line on your car and stole the keys to his car. I knew he'd go out at some point without you since he hated letting you out of the house.”

Emily was silent for a minute as she tried to digest everything he'd been saying. “So let me see if I have this straight.” she said. “AJ unknowingly slept with your wife when they were both hammered.”

Allegedly unknowingly. I still don't buy it.” Tiny said.

Ok. And you've been waiting all this time for revenge? That was years ago!”

Tiny shrugged. “For awhile, I hoped that Lisa and I could work it out. Six months ago, she got remarried and I was still all alone.”

So that was what pushed you over the edge.” Emily said, realizing he must have had some sort of mental breakdown.


So....what happens now?” she dared to ask.

Tiny thought for a moment. “I'm not sure. I need to think about it for a little while. I haven't completely decided your fate yet.”

Emily closed her eyes. She knew it wasn't exactly a good thing to hear, but at least he didn't seem to know yet what he wanted to do.

Chapter 104

Tiny was still sitting on the bed thinking. Every once in awhile he would mutter things to himself, as if he were having an argument inside his head about what to do next. Emily wished she could remember more of her psychology courses from nursing school, but the class had been at eight in the morning and she found them to be dull. She mentally kicked herself for not paying better attention to them, thinking that if she had, maybe she would have been able to talk him down a little.

Her cell phone had rung several times since they'd arrived. Tiny had taken her purse from her when he'd first grabbed her and it was now sitting next to him on the bed. As it rang again, he seemed to get agitated at it for constantly interrupting his thoughts. He grabbed it out of her purse and threw it at her.

It's the hospital, probably AJ calling.” he said. “I want you to answer it and tell him that you're fine and you'll be there soon. You try and tell him anything else, you'll be sorry.”

But he's going to figure it out sooner or later, if the police haven't already told him.” Emily tried to reason.

Just do it! Until I know what to do next, you stall him. Got it?”

Emily nodded and answered the phone.

Hello?” she said, trying to keep her voice steady and even. Tiny had the gun pointed at her again, warning her to be good.

Emily? It's me!” AJ said. “Where are you? Brian said you went for a walk a few hours ago.”

He didn't know? “I'm...fine. I just needed some time. It's been an intense few days. I can't believe you're awake, it's so good to hear your voice. How are you feeling?”

I just got another shot of morphine. I feel pretty good.” he said, with a chuckle.

I'm sorry I wasn't there when you woke up. I promise, I'll be there as soon as I can, ok?”

Ok. Are you alright, you sound weird.”

Everything is fine. I went home to take a shower and lie down after I went for a walk.” she lied. “I've been thinking.”

About what?”

I think we should take a vacation as soon as you're recovered. Someplace private and warm with sand and ocean.”

That sounds really nice.” he admitted.

And then maybe when all this is over, we'll finally really get started working on having that baby we've been talking about.”

Oh yeah?”

Yeah. I even have a name picked out if it's a boy.” she said. “I was thinking we could name him Robert Edward, after my father.”

That's a nice name.” AJ said.

I wonder if he'd be as big and burly as my dad was.” Emily chuckled. “Or a stick like you.”

Tiny motioned at her to get off the phone.

Well then I'll hurry up and get well so we can get to work.” AJ replied.

Ok. You get some rest, I'll be there to see you soon.” Emily said.

She hung up the phone and Tiny grabbed it back from her. Emily prayed that AJ would be able to pick up on the hints she was trying to give him.

About thirty minutes after AJ talked to Emily, Officer Knight arrived at the hospital.

Leighanne, is Brian around?”

He's sitting with AJ. He woke up and was getting agitated but Emily wasn't here yet. What's going on?” she asked, noticing the grim look on his face.

Could you go get Brian for me? I need to speak with you both.”

Sure.” Leighanne stood up and walked back towards the ICU. She found AJ's room and peeked in the door. AJ appeared to be sleeping and Brian was sitting next to him. He looked up and saw Leighanne, who motioned for him to step out into the hall.

What's up?” he asked.

How's AJ?”

Sleeping off some morphine but doing well.”

Officer Knight is here, he wants to talk to us.”

Brian cursed and followed Leighanne back out to the waiting room.

What's going on?” he asked.

Why don't you have a seat?” Knight said, gesturing to the seats across from him.

It's Emily, isn't it?” Leighanne asked.

