Lingua

***Apartment complex, Crenshaw, Los Angeles, CA***

Will knew that he was just delaying the inevitable. The answer lay with that woman. He knew that. But when it came to anything to do with Dr. Miriam Williams, he was going to procrastinate for as long as he could.

But sitting on the Duchess in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Crenshaw, a known Bloods hangout, with his pregnant wife might be the stupidest thing he had ever done. When Javier Ortiz had hacked into his sister’s phone and enabled tracking of Selena’s movements, or at least her phone, it had seemed an alternative route to the information they needed. A way around Margot Bradshaw meant no need to involve the woman who gave birth to him.

The dot on the map had remained constant since they opened the app. It had brought them here. But if they had hoped to catch any glimpse of the girl, that seemed futile. If Mercy weren’t with him, Will might consider doing a bit of undercover work.

But watching the almost constant stream of red shirts coming and going from that apartment with noticeable bulges had him reconsidering this decision altogether. “Why don’t we go back to the hotel? Or maybe look for another of those little Mexican restaurants you love so much?”

Although he still had trouble watching her eat. Lingua was just not in his comfort zone. He only hoped that the craving did not imply that Freedom’s tongue would be as zealous as her mother’s. Aww, hell, her grandmother’s, her aunts’, her great-grandmother’s. He might as well get used to the idea. His daughter was going to speak her mind.

“I know what you’re doing, Will. But we spent the whole day stuffing our faces, sleeping, sightseeing, and everything else you could think of to avoid your life-giver. You were the one that suggested we try this instead. Since we’re here, let’s give it a bit longer.”

He was just about to argue the point with his wife when he noticed a familiar face. Mercy must have seen the man, too. “Well, well, look who we have here.”

Will debated his next course of action when the man got behind the wheel of a relatively new model SUV. He knew that he should follow the man. If they had not seen any sign of the girl in the two hours they had been here, then their only other option was to go inside that apartment. But everything inside of him screamed out the need to protect his family, to keep Mercy and Freedom safe from all of this.

The vehicle pulled out of its parking space and signaled to turn left onto the main road, named after that great man. He felt the nudge in his ribs as Mercy pressed his phone forward, “Look!” That red beep was on the move.

“Fuck!” He was trying hard not to cuss. Though he knew it was many weeks until Freedom could hear them from her mother’s womb. He was breaking old habits before then, “Blessed.”

Mercy laughed as she put her helmet on, “No, City Boy, sometimes only a good ole’ fuck will do.”

He chuckled; when it came to his wife, that was undoubtedly true. That moving signal was further evidence to implicate the Bradshaws into this mess. But it didn’t answer the critical questions. Where was Selena? Or Jolene Monroe, for that matter? How were these people involved? And why?

The logical next step to those answers was to follow that red dot on the map. But that meant taking his girls into a potentially dangerous situation. “You do just as I say.”

“Obey wasn’t one of my vows. But I promise to be careful. As long as you do too.”

There was no time for arguing, but they would have a long discussion. Later. Sweet Jesus, just let there be a later as he throttled the Duchess forward. There was no need to get too close and alert the man that he was being followed. The tracking app would lead them wherever he was going. Unless he ditched the phone, although the girl might be hidden in the back of the vehicle. The windows were tinted so that you could not tell.

The dot stopped again. Just a few streets away. When they pulled up to the convenience store, he didn’t immediately see the car. Perhaps the man had noticed them, realized he was being followed, and dumped the phone or girl? Then he felt another poke in his ribs as Mercy pointed to the far side of the store.

Will noticed the SUV pulled up next to another vehicle. Both vehicles had their windows rolled down, though he could not see who was in the other car. He parked Duchess behind a pickup. It was tall enough to block their view of his bike but low enough that he could see over the bed.

No sooner had he killed the engine than his head exploded. The light was almost blinding, then faded to dim as the men came into focus. Will knew what was happening. Though it, whatever it was, had not happened since that night in Torreon, not even when he had been desperate to connect to with Mercy, to know that they were alright. This ‘gift’ was obviously not one that he could control. He had no choice when it happened and no ability to stop it.

“Were you followed?” The other man from that night wore blue again. Trey was his name.

“No, but we can’t keep doing this, man. Not with those people asking all them questions.”

“Gran said….”

“I know what the old woman said, but between the pigs, those goons, and now those people, hell, this shit is too hot. If we get caught….”

“We talk to Gran. See if she’s heard anything from them.”

“Our place in Vegas was torn to pieces. I had a lot of explaining to do. Told them we were robbed or something. But Trey, we can’t keep this up. Not even for Donnie or the old lady.”

The other man sighed heavily, “I know, bro. I know. But for now, I’ll take the heat. See you, Sunday, Darius?”

“Yeah, I don’t need Mama and Gran on my case. I’ll be there. Sunday dinner.”

“You have taxi duty the next time she calls, though.”

The vision faded as the men grasped hands. But the pain that split his eyes open was so bad that Will could only lean away from the truck as he spilled his guts onto the pavement. Mercy’s turn to rub his back as their Mexican lunch and perhaps some breakfast puddled at his feet. As the last of it landed, the throbbing slowed just a bit.

They couldn’t just sit here. What if one of the men recognized the Duchess? But he still wasn’t safe to drive. Mercy slipped off the seat behind him, “Move back, City Boy.”

He started to shake his head but quickly realized what a mistake that was. “You can’t…. You don’t know….”

“I’ve been driving dirt bikes and four-wheelers since I was ten. I know it ain’t the same. But I can at least get us away from here. Someplace safe. So you can recover. Then we can talk. Now move your sexy ass, or I’m gonna kick it. And right now, that would be too easy to be any real fun.”

Will wanted to argue, but he knew better. He trusted Mercy’s judgment. At least in this. If she thought she could get them to safety, it was their best option. For now. But this left no doubt. As much as he might wish there was another way, tomorrow he would face Dr. Miriam Williams. And do whatever it took to get her help. That girl and her family deserved as much. Just as Bebe had.

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