Violent Content Warning: This story contains scenes of a violent nature.
Alternative Content Warning: This story contains scenes of loving nature between two women. This story is not for those under the age of eighteen.
Uber Warning: This story is an uber. The two characters are based off the leading ladies of XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS.
Author's Notes: This is my sequel to "Life's Full of Choices." Thanks to all that e-mailed requesting a sequel. All POSITIVE comments are welcome. Negatives I will simply ignore. Send your thoughts to email@example.com
My nerves are shot. I am only getting a taste of what Annie has experienced the last five years. "Jo, stop. You're making me nervous." She was referring to my looking repeatedly in the rear view mirror of our rental car.
"Its okay. Just relax." Relax? The bullet that passed mere inches from my skull still echoed in my ears. "You never did tell me what Suzanne said when you told her you were going back home." she commented. There was a reason for that.
"She was pissed. Let's just leave it at that."
"She doesn't like me....Does she?"
"No, she doesn't." I wasn't about to lie to my love.
"I never did anything to her." she said quietly as she began to absently gaze out of the car window.
"She's just jealous."
"I hurt her."
"No, you didn't. She only wanted me because she loved the idea of having a lesbian lover. I think I was more for show than anything."
"What do ya mean?"
"The rich can be weird sometimes.....Suzie actually thinks its 'fashionable' to be gay."
"You guys never....." she trailed off. I shook my head no. "Really?" She couldn't hide the happiness in her voice. I smiled.
"Jo, what do you mean by fashionable?"
"Well...." I thought back to a time we were at one of Suzie's many social functions. "She actually had one man say to her that it makes her more 'appealing' to investors and customers."
"I never saw it that way."
"Me neither. Like I said, they have a strange way of thinking.....Mmm."
"Just thinking about how she used to hang on my arm and dismiss me the minute a business acquaintance would show up.....She felt I wasn't smart enough to talk to them."
"You're kidding right? You're one of the smartest people I know."
"Thank you, Sweetheart."
We crossed the state line and weren't far from home. We had talked almost nonstop until that moment. When we stopped to eat or rest, we would cuddle and kiss. Now...silence. I knew why, just by the look on her face as she looked out of the windows. She was beginning to recognize home. We were still a good fifty to sixty miles away, but during our younger days we would ride up and down this highway to look at the autumn leaves and snow when winter came. "You okay?"
"What are going to do when we get there?" She deliberately avoided answering my question, but I didn't press her.
"Remember that house you loved? The one near the lake?"
"Yes." Her smile returned. "It had light blue paint with white trim."
"You wanted a wrap around porch with a padded swing with matching light blue cushions."
"You remembered, Baby."
"Of course I did."
"What about it anyway?"
"I bought it two days before you disappeared."
"You didn't." she said, not quite believing me.
"I did. I lived there until I realized you weren't coming back."
"How long was that?"
"Two years......The memories crushed me there."
"I'm sorry." I nodded, fighting back the tears.
"We'll go there.....I'll go and talk to my parents first, then yours. I don't think its a good idea for you just to walk in."
"I agree with you on that......How's Dad?"
"Great. He bought that pawn shop down on First Street."
"He always wanted that one. It was the biggest one in town."
I loved my old house for several reasons. One, Annie loved it. Two, is was secluded by a lake. Three, I felt happy there. I was beginning to get nervous as we neared the driveway. Luckily the house is out of town. So, there was no reason to go into town. I'm sure just being back gives her quite a shock. As we turned up the private drive, she unbuckled her seatbelt. Just as I stopped the car in front of the house, she practically lept out of the car. She stood there with a strange look of awe on her face. She reached for my hand and pulled me along. She jumped up the steps, with me in tow. She jogged down the porch to the swing. "I can't believe you did it......Its perfect. Just as I imagined it would be."
"It wasn't anywhere near being finished." She turned and looked at me. "Until today. It wasn't our home until this moment." She did what I expected her to do. She jumped into my arms, kissing me hard.
"You still say the most romantic things." she breathed.
