tagRomanceBeauty--Remastered Ch. 09

Beauty--Remastered Ch. 09

byalmostluver©

My very dear loves...I apologize almost every time I post, and this is no exception. You all have my deepest and sincerest sorries, from the bottom, top and all sides of my heart. First off, Chapter 8 was crap, and I really ought to have worked on it more. I feel awful about that. Second, this chapter took much longer to get on paper than I expected. So much has happened lately, it's been hard to find time to write more than a word here and there. =( I hate excuses, but this one was real.

Thank you to all you absolutely AMAZING and WONDERFUL loves that commented, voted and the couple who sent feedback, even if it was kinda on the down side. You have no idea how awesome it is to get that, unless you are a writer yourself.

This chapter answers a few questions, and, I don't believe it asks any more haha. This chapter is actually one of my favourites for this story, don't know why. Maybe for the reveals?

Little disclaimer: I know next to nothing about medical practices, spy missions, or weapons and I know very very very little French. Sorry for the spoilers, but I'd really prefer you didn't jump down my throat on those bits. If I wanted to write a story that was totally based on any of those three things, believe you me, I'd research my butt off, buuut since it's not the basis, I wrote what I liked.

So, I'll stop boring you, loves, and let you get on with what is probably going to be the second or third to last chapter of this story.

I really hope you enjoy it, and again, thanks for sticking around with confused, irritating little me for so long! You all make me day =)

Love and kisses,

Almostluver <3

~Five months later~

Scarlet paced around the perimeter of the house. At just about seven months pregnant, her belly was definitely showing, even in the very loose dresses she'd taken to wearing, and she got nervous whenever she thought about it. Walking calmed her and the baby. Every so often, she'd press her hand against her stomach; and right on cue, the babe would kick, as if reassuring her.

Even though it had been months since he'd thrown her out, Scarlet still craved her husband. They were still married, though all contact between them had stopped that day, but she couldn't bring herself to be the first to send the divorce papers. If he wanted her completely out of his life, he would have to strike the final blow, and he hadn't. Silly as it was, Scarlet took that as a good thing; it gave her hope -- irrational hope, but hope just the same. She tried not to count the days, but it had been exactly one-hundred and fifty-six long, hard, empty days since she had left, and that was far longer than she'd actually been there.

She missed Donovan less when she felt the baby move. She still cried herself to sleep sometimes, and she occasionally had her really bad days where she struggled to get out of her lonely bed; but her child seemed to know, and it would softly move until she drifted off to sleep. Abner called her daily, asking for updates and pictures. She'd sent him copies of her first ultrasound, and pictures of her belly as it expanded. She tried not to ask for info about her husband, in return.

For about a month, she'd seriously considered adoption, now that she knew the truth; but with every change, she loved it a little more, despite everything -- the first time she'd felt it kick, she screamed and chased the guys around the house so they would feel every movement. Joey and Danny were happy -- they had been rooting for keeping the baby the whole time, and sometimes it seemed they were more excited for it than she was. Danny was already working on constructing an extension for the house that was attached to Scarlet's room. Joey had begged for it so he could make that into the nursery, though Scarlet assured them that she wouldn't mind keeping the child in the room with her.

Already her room, the living room, and garage were practically jam packed with all the little odds and ends, furniture, clothing and home improvement supplies Joey was going overboard purchasing. The baby wouldn't even be born for another two months, and

"Scary, come inside!" Joey rounded the corner of the house and draped his coat over her shoulders. "You'll get sick."

"She's restless."

"You think it's a girl?" He smiled at her. She nodded and took his hand to press it against her stomach. Her baby kicked right on cue. He grinned brightly, like all of them did whenever the little stranger 'acknowledged' them. "Wow, Scary. I guess we'll see soon, won't we?"

"I'll only be out for a bit longer." She hugged Joey before continuing on her walk. "Five minutes, I promise."

"Danny's working on dinner. It will be ready soon. Oh, and I called the hospital, and your mom's expecting us at noon tomorrow."

Scarlet and Michelle were slowly but surely making up, and it was because Joey demanded she visit her mother weekly. He didn't want Michelle to die without Scarlet's forgiveness. To everyone's shock, though, somehow Michelle was still going, though she wasn't quite improving. The doctors couldn't explain how she'd held on for so long, even after getting her "death sentence" months ago. Though she never said it, Scarlet was glad. She had never made real peace with her father, and she wanted her mother to die with that peace. It was, however, very hard to do, given the circumstances. As many times as she tried to say the words, 'I forgive you,' she never managed to get it out. She didn't mean it truthfully, yet.

