Chapter 12

The very next day, Jesse rose bright and early and ready to work. He had a ticket that said he was to head back home Wednesday morning and he was determined to keep it that way. If he had to work non-stop to stop this man and his people, he would do just that. After checking on his wife who had been given another day off, he checked in with Tad who told him that Ellie was at school but under surveillance by a pretend teacher’s assistant. Due to Ellie being so young and not wanting to further upset her, they agreed that telling her anything other than Jesse had an extra job to do was the best way to go.

Now, as Jesse trekked into the FBI building and getting through security, he went straight to the area they set him up in and got to work. To that very moment there had still been no news break that Papel was out and that in turn led Jesse to believe that his mole was within the four walls of where he now worked. “Ain’t this about a bi—“ he started, but stopped when his old buddy Isaac walked up to him. “Hey man,” he greeted with a sigh.

“Morning. How’d the wife take the news?”

“What news?”

“That you were taking on a case?” Isaac reminded. “You did say you had to run it by her first and judging from the look on your face it didn’t go over so well,” he teased.

Laughing, Jesse shook his head. “You know she wasn’t as lit as I thought she would be. I guess she just knew the moment I boarded that flight I would find my way onto one these cases. She knew I couldn’t help myself no matter how hard I tried.”

“Right, right. A cop through and through… What she say when you told her it was about Papel?”

“I didn’t,” Jesse replied, cutting his eyes towards him. “I don’t discuss cases with my wife. She hates the career path I choose, so to help her live with what I do, I don’t disclose anything to her. It works out that way,” he explained. “Besides, aren’t all cases confidential?”

“Ha! True, true!” Isaac laughed, patting Jesse on the back and later shoving his hands back into his pockets. “Anyway, I have some phone calls to make about this idiot, so let me get to it and leave you to your work.”

“Right,” Jesse mumbled, still eyeing him closely. “Hey!” He called. “Just thought you should know… I uh… I plan to have an exact location of Papel’s men by the end of the day,” he swore.

Isaac turned and nodded. “Oh, really? How so?”

Shrugging, Jesse crossed his arms. “By doing the one thing I’m good at… Being a survivor.” And with that Jesse, turned on his heels and walked away. He may have been off, but his gut was telling him that Isaac was one to look out for. Honestly, everybody he crossed in that very building needed to be watched closely. He couldn’t trust anybody for anything!

~~~**~~~**~~~

“Ma, I can’t believe this!” Frankie fussed, as he paced the length of Hayward Manor’s living room. “This is crazy!” Tad had told him about everything just a few short hours ago and had even given him some burner phones to communicate. Frankie fussed and cussed until he couldn’t anymore and then came to see his mother.

“I know,” she replied softly, wrapping her arms tightly around her and going to sit in front of the roaring fireplace.

“And this whole time, dad knew this whole time that Grandpa—“

Angie raised a hand. “Don’t… Do not blame your father for this,” she interjected. “He was protecting us… Protecting me.”

“Ma,” he replied dryly.

“Frankie, do you know what this has done to me? Huh? Do you know how this makes me feel?” She argued. “My father… My own father! The man who helped give me life, put a hit out on me… My son! Franklin, this is my fault.”

The whole night, Angie tossed and turned, turned and tossed. Her brain was trying to search and find whatever reason it could that would lead to why her own father would do something like this to them. She got the whole thing of him hating Jesse and thinking she deserved more, but to go as far as this was beyond anything she could have ever imagined. To actually run her life, her love life until the day she died was something she would have never thought of.

“You know… I… I thought that daddy just hated the way Jesse came off, all head strong and whatnot, but now I know it goes deeper than that and I just… I wish I knew how deep. And the only two people that would know why can’t be contacted. One is on the run and the other one is 6feet under… What are the odds?” She smirked.

“Maybe pops knows more than he’s saying, maybe he knows exactly why Grandpa did all of this.”

She shook her head. “He told me everything he knew and even Tad confirmed it,” she said with a sigh. “I’m tired,” she whispered. “It seems like when things are going great for us, that other damn shoe drops and ruins everything. And it’s never a small thing, it’s always life threatening. Why?”

“I don’t know,” he replied, going to sit next to her. “But, hey… I do know this, we’re going to be alright. If what Pops and Tad are saying is true, then I know we’re going to get it handled. And this time, when things start going great for us, they’re going to stay that way. Mark my words.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Faith.”

After sitting and talking with his mother for a little while longer, Franklin took on the task of getting in touch with Natalia and Cassandra. Due to the possibilities of his phone being tapped, Franklin could only tell Cass what they were telling Ellie. That Jesse was taking on a case with the FBI and that due to the severity she needed to watch her back. Of course Cass wouldn’t be Cass if she didn’t call and speak with her mother herself.

“Mom, do I need to come home?” Cass asked, as she walked the streets of Paris with her father at her side.

“What that punk Jesse do this time?” Jacob fussed in the background.

“Daddy, stop being so mean.”

Angie chuckled and shook her head. “No, baby, you don’t need to come home. Honestly, I think you’re better off with your father for a little while.”

“What does that mean?” Cass asked, not liking one bit of what her mother just said. The way she spoke let her know that it was something more to this whole thing than she or Frankie was letting on. “Mommy?”

“Yes?”

“What does all of that mean? I’m better off with daddy for a little while,” she repeated. “What’s really going on?”

“Nothing sweetie. Honestly. I guess my little bump on the head has me off my rockers, this afternoon. You know what? I’m going to take a aspirin and lay down. You be good and remember momma loves you,” Angie rushed through before she hung up the phone and laid it on the table. “Dang it,” she mumbled, now realizing that she could have worded the entire thing differently. Cass wasn’t the average type of person to just take your word for it and drop it, no she was an investigator. She would not stop badgering until she had all the answers and sometimes if those weren’t enough for her, she could keep on. “That’s my child,” she sighed.

