Mercy Hospital. Keesha didn’t have to think twice to know who made that decision. Although Quartermaine blood flowed in Faith’s veins, Justus’ younger sister did not acknowledge that branch of the family tree. Since the Q's ran General Hospital, it didn’t come as a surprise that Faith wouldn’t let Justus spend a night under that facility’s care.
Donning a pair of scrubs, mask and a hair net, Keesha slipped into the ICU. She quickly found her cousin’s room and ducked inside. The sight of him took her breath away. Gone was the towering presence who lovingly called her Lil Bit. Her dear cousin lay as helpless as a baby on the bed. White gauze covered what was left of his handsome head. Machines fed him food and oxygen. It was obvious his heart no longer pumped on its own accord. Only a shell of the formidable, loving man remained. She hitched a deep breath. Rage consumed her. Jason would pay dearly for this.
The door behind her eased open. Making sure her mask remained secure, she turned her back and tugged on the blanket covering him. While she pretended to be hospital personnel, she listened to the conversation that flowed around her.
“I don’t want to accept that he’s brain dead.”
“We’re sorry, but there’s nothing more we can do—“
“I know that, but he’s my brother. He isn’t supposed to die like this,” Faith said harshly. “Our grandmother had big plans for all of us. Now, it’s just me.”
The doctor became quiet while Faith composed herself. Keesha watched them from the corner of her eye. Pain ripped through her. Faith wasn’t alone. Keesha and Jacob were very much alive, but until Jason no longer posed a threat, Keesha couldn’t close the distance between them and mourn Justus with Faith.
“What else?” Faith asked. “The look on your face... What aren’t you telling me?”
“He’s not listed as an organ donor.”
“You want my brother’s organs.”
The doctor nodded. “We have three patients who are perfect matches. It isn’t too late for him to live up to your grandmother’s expectations and make a difference.”
Faith’s bottom lip trembled. She nodded. “That’s true. You can have the organs, but on one condition.”
“The patients are not charged for the organs. How you handle the surgery is your business, but my brother will not be your whore or anyone else’s ever again.”
“The hospital has to—“
“No,” she said. “Justus’s organs are not for sale. Those are the terms. Give those three people a chance, doctor. I’ll have my lawyers draw up the paperwork.”
Keesha slipped out before the doctor or Faith became suspicious of her presence.
Faith acted on behalf of Justus. Now, it was Keesha’s turn.
- - -
Bad lighting, Fox thought, as the dvd started. The thought popped randomly into his brain. Tension coiled around him like a thick, poisonous snake. He paced a good two minutes before he finally pushed play on the dvd player. Now that he had, he could barely think straight.
Clutching the remote control in his hand, Fox dropped to the floor in front of the television. His eyes narrowed as if that would make the dark easier to see through.
He released the air he’d been holding and leaned toward the screen. Whoever held the camera didn’t have a steady grip. The picture bobbed and weaved several times before it looked on a figure Fox knew intimately.
Automatically, his back straightened and his gaze locked on his wife. A beam of light flashed her. She raised her arm to protect her eyes from the harsh glare.
“Let me go.”
Her voice sounded raspy, maybe hoarse from yelling, but there was no other show of weakness. At least not to anyone who didn’t know her. Rhythmically, her thumb rubbed her wedding band. Fox swallowed hard. She only did that if she was scared or nervous.
A disguised voice responded to her. “Take your clothes off. Put these one.”
A bundle was tossed into the cell and landed at her feet. She jumped back to dodge the clothes.
“Dammit, Dawn!” Fox ran his hands through his hair. “Just do it! Peaches, just put the fucking clothes on. Please!”
“You won’t be told twice,” the voice said.
“Please, Peaches,” Fox whispered. “Do it for me. Don’t make them mad. I need you to come back to me.”
She gave her captor the evil-eyed stare that Fox knew very well. Then, she snatched the clothes from the ground, turned her back and did what he asked. A moment later, the screen went black. Fox opened his mouth to protest. Just as suddenly, a web address came onscreen.
Fox grabbed his laptop and accessed his web connection like a mad man. He typed in the URL and waited for the site to appear.
- - -
“No bullshit, Jerry,” Dara said. “Alex isn’t who he says he is. He played me.”
“He’s a pro.”
“What does that mean?”
Jerry looked away. His mind worked at warp speed. He understood exactly what Dara wanted to know, but did she? Suddenly, she grabbed his arm. A thousand volts of electricity surged through him on contact. The reality of how badly he wanted her after all these years hit him in the gut, mocking him with its intense brutality.
Frowning, he tried to pull free. “Dara.”
She proved to be relentless. “Dammit, Jerry! Tell me. With all your gadgets and underground contact, I know you know everything about him. What does pro mean? Is he an assassin? Did he set me up? Did he take my sister?”
He caught her hand as he turned to face her. The wild look in her dark brown eyes grabbed him, made him honest. He looked down at their joined hands and remembered how those beautiful, slender hands once caressed him, easing his worries and fears. Making him whole again. He’d never felt that safe with anyone. Ever.
“What question do you want answered first?”
Her fierce expression cracked. Vulnerability peeked out. She spoke with harsh conviction. “Tell me everything. Whenever you want to start. Did you know him...before?”
“No, he looked familiar but we never worked together.”
“But you suspected him from the first.”
“Dara, I suspect everybody. That’s who I am.”
She released his hand. Taking slow steps, she moved to the middle of the sofa and sank onto its cushions. He followed and sat close enough to take her in his arms if she wanted him to.
“What does he want?”
“Anything. When I...um...researched his background, I couldn’t find a link to his employer. They covered their tracks. It could be anybody.”
“It’s Rx,” she murmured. “He walked into my life soon after I took the case. That must be the connection.”
She rested her hand against his stubble covered jaw. “Find him for me.”
“Please. He may know where Dawn is.”
The sudden shrill ring of Jerry’s cell phone saved him from responding to her plea.
“Jacks,” he barked into the palm sized device.
“Justus is dead,” Keesha said, her voice crackled with static. “Jason killed him.”
“Don’t,” he warned her with a single word.
“I don’t have a choice,” she said. “Goodbye.”
The dial tone echoed against his ear. He pushed from the sofa and stalked to the window. The night sky stared back at him. How could the moon and stars shine so brightly when his friend was dead?
“What is it? Was that Fox?” Dara asked, coming behind him. “They found her. She’s de—“
“No!” He swallowed the rage that threatened to explode. A false calmness settled over him. “It’s Justus. He’s dead, Dara. I’m sorry.”
- - -
“Why did you do it?” Alex waved the clouds of smoke from his face. His spineless employer had pushed Alex to the limit. He didn’t care if they were now enemies. He didn’t give a damn about any of that anymore. “You could have killed us!”
“Thanks to you, five of my best are cold in the morgue. They weren’t after you.”
Alex flinched. “I told you I’d handle her.”
“Handle means dead, Alex. It doesn’t mean hold her hand and whisper sweet nothings in her ear.” He puffed on his cigar. “You’ve made some very powerful men very, very angry.”
“They’ve made me angry,” Alex snapped.
The cigar smoking man looked past Alex into the darkness. “Take him.”
Hands grabbed him. Alex struggled. Their grip was too strong. As they dragged him from the room, he vowed, “This isn’t over.”