Even more surprising, Donovan kept up with the hospital bills, even going so far as to find specialists and change her hospital room, to a larger, more comfortable single suite. It was what he had promised, and more.

Joey went back inside when she rounded the corner.

As such, he didn't hear her cry of shock as she came face to face with a man from her past. "You!"

"Bon soir, mon cher," The small, pale man murmured, stepping closer. She stepped back quickly, but met with a wall. Looking over her shoulder, Scarlet discovered the wall was actually a tall, dark-skinned man. He leered down the front of her gown and she wrenched her gaze back to the man in front of her. "It has taken some doing, finding you."

"Oh?" She tried to keep her voice from wavering, and all but succeeded. "Why would you be looking for me?"

"I heard you have something that belongs to me."

Scarlet hoped and prayed Joey would come back out, but she knew he probably wouldn't until it was obvious she was gone for too long. "I don't have anything of yours, actually."

"Au contraire, mon cher" his accent, French like she remembered, sent harsh chills up her spine, despite the way the words slid silkily from his nearly lipless mouth. She tried to move back again when his hand reached out to stroke across her protruding belly. For once, while being touched, her baby was very still. "I believe *this* is mine."

"I believe you're wrong." She swung at him, but the behemoth behind her caught her arm and tugged up. She hung there, her feet just barely touching the floor. "Let go of me!"

"Now, now, settle down. Comportez-vous." The small man caressed her cheek. "We are not going to hurt you. I just want what's mine."

"It's not yours! It's my husband's!"

"Ah, tsk, it is not nice to lie, mon cher. Your...husband's doctor is not quite so tight lipped as you would think. Besides that, I have sources. Sources that say that you are not with said 'husband' any longer, because *that*..." he looked down at her stomach again, and she covered it with her free hand. "Is not his."

"Your sources are wrong."

"And the tests? Are they wrong as well, mon amour?" Somehow, he knew that she'd had dna tests done on her baby, when she didn't believe her mother's tale.

"Scary?" Danny's voice came around the corner and she jumped. "Come inside for dinner. You know what Joey will say if you don't eat."

She felt the giant behind her shift, and suddenly prayed that Danny wouldn't turn that corner of the house. She opened her mouth to stop him, but the smaller man slapped his hand over her mouth.

She still managed a scream as Daniel came into view, a split second before there was a soft pop from beside her, and a small cloud of smoke. Danny's face showed surprise, then pain as he collapsed, blood staining the left side of his shirt. He struggled to sit up, but only managed to rise up on one arm before going limp. She stared between the still smoking, silenced handgun in the large man's hand, and her friend.

"Dammit, Lefou!" The pale man yanked on Scarlet's arm. "Did I not tell you to leave the gun? I said no violence! Let us go! Rapidement!"

Scarlet's eyes were glued to Danny's limp body. Tears coursed down her cheeks, and she couldn't fight when the big man hoisted her up into his arms and started hurrying away. She twisted and writhed in his arms, and almost slipped out of them. A hand came into view, pressing syringe to her arm. She felt a quick sting of the needle entering her. She went limp almost instantly, though she struggled to keep her eyes open. They were at a car now, bundling her into the backseat, and the last thing her eyes saw before everything went dark, was Joey collapsing on his prone lover.

***

"Is Alford here?" Joey's face was haggard. Abner let him in immediately, remembering his face and sensing an urgency, despite the quiet tone he had used. "It's important."

Donovan stalked out of the library, where he'd taken to hiding in. It was one of the last places Scarlet had gone into happily. Joey stared up at him in shock. He'd lost so much weight, and his hair was unkempt. A ratty, dirty beard had sprouted over his chin, marring his dark good looks. Even Joey, who hated this man for what he had done for his best friend, could admit that once Donovan had been extremely hot, though he'd barely seen him months ago. Now, however, he just looked haggard, terrible.

"What do you want?" His voice was cold and hoarse.

"Scarlet's gone."

Abner gasped and Donovan stepped back, shocked, but he recovered quickly. "What does that have to do with me?"

