Chapter 53

Alex sat in the hotel bar with a very antsy Sam. He tapped on the neck of his beer bottle, checking his phone every three seconds.

“Calm down, dude.” Alex scratched the back of her shin with her heel. “They will be here.”

“Why hasn’t she called?” Sam whispered. “The plane has landed.”

“You’re using a flight tracker?” Alex grinned and took a sip of her martini. She didn’t really like them, but she figured that it would fit the profile of the person she was trying to portray.

“I know.” Sam ran his hands through his hair. “I’m a stalker. Just as bad as Leo.”

“I just think you love her.” Alex shrugged. “And there’s not anything wrong with that. This is a weird time for all of us, and being concerned isn’t a problem.”

“I don’t know what I would do if I lost her.” Sam looked at her with tears in his eyes. He wiped them away hurriedly and took a long draft of his bottle, finishing it off. He waved for another one and the bartender handed it over.

“That sounds like love’s got you bad, dude.” Alex smiled. “How did you two meet?” She was unabashedly trying to distract him from his worry. But he’d thank her for it later.

“Ha!” He started picking at the label on his beer again. “Would you believe she almost shot me? That she didn’t want to sell me the gun I ordered from them?”

“Oh.” Alex sat back on the barstool “So you were a client?”

“Yeah.” Sam smiled. “I just wanted a primary and a sidearm like I’d had in IJS. I couldn’t find them with all the new guns laws instated by the UN. So I had to go less reputable routes. I got into contact with Maya and met them in the parking garage downtown. By then it was mostly abandoned because most of the stores had shut down.

“They climbed out of the car and there she was. So hot. And holding her phone like it was a weapon of mass destruction.” He caught her smiling at him. 

“Don’t give me that look.” He waved at her and took another large gulp of beer. “It was not love at first sight. She was just smoking is all. I didn’t know that the hair she was wearing was a wig. I didn’t care. She was hot and I had to get to know her. So I kept making excused to buy weapons. Eventually I asked them if they wanted someone to stand by and look scary with a gun. Leo didn’t want me, but Maya thought it was a good idea to keep me around. I worked for weeks on her, trying to get her to notice me. She was working on a big project at the time, and it was hard to get her to see anything else.

“But eventually, I caught her attention and she let me take her on a date. I’m not sure what it was. Before I knew it, I was all hers and she was mine. I moved into their apartment and I’ve never looked back.”

“Where were you staying before?” Alex ordered a beer.

“With a kid I helped through basic.” He smiled. “Sweet kid, too. I kept in contact for a while.”

“So what are you two gonna do when this is all over?” Alex asked with a smile. “You and Leo?” Sam scoffed. 

“There is no ‘When this is over,’ for us.” He said, shaking his head and finishing off this beer. “We will never be clear. We have done some shady stuff and that comes along with this case. There is no letting it blow over for Maya, Leo and I. We will always be running. We are just trying to get the IJS off our back for murder. You and Ray will be fine, but us three?” he downed half his beer, again.[ Zoe Fleischer, 2/8/17, 9:31 PM

Did the bartender give him another beer?] And belched.

“I hadn’t thought of that.” She shook her head. “I hadn’t though that this would never leave you guys alone. I’m… I’m sorry.”

“No worries.” Sam shrugged. “Getting you and Ray off would be a win in my book. You two never did anything to deserve this. But for us, this was really just a next step.”

“That feels rather defeatist.” Alex felt sad for Sam. He seemed like he really loved Leo. And they may never get happy ending with a fugitive’s life until they died.

“It’s just our life.” Sam shrugged. “We chose it. We may not have known we were choosing it, but we chose it.” 

“Well, you can always make a life back in Russia.” Alex smiled. “Maybe that will be enough.”

“I hope it is.” Sam shook his head. “I want to be enough for her. Her parents just left her and Maya alone, chasing some scheme to get rich. Who knows where they are?”

“Not all of those ended with debtors jail.” Alex shrugged. “Some of them made way for other opportunities. Maybe they are still out there.”

“And not contacting their only daughters.” Sam growled. “And not sending money, not that they need it anymore. It’s sickening. That’s my girl and they left her to die.”

Alex shut up for a moment. He wasn’t wrong. What the girls parents had done had been awful, money or no. Leaving kids alone to fend for themselves in an economy such as that, was horrible.

“You are enough for her.” Alex nodded. “I can see it. Though I don’t think either Leo or Maya are gonna let each other go.”

“Ha!” Sam barked, “I know, they’re a package deal. Maybe we can find Maya a nice girlfriend. And I won’t be alone in that bag of crazy all the time.”

Alex laughed and then spotted someone walking in the door. It was Maya and Ray. No Leo, not yet. Leo should have landed minutes after Maya and Ray. But she was nowhere to be found. 

Alex hopped out of her chair and went to her brother, wrapping him in a hug. Sam’s despair had made her need her sibling. He laughed and let her hug him. One of the first times he’d ever let her do that.

“Is Leo here?” Sam was right behind her, peering around Maya to see if Leo was coming in the door right behind.

“No.” Maya shook her head. “We waited as long as we could. I wore my battery down in the airport watching TV until we couldn’t wait any more. This place serve food?”

“Yeah.” Alex nodded, taking Rays bag. “Let’s get food and then go to our rooms.”

“I’m getting a cab to the airport.” Sam started heading to the door. Maya grabbed his hand.

“No!” she said. “She’ll be here. She may have had to con her way around, but she’ll be here. I know it.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Okay I don’t.” Maya conceded. “But what are you gonna do? Pace around the airport and get snatched by TSA? Then what? If Leo’s been taken, the best way to get her out is to get this information.”

“Leo was the only one who could get the information.”

“Digitally, yes.” Ray came up to help. “We can get the paper stuff, no problem.”

Sam tried to calm down, but Alex could see all he wanted to do was run away and get his girl. He deflated and walked with them to the booth.

Zoe FleischerComment