As I promised, here's another update! I know most of you are waiting for this, and I don't want to keep you waiting any longer. So here goes another thrilling chapter! Enjoy!
"And when your father refused, Michael killed him."
Swallowing hard, she nodded. "After Daddy died, the scandal exploded, making it look as if he was the bad guy and not Michael."
Tears pooled in her eyes. "The police found Dad's body in the lake by the estate. He had incriminating evidence in his pocket. The water had washed away all the forensics and they said he killed himself in remorse."
Matt got up, yanked a tissue from the holder on the bedside table and dabbed at her tears. His fingers brushed the soft skin of her cheek and his libido soared higher than a rocket. Trying not to think of kissing her, of soothing her, of loving her, when she was so close and so sad, was like trying to ignore a blue elephant in the middle of the room.
He handed her a tissue, scooted back to his end of the table and chugged down his iced tea as if that was what he desperately needed. The ice cubes clinked against the glass when he set it back down. "What happened that put Michael behind bars?"
The tissue became confetti in her lap. "After I took the picture, I ran. I was afraid he'd kill me, too. That photo helped persuade them that Daddy was innocent, at least of suicide."
If something illegal was going on at the company, Matt had no doubt Michael was behind it. "We'll find all the proof you need. Who's running the company now?"
"Right now? The creditors are. They've appointed a temporary chief operating officer. But Michael wants control back. And I've instructed Dad's lawyers to do everything they can so he won't get it."
"Do you want to run the company yourself?" She'd be good at it.
She gathered the tissue confetti in the palm of one hand and then shook the pieces onto her plate. "I don't know. All I know is that it's a real mess and the employees are caught in the middle."
As much as he hated getting close to her, he crouched by her chair and held her hands. It was like holding a sparkler. His skin prickled and heated. "Mimi, I'm going to have to call the office. We need to get someone inside the company."
She shook her head. "The investigators have been through every inch of the company. They took away truckloads of paperwork. Production's been stopped and there's only a few number of employees working right now. If there was anything incriminating Michael, the investigators would have found it."
"My evidence put him in jail for murder. My testimony could keep him there for the rest of his life. He didn't leave anything behind that would hurt his case."
Nor could Sheer afford to leave Mimi alive either.
Matt dug his hands into his pockets to stop them from reaching for the long silk of her hair. She wasn't his girlfriend. They burned that particular bridge many years ago. She was his job. Keep your head together Ishida. Don't screw up. "Someone like Michael has to keep records. It's the only way to prove how great he is…even if it's just to himself."
"Sora can help."
"Yes, our dear friend, Sora."
He strode back to his own chair. Memories from the past came to him. Sora and Mimi were best friends and in order for Matt to get closer to Mimi, he befriended Sora. As they got closer, Sora started to like him and this is where everything got complicated. "What about her?"
"We should ask her to help us out. She can look into Phil's bank account."
"I know someone that can do that."
"Someone at Seekers?" Her hands pressed against the table as if she was about to run.
"Tai, Kari's brother." Matt would trust Tai over Sora any day of the week. Tai had no agenda and Sora always did.
"But what Tai works on might not be. You don't know who's working for Michael there. Who could be watching over his shoulder."
Matt hooked an arm around the chair's back. Keep cool. "Using that logic, you shouldn't trust Sora either. Michael didn't have anything good to say about her in his letter."
"Sora has problems, but she'd never side with Michael. He's never going to let me go and she gets that."
Implying he didn't. I get it, Mimi. What he didn't get was her running from sure safety into the open, where she was one trigger squeeze away from eternal sleep. "Sora doesn't want to have anything to do with me."
"I didn't mean to hurt her. You know I didn't feel the same way as she did to me. I didn't love her the way I loved y –" silence fell between them. How many times was he going to explain himself? "I don't want to talk about it anymore, okay."
Mimi sighed. "Do you know what happened to her?"
"How can I when she won't talk to me?"
Though Mimi couldn't see his eyes, he silently pleaded for understanding. He had to leave. He couldn't stay and make things difficult between Mimi and her best friend.
"You could've explained to her at least."
"I know I messed up, but I didn't want her to feel like she's not important to me. Believe me, she is, but not in the way she expects it to be. I left not just for the reasons between you and me, but because I didn't want yours and Sora's friendship to end because of me."