Knight nodded. “We have reason to believe she's been abducted.”

What?!?” Leighanne exclaimed.

Brian shook his head. “AJ just talked to her thirty minutes ago. She finally answered her phone. She said she was fine and had gone home for some rest and that she'd be here soon.”

Knight looked surprised. He picked up his phone and dialed, barking out instructions to another officer. “I want you to pull Emily McLean's cell phone records and see if you can get a location on the last call she answered, about thirty minutes ago.”

He hung up the phone and looked back at Brian and Leighanne.

I think she was bluffing.” he explained.

How do you know? Brian asked.

We set up an undercover operation today.” he said, carefully. “Emily wanted to use herself as bait to try and draw him out. We had a wire on her and we were watching her nearby. She did go for a walk in the park, but somehow he slipped under our radar and managed to get her before we knew what had happened.”

You did WHAT?” Brian said, standing up. “How could you have put her in danger like that?”

It was her idea....”

I don't give a damn who thought up this brilliant plan, you were the one that let her do it! And then you dropped the ball when you failed to do your damn jobs and keep her safe! And now what? Some lunatic has her, doing God only knows what to her! Do you even have any idea where she is?”

Knight shook his head.

Jesus Christ.” Brian muttered, sitting back down.

Brian, you really need to stay calm for AJ's sake. It's important right now that he doesn't get upset. If his blood pressure gets too high, he could risk bleeding more in his brain.” Leighanne reminded.

Brian sat down and took a deep breath, pinching the bridge of his nose between his eyes.

What are we supposed to do?” he asked.

I think it's best if we stall AJ from finding out as long as we can. I don't think it'll give us that much time, he's going to get suspicious as soon as he wakes back up but give us as much time as you can to find her before you have to tell him, ok? Do you think she might have said anything to him in their conversation that would help us?”

Brian shook his head. “AJ said she went home to rest and would be on her way. Then they talked about taking a vacation when he was recovered and about having a baby. I guess she's already got a name picked out for a boy or something. Then they hung up.”

We're going to find her, Brian. Just do what you need to do to keep AJ calm in the meantime, ok?”

Brian nodded. “I'll do my best.”

Brian walked slowly back to the ICU and prayed that AJ wasn't awake yet. He peeked in the door and saw that AJ was still sound asleep and went over to the nurses' station.

What can I do for you?” Karen asked.

We may have a bit of a situation.” Brian said, awkwardly. “It seems that Emily, AJ's wife, has been...kidnapped. By some lunatic who also caused the accident AJ was in.”

You have got to be kidding. You're kidding right?” Karen said, thinking things like that only happened on television.

I really wish that were the case. We're going to try and stall telling him as long as we can. He's going to go through the roof when he finds out. I was thinking that it might be a good idea to maybe be prepared with some kind of sedative or something? I don't think I can hold him off for long, he's going to be suspicious the minute he wakes up and realizes she isn't here yet.”

Karen was speechless for a few second. “I....yes, I will call his doctor and get an order. Is there anything else I can do?”

Brian shook his head. “Just pray they find her before I have to tell him what's really going on. That is one stubborn man lying in there.”

He went and stood in the hall by AJ's room, afraid that if he walked in and sat down, he might wake AJ up and he wanted him asleep as long as possible.

AJ only slept for another twenty minutes. As soon as Brian saw him start to stir he went in and sat back down at his bedside.

Have a nice nap?” he asked.

Shut up, man. You try having brain surgery and see how much you sleep!”

Brian laughed. “I'll pass if that's alright with you.”

Has Emily come back yet?” he asked.

She just called and said she just left the house right before you woke up.” Brian said, hoping AJ wouldn't be able to tell he was lying.

Is she ok?”

Yeah, she's fine. Hey you want to watch tv? You have ESPN in here!” Brian said, turning on the television.

Alright, just keep the volume down. My head still hurts.”

Brian was able to keep AJ distracted for another thirty minutes before he finally realized Emily should have been there by now.

Should we call her again? The hospital is only fifteen minutes from our house.” he said.

Brian shook his head. “She probably just couldn't find a parking spot or something. I'm sure she's on her way.”

Well, just call her anyway!” AJ insisted.

Brian sighed, trying to figure out what to do. AJ noticed Brian's pause and knew something was going on.

What aren't you telling me?” he asked, his voice dropping.

