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    Senior Member Yak's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 19: Replacement



    The president room is the largest office of Millennium Cooperation. In this luxurious office, Howard is sitting behind his large desk going through his company paperwork. His eyes felt a bit dry and weary form reading those tiny fine prints for the entire day. Blinking his eyes, Howard tries to focus in more, but it didn't help much. His aged eyes have failed him.

    Stretching his arms out, Howard decides to give the day a rest. With a pleasant smile, Howard walked out of his office heading to his son office. His employee greeted him when he walked by, he return theirs greeting with a nod. Howard calm step ended in front of Gallen office. A brighter smile shows up when he saw his son being so serious about his job.

    Seeing Gallen didn't notice that he arrived, Howard knocked on the door to get attention. "I see you are quite busy with the Chan's project."

    "Dad, you are ready to leave already?" Gallen asked while starting to put his work away.

    "Yes, are you joining me?" Howard questioned with a fatherly arm around Gallen, patting his back. Gallen nodded.

    When they were in the elevator heading down to the main floor, Sunny joined them midway. "Uncle Howard," he greeted with respect.

    With a nod, Howard asked, "Sunny has you selected who to do our commercial yet? We need to get it going."

    "Yes, I did," replied Sunny, while he pulled out a portfolio to show his uncle. "She is Charmaine Kwan. She is unique from other and her spirited personality is exactly what the Chan's needed."

    A smile appear on Howard expression when he saw Charmaine picture, he know that Annie is going to be very happy when she know about this. "Good. Give her a letter and have her come in next week to start on some shooting. Gallen how is the contract with the Chan's? Have they signs it yet?"

    "They wanted to see the outcome of the commercial before signing it," informed the son.

    The experienced president facial hardens a bit. "Hmm...that is not right, it'll take too long. We need to be sure that they agree with our request. Give this file of Charmaine to them and convince them to sign the contract. I want a legal document sign before any further work put on their project," Howard instructed. He slyly smiled, "Make that clear to them. There is no need to play buddy with them, cause there is no reason for them to turn down our offer."

    Nodded, Gallen assured, "I will, don't worry I should get them sign it by the end of this week."

    Patted his son and nephew, Howard encouraged, "You two keep up the good work with this project. I want both of you to show the rest of the shareholders that you two can handle large project successfully." Both Gallen and Sunny nodded with confident. Howard smiled proudly at them and added, "I am planning to retire early." The two younger men paused with a bit of shock to hear it. Howard chuckled at them, "What? Don't you two want me to enjoy life? I think I deserve it!" He ended his laughter with a sigh before continuing, "The world is changing so fast and I no longer could keep up with it. Even my eyes protested to show me that I needed to retire. I do need to step back so the next generation can step up, right?"

    "But uncle Howard, you are still very wise and clever with business issue. There is lots more for us to learn," Sunny honestly said.

    "Yeah dad, why do you want to get out of it so soon? Won't you miss it?" Gallen has think of his father retiring one day, but in his heart that day never seem this close.

    With a chuckle, Howard stepped out of the elevator, "Come on boys. I had been working my entire life. It's about time for me to sits back and relaxes with your mother, right? I did promise to tour around the world with her." Howard felt warm when he could see that both his son and nephew didn't want him to retire. He assured them, "Don't worry, I believes that you two can handle the company with no problem. But remember don't ever break the brotherly bond between you two, that is what make you two strong and undefeatable." Howard patted them again. "Make this old man proud, okay!"

    Confidently, Gallen wrapped his arm around Sunny shoulder, "Don't worry dad, we are inseparable." Sunny laughed, they have been more than cousin; they are basically each other best friends. "And we will make you proud for sure," Gallen promised.

    "Uncle Howard, we will make the Chan's project the best ever," Sunny said.

    With fatherly nod, Howard proudly said, "Great! Finally I can sit back and just watch. If only Raymond would help too." He sighed and dropped the matter. "Lets go home. Sunny do you want to join us for dinner? I bet Annie would love to hear who you choose to do the commercial."

    "Sure, but why would Annie be interested?" Sunny curiously ask with a smirk.

    "She is the one who begged me to give Charmaine a chance," inputted Gallen.

    A surprised expression shadow over Sunny, "You know Charmaine Kwan?" he asked Gallen.

    "She is my aunt Esther niece and Annie best friend."

    "Oh, good thing I pick her, or Annie will sure bug me," joked Sunny with laughter. "Sure I'll join you uncle Howard, I'll be happy to try Maggie food and to make Annie happy."

    "What about Julian and Michelle?" Gallen offered.

    The mentioning of his sibling made Sunny sighed, "Julian has to work today. As for Michelle, like usual she is never home."

    The uncle looked at him with concern, "You need to look closely at Michelle, don't let her get herself in trouble. Talk to her more."

    Sunny nodded with his long face, "I try to talk to her and teach her, but it hard to get her to understand. She has been spending so much money on clothes and nonsense. I try to limit her credit, but dad sent money over for her making me kept taking the bad guy role. She thinks I'm against her on everything."

    Shake his head with disappointment, Howard murmured, "That Frank never know how to teach his daughter. Maybe I should call him and have a talk." He looks at Sunny, "Don't worry too much, I know Michelle is not that bad deep inside. She just doesn't understand the concept of life yet. One day she will understand how much you care for her and she will change. Lets go before Annie whine again." He got into the car with Dave keeping the door open. Gallen and Sunny followed after.

    "I hasn't see Annie for a long while, is she doing well?"

    "She has a new teacher now, and learning how to read Braille," Gallen answered.

    "Really? I remember that she wouldn't learn when Bowie taught her. This must be a very special teacher," Sunny said.

    Gallen nodded, "Actually, he is Charmaine younger brother."

    A bit surprised, Sunny commented, "Oh, his family must be very unique. Charmaine is really different. She speaks what in her mind, very spirited, and energetic. You don't see girl like her very often, if you know what I mean."

    Looked at him suspiciously, Gallen teased, "Finally, someone that caught your eyes? Hmm...you do look good with her. She also has an older sister, Ada. She is a very smart and pretty girl. Maybe you'll like her more, if you get to meet her."

    "Gallen is your marriage life that boring? You know that I don't think much about relationship. Career is what comes first."

    "My marriage life is perfect to let you know. And I am going to be a father," Gallen proudly reminded as his grin widen to the thought. His sharp eyes glanced toward Sunny, "And is not that career are first for you, is just that you never know how to speak up and ask a girl out! I never see you ask anyone out after the Tiramisu incident." Gallen joked, "Either you can't get over that girl or you has decided to turn gay?"

    "No! I just need to wait for the right one to come," defended Sunny.

    Howard laughed at them, "Enough you two. I just say I trust you guy with my business, please don't make me regret it."
    ----------

    Meanwhile at the Lam's mansion, Maggie stepped out of the kitchen with her new dish. Lisa walked over to help her. "Maggie you are pregnant now, why don't you sit down and let the servants do the rest? I know you love to cook, but not during these couple months okay? I'll let you cook all you want after the baby is born," requested the caring mother-in-law.

    At the dinning table, sitting by her sibling, Flora chuckled, "Mom, Maggie is in perfect condition. She is pregnant not a prisoner," Flora pointed out with laughter along with Annie, who is trying to locate her glass of milk. "She will be fine as long as she be careful," Flora added to ease her mom worries.

    Obediently, Maggie settles down on her spot. "I'll be more careful mom. I'll try not to cook too much," promised Maggie.

    With a genuine smile, Lisa nodded pleasingly, "That's my good daughter-in-law, unlike the daughter I has."

    "Mami ah, do you mean me too?" Annie childishly pouted.

    "You don't have to ask, you always disobey mom anyway," teased her sister.

    Narrowed her eyes toward Flora direction, Annie protested, "No, I don't! I stayed home today." She grinned proudly.

    Raymond smirked, "Cause no one is willing to take you out."

    Sharply, Annie head swing over to her brother direction with the tip of her tongue stick out at him. "Like you are such a good boy. This is the first time in weeks that you are actually home for dinner," Annie quibbled back.

    The mother deep eyes settled at her son sharply with curiosity, "Annie is right, what are you up to for the last couple weeks?"

    "Someone is in trouble," murmured Annie like an eight years old.

    Raymond pushed Annie head playfully while answering to his mother, "I just needed more time to run the bike shop. I'll try to be home more."

    "Raymond don't push Annie head. You will hurt her," the elder sibling warned.

    Laughed, Raymond teased, "Annie you heard that? You are made out of ceramic, very very fragile."

    The youngest gave her brother a stern expression while her flatten voice informed, "At least everyone love me, unlike you." She suddenly got distracted and turned her head toward the doorbell. "Yay, time for dinner!"

    Both Lisa and Maggie walked to the door to greet their husband, while the three siblings continues theirs little playful argument. The three businessmen stepped in when the maid open the door. Lisa smiled welcomingly at her husband nephew, "Sunny, you are here. I hadn't seen you for a long time. Where are Michelle and Julian?"

    "They are busy tonight, so it's just me here to bother you," answered Sunny.

    Lisa let out a laugh, "That's okay, we love to have you join us for dinner. Actually, you are quite lucky cause Maggie made a new dish today."

    They headed in toward the dinning room. Sunny smiled at Maggie, "Congratulation! You made Gallen very excited and energetic for the pass few days."

    Giggle shyly, Maggie hugged her husband from the side with her sweet smile and eyes gazed at him, "Really?" Her husband gave her a soft brush on the lip. Maggie returned her attention to Sunny, "So Sunny finds any date lately?"

    "Wow, you and your husband ask the exact same question on the same day. I know you two are compatible but you don't have to show me. Beside are you two really that interested with my love life?" questioned Sunny with a half serious look.

    Pulling Maggie chair out for her, Gallen answered Sunny, "Of course, you has been sticking around for so long. Not to mention that you are kind of getting in the way. We wanted someone to get you away from us."

    Maggie laughed cheerfully. She does miss those good old days of working together as a team at Millennium Cooperation. "Honey, be nice to poor Sunny!" warned Maggie. She chuckled, "Come on Sunny sit down and eat."

    Hearing her eldest cousin voice, Annie became cheerful, "Sunny! I hadn't heard from you for a long time." She pouted, "Why didn't you come and eat dinner more often? Talking about dinner, Julian hasn't come much either. And he did promise to come when we chat on the phone."

    Feeling like he returned home, Sunny chuckled at Annie and sits down next to her. He loves how kind and down-to-earth Annie is to everyone. "I am sorry, but I had been really busy. Uncle Howard could back me up. And Julian is on call tonight." Sunny smiled, "But I has something to make it up to you." Grinned, Annie held out her hands thinking that it was a present. "Better than present, we have chosen Charmaine Kwan to do...."

    Before Sunny can finish, Annie jumped up in excitement and hit Sunny forehead. "Ouch...sorry," she sheepishly apologize while rubbing her own forehead. With excitement overruled her head, Annie begin to talk in an unbelievable fast speed, "Really Sunny? Yes! Daddy, I told you Charmaine would be a great candidate. Aren't you glad that I mention her name? Ah, I got to tell her now!" Howard just chuckled as he watches Annie excitement.

    Located Sunny, Annie wrapped her arms around her cousin giving him a tight squeeze and a peck on the cheek. "Thanks You, I know Charmaine will get it! Yes, I need to phone her now!" Like a speeding bullet, Annie moving her way toward the living room with Eileen running after her to make sure she won't trip.

    "Wow, she is more excited than getting it herself," laughed Sunny. "She is still sweet like she always is," Sunny remarked, he wishes that Michelle personality could of be more down-to-earth like Annie.

    In the living room, Annie impatiently tries to press the right numbers to dial Bobby's flat, but she kept on getting the wrong number. She finally gives up and handed it over to Eileen to help her. Eileen gave the phone back to Annie when she got it dialed. Annie could recognize the voice being Benny. "Benny!!!" she basically screamed with joy. "Can you get Charmaine on the phone is very important!"

    "What is it?" Benny curiously asked.

    "Just get her for me, please!" begged Annie.

    Pulling himself a bit away from the phone, Benny replied back, "Okay, you don't have to yell! Wait a minute."

    Hearing Benny voice in the background and Charmaine footstep getting closer, Annie jumped with excitement. She can't wait to hear Charmaine reaction. "Annie?" answered Charmaine.

    "Charmaine you got the part! Charmaine did you heard me? You got the part!!" screamed Annie joyfully, like winning a lottery.

    Couldn't believe what she is hearing, Charmaine gulped with uncertainty. She asked in a shaky and nervous voice, to make sure, "Do you mean the commercial?" Benny and the rest of the family are standing still and listening.

    "Yes, Yes!! You got it!" Annie coughed with her horsed dry throat.

    A swept of surprise hit Charmaine right on. She felt her knees weaken, but her face is full of joy with her dilated eyes. She had been waiting for this chance for so long. "Oh my! You are serious!" She started to jump too and turn to tell everyone at home, "I got the commercial!!" Everyone cheered for her and hugged her. "Annie thanks so much!" Charmaine manage to speak with her overly hyper tone. "So when will I get to start?"

    "Wait," Annie told her, she turned toward the dinning room and yelled, "Sunny, when can she go shoot the commercial?"

    "She will get a letter this week and the shooting start next week, the letter will describe it in detail," replied Sunny from the dinning room.

    Cheerfully, Annie returns to her phone, "He said you will get a letter this week with more detail and the shooting is sometime next week. Charmaine congratulation!"

    "Thanks Annie! I love you! You are my lifesaver!!" yelled Charmaine excited voice.
    ----------

    A month of shadowing has passed by so unknowingly to Bowie, it's like how cloud sneakily drifted away on the sky. As the date drifted closer, Bowie heart longingly wanted to stay and has things as usual. Sadly, life is not always fair cause tomorrow is his last day with Annie. He still hasn't step forward to break the news to her cause he doesn't know how she will react to it.

    Seeing how Annie cooperates and slowly gains trust with Benny within the last month has made Bowie recalls the nine long years of his bond with her. It's made him proud to see his success in Annie. Annie had transformed form being a dependent spoiled thirteen-years-old to an independent young lady that is capable of taking care of her daily living. He knows he will never get use to not being around to sees Annie's daily progress.

    Sitting on the sofa across from Annie and Benny, Bowie silently observe Annie with his eyes becoming more dreaded. At the opposite end of the coffee table, Benny was teaching Annie how to do algebra for the pass hours. He is getting more frustrated since Annie can never get the concept of algebra.

    With a soft growl to himself, Benny places his hand over Annie's thin brail worksheet, blocking her from punching in her guessing answer. "No, Annie! They are all wrong!" he frustratingly scolded while Annie growled softly. "For the last time you can't add x and y together, they are totally two different things!" He grab hold of Annie hand and press her finger onto the Braille worksheet of the problem. "See, the x are only able to add with x."

    Sighed with boredom, Annie pulled his hand away from him. She is starting to get impatient with these math problems and especially with Benny nagging her for hours already. "I don't get why Algebra is that important. Benny could we go back to learning more about science?" she whined wanting to learn more on her strong subject. "Come on Benny, anything but math. How about I listen to you talk about world history?" Annie suggested. Hearing no response, Annie started to nudged Benny arm, "Come on Benny, please. I will listen and work on math next time, I promise!"

    Benny sighed as she whine and plead, this is not the first time, in fact she whines every time when math is the main subject of the day. Seeing Annie acted so childishly when it comes to schoolwork, made Bowie smiled with a slight chuckle. He will definitely miss her laughter and even her whining and pleading.

    Being jerked by Annie, Benny laughed at her. He firmly shakes his head, "No Annie, I can't let you get your way all the time. You need to learn math and beside you promise me last time that you will use your heart to learn it. Don't tell me you forget."

