Chapter 39: Learning the Truth
July woke up with a groan. Her head was pounding and tried to bring her hand up to rub it but found she couldn't. She tugged and realized that her hands were tied together. She opened her eyes and found herself in an unfamiliar room. Confusion flooded her as she tried to figure out what was going on.
She remembered talking to Letty, eating with Mike and Letty in the kitchen and then it all went black. She looked around and figured it was a garage of some sort, the cement floor cool underneath her. At the next pillar down, Mike sat slumped forward with his hands tied behind his back.
She wiggled her fingers and realized she was in the same situation. She pulled at the ropes around her wrists but only managed to burn herself with them. She winced in pain and sat back. Boy, was she screwed. What the hell was going on? She looked down and saw that her ankles were tied together too and she let out a string of curses.
"Now, is that any language for a young lady to use?" asked a voice from the darkness. Slowly a figure approached and stepped into the small amount of light.
It was Arnold.
July felt a gasp escape her lips. He looked half crazed; his clothes were rumpled and it looked like he hadn't sleep in a couple days. He had a malicious expression on his face and he smelled faintly like alcohol. Mike was starting to stir and July looked over to see him shake his head.
"Oh my god, I feel like a brick hit my head," he moaned in pain.
"That's actually a very good analogy Mr. Bradley, it was a brick," Arnold said in a cheerful voice.
Mike's head snapped up and then he winced as the movement hurt his head. He took in his surroundings and their current situation. He didn't recognize the man in front of them but his voice sounded familiar.
"What the hell is going on?" July snarled and Arnold clocked her in the face.
"Shut up scum," he yelled.
July spit out the mouth full of blood and it landed on his pants. He kicked her in the stomach and let out an evil crackle as she cried out in pain. July was now awkwardly towards the side.
"Leave her alone you asshole!" Mike yelled and Arnold turned towards him.
"Ah yes, Mr. Bradley. Tell me, did your mother have a fun ride? I hope she enjoyed it."
Mike's eyes widen and July could see the anger flare in them.
"You don't know crap about my mom," Mike growled.
"See boy, that's were you're wrong. I know more about your mother than you think I do. Your mother use to work for me until her, uh, how should I say it? Untimely demise, or maybe that should be timely," Arnold said with an amused smile.
"You…" Mike started as a piece of the puzzle fell into place.
"Yes, I hired someone to hit your mother's car and leave her for dead. I hoped she would have died upon impact but sadly she didn't. What a shame," he commented.
"You asshole!" Mike shouted, struggling against his ties.
Arnold gave him a kick to the stomach, silencing him for the moment.
"Now none of that Mr. Bradley, but you may be wondering why. See, your mother was hired by me to be a spy on our dear July here. But once July found out the truth and left Texas, I had no need for your mother, so I disposed of her," Arnold explained with a flick of his hand. "Couldn't have her twittering about and saying something when I told her that her job was done."
Mike's eyes widen in realization as his mother's last words echoed in his mind: my job is done.
"You are a crazy psycho who need to be locked away," July yelled, her voice full of disgust.
"Oh such harsh words from such a pathetic girl. Don't you realize it's your fault that Mike's mother is dead?" he said playing devil's advocate.
July felt her heart jump in her throat, finding it suddenly hard to breathe. She looked over at Mike and gave him an anguished look.
"July don't, it's not your fault," Mike said before Arnold kicked him again.
"Oh deary, it is all your fault. If you wouldn't have left, Mike's mother would still be alive. There was no way she continue spying on you without looking suspicious. So I was done with her, all because you left." Arnold let silence fill the room for a moment, watching with satisfaction as a tear slid down July's face. "Now, down to business, how should I kill you?" Arnold pondered as he pulled a shallow pan into the light. July could see several knives and a gun. Fear coiled within her and she began to sweat.
"Let Mike go," she said as Arnold mused over the knives.
"Excuse me?" he asked as he looked up.
"Let Mike go, he has nothing to do with this. You said this was all about me," July reminded him as she licked her dry lips and tried to think of a way to get out of here. God, she hoped that Vince would figure something out and find her. She would hate for the last thing he remembered of her was their fight.
"You see, I wish I could let Mike go but he already knows too much. Now I'll have to kill him first while you watch and then I'll kill you," Arnold said with a glee.
July felt her heart beat double and her breathing become shallow. Before she could blink, Arnold picked up a knife and stabbed Mike in the gut with it. He let out a howl of pain and then went limp. July could feel the tears running down her face and started to cry.
"Why? Just tell me why," she asked as her tears fell.