At this point, Brian realized they were out of time. AJ knew something was up and there was no way Brian was going to be able to keep him from finding out. He pulled the chair up close to the bed.

We don't know where she is.” he admitted.

What do you mean you don't know where she is? Isn't Tiny with her?”

No. She took off by herself this morning.”

Why would she do something like that? She knows better! And besides, I just talked to her and she said she was fine!”

Brian closed his eyes. “I swear I didn't know about this....” he prefaced the next bit of information.

Didn't know about what?”

Apparently, Emily and Knight set up some kind of undercover operation where they used her as bait to try and get the guy to come after her. Unfortunately, according to Knight, the plan backfired and they think that he's got Emily somewhere. According to Knight, when you talked to her on the phone, she was probably with him and bluffing to you that she was fine. He was going to pull her cell phone records and see if they could track the call at all.”
AJ was still. “Are you telling me that my wife has been kidnapped?” he asked, quietly.

I guess I am. I'm sorry....”

AJ closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “What the HELL were they thinking letting her put herself out there like that?” he yelled, suddenly. “My wife could be dead! What are they even doing to try and find her?”

They're doing everything they can.”

Well seeing as how they probably said they would do everything they could to protect her in this operation gone bad, I don't really have much faith in their capabilities. Where the hell is Tiny?”

I imagine he's off trying to find her.” Brian said.

Out in the waiting room, Leighanne had grown very anxious about whether or not AJ had figured it out yet. She decided she was tired of waiting so she picked up their things and walked back to his room. She could hear AJ's outburst all the way down the hall and picked up the pace.

AJ you need to stay calm.” she said as she walked into the room and tossing their things on the chair. “Emily needs you alive to get her through this and if you get too upset, you'll suffer even more damage.” she tried to reason

AJ was fixated on Leighanne's pile of stuff she'd brought in with her.

Who's coat is that?” he asked, pointing to the black one on top of the pile.

It's Tiny's. He left it in the waiting room on accident.” Leighanne answered, a little confused about why AJ would be concerned about a coat.

Those are my car keys that just fell out of the pocket.”

What's unusual about that?” Brian asked.

Something wasn't right about it, AJ thought, he just couldn't figure out what it was. Tiny had driven his car all the time, why would it seem odd that he had the keys? Suddenly, a realization hit him like a ton of bricks. His car keys were supposed to be missing. That was why he'd taken Emily's car in the first place. But why would he be suspicious of Tiny? Maybe Emily had found them. Then it finally came to him. Emily had said on the phone she wanted to name their son Robert Edward, after her father. Her father's name wasn't Robert, it was James. Robert Edward was her secret nickname for Tiny. She had even said she wondered if the baby would be big and burly, another description she had used for Tiny. She wasn't talking about having a baby, she was trying to tell him that it was Tiny all along!

Chapter 105

AJ, what is it?” Brian asked.

It's Tiny.”

What do you mean?”

Tiny is the one who has Emily!”

That doesn't make any sense!” Leighanne said, wondering if AJ had some kind of brain damage after all.

Yes it does! The only reason I was driving Emily's car the day of the accident was because my car keys were missing. Then, on the phone, Emily told me that she wanted to name our son Robert Edward after her father. Her father's name was James! Robert Edward was what she called Tiny behind his back. I think she was trying to tell me without him catching on.”

Brian was flabbergasted. It seemed like a bit of a stretch, but he did have to admit that the theory also worked. He hadn't actually spoken with Tiny since this morning when Tiny left to shower and eat. “Ok, we'll call Knight and let him know. Maybe they can track him down.”

I am not calling and waiting around! I have to go find her before it's too late!”

AJ you can't leave, man. You just had brain surgery two days ago!”

Do you think I give a damn? She needs me!” AJ yelled.

Karen came running in with a syringe in her hand. AJ got out of bed and backed away from her.

Karen, I've never hit a woman before but I swear to God if you come at me with whatever medication is in there, I will knock you over. You do not have my permission to give me anything, is that clear?”

Mr. McLean you really need to stay here, you can't leave! You aren't well enough to be out of bed.”

Well, take a look at me now!” AJ said. “Where the hell are my clothes?”

Brian, Leighanne and Karen were silent as they all looked at each other, trying to figure out what to do next.

They had to cut them off in the emergency room.” Karen said.

