A Beautiful Lie

Page 49

Parker didn't want to distract him by shouting his name, but something didn't feel right. She struggled to get into a sitting position, feeling entirely too vulnerable lying on the floor. Garrett heard her grunts and a small whimper escape past her lips. He paused, holding onto the front of Milo's shirt with his fist in the air, and then turned his head towards her.

"Parker!" Garrett shouted. "Are you hit?"

He scanned Parker's face and body for any sign of a gunshot wound but she was curled into herself and he couldn't see clearly. She was struggling to sit up so he took that as a good sign. As soon as Milo had fired off the shot at her, Garrett hadn't even realized how loudly he'd screamed. He'd watched the man turn his gun on her in slow motion, and he'd shoved the guard off of him with strength he hadn't even known he possessed and charged Milo. Garrett had barreled into the side of him, knocking them both to ground, Milo's gun skittering across the floor in the process.

Milo took advantage of Garrett's hesitation as he checked on Parker and brought his fist up to the side of Garrett's head. The force of the blow toppled Garrett off of him, and Milo lunged for the gun he'd dropped, snatching it up and scrambling further away from Garrett.

"This will all be easier if you just stop fighting, Garrett," Milo told him as he stood up, spit some blood out of his mouth, and then wiped his chin with the back of one hand. "Don't you want to die with dignity? Let's make this quick so I can leave with my father."

A short bark of laughter came from Alejandro, the guard who had been trying to sneak out of the room undetected as soon as Garrett shoved him away and went for Milo. He'd seen Milo shoot his friend Felipe without any warning. He knew exactly what his fate would be if he stuck around in this basement. However, hearing the delusional words coming out of Milo's mouth made it hard for him to keep quiet. He knew he'd never make it out of the room now anyway. The only good news was he would have the last laugh.

"I'm sorry, but do you find this funny?" Milo asked him angrily as he pointed the gun in his direction.

"Si, señor. I find it funny that you actually believe your father has any plans on taking you with him," Alejandro said with a smile, pushing his hands in his pockets and leaning up against the wall.

"You don't know what you're talking about. Of course he's taking me with him. I'm his son. I'm the heir to his business and his only descendant," Milo explained with a frustrated roll of his eyes.

Milo cocked his gun, figuring he might as well shut this guard up as well before he moved on to Parker and Garrett.

"You are a fool. You honestly think you are his only heir? You think all of the women he's enjoyed over the years never produced other offspring? Right now three of his sons are upstairs working as guards. He promised them the same things he's promised you. Only he didn't order their execution before he left," Alejandro explained with a smug smile.

The color drained from Milo's face as he listened to the words the guard spoke. He didn't want to believe they were true, but deep down, he knew they were. He was and always would be a loser. A little boy that no one gave a shit about, always getting the raw end of the deal when everyone around him got everything their hearts desired. He knew he could never live up to his father's expectations, and his father knew that as well. With every turn in his life, he'd made the wrong choices. He chose to never fight back when his stepfather used him as a punching bag. He chose to move into a home filled with happiness and love, knowing he would always be an outsider and only given those things out of pity. Milo had chosen his father's twisted life over the frivolous idea of love and friendship, thinking it would finally be his turn. And now, once again, he was being cast aside like garbage.

"I've been listening over my earpiece to all that is happening upstairs. The employees aren't happy with what you and your father have done to their women. The sounds you hear are them preparing to come down here and tear you limb from limb. Your father knew that would happen. He knew, and he walked out that door figuring if you were still alive when he left, you wouldn't be for long," Alejandro said smugly. "You're going to get what you deserve, little boy."

Milo didn't want to hear anymore. He raised his gun and fired off four rounds directly into Alejandro's self-righteous face before turning the gun on Garrett.

"Well, that went well," Cole muttered as heavily armed employees filed past them and down the hall to show them the way to the basement.