    Annie pouted cause she knows she is not going to get away from it this time. "Just anything but math, Benny. That's not too much to ask for, right?" she sweetly asked with a wishful smile.

    Laughed at her expression and behavior, Benny gave in, "How about this, I'll leave you with the math homework to do tonight? But you have to promise to give it a chance!"

    "Great!" Annie vigorously nodded, "Yeah, I'll do it tonight. Lets move on to the next subject!"

    Chuckling, Benny pulled out a physic Braille worksheet from his backpack. He knows that Annie is not going to like it either. "Glad you are excited, lets go to physic," he announced.

    With narrowed eyes directed at her new mentor direction, Annie grumpily questioned him, "Why are you doing this to me? No! I don't want to know physic, it just like math! What's so important about them?!"

    "Annie, all the doctor needed to take at least a course in physic, so it is very important," explained Benny with laughter. He is really getting use to having Annie as his student, and teaching has become very enjoyable to him.

    "I don't understand why they need too. It's not like they needed to calculate the force the patients will fall off the bed and hurt themselves," Annie frustratingly mumbled. She suddenly smiled sweetly at Benny, "What if I save both of them for homework?"

    "Annie!" Benny disappointedly protested to how Annie is manipulating him.

    Seeing her plan failing, Annie progressed to her backup plan, which is getting Bowie help. She walked over to sit next to Bowie on the sofa. "Bowie, tell him I don't need to learn math nor physic today. Come on, I know you will be on my side," she grinned.

    Looked into Annie deep wishful eyes that seem to sparkle, Bowie let out a sigh. 'It's time,' his mind told him. With serious eyes, Bowie instructed, "Benny, why don't you leave the rest of today for me?"

    Sensing Bowie serious tone, Benny knows exactly what he wanted to do. Quietly, Benny nodded while his eyes are on Annie anxiously wondering if she will like the idea of him being her permanent mentor.

    On the other hand, Annie cheerfully leaned over toward Bowie to give him a grateful hug. "I knew you would help me, unlike that heartless guy over there!" she joked and added with a bright smile, "It's okay, tomorrow is Benny last day anyway. I'll listen to him tomorrow! Bowie you are the best!" Both Benny and Bowie looked at Annie happy and cheerful expression in concern, they really hate to ruin her day.

    With another sigh, Bowie serious deepen voice requested, "Benny, could you leave us alone for a couple minutes?" Annie sadden, cause she could feel something is wrong in Bowie serious and heavy voice and the way he hold her hand. Benny nodded and stepped out of the mansion.

    Hearing Benny footstep walked out of the mansion, Annie turned her attention to Bowie. She worriedly asked, "What is wrong Bowie? You don't sound happy." Annie silenced to listen carefully for Bowie answer.

    "Annie, do you like to learn form Benny?" Bowie calmly said what he needed to.

    With a bright smile, Annie nodded, "Yeah, he is not too bad. He is so gullible too." Annie laughed along with Bowie soft chuckle to her remark. "Don't worry Bowie, I'll give him a good evaluation so he could get a good student to teach himself."

    Smile weakly, Bowie sadly nodded. To him, Annie is always so simple minded and naive. He cleared his throat, "He found himself a very good student already." He saw Annie listening curiously, "His new student will be you."

    Chuckled with joy, Annie said, "So I am going to have two teachers? Oh no, that mean I need to learn math and physic with him? That's not good!" With the thought of Benny going to be there to nag and scold her for years made Annie jump up from her sitting position. "Bowie that is definitely not good!" Annie exclaim with uncertainty to this being good or bad news.

    Frowned, Bowie holds her hand to pull her down, signaling her to sit next to him again. She sat down next to him and gave him her full attention to him again. "Annie, you only going to get one teacher...."

    Confused with shock, but Annie could figure out what Bowie mean. She immediately interrupted, "What do you mean?"

    Bowie looked at her and saw the frustration in her eyes. He knows that she knows exactly what he meant. Meanwhile, Benny was just outside the front door listening. Sighed, Bowie continue, "I am sorry Annie, the Academy wanted me to teach another blind little girl....."

    "What about me?!" Annie shouted with anger and sadness striking her eyes.

    Seeing the pain and tears started to from in her eyes, made Bowie felt sorry for both of them. He murmured, "That's why they have Benny to stay and be your full time teacher...."

    Annie tries to blink her tears away. She firmly stated, "I don't want him! It's because of him that you have to leave? I really don't need him. I want you to be my teacher. I thought he is only going to be here for this month. Why did you lies to me?! How can you just leave like this? You had been my teacher for nine years!" Annie sniffed and started to cry, she murmured, "I don't want Benny..."

    Standing outside, Benny was heartbroken hearing her words and felt sorry for her too. He turns his head a little to peek in and saw Annie stands up facing Bowie with anger and tears flowed out of her reddened eyes. It saddens him to see her sad and crying. At the moment, he felt like he is an intruder.

    Bowie stood up, patting Annie shoulder to hush her down, but instead Annie cried louder and hugged him tightly. Forced out a weak chuckle, Bowie assured her, "Annie don't be silly, I will come back to visit you. It's not that I am leaving forever." Patiently with a caring heart, Bowie continues to sooth Annie back and let her release her emotion. "And it's not Benny fault, so don't blame it on him. The academy's though that you learned all that I could teach you. They are right, you did learn all I could offer," he smile at her proudly, "and you made me very proud."

    "Well, they are wrong," Annie bitterly said, "You still can teach me more than that Benny will ever know. What's so good about him? All he know is to follow the book."

    "Annie, I told you it's not Benny fault," he gently releases her hug and wipes the tears from her. "I will miss you too, but don't do this to me, you making it harder for me to leave. We are still friend. You're always welcome to come over to my flat for dinner."

    Sniffed her tears back, Annie nodded sadly, "When do you need to leave?"

    "Tomorrow is my last day," Bowie informed.

    "TOMORROW?! Why is it that fast?" Annie asked in the verge of tears.

    Frowned, Bowie shoulder slightly slumped, "Actually, I know about three weeks ago, but I don't know how to break it to you." He paused to look into her eyes, "Are you mad at me?"

    Swallowed her tears, Annie is trying her best to hold it in. She dropped her head to reply with a hint of disappointment mixed with anger, "Yes!" She hugged Bowie and start crying again. Benny saw the entire situation and felt responsible somehow. "Can't you ask them if you can stay?" Annie mumbled.

    Move her back, Bowie wipes her tears again, "You promise not to cries. Come on stop being silly, okay? I'm not dying." Bowie forced a chuckle trying to cheer her up again. Within tears, Annie released a chuckle too. "They really needed me to teach a thirteen-years-old girl." He smiled at Annie warmly, "Do you remember you were thirteen when I came to teach you?" Annie nods silently. Bowie continues, "You wouldn't be happy if I didn't came than right? So I need to be there for that girl too. Do you understand?" Annie nods. "Good!" said Bowie. He gave her a big hugs and pecked her forehead.

    Bowie turned toward the front door, "Benny, you can come in now." Benny came in and looked at Annie sadly. Annie didn't look up, she felt sad and hurt that Bowie is leaving her. It had been a great nine years with Bowie around to teach her and help her like a big brother. How are things going to be without Bowie around? She kept thinking that Bowie would never have to leave if Benny never came. "Annie, Benny is going to be your teacher now, so respect him and listen to him like how you did for me, okay?" Bowie urged.

    Annie didn't response to Bowie. All she is doing is facing the carpet angrily. "Annie?" Benny called out in a very soft voice.

    Lifted her head, Annie face straight at Benny direction with hateful eyes. She bitterly blamed him, "It's all your fault. I don't need you here. Get out of my house NOW!" Angered at him and herself, Annie pushed Benny away and run toward the staircase. She tripped but she got back up quickly and head to her room.

    Lisa just came in from the front yards and saw Annie ran upstairs. "What just happen?" Lisa confusedly asked with concern for her beloved daughter.

    "Mrs. Lam, I just told her that tomorrow is my last day," explained Bowie.

    Sighed, Lisa finally understands why her daughter is so stressed out. "No wonder. Bowie, you had been such a good teacher to her. I don't blame her for overreacting." Lisa smiled at Bowie warmly. "Bowie, we are all going to miss you," her genuine voice said.

    "Mrs. Lam, could you help me check on her? Tell her that I will still be back to visit her often."

    Smile warmly, Lisa nodded, "I will, I hope you good luck with your new student. Don't worry about Annie. You should know that she would get over it within a couple days. Okay, I better go back up and see how she is doing. I bet she is crying her heart out now." Lisa left for her daughter room.

    Bowie encouraged the long face Benny, "Don't worry she will be fine and normal again in a couple days. Just give her time to cope with the news."

    "Did you hear her? She say she don't want me," mumbled Benny soft tone.

    With a slight chuckle, Bowie told him, "That's what she say to me nine years ago, believe it or not. Now she felt inseparable with me." Bowie patted Benny shoulder, "Come on, don't take it seriously, it's not your first day meeting her childish out burst, right?. Trust me, she will accept you one day. Do you want a ride home?" Benny nods silently.
    ----------

    Skipping through the door of Bobby's flat, Charmaine waved her letter in the air. A bright dreamy smile hung on her face with sparkling eyes. She basically can't contain her joys as she jumped up and down showing everyone her letter. "Daaaaiii jiiiieee! Look, look, look! I received the LETTER! It tells me to try shooting next Tuesday! Isn't it great?!!" Charmaine cheerfully asked.

    Laughing, Ada nodded and gave her sis a hug, "I'm so happy for you! And I am so proud of you, Charm!! Wow, I might have a movie star sister, this is so cool!"

    Looked around for her brother wanting to share her news, Charmaine asked, "Where is Benny? He is not home yet?"

    Bring food to the dinning table, Esther replied, "He is in his room, but he don't look happy. Something might be wrong. He probably has a pretty rough day."

    "Yeah, lets not bother him and let him quietly rest awhile," Ada suggested, knowing that Charmaine will ignore her suggestion.

    Charmaine stared at her brother room curiously, "We can't just let him mold. Let me go help him!"

    Charmaine headed toward Benny's room, Ada yelled after her, "Don't do anything rash and push his buttons, he might explode on you."

    Laughed, Charmaine nodded, "Don't worry, I have a life jacket!" She knocked on the door, but Benny didn't answer, so she slowly turns the doorknobs and peeked in. She saw Benny on his bed looked dully on the wall. Charmaine expression became serious and caring, she softly called out, "Benny?" Benny didn't turn around or pay any attention to Charmaine, so she slowly approach him and sat on his bed. "What's wrong? Do you want to talk about it?" she gently urged, but not pushing it.

    Sighed, Benny slightly shake his head, "Nothing really."

    A smile appears on Charmaine, "Don't worry, I can keep a secret."

    Dragging his sigh, Benny exclaim, "It's no secret, everyone know that Annie hate me."

    Benny never sounded this sad to Charmaine before, other than the time when their parents pass away. "Did you get in a fight with Annie?" she caringly asked.

    Finally, Benny allows his eyes to glance at his sister, "No, Bowie told her that he is not teaching her anymore. She kind of blames it on me and told me to leave her forever."

    Charmaine nodded, "It must be very hard on her. Bowie had been a very wonderful teacher of her. She respected him a lot too. Poor Annie." Seeing Benny long face, Charmaine remember that she is here to support him. She smiled reassuringly, "Don't worry Benny, she didn't mean what she say to you, trust me. She always said bad things when she is frustrated. She'll probably be okay by tomorrow. I know her well enough."

    Smiled weakly, Benny said, "Thanks Charm, and congratulation. I heard what you say outside. I know you can make it too." Charmaine leans over and give Benny a hug.
    ----------

    Meanwhile, up at the foothill of the mountain cabin, Robbi was holding one slit of the blinds down to peek whose has just knocked on the door. Outside the old cabin was Louis holding three bags of lunch boxes. "It's me Robbi, open up," Louis empty calm tone said.

    Robbi looked around to make sure no one has followed Louis before he signal Roy to open up the door. At this moments Eddy and Marco has just walked out of the room of this single room cabin. Louis walked in and set the lunch boxes on the table. "Dinner is here, come and get it," he told everyone.

    Everyone was at the cabin except for Evergreen; he is out spying on their target. Louis grabs two of the lunch boxes and walked toward Marco and Eddy. "Brother Eddy, brother Marco here is your favorite," he smiled at them with respect and eyes that show loyalty.

    Patted his back, Eddy said, "Thanks. Go get one for yourself."

    "Don't worry about me, I could take care of myself," Louis said and walked back to the table.

    Taking a bite into his dinner, Marco was talking to Eddy, "Brother Eddy, we got all the fire arm ready, so we can take action at anytime now." Louis was curious on what he was saying cause Evergreen never mention anything about the kidnaps to him yet.

    Smiled with hope, Eddy replied, "Just hold on for a while longer until Evergreen give us a good and thorough report of her routine and route. Don't worry it shouldn't be long when we can get out of this mess."

    "Brother Eddy, what are you guys talking about?" Louis asked with his vivid dark eyes on him.

    "Didn't Evergreen told you about our plan?" Marco asked. Louis shakes his head. Marco and Evergreen are not on friendly term when brother Eddy is not around. Marco will use anything to get his position higher than Evergreen. And so will Evergreen to Marco.

    Disappointed, Eddy growled, "That Evergreen, starting to not put me in his eyes!" He sighed, "He is always so rash and never think! One day he is going to get us or himself in trouble." He saw Louis confuse look, he smiled and shared, "We are planning a kidnap to ransoms some money to pay Cheapskate Joe. Maybe enough extra for us to use freely too!" One side of his mouth smiled at that thought.

    Surprised, Louis wanted to know more, "But we never kidnap before. And who are we kidnapping?"

    "Don't worry Louis boy, this will all work out perfectly and easily!" Marco assured. They heard a knock on the door. Everyone silenced with theirs attention turned to the door. Robbi signal Roy to open for Evergreen to walked in.

    Evergreen pulled out a stack of photos that he has took during his spying. "Tomorrow is the best time to kidnaps her!" he excitedly announced.

    Everyone surrounded the table to listen. Louis tries to take a glimpse of the photos, he saw it but most of them are the back of the girl or of her in a car, which is dark. And most of them show only a tiny figure of their target. He wonders why Evergreen even bothers to take photos that are useless.

    "I've been following her and found out that she always take this route when she go out with her driver," Evergreen explained as he pointed the road on the map that is about ten minute from their target mansion. "This road is usually very quiet and not much traffic at all, so it would be the perfect spot to take action."

    "Why tomorrow?" Marco wondered.

    An evil grin sneak up Evergreen face, "She goes out every Friday to a cafe name Bobby's Mini Pastry Cafe, so it meant she must take the same route again tomorrow!"
    Eddy was silently pondering about weather to do it tomorrow or later. He finally came to a decision, "It's a bit too earlier than plan, but lets do it and get it over with. We can't waste this chance." Everyone cheered except Louis who still trying to figure out whose they want to kidnaps. Eddy saw his puzzled face, "Louis, you will be our driver tomorrow. Don't worry it will be easy." Louis forced a smile and everyone cheered again.
    ******

  2. #62
    Senior Member jeh's Avatar
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    I wonder what will happen on their kidnapping. Can't wait until Louis and Annie meet. Feel so sorry for Benny. It was sad when Bowie said he will leave Annie. Update soon.

  3. #63
    Senior Member goddessofhonour's Avatar
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    Hehehe, this is a great story. I have started reading the second, but am quite behind. Gotta catch up!!! Hehe, I really hope for Annie to be with Benny seeing how much he likes her and all. I hope they do get something together
    Yesterday's History,
    Tomorrow's a Mystery,
    Today's a Gift,
    That’s why we call it,
    The Present.