"It goes deeper than that."
He tossed his hands up. "Like what?"
"It's not my place to say."
"You started the conversation." And he'd give anything to stop it from going any further.
"We need Sora's help. We need to find out about Mcnair. We need to find out if someone inside Seekers is working for Michael. If someone is, then we can't trust anything anyone at Seekers says. And we can't do this alone."
She was right, of course. Tai maybe the head officer at Seekers and had sources Sora don't have, but until Seekers was cleared, they were better off using outside help. And for all Sora's anger at him, she would do her best to help Mimi. "All right."
Mimi bounced to her feet, reached for the leather bag on the desk and turned for the door. "Let's go."
"Whoa, not so fast." He held her back with a hand and ordered his thumb not to rub at the soft skin of her arm. After all she'd gone through today, the subtle scent of almonds and honey still perfumed her skin. "We can't go there. It's too predictable. One of Michael's men is likely parked close and watching the house."
He fished the piece of paper Kari had given him out of his pocket and dialed the number.
Alarm rippled in her voice as she gripped his arm. "Who are you calling?"
"Kari. We need transportation that nobody can trace. I can't use a credit card to rent and we don't have enough money between us to buy one."
Kari promised to make arrangements and have a car waiting for him in the morning. Just as he replaced the receiver down, ending his call with Kari, his cell phone – in Mimi's jacket – rang, making her jump.
"Ishida," Matt said into his cell phone, bracing himself for a verbal flaying. The rules at Seekers were loose, but Tai still expected a certain protocol for everybody's safety.
"Where are you?" Tai's voice had a sharp edge of impatience to it.
"We ran into some trouble." Great, Ishida, what a good excuse.
"What's your ETA?"
"Seven days," Matt said and tried to make it sound like seven hours.
There was a long is silence between them.
"Bring Ms. Tachikawa in tonight."
"No can do." No one was going to get to his golden girl if he could help it.
"Do I have to remind you what's at stake?"
Her life and the lives of witnesses who helped the police and investigators put that scum to jail. "I understand and she understands. But there's also the small matter of surviving until the trial."
"We're equipped to protect her."
"Give me a day to prove you right," Matt said.
"It's not time to play the hero."
"I'm no hero. I'm protecting your asset."
"Twenty-four hours, then I'm sending in Izumi."
Matt cut off communications before Tai could pinpoint their position. He pulled the battery out of the phone, effectively rendering the locator chip mute. He'd get a few hours sleep, then they'd have to disappear from both Michael's assassin and the Seekers team that had become his family.
The next morning, before dawn even thought about cracking, Matt woke up Mimi. She sat up for most of the night. Looking zoned out as a drug addict in the grips of a chemical high, she watched a marathon of old musicals with the sound down low. She stumbled to the bathroom to dress. When she emerged, they left the room.
At the registration desk a perfectly groomed woman in a burgundy suit greeted them. With her black hair swept up, she looked almost as regal as Kari and was much too perky for the early hour. "What can I do for you?"
"You should have a message for me." He smiled at her and she smiled back, interest glinting above simple politeness. "Mr. Adams?"
Matt nodded. A quick check of the computer told her where to find the message. She reached under the desk, then handed him a fat envelope. "Here you go, sir. You have two messages."
He frowned. His fingers splayed the enveloped apart. Two? "Thanks."
He recognized Kari's bold script on the top envelope. As he tore open the envelope, keys dropped into his hand. The promised rental car was sitting in the parking garage, second level on B-27. The second envelope bore the handwriting of a grade school teacher and sent a snake of dread slithering in his stomach. "Who left this?"
"I'm sorry, sir, but I don't know. It was already there when I came on shift."
The note read, "You had you chance. She turned you down. You can't win. She's mine. Ask her about our love child."
A/N: Should I stop from here? Or should I continue? Hmm… Oh all right, go on and continue reading. Lolx
Mimi stood beside Matt as the descending elevator took them to the parking garage. The stark light of the small carriage emphasized the brows straightened into fierce lines above Matt's sunglasses. The taut set of his face could scare the biggest and baddest bouncers into submission. A pulse throbbed at his neck above the collar of his silver polo shirt. Why? Where was the sudden burst of anger coming from? Kari's note?
