A Beautiful Lie

Page 44

Garrett lunged for the button on the keyboard that would turn on the sound. Parker's voice was right there, within his reach. There was nothing stopping him from being able to hear her.

Except for Brady.

His hand shot out and latched onto Garrett's before he could press the speaker button.

"What the fuck, Marshall? Let go!" Garrett shouted as he struggled against Brady's grip.

"I think you need to let me listen to this first and see what's going on," Brady told him calmly as he held onto Garrett's wrist.

'Fuck you!" Garrett yelled irrationally, yanking his arm out of Brady's clutch. "She's right there! Parker is there on the other end of that God damn computer. Let me hear her!"

Brady sighed and shook his head.

"And what if it's not her? What if that thing is just picking up dead air or it got ripped off of her at some point and thrown out the window and it's recording traffic driving by? Or what if it is her and you hear things that you don't want to? What are you going to do then, Garrett? Fly over to the palace alone in a rage and get yourself killed? Be smart about this."

Garrett got into Brady's face, keeping his hands down at his sides so he wouldn't punch him. Brady was his friend, his teammate, and one of the few people in the world he would trust his life with. But right then, he was crossing the line.

"What do you think is going to happen if you listen to that recording first and find out one of those things is true? You still have to tell me. I still have to know. Do you think the fact that you breaking the news to me is going to make it better? Make it easier? Do you think that if I don't hear her voice, hear what she's going through, that I'm not going to imagine something a thousand times worse happening to her in my head? I'm already in a rage, Brady. I already want to kill every fucking piece of shit that has come anywhere near her. Regardless of whether or not I hear it for myself, or you tell me, my life means nothing if she's gone. So get the fuck out of my way."

The two men stood toe-to-toe, staring each other down for several seconds. Brady knew there was nothing he could do to shield Garrett from whatever he would hear. The man was stubborn as a mule and would do whatever he wanted. Brady stepped aside, tapping the "play" button as he went.

There were no sounds at first. Garrett held his breath and prayed for some sign that Parker was okay. After a few seconds he had to strain his ears, but he could finally hear something - rustling, something that sounded like cloth being ripped and heavy breathing. Soon after, voices followed, echoing through the computer's speakers.

"El hijo pródigo is a lucky man to have tasted your flesh. I think I will enjoy the sounds of your screams."

Garrett's heart stopped at the sound of a man's voice so close to the microphone, which meant he was close to Parker. There were some more sounds of shuffling and then he finally heard what he'd been waiting for. It was mumbled and completely unintelligible, but he'd know Parker's voice anywhere.

"Did you say something, quierda?"

Nothing could be heard but the sound of what he assumed was Parker, taking slow, deep breaths. Then suddenly, without warning, a loud cracking sound burst through the speakers, followed immediately but a heavy thump.

"Here's a lesson for you, asshole. Don't fuck with me."

Garrett let out the breath he'd been holding with a small chuckle. "That's my girl."

He turned around to face Margarita.

"Okay, what's the plan?"

Parker's legs had given out not long after the guard had his nose shoved up into his brain courtesy of her CIA training. She slid down the wooden beam, ignoring the splinters that bit into her arms as she moved and sunk to the floor. She lost track of time as she faded in and out of sleep, jerking awake each time her head dropped down and her chin bumped into her chest. The chaos of the last twenty-four hours, the fear, the adrenalin, the shock…it all came crashing down around her, and she had to fight to stay alert. It was a losing battle she finally gave up on, letting sleep consume her until the pounding of footsteps on the stairs woke her some time later.

Parker quickly struggled to get back on her feet, feeling too vulnerable sitting on the floor where she'd have to look up at everyone who entered the room. Her exhaustion, the numbness in her arms from being cuffed together behind the beam, and the awkward way her legs were tied together at the knees made it impossible for her to get any kind of leverage to stand. She huffed angrily in irritation and let her head thump back against the wood as the door to the basement opened.