  4. #64
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    Default what a beutiful poster

    love it! alot.............................................. .........................!
    chris

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    Senior Member Yak's Avatar
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    Sorry to take so long to update. I'm very busy lately. Anyway, thanks for the comment! =o) Enjoy the chapter.

  6. #66
    Senior Member Yak's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 20: Danger Zone

    The next morning, which is Friday, Annie lazily molds on her bed unwilling to wake up. She is supposes to meet her mentors at Bobby's cafe for a farewell party, which at first was meant for Benny. But now since she knows that it was held for Bowie, she has lost the mood to party with them. The thought of Bowie leaving her with Benny's physic and algebra haunted her dream last night, causing her lack in sleep.

    Tossed and turned in her bed, Annie sighed with a blue mood. The more she lies there the more she recall how nice it was to have Bowie to depend on when she needed him. With another long sigh, Annie wishes so much that nothing would change. Naively, she thought she could escape reality as long as she doesn't go to the farewell party to say goodbye to Bowie.

    The sound of footstep approaching her room alerted her, Annie know that it must be Eileen coming to wake her up. Pretending to sleep, Annie quickly shuts her eyes and covered herself with her blanket. She is hoping that Eileen will leave her alone and walk back out.

    Like usual, Eileen gently opened the door and stepped in with Annie's medication along with a glass of milk. She set it down on the nightstand before she turn over to tap Annie on the shoulder to wake her up. "Miss Annie, it's time to wake up. It's a nice and beautiful Friday, Miss Annie," Eileen urgently said in a clear but not too loud voice. Seeing her mistress not responding, Eileen increased her volume a notch, "Rise and shine now, Miss Annie. It's Friday, you always love to wake up early on Friday to go to the cafe."

    Still, there is no response, not even a gesture from Annie. Eileen moves on with the next wake up call procedure. She lifted the blanket and saw Annie curled up hugging her legs with her arms like a dry shrimp. Annie's eyes were closed tightly. Eileen smile and gentle nudged Annie, "Come on Miss Annie, wake up! Miss Annie?"

    Stubbornly, Annie didn't responds at all and Eileen begin to worry that Annie might be sick. Caringly, the maid leans over and places her hand on Annie's forehead to feel her temperature. Eileen was relief that Annie wasn't having a fever and her skin color looked normal. She shakes her head at Annie, thinking that her childish mistress wanted to be lazy for the day. She urged again, "Miss Annie, why are you not waking up? Come on Miss Annie, it's nine thirty already. Mr. Kwan and Mr. Cheung will be waiting for you at the cafe. Don't you want to go to the party to celebrate Mr. Kwan last day with you?" Eileen didn't know that the party was for Bowie instead of Benny. No one in the mansion knows except for Lisa.

    The mentioning of the party being for Benny made Annie pouted, she wishes it was so too. Seeing Annie expression, Eileen knows immediately that she is pretending to be asleep. With a soft chuckle Eileen teased, "Miss Annie, I caught you awake, so you can stop your game now." Since Annie wouldn't move, Eileen place her hand around Annie back and lifted her up to a sitting position. But Annie pushed her away and rolled back down to cover herself tightly with her blanket. Eileen looked at her and wonders why she is acting so weird today. "Miss Annie, are you okay? What's the matter?" the maid worriedly asked. Annie didn't reply.

    Eileen has never seen Annie acting this way before, which concerned her greatly. She quickly headed out in search for help. Hearing Eileen finally left her room, Annie suddenly started to sob silently. She really missed Bowie and don't want to say her parting words with him. The only things she could think of now are to avoid seeing him. In her mind, she thinks that as long as she didn't say goodbye, he will still be there.

    Meanwhile, Eileen ran down in a hurry toward the dinning table, where everyone else is eating their breakfast. Noticing Eileen urgency, Lisa looked up at her with concern eyes, "What is wrong? Why isn't Annie down yet?"

    With concern expression, Eileen explained, "Miss Annie wouldn't wake up. I try everything but she wouldn't even say a word. She hides herself under her blanket and wouldn't listen. Something is not right Mrs. Lam. Miss Annie never acts like this before."

    Placed his knife and fork down, Howard assumed, "It's must be one of her childish behavior again. She must want something..."

    "No Mr. Lam, I know something must be wrong. She is very sad. She didn't even say a single word to me," Eileen exclaim. Annie's siblings and Maggie agree with Eileen, cause Annie never hides if she wanted something from them. She would always come down early and ask Gallen or whine to her other siblings until she gets it her way. But staying in bed and not talking is very unusual of her

    Knowing why, Lisa sighed with sadness, "She must still be upset with the fact that today is Bowie last day. I'll go up and talk to her." Lisa pushed her chair back and heading toward Annie's room. The rest of the family follows after with confusion.

    Howard stopped his wife from going any further, "What do you mean? He is not teaching anymore?! When did he decide on that? Why didn't he inform me? How could he just leave Annie like this?!"

    "He is still going to teach, is just that it's not going to be Annie. The Academy sends him to follow another case. He just told Annie the news yesterday," Lisa sighed again and started to walk up the staircase, the other followed close behind. "That silly girl is still upset with the fact."

    Howard is a bit disappointed and a bit angry at the fact that Bowie is leaving. He has always been willing to do anything to keep Annie happy. Cause to him, Annie has suffer enough already for being blind. "That's not a big deal. We can pay him more money and have him stay. Problem solved," Howard confidently stated.

    A bit disappointed, Lisa paused to look at her husband, "Howard, money can't solve everything. Beside this is the academy choice, not Bowie. And don't try to offer Bowie the money. It could be insulting. It's more realistic to convince Annie to take the fact. You are acting like your brother now." She warned before continuing her way.

    "No wonder she didn't want to listen to story last night," Raymond said.

    "I thought she could cool down and accept the fact," Lisa said as she turn into Annie's room and walked toward her. She saw Annie rolled into a ball under the blanket and little sniffling was heard. Everyone kept silent as Lisa tries to uncover Annie, but Annie pulled on her blanket tightly. "Annie, sweetheart come on don't be like this. Let me see you." Annie didn't say anything, she just wanted to be alone and wished that they will all disappear right at this moment. Lisa shakes her head at her stubborn daughter, "Annie, you are not a child anymore. Hiding like this will no longer solve any of your problems."

    "I wanted to be alone..." the soft muffled voice emitted from under the blanket.

    The father is getting a little bit impatient with his daughter acting like a ten-years-old, he warned, "Annie, listen to your mother now and uncover yourself." Howard gotten a bit inflamed to see the shaking of the blanket created by his daughter shaking head. "Do you want to suffocate yourself?!" he scolded out of frustration.

    "Howard," Lisa warned her husband to cool off.

    Howard is angry cause he hates to see Annie sad. He has never masters the art of communicating with his children or shows his care in a friendly way. Which is also the reason why Raymond argue with him so much, since they are both so alike. Growled, Howard sighed, "What did I say wrong? I know she is upset cause of Bowie leaving. But still, it just her teacher leaving, it not the end of the world, why do she have to act so childish?! Annie, you heard me?! Enough of this nonsense, I'll get you a better teacher than him. He is not worth your tears."

    "Leave me alone!" Annie yelled with frustration cause her father made Bowie sounded bad, "I don't want you guy to be here! Go away... I'm sorry, I just wanted to be home today, please leave me alone..."

    "Do you want to hide for the rest of your life?!" scolded her disappointed father. His tone softened a bit, "Get up and go meet Benny now, he is still your teacher."

    Annie sniffed and mumbled bitterly, "I don't want to see him again..."

    Sitting on Annie's bed, Flora reasoned, "But Annie, don't you want to see Bowie? Today is his last day, don't you want to make his last day be more memorable? Aren't you guy having some kind of a party?"

    "It's suppose to be for Benny last day with me, not Bowie," Annie bitterly explains. Annie let out a stressful sigh, "I don't want Benny to replace Bowie."

    Flora attempt to lift the blanket but Annie wouldn't let her. "I know, I am sorry about it too. But think about it, today is Bowie last day with you. Don't you want to make it the best ever? I know he will be sad to not be able to see you today. Beside he is not going to evaporate out of this world, he'll still be around and come visit you. Then it will be more fun cause your relationship with him will change into a friendship instead of just a teacher and student relationship. Don't you want to celebrate this new friendship with him today?"

    Silent her sobbing, Annie agrees with her sister words. She slowly uncovers her blanket and they saw her red and puffy eyes. They were all happy and relief that she listened to Flora. "I always wanted him to be happy. And he has been my best friend for many years now. He is like Gor and Raymond, he is always willing to help me and teach me. But now, he is going to leave. It just won't be the same without him to talk to everyday," Annie sadly said.

    Hugged her sister, Flora nodded, "I know, but don't worry you still have all of us to talk to, and if you wanted to talk to him, you can always call him. I bet he would love to take you out on Saturday to have fun with Nicola and Toby. Come on cheer up, he is waiting for you at the cafe. I bet he'll be very happy to see you accepting the fact and be your sweet and cheerful self in front of him again. Lets change and go see him okay?" Flora releases her hugs and saw Annie weak smile making her chuckled a bit, "That's the right attitude."

    Smile sweetly, Annie nodded with her sniffling, "Thanks jie, I felt much better. Am I really late?" she concernedly asked.

    Laughed at the sight of Annie being okay again, Raymond teased to cheer his sister up, "Yeah, if you don't hurry up and get change now! I told you that you are a cries baby..." Annie throws her pillow at his direction making everyone chuckled a bit. "Come on lets go out, she is back to her mean and rude self again," Raymond joked and walked out, Gallen and Maggie followed him after they saw Annie being okay.

    With a fatherly sigh, Howard said, "Only Flora can put some sense into you." He smiles in relief as he walked out and head downstairs ready for work.

    "I'm glad you listen, come on go get ready, I'll have Dave get ready to drive you to Bobby. Do you want your breakfast?" Lisa asked in a motherly voice.

    Smiled, Annie hugged her mom, "Sorry for making you worry mommy. I know you and daddy care a lot." Cheerfully, Annie smile at her mom, "Jie is right, Bowie can be my full time best friend now." She pouted slightly, "But I still have to deal with Benny and his nagging, oh mami you don't know how annoying Benny could get sometime. He is nothing like a Gor!"

    Laughed at Annie expression, Flora could tell that Annie is back to her old self again. "Annie, Benny is not that bad, beside he teaching you many important things," Flora defended.

    Rolled her eyes, Annie mumbled, "Yeah, like how to calculate the amount of blood a patient loss in a minute, instead of trying to stop the bleeding."

    Her remark made Flora laughed louder, "Sound like he's making you understand what physic is about." Flora looked at her watch, "I have to go or I'll be late to stop my patient from bleeding." She chuckled as she head out of the room.

    "Bye jie, good luck," Annie said before she turn to her mom, which is in front of her. "Mommy, I don't want to be late for the party, so I'll eat there."

    Nodded, Lisa reaches over to get Annie's medication and place them on Annie's palm, "Okay, but take these first."

    Annie obeyed to settle her mom heart. After Lisa stepped out of her room, Annie quickly gets herself ready with Eileen helps. Several minutes later Annie walked down the stairs with Eileen by her side. She has decide to take Eileen along with her, so Eileen can have fun too.

    In the living room, Lisa lifted her vision to the sound of Annie and Eileen footsteps at the stairway. A smile appears on her when she saw Annie cute outfit of green and blue plaid tank top and a sea blue Capri along with her baby blue shaded sunglasses. "You look very cute in that outfit, sweetheart," Lisa complimented. "Now have fun and take care of yourself," Lisa hugs her daughter and kissed her forehead.

    Cheerfully, Annie nodded, "I will. Mommy, you want to come?"

    Lisa let out a soft laughs, "I'm too old for this kind of party. You just have fun yourself. And try to be nice to Benny too. I know he was really sad yesterday."

    Annie frowned guiltily, "I know, I'd been rude to him yesterday." She sighed, "I guess, I owe him an apologies huh? Maybe he won't remember. Okay, I need to go or he will think that I still hate him. Bye mommy!" Annie walked out with Eileen heading to the car happily. Dave stands next to it and opened the door to let Annie and Eileen into the back seat. Annie got in and Dave drove her away as Lisa watched until the car disappear.

    Meanwhile in the car, Eileen pulled out a napkin to dap Annie forehead. "Dave could you turn up the air conditioner? It's pretty hot in the back," Eileen requested. Dave turned the air conditioner higher and continues driving safely heading toward Bobby's cafe.

    Slightly chuckled, Annie took the napkin from Eileen. She knows Eileen has always cares for her in every little detail. "Thank you Eileen, sorry that I made you worry this morning," Annie guiltily apologized. With a happy smile, Annie wiped her sweat herself.

    Her maid smiled with relief to see Annie's mood improved so much. "No problem, Miss Annie. I am so glad you are okay now." Annie smiles at her to let Eileen know that she appreciate her caring.

    Dave drives carefully as usual, while Annie sat in the back talking to Eileen. Suddenly, Annie paused their conversation when she heard a loud squeaking sound of a break being stepped on fast. She could tell the driver of that car is stopping urgently. It's odd to Annie and it's giving her a bad feeling of doom.

    Seeing the large white van just stopped in front of him all of a sudden, Dave quickly stepped on his brake fast before he can't stop the collusion. Because he braked too sharply, it causes his car to swing ninety degree to the right. Annie and Eileen jerked forward bumping their head on the front seat before bounced back to the back seats again. Feeling the sore on her forehead, Annie rubbed her head while she felt a bit dizzy and confuse to what just happened. All she could conclude is that Dave just has a car accident. "Dave is everyone okay?" she asked wondering if the passenger on the vehicle with the sharp squeaky brake are safe.

    "Don't worry Miss Annie, we didn't crash into the van," answered Dave automatically, but his voice is filled with uncertainty and worry. He too has a bad feeling that this is more than just an accident.

    Shaking her head and blinking a couple times, Eileen finally glanced at her mistress. Her heart dropped a bit to see Annie head gotten bump and is now bleeding. Being Annie's maid for so many years, Eileen knows that every bump to Annie's head could be critical to Annie's old wound. "Miss Annie, are you okay?" Eileen urgently asked with worry, she quickly pulls her handkerchief out to press it on Annie's bleeding forehead. "Are you feeling dizzy or nauseated?" she continues to ask, exactly how Flora has trains her to.

    "No, I'm okay," Annie confusedly answered while she tries to listen to her surrounding for clues to what's going on.

    Relieved, Eileen turns to Dave, "Dave, what happen?"

    Annie wanted to know the same answer too. She anxiously listens for Dave reply, but it seem like Dave is lost for words. Annie pushed Eileen hand away, so she can listens to her surrounding really carefully to catch all the sound that is near by. Annie turns her ears to the sound of the large van door sliding open.

    At that moment, Dave saw three men walking out with weapons and he knows that something is definitely not right. His heart begins to race warning him of danger. Dave is really scare cause he has never dealt with this kind of situation before. Seeing them approaching with unkind mean, Dave know that he has no time to lose. Immediately, he stepped on the gas hard to get the car moving toward the right, in searching for an escape route.

    The car sudden motion causes Eileen and Annie to jerk back. Eileen was confuses to what Dave is doing. But once she turns her head back to look at the back windshield, she quickly understands why. Her eyes enlarged with her heart stiffened to see those well build men armed with heavy-duty-weapons.

    "What's happening? Eileen what's happening...." Annie weak worry voice asked over and over, but no one answered her.

    Seeing one of the men holding a machine gun pointing at their direction, Eileen snapped out of her shock. She screamed in fear while she quickly shoved Annie down with her body. A loud sharp sound is emitted and ended with a solid sound of a bullet indenting into the bulletproof back windshield. It's causes the tough windshield to crack, almost sounding like the cracking of an eggshell amplified a hundred folds. Eileen peeked up seeing the bullet sticking to the windshield, making rings of cracked glass around it, but it didn't have enough force to break in or shatter the windshield.

