Chapter 14

While preparing for bed and going through the day’s events, Jesse went to the balcony and snuck a folder from his bag. After having a chat with Paul and doing some more searching of his own, Jesse was beginning to uncover more and more of Les Baxter and Papel’s history. He discovered that Les Baxter father was the original head of the ring before he died of a heart attack and left Les in charge. He also discovered that Papel a.k.a Rob Gardner grew up with ole Les. “What else did you try to take to your grave, old man?” Jesse mumbled, uncovering the files and shuffling through the pages.

“Grew up together, yea, yea, I got that already. It’s something else to this,” he continued, flipping through each and every old page in his lap until finally an old, now yellow form came into view. Picking it up with care because it had to be over 50 years old, Jesse squinted to see what it said. “Cause of death…… Hung and burned?” he questioned, almost sure he had gotten that wrong. “What the hell is this?”

Ring::Ring

Flinching at the interruption, Jesse hastily grabbed the files and went to get the phone. “This is Jesse?”

“It’s Paul. Shake a leg, they’ve found him!”

“Where? When?” He asked.

“He’s in Denver. He has an operation here, but headquarters is in Denver,” he explained. “Ced is already on his way to the air stip, so I’m coming to get you. The team is flying out tonight.”

“Shit… Okay, I’ll be ready.” And with that he hung up and quickly got his things together. He buried the file deep into his luggage bag and was all set to leave out when he looked down and saw the old paper from earlier stuck to the bottom of his shoe. “What the hell,” he grumbled, snatching it up and looking it over. Finally… Finally he could make sense of it. “Robert Gardner Sr. hung and burned. Suspect Henry Baxter… Oh damn!” He hissed, reading what he now knew was an old newspaper article. After reading it and re-reading it, Jesse had now gotten more information than anybody else could provide.

Feeling like he had just hit the jack pot, Jesse shoved the paper into his pocket as he made his way out the hotel room and to the waiting SUV. After throwing his go bag into the trunk, he hopped in the back seat with Paul. “I think I found it!” He yelped.

“What?” Paul asked, looking over at him with a gleam in his own eyes. “I found something too and I think you will blow a gasket when I tell you.” Paul had did some research of his own and discovered that Jesse was more connected than just ruining a traffic ring.

“I think I found where all this crap started. This has nothing to do with me personally, this has everything to do with the Baxters.”

“I wouldn’t hold stock to that, my friend. You and him are connected personally, more than you think.”

“What?” Jesse asked, barely hearing what he said because he was so busy itching to tell him what he had just found. “Look, Grandpa Baxter hung and burned Gardner’s father and was later accused of raping his wife.”

“I don’t get it,” Paul whispered, though shocked by what he was just told he was still confused as to how this was a connection.

“Gardner is after every Baxter family member. He’s getting revenge for what Angela’s grandfather did to his family.”

Paul looked over at him and tilted his head. “So wait… The diamond was just an added bonus?”

“Yes.”

“His real job was to get rid of your entire in law family,” Paul concluded, trying to tie things together in his own head. He could see how that would be a reason, but it wouldn’t explain why he had held out for so long or how he just knew Jesse was still alive, after supposedly having him killed. “Jesse… Jesse… Maybe… Maybe that’s part of it, but I don’t think it’s the full reason.”

“What do you mean? Of course it is! It makes sense! Not only was the Gardner family ruined by the Baxter family, he also had to live with the fact that Les walked around all high and mighty like he had no shame to his name.”

Shaking his head, Paul reached into his own bag. “Jesse, take a look at this. While I agree that he’s seeking revenge for your in-law’s destroying his family and family name, it goes beyond that… Take a look.”

All while keeping an eye on Paul, Jesse grabbed the folder and looked through the contents. What he saw was disturbing. Not the actual events that transpired, but the knowledge and how all of this could have been avoided had he followed his first mind and went on about his business. “Wait? Are you telling me that…… But she… She told me it… No, man. No!”

Paul nodded somberly. “Yea, it’s true. It makes sense as to why that girl is so close to Frankie’s age, it makes sense as to why that entire year of your life is a big blur to you.”

“But… But… Rebecca told me…”

“A lie! And if she hadn’t dropped under the radar, I would have found you and killed you a long time ago.”

Jesse and Paul had been so engrossed in their conversation they hadn’t even realized that the SUV was no longer heading towards the air strip. They also hadn’t noticed that the once empty looking passenger seat, was actually holding somebody.

“Stop the car.”

The SUV came to a screeching halt, just as a man appeared in the front seat and turned to face the two older gentlemen in the back. “Hello Jesse,” Robert Gardner’s country laced voice filled the air. “Nice to see you… again.”

Jesse eased up, but Robert a.k.a Papel, pulled a gun into view and shook his head really slow. “Ah, ah, ahhhh,” he teased. “If you’re really a smart man, you wouldn’t try it.”

“What the hell?!” Paul yelped.

