Garrett hadn't been one hundred percent sure about Fernandez having sex with any of the girls. They never found concrete evidence to prove anything like that. But it just stood to reason if a man was involved in something as disgusting as selling young girls as sex slaves, he most likely sampled the merchandise before all sales were final. Garrett was taking a chance by putting that out there, and as luck would have it, it paid off.
"Oh, Lieutenant. McCarthy, you are so naive. Those young girls you speak of? They weren't worthy of the pity you give them. They were whores who brought filth to the streets of this country. They asked for what they got, and I was more than happy to give it to them. Being able to enjoy the fruits of my labor and make money off of their bodies was an added perk. Men will pay an obscene amount of money for a taste of young flesh. Why shouldn't I take advantage of such things? This country is full of girls with low self-esteem and no real use. I gave them a purpose in life. One of my chefs complained to me a few years ago about his niece. She flaunted her body and did not behave in a way that was pure or showed the proper respect to her family. I made one million pesos showing her the error of her ways. My guard at the front gate, his stepdaughter had become mouthy and acted much older than her fourteen years. I made two point five million pesos showing her what her mouth was for."
Fernandez sighed in irritation while Garrett gave Parker a small, encouraging smile. Margarita may have died without ever truly being free of Fernandez, but Garrett would make damn sure that her death would have meaning. Every word Fernandez spoke was another nail in his coffin with Margarita secretly holding the hammer.
"All this talk is beginning to bore me, and I'm getting off track. I've had to make many difficult decisions in my lifetime. Joe, I think it's time your daughter makes one of her own," Fernandez said calmly. "So, Annabelle, take your pick."
Parker looked at Fernandez questioningly, not understanding what he was asking her.
"Milo, I think your Annabelle is having trouble grasping what I'm asking. Do help her out, won't you?" Fernandez asked.
Milo, who had been unusually silent the entire time, walked forward to stand next to Fernandez. When they were elbow to elbow, Fernandez passed off his gun, allowing Milo the opportunity to hold it against Garrett's head.
"It's quite simple, Park. Years ago my father had to make a choice because of what your father was doing to bring him down. He chose to leave me behind and let me be raised by a disgusting man so that one day I would be strong enough and have the right connections to help him keep people like your father from sticking their noses into his business. My father had to make a difficult decision that he feels guilty about to this day. It's time for you to make a decision of your own. One where you will have to carry around the guilt for the rest of your pathetic life," Milo stated.
With each word Milo spoke, Garrett felt the pain of Milo's betrayal deep into his soul. He truly thought of this man as a friend, a brother. He wanted to feel nothing, to allow his heart to become numb, knowing it had all been a lie. He wasn't like Milo, though, he couldn't be that empty and uncaring. There were too many years, too many memories to just pretend like it never happened.
Garrett felt like his well-intentioned plan was spiraling out of control and there was nothing he could do to stop it. They'd gotten the proof they needed, but it was going to come with a hefty price. With a gun now pressed into the back of his head by a man who obviously hated him, there wasn't much he could do but stay there on his knees holding Parker's face in his hands and watch the color drain out of it with Milo's next words.
"Who will it be, Park? Your poor, estranged father or the man you've been fucking? Who will get a nice, neat bullet to the head right now? This offer doesn't last long, so make it quick," Milo informed her.
"You can't be serious?" Parker yelled, looking back and forth between Fernandez and Milo.
"Oh, I assure you, this is no joke. Time is ticking, Annabelle. I have a prior engagement I can't be late for," Fernandez said irritably as he glanced down at the watch on his wrist like he was waiting for her to pick something to eat for dinner instead of choosing between the two most important men in her life.
"Don't listen to him, Annabelle. He's not going to let any of us live. We know too much," Joe's scratchy voice said through the speaker.
"On the contrary, my friend," Fernandez answered. "Your beautiful daughter here would be quite useful to my organization. I believe I could double the highest price I've made on all of my girls for someone to get a taste of this one."