Joey gaped at him, as did Abner. "Not a damn thing, except she's your wife."

"Was."

"As I recall, neither of you filed for divorce."

Donovan didn't have a reply for that. He looked down and stalked back into the library. "Leave my house." The door banged shut behind him.

"Come with me," Abner gestured for Joey to follow him. They stopped in the kitchen and Abner bustled about, setting out a tray for coffee. "Now, what do you mean she's gone?"

"She was taken yesterday." Joey slumped in a stool at the table. "Right from our home. My --" he choked a moment. "My partner was shot."

Abner nearly dropped the coffeepot when he tried to fill Joey's cup. "Your partner?"

"Well, yeah. I'm gay - didn't Scary tell you?"

Abner shook his head. "Oh dear. I'm afraid my master thinks you are...he believes Miss Scarlet and you..."

"He thinks I'm Scarlet's lover? Is that why he won't help? Does he think I'm the father, as well?" He didn't wait for Abner to answer. Slamming the mug down, he stormed back into the hallway and found the library after a quick search. The doors crashed open with a bang and Joey was faced with a crying, irate Donovan. The taller man turned his back.

"I told you to get out." His voice was rough with tears, and the straight, rigid way he held himself made Joey pause. Everything about him, down to his posture screamed of the pain he was in. But he was too goddamn stubborn to do anything about that pain, and the sympathy Joey had been feeling evaporated.

"And I told you your wife, who you love and loves you -- god knows why -- is missing! Are you going to do anything about that, you motherfucking bastard?" Joey's pitch skyrocketed till he was all but screaming at Donovan.

Donovan stalked toward him and shoved him against the wall. "She is not my wife!" His arm settled across Joey's throat, cutting off his air. "Why don't you take care of it, if you're so damn worried about her?"

"I...need...help." Joey wheezed. "I don't...I don't know where she is."

"How do you know she didn't just run off? Hmm? Maybe she got tired of you, moved on to bigger and better things."

"I'm her best friend. She wouldn't just leave."

Donovan's hold loosened, but just barely. "You're her best friend? And the father? What happened -- were you two just experimenting or was this a plan all along?"

"I'm not the father! I am, in fact, very gay, and with someone already. Even if I was the father, I wouldn't let her marry you to cover it up."

After a long moment, Donovan set him down and stepped back. "If you're not it, who is? God, does she even know?" His tone was hateful.

Joey massaged his sore throat. "Sit down. You need to hear this. Scarlet should have told you when she found out, but she was too stubborn to talk to you, even though she loved and missed you. And I don't blame her. You were an ass." Donovan stepped toward him, but Joey didn't back down. "Sit down!"

Donovan hesitated, but he finally slumped into one of the big chairs. Joey took one across from him. "What?"

"Scarlet was raped."

"She was what?" Donovan sat up urgently. How had that never even crossed his mind? Because she acted as if everything was a first for her, even down to the kissing? Because she hadn't showed any signs of distress when he touched her?

"The night of the accident, her father took her out for dinner. After dinner, they stopped at a bar, and her dad went in. While he was in there, Scarlet was taken from the car...and a man raped her. Mr. Lennox had used her to pay off another gambling debt that would have ruined them. Again. He couldn't afford to lose what little money he still had, not with Michelle's illness, so he gambled away his own daughter's virginity." Joey tried to keep calm, but his eyes still filled with tears, and his voice shook with anger at Scarlet's dead father.

"That man, the father of her child, was the only one who touched her, so it's definitely his -- she got a DNA test, anyway, after she found out. She...she didn't remember, because the accident on the way home. It totally wiped her memory -- the doctors said that the shock and mental trauma of that night, coupled with the head trauma she had in the accident, is probably what made her forget everything so completely, but they thought she would remember eventually. When she woke up, the doctors questioned her, and she remembered dinner, and driving home, and the accident. The hours between dinner and the crash hadn't happened, in her mind.

Michelle decided not to tell anyone, especially Scarlet. She thought she was doing the right thing. That's why she wanted you two to get married so quickly. Not so that Scarlet would be taken care of when she died; but so that you could have sex and if she ended up pregnant, nobody would question it. Scarlet wasn't even out of the hospital before she called you, you know."