“Oh, how rude of me. The name is Rob… Robert Gardner Jr. Sorry, you don’t have time to get to know me better,” he hinted, pointing the gun in his direction and without any hesitation shot him point blank in the head.

Blood splattering everywhere, but mostly on Jesse, Paul’s lifeless, headless body slumped over onto his lap. “Oh shhhh,” Jesse shouted, trying to escape it, but failing miserably. Oh damn, Jesse thought, as the blood seeped through his clothing. While it was not in Jesse’s nature to scare easily this time around he couldn’t quite help it! The man he had become so close with in such a short amount of time was killed in front of him and now laying on him. “You… You…”

“Didn’t have to do that?” Papel questioned. “Actually, I didn’t, but then he would have been a witness. And… Well, I just couldn’t have that,” he replied. “You know Jesse, you really are a smart man. Almost smarter than me,” he teased, getting out and pulling Paul’s body out of the SUV and sitting in his spot and ordering the driver to continue. “Let’s go… If I hadn’t heard it with my own ears, I wouldn’t have believed that little ole Jesse Hubbard had figured it out. Well, not by yourself, but you got the jest of it.”

“Why?” Jesse asked, watching his every move and being real mindful of the gun being held to his temple. “Why go through all of this? Why do this at all?”

“Well, now you know,” Rob started, fixing his suit coat and staring into the distance with a smile on his unkempt face.

Jesse took this time to make a quick phone call and sit it to the side. He was determined to not die tonight, but if his fight played out differently at least they would know who did it and why. Angela and his family would get a little peace knowing he went down fighting for them. And most importantly, they would know the entire truth and not some cocky mammy stuff they had been told for years and years before.

“Revenge. Vengeance. You know, I watched that horrible man rape my mother? Rape her several times and then got away with it and then I had to watch my mother kill herself because of it… The kicker though… He hung and burned my father. Like, like he was slaughter, like he was nothing at all and still got away with it because there wasn’t enough evidence. I vowed on my father’s grave that every Baxter man, woman and child, would pay for my family’s trouble. Because of what your in laws did, nobody wanted us. Said that we would turn out to be bad seeds, well with my brother it did happen, but I had a chance. I’d like to think I had a chance.”

“But your beef was with Old man Baxter, not Les. Not Angela, Franklin… Me!” Jesse bellowed.

“Les teased the Gardner boys. See for a long time, coming up I went by the name Robert Gideon, ain’t that pathetic. As if carrying the Gardner name wasn’t bad enough, I actually took on that hideous name” he reminisced with a chuckled. “Anyway, Les, he never knew who he was talking too. Said they deserved what they got. See, see, that’s what made the seed of hate grow, well, flourish actually. When I saw that fine looking Angela, boy… I wanted her the same way her grandfather had my mother, and I would have gotten my chance. That night. That night you killed Les… Boy, I had it all planned out. I was going to tie Les down and have my way with Angela, Pat and his other daughter, but then Jesse Hubbard, Mr. Superman, swooped in and changed everything. You really wasn’t my target at the time… You didn’t become my actual target until some years later,” he explained.

Jesse swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. “Where are you taking me?” He asked, gesturing to the now heavily wooded area the driver had been heading down for the past 10 minutes or so.

“Nowhere in particular,” Papel replied, before hitting the front seat. “Make a left up ahead.”

“Why not get her while I wasn’t around? Why now? Why kill her now?” He asked, cutting his eyes in his direction. “And what does Natalia have to do with all of this? She’s not a Baxter.”

“Good question…” He said with a chuckle. “Because as Angie grew older, her body grew thicker and I wanted her just right for the picking,” he laughed. “She’s filled out real nice. Hips, breast, ass that kills, boy that woman…mhmmmm, the things I can do to her now. Sinful… Wouldn’t you agree?” He continued to tease. “Well of course you would. I’ve seen the two of you rolling around in the hay, but I like nothing better than when she’s on her stomach, begging… Now, that is a sight!”

Jesse’s stomach dropped and rolled at the thought of Robert watching them or more so his wife in her most vulnerable state. “Stop,” he replied. “Please, stop.” Not only was it bad enough that Papel had seen it all, the phone was on and if Tad had picked up he was now listening and the less people knew, the better. Angie already had a hard enough time dealing with people constantly asking how she got her sight back and how she was fairing off as a woman nearing her 50’s with a child. She didn’t need more stares from people, especially men trying to undress her with their eyes.

“And when you pull her hair and expose her long, beautiful, velvet brown neck and those large, supple breast. The way she arches her back, boy I just long for the days it’s my turn to make her do those things. Long for the feeling that you get to feel when you—“

“Just stop it!” Jesse growled. “That is my wife!”

Papel smirked. “It’s only fair. I mean you put it to my wife the same way. Rebecca purred like a kitten under your touch, so it’s only fair I do the same to your wife. Right? You like to taste my flavors? I would like a taste too…

A/N: What the what!?!?!?!?!?! Are y’all ready for this bumpy ride!

A/N: Just a little a sneak back

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