Garrett and Joe could both be heard growling obscenities at Fernandez's words.
"And the two men in your life, well, obviously neither one of them would be useful to me in any way. Only one of them needs to be around to watch you suffer and to endure his own form of torture. Having two of them lamenting about the horrors being done to your body is just overkill, don't you think? I think it's quite generous of me to let one die quickly. So who will it be, Annabelle? Make your choice."
Parker looked frantically into Garrett's eyes. All her years of training boiled down to this one moment. She had no idea how she could possibly choose between her father and Garrett. There was no choice to be made. She couldn't…she wouldn't choose one to be hurt worse than the other.
Milo locked his elbow and pushed the gun harder into Garrett's skull, his fingers ghosting over the trigger.
"No, please! Choose me! Kill me instead!" Parker yelled as she looked frantically back and forth between Fernandez and the gun Milo held against Garrett.
"Parker, no!" Garrett argued.
"You feel like you need to take a life to make up for the injustices done to you, fine. Pick me," Parker stated, glancing at Garrett mouthing a silent I'm sorry to him. "I would make the most trouble for you anyway, not them," she said aloud.
Parker felt like she was falling over a cliff and there was nothing to grab onto but crumbling dirt and rocks. She knew Fernandez wasn't a negotiator and got sick pleasure out of hurting people. She knew it, and yet she couldn't just sit there and do nothing. Parker knew telling him she would make the most trouble for him was a lie. If she died, her father and Garrett would destroy everything in their path to avenge her. Part of her knew Fernandez wasn't a fool and would never believe a word she said, but she had to try and save her men at all costs, even if it meant sacrificing herself.
Garrett felt the gun Milo held against him move away from his head and watched it come into his peripheral vision as he pointed it straight at Parker.
"Jesus, Milo! Think about what the fuck you're doing?" Garrett yelled in alarm. "Don't do this!"
Garrett could feel the panic bubble inside of him and spill over so quickly he felt like he wanted to scream. Everything he'd ever learned about a hostage situation or a rescue mission vanished from his mind. The only thing he saw was the woman he loved with a gun pointed at her
. A woman who would rather die than let anything happen to him or her father.
"Fuck you, Garrett!" Milo screamed at him, stepping forward to shove the gun roughly into the side of Parker's head now. "Maybe this really is the best decision. I sat around for years and watched you get the best of everything. I thought killing you would be my way of finally getting something I wanted. But maybe having you watch her die will settle the score," Milo said as he cocked the hammer, releasing a bullet into the chamber of the gun. The click of the hammer echoed through Parker's head, and she squeezed her eyes closed.
Garrett didn't know how much more of this he could take. With one slip of the finger his whole world would collapse.
"There's no score to settle, Milo. I'm sorry if you thought I got everything and you got nothing. I'm sorry if you had a shitty childhood but that's not my fault. It's not Parker's fault. I stuck up for you, I protected you, and I was your friend. My family took you in and thought of you as one of their own."
Garrett knew reasoning with Milo and reminding him about their friendship wouldn't work but he didn't care. He'd say anything to get that gun away from Parker's head.
"Oh please, enough of this nonsense. Your family never loved him. They tolerated him. I am his flesh and blood. I gave him life and I gave him everything he deserved for being a faithful son to me. I will continue to reward him from now until eternity for the sacrifices he's made. Anything he desires shall be his," Fernandez promised.
Garrett tore his gaze away from Parker long enough to glance up between Milo and his father. Fernandez almost sounded nervous. Garrett knew there had to be a reason why he felt the need to remind Milo about the rewards he gave him and would continue to provide for him. It was almost like the man was trying to bribe Milo, like he was afraid Milo might actually falter with his decision to follow in his father's footsteps unless he promised him the world on a silver platter.