Fernandez and Milo walked into the room followed closely behind by two guards and what looked like another person sandwiched between all of them. From Parker's position, she could only see an extra set of legs.

The group stopped short when they got into the room and took in the scene before them.

"Jesus Christ!" Milo yelled as he stared down in disgust at the passed out guard with dried blood caked all over his face and shirt.

Fernandez simply shook his head in annoyance, motioning with his hands for one of the guards to remove the offending sight from the floor. When the man stepped out from behind Milo, Parker was finally able to catch a glimpse of who was behind them.

Garrett didn't bother to struggle against the man who held his arms securely behind his back. Having a small army of guards with automatic weapons aimed at his head made him think twice about doing anything stupid.

He knew the plan of smuggling himself into the palace by way of Margarita's trunk wasn't foolproof. He had no elaborate strategy in mind about staying hidden until Brady was able to send help and jumping out at the last minute and saving the day. Garrett simply wanted to get into the palace without any fuss; he wanted to get one step closer to Parker.

Mission accomplished.

As soon as Margarita had driven through the palace gates, the car was searched, the trunk was popped, and Garrett was dragged out by his shirt, punched in the face a few times for good measure, relieved of his gun that he'd hidden in his ankle holster, and then hauled into one of the palace sitting rooms where he now stood, awaiting his fate. Margarita played her part well, the shock at having an extra passenger in her car clearly evident as she ranted and raved to the guards about her lack of personal safety.

Fernandez and the man he used to call a best friend stood from their respective chairs when he was brought before them. Every guard in the place raised their weapons as soon as they saw the whites of his eyes.

"Carlos, have my wife meet us downstairs in the holding room," Fernandez said to one of the gun-toting men in the corner before he finally turned to face Garrett.

"Lieutenant McCarthy, so glad you could join us," Fernandez said with a smile.

"Oh, it's entirely my pleasure," Garrett replied with sarcastic cheerfulness. "I didn't want to miss out on a chance to congratulate you on your bouncing baby boy ."

Garrett's eyes trailed over to Milo who stood tall with an arrogant smile on his face next to his father.

"I'm not sure on the protocol over here, though, is it customary to celebrate bastards?"

Garrett's comment hit the mark just like he knew it would. The smile was wiped from Milo's face, and he stalked right up to Garrett and threw a punch at his jaw.

His head flew to the side with the force of the blow. Garrett let out a chuckle and turned his head back to face Milo, licking the blood off of the cut that now adorned his bottom lip.

"You been slacking in the weight room lately, Nancy?" Garrett asked Milo with a mocking smile.

Milo growled and made a lunge for Garrett when Fernandez nodded to one of the guards. The man quickly put his arm up to restrain Milo.

"In due time, son. Just be patient. The man was obviously foolish enough to try and bring a gun into my house. He won't last long," Fernandez told him.

While Milo stood across from Garrett spitting fire, Fernandez calmly walked over.

"I think we can do away with the pretenses and all of this nonsense talk, don't you? How about we head downstairs so you can be reunited with Miss Parker. I do believe Diego is finished with her."

If Garrett hadn't already heard Diego's fate with his own ears, the disgusting smile on Fernandez's face at that moment would have sent him into a blind rage. Instead, he kept his thoughts to himself and allowed Fernandez's goons to drag him across the room. Fernandez and Milo led the way through the ground floor of the palace, down several hallways, until they came to a door that led to a basement. Once they got to the bottom of the stairs, they walked down another hallway until they came to a second door. It was unlocked and the small group entered the room, coming to an abrupt halt as soon as they got inside.

Milo let out a curse and one of the guards next to Garrett moved. He tilted his head to the side and the sight before him took his breath away.