Brian took a good look at AJ and made a split-second decision. “Emily brought you some clothes yesterday, they're in her bag. I'll get them for you.”

Leighanne and Karen gawked at Brian.

Brian, what are you doing, he can't leave!” Leighanne hissed.

Look, I know he shouldn't leave, but I also know that he's going to do it anyway. We can't make him stay can we? Isn't it illegal?” he looked at Karen.

Technically, no, we can't force him to stay here against his will.”

I'll go with him.” Brian said.

The doctor came running in and took a look around. “What's going on?”

I'm leaving.” AJ said.

You can't leave, sir. You're putting yourself in serious risk for your brain bleeding again if you do.”

I'll take that risk. I need to get to my wife.”

Do you understand you could be killing yourself?” the doctor snapped.

AJ froze and looked at him. “Do you realize that if I don't find my wife before she gets killed that I won't want to live?”

The doctor sighed. “Sign him out AMA.” he said to Karen. “See you back here when your brain herniates, Mr. McLean.

Jackass.” AJ muttered under his breath as he put on the clothes Brian handed him. “Come on Brian, let's go.”

Where are you going?” Leighanne asked.

I'll call you.” Brian assured as he sped out of the room after AJ.

Leighanne and Karen just stood there looking at each other, totally speechless.

Can you just give that sedative to me?” Leighanne asked. “I think I may need it.”

Brian leads AJ out to his car. “Where are we going?”

Let's go to my house first.” AJ said. “Maybe he took her back there.”

Brian nodded and sped off as AJ rested his head against the headrest and shut his eyes.

Are you sure you want to do this?” Brian asked.

Wouldn't you?”

Brian didn't answer, he didn't need to. Of course he would have done the same for Leighanne. He picked up his phone and called Knight as he drove.

What is it?” Knight answered.

We might have a lead.” Brian explained AJ's conclusion that it was Tiny and why he thought that.

We saw him leaving the park.” Knight said. “He said he'd been there looking for her himself. Dammit! He probably had her in the car with him!”

We're going to check her house.” Brian said.

I'll put an APB out on him and his car. We'll find him. It helps now that we know who we're looking for.”

Brian hung up the phone and looked at AJ out of the corner of his eye. He was pale and obviously in pain. He prayed that they were able to find Emily very soon so he could get him back to the hospital before something happened,

They quickly arrived at AJ's house and pulled in the driveway. There was no sign of Tiny's car outside. Brian unlocked the front door and the two men crept inside slowly. The house was silent. Brian gestured that he would look upstairs and AJ would take the main floor. They searched every room and closet and then went to the basement. Nothing. Everything seemed just as it should.

They did a quick scan over the property and still nothing.

What do you want to do now?” Brian asked.

AJ was thinking. He had thought he had known Tiny well and he was trying to think like him. Tiny was a practical guy who didn't like to go out of his way for much.

He was staying at the Holiday Inn near here before he moved into the house.” AJ said. “Maybe we should check over there.”

They got back into the car and Brian followed AJ's directions to the hotel. They turned into the lot and Brian began driving up and down the rows looking for Tiny's car.

There!” AJ pointed. “Over by those bushes. That's his car.”

Are you sure?”

How many other champagne colored Ford Tauruses with Michigan plates do you think are here?”

Tiny isn't even from Michigan!” Brian said, afraid to jump to any conclusions too quickly.

He's not, but his rental car is.”

Brian parked his car close to Tiny's. AJ started to get out. “What are you doing?”

What do you mean? I'm going to find the bastard!”

Brian grabbed his arm and pulled him back into the car. “Do you really think we can take down a man like Tiny? Besides, he's probably armed. I don't think it would be smart of us to go in there by ourselves.”

AJ got back in the car. As much as he hated it, he knew Brian was right. Tiny would be a hard guy to fight off and if he was armed, they didn't stand a chance. He didn't want Emily hurt, if she wasn't already.

Brian was already on the phone with Knight again. “We found his car. It's parked in the lot at the Holiday Inn on highway 106 near their house.”

Stay in the car. We're on our way.” Knight said.

Brian hung up and looked over at AJ. “They'll be here as soon as they can. It won't be long.”

When Brian turned to look at AJ, he was surprised to see tears streaming down AJ's face. “What if we're too late, man?”

You can't think like that right now.” Brian said. “Emily was ok when you talked to her, that's a good sign.”