Garrett watched in shock at the staring contest between father and son and quickly realized it was now or never. As corrupt as Milo had become, and as much as Garrett hated him for tainting every good memory they ever shared, the only thing he could hope for at this point was that somewhere in there Milo still had a heart. That deep down inside that little boy who looked up to Garrett when he took care of the bullies who was still in there - the little boy with the easy smile, the big heart, and the yearning for family and friendship.
"My parents loved you, Milo," Garrett stated. "My mother hugged you and wiped away your tears every night when you woke up from a nightmare. She made you a scrapbook when we left for college filled with pictures of all of us and little notes about each picture and how much joy you brought to our family by being a part of it. My father taught you how to drive and took you out for your first beer. He bailed you out of jail in the middle of the night when you did something stupid and never, ever lectured you, put you down, or made you feel like anything other than what you were-one of his sons," Garrett reminded him, punctuating each fact with a shake of his head. "Where was your father when you were thrown down a flight of stairs when you were ten? Where was the man who claims he did everything to make you stronger when cigarettes were being burned into your arm and your bones were being broken? This man, who promises you the world, do you think he'd drop everything and fly across the country just to congratulate you in person about a promotion you got for work like my parents did? Do you think he'd put flowers on your grave every single week and cry from a broken heart like my mother has done for the past year?" Garrett asked, shrugging his shoulders in question.
Parker watched silently at the transformation in Milo. One minute he stood tall and proud and had nothing but vengeance and murder in his mind. After a few of Garrett's well-chosen words, he lost his confidence and confusion clouded his features.
The hand with the gun pointing at Parker began to shake and Garrett knew that what he was doing was actually affecting Milo.
Fernandez knew what was happening. He'd known all along how weak his son was. He knew that no matter what he did to make sure Milo followed in his footsteps, there was still part of his mother's blood flowing through him, a pathetic, fragile flowing of conscience that ran through him and fought for dominance. A son worthy of this life would have already pulled the trigger and wouldn't have let foolish memories cloud his judgment. As much as he wanted a namesake, sadly, it just wasn't to be.
"Oh for God's sake, the decision is now mine," Fernandez said, snatching the gun out of Milo's shaking hand. "Trés."
The calm, quiet command from Fernandez was immediately followed by the roar of a gun going off, three consecutive explosions of a chamber being emptied.
"Come on, you piece of shit, work!"
Brady swore, not for the first time in the last fifteen minutes, and smacked his open palm against the side of the out-of-date computer installed in the back of the van where he sat parked outside of the palace gates.
Before Garrett even got into the trunk of Margarita's car, Brady was on his way to the hospital to pick up Austin and Cole. A rushed phone call to Austin while Garrett attached a listening device to Margarita's bra strap gave Brady a tiny inkling of hope that they might actually be able to pull off this half-assed plan. Brady had no intention of asking either one of the men to help them, considering what happened to them earlier in the night. He had called to get an update and to try and find out if their attackers had given away any information that could be useful. Upon hearing about Garrett's plan for getting Parker out and nailing Fernandez, Austin's reply was straight, to the point, and one hundred percent SEAL.
"Get your ass over here and get me and Vargas out of this fucking hospital. We're coming with you."
Brady had wasted entirely too much time arguing with an intern at the hospital to get the two men discharged. Austin's bullet wound to the shoulder was stitched up nicely, and the area was pumped full of Lidocaine to take the edge off the pain. Luckily the injury was to his left shoulder. He could still raise his right arm and shoot a gun if needed.
The gash in Cole's side was also stitched and bandaged and looked like it would heal nicely. The intern said he didn't have any serious restrictions where that was concerned, aside from not lifting anything heavy or twisting his body in an unnatural way that would rip the stitches out. The nasty pounding he'd taken to the head was another matter. The younger man yelled to everyone who would listen that Cole needed to stay right where he was and be monitored for twenty-four hours to make sure he didn't have a concussion. Brady assured him he would shine a flashlight in Cole's eyes every thirty minutes and ask him what year it was before he told the intern to get out of his way.