"Stay here." Jumping off the porch by leaping over the railing, I loosened a small piece of the lattice work. Inside was my key. I ran back up the steps and unlocked the door, stuffing the key in my pocket.
Picking my love up into my arms, I carried her through the doorway. As I lowered her back to her feet, she kissed me again. "I'll do this again on your wedding day."
"Are you sure, Jo?"
"Well as long as you don't gain too much weight....." She slapped my shoulder. Our first playful banter since we reunited.
"I meant marrying me."
"I love you, Annie. I always have.....and I never stopped."
"Same here." I reached for her. I needed to hold her. The last few days still feel like a dream. My Annie is my arms after I spent years convincing myself I would never feel it again. "Does Suzie know about this house? You said you knew her then."
"No, she doesn't. She's never been here and I never mentioned it. I felt that this was our house and no one else's. Our parents agreed I should keep it. They just didn't like the idea of me living here."
Annie took her first real look around the living room. Everything was just as I left it. The last time I set foot in this house was when I agreed to move to Michigan with Suzie. I knew I would return some day. "Why's that, Jo?"
"Because I was in therapy. Being here wasn't helping me."
"I understand......When are you going to your parent's house?"
"As soon as I get out to the car." I smiled. She turned on the lights in the living room.
"Well, looks like I can keep myself busy cleaning until you get back."
"There's a couple of things that are yours in the master bedroom. I'll stop by the storage unit and pick up all your clothes."
"Are they in good shape after five years?"
"I vacuum sealed them."
"Gods Jo, you think of everything." I smiled and kissed her softly on the lips.
"I'll be back soon.....I love you."
The butterflies in my stomach were killing me as I pulled into my parents' driveway. I was praying that Suzie didn't give away that Annie was alive. She never knew Annie's parents. My mom appeared on the steps as I stepped out. "Honey, you're back." I met her at the front of the house as my father came out. I gave both of them a fierce hug before they led me into house, seating me on the couch. "Did you have a fight with Suzie?"
"Yeah, I did......The engagement's off."
"Thank god." I heard my dad as he sat in his recliner.
"Davy.....hush." my mom scolded as she put her arm around me. Instead of being hurt by the comment, I smiled which both of them saw. "What did you have a fight about, Sugar?"
"Uhhhhh...That's why I'm here. I have some news."
"Did you meet someone else, Sugar Pie?" I hated some of the pet names my father gave me. Today, I don't mind them. "I hope so....'cause I hate that stupid bitch."
"Davy Wallace." my mother scolded him again.
"Well I do." he said as he leaned forward. I laughed. "We ain't got to pretend like we like her anymore.....Joey don't want her no more." It was nice to hear another southern accent. After being around Suzie's snotty friends, I haven't heard anyone speak like my father in a long time.
I took a deep breath. The best way to say something was just to say it. "Mom, Dad. I have something to tell you.......Annie's not dead." I watched their expressions. Surprise, disbelief, happiness. Everything I expected. "I found her in Michigan.....and I brought her home."
"Are you joking, Honey.....No, of course you're not. I know you wouldn't joke about Annie. You loved her so much." my mom said as she pushed a strand of hair anyway from my eyes.
"Love Mom. I still love her.....and she still loves me."
"Just wait a dog gone minute, Joey. Why in the hell? What the...What happened?"
My dad reminded me of myself just a few days ago. Speechless, confused. My mom instinctively went to the kitchen, pouring our favorite drink during our talks, iced tea. Over the next hour I told them the complex story of what Annie has been running from for the time she was gone. "Ohhh the poor thing." mom gasped. "Have you talked to Billy and Janice?"
"Not yet.....I thought I'd tell you two first. Figured you'd take it easier than them. Dad?"
"I'm scared. I'm afraid to tell Billy and Janice."
"Now Joey, you know they love you. They looked in on you all the time up until you got engaged to that......Suzie." he corrected.
"That's what I mean.....They hate me for betraying, Annie."
"You they do not, Honey." Mom reasoned. "The reason they stopped was the fact they thought you were finally happy again. They figured you didn't need them stirring up memories of Annie."