    "What...what..what was that?!" Annie confusedly shouted with panicking breath. Eileen couldn't find her voice to answer. All she knows is to keep Annie down below the windshield in case they shoot again. Eileen wouldn't trust the windshield to be bulletproofed enough to stand more bullets or force.

    Annie heart raced with fear, she didn't know it was a sound of a bullet, but she know that they are in trouble. "What's going on?!! Eileen? Dave...Eileen answers ME!!" she demanded. Annie hates this feeling of fear and not knowing what is happening around her. She tries to get Eileen weight off of her, but Eileen firmly holds her down to protect her.

    "Miss Annie stays low...stays down...." Eileen shaky voice repeated.

    Suddenly Dave brake sharply again cause an old blue car just parked in front of him blocking his way. Once again Annie jerked forward about to hit her head again, but this time Eileen blocked the hard surface with her arm to ease Annie's bump. After settled again from the forward jerk, Annie could smell the burning of rubber from tires and brake pads. Her heart speeded up more with faster hard pounding making her felt a bit sick to the stomach. "Eileen, what's going on?! Tell me!!!!" she demanded for the millionth times. But both her servants were too speechless cause they could see the situation is getting out of hands in front of them. And they didn't want to frighten their mistress with the truth.

    Quickly shifting gear to reverse, Dave stepped on the gas hard wanting to turn and try heading another direction but a third car swiftly blocked his way. Dave knows he is trapped with nowhere to escape, he also know very well what this is about and what they wanted. He turns his head to look at Annie with his pair of fearful eyes, he is really afraid that they will harm her, since she has no way to defense herself.

    With scared lost mind, Annie tries to sit upright to listen to her surrounding. "Miss Annie, stay low," Dave calmly ordered with his slightly shaky tone. Naive minded, Dave quickly locked all the doors like it will help. Dave gulped to know that he is greatly out numbered by this group of baddies. There are a total of seven armed guys headed toward his fancy old fashion car that is said to be bulletproof. Dave doesn't know what else to do, cause there is really no way out of this. He turned back to glance at Eileen pale and bloodless face and his mistress lost worry expression of fear. He firmly instructed as calm as he could manage, "Eileen stay calm okay? We need to stay calm to protect Miss Annie." He kind of reminded himself too.

    Concern is written all over Annie scared face after hearing Dave said they need to protect her, she could imagine how bad the situation is by his choice of words. Her hearts jumped to the sound of many unfriendly footsteps approaching her. They sounded like heavy and evil stomps as it getting closer and closer to her. "Dave, who are they?!!" she cried with fear to know so many strangers approaching with unkind mean.

    "Just stay calm. Miss Annie just stays calm at all time. We are here with you," Dave voice turned from a steady one to a mumble, cause he knows that he can't do much to protect Annie. Witnessing them with all of these heavy-duty weapons, Dave just hope that this bulletproof car really is bulletproof enough for this kind of situation. He nervously glanced around the road. There was no one else except for them and these men. It's at moment like this that he wishes this road could be busy. He quickly turn to looked straight into Annie's dark confuse eyes. He firmly told her, "Miss Annie stay calm at all time, okay?" Annie nods when she heard Dave heavy and worries voice. Dave vision traveled over to Eileen, "Eileen keep Miss Annie head and body down as low as possible."

    With a nod, Eileen bended Annie down behind the front seat and cover Annie with herself. She was really scared and wanted to scream, but she knows that she must stay calm in order to reassure Annie.

    While covered up by Eileen, Annie listen and hear clicking sound of something, the next things she heard was many loud piercing sound hitting the car just like listening to a hail storm of rock hitting the car at once. She screamed loudly with her hearts skipped. Her body starts to tremble uncontrollably. Never in her life, has she felt this kind of fear.

    Hearing Annie cries and in tears, Eileen quickly place her two hands over Annie ears to ease the horrible sound, while her body is still covered over Annie. Eileen shuts her eyes tightly and hopes that all of this will end fast. Dave also bended down and hope that someone will pass this road and get help for them, but this is a too remote road that is up by the mountain.

    On the other hand, Louis, who is sitting in the driver seat of the van, peeked out toward the sound of guns. Brother Eddy has told him to stay in the car and get ready to take off as fast as possible once they got the girl. Louis stare at his gang's action in disbelief, he never seen anyone fire so many bullets at a car before. But he never knows since he is new to this gang. Anxiously, Louis keeps looking back and forth from the road to the shooting. He was the one who suppose to keep a look out for cops. Louis deep eyes darted at the road with sharpness. He growled in a bit of frustration and disappointment. "What take them so long?" he grumpily mumbled to himself with impatient.

    The sound of on going guns shooting finally settled down to pure silent. Dave looked up in amaze that none of the bullets went through, but the car is all bumpy with bullets sticking to it and the windshield is full of cracks, looking like it will shatter with just a bit more force. Being edgy, Dave beamed his cautious eyes trying to see surpassing the overly cracked windshield. He could no longer see the men clearly, but he still sees their figures heading toward them. Dave turns around and looked at the two shock and pale girls in the back seat.

    Gathering themselves, both Annie and Eileen slowly seated up right again. Then suddenly a very loud hammering sound was heard from the head of the car. Annie quickly shuts her eyes so tightly that she felt pain and she also covers her ears as a reflex.

    The shattering of glasses alerted Dave to return his vision back to the front. He was shock to see the windshield scattered right in front of him along with a huge hammer coming inward. The hammer is what tipped the threshold of the windshield to break. Dave gulped his nerve down while his eyes are now clearly met with Marco, who is standing to Dave's right with the huge hammer in hand. Dave paled to white as he froze his position, cause Eddy has touch his forehead with the tip of his machine gun sticking through the front windshield. Both Eddy and Marco smile wickedly at him with victory.

    Hearing total silent, Annie slowly opens her eyes and releases her hands. She tries to carefully listen to what just has happened. On the other hand, Eileen is not as steady as Annie, cause she is witnessing Dave being pointed right on the forehead with a real machine gun. Eileen head automatically shake slightly, pleading Eddy to not pull the trigger on Dave.

    Even though, Annie couldn't see or know exactly what is happening, she could still sense the tension and uncomfortable situation dangerously surrounding her. Annie sickened stomach just has this gut feeling that something bad is going to happen to her. Her left hand inched closer toward Eileen trying to locate her maid's hand for reassurance. Once she found it, she grabs hold of it and gave Eileen a tight nervous squeeze. "Eileen is it over yet?" her innocent soft voice whispered with fear. She knows that it was a naive question, but she really wanted to hear a yes. Eileen just held her hands tightly while staring at Eddy anxiously with her pale and drained expression.

    A sardonic chuckle is released from Eddy. "No my dear, it just begin," his tone send a creep down Annie spine. Eddy pressed the gun harder on Dave's forehead, while his eyes study Annie fear. The cynic cold voice of Eddy made Annie heart pound against her ribs cage rapidly hard. Gulped her fear down, Annie stays silent listening to every detail.

    "Unlock all the doors now!" Eddy ordered the fool, who he could easily kill like ant.

    Being protectively loyal, Dave didn't do as Eddy say, cause he doesn't want them to get to Annie. Eddy stern set of eyes narrow on Dave coldly while the corner of his left lip slowly lifted to show a slight crooked smile at Dave. Eddy slowly moves his gun toward Annie forehead, aiming it about two feet away from her. "Do you want her to die now?" Eddy calm voice questioned Dave. Quickly, Dave shakily obeys and fumbled his fingers to unlock all the doors.

    Meanwhile Annie scooted toward Eileen a bit. Her pair of eyes starts to water with fear. She wishes she could see what is going on around her. After Dave unlocks the doors, Eddy smiled at him, "Thank you, that's what a smart person would do." He moved his gun back to Dave again. Glancing back toward his gang, he ordered, "Evergreen, go pull the girl out!" Then he return his vision back to looked right into Dave eyes like a cat playing with a mouse before it decide to kill it. "Walk out slowly and put your two hands up and above your head," he instructed.

    Dave listens and obeys every order. He slowly stepped out of the car. Hearing Dave getting out of the car, Annie begin to panic for his safety, she screamed her demand, "Don't you guy dare touch him! If you hurt him, I'll get daddy to make all of you paid!!"

    Evergreen laughed at her naive remark while harshly opens the door to reach for her arm. Annie is surprises by the grip. She tries to push him away. "Let go of me, jerk!" she scolded. Eileen tries to make Evergreen let go by hammering his strong and masculine hand with her weak fist. Meanwhile, Annie bites his hand hard making Evergreen quickly withdrawn his grip. "Don't you ever touch me again!" Annie loudly warned.

    With bulging eyes on Annie, Evergreen shouted with anger, "You *****!" He shakes his hand trying to relief the pain. With a growl, he stares at Annie with cold and hateful eyes. He roughly grabs onto Annie's arm tightly to yank on her, trying to drag her out.

    Horrified, Annie tries her best to hold onto Eileen hands tightly to keep herself in the car and away from Evergreen. Released her arm, Evergreen tightly grab Annie's legs to drag her out instead. Yelling for help, Annie struggled to free herself. She kicked his chest forcefully, but it didn't bother him at all. "Let go of me, you jerk!!!" Annie demanded loudly. "Wait till my dad gets you for this!"

    Eddy laughed at Annie remark and also at Evergreen for taking so long to pull a girl half his size out. "Robbi, go help Evergreen pull the other girl away from the one we want," Eddy ordered. "Come on people, hurry up! We don't have all day," warned Eddy.

    With his large weapon hanging around his neck, Robbi walked to Eileen side of the passenger door to open it and start to pull on Eileen.

    Meanwhile, Louis anxious eyes continue to dart back and forth from the street to the gang. His heart raced as he looks at the street waiting for his backup group. But the road is empty and quiet other than the noises created by Annie and her maid. They are pretty far away from him, so he couldn't really sees anyone in detail.

    A bit impatient, Marco walks over toward Evergreen and pushes him away. He quickly grabs Annie by her front tank top and forcefully jerked her out. The force is so great and sudden, that Annie and Eileen tightly hold hands quickly snap apart. "Let go of me now!" yelled Annie.

    "Don't you dare hurt her!" Eileen bravely warned Marco, while she is struggling with Robbie herself.

    Ignoring them, Marco yanks Annie out of the car and holds her in front of him. His sharp deep eyes beamed into Annie's eyes. Unknowingly, his grip weakens a bit to realize that the girl in front of him was the same fourteen-years-old teenager, who once called him as her big brother.

    Meanwhile, Eileen continues to battle with Robbie until Robbie pointed his gun at her. Feeling the gun pressing against her skin, Eileen shivers with fear and became mute. "Step out!" Robbie ordered. Obeying, Eileen got out of the car. "Put your hands behind your head and walk to him," Robbie instructed with his eyes signaling Eileen to head toward Dave. Eileen does as he asks. She kneels down next to Dave with her hands up behind her head, while her eyes are busy looking over toward Annie and Marco, whose are still struggling.

    "Let go of me!!" Annie kept demanding with her voice horsed. Annie has tries to hits and bites Marco firm hand, but no matter what she did Marco didn't move, let go, or even reacted to it. "JERK!" Annie scolded with all of her strength, "DON'T YOU DARE TOUCH ME! LET GO NOW!!" She kicks while swinging her arms around trying to locate and hurt her opponent.

    Seeing Annie having trouble harming him with her weak strength, Marco just smiles at her action as he recalls how he uses to teach Annie defending skill. Meanwhile Marco is in thought, Annie tries to punch Marco in the face, but her arms are too short. And her kicks are just like scratching to Marco. Hearing Annie's frustrated growl, Marco snapped out and chuckled at her. The sound of Marco chuckle made Annie stopped her struggle. The laughing sound is so familiar to her, but she couldn't pick out whose it's belongs to.

    Marco shoves Annie over to Evergreen, so Evergreen can tie Annie up. Evergreen grabs the back of Annie tank top trying to hold her steady. Annie stomped her foot on Evergreen foot causing him to yap in pain. "LET GO OF ME, YOU MORON!!" Annie demanded in the millionth times. She continues her kicking and yelling at Evergreen making him angry and frustrated from dealing with her.

    With a rough hiss, Evergreen stares straight into Annie's eyes wanting to teach her a lesson. At that moment Annie blindly swing her arms toward him and punched his lower jaw. That punch has crosses Evergreen limit, he furiously slapped her across the cheek. After the unexpected slap, Annie shakes her head and blinks her eyes a couple times feeling a bit disoriented. Evergreen let out a single chuckle to see Annie blanked expression, "That teaches you not to mess with me."

    "DON'T HURT HER!" Eileen yelled, while in tears. "Miss Annie are you okay?!" She stopped her yelling when Robbie presses the gun harder onto her forehead.

    Eddy gives Evergreen a disapproval stares and warns, "Evergreen don't beat her up. She is the one that going to help us. We need to treat her nicely before we get the money from her dad."

    Snapped out of her dizziness, Annie provoked by spitted onto Evergreen face. "MORON! My daddy is going to cream you guys for doing this to me!" she threatened.

    With burning eyes, Evergreen stares at her while he wipes off her spit that is on his face with his free hand. His face was obviously darkens several shade. He is about to slap her again, but Marco firmly grabs his hand to stop him. Marco stare at him with cold empty eyes and bitterly warns, "Don't you dare slap her or hit her again. If you cause her to lose one strand of hair, I'll make sure you pay back ten folds."

    Once again, Annie silence down when she hears the familiar voice. Annie keeps trying to recalls this very familiar voice, she turn her head in confusion as she listened to him carefully. Meanwhile Annie is distracted, Marco uses the chance to hold Annie's two hands together and duck taped it on the wrist area. Annie was to captivate on figuring out the voice that she didn't even notice he is tying her up.

    Once Annie felt Marco hand holding hers, she immediately recalls whom the voice belongs to. It's Marco, the so call daai gor gor that she love hanging out with whenever her jie took her out. The one who once has patient enough to teach her how to play arcade games. The one who supposes to love and cherish her jie forever. The recall of what he has done to Flora made Annie eyes burn with flame. She stared straight at his direction and shouts in disbelieves, "YOU ARE MARCO! Why are you doing this to me?!"

    Annie's soft weak heart creates tears to drown her eyes as she scolds in demanding tone, "Let go of me, you jerk!" Annie tries to swings her arms free. "How could you treat my sister like that?" she angrily questioned with redden face. It's hurt her to remember how nice he uses to be. He uses to treat her like a kid sister by being there to protect her and to play with her like buddy. But now, he is here to kidnap her. A drop of tears finally releases from Annie's watery eyes. It's tumbled down making her face more sadden.

    Seeing her tears, Marco felt guilty. "Chung Chung, I wouldn't do this to you, if I have a second choice," he softly explained and called her by her middle name, like how he has always called her in the past.

    Quickly, Annie sniffed her tears and shakes her head, "Stop calling me that! You are no longer the same person... You are a jerk... JERK! Let me go!" Marco didn't release her, instead he lets Evergreen take over. Annie sobbed to knows that he would do this to her. She murmured to him, "Marco, why are you doing this to me?" Marco didn't answer her question, he don't know how to answer her.

    Along with his gang, Eddy eyes are kept on Marco in surprise from hearing Annie called out his name. They didn't know Marco actually know her. Marco signal Evergreen to let go of Annie and let him talk to her. Once Evergreen let go, Annie starts to run, but Marco pulls her back and pushes her against the car. He bitterly grabs her by the neck to keep her still. In tears, Annie stops struggling with him. So he slowly releases his grips. But he stands in front of her and looked into her eyes as he places his hand on Annie's face. Annie trembles and froze to the touch.