Parker. His beautiful, strong Parker, tied up on the floor of the room. His whole body tensed in anger seeing her bruised and battered face, the blood that splattered her clothing, and the shirt she wore which was torn down the middle, exposing her smooth skin that was dotted with more blood. He watched her eyes widen in shock when she realized he was there. Just as quickly, fear and anguish took over her features and she had to look away from him.

Parker had never known as much dread as she did right at that moment. Seeing Garrett, knowing he had come for her, should have given her hope. All it did was make her realize they were both going to die in this room. When she only had herself to worry about, it was easy. She could handle it with strength and determination. Having the man she loved but couldn't do anything to save in the same situation as her took all of the fight she had left out of her.

Parker watched with detachment as one of the guards grabbed Diego's arms and dragged his unconscious body from the room. Garrett willed her to look at him again, to look at his face so he could tell her with his eyes and his heart that he would get her out of there if it was the last thing he did. He didn't like the resignation he saw on her face when she realized he was there; he hated the way her body seemed to deflate right before him, her strength seeping out of her like the air from a balloon.

"Must you leave so much destruction in your wake?" Fernandez asked Parker with a frustrated huff.

Parker angled her head up to meet his eyes.

"Just following your lead, asshole," she replied with a deadpan expression on her face.

Milo stepped forward and his foot connected with Parker's stomach. She let out a yelp and bent forward as much as the bindings would allow, squeezing her eyes shut to stave off the pain.

Garrett saw red and shouted every obscenity he could think of and struggled like a wild animal against the guards who held him secure before Milo had even pulled his foot away from Parker's midsection.

"Don't you fucking touch her, you piece of shit!"

Fernandez pulled a gun out of the waistband of the guard who stood next to him and calmly walked over to Parker as she struggled to breathe. The kick to her stomach had knocked the wind out of her, and she grew lightheaded as she sucked in quick, shallow breaths.

Fernandez pushed the barrel of the pistol against her skull and turned to stare at Garrett.

"Keep it up, Lieutenant McCarthy, and her brains will be painting the walls of this room," he stated matter-of-factly.

The fight immediately left Garrett and fear for Parker's safety replaced his anger.

"That's more like it," Fernandez said as he pulled the gun away from Parker's head. Just then, Margarita stumbled into the room thanks to a shove from the guard who brought her down the stairs.

"Ah, Margarita. You have returned from your errand in town," Fernandez said as he walked up to his wife.

To Margarita's credit, she didn't flinch or back away. She held her head high as the man she loathed stood in front of her. She knew there could only be one outcome to this situation. She knew it the moment she came out of the bathroom back at the resort. She recognized it as she helped Garrett into the trunk of her car and drove through the palace gates. She knew there was only one way she would be free of the horrors this life had brought to her. And she intended to leave it with dignity.

"You have nothing to say? No excuses or remorse for bringing the enemy into my home? After everything I've given you, everything I've done, this is how you repay me? With betrayal?" Fernandez asked.

"You and I both know where the fault of betrayal lies. If I have let anyone down, it was myself and my son."

Margarita cast a heartbreaking look at Milo.

"I'm sorry for ever leaving you, my son. I should have stayed. I should have protected you. I never should have let this poison into your life. I hope you know that with every breath I took, I loved you. I only wanted what was best for you. I hope you can forgive me for ever―"

The blast from a gun cut off Margarita's heartfelt speech and a hole blossomed in the middle of her forehead, right between her eyes, before her lifeless body crumbled to the ground.

No one moved as the echoing explosion from the gun bounced off of the walls and rang in everyone's ears in the small room. Parker stared in horror at the body that laid on the floor a few feet in front of her, barely able to comprehend what just happened and the fact that the woman dead on the floor had been Milo's mother.

"I knew that woman would be more trouble than she was worth," Fernandez complained as he lowered his weapon and handed it back to the guard he'd taken it from a few moments before. He wiped the palms of his hands on the front of his shirt like he just got dirt on them instead of taking the life of the mother of his child, the woman he brought to this country and promised to love and protect.

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