4. My Father's Son Ch. 07-09byinspirixis1©
Nicholas knew now that Vince could be trusted. Grace was alive. There wasn't a shadow of doubt in his mind. Vince had just given him the message that she was going to order 'all chocolate.' He had a confused look on his face when he said the words, as if he didn't know what it meant.
"It's our wedding cake," Nicholas explained. "She wants to order all three tiers as chocolate cake because that's her favorite. You'd think she was planning on eating the whole thing herself."
"Pfft." Vince made a dismissive sound. "Women."
Nicholas smiled. His woman. His woman who knew what he'd done but still wanted to marry him anyway.
Wearing a wire was kind of fun. He liked the fact that Hamid didn't know that his own gift was recording the evidence that would eventually bring him down. It had been surprisingly easy to trick him into believing things about him that were so far from the truth they were laughable.
"What is that medallion you wear?" Nicholas had asked after Vince had told him the specifications of what he'd need to get wired.
"It's Saint Martha, patron saint of servants."
"I'd like one. I want something that joins us together, you know, as a family. Can you get me one?"
Hamid had smiled warmly. "Of course. Here, you have this one, I will order another for myself."
Nicholas had taken it promptly to Vince who had installed the electronic listening device.
He had thought long and hard about how best to draw Hamid out. He started by calling him father. He thought about calling him dad, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it, that name belonged to someone else, so father it was. Hamid seemed thrilled with this new development.
"You were right father," he said one day when Hamid had come to him to talk. "This is not a bad life. My Maria, I loved her but now I can see she was holding me back."
"Yes Amir," he replied. "Women are not to be trusted. It is okay to love a woman, good even, but you must keep them at arms length, you mustn't let them influence you or direct your life."
It was such bullshit. What was a relationship if you didn't let your partner influence you? Why bother having them around if you didn't trust them enough to help direct your life? Nicholas thought these things but he didn't show them, he just nodded respectfully and said, "Yes father."
It was all part of building the persona. Mary-Anna, his acting coach, was all about character development. "Each and every line is meaningful," she had told him. "Every little thing that comes out of your mouth, every little gesture you make says something about the character."
The Amir character that he was trying to build was slowly turning rotten. Character evolution was another thing that Mary-Anna was big on. "People are constantly evolving," she said. "There are some things that are static about a personality but there are many things that can and do change, especially when the character is thrown into a stressful situation."
Nicholas thought about that a lot. Had he changed? He didn't think so. He was still the same person as he was before all of this began. There were things that he had learned about himself that he otherwise wouldn't have known, but he hadn't changed. He hoped that Grace hadn't changed either.
It was weeks before he got around to probing Hamid on the important stuff, the stuff that could really bring him down. By that time Nicholas was totally comfortable slipping into the Amir character.
"Father, you are so smart, you have so much important knowledge and advice, how is it that you are only part of the house staff? Why are you not at the head of this organization?"
Hamid smiled slyly. "Things are not always as the appear my son."
"What do you mean?"
"This organization is more complicated than you might realize."
Nicholas tilted his head to the side in question. "I don't understand. What is it that we do here?"
Hamid didn't even hesitate, he launched into a full description of the power structure and dealings of what he called 'The Torini House.' He beamed with pride when he told of how he had built it from the ground up over twenty years. "Torini and Cosgrove are just pawns, they are paid to distribute my orders, they don't even know who I am."
Nicholas was truly stunned. "It's brilliant," he breathed. "You can control all of the people in the organization without them even knowing it. You can monitor the employees from the inside. You can issue unpopular orders without ever having to take responsibility for them."
Hamid smiled and nodded proudly. "Most importantly, nothing can ever be tied to me. If one of the employees gets caught and talks the trail leads to Torini, not to me."
"So where does the money come from?"
Again, Hamid was not the least bit suspicious of Nicholas' questioning and divulged the financial clockwork of the house. They dealt mostly in human trafficking and prostitution with a healthy side business in the illicit drug trade. It made Nicholas sick to the stomach to listen to Hamid talk about women as if they were animals. "Girls like your Jaidee are a dime a dozen," he said. "They practically beg to get into the containers that bring them State side and then once they're here they are easy to control. We keep them uneducated and reliant on their pimps. They know their lot in life."
