Justin slowly lowered his hand, the cell phone temporarily forgotten as he replayed Glen’s warning over and over in his head.
You have twelve hours to get here or she’s dead …… twelve hours … she’s dead …. dead …. dead ……
A violent shudder raced through his body, there was no doubt in his mind that Glen had meant every word, just as he realized with startling clarity how desperate the man must be to have taken his sister.
The buyer for that unfinished painting had given Glen a healthy down payment of fifteen thousand dollars with the promise of another twenty thousand when the painting was finished and delivered. Realizing the huge financial gain he could benefit from, Glen had forced Justin to begin the painting but less than half way through, the blond had refused to finish it, and had ended up in the hospital for his troubles.
Justin knew he had no choice but to do exactly what Glen demanded or his little sister would pay the price. He smiled sadly as memories played across his mind like moving pictures on an old time movie reel. Molly, smiling happily into the camera as she sat on Santa’s lap or playfully tossing a cupful of water onto his head on a hot summer day and of the hide and seek games she loved to play when she was younger.
He wished they were playing that game now.
He turned his head and looked through the window; Lindsay and Emmett were in the kitchen, putting the last of the newly washed dinner plates back into the cupboard. Ted was at the table, putting the remaining few slices of french bread into a zip lock bag to go into the refrigerator. He sighed heavily; he had made friends here, good friends that wouldn’t understand why he had no choice but to do as Glen demanded. He stepped off the porch and walked to Molly’s bike, lovingly running his hand over the handlebars. He remembered when she had gotten it, she had begged her mother to let her ride it to Marcy’s house a few blocks down. Jennifer had finally consented when Justin had offered to follow the youngster in his car and he had smiled and waved whenever Molly’s reddish blond head would turn to make sure he was keeping up.
As he walked to the sidewalk, he turned and let his gaze trail along the outside of the house to the side that held his mother’s bedroom. He ached with the knowledge of what he was about to do, sacrifice his happiness, his freedom and quite possibly his life for that of his sisters, but in the end it would all be worth it, his mother would have Molly back, even if it was with his last dying breath, Justin would make sure Molly returned safely.
He took one last look in the window at his friends gathered in the kitchen, then turned and walked off into the night.
“Fuck, I don’t understand this Mikey, why would he just disappear without telling anyone where he was going?” Brian demanded in frustration, one hand on the Jeep’s steering wheel, the other he raked through his hair.
Michael shook his head, his concern for the blond growing “I don’t know, Emmett did say he’d gotten a phone call just before he left.” Michael said from the passenger seat. He turned briefly to peer at the tall dark haired man next to him then looked out the window again. All the while keeping his eyes open for any sign of a small blond man.
“Yeah, he did. I’d like to know what the fuck that was about” Brian answered, reaching down into the cup holder where he’d placed his cell phone after trying to call Justin the last time, “maybe he went to the office.”
Brian hit the speed dial for Kinnetik on the vague hope that Justin was there. The security guard that answered claimed that he hadn’t seen Justin but would go to his office and check and would have Justin call him if the blond was there. Several minutes later the guard called back and told Brian, Justin wasn’t in the office or anywhere in the building.
“FUCKFUCKFUCK” Brian shouted, banging his closed fist on the steering wheel “God, Sunshine, where the fuck are you?”
Michael looked at him “you don’t think…….” Brian cut him off before he could finish “NO, don’t even think it, Mikey.” he said, shaking his head. But, even as Brian stared out the windshield, he couldn’t help thinking that his long time friend had just voiced his deepest fear, that Glen had somehow gotten a hold of Justin. No, he thought, Justin was too smart; he knew what Glen was capable of and would do anything to avoid falling into that trap.
Refusing to think the worst, Brian turned the jeep back toward Jennifer’s house, hoping Justin had gone home.
The plane picked up speed as it taxied down the runway, the engines roaring as the nose lifted off and the bulky metal bird rose into the air. Justin stared out the window as the ground seemed to drop out from under him. He watched the lights of the city below him as they got smaller and smaller, glittering like diamonds below him, then the 747 tipped slightly to the left in a half circle, before leveling out, heading west.
The blond stared sadly out the small window, resting his forehead against the coolness of the glass, as the plane carried him further and further away from his home and loved ones. After reaching the airport he had been lucky (or unlucky) enough to be told that a seat had just been canceled on a non-stop flight from Pittsburgh to L.A. The ache in his heart intensified as the aircraft swept onward toward its destination. The pain of knowing that he would never see Brian again, never feel the safety of the other man’s arms and never feel the thrilling rush of passion at the touch of his lips was overwhelming.
“Sir, are you alright?” asked the kindly old lady, seated next to him, as she handed him a small box of tissues.
Justin nodded, realizing as he reached for the box, that tears were trickling down his face “yeah, I just don’t like flying.” he said with a small smile, hoping she believed his lie.
“Uh huh” she answered, glancing toward the front “the fasten seatbelt sign is off, why don’t you call him. It might make you feel better hearing his voice.”
Eyes widening in surprise, Justin stammered “h…how did you know?”
She laughed and patted him on the knee “my grandson is gay, he gets the same look on his face when he has to go somewhere without his partner” then, she gave him a knowing look “go ahead, give him a call. I’ll just take a trip to the little girls’ room to give you some privacy.”
With that, she rose from her seat and began to slowly make her way down the narrow isle. Justin watched her for a moment then turned back to look out the window. What could it hurt he thought, once he reached LA, he knew Glen would never allow him to call anyone, certainly not Brian. He shifted in his seat; hand going into his front pocket where he habitually kept his phone, Brian deserved to know why he had left so suddenly, why he was ……..
Fuck ….. its not there …..
Justin shoved his hand in his other front pocket, hoping against hope that it was there, it wasn’t. Suddenly desperate to hear Brian’s voice one last time, he frantically searched all around and under the two connected seats, even asking the person behind him if he had found a cell phone on the floor. After receiving an irritated *no* he sat back down, conceding defeat.
A few minutes later, his seat mate returned and he gave her a brief, watery smile, before turning to stare dejectedly out the window. He had lost his last connection with the man that he had fallen deeply in love with and it tore him apart to know he had never told Brian that he loved him.
As the hours crept by and the plane sped westward thoughts of Brian kept him from breaking completely and when it finally began its decent into Los Angeles he gave one last thought to the man he had loved and left behind, and then steeled himself for what was to come.