Donovan was shaking. It hadn't been his darling Scarlet's lie. She hadn't known whose child it was at all. And she hadn't had sex with anyone. In her mind, she was still a virgin. He remembered her insistence that it was true, as if she believed it herself. She had no reason not to.

"Who told you this?"

"Scarlet heard from her mom, finally. She told me. And Michelle heard it from their old driver, before he died in the hospital. There are hospital records that show she was raped that night."

"Who has Scarlet?"

Joey pulled a paper out of his pocket and glanced at it. "His name's Gaston Bonnet. He --"

"I know him," Donovan jumped up with a growl. He stalked to the door. "Abner!" The butler appeared immediately. "Call Michael. We're going to need his particular set of skills." He turned back to Joseph. "Come with me."

***

Joey was absolutely flabbergasted. In the time it took Donovan to clean up and shave, Abner had amassed a veritable army downstairs in the library. Over a dozen, big hulking men had set up shop there, filling it to bursting with computers, papers and more guns than Joey had ever seen. One normal-sized man was tucked away in a corner, speaking into a headpiece and tapping away on a laptop furiously.

Everybody stopped and stood when Donovan walked into the room, Joey and Abner right behind him. Donovan appeared to look around the room. He stalked forward, while the men parted around him. He stopped before the smallest man and sat down. The others took seats as well.

"What do you have, Michael?"

The little man looked down at his screen again. "I apologize for not having known that Bonnet was in the country again, sir. My sources had confirmed him in France just a --"

"That doesn't matter now, Michael. He's here, now. And I want to know what you have on him that I can use." Donovan wasn't stern, but his voice was very calm, very serious.

"He's staying in one of his houses -- the newer villa outside Somerset. I haven't figured out how he got here without any detection, yet. Your doctor, s-sir --" He jumped at Donovan's low growl. "Somehow, Bonnet found out, and questioned your doctor. He's dead, sir."

"Gentlemen," Donovan turned to the other members of the room. "My wife was kidnapped yesterday by Gaston Bonnet. She is six months pregnant with his child."

Joey could feel the surprise running through the room, though nobody moved a muscle or said a word. He glanced around again; every single eye in the room was fixed steadily on Donovan. He wasn't the tallest or biggest, but the way he sat in his chair, with his hands gripping the arm rests, his blind gaze direct and focused, made him their leader. The fact that he paid their salaries probably helped, Joey thought. But not by much. There was a real loyalty here in these men, one that money had nothing to do with.

"We are going to get her back, and we are going to take out Bonnet, for good this time. I do not want that bastard coming back for my wife and her child again. Am I clear?" A quick chorus of 'yes sir' met Donovan's ears. He nodded. "Good. Now, Kevin," He turned to the largest man. "You're on tactic. I want our ways in and out down in an hour. Arthur, Robert and Carl, weapons. Silent, deadly. Guns, with silencers. Knives. Anything else you can pack on without slowing you down."

"If I may, sir," One of the men he'd named stood up and brought forth a small, intricate-looking handgun. He handed it to Donovan, who ran his hands over it carefully while the man explained what he was holding. "This is all new, sir. We put this together, because your jobs usually require stealth. It's a modified machine pistol. As you can feel, they're extremely light, and very streamlined. The silencer is built in, so there's no need to remember one. Reloading takes three seconds -- just pop this button here, drop the empty clip and pop in a new one. The clip holds upward of two-score bullets - the bullets are tiny," here, he dug a little ball, the size of a pea, out of his pocket and passed it to his boss. "But they pack a punch. See, the bullets are tiny bombs -- Carl thought of it. They're completely harmless, until they're ejected from the gun. I won't bore you with the specifics, yet, but the gun and the machinery have a chemical reaction that sets the 'timer,' as it were. They take less than a second to detonate after contact, and the resulting explosion is small, but critical. One of these bullets in the right place could down a tiger in split seconds, sir."

Donovan passed the gun back. "Very good, you three. See that everybody is equipped with two of them, and extra clips. We don't know how many men Bonnet has this time." He turned to Kevin who had called him over to a table spread with maps and all sorts of gadgets and gizmos. "Abner, refreshments, please."

Abner gestured to a shocked and slightly scared-looking Joey. "Come on, you can help me." They went back to the kitchen, and Abner searched through the pantry for eatables. "Want to tell me what happened yesterday?"

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