"That's what they said?"
"That's what they said."
"Do you want us to go with you?"
"Of course we will."
I was nervous to see the Callender's again. Even more nervous to tell them that their daughter was alive. My father had to drive my car. I was scared and they knew it. The minute I stepped out of the car, my knees went weak. Billy and Janice were so happy to see me, they couldn't wait until I got to the front door. "Joey!" It was good to hear everyone calling me by my childhood nickname. Annie always called me Jo. I didn't mind. I didn't start going by Jo until I was out of school. Where Suzie got Josey from, I still don't know. Janice tore through her yard to reach us. This small woman was just like Annie in a lot of ways. Nearly six feet tall now, she has to yank me to her level to give me a kiss. "How are you, Honey?.......Where's Suzie? I thought you two moved up North."
"Stop asking so many questions, Janice."
"Hey Mr. Callender."
"Now what did I tell you about that?"
"Sorry.....Billy." He shook my hand firmly before pulling into a hug.
After going through the same explanations of my engagement to Suzie being off, I was ready to tell them the news. They were equally happy that Suzie was out of my life. Even though they never met her personally, everyone in the South knew of the Pattersons....and hated them.
I gathered all of my courage and thought for a moment how I was actually going to say it. As I sat and watched them, I could tell they knew I had something to say to them. "A few days ago something happened that I would have never bet on. Ummmm I found someone."
"Ahhhh. A new girlfriend?"
"No......an old one." The questioning look on their faces urged me to continue. "Billy, Janice......Annie....isn't dead."
"Oh my god." her mother gasped. Immediately, Billy put a comforting arm around his wife.
"Are you sure, Joey?" Billy whispered as he wiped a tear from his eye.
"I'd know Annie anywhere, Billy."
Between the four of us, we were tearing through the Kleenex as I told them everything I knew about her past. I told them what I had left out at my parent's house, the gun man, the need to stay hidden. "Please Joey. We need to see our baby....Where is she?"
"She's up at the lake." My father could see we all were in no shape to drive.
"Everyone into Joey's car. We'll head up there." I was proud of my dad. It was obviously a bad time for all of us. While I was an emotional wreck, he took charge.
We all entered the house at the same time, but I remained off in a corner as Annie was reunited with her parents and mine. I never saw grown men break down as easily as our fathers did when they saw Annie. Her mother, of course, wouldn't let go. She cried and cried as she held her only child on our couch. I love Annie more than anything. I can only imagine the pain and relief that Janice must feel at this moment. When Janice finally let her daughter up for air, she called for me to come closer. I cautiously made my way over. Janice took my hand. "Thank you, Joey. You brought her back home." She placed my hand inside her daughter's. "I knew you two were meant to be together. I just knew it from the moment I saw you two together for the first time." My parents moved closer. Soon it was one giant hug. I think Annie was more surprised than I was at our parents' reaction.
When the tears finally ceased, several hours later, we had decide what to do. "We are definitely not out of the woods. I'm sure they knew we headed home." I said, holding Annie's hand as our parents sat across from us.
"The Mafia. That's heavy stuff." Billy said.
"We need to put everything in Joey's name into someone else's name." Mom said. "The first thing they'll do is track down Joey, since they left together." We all agreed.
"I'll get started right away. I'm sure I can have it done in a day or two." my dad added. There was definitely one advantage to having a mayor for a father. "Just give me a name." Without much thought I came up with one.
"Jordan Davis." Annie smiled, knowing the origin of that name. They are the two names we came up with for our future children over seven years ago when we were dating. No one outside our family knew that. "I'll get started right away. We need to cancel all your credit cards...everything." I nodded.
"I don't have much affairs left. Just this house and a couple of credit cards. Everything else was in Suzie's name. Checking account. Anything we bought, cars. All were hers."
"Do you think she'll be all right?" Janice asked. "They could trace you to her."