    "Chung Chung, you do have some resemblance of Flora. You should be around 22 now, right?" He saw Annie eyes full of anger mixed with fear. "I'm sorry for doing this to you, but it Flora fault for not helping me," Marco claim. He let go of her and grabs her tied hands to start dragging her toward the van.

    Stubbornly, Annie tries to force the opposite direction, but it didn't help, Marco is too strong for her. She is easily drag by Marco, but she keeps swinging her arms to make it more difficult for Marco. "You talk to jie?!" Annie asked in disbelieves.

    Meanwhile, Dave and Eileen eyed Marco dragging Annie toward the van, they wanted to go help Annie, but they are not in the position to help other right now. Louis looked toward Marco curiously seeing him drags the girl near him.

    "Of course, I wouldn't get you into this mess if I could get my money elsewhere. But too bad your sister wouldn't help. So I have to ask you to help, right?" he slipped a wicked smile before he bitterly said, "Don't blame me for being cold hearted toward you. It's Flora, who bring this upon you."

    Annie continues to struggle with Marco to free herself, she replied in a bitter tone too, "Why should my jie help you? You don't even deserve to talk to her. LET GO OF ME, MORON!"

    Of course Marco didn't listen and just throws her up the van, Annie collided into the second row seat and try to get herself sitting upright. Louis turns over and is shock to see it's her. The one that is innocent and sweet. The one whom he had help on the bus. The one he wants to see again, but certainly not in this situation. Speechlessly, Louis just stared at Annie who's right in front of him with his widens eyes. Louis notices her head is bleeding a bit and the slightly red handprint of Evergreen on her left cheek.

    Hopped into the van, Marco helps Annie sit upright. Then he closes all the blind to the van and also put a piece of duct tape over Annie mouth so she can stop screaming and yelling to get attention. Marco gazed into Annie soft vulnerable eyes. Every time he sees those set of eyes, he felt guilty, so he apologized, "I'm sorry Chung Chung. Just don't struggle with us. After we get what we want we will let you go. I promise."

    Annie darts her eyes at the direction of his voice angrily and with hatred. Marco avoided her anger, he ran back out toward brother Eddy, leaving Annie behind. Louis is still staring at Annie as he starts to feel worry and concern for her safety.

    Marco reached Eddy and informed, "Brother Eddy, we are all ready to go. Lets wraps it up before anyone come."

    With a nod of agreement, Eddy instructed, "Everyone return to their vehicle. We'll meet back at our place. Marco goes back to have Louis ready to drive, I'll be there in a minute." Eddy points his gun at Dave and Eileen, who is kneeling on the dirt ground with their hands held up behind their head. Eddy pulls a vanilla envelope out of his black jacket and throws it in front of Dave. "Give this to Mr. Lam! Make sure you tell him not to report to the police or his precious daughter's body will be found right in front of his mansion!" He smiles wickedly at the two servants before turning around to head to the van.

    Gotten up on his numbed leg, Dave picks up the envelope and looked. His attention landed on the van where Annie is sitting next to Marco. "Please don't harm her! I'll go inform Mr. Lam now!" he yelled loudly after Eddy.

    Without turning back, Eddy replies, " As long as Mr. Lam don't tries to play any trick on me, I has no reason to harm her!" He got in the car and Louis drove them away.

    Dave walked over to the shaky and overly shocks Eileen to help her up. "Come on Eileen, we need to go tell Mr. Lam what happened." Eileen got herself up with the help of Dave. She has an urge to cry to see the van drove her defenseless mistress away. They return to the beat up car heading toward Millennium Cooperation. Lam's company as his heart beats faster cause he was also worry about Annie too. Dave doesn't know how to break the news to Howard, he shake his head and sighed as he drive.
    ******

  7. #67
    Senior Member Yak's Avatar
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    Dec 2002
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    Default Chapter 21: Unpleasant Sign

    ******
    Sorry for taking so long to update. I had been really busy lately. Hope you all understand =o) Meanwhile, if you haven't read my completed fanfic "The Other Soul" you could go check it out. The url is www.winglin.net/fanfic/TOSnovel Or go to second page of spcnet fanfic forum to look for it
    ******

    At Bobby's cafe everyone is dispirited to have the farewell party since Annie still hasn't arrive. They all thought that she is too upset to arrive for the party. Seeing everyone moody expression, Ada let out a soft disappoints sigh before she head into the kitchen to obtains her costumer's meal.

    When she steps into kitchen, Ada notices Steven shaking his head as he stares toward the floor. Curiously, Ada walks over to him, while asking "Steven, what's the matter?"

    Startled by Ada voice from behind, Steven turns around to meet her. His face immediately lightens up with a bright smile. "Nothing," he answered before turning back to look at the corpse of a crow lying dead on the kitchen floor with a small puddle of gruesome blood. The crow head was smash by some heavy object causing it to look deformed.

    Curious to what he is looking at, Ada inches forward to take a look. The horrible sight of the dead bird shocks her pale. She let out a sharp squeals and immediately turns around to hug Steven tightly, hiding her eyes safely on his secure shoulder. Ada action made Steven body stiffens nervously with his heart stops at the moment but now slowly beating again. A light sweet smile slowly roasted his cheek. He is surprise and happy about her hugging him.

    "Steven, do something, get it away," Ada pleaded while she shivers a bit at the thought of the gruesome sight.

    Smiling silently, Steven has lost his voice. He nods instead, while waiting for Ada to release him so he could clean up the mess. Since Ada hasn't release her hug, Steven just stood there like a statue, a very content statue. Finally, Ada notice why Steven isn't moving. She blushes a bit and felt awkward. Quickly she releases him. Steven clears his throat and finally forces his voice to assures, "Umm...don't worry, it dead already..."

    Nervously steps back and away, Ada keeps her eyes on the dead black bird. Seeing the nasty corpse of the bird, Ada keeps scooting further back until she bumps into the big pot of soup and burns the back of her hand. "Oww," she moaned softly.

    Steven quickly but gently grabs her hand and drags her to the sink to run cold water on it. His face became serious and fills with worries. He quickly grabs a pot filling it with cold water and ice. Then he quickly submerges Ada hand along with his into the icy cold water. Ada wants to withdraw her hand cause of the coldness, but he firmly kept her hand in the icy water. "Let it soak a while, it will help," Steven told her with a caring smile.

    For the first time, Ada senses something when she looks into his eyes. Not wanting to accept her feeling being true, Ada quickly avoids his eyes. "Steven, I am okay now," her soft voice signals him to let go of her hand. Steven notices that he was grabbing her hand and she want him to let go, so he release her. With a smile again, Ada just brushes her thought away, thinking that she must be overly sensitive. "Thank you, what is the dead bird doing in the kitchen?" Ada asks in her usual friendly tone.

    Turns his head to the bird, Steven shakes his head, "I don't know. I just found it lying there. Something is not right. I could just feel it."

    "Steven, I never know you are that superstitious," stated Ada with giggle.

    Steven looks at her with his set of serious concerning eyes. Ada quickly stopped her giggling cause she could tell that he is serious. Returns his vision back to the dead black crow, Steven sighs, "I don't know, I always see a dead crow when something bad happen. Like the time Annie got injured sixteen years ago. That morning I saw a dead crow in front of our elementary school. And couple weeks ago when she got lost, I saw one dead while I was bike racing. And now..."

    Give him a reassuring smile, Ada said, "I'm sure it just a coincident! I bet it's the work of the cat next door. Don't worry nothing will happen to Annie." Ada smiles in relief to see how much Steven cares for Annie causes it meant her earlier feeling of him liking her must be wrong. "Beside, many birds die each day," continued Ada. She pause to looks at the bird, before finish, "That cat really digs his paws into that poor bird, huh?"

    Nods, Steven chuckles, "Yeah, maybe. I'm just worrying too much." He gives Ada a smile, "Why don't you go out and let me clean up?" Ada nodded and heads out. Steven looks at the dead bird in concern again. "I hope she is okay," he softly murmured as he begins to burry the poor bird.

    When Ada walked out, she sits down on the round table to join the rest. Charmaine is sitting there looking at the door impatiently for Annie. Sighed, Charmaine is never patient enough to hold her mood. "Come on people let's cheer up, it's a party!" Charmaine reminded hoping to spark up some smile. But she is not happy herself. She believe that Annie wouldn't be upset for so long, but why haven't she come yet? "I can't take this anymore!" she impatiently blurted and took off from her chair to pace around. "Why don't we just call her and ask?" she suggested.

    Both Benny and Bowie look at her, signaling her to calls cause they didn't want to upset Annie more if it true that she is still mad. Slumps her shoulder, Charmaine nods, "Fine I'll dial up her phone number and Ada ask." She ended the suggestion with a wide grin on her sister.

    "What?" replied Ada. Seeing Charmaine manipulating puppy face while nudging, Ada nods and gave in. "Alright, go ahead and dial her number" Charmaine pulls her cell out and dialed Annie number before she hands it to Ada. Ada listens to the repeating rings with no answer. "She is not picking it up," Ada informed the two pairs of anxious eyes. Ada is getting worry too, so she dials up Annie's house number. After two rings a servant answered the phone. "Hello, is Miss Annie home?" Ada politely asks.

    "No she is not, Miss Annie went out to Mr. Wong cafe, could you leave a message?" say one of the maid.

    "No, that will be fine. Thank you," Ada relieves voice answered. She hangs up and cheerfully reassures Bowie and Benny, "Don't worry, her servant say she is on her way over."
    -------

    Meanwhile just outside the closed meeting door of Millennium Cooperation, Dave is running toward the secretary, who is sitting outside the meeting room. He had told Eileen to stay outside; cause Eileen couldn't stop crying. Dave didn't want everyone to know what happened to Annie.

    Running out of breath as he reaches the secretary desk, he leans on it while he tries to catch his breath. Eying him funnily, the secretary is wondering who he is and what he wants. "Can I help you, sir?" mannerly asked the middle age woman.

    Still breathing hard, Dave tries to get his message out, "I need ... I need to talk to Mr. Howard Lam now!"

    Looks at him with concern, the secretary step toward him, "Are you okay?" She holds on to Dave cause Dave is having a hard time balancing himself after running up all those stairs. "Mr. Lam is in a big meeting now, can you wait a while? He should be out in about half hour."

    Dave is in no inclination to waits any longer. Keeping his head shaking, Dave basically shouts, "It's very important that I speak to him now!"

    Feeling a bit offended by his yelling at her, the secretary frowns slightly as she instructs, "Calm down. I told you already, Mr. Lam is in a very important meeting with all the shareholders right now. He has order to have no disturbance. I will get him to see you once he finish the meeting."

    With anxious tempted eyes toward the large meeting door, Dave wants to charge in, but he isn't sure if that is the room. He returns his urgent set of eyes to the female, "Listen, I am Mr. Lam's driver. Something really bad had happened, so I need to inform him at once. Is that the meeting room?!"

    "Yes," replied the weak voice of the secretary. Instantly, Dave rushes over and pushed the door open. Surprised by his speed, the secretary runs after him and yells, "You can't go in there!"

    Everyone in the meeting room stops what they were discussing to look toward Dave, especially Howard and Gallen. The father and son are confuses on Dave presents. The look of Dave's pale and out of breath face made them felt eerie.

    "What's wrong?" Howard puzzlingly asked while his lost eyes search for clue. He then weakly questions with a bad feeling starting to build in him, "Where is Annie?"

    Gallen stands up to walks toward Dave, he could tell that something terrible happened. Sunny saw the serious look in Gallen and he too looks at Dave for an answer.

    On the other hand, Dave didn't know how to put the bad news into words. But he knows for sure that this is not a good place for him to blurt it out. As calm and solid as he could make his voice, Dave requests, "Mr. Lam, I need a moment to speaks to you alone."

    Hearing Dave replies, Howard heart felt unsettle. He knows that his guts feeling of Annie being in trouble must be right. Nodded, Howard quickly got up and walks toward his driver. "Follow me," his steady voice instructed. With a stern and hard face, Howard heads out the meeting room guiding Dave to his office. He didn't look or excuse himself from the rest of his partners whose are at the meeting.

    Dave follows behind as his mind plans on how to put the kidnap incident into words. Gallen and Sunny follow along, cause they can feel the important of Dave report, and they want to see if they can help out. They all enter Howard's luxurious office. The employees from outside peeks in curiously as the door shut and blocked them from further snooping.

    Howard stern expression turns slowly into concern as he looks into Dave eyes for explanation. "What happen Dave?"

    Dave still hasn't finds a way to make it sound not too horrible, but how is there a way to make kidnapping sound calm and no big deal? He finally decides to say whatever comes into his busy mind. "Miss Annie has been kidnapped!" he blurted out the main point.

    The three sets of shock eyes dart at him like a pack of wolves being alert to hunt. But the fact is that the three grown men are trying to put Dave's simple phase into their head logically. They lost their speech because they aren't prepares to receive this kind of news.

    Seeing Howard blank face slowly turning darker and the silent of the room made Dave felt nervous and responsible. Dave is feeling guilty that he couldn't protect Annie. So he starts to speak fast and rambles on and on, "It's all my fault. I really did tries to save her. If I could of... but...but there are so many of them and..."

    With angry eyes directs toward Dave, Howard slightly gesture his hand to stops Dave from continuing. He is not angry at Dave, he just doesn't know how to handle the fact. In a calm but hard voices, Howard questions with his eyes narrows onto Dave, "What did you just say?" He knows very well what Dave is saying but he is too shock and confuse, so he couldn't put the picture together yet. "Did you say Annie is kidnapped?" he asked with a pair of fatherly concern eyes. Howard shakes his head cause he known the answer to that question already. So he quickly changes to the next question that pops up into clotted mind. "No, I mean, how did it all happen?"

    "It's all my fault!" Dave continues to blame himself instead of answering Howard question. "I could of helped her in some way...but I ...but there is so many of them..."

    Gallen firmly hand settles on Dave broad shoulder. "Dave, we need you to calm down and tell us what happen," said Gallen impatiently.

    Snapped out of his thought, Dave knows that he needed to control his emotion to explain clearly on what happened. He took in a deep breath to calm himself down before speaking, "This morning, like usual Miss Annie needed to head out, so I got the car ready and driving her to Mr. Wong cafe. But I had to stop the car immediately cause a van just pulled in front of us. Then I saw three men walked out holding gun, MACHINE GUN, they were heading toward us. I tried to get out of the situation by backing up the car, but there are two more cars blocked the road." Dave took a quick pause to swallow, "There were a total of eight of them. All of them are arms with weapon. And they started to fire at us. I really don't know what to do. I really wanted to protect Miss Annie, but I..."

    Feeling his knees weaken, Howard sits himself down on his sofa. He is feeling light hearted with worry for Annie's safety. The situation that Dave is wording out made Howard felt Annie's fear during that moment. Howard shakes his head, he just hope that they won't harm Annie.

    Frowned, Dave continues, "Those guys use a huge hammer to break the windshield and had their gun pointed at me and demanded me to unlock all the doors. I didn't want to, cause I didn't want them to get anywhere near Miss Annie. But they moved their gun toward Miss Annie forehead, I had no choice but to listen and open up." He close his eyes and shakes his head, "I am so sorry, I shouldn't have unlock the door, I ..I ..I don't know what else to do!"

    "It's not your fault," assured Gallen, "You've done your job."

    With flam flaring up his eyes, Howard growled his anger, "Did they hurt her?!"

    "No. They just took her with them," Dave quickly pulls the vanilla envelop out and gives it to Howard. "Mr. Lam, they told me to give you this as soon as possible, and to tell you not to get the police involve or...or..."

    "OR WHAT?!" impatiently yelled the worried father.

