The next night she waited under the bridge for Tony. Hearing footsteps, Valentina looked up thinking it was him but it was Anton instead. She made a face. He boldly said, "He's a con artist. He'll ruin you. Stop doing this."
"I'm not stopping anything." She looked up defiantly. "I take that back, I'm stopping this conversation."
He put his arm on the wall beside her. "You can't do that you can't block me out." Neither of them heard Tony walk up to them.
"If she can't stop this conversation then I will…mate." He looked at Anton and grinded his teeth. His face twitched.
"Go Anton," Valentina said. "Go." Anton nervously eyed Tony and backed off. Tony remained standing there wound tight like a rubber band.
"How often does he say those things?" He asked softly. Valentina fell over her words not wanting to tell him, not wanting him to feel bad, and not wanting him to feel unwelcome. "How often!" He shouted. She flinched. He shoved her against the wall and kissed her, her senses reeling. "Look at me sweetheart," he whispered into her cheek, "How often does he say those things?" And she answered.
Later that night they were curled up in their special spot under the bridge. "When Tony, when will we leave this place?" He replied with;
"Soon sweetheart…soon," and kissed her with all the passion she longed for. They spent the night there sometimes or most of it.
Tony stole a cell phone and punched in the numbers of someone he knew would help him out. Someone with connections to the States. Common business rivalries of the black market sort. Tony would simply have his talent moved to another country as the pope moves a pedophile to another parish. He'd get a new identity, lay low for awhile, and soon, everything would be well again in the world of Tony Shepherd.
Tony and Valentina walked side by side near the harbor. The parking lot was empty and the air was cool. Valentina sighed heavily as she saw Anton walking hurriedly up to them with a paper in his hand. "I did some light reading and I found this. You might be interested in it Valentina." He read the headline out loud. "Missing: Tony Shepard; disgraced head of children's charity suffer the little children. You're Tony Shepard. "
Tony got closer. "What, what is that?"
"The charity's a cover!" Anton declared. "The charity work is just a cover. He was arrested last week on charges of selling the organs of third world children, selling them to wealthy westerners! This proves it."
"Listen, I don't know what this is about," said Tony calmly. "It has to be some sort of slander. The papers come up with that kind of stuff all the time."
"What? He's lying!" Anton yelled. "You don't actually believe him do you Val?"
Tony outstretched his arms. "Come here Valentina, come to me."
"No! He's a liar! He's nothing but a liar! Like I told you, a clever con artist, insincere shark!"
"Come on. Name calling, really?" Tony questioned calmly. She looked to both of them unsure. "It's just slander. It's all slander. I would never do such a thing." Tony insisted. "Trust me," he said. She took a step toward Tony causing him to smirk.
"Shut up!" Anton yelled some more. He stomped his foot. "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"
Tony lunged at him grabbing him by his face. "No! You shut up," he growled. Tony spun him and put him in a sleeper hold just as a van pulled up. Poor Anton could only helplessly watch as Valentina was pulled into the van. Within moments Anton passed out. Tony released him, breathing heavily. He watched the van speed off with an expression of concerned.
He looked around casually, seeing no one in sight, he drug Anton by his ankles to an uninhibited area. He flicked open a knife as he knelt down to the passed out man and whispered. "You…know far too much for your own good."
She had been kept in a room for what seemed like a day or two. She couldn't be sure. No one would talk to her and there was no clock in sight. She thought she was dreaming when he came through the door. "Ah Valentina," he said. She sprung up grabbing him and holding onto him tight. "Tony," she breathed his name.
"I missed you. I'm sorry I couldn't get here sooner." She held him happily, thinking she'd get out of there but there was an unease at his very presence in this situation.
"Tony, thank god you're here. Get me out of here. How did you find me?"
"No not Tony," he corrected. "It's Gabriel now. Gabriel Verona."
"What? I don't understand."
"Oh come now," he said eerily. "Don't you remember?"
She stared at him. "No, no."
"What Anton said?" He had an expression resembling remorse, but it was only regret at being caught. "Sometimes things don't work out the way we planned. But then," he smirked, "I wouldn't have met you."
"No, no." She gasped. She remembered that he always wore the mask for shows and when they had gone out, now she knew why. Now it finally made sense. He was hiding from the police. "No it can't be true. Why, why would you do this?"
"It's just business as usual, sweetheart."
"No, not that, this."
"Oh, you mean you." He smiled wildly. "Through all the shows and the costumes, you were the highlight, of my ordeal," he said as he put his hands on her upper arms. "You were so willing," he put his finger under her chin and continued; "so beautiful, so interested in little old me."
"Get away from me. That was before I knew you were a monster." She turned her face away.
"No, come here." He took her by the sides of her face and said; "now we can start over, just like you wanted to. I took you away from that horrible place;" he nodded, "just like you asked me to. No, not asked, begged." He licked his lips.
"I don't want any of that from you!" She said successfully wrenching his hands off her. Then she tried to push past him. "I want to go back home now. Tony, I want to go back to the show."
"Don't. Call. Me. That." She fought wildly to get past him so he tripped her and she fell on the floor. He then knelt beside her holding her hand tightly in his. Using her hand, he pushed her back. "You where all, over, me, he said as he climbed on top of her." He brought his head down to her chest and up to her neck inhaling her scent. Her breathing quickened and she tensed up. "See, I like you. You were so insecure at first, thinking you were just a bit of fun for me but no. I like you, I really do." She tried to get up but he just pinned both hands above her head.
"You won't get away with this! You won't. You won't!" She said starting to feel desperate.
"Oh, I think I will. See, in this business, there is lots of money and lots of protection." He leaned down, his face inches from hers. "The first night you let me have you, you made quite an impression," he smirked evilly. "And I didn't exactly disappoint either."