"I think she will be. They only want us." Annie said. When Annie said us, we all knew she was talking about all six of us because our family was now involved. "I think everything will be okay as long as no one knows we're here. We won't go into town. Everyone still thinks I'm dead. Jo is supposed to be in Michigan. Just act like nothing has changed." We all nodded in agreement. "They'll probably look into Jo's assets, survey the town. As long as they don't see us or dig up anything, they'll think we ran off to some other city."
"What about Suzie? Joey, did you tell her you were taking Annie home?" Mom asked.
"Not exactly, but she may have gotten that idea, but hell her grandmother died years ago. There's no one in this town for her to tell."
"True." Annie said.
"Well, Joey, come on. Drive us back and I'll head to town hall immediately." I stood.
"I'd like to stay." Janice said.
"Okay." Billy kissed her softly on the lips. I better go help Davy. I'm sure there's something I can do. Goodbye, Honey. Bye Annie. I love you."
"Love you too, Dad."
I changed the name on my storage unit to my new alias. I canceled both of my credit cards. My father decided to use Annie's alias for the house. We decided it was better to use both names instead of one. If all things that belonged to me turned up in the same name, they would know we were here. My life was beginning to get hectic all ready. I stayed out of town and had Billy pick up Annie's clothes from the storage unit. She had not changed in size since we met. I knew all her clothes would still fit and they did. I was happy watching her open the plastic sacks and looking at all her old clothes. I also had her father bring back a few items of hers. Her stuffed bear for one. Her mother cried at the sight of the old bear. She bought it for Annie on her ninth birthday. Many a night did that damn thing poke me in the back when I rolled over onto it. As painful as it was, I sealed it with her clothes. It was so old and worn, I didn't want anything to happen to it. I smiled when she walked to the bedroom and placed it on our bed.
I was beginning to settle back into an almost normal life after a month of being back home with Annie. The only restriction was we could never go into town or let ourselves be seen. Our parents played their parts well. So far nothing has gone wrong. Soon after getting back, Annie's glow came back. She was her old self again. She was my Annie, with a beautiful spirit. Our parents' homes were also well secluded and close, another reason I chose this home. My father managed to get everything into several different names, made it all look good on paper. Annie and I decided to have an online business under two new names we made up. Now our folks don't support us.
Suddenly, my hammock lurched. "Ahhh." I was startled to say the least.
"Daydreaming again?" Annie chuckled as she crawled into the hammock with me. The smell of hamburgers was in the air. I loved summer days.
"You're gonna burn the hamburgers, Baby."
"They're all right for the moment." She rolled on top of me, kissing me softly until I opened my mouth. "Mmmm." Her tongue slipped inside my mouth. "You taste good." My sensitive nose began to pick up the smell of burning meat.
"I don't like mine Cajun." I smiled.
"Shit." She scrambled out of the hammock and saved our lunch just in time. I turned on my side and watched her as she fixed my hamburger just the way I liked it. I sat up. She walked over with the plate that had two burgers on it. I took a bite and smiled. "Good?"
"Always." I said between chews. "You amaze me."
"You remembered. It amazes me that during the last month, you've remembered everything about me....Even how I like my hamburger."
"Everything you like?" she winked.
"Mmmmm. You know what I like in every room of the house. The kitchen, the bedroom." I smiled.
Something was not right when the sun went down. We made love outside until the day ended. Now we sit on Annie's porch swing and sipped lemonade that my mom made yesterday. Something definitely wasn't right. "What's wrong? You're so tense." she said as she rubbed my thigh.
"Annie, I think we should go stay with my mom tonight."
"I don't feel comfortable here." She looked at me for a brief second.
"Okay, I'll go pack my backpack with a change of clothes for us." I watched her as she entered the house. It became extremely quiet outside....too quiet. Annie knew that I was gifted with a sense that I never quite understood. My dad thought I would be a good soldier. I didn't want something to happen here. I didn't want any bad memories here, only good ones. I didn't want them to find this place.
As we made our way to the car, I heard something. It was car. Headlights could clearly be seen coming up the mountain, near the lake. My heart stopped. I grabbed Annie's hand and pulled her towards the woods. "Come on."