    Gulped, Dave answers in a trembling voice, "Or they will return Miss Annie body to the Mansion..."

    With one hard gulp of his fear for Annie's safety, Howard shaky hands quickly fumble to open the envelope. In it he finds a cassette tape. With rushing heart and mind, he keeps turning around and around trying to finds a cassette player. But his office doesn't have a cassette player in sight. He yelled in frustration, "Get me that cassette machine!!"

    "I'll go find one," offered Sunny after seeing his uncle pain and concern. Sunny quickly walked out to find one and return. The employees outside peek in with curiosity as Sunny opens and shuts the door of Howard office. Sunny quickly place the cassette player on the bar counter and plugged into an outlet. Gallen took the tape from Howard shaky hand and quickly place it in the tape recorder and press play.

    Howard walks closer to the player. His face was full of worries and concern for his beloved daughter Annie. The cassette player slowly rolled the tape with little static sound slowly became audible. They were getting impatient, but finally a cruel and hostile voice speak up, "Mr. Lam, we have got your daughter in our hand! If you are a smart man, you would definitely not get anyone else involve with this situation. Cause I promise you that you will never see your daughter again if I find out any cop being involves."

    It was Eddy voice on the tape, he has pause to let out a sinister laugh, "Okay, now let get back to our business! Don't worry we will treat your daughter nicely and won't touch a single strand of her hair, as long as you follow my instruction and give me my request. I can't tell you what I want yet. But be sure to get your financial status ready, so I can get what I want. Don't worry I will call you back. If I were you, I would go home and wait for my call. I'll let you know that I'm not a very patient person. And don't even try to play trick with me if you love your little darling enough."

    Howard listens with his heart racing as he looks dully at the cassette player. The tape ended and the play button popped up, startled him. Snapped out of it, his worry face change into a furious and his temper rising incredibly, "I will get them for this! If Annie is harm in anyway they will all pay for it and I'll hunt them down myself!! Dave do you recognize any of them being people we know?"

    Try to calm his father down, Gallen reasons, "Dad, what we need to do now is to get Annie safely home. We don't want to fight it hard with them and get Annie hurt cause she is in the middle of all of this."

    "Uncle Howard, Gallen is right, Annie safety is the most important issue now," said Sunny. Howard cooled down a bit and breathing hard while trying to control his temper. Howard swears to god to make these idiots pay. He swallowed his anger and looked calmly at his son and nephew.

    Dave just recalls something that is very important on pinning down who is behind this scandal. His face brightens as he remembers Annie words, "Mr. Lam, Miss Annie knows one of them!"

    Surprised, the three Lam dart at Dave with daunted expression. "WHO IS IT?!" demanded Howard with rage.

    "Miss Annie called him Marco..."

    "What?!" shouted Gallen. He couldn't belief he just heard the name that haven't been mention for eight whole years. "You must be kidding me, right?"

    "How could this be?" said Sunny with puzzle. "He haven't show up for eight years, and why would he want to kidnap Annie? I thought he treat Annie as a sister?"

    "That bastard," bitterly murmured Howard with a low growl. He shakes his head and hissed his breath. He knows all along that Marco is not a good guy to be with. The mentioning of Marco name made Howard hot under the collar. "How dare he have the gut to hurt my daughter again!" shouted Howard with steaming eyes. He stood up to pace with rage hysterically rising. "I told that Flora to never get involve with him, see what happen?! If anything happen to Annie, I'll kill that Marco and burn him alive!! THAT BASTARD!"

    With burning flame, Howard is stomping his way heading out as he continue to scold that ex-boyfriend of his daughter, "How could he do this to Annie?! She always defended him against me back then! How could he do this to Annie and Flora?! Wait till I lay my hands on him." Howard continues to storm his way toward the meeting room.

    "Dad remembers, Annie's safety first. She must be very terrifies," reminded Gallen.

    Howard knows that his son is right, he need to focus more on Annie safety. And in order to do that he knows that he need to be in control and get his daughter out of this mess. Howard stops in front of the meeting room, he turns to Dave. "Dave go get the car ready, we'll be down very soon," he ordered before he turns back to face the closed meeting room.

    His secretary opens the door for him to enter. Following behind him is Gallen and Sunny. With his tough stubborn expression, Howard clearly states to his business shareholders, "Meeting is dismiss."

    "But Mr. Lam..." said Wilson, who has a very urgent project in hand.

    With hard eyes, Howard turns his attention and glare at the young employee of his, "I say dismiss! I don't care, push everything backs till tomorrow or next week!" Releasing a puff of breath, Howard is heading out.

    George, one of his business partners, asks in concern, "Howard, what's wrong? Can we help?"

    Didn't want to explain, Howard simply answers, "Nothing. George, I need to leave now, I'll solve everything next week." With that last word, Howard headed out and toward the elevator leaving the confuse people in the meeting room watches his back as he disappear quickly. Gallen and Sunny follow along, they wanted to go home and wait till the kidnapper to call back too. They were in no mood to continue on with business. They walked quickly down to the main floor and out of the building heading to Dave car.

    Their position froze when they saw the beat up car with bullets and scatter glasses everywhere, they couldn't recognize the car any longer. Seeing the car in this condition bring a chill to Howard's heart. He is really worried about Annie, what is Annie going to do with this bunch of cruel and hostile monsters? "Those bastards are going to pay," he mumbled firmly. He grumpily headed into the car and yelled at Dave to get him home as fast as possible.
    -------

    At home, Lisa is happily arranging fresh cut flower with Maggie in the dinning room. They had fun arranging the flower and chatting about the unborn baby future and how to provide the best for the child. Flora just came back from the hospital and joyfully headed toward them. She is happy that she could be home at one in the afternoon, instead of being home at eight at night, which is what she thought she needed to.

    "You are early today," stated Maggie while she is clipping wailed leave off of a rose. "I bet the surgery went great, seeing your cheerful and joyful self!"

    "Yup! Like always, I am the best ever!! The surgery went just perfectly and I got it finish just in one hour! Can't you believe that?" laughed Flora teasingly. "Actually, the surgery was cancel cause my patient has a reaction to the anesthetic, so they have to figure out how to solve that problem first. So I was not needed and my other patients are as good as a chimp! Now I could finally stay home and relax for a day."

    With shaking head, Maggie giggles, "You are such a lazy doctor, Flora."

    "Hey, be nice!" Flora protested with a slight push on Maggie.

    Glancing away from her bouquet, Lisa looks at her daughter with concern, "That doesn't sound good for your patient though. Is the reaction severe? I hope not."

    Give her mom a reassuring smile, Flora replies, "No, it just give him puffy eyes and swollen face. But it decreases the amount of oxygen he receives too, since his airway was swollen a bit. At least he is at a stable condition now. So I need to reschedule..." she stopped cause she hears a loud bang of the front door slamming open.

    They saw Howard swiftly walks in with angry burned face. Seeing Gallen long face too, Maggie quickly rushes to her husband. She gently holds his hand as she wonders what happen. She just thought that it's only business matter. Lisa walks to Howard and eyes his expression closely trying to pick out what's the matter.

    Flora headed toward them too, she has never seen her father with those mad and cold eyes before. She know that something big must happened to make them come home this early and with those hard and frustrated expression. Seeing Gallen and Sunny with the same expression as her dad, Flora too thought that it must be business problem. "Dad is something wrong with the company?" she caringly asked.

    "Did anyone call?!" was her father reply.

    "No one in particular, who are you waiting for?" asked Lisa with still eyes on her husband for an answer. Her husband just keeps the stern and hard face looking at her silently. "Howard, what's wrong?" Lisa urged. Howard didn't say anything, he just stare at Lisa with his inflamed cold stare that is full of distress.

    Seeing his father's face, Gallen knows that his father doesn't know how to spill the news to Lisa. Gallen know very well that his mom will definitely overreact to the news. He kept silent too, he don't want to be the one breaking this news to them. Maggie felt the tension in his hand and face, so she looked into Gallen eyes for detail. Lisa notices that her husband is in no mood to tell her, so she turns her question to Gallen. She stares at her son demanding for an answer, "Gallen, you tell me."

    Nodding, Gallen walks Maggie to settles her down on the sofa, he also guide his mom to the sofa. Lisa heart is beginning to beat irregularly cause of her son action. She sat down on the sofa and kept her eyes on Gallen at all times. Gallen calmly explain, "Mom, you need to stay calm okay?" Lisa nods and impatiently waits for him to explain. But Gallen turns and looked at Flora, who is still stand next to him. "Flora, why don't you sit down too?" he suggested since Marco will be part of his explanation. Flora obeys. Gallen. Gallen couldn't think of anyway to put it except for the straight and forward sentence, "Annie has been kidnapped...."

    Instantly, Lisa became pale from shock, the blood in her face drained quickly. Both Flora and Maggie grasped and stare at each other to make sure they are hearing the same thing being say. Shaking her head in denial, Lisa asks, "Did you just say Annie has been kidnapped?" She stares at Gallen with confusion, cause she didn't want to accept the fact. "That couldn't be. She was here just three hours ago. Dave drove her out right after you two left for work. How could that happen? This must be a mistake! She probably playing a trick on us."

    Lisa stands up and walks to face her husband, hoping he would say that Gallen was kidding. "Howard, is what Gallen say, correct?" Her husband nods in silent. That confirming nods just made Lisa's heart stiffens. Her eyes froze on Howard while her facial expression faded leaving only a blanked shock. Finally being able to finds her voice again, Lisa questions, "How could this be? Howard, what will happen to Annie? What do they want?! When will they release her?" Feeling a headaches starting, Lisa shakes her head with a trace of tears glistering in her pair of eyes, "This can't be happening, we need to save her. She is very important to viv," her voice trailed off and quickly corrects, "To me. Howard, we got to save her. Just give them the money."

    Nodding, Howard gently gathers his wife into his arms, "Lisa, of course I'll save Annie. She's our daughter. You know how much I cherish her. You need to calm down, we all need to be calm in order to help get Annie out of this situation." Howard releases his wife and gaze into her teary eyes. With a weak assuring smile, he asks, "Lisa, you trust me right? I won't let them harm Annie. Don't worry I will never let anything happen to Annie."

    Flora scooted closer to her brother, "Gallen, what did they ask for? And when will they let Annie go?"

    "We don't know yet. All we know is that they will call home and tell us what to do," answered Gallen with a sigh.

    "Should we go get help from the police?" asked Maggie.

    "NO!" snapped Howard. He is not willing to risk Annie life on the hands of the police. So he loudly and clearly stated what he wanted everyone in the living room to understand. "The police can't know about this. I want everyone in here not to mention Annie situation to anyone else, especially the police," exclaim Howard. He looks at Sunny with his cold and concern eyes, Sunny know exactly what he wants to say.

    "Don't worry uncle Howard, I won't tell Julian about Annie being kidnapped," promised Sunny. Howard gave him a relief look and knows that Sunny will not tell Julian about Annie. Sunny has always kept his words.

    "Lisa, are you sure no one called this morning?" Howard asked to make sure.

    "Yes, no stranger call. Only Ada called. She wanted to knows if Annie is going to the cafe, I thought that Annie was on her way so I told the servant to tell her that." Lisa let out a soft sigh, "I should of knows something is wrong when Ada called."

    "There is no way you could figure it out Lisa. Don't over worry yourself. Annie should be fine, since all they want is the money," stated Howard. "Sunny, why don't you go back to the company and help me see what needs to be taking care of. I know many of the shareholders have concerning questions on the Wong's project. The Wong's project can't be hold any longer, or it will hurt our company, I don't want that to happen. So help me settle them down and keep things running, I don't think I would be in until Annie is back."

    Nodded, Sunny assures, "Uncle Howard, don't worry about the company, I'll get everything running like normal. But call me when you have any of Annie's news." After seeing his uncle nods, Sunny left.

    "Gallen, I want you to contact our banks and inform them that I might need to pull a huge sum from the account. Have them get the amount that I have in their bank ready, so I can get them at any time," instructed Howard.

    "I'll go call them right no," replied Gallen. He head upstairs to use the study room phone line, so the home phone line is kept open. Maggie followed him up cause she didn't feel like being away from him at this moment. And the tension in the living room is building up so much.

    After Gallen left, Howard sat down on the sofa with Lisa by his side. Both of their eyes are anxiously on the phone, which is sitting on the marble lamp stand. Flora sat silently waiting too as her heart begins to fills with worry and concern of her little sister. She was deep in thought of memories of Annie, than suddenly the phone ring causing her to jump. Both Lisa and Howard were startled and gaze at the phone not knowing whether to pick it up or not. Gallen and Maggie headed down quickly as they hear the phone ringing. Howard knows that he must pick it up, so he quickly move his shaky hand and pick it up. Everyone else has their eyes bulged out and heart pounding as hard as Howard's heart are.

    Wetted his lip and clear his throat, Howard pushed the talk button on the phone and calmly spoke, "Hello? This is Howard Lam speaking."

    "Good afternoon uncle Howard, is Annie home?" Ada asked in an awkward tone, since she weren't expecting Howard to answer her call. She is very confuses to why Howard actually pick up the phone himself. Ada was representing the rest of the people in the cafe to call, cause they had waited over two hours since the last call saying Annie was on her way over. They were getting worry about her and wanted to find out what take her so long. Especially since Steven feeling something might happen to Annie cause of the bird incident.

    Letting out a relief sigh, Howard body relaxes a bit. But he was also disappointed in hearing Ada voice instead of the kidnapper. He rubbed his exhausted temple with his hand to relief the stress and tension while he think of an excuse for Ada. Everyone else eyes him wondering who is on the phone. He finally decided to just say anything to end the phone call before the real kidnapper calls in. "Ada, Annie is not home right now. She went to visit a friend in the state. She won't be back these couple days. I'm sorry Ada, but I am waiting for an important phone call, so I can't talk right now, okay?"

    Ada is even more puzzles by Howard's answer, but she didn't dare to ask anymore questions, cause she could hears Howard tone being impatient. "Okay. I'm sorry to bother you, uncle Howard. Bye," Ada ended and hung up.

    Howard sat back down with his family again and continues to wait. As for Ada side, she is very confuses on Howard saying Annie left for the state to visit a friend for a couple of days. Ada turns her head side to side as she try to understand Howard answer. Everyone waited impatiently and studying her expression, especially Benny and Bowie. "Well? Jie, what's wrong with Annie? Is she coming or not? Is she still mad at me?" asked Benny with a guilty look.

    "Uncle Howard said she went to visit a friend in the state for a couple of days," informed Ada with blank face.

    Now everyone know why she had that confuse look on a second ago, cause they are all getting the same look now too. "Annie has friends in the state?" questioned Charmaine with wrinkled forehead. "Annie has been to a state before? I thought she never left Hong Kong? This is so confusing! Uncle Howard told you this?" Ada nodded. Charmaine sits down and try to think when Annie start to have friend in the state.

    Knowing Annie well enough, Steven shakes his head, "She don't know anyone that is in the state. She has been out of Hong Kong before, but never alone. This is too odd. Something must be wrong. I know it, my guts feeling is right. Why would uncle Howard say that though? And they say she was on her way over two hours ago. I don't think she would go on vacation without telling me..."

    Looked down on the floor feeling guilty, Benny thought that Annie must still be mad at him, "Maybe she just goes over to stay away from me."

    "Don't be silly Benny. Steven is right. Something is out of sort. Her parents will definitely not let her go alone. Ada are you sure it was Mr. Lam that told you that?" asked Bowie.

    "Yeah! The thing that's weird is that he actually picks up the phone himself. You know they usually let the servants pick it up," Ada exclaim.