"You stupid girl, you haven't figured it out yet? See, I was in love with your mother. I would have given anything for her and then I made the mistake of introducing her to your father," he continued with a sneer. "They fell in love and things were fine for a while. I tried to convince myself that I was happy because she was happy but then they started to fall apart. I hoped it was my chance to finally get her but then she ended up pregnant with you and decided to stay with your father for you. You ruined any chance I had at being with Robin! I hated you from that moment and I knew that one day you would pay.
"It was after your eighth birthday when I decided I had had enough. I hired someone to kill you when you went on vacation. I unfortunately hired an incompetent fool who failed to kill you and only killed your father and mother. I could have lived if it had just been your father but he killed Robin, completely destroying any chance I would have had with your mother. I made him pay dearly for his mistake and then I sat and waited; I waited until the time was right. I knew that when you found out about your parents you would come crawling back and I was right.
"You showed up lost and alone and I played the helping lawyer and did my duty. I was going to try to tamper your car and make you crash but I didn't think you deserved a fast death. You deserve a slow, drawn out death by my hands. And now that is exactly what is going to happen. So say your prayer and make a wish because it will be your last," he finished with a wicked laugh.
Arnold picked up a knife and moved towards her. July tried to scoot away but it was impossible. He ripped open her shirt and began to make cuts that were deep enough to bleed profusely and hurt like hell, but not kill her for a while. He hummed under his breath as he continued until he was satisfied. She began to feel dizzy from the blood loss and fought to stay conscious.
"You are a sick, dirty bastard. My mother would have never been with you," July spitted out.
Arnold let out a cry of rage before picking up a long, curved knife. "She was MINE! Do you hear me? MINE! And you took her away from me!" He screamed in her face.
"Right, I took her away from you. Maybe she didn't want to be with a psycho stalker who takes revenge on little children!" July said as black dots began to cloud her vision.
"That's it! I've had it with you. Forget the slow thing. I'm going to cut your heart out and leave you to die," he said as he pulled back the knife. He began to lunge forward when a shot rang out. The last thing July saw was Arnold's body hit the floor before the darkness overtook her.
A beeping noise filled July's ears as her eyes slowly fluttered open. She instantly closed them against the brightness and opened them further as they began to adjust to the light. The first thing she saw was the colorful bouquets of flowers around the room and the balloons. Then she felt the warmth in her hand and looked down.
Vince was asleep, his head resting on her bed as he held her hand. She smiled at him and felt her heart ache at the fact that she could have lost him. He took a deep breath, signaling his awakening and glanced up. His eyes got wide when he saw she was awake and tears began to form in them.
"July?" he asked, his voice in disbelief.
"Vince," she said as a cry chocked in her throat.
They embraced each other, Vince careful of July's injuries.
"I almost lost you," he murmured against her hair and closed his eyes as a tear leaked out.
"I almost lost you. That fight was completely stupid. I'm sorry," she said rubbing her cheek against his.
"Me too," he said running a hand through her hair. They held each other for a bit, reassuring each other of their feelings, and just relished being held by the other.
"I was so scared," July began in a small voice, pulling back to look at him. "But you found me Vince, you found me," she cried and gave him a kiss. It was bittersweet and their tears mingled in it.
"I love you," Vince whispered against her lips.
"I love you too," she replied. They stared at each other for a moment before the door opened and a doctor came in.
"Well, hello Ms. Jones, so nice to see you awake. I'm Dr. Lee," the doctor said coming over to her and giving her hand a friendly shake. "I'm just going to recheck your vitals," he said and did so.
"How long do I have to stay here?" July asked as he finished taking her blood pressure.
"You can be released this afternoon if you like. The cuts are bandaged up and should be fine. You were very lucky; you have no concussion, or broken ribs. You do have a few bruises and we'll give you some medicine for the pain but you're fine to go home," he finished with a smile.
"Thank you," July said as the doctor left the room. "What about Mike?" she asked Vince in alarm. The last thing she remembered was him being stabbed in the stomach and then going limp.
"He's fine," Vince said grabbing her hand. "He just had a stab wound. It didn't hit any organs and he was actually pretending to be out. He figured that if he played dead Arnold would stop. Smart guy."
July breathed a sigh of relief and then fear crawled in her gut again. "And Arnold?" she asked in a small voice.
"I shot him in the chest but he'll live and he's locked up right now. The police are going to talk to you later and ask you to testify," he said.
"I will. That bastard is going to go where he belongs," July replied and closed her eyes as she became tired.
"Take a nap. I'll go check you out and get your medication," he ordered as he smoothed the hair back from her forehead and gave her a kiss.
"Wait, what about Letty?" July murmured even as her eyes drifted closed.