"Jo, what's going on?"
"Just come on!" We jogged to the edge of our yard and hid in the brush, still holding Annie's hand. We sat in the woods completely hidden as a dark SUV pulled into our yard. A man stepped out that I didn't recognize.
"That's Roger." she whispered.
"He works for the government, FBI."
"No, the agent who got me to testify against the Family." She started to rise, but I kept her in place. "What's wrong?"
"Why is he here?"
"Looking for me?"
"How'd he know?"
"I don't know."
"Just sit still." I watched as he walked around entire length of the porch, looking into windows. Luckily, we turned all lights off and drew the curtains. The only evidence that anyone was living here was the car.
"Andrea?" he called out. "Are you here?.....I need to talk to you." Annie started to move again, but once again I pushed her back down.
"I said stay put." I hissed.
"Jo, I know him."
"He might be here to take you away. Did you think of that? You're not supposed to be with me remember?" I whispered. I could tell that thought did not cross her mind, but she knew it might be true.
"Andrea. God damn it!" he kicked the side of the house before walking back out into the front yard. "Slippery little bitch!" he screamed and stomped. This was definitely not a friend of ours. I was trying to understand why I felt a sense of familiarity with him. Had I seen him before? Why would he care where Annie was? All that should matter was that she was safe. I could see the gunbelt even in the darkness. There was no way I was going to show myself. "They're gonna fry me." he said in a panicky voice as he walked closer to us, heading for the back of the house.
"Stay here." I whispered. "And I mean it."
"Where are you going?"
"To follow him." I had a feeling he would keep talking to himself and reveal more information that might be useful.
I stealthily moved around the perimeter of the yard, staying hidden in the woods. Annie knew I wouldn't be heard. I never understood how I could move through dead leaves without making a sound. Must be something primal within me. Keeping in that form, I moved to directly behind him. He shined his flashlight on the grill. Damn it. The smell was still there. He'll know it was recently used. He turned and circled the woods with the flashlight. I dropped to my stomach so I wouldn't be seen. even in the darkness, I could see his eyes narrow as he walked toward me drawing his pistol. I took a silent, but deep breath as he walked closer. He stopped short of the woods, not wanting to enter them. Must have expensive shoes on. Looking down, I smiled. He was too well dressed to go into the woods at night. "I'll find you." he said to himself. "You and your bitch can't hide forever, Andrea." I gasped silently. He did know we are together. Only the bad guys knew that. So that meant that he was one. If only he didn't have a gun. I'd find out this mystery. "You'll be back."
I watched him as he made his way around to the front of the house. I prayed that Annie stayed still as I began moving back around to the front, the way I had came. I breathed a sigh of relief and she engulfed me in her arms when I came back to the same spot. We both watched as he set up something from his car and planted himself in one of the lawn chairs on the porch. "He's planning on staying here until we come back." I told her.
"Let's get to my mom's house. Its just a couple of miles. We'll be in the woods all the way. No one will see us." I said and pulled her away from the house.
We stopped just short of my mom's yard. She collapsed in tears when we stopped to rest. I felt the same way she did, but I had to be strong for us. "Jo, I don't want to lose our home."
"We won't I promise. I'll figure this out." I breathed, trying to catch my breath from running. "Tell me what you know about this guy."
"He's been an agent as long as I've been in the program. His name is Roger Patrick."
"On the take?"
"Maybe he was my leak. You think?"
"You can pretty much bet on it. When you made your last call, did you say we were together?"
"No. I said the usual. 'Time to change places.' Then I gave them the address. Why?"
"He knows we are together. The only person to see us together was the guy who tried to shoot us in Michigan."
"Why does he care?"
"I don't know, but he's obviously on the take. Mob money can pretty much sway anybody."
"Oh gods." she gasped.
"He was the man who promised me you could come with me when I left. Then, every time I tried to call you, I'd be warned not to. They're keeping us apart for a reason....Why?"
"They must see me as a threat."
"One woman? The mob doesn't see one woman as a threat."
"Come on. Let's get to my parents' house."