"Offering to give them first crack at Fernandez was a good idea. It probably saved our asses," Austin replied as the three men pulled their weapons back out of their holsters and followed the mob down several different hallways.

Brady suddenly heard crackling and sporadic words coming through his wireless mic. As they walked through the palace, he pressed his finger to the button on his throat.

"Brady here, come in. Over."

Austin and Cole looked back at Brady questioningly when they heard him speak. Brady shrugged in reply and heard more static and part of a word every few seconds.

"This is Chief Brady Marshall, can you repeat that last command. Over."

After a few more seconds of annoying static, a voice came through the mic loud and clear.

"Marshall, good to hear your voice. It's Captain Risner. I'm outside with an extraction team from the Navy and two special op teams from the CIA. We've got the place surrounded. We're ready to move on your command. Over."

"Be on the look-out for a helo coming in from the East, possibly landing on the south side of the property. We have intel that Fernandez is going to attempt to escape. We've got a palace full of confused employees who seem to be sympathetic to our side but are pissed as hell at Fernandez and want first crack at him. We've given the okay on that as long as they make sure we get out of here alive with McCarthy and Parker. We've got at least twenty heavily armed individuals so make sure everyone is ready. Over."

"Roger that. Men are getting into position now and have visual on the helo. Over."

The group of employees followed by the SEAL team stopped by a door at the end of the corridor. The man who seemed to be in charge of the employees pointed to the door and then saluted the team before ushering his people off in another direction.

Brady, Austin, and Cole let them go knowing that the men outside would take care of the situation that was heading towards them. The sounds of gunfire from behind the door that led to the basement threw the three men into action.

Austin flung open the door and the men raced down the stairs.

Milo took a step in Garrett's direction and aimed the gun directly at his heart. He cocked the gun, and before the bullet had been fully released into the chamber, Milo felt something rip through his shoulder that took his breath away. His legs gave out and he dropped to his knees, his hand went numb, and the gun clamored to the floor.

He looked over at Parker, her face bruised and bloody, her shirt half ripped off her body and one arm wrapped around her waist, the other hand holding the gun steady, aimed straight at him .

Milo never saw Parker crawl across the floor and pick up the gun Garrett had dropped earlier. He was losing his touch.

"If I wasn't my father's son, I think I could have loved you," Milo spoke to her in a pain-filled voice, stopping to press his hand to the bullet wound in his shoulder.

"It shouldn't have mattered whose son you were. You always had the opportunity to be a better person. And I did love you. You were my best friend. No matter what, I would have always been your friend," Parker told him, tears slowly falling down her cheeks.

She hadn't hesitated to pull the trigger when Milo aimed his gun at Garrett. Parker knew she'd do anything, kill anyone to make sure Garrett was safe. But she still had a conscience. She still had a heart. She'd just shot the man she thought she would marry. She'd just put a hole in the arm of the man who knew her biggest fears and had shared in all her joys. She wondered if his words right then were a last ditch effort to redeem himself. Maybe he figured if he made peace with her, he wouldn't go straight to hell when his heart stopped beating.

"I know I'm not going to live long what with the hole you've put in me, and I highly doubt your first order of business will be to order medical attention for me. If those people upstairs find me alive, it won't be a pretty death they'll give me. They'll make sure I suffer," Milo said.

"You deserve every bit of suffering you get," Garrett said angrily. "Do you honestly think we have any fucking sympathy for you right now?"

"Oh I know you couldn't care less about what happens to me, old friend," Milo said with a wince as he pressed his hand harder against the steady flow of blood that poured out of his wound. He could tell by the pulse of the flow that Parker had nicked an artery. "But I don't think she has the heart to let me die so brutally, do you, Park?" he asked as he turned his attention back to Parker.