~~~**~~~*~~~

On the other side of town, Dixie walked into Tad’s PI office and spotted him in the corner, head deep into cases. Shaking her head, she laid her purse down and walked over to him. “Hey handsome,” she greeted, eliciting a jump out of him. “Whoa! I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Tad had been so deep into his reading he hadn’t heard when his wife came in. “No, I’m sorry,” he breathed, shaking his head. “Hey, babe. What are you doing out this way?” He asked, getting up and greeting her the proper way.

“I came to check on you and bring you a little something to eat,” she hinted, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him back in the same fashion.

“Thank you,” he replied, thoroughly surprised that Dixie cooked. Lately with the hours she’d been putting in at the hospital as the patient advocate, she had cut down on the nightly cooking routine. “What’s the occasion?” He asked, picking up one of the many Tupperware bowls and backing into his chair. Upon opening it and smelling the sweet aroma of spice, his stomach rolled. “Oh yea.”

“I don’t need you starving to death… Besides, I didn’t cook this.”

He looked up with a fettuccini alfredo laced noddle hanging from his greasy lips and gave her a look of confusion.

“I cook pretty good, don’t get me wrong, but not as good as your second wife,” she teased, going to sit on the edge of his desk.

“Angie?” He asked, mouth still full.

“Yes siree,” she answered. “She brought it by last night.”

After getting another healthy helping, his tongue began to dance with excitement as it too soon realized this was the product of his amazing friend. “I love that woman,” he happily sung and dance as he continued to eat like a man on death row, completely missing the look of question on his dear wife’s face. Once he noticed though, he quickly choked down what was in his mouth and put the bowl to the side. “Of course… Of course nobody can take your place sweetheart! You’re my wifey for lifey!” He teased, pulling her onto his lap.

Laughing at his lame attempt to sound cool, Dixie wrapped her around his neck and placed a feathery kiss on his nose. “I know, baby. Do me a favor?”

“Anything.”

“Don’t say ‘wifey for lifey’ ever again. Okay?”

“What? It didn’t sound cool?” He asked, watching her pick up the food and take some for herself and then watched her scoop some more and turn the fork his way. “Yes ma’am.”

After a few moments of silence, Dixie gestured to the paperwork scattered on his desk and asked. “Have you gotten anywhere with this stuff?”

Sighing heavily, Tad waved at the paperwork as a way to dismiss them and banish them for all of eternity. He wished he could banish this entire situation for eternity. The fact that he hadn’t cracked not even a little bit of the case was beginning to bother him in more ways than one. He knew if it was getting to him, then it was definitely getting to Angie and Jesse. “I can’t find any other connection except they ran that ring years ago. And after Jesse killed Les, the entire operation was shut down and years later moved, but to where I have no clue.”

“Have you looked into other people they were connected too or worked with? Maybe other cops who have some idea of who they had dealings with before it was shut down?”

Picking up a file after file after file, Tad flipped through each and every one until he came to a death certificate. “I can do this for days!” He sighed, gesturing to the 7 open files now sitting on his desk. “Every person connected to that shut down is dead.”

“What?” Dixie asked, shockingly as she handed him the bowl and looked over the files for herself. And sure enough each person had been pronounced dead. “But… But how? Why?”

“I don’t know.”

“Weren’t they ever investigated? C’mon, I’m not even a cop or detective and can tell that something is fishy about all of this.”

“These deaths, were not in any way made to look questionable,” he replied. “Look, Officer Evans, killed in a hit and run three years after Jesse was shot. And… And, Detective Winters, somebody broke into his house, stole a couple of things and then killed him. His wife said he didn’t fight, he gave the robbers everything they asked for and still they killed him. She said they whispered in his ear, but she heard everything that was said… ‘This is payback.’… Even though she told this to the cops, after they caught a couple of kids that fit a possible description, they stopped investigating,” he explained. “And it just continues.”

Having sat down some time ago, because all of this information was starting to make her dizzy, Dixie shook her head. “So basically, this Papel guy put out a hit on everybody that killed Les?”

“Yep. But because of how the killings were spread out and how explainable they looked, they were closed, just as quickly as they had started.”

“So… so, now what? What does all of this mean for Jesse? For Angie?”

Dropping his head, Tad covered his face and took a deep breath. “A lot of things. But for it all to come out good, Papel will have to be taken down.”

“Dang,” Dixie sighed, picking up another file that sometime ago caught her eye. “Why do you have this?” She asked, holding it up. “Isn’t this Jesse’s daughter?”

Tad looked up. “Yea.”

“Why is her file here? What does she have to do with all of this?”

“You remember Angie mentioning a woman named Rebecca to you, Natalia’s mother?”

“Yea, but what about her? How is she connected to all of this?”

“I was going through his file and Jesse’s and her name kept coming up. Of course we know why, with Jesse, but I can’t exactly pin point her dealing with Rob. But she’s connected in all of this and I’m betting my life that Natalia is too.”