I knew my father wasn't expecting us to burst in at almost nine o'clock, but we did. As always they were watching their favorite television program. Taking one look at us, they could tell we ran all the way here through the woods. "Oh my god, Joey. What's going on?"
"They found us." I breathed. Dad handed us each a glass of water.
"Here sit down." He ran to his gun rack and began loading his rifle.
"Davy, what are you doing?"
"Nobody's going to separate these girls again and no one's taking them from us either." I had to admire my father at that moment. I stood and began loading another as Annie rested.
"There's no telling whether anyone will show up here or not, but we aren't taking any chances, Mom."
We both moved away into the front bedroom so we could watch the entrance to the house. As we silently stood there in the darkness, my father sighed heavily. "There's something you should know about yourself, Joey."
"What are you talking about, Dad?"
"Your first grandfather....on your mother's side."
"Grandpa Lucci." I smiled as I said, "The one I've never seen at all? That Grandpa Lucci?"
"Yes, that Grandpa Lucci....Your mother's Italian. You know that."
"Yeah so......Wait a minute. Are you telling me we have mob connections?"
"Not really, but Grandpa Lucci might be able to get you outta this mess."
"Your mother never knew her real father that well. I was told on my wedding night about his colorful.....history."
"You told me he was a heart surgeon."
"He was......Crime bosses have heart attacks too."
"Yep, even your grandfather took money from the mob in the ol' days. He saved several heavy hitters. Maybe you could use it to your advantage."
"Maybe.....Seems to me these lackeys work for someone bigger. They'd back off if they thought they'd owe you a favor."
"They don't owe me squat, Dad. They owe my grandpa".
"Your grandpa loved you and talked about you all the time."
"Shouldn't these goons know that he's my grandfather."
"Not necessarily. Remember your mom's father's name wasn't on her birth certificate, her adopted father is."
"JO!!!" Annie screamed. We both ran for the living room, finding a knife at my love's throat, while my mother was being pulled away from her. It was the agent and a couple of goons. How did they get into the house without me hearing them?
"Stop! Please don't hurt her." I begged.
"She's going to die. This kill is too sweet for the man to miss. Drop the pieces." We simultaneously dropped our weapons. These were typical goons. They weren't here to do the actual hit....They're too stupid. I'm sure that Annie's death was important, high profile. We were pushed down into chairs. The knife was still at Annie's throat. The asshole had a handful of my lover's hair and had her bent at angle, ready if we made a wrong move. I watched the apparent leader on his cellphone. My eyes got wide as I saw that it was a Patterson. How ironic. My guess was 'the man' was going to show up here at anytime. The door opened. "That was quick." I said. I got a fist to the face.
"Joey." My dad moved closer, but was pushed back as I grabbed my jaw.
"I'm okay, Dad." I looked up at the man that smelled of expensive cologne and hair gel. I smiled inwardly at the fact that he wore more gold than Mr. T. To complete the look, he sported an expensive Italian suit and a heavy accent.
"So you're the ass wipe that's following Annie." I braced myself, but this time an object occupied the fist.
"You'z think your smart don't yas?" I just smiled at him. I looked to Roger. Suddenly, I realized who he was. The look on my face told him that. He looked away quickly, becoming nervous.
"Joey, what are you doing? They'll kill you."
"Trust me, Dad."
I waited until he turned his attention to Annie, taking the knife out of the hand of the agent. To scare her even more, he demonstrated the sharpness of the knife on the armrest, inches from her. I jumped as he cut her arm in warning. "Ahh." she whimpered, rather than screamed. She was trying to be brave, but like the rest of us she was scared.
"You know, I wouldn't hurt her if I were you?"
"You talkin' to me?" I almost laughed at the standard Italian phrase.
"That's right......I'm talkin' to you." I mimicked his voice.
"You got balls you dumb broad." I laughed. "And arrogant."
"I call in a debt."
"A debt? You ain't got no cause to call a debt."
"MY grandfather.....you owe him." He looked at me questionably. "Tony." he snapped his fingers.
"Joseph Joplin. Repairs shoes in Cleveland."