Nicholas could not believe that he was related to this asshole. He couldn't believe that this was Baaba and Daadii's son. What happened? What went wrong with this guy? Baaba and Daadii's relationship was full of love and respect. His grandfather cherished his grandmother, sure their arrangement was a little different to an American couple, but the sentiment was the same. How could their son be such a cold psychopath?
"I hope this is enough," Nicholas told Vince when he handed the medallion to him the next day. "I don't know how much more of this I can take, the guy is a psychopath."
Vince stuffed the medallion in his left pocket. It was part of their cover. A couple of times a week Vince held the targets while Nicholas practiced. At the beginning Nicholas would give him the medallion and his watch and he would put the medallion in a special hidden pouch in his left pocket. When they were done practicing Vince would pull the watch and an identical medallion out of the regular compartment of his pocket and take the one with the recorded conversations back to the police department.
Nicholas wasn't joking when he'd said that he didn't know how much more of it he could take. Slipping in and out of character was easy now but learning what a depraved pile of shit his biological father was wore on him.
It was impossible not to identify with Hamid on a physical basis. They looked so similar, it was almost like he was watching an older version of himself. To hear those disgusting words come out of his mouth, to see the self-satisfied smirk on his face was incredibly trying.
Hamid had no respect for life. Lawan was so pregnant she looked like she was about to burst. "Do you know if it is a boy or a girl?" Nicholas asked her one day.
"No, only the god knows," she had replied.
Nicholas smiled. "You want it to be a surprise?"
Lawan looked confused. "No. How to know?"
"The doctor. The doctor could tell you."
She shook her head. "No doctor."
Lawan was carrying Hamid's child and he wouldn't even take her to see a doctor. That was another reason he hoped that the evidence he'd collected would be enough to bring Hamid down soon, Lawan was going to give birth any day and he wanted her to be able to go to the hospital to have proper medical care.
All he was collecting now were details. Little bits of the puzzle that filled in the gaps and would allow the cops to come crashing down on all of the arms of the Torini House at once. Vince had told him that the FBI was involved now. Apparently this was one of the biggest organized crime cases in the history of the country.
"Not much longer now," Vince told him. "We're putting together a plan to shut this place down."
"Don't forget about my mom and brother," Nicholas reminded him. He didn't want some trigger-happy contractor to kill his family when the police were going after the big fish.
"Yeah we have that under control. There are FBI agents on the contractors in Denver, also the ones following Ralph's family in Cheyenne and Badger's family in Milwaukee."
"Ralph and Badger?"
"Yeah, they're the other specialist, the others who were kidnapped like you. They're sharp shooters."
"Oh." Nicholas hadn't realized that there were others like him.
"Next time we meet I might have the plan, until then just keep doing what you're doing."
It was going to end soon. Soon he would be back together with Grace and all of this would just be nasty memories.
Why they chose to do it at four o'clock in the afternoon was a mystery to Nicholas, but what was really fucked up was that they chose to do it without giving him fair warning. It made no sense, one minute he was Amir and he was collecting information and the next everything was moving at the speed of light.
They should have talked to him about it first. He would have told them that Hamid was unstable, that he couldn't be trusted not to go off the deep end. Of course there was no way he could have known just how bad it would be, but maybe he could have prevented the carnage.
Nicholas didn't even realize what was going on when Hamid came storming into his room wielding a revolver with a murderous look on his face.
"You're going to pay for this you little shit," he roared as he lowered the weapon at Nicholas.
He was sitting with Jaidee at the desk, going over the English alphabet with her, teaching her how to read and write, and he was truly shocked. He started to move but there was no time to act, no time to get out of the way before the sickening sound of bullets leaving the chamber reverberated around the room.
Nicholas was sure that he must be either dead or dying. That he felt no pain made him suspect that he must already be dead.
Then he realized that he was moving, his feet were moving underneath him, he was running towards Hamid. He didn't remember telling his body to do anything but he must have kicked him because the next thing he knew he was holding him in a vertical arm pin, and he wasn't being gentle. Hamid was screaming in pain and there was blood all over the floor.
Surely that couldn't all be Hamid's blood, he thought he had just kicked him in the face, he could have sword he felt his nose break under the force of his foot.
He looked around the room. Jaidee was screaming and wailing, kneeling over Lawan who was collapsed on the floor. Lawan looked pale, she was blinking too often, there was something wrong with her. Then he realized where the blood was coming from. It wasn't Hamid's blood it was Lawan's. Lawan had stepped into the path of the bullet that was intended for him.
He didn't know what to do. He wanted to go to Lawan but he had to deal with Hamid. Luckily, Vince was the next person to burst into the room. He had a gun in his hands too and that just sent Jaidee into a new round of hysterics. Her hands were covered in Lawan's blood and she held them up beside her head with her fingers splayed as she screamed, the horror evident in her eyes.
Vince quickly looked around and holstered his weapon in favor of handcuffs that he slapped around Hamid's wrists.
"Your family is dead," Hamid screamed as Vince started to drag him from the room. "You just killed them Amir, every single one."
"It's not true."
Nicholas almost broke at the sound of that voice. It was Grace's voice.
"They're safe Kolya."
He blinked at her. She was so beautiful. He hadn't seen her in thirty-three days and for many of those days he had thought that she was dead. He had thought that this moment might never come.
She turned to Jaidee and Lawan but he just kept on looking at her, it was as if he were frozen in time. The world was moving around him but Nicholas was standing still, unable to tear his eyes away from Grace.
She knelt down beside Lawan and began CPR, breathing into her mouth and pumping her heart with her elbows locked.
Jaidee was screaming bloody murder and trying to push Grace away.
"Adrian, get her out of here," Grace ordered.
Nicholas hadn't realized that Adrian was in the room with them, but when he looked up at the large man dragging Jaidee away from Lawan's bloodied body was indeed Adrian.
"Shh... come on now... calm down," Adrian was speaking to Jaidee gently, trying to calm her as he directed her out of the room.
Grace continued in her efforts to reanimate Lawan's lifeless body. She looked at her watch. "Shit. Kolya, get me a razor," she said before she went back to breathing in Lawan's mouth.
He was still standing in exactly the same place that he was when he had been holding Hamid. He blinked. He tired to get his brain to catch up. She wanted his razor. What she thought she was going to do with it he had no idea.
He went into the bathroom and got the razor he used for shaving out of the top drawer.
"It this what you want?" He asked when he went back into the room.
She looked up at him. She was covered in blood and it sent a chill down his spine. He didn't like to think of the last time she had been dripping with blood like that.
"Yeah, break it open so the blade part is on its own."
He went back into the bathroom and covered the razor with a towel before smashing it with one of Jaidee's makeup jars and returned to Grace with the razor blade.
"Here," he held it up for her.
She looked at her watch again. "It's been three minutes... Shit!" She squeezed her eyes shut and used two fingers to drum against her forehead. She was trying to remember something, she did that sometimes when he quizzed her in preparation for a test. She opened her eyes again and looked up at him, a smudged red mark remained where her fingers had been.
She moved to the lower half of Lawan's body and lifted the dead woman's shirt to reveal her enormous belly and then held her hand out for the razor blade.
Nicholas finally caught on. Grace was going to deliver Lawan's baby.
He handed her the blade and she turned back to Lawan. She closed her eyes again, took a deep breath and let it out slowly and stared down at Lawan's belly.
Her hands were steady. Nicholas had no idea how she could do it but her hands were steady as she brought the razor to the skin and made an incision.
He had to look away. It was so gruesome. He could only peak every so often, the blood and muscle and tissue were just too much for him.
"Come on... come on..." he heard Grace whispering to herself. Then finally she said, "Go get a towel."
When he came back from the bathroom she was holding a little squirming body all covered in blood and mucous up over Lawan and that was when he heard the baby cry for the first time. It wasn't very loud, and it didn't sound much like the screams he had heard from his baby sister Madeline. This baby sounded more like a little animal and the sound pierced through his body and went straight to his heart.
"It's a girl," Grace said.
A girl. His sister. His sister who he would raise as his daughter. He knew it with a certainty that suddenly gave the rest of his life clarity. He did not make this child, but she was his. He was a father.
He cried as he held the little girl in the towel and Grace cut the umbilical cord.
"Thank you Gracie," he stammered through the tears. "Thank you."
She knew they were only looking after the baby until a good adoptive family could be found, but it still wore on Grace. Every time she turned around little Mai was there, and usually in Nicholas' arms. But that wasn't the worst of it... Jaidee was there too.
Nicholas had asked her if Jaidee could stay with them until he could set her up in a safe house with some of the other victims of Hamid's human trafficking scheme. Every fiber in her body was screaming at her to say no, but Nicholas had looked so sad and he'd been through such an awful ordeal, so she had said yes. To say that she regretted it would have been the understatement of the year.
"Have you made any progress with the Feds?" She asked one night as they were readying themselves for bed.
Nicholas was trying to negotiate for the house that Hamid owned in Florida to be used temporarily as a safe house for the Thai women.
"Kind of. I think they'll go for it on a temporary basis. It's just a matter of time milaya, it's only been two weeks."
"And then everything will go back to normal?"
"Yeah, of course." He wasn't looking at her when he said it, he'd turned away to set the alarm clock.
Grace comforted herself with that thought. Soon everything would go back to normal, it would just be her and Nicholas living together, just the way she liked it.
She turned off the bedside lamp and snuggled into Nicholas' side. He put his arm around her and squeezed her to him briefly.
She ran her hand up and down over his chest and belly. In the pale light from the window she could just make out his face, see that his eyes were closed. He wasn't responding to her stroking but she wanted to be closer to him, she wanted to feel him, renew their connection. It felt like forever since they had made love. It must have been four days, or was it five? The days seemed to run into one another when there was a screaming infant around.
It's just for a few weeks, she reminded herself.
She let her hand slip lower, underneath his boxer shorts where she stroked his balls and caressed his cock, which was twitching to life.
"I love you Nicholas," she whispered as she kissed over his shoulder and up his neck to his mouth.
He sank his hand into her hair and pulled her closer to kiss her deeply, his tongue stroking against hers, helping the heat to grow in her own private parts.
She climbed on top of him and struggled for a moment with their underwear and then finally sank herself around him.
"Oh Gracie," Nicholas murmured. "My beautiful Grace."
She leaned down and kissed him as she rode his cock, feeling him connect with her special place, loving him the way she would never love anyone else.
He rolled her over and took control of their bodies, caressing her, kissing her, stroking her higher and higher towards release.
She was oh so close when Mai started crying. Nicholas stopped mid-stroke.
"Let Jaidee get her for once Kolya," Grace begged, but it was no use, he had already left her. She could feel him pull away from her before he moved, it wasn't a physical with drawl it was an emotional one; he was already far away by the time he apologized.
"I'm sorry baby, I need to go to her."
He didn't wait for her reply. He didn't look back to see that she was crying.
It's just for a few weeks, she told herself. In a few weeks everything would go back to normal. Nicholas would be hers again soon.
But the days bled into each other. One week became two and then three and Jaidee and baby Mai were still living in their apartment.
"Shouldn't they have found a family for her by now?" Grace asked one afternoon. "I though there'd thousands of couples who'd love to adopt a newborn baby."
Nicholas shrugged his shoulders and looked down at Mai, who was lying in his arms. "I don't know how these things work Gracie, I assume they are just being thorough."
"What about the safe house in Florida?"
Nicholas sighed. "C'mon Grace, give it a rest, just be patient."
It was getting to the point where telling herself that it was only for a little bit longer didn't bring her any comfort. She knew she was lying to herself, she had no control over the situation. It could go on like this indefinitely.