"She's fine too. Now sleep. When you wake up we can get out of here," he said caressing her cheek.
"Sounds good," she said before succumbing to sleep.
When she woke later, Vince was true to his word and had everything ready for her to leave. He brought her some clothes and helped her changed, cringing as he saw her black and blue body and swore to himself that he wouldn't ever let her get hurt again.
Letty was also released but stayed at the hospital to be with Mike, who wasn't getting released until the next day. Vince took July to visit Mike before they headed home.
She tapped on his door and it swung slightly open. Letty was sitting next to him talking and they quieted as she entered the room.
"Hey Let, how you feeling?" July asked.
"Hanging in there. And you?"
"I'm all right."
"I'll let you two talk while Vince and I go grab something to drink," she said giving Mike a peck on the cheek before leaving the room.
July sat down in the chair that Letty had been in and turned towards Mike.
"Before you start, I don't want to hear any apologize for what happened about how it's all your fault because it wasn't. So I don't want to hear it," Mike said in a firm manner.
"But Mike-," July stared.
"No buts July. There was nothing you could have done. So I want you to save the apologizes for a time when you should apologize but are too stubborn to," Mike replied with a smirk.
"Thanks Mike," July said with tears in her eyes and she gave him a hug.
"Plus, now I have this cool scar and I can score babes with it," Mike commented, lifting up the side of his hospital gown and showing her his stitches.
"I heard that!" Letty yelled from outside the door.
July and Mike laughed and a moment later Letty and Vince both came back in.
"So what's this about scoring babes with your scar?" Letty asked with a quirked eyebrow.
"Nothing," Mike answered with the most innocent look he could muster.
"Uh huh, and I'm suppose to believe that because?"
"Because you can't resist the hotness that is me," Mike said with a cheesy grin. Letty let out a laugh and gave him a kiss.
"Oh Letty, I feel sorry for you," July said.
"Why?" she asked.
"Because you're stuck with that," July said pointing at Mike and trying not to laugh at the indignant look that Mike had.
"Hey!" Mike exclaimed and the girls laughed. "A little sympathy for the stab victim here," he grumbled and Vince gave him a sympathetic look.
"We're going to get going. We'll be back tomorrow with some clothes for you guys and help you get out of here," July said standing up.
"All right, we'll see you tomorrow," Mike said.
Everyone said their goodbye and July and Vince left the room towards the main entrance The two had just stepped inside the waiting center when Mia attacked July, hugging her.
"Oh thank god you're okay," Mia cried as tears came to her eyes.
"Mia, bruises and need to breathe," July mumbled and Mia let go.
"Sorry, sorry," Mia said with an apologetic look.
"It's okay. Brian," July said as he gave her a small hug.
"They letting you leave?" he asked.
"Yup. Vince here already checked me out," July said taking hold of Vince's hand. She let it go as Leon came forward and gave him a hug. "Le."
"JJ," he said, pressing a kiss to the top of her head and then let her go.
Jesse gave her a hug next and then Dom came forward. July hesitated for a moment but held out her arms and he gave her a weak hug.
"I'm glad you're okay," he said as he let her go.
July gave him a smile and then stepped back. He stepped aside to show a cowering Amy and July's breath caught for a moment. She didn't know exactly what to say or do, but she realized that Amy had nothing to do with it and it was unfair to punish Amy for something her father had done.
"Amy, come here," July ordered, holding out her arms.
Amy slowly came over to her and tentatively gave her a hug and started to cry. "I'm sorry JJ, I didn't know he was going to do that. You must hate me now," she mumbled.
"Hey, I don't hate you, you had nothing to do with what your dad did. Okay?" July said pulling her back enough to look her in the face.
"Okay," Amy agreed, nodding and gave her a weak smile before wiping her eyes. As July let her go, she clung to Jesse, who gave her a quick kiss.
"Man, what a day," July mumbled as she leaned back against Vince, everyone else starting to head towards the exit.
"Tell me about it," Vince said.
"Let's go home," she said looking up at Vince and giving him a kiss, knowing she had found the one thing that completed her and she wasn't going to let it go.
A/N:Now, please don't cry and pout, the story had to end sometime. But, July's story does continue in 'Standing on the Top of a Hill', Erin is coming to LA and brings news that shocks July and changes things. So go read that if you want to, you can find it under my profile.
I want to thank Scorching (Megan) for helping me and encouraging coughthreateningcough me to keep writing (You're the best!). I also want to thank Tempest for helping me out with some of the car details.
Finally, I just want to give a big thanks to everyone who reviewed, without them I would have never finished writing this story, so thanks.