For a moment, Parker wondered if she really could put her gun down and walk away, allow all of those angry people upstairs to slice him to pieces or beat him until the last breath escaped from his body. She'd killed plenty of people in her career: drug dealers, foreign insurgents– all monsters, all killers of the innocent people exactly like Milo. The only difference was she'd never shared her life with any of those people. For the most part they were faceless criminals that left a trail of death and destruction in their wake, and their deaths never gave Parker one night of restless sleep. But she'd never shared her body with those individuals, never shared her soul. Parker wondered if she'd sleep as easily this time around.

Milo saw the hesitation in her eyes and thought maybe he'd misjudged her. Maybe he'd given her kind heart too much credit. She might actually let him suffer brutally before he took his last breath. He knew he would die in that room; his carelessness let him forget that Parker had access to a gun. His hatred of Garrett made him sloppy, and now it was all over. Milo knew of only one way to make Parker change her mind, one way into manipulating her into ending his life quickly and to show him mercy.

Milo quickly twisted his body and reached for the gun he'd dropped with his good arm. He knew he wouldn't be able to shoot straight left handed, but he only needed to convince Parker. Wincing, he glared at Garrett and raised the gun.

In the end Parker gave Milo exactly what he wished for. A swift, torment-free death where he wouldn't have to answer for his sins to the people he'd wronged.

She wondered if she'd see the face of a monster or the face of her best friend dying by her hand for the rest of her life.

When she stopped firing her gun and nothing could be heard in the basement except the echo of the shots she'd fired, and the clicking of an empty chamber as she continued to pull the trigger, Garrett rushed to her side and caught her just as the gun fell from her hands and she lost the strength to hold herself up.

He eased her down to the floor just as the door to the basement burst open and his team raced in. They took in the lifeless bodies all around the room. Once they were certain they were all dead and no longer a threat to any of them, Brady sent Austin and Cole back up the stairs to find out what was happening outside with the mob and Fernandez. After they left, he sprinted to Garrett's side and crouched down next to him.

When Garrett's hands went around Parker's waist as she fell. He felt something wet and sticky against his hand. He tried not to let the panic show as he gently pulled her into his lap, holding her tightly to him.

He heard his team come in and knew Brady was next to him talking, but he couldn't hear the words and didn't give a shit about anything but Parker.

"You did good, baby, everything's going to be okay now." He spoke to her as he pulled his hand away from her waist and saw the blood. He swallowed down a sob and smoothed the hair off of her face, leaving a bloody fingerprint trail across her cheek.

Parker stared up into Garrett's face and knew something was wrong. Now that the adrenaline was gone from her body, the small burn she felt in her side had turned into an inferno. It felt like her stomach was on fire and like every layer of skin and muscle in that area was being burnt to a crisp. She wanted to scream for Garrett to put out the fire, to douse her with water, anything to make it stop hurting, but she couldn't find her voice. All she could think about was the pain. She didn't want to worry Garrett any more than he already was, so she was glad she couldn't speak. She didn't want him to know how much she was suffering right now. It would only scare him.

"You just hold on, okay? Help is coming. You're going to be fine," he reassured her.

In all her life she never thought she would see the day when Garrett McCarthy cried. She almost smiled at the tears she saw pooling in his eyes right then as he looked down at her, but she knew nothing about this was funny. She felt her vision getting blurry and she blinked a few times to bring Garrett back into focus. She just needed to keep looking at him. If she could see his face and his eyes, it wouldn't be so bad. She wouldn't be swallowed whole by the guilt she felt from killing Milo, and she wouldn't fade away into the nothingness she knew was hovering close by.

Garrett pressed his hand against the hole in Parker's stomach and kept pressure on it. He could feel the beat of her heart through the wound as it pumped blood out of her body and into his hands. He held Parker's life in his hands, and it felt like he held a fragile pile of sand that seeped through his fingers and could blow away with one strong gust of wind. Garrett fixed things. He'd fixed Parker and Milo's relationship more times than he could count over the years. He fixed computers at work, problems out in the field, and members of his team who needed guidance. The only thing he wanted to fix right now was Parker, but there was nothing he could do to make it happen. There was nothing to stop her from leaving him right now.

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