"You're going to blow up unless you let out some of the steam raising your blood pressure. What did the note say to upset you?"
He ignored her. The B-level light came on with a bing and the elevator stopped. As the doors slid open, Matt said, "How come you're not married?"
Without waiting for her answer, he walked out of the elevator and started looking for the rented car. Her jaw dropped as she tried to catch up to him. "What made you ask that?"
"Ever thought of having children of your own? You're not worried about your biological clock ticking?"
Reflexively she moved her bag across her stomach. His tone of voice was definitely ticking her off. "Someday, but I'm not worrying about it too much."
"Why not?" Under the shield of his glasses, she suspected his eyes kept moving, searching for anything out of place.
"I have other things on my mind." She had one long-term relationship in college and another after. Both failed miserably. Some people weren't meant for marriage and she fell into that category.
"Why didn't you mention you were pregnant with Michael's child?"
Her step faltered. How did Matt know? The note! Michael would use that weakness against her. "Because it wasn't important."
"You had his child."
Something in her heart contracted. "I miscarried after Daddy died."
She barely knew she was pregnant before she lost the baby. How could something that was too small to feel have caused such a thick catalog of emotion to flip through her in such a short time?
Pure hatred at Michael for manipulating her into a position she wanted to avoid.
Pure love for the tiny seed that would grow into a baby - her baby.
She felt a cold emptiness and deep longing for that lost chance at motherhood. Her chest heaved and she held back tears. It didn't matter now. What made her think she could raise a child on her own? It was better this way. She could never take her hatred of the father out on the innocent child.
"Did he…?" Matt's steel-hard voice penetrated the bumper of pain surrounding her like a bruise.
"Rape me?" She shook her head and held her bag tightly to her belly. "No."
They found the car and she averted her gaze, searching for the passenger door handle. "It's really none of your business."
"You're right, I'm sorry."
Holding her car door open, he looked down at her expectantly. Not knowing what to do with the humiliation squirming through her body, she wrapped and rewrapped the strap of her bag around her hands. Silence pressed around her, becoming a vacuum that demanded filling.
"I was at one of those company events with Daddy." Her tongue was so tied, the words folded thickly in her mouth. "I drank too much and one thing led to another." She shrugged a shoulder carelessly, trying to dislodge the lingering stain of shame. "I don't even remember what happened, except that I woke up with Michael in his bed." With Michael's face hovering above hers and his body possessively pinning her under him. You're mine now. And the smile he beamed frightened her to the core.
"You don't remember?" Matt's hand tightened around the car door and his voice cut like a glass. "Did it ever occur to you that he might have drugged you?"
But she hadn't felt drugged, just hung-over. And she rubbed circles on her temples with the tips of her fingers. The echo of a headache pounded through her brain. "I never said no."
"But did you say yes?" Matt's hand palmed away the wetness on her cheek, and the tenderness in his voice brought on a fresh wave of sadness. "Mimi…"
"It's ancient history. The baby doesn't exist." She lost it in a strange city, among strangers, and didn't have enough time to mourn her lost before the WSP inspector dragged her to another town and left her to fend for herself. "We have more important things to worry about."
He tossed her the note. A savage fierceness growled through his voice. "You're right, but how did he find us?"
The single sheet of paper with the perfect handwriting trembled in her hands. Love child? A child had been created, but no love had been involved. "I – I don't know. Maybe Kari told her brother. Maybe we were followed." This wasn't her fault. She didn't ask for any of this. All she wanted was to stay hidden long enough to testify at the trial and regain control of her life. "How should I know? You were the one with the plan?"
Matt settled in the driver's seat. "We can't go to Odaiba. It's too dangerous. If someone followed us here, they could follow us to Sora's house."
She cradled her bag on her lap and looked straight ahead. His plan didn't work. They were going to try hers. "Then I guess you need to make sure we're not followed."
A/N: There you go. That's as far as I can write. There's more coming up on the next few chapters, so don't worry. I hope you enjoyed this chapter as much I did.
Will they get to Sora's house in time? Or will Michael's henchman catch them? Stay tuned!
And don't forget to review! Thanks!