"This is your fault!" Fenton screamed in Joe's face, trying to intimidate the younger man.
"It always is, isn't it?!" Joe shouted back. His father's anger might have worked in the past, but Joe had grown in the past six years and his father wrath no longer affected him as it had.
"This is not the time, Fenton," Laura tried to calm her husband by placing a hand on his arm gently.
But Fenton was having none of that. Angrily, he thrust her limb from his body with such force that the older woman staggered, barely able to stay upright and if not for Anika's support would have fallen to the ground. Fenton continued his searing rage, lunging at his younger son.
"If Frank dies I'll NEVER forgive you!" He warned. "You are the most pathe…." He never got a chance to finish.
Anika had seen the force Fenton had used to throw his wife. She ran over to the woman and steadied her. Every minute that she spent with Zac's family made her more clear on the reason that he'd run. But this final move on Fenton's part was more than she could take. All she could see was her father, mercilessly beating her mother in one of his drunken rages. At five, Anika hadn't been able to stop him, she was too small. But now was a different story.
While Fenton was jabbing a finger into Zac's chest, Anika bolted towards him. Adrenaline surged through her veins. In one swift move, she barreled into the man and had him pinned to the jungle floor.
"If you ever touch her again, I'll kill you myself!" She spat through clinched teeth.
Fenton's face was turning a bluish red and Anika tightened her grip on his neck.
"Understood?" she said menacingly.
She felt a small nod under her skin. Squeezing a little harder, Anika finally let go and stood up.
Joe ignored his father and looked at his mother and Anika. "Are you okay?" he asked both of them.
Laura was still shell-shocked, but nodded yes. Anika ignored his question and nodded towards the blood on the jungle floor.
"We need to help your brother," She commanded.
Joe walked a small circle around the clearing. Looking up he called towards the group, "There's nothing over here that indicates they went anywhere else other than back to the temple site."
"Alright than back to the temple we go," Anika led the way back to the first site the small group had sought shelter in the previous night.
Joe took Laura's hand and helped her over a log, not even bothering to see if Fenton was following. His father had never hit his mother before, but Joe did remember a few times when his temper flared, and more than once when dishes and books were sent flying through the room.
After a grueling hike, the small group made it back to the temple site. It now sported the addition of a satellite dish secured tightly to its peak. Several armed guards milled haphazardly around the immediate vicinity. Three jeeps were parked in front of the entrance, and Joe recognized one as the vehicle from the expedition he and Anika had been a part of.
Holding a finger to his lips, Joe led the foursome to the back of the temple. Finally, he sat down.
"It's guarded. What are we going to do?" Anika asked.
"Surrender," Fenton stated. It was the first time he had spoken since Anika had pinned him. The detective was not used being shown up, or interrupted and he had not taken kindly to Anika's actions. But he was still a bit wary of the girl.
"They'll kill us," Laura gasped.
"Not if we can get loose. We need to learn what they want or rescuing Frank will be pointless. They will still be out to kill us and we won't know who they are so we can hide."
Joe was at a roadblock. He hated to admit it, but his father had made a good point. Suddenly, he got an idea.
"He's right," Joe said quietly looking from his seated position. Slowly he rose to meet them. "We surrender…"
"Zac no!" Anika almost shouted. What had gotten into him?
"Only one or two of us," Joe tried to ease her worry.
"While the guards are dealing with the surrender, the rest of us sneak through the back entrance get Frank and then attack them from behind. "
"It's too risky," Laura declared. "And we don't even know they have Frank. Until we find some proof they have him we should stay hidden."
Joe's face tightened and he reached into his front pant pocket. He withdrew his hand and held it palm up in front of Laura. He opened his fist.
Resting silently in his palm sat a set of dog tags. Laura knew them well. She'd ordered them the day of Iola's funeral. There had been no body, only Joe's keys. She'd had the dog tags made so that should the unthinkable happen, there would hopefully be a remnant of the tags left that could identify her sons. She hadn't wanted to be in limbo.
Joe had left his on the dresser the night he'd fled the house. She kept them in her purse. Frank was still wearing his, that was he had been wearing them until this morning.
Laura stared down at the small blood encrusted plate of metal. She could clearly make out the name.