"Never heard of him."
"Mom, tell him." The man turned to my mom.
"My...my father is..." She was scared. I projected my mental strength to her in my eyes, hoping it would help her. "Anthony Lucci."
"We got anything on this Lucci character." Tony walked to him and whispered into his ear. The man immediately pulled out his......Patterson cellphone and dialed a number. I don't like this. "Son of a bitch.....Tell that stupid bitch that she's gonna have to give us phones that work." He threw it against the wall. It shattered into pieces. Annie and I made eye contact, knowing what that statement implied. Suzie? Selling phones to crime bosses? Her father never would. It must be Suzie's doing.
The man grabbed one of his men's cellphone and made his call. Walking away so we couldn't hear the conversation, I held my breath and waited. I hated to see the tears in my mother's eyes. I'm sure this was hard on her to admit. I knew she wrote to her father several times with pictures of me. She always felt he should know his granddaughter. When the man returned, the silence was somehow deafening. His eyes held a sadness. "Let them go." The men released Annie and she cradled her bleeding arm. Ignoring the men, I grabbed a towel, and dabbed at the cut. It was deep, but it didn't need stitches. "The debt is even." he said softly.
"Wait a minute." I stood. I walked to the FBI agent. "I'm reporting you."
"Piss off." I punched him across the face. "Damn." The Italians laughed, not caring about him in the slightest it would seem.
"Patrick my ass......Annie, this is Suzie's baby brother."
"How the hell did you know that?" he asked.
"Doesn't matter......Tell me.....Is Suzie in on this?" He decided to give me an obscene gesture as an answer. I turned around and the men were gone. "Hey Dad, you still have that baseball bat?"
"Sure do......Right here." He handed it to me from the corner. "I'm going to ask you again." I said as I gripped the bat with both hands and examined the end. "Is your sister in on this?"
"Yes!" I causally propped the bat on my shoulder.
"She sold them cellphones a couple of years ago to establish business relations with them. She knew the Mob's money would be good. She hooked me up with them. When I found out that the Annie that I was helping was your Annie, I told her. She made me promise to make sure you never met again.....I kept her moving and blocked her from talking to you."
"Suzie knew Annie was alive?"
"Hell ya. She even told me that you guys were most likely heading back here together. She promised me a bonus if I killed Annie, that way you'd go back to her."
"So you made your money helping the mob?......You disgust me."
"He won't be in the agency much longer....I'll see to that." my father said from beside me.
"Well. He doesn't have the Family backing him up anymore."
"And I'm sure they don't take too kindly to being sold bad cellphones." Dad smiled.
"You know Roger, if I were you I'd...." I got into his face. "disappear." I whispered. I'm sure his pants were a little damp by now. We watched him run from the house.
Annie came to my side. Wrapping my arms around her, I dropped the bat. "He said the same thing to me.....five years ago. Gods, I wish I never listened to him...You were right, Jo. We should have dealt with this together. I ran and I'm sorry."
"Its okay." Over her shoulder, I looked at my parents, smiling at us.
"Jo, why didn't you tell me about your grandfather?"
"I didn't know until just now."
"You think we're safe?"
"I think so....Mom, maybe we should call Grandpa Lucci....if its okay."
"I think you're right, Joey."
I patched up Annie's arm, but never fell asleep. I couldn't. Believe it or not, we returned to the house. "Thinking about Suzie?" I heard in the darkness beside me.
"Yes.....I'm so stupid."
"There was no way you could've known unless she told you."
"I know....Its just I feel like a fool. These last two years were wasted. She could have told me you were alive."
"No Jo. The last five years were wasted. Wasted and it was all my fault. If I thought there was a way out of this, I would've taken it."
"I know." I kissed the top of her head softly. "Let's just concentrate on the next 50 years or so."
"I feel funny.....Like I'm not living my life a million people involved anymore...and its just been a few hours. Now I'm alone again. Feels good."
"You aren't totally alone."
"Ohhhh....I know that." I felt her weight on top of me as she crawled on top of me.