But what if we're too late? What if she's....dead? What the hell am I going to do? I can't go on without her. I can't wake up every morning and roll over and realize she isn't there and she's never coming back! I'm not strong enough for that.”

Brian was having a hard time fighting his own emotions but he knew he had to keep them in check for AJ's sake. “Listen to me: that isn't going to happen. You and I are going to sit here and pray until the cops get here. Just a little longer, ok? I need you to stay positive.” Brian said, really hoping he was right.

It took about ten minutes from the time Brian made the call to the time Knight and his team arrived. They swarmed the parking lot and jumped out of their cars with their weapons drawn, already seeming to know which room Tiny was in.

We've got company.” Tiny said as he peeked through the curtains. He grabbed his gun out of his holster and readied himself.

On Knight's command, the police broke down the door to the room and aimed their guns at Tiny. Unfortunately, because Tiny had a few seconds to prepare, he'd had enough time to grab Emily around the throat again and press the gun hard against her temple.

Don't move!” the cops shouted. “Drop your weapon, you are surrounded. Drop your weapon!”

Emily looked pleadingly at the officers who seemed to be refusing to make eye contact with her at the moment. She squeezed her eyes shut as she felt Tiny's grip on her tighten.

Put your guns down and walk out and I won't hurt her.” Tiny said.

Let her go, we can work this out.” the officer insisted.

I don't want to work out anything with you people, I want to talk to McLean. I don't want to hurt his wife, but the choice is all his. I mean it...get out!” he said, putting his finger on the trigger of the gun.

The officers backed out slowly out of the room.

AJ had been listening over the radio with Knight. “I want to go in.” he said.

No fucking way! How do I know if you go in there he won't shoot you both?”

He's got a gun pointed at my wife's head! Let me talk to him.” AJ insisted.

Knight shook his head. “You're not....” but before he could even finish his sentence, AJ had broken away and was running towards the door.

McLean what the hell are you doing?” he called after him. It was too late, AJ was already at the door.

Tiny, it's AJ. I'm coming in.”

You alone?” Tiny asked.

Just me, I promise.”

AJ opened the door and slowly walked in with his hands up in the air. He froze when he saw Emily's frightened face. “Let her go.” he said.

You look like shit.” Tiny said, with a bit of a grin.

All thanks to you apparently.” AJ replied.

You had it coming.” Tiny said. “Just like this.”

What do you want?” AJ asked, carefully.

I want you to suffer the way I did. I want you to know what it feels like to lose the woman you love and I want you to know that it was all your fault. Emily knows it's all your fault, don't you Emily?”

Emily couldn't respond, she simply squeezed her eyes shut again in sheer terror.

Is this about your wife?” AJ asked. “You're getting back at me for sleeping with your wife ten years ago?”

Exactly!” Tiny said. “Because of you, she divorced me and just got remarried. Because of you, I'm still all alone and because of you, your wife is going to pay so you can watch your loved one slip away right before your eyes and know there's nothing you can do about it.”

Tiny, come on...let's leave Emily out of this.” AJ said, beginning to panic. “You want to shoot someone? Shoot me!”

I'm not going to shoot you!” Tiny laughed. “If I kill you, there's no punishment for you. You'll be dead! No, this way is better. Say goodbye, AJ!” Tiny said.

Before AJ got a chance to do anything, he was knocked down from behind. The last thing he heard was a gunshot before everything went black.

Emily screamed as she felt Tiny let go of her and ducked out of the way.

Emily are you alright?” Knight asked, pulling her up. Emily looked over and saw Tiny lying on the carpet, blood pouring out of his head.

Wh...what happened?” she asked, her body trembling.

We had a sharp shooter take him down.”

On my God...AJ!” Emily said, noticing AJ was unconscious on the floor. She rushed over to him and tried to wake him. “Oh God...he's unconscious! Is he shot?” she searched his body for a wound but found nothing.

I think he hit his head when I tackled him to get him out of the way.” Knight said as the paramedics rushed in. Brian had already filled them in on AJ's condition.

Let's get him to the hospital.” they said as they loaded him up on the stretcher. “We'll get an IV started on the way.”

I'm going with him.” Emily said.

They looked at Knight for permission and he nodded. Emily climbed into the ambulance and held AJ's hand as they took off for the hospital.

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"Realize" is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved
No part of this text may be copied or reprinted
without the author's permission.