    Charmaine agree with her sister suspicion. She added, "Jie is right! Why is uncle Howard at home during this time anyway?" Everyone nods as they try to figure out Annie's where about. Since Bobby, Esther, and Henry had left last Wednesday to vacation in Florida. Charmaine has considers Annie flying over to join them, but why would she just took off so suddenly

    "Ah, let me asks Raymond," suggested Steven. He took his phone out to call Raymond.

    Raymond picks it up right away and knows its' Steven since his caller ID shows up. "Speak up Steven!" Raymond happily answers.

    "Raymond, where is Annie?"

    A bit lost by the question, Raymond asks back, "Isn't she with you guy celebrating Bowie's farewell party?"

    Raymond answer has confirms Steven suspicion. Steven is very worry about Annie now, he quickly explain to Raymond, "No, she didn't show up. Ada called your home and your dad say she went to the state to visit her friend for a couple days, but when did Annie have friend in the state? Do you have any clue to what's going on?"

    "Annie didn't go to the cafe? But she decides to go this morning," Raymond stated, his voice sounded even more confuse, "My dad say Annie left for the state?! That's very odd."

    "Exactly!" Steven answered while hoping Raymond could explain, but it doesn't look like it.

    Raymond has no clue what he has missed out on. "Steve, hold on lets me go home and find out what's going on. I'll call you when I get the story straight okay?"

    "Yes do call me. I hope Annie is fine. I'll wait for your call," Steven said before he hung up.

    Swiftly, Raymond closed his shop early and rushed home. He had a feeling that something is not right. Why would Annie go to the state? Why is his dad home so early? And why didn't Annie tell him if she is leaving to the state? And which state would Annie go, and what friend is she visiting? Other than theirs parents friends, Annie doesn't know anyone outside of Hong Kong. Raymond drives home quickly.

    When he steps into the mansion and being met by his entire family members sitting in the living room with anxiety, he notice that Annie is the only one missing. Raymond lost eyes settle on his mom for an answer. He could tell how worry sick his mom is by the worn out expression on her. Seeing Lisa not going to have the energy to explain to him, Raymond turn to his elder sister, "Jie, why is Annie at the state?"

    Lifted her face up, Flora looks at Raymond oddly, "Who say she went to the state?" The mention of Annie made Flora sadden and wanted to cry. She silently sobs with her leans toward Raymond shoulder. Her action scare Raymond thinking that something horrible has happens to Annie. He doesn't know who to turn to, to get his story straight.

    Gallen saw his brother's concern and confuse look, so he starts to explain, "She has been kidnaps Raymond." Raymond weren't sure that he heard that right and just stare at Gallen with his be wider eyes. Gallen saw his expression and repeated to him again, "Yes, she has been kidnaps this morning."

    "What?!! How? Where?" blurted Raymond with his sharp eyes turning hard and revengeful, "Who did this to her?!"

    Gallen let out a soft sigh, "Dave say Annie recognize one of them being Marco."

    Flora was shocked all over again and stopped her sobbing to process the new information. She slowly let go of Raymond and turns to Gallen with hard and bulged eyes. "WHAT?!" both Flora and Raymond demanded for clarification. Flora is numbed by the thought of Marco being involves in this. "He wouldn't do this to Annie," Flora softly murmured in disbelieves. It's hurt her to realize Marco would do such a thing to Annie, since she has witness how Marco treats Annie eight years ago. "Why? Why would he do this?! How could he?" Flora kept shaking her head and then she remembered Marco asking her for money last time they met. She stands up and furiously shouted, "THAT JERK!" Her family stared at her out break. "He kidnaps Annie just cause I wouldn't gives him the money!"

    Howard is furious with the idea that Flora recently meets him before and didn't mention it to him. "Did you see him again?! Why didn't you tell me?!!" he scolded.

    "Howard calm down. Flora will you explain to us, when you last talk to Marco?" Lisa said.

    Flora is regretting that she didn't just agree to help Marco when he came and ask her for the money. If she would of help, than he wouldn't have to kidnaps Annie. "I saw him couple days ago, he came to look for me in the hospital," explained Flora. Howard is getting angry as he listens. "He asked for my forgiveness and asks me for money, I didn't pay attention to him and left. I didn't know that he would kidnap Annie for that!" Flora temper flare up at the thought of Marco kidnapping Annie, "I will kill him if Annie gets hurt." Cold angry tears rolled down her cheek, now she felt responsible.

    "At least we know that he just wanted money," said Gallen, he wanted to ease everyone worry for a while.

    "I told you to stay away from him back then! Why didn't you listen?! I told you he's not a good person to trust! If you would off listened eight years ago, you wouldn't be pregnant with his child and get dumped by him! Then you wouldn't have the miscarriage that causes problem for your health to bear child in the future! And this kidnapping would certainly not happen!" unreasonably scolded the father.

    "Howard!" Lisa warned while pulling her husband to sit back down. "Are you out of your mind?!" Seeing Flora muted with silent regretful tears made Lisa suffer too. She hisses at her husband, "You had totally forgotten what you has promise me. What happened has happen, it's not Flora's fault. I know you are frustrated, but this is certainly not how you deal with this."

    Glanced over toward his daughter, Howard regrets what he says. He rubbed his face in stress and walks over to sits down next to Flora. Flora lifts her teary eyes to look at her father. She isn't mad at her father, cause she too felt foolish for loving Marco so deeply back then. Howard gently swings his arm around his daughter shoulder to gives her a warm squeeze. He whispered with his deep voice, "I'm sorry, Flora. I didn't mean to hurt you."

    Sniffed on her tears, Flora snuggles her face into her father warm shoulder. She softly said in regret, "I'm sorry daddy."

    "No, it's my fault, I'm the father."

    "Raymond, don't tell anyone about Annie kidnaps, okay?" Lisa told her son. Raymond nods silently. The entire family sits silently waiting for the call. Raymond phone Steven and lie to him, saying Annie went to the state to visit a close friend of the family and just to stay away for a while.
    ******

  8. #68
    Senior Member Yak's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 22: Gaining Trust

    ******
    I had made several changes to the story. I changed Lisa age to sixty-year-old instead of 56. I also changed her relationship with Vivian Leung. She now addresses her as a friend instead of half-sister. You'll understand why in the future =o) Alright, enjoy the chapter!
    ******

    Eddy has decides to not contact Howard yet, cause he wanted Howard to feel the agony of waiting and worrying before he asks for the ransom. His plan worked great cause Howard and his family are all desperate to hear about Annie's condition. They didn't have much sleep or appetite to eat dinner. They were all exhausted and tired from the worry.

    Still sitting in the living room waiting for the phone call, Howard and Lisa became so muted with fear of losing their youngest daughter. Meanwhile, their older three children and Maggie slowly dose off. But every once in a while, they jerk awake when they thought they heard the phone ring. This misery night has been a nightmare to each one of them.

    It's two past midnight already. Annie is kept in a dark and dirty room of the old cabin, with some hungry little rats running around to pick on her left over lunch boxes. Everyone is asleep outside guarding her room. In the dark filthy room Annie too is asleep, since she was tired of screaming and shouting the entire day. Even though she is exhaustingly asleep, she is still really alert if any little sound stirs around her.

    The night is silent with the faint sound of cricket in the background. The sound of footsteps slowly approaches the dark room of Annie. It paused right at the door. A slow clicking sound of the doorknob turning is emitting throughout the room, but Annie is too drowsily asleep to hear anything. Slowly the door creeps open.

    The dark shadow at the doorway belongs to Louis. He is holding a stack of paper towels and a bottle of spring water. His expression is tinted with concern for the girl in front of him. For the entire day, Louis has been curious about this girl that they has kidnapped. He has waited until everyone was asleep before he dares to come in and take a closer look at Annie.

    Carefully, Louis shut the door behind him slowly to make sure he didn't wake anyone up. He doesn't want anyone to notice him walked in. Holding a flashlight to shine his way, Louis approaches Annie with the flashlight on her face. When he is right in front of Annie, Louis squats down next to her. Annie is hugging her legs with her arms while resting her head on her knees. Her soft closed eyes are facing Louis. Seeing how vulnerable she is, Louis heart has a lingering urge to protect and shelter her.

    His still deep eyes are kept on Annie unmoved. For some reason, she has always gives him an impression of being a sweet innocent girl with no concern. With soft eyes on Annie's feature, Louis unknowingly smiles warmly while Annie breath peacefully in her sleep. Finally remembering why he is in here, Louis attention settles on Annie's forehead. He could see her scraped wound is infested with dirt and dried blood. He also saw the corner of Annie lip being slightly cut cause of Evergreen barbaric slap.

    Quietly, Louis opens the bottle of water to wets the paper towels he brings in, so he could help Annie clean her wound before infection set in. Louis gently wash Annie forehead with the wet paper towel by patting on the wound. Not wanting to wake her, his soft touch became more gentles as he rubs on the dried up blood softly to clean it. Annie slightly turns her head away from the touch, causing Louis to pause for a second before continuing.

    When Louis continues, Annie's eyes open immediately when she felt the force on her forehead. With fear drowning her vivid eyes, she quickly shoves the person away from her. Her lips quiver as she inched farther back. Seeing her about to scream, Louis firmly places his hand over her mouth. Once the masculine hand cover her mouth, Annie knows the opponent is a guy. She is terrifies by his action. She doesn't know whose he is or what he wants to do to her. Her head shakes pleading for the guy to let her go. But he wouldn't. Annie's heart pounds loudly. It's so loud that she couldn't hear anything but her own heartbeat and a faint beating of his.

    Loosen his hand to not smother her, Louis lean in to whisper into Annie's ear, "Shhhh...don't scream or you will wake the rest up...I just want to help you wash your wound." His stern expression weakens when he sees Annie eyes fills with fear along with her slightly trembling body. "I'll let go of my hand if you promise not to scream, okay?" he told her.

    Shakily, Annie nods in agreement. Louis slowly releases his hand. Instantly, Annie scooted away from him. She doesn't trust him at all, she don't trust anyone that is in this cabin. But Annie kind of finds his voice familiar and soothing, so she sat there curiously trying to recall where she met him.

    Meanwhile Louis is happy that she didn't scream. He wants to finish washing her cut, so he inched toward her. Once he did that, Annie begins to panic and quickly backed farther away. But when Louis softly and gently places his gentle touch on her forehead, Annie didn't resist. Instead she sits really still to let him finish up. Louis shined the flashlight on her forehead and cleans the wound carefully and gently. Annie can felt the warmth from him and the sense of knowing him for a long time. "Do I know you?" her soft voice suddenly emitted into the silent night.

    Glanced at her, Louis felt a sense of joy to know she recognize his voice, but he didn't admit anything to her. He just kept cleaning her wound. When he finishes, he looks at Annie with a warm smile that is only a slight curve. "All done," his gentle voice told her.

    Louis is really curious of Annie's background and wants to know more about her. He wants to know why she became brother Eddy's target. Louis glances over to the sound of a rat munching on a lunchbox. His caring eyes then return to Annie. "Aren't you hungry?" he asked. Annie didn't say a word, she don't know what to say, she kept trying to recall where she heard this voice before. Louis saw her facial expression of confusion, so he asks, "Are you okay?"

    Somehow his voice made Annie felt really safe and warm. Slowly she began to trust him a bit more. "Yeah...thanks you..." her barely audible voice said.

    Smiling sweetly from his heart, Louis shakes his head, "Don't mention it..."

    Those exact three words have remind Annie where she met him. She is confuse and quickly moves away from him. "You are the guy that helped me on the bus," she stated in disbelieve. Louis is amaze that she recognizes him. But how could Annie forget? He is the only one who is willing to help her. Annie is confuse cause she thought Louis is a nice person, but why is he one of those guy that kidnaps her? She turns her head to face his direction. "Why do you want to capture me? I thought you are a good person..." her soft voice trailed off.

    Louis quickly turns off the flashlight and covers her mouth with his hand when he heard the sound of footstep approaching outside. Annie silent cause she heard it too, both of their eyes widen and froze as still as possible. Annie is facing Louis with uncertainty, while Louis cautions eyes are toward the doorway. Louis is hoping that the person would stop when he sees no light and sound in the room. But the footstep is coming closer. Louis knows that the person must come in to check, so he quickly thinks of an excuse to explains why he is in here. He stares into Annie scared eyes. In a reassuring tone, he whispers into her ear, "It'll be okay, they won't harm you. But I need your help. I need you to whine now, just whine about your head hurting okay? Moan or something..."

    Annie don't really knows what he is up to, but something inside her tells her to listen to him, so she starts to moan and pretends her forehead is hurting her. The door to the room opens slowly to reveal Marco standing in the doorway looking at them curiously. Louis back was facing the door, he pretends that he didn't notice Marco entrance. He started to poke Annie forehead with his finger, while he pretends to treat Annie. "Stop whining!" Louis grumpily shouted at Annie to make a scene. "I am looking at it now! Stop being such a brat. You rich girl could be so annoying. I said stop it! I can't sleep with all of your moaning. Shut up!" Louis continues to examine her forehead and shout at her.

    Annie understands his plan now and plays along to help him. Something told her that he is here to help her like in the first time when they met. Marco steps up to them and Louis turns around to greet him, "Brother Marco, did she wake you up too? I tried to shut her up, but she wouldn't. She kept moaning about her forehead hurting her."

    Squatted down, Marco places his hand on Annie jaw to turns her head toward the left in order to examine her wound. Annie silent when she sense Marco gazes. "Look like you clean it pretty well," said Marco with a slight grin at Louis. He then turns his vision back to Annie, "Chung Chung stop playing trick. I knows it doesn't hurt that much...what do you want?"

    Silently, Annie bitterly glare at his direction, "I want to go home, Marco!"

    Marco frowns, "Sorry Chung Chung, you can't yet." He releases her and signal Louis to follow him out of the room. He pauses to look back at Annie, "Wait patiently for couple more days. I promise I won't let anyone hurt you, if you listen." He turns to Louis, "Lets go, don't need to worry about her whining, she is fine. You need to sleep too." Nodded, Louis looks at Annie for one last time before he walks out with Marco.

    After they left, Annie curled up into a ball cause she could hear and feel a couple of rats running around passing by her. She was screaming and yelling cause of them earlier in the evening, but now she didn't dare to scream. Because of her screaming, Evergreen had came in to hit her when Marco and Eddy were not around, so Annie learns to stay quiet and cope with the rats. She is getting use to them, but she still wants to stay away from them and keep her distant.

    Annie silently sobs as she thinks of her parents and siblings and her nice comfy bed, finally she cries herself to sleep again. Sleeping on the floor right outside, Louis could hear her sobbing. It's made him felt sad and wanted to comfort her, but he knows he shouldn't enter again in case the other caught him. Louis wants to know more about her, but it seem like tonight is not the night to ask her question. Yawned, Louis kept his eyes on Annie room and slowly drifts asleep.
    -------

    The next day before the sunrise, Lisa has wanders into Annie's room. Walking around her daughter bedroom, Lisa hand gently run passes Annie's belonging. She has missed Annie so much and would do anything to just have her return home. The sixty-year-old mother hasn't slept a wink last night cause of her overly worries. Since Annie was born, Lisa has cherish and love her differently than her other three offspring. To her, Annie is different and requires more love to make up for her lost. Lisa has tries her best to tend to Annie every needs even if it mean spoiling. In her heart she has always have this burden of responsibility and needs to make sure that Annie's live well, eat well, and clothed well.

    Lisa pauses when she reaches the glass door leading to the balcony. She slides the door open releasing fresh morning breeze to enter the room. From the corner of her eye she saw a shadow of a figure on the swing. She quickly turns to focus her vision thinking that it's Annie. A frown washes over her hopefulness when she realize it Raymond, who has fallen asleep. Lisa walks toward her son and slightly bends down to get the picture frame that Raymond is holding onto.

    When she turn the frame around there are four youngsters looking back at her. The oldest two were giving out a perfect grin, while the younger two were fooling around. A slight smile grew on Lisa when she focuses on the seven-year-old boy who is holding a toy truck toward his four-year-old sister, making her cry. Tears slowly drown Lisa eyes when her soft fingertip runs over the picture of the four-year-old Annie, who is holding onto her fabric dolly. Lisa begins to silently sob.

    Lisa's faint sniffling wakes Raymond up, he focuses his vision on the person in front of him. When he notices his mother's tears, Raymond quickly got up to guide his mother to sits on the swing. Lisa swallows her tears and murmurs, "Annie has always been afraid, even of little things. Look at this picture. She cries cause she believe what you said about the tires of the truck being snakes." Raymond let out a weak chuckle to remember how he threatens Annie when they were young. She pretty much believes everything that he said. A drop of tear rolls off Lisa chin, "She must be really afraid now..." Raymond sadly nods and wraps one of his arms around his mother shoulder. Lisa holds the picture against her chest, "I want her home."

    "She will return home safely, mom," Raymond weakly said.

    Lisa nods, "Raymond, could you drive me to the cemetery?" Raymond eyes curiously narrow at his mother but he finally nods. He is willing to do anything to ease his mom worry.
    -------

    Raymond sport car pull up to the cold cement of the graveyard. With Raymond by her side, Lisa walks to Vivian grave. Every tombstone has a tint of blue since the sun hasn't fully raises yet. It's only six in the morning. Lisa stops in front of Vivian grave, she squat down to set a bundle of fresh cut mum into the vase.

    Raymond studies the black and white picture of the twenty-year-old girl curiously. He is not sure, but he has a feeling that he had met this girl before, but where and when? "Mom, who is she?" Raymond asked.

    "A friend," was Lisa short answer. "Raymond, could you go fill the vase up with some water?" requested Lisa. After Raymond left, Lisa gazes into Vivian picture. "Viv honey, you got to help me bring Annie home. We have been waiting the entire night for them to call, but they never did. Viv, I'm very afraid. I don't know if Annie is still safe or not. Could they have kills her? That would explain why they didn't call us. Other than that, what else would stop them from calling?" Lisa sighs with her longing eyes at the picture, "I missed you, Vivian. I had already lost you, I can't lose Annie too, you understand? If you could hear me and have the ability, please protect Annie from harm."
    -------

    The sun slowly elevates spreading its' lights on the old cabin making the cabin look dusty and hazy cause it reveal the fade worn out wood. Its' tingling rays shine passes the rusty iron window frame and into the dusty room where Annie is asleep. Annie is sleeping restlessly with both of her clapped hands snuggled warmly under her head. Both of her legs are drawn close to her body to keep herself warm from the morning breeze. She is sleeping like a baby and it seem like she has forgot where she is and what condition she is in.

    The wrecked room is filled with Annie's soft breathing, along with the soft squeaky sound of rats munching on material. There are a family of five rats, all dark gray with long tail and whiskers. They are beside Annie, eating her lunch box from last night, cause she was too stubborn to eat anything given to her by her kidnapper.

    Outside this room were Eddy and his gang all awake and planning how to collect their ransom money from the richest man of Hong Kong. They were arguing about the amount of money to ask for this precious life in their hand. After the long discussion, they finally settle on the amount and all of them agreed that fifty millions is the perfect sum. They had discussed a plan on how to ask for theirs ransom in a way that make Howard obey and listen to their order without hesitation.

    Eddy has instructed Evergreen to obtain a lock of hair from Annie, while he writes a short threatening letter to Howard. Evergreen take his order and head toward the room with his rough barbaric pace. Annie's sleep is quickly awoken when she hears the alarming heavy and unfriendly footsteps walking toward her way. She is scare and trembling while she quickly gotten herself upright in a sitting position. Her nervous heart told her to quickly scoot herself back as far as possible heading toward the back wall.

    While she is backing up, she accidentally knocks her box of rice over and felt one of the rat got on her hand. Its' sharp claws slightly scratch Annie, causing a creep to strike her spine and goose bump instantly appear on her creamy soft skin. Annie let out a sharp squeal as she shakes her hand to get rid of the furry creature. Once she felt it ran with it squeaky noise trailing away, Annie too quickly scooted as far back as possible. She is in fear with tears started to form as she kept herself moving back until her back touches the dirty gray wall.

    Once Annie felt the wall behind her, she stops backing up. Frightfully, Annie hugs her pair of legs tightly as she listens to the heavy and horrifying footsteps coming closer and closer. Her heart pounds faster and faster as she tries to stay away but there is no more room to move, so she swallows her fears and just listen to the footstep approaching. She bit her lower lip nervously when she hears the sound of the squeaky door opens slowly. Gulped, Annie shaky hand reaches toward her necklace to gasp onto her lucky charm that she has since she was born.

    Evilly eyeing her, Evergreen heavy barbaric footsteps rush toward her with unkind mean. Annie knows that it's Evergreen cause it's only him that would treat her so roughly. Her fingers that are holding onto her charm are constantly rubbing on it with nervousness. At this moment, Annie has a lingering feeling that wishes Louis could be by her side. Since the past few acquaintances with Louis, Annie's mind has trusts Louis to be the one that would protect her from harm.

    Staring at Annie with unfriendly means, Evergreen swoops down to her and forcefully grabs her by her neck and roughly jerked her upright. He stares into Annie's sightless eyes cockily with a sense of victory. His eyes slowly lower to Annie's bare shoulder with a slight crooked grin.

    Meanwhile, Annie tries to get his strong hand away from her, so she kicks and screams as she hit him with her two fists. "Let go of me!" she struggled.

    Rolled his eyes with a cynical laugh at Annie action, Evergreen harshly asks, "Is this the best you can do?" Knowing how weak and vulnerable Annie is, made Evergreen felt in control to manipulate her in anyway he desire. He drops her and pushes her to a corner. He pulls out a scissor from his back pocket, wanting to cut a lock of Annie's hair.

    Meanwhile Annie kept up with her punching and kicking, than suddenly she stopped struggling. With dagger eyes darted ahead at the rough breathing of Evergreen, Annie hatefully spits at him again. Evergreen raise his hand and slaps her, which hit the corner of her eyes.

    "OWww..." Annie loudly moaned in pain. The gangs outside heard her so they rushed in. With both hands trying to shove Evergreen away, Annie loudly shouts, "MORON!!" One of her eyes keeps blinking and finally she kept it wrinkling shuts cause it sting from Evergreen hit. "JERK, PICK SOMEONE YOUR OWN SIZE!" she pouts with angry stare toward the sound of his hissing.

    Once Marco rushes in seeing Evergreen forcefully holding Annie still by her neck, he became furious. Marco charges over to Evergreen and tightly grabs the back of his shirt to forcefully jerk him backward and swung him to the other side of the wall. He is inflamed and irritated to keep on seeing Evergreen abusing Annie. With his slick and swift motion, Marco pulls his gun out and points it firmly on Evergreen forehead.

    Meanwhile, Louis ran over to see how Annie is doing. Annie backs away from him cause she doesn't know who's approached her. With her head slightly turning to the sound of racket, Annie tries to figure out what is happening now. She could tell that there are lots of people around her now, but she has no idea what is happening. Annie just keep on moving farther and farther away from the noise with her hands patting the wall to guide her. But suddenly a firm hand interlocks with one of her hand and warmly squeezed her hand giving her an assured feeling. "Is it you?" she weakly asked with confusion. Instead of answering, Louis just nodded, which doesn't help Annie much.

    Staring at Evergreen eyes with his bulged dark eyes full of anger and rage, Marco presses his gun harder against Evergreen forehead. Evergreen slumps his shoulders and rolls his eyes cockily. He is betting that Marco won't have the gut to hurt him in front of brother Eddy. "I TOLD YOU BEFORE NOT TO TOUCH HER!" harshly yelled Marco.

    Evergreen just simply returns a cold look at Marco. He is not afraid at all cause he knows Marco wouldn't dare to kill him in front of brother Eddy. "I was just trying to get her to stay still," Evergreen informed. "She is the one who spit on me first," he mumbled.

    "I DON'T CARE!" Marco grumpily stated and took a step closer to Evergreen to bitterly warn him, "If you dare to touch her again, I'll make sure you don't have a chance to ever do it again." Slowly, Marco pulls the trigger of his gun back to threaten Evergreen. "DO YOU HEAR ME?!!" he loudly questioned and demand a 'yes' from Evergreen.

    Stubbornly, Evergreen didn't reply. Seeing the situation turning downhill, Eddy quickly step between them and pulls Marco away from Evergreen. With a victorious smiles that Eddy is favoring him, Evergreen gaze at Marco cockily. Eddy sighs at his two most helpful sidekicks and warns, "Come on both of you! This is none sense!! We are all into this together, so we need to stick together. Which mean no fight between members." Eddy firm hand place on Marco right shoulder signaling him to back off, but Marco didn't move an inch. Calmly, Eddy deep voice warns, "Marco."

    Letting out a displease sigh, Marco slowly pulls his gun away from Evergreen. But he wants to teach Evergreen a lesson and to let him know that he is serious about his threat. So Marco swiftly rise his gun straight up high aiming toward the ceiling and fired. The loud shot startled Annie to shakes in fear. It remind her of what happened yesterday afternoon, so she quickly cover her ears tightly with both her hands and screams loudly.

    Witnessing her panicking, Louis quickly shelters her by hugging her tightly with one of his hand holding her head against his chest. Annie felt secure and warm from Louis embrace, and hearing the beating of his heart help sooth her fear down. Wanting his protection, Annie quickly sneaks her arms around Louis body to tightly embrace him. Her head snuggled into his firm chest to sob and wets his shirt with her fearful tears. She wishes that all these horrible noise could stop and go away.

    At making a bullet hole on the roof, Marco lower his arm and slide his gun back to the backside of his pant. Marco bulging cold stare is still on Evergreen. He firmly warns once more, "I'm warning you one more time. If you touch her again, I will personally kill you without hesitation." With that last warning, Marco backs off and heads toward Annie.

    Disappointed, Eddy darts at Evergreen seriously. "Evergreen leaves the girl alone! I told you to come in and cut a lock of her hair, not beating her up! Could you think of the big picture and act more rational?" With a hint of guilt, Evergreen looks down at the floor, but his heart is full of anger that Eddy is taking Marco side now. Eddy shakes his head at Evergreen with hopelessness. He has known Evergreen for the past ten years of course he knows Evergreen rash behavior well. The only reason he still put up with Evergreen behavior is because he knows deep down Evergreen is very loyal to him, and he has always treat Evergreen as his younger brother.

    Eddy let out another sighs, "Evergreen, how are you expecting me to depend on you to get things done without causing more trouble?" Evergreen is silent. Eddy vision turns to Marco, "Marco, you cut her hair." Than Eddy clearly and solidly states to all his followers, "I don't want anymore fight between us brother. Everyone have to stick together and get this plan smoothly running. Do you all hear me?!" Spontaneously, every member agrees except for Marco and Evergreen who hates each other guts, but they reluctantly nodded to brother Eddy. Brother Eddy walked out and signal Evergreen to follow him.

    Everyone left, leaving only Marco, Louis, and Annie in the room. Annie is silent with her dried tears. Her head is still safely snuggled onto Louis's chest feeling safe and sound with him by her side. Knowing that Marco wants to have a word with Annie, Louis slowly releases his hug and loosens Annie's hands from clenching his shirt. Annie tries to hold on, but he has stepped away from her.

    Angrily, Marco grabs Annie by the arm and pulled her to stand in front of him. His blazing eyes study Annie with cold and hard expression. Louis backed off to silently watch. Seeing Annie watery red eyes made Marco heart softens a bit cause he does love her as his younger sister. He sighs at her with his two hands on her shoulders. His voice finally breaks the silent tension and ends Annie's soft sniffling, "If you are smart, you wouldn't act this childish in front of Evergreen again. Don't you act foolish again and try to get yourself kill before we get money from your dad. I am warning you not to play anymore of your little trick to stir trouble, or I am not helping you again. YOU HEAR ME?!"

    "It's not my fault," Annie protested with a sniff and harden her eyes toward the sound of his voice, "And you are not helping me! You are the one who brings me here. You only want me for the money..." Annie wipes her tears away and tries to blink the rest away, but more tears keep forming. Softly, she finally murmurs, "Why Marco? You use to love me and care for me and jie....what happen to you? Why are you doing this to me and jie?" Her volume drops to a barely audible whisper, "I missed the old you..."

    Marco felt sorry that he had to do this to her, but there is no choice. Annie's teary eyes had always melted his heart, no matter it's eight years ago or now. Gently, Marco reaches his hand toward her face and wipe off her tears for her. "I am sorry, " was all he could offer her right now. He glances at Louis and back to Annie, "Just stay calm and patient. We will let you go home once we gets what we after." Marco turns to Louis, "Louis, you help me cut a lock of her hair. I'm going out to finish off the things I'm charge of."

    After hearing him steps out of the room, Annie dries her tears and rubbed on the corner of her eyes where Evergreen hits her. Louis steps in front of her and slowly tilts her chin upward with his firm hand to exams the bruise on the corner of Annie's right eye. Caringly, he moves Annie's hand away from it. Annie wants to rubs her eye again causes it felt like it's on fire. Before she could reach her eye, Louis held her hand so she can't rub it. "Don't," his deep expressionless voice told her.

    Annie slightly tilt her head up a bit more to aid her hearing. "You are one of them?" she asks with frustrated brows.

    "You will make it worse by rubbing it," was Louis reply.

    "Why do you want to be part of them?" Annie urged him to speak up.

    "I'll help you clean your wound..."

    Frustrated that he wouldn't answer her, Annie growls softly as she steps away from him. "Don't touch me. I don't need your help. You just wanted my daddy money too! I can't believe that I once thought you was a nice guys."

    Dropped his head, Louis didn't reply to her comment. Instead he walks toward the scissor Evergreen left behind. After he picks it up, he returns to Annie. He could tell that Annie is mad at him and everyone who is in this cabin. "Trust me, I have never thought of kidnapping you," he finally told her as he walks closer to her, but Annie backed away. "Let me get a small lock of your hair," he said as he guide the scissor closer to Annie's hair on the side, while his other hand grabs a lock of her hair.

    Still angry with him, Annie didn't want to be touch by him, so she turns her head and try to push him away with her left hand. Blindly, she lands her hand right on the point of the scissor. Getting poked, she quickly withdraws her hand. The tiny hole on her palm starts to bleed. Louis quickly drops the scissor in order to free his hands to care for her. He swiftly grabs her hand tightly to exam the puncture wound. "I told you not to move! See what you did to yourself?!" he harshly scolded her.

    Stubbornly, Annie tries to pulls her hand away from Louis firm grips. "I wouldn't get injure, if you didn't hold the scissor! Let go!!" she demanded.

    "NO! STAY STILL!!" his thunder like voice yelled. Pouting at him, Annie holds still. She could feel that Louis care about her a lot, so she stop her struggling and let him care her wound.

    Lifted her palm to his lips, Louis sucks the blood out and quickly press on her puncture wound with the bottom of his white T-shirt to apply pressure on it. He knows that this will allow the blood to stop flowing and begin to clot. Meanwhile applying pressure on her palm, Louis glance into her vivid eyes, which is glaring with tears. 'It must hurt,' he thought. "Don't worry it will clot in a minute," he assured with a more softer tone. A smile lightens his face when he saw Annie slightly nods to him. "Listen, it will be much better if you just listen to them. Then you wouldn't get beat up like this," he glances over at her hair, "Just let me cut a tiny bit of your hair, okay?"

    Hesitated to give in, Annie finally agrees, since he sound trustable. She is confuses on why he's treating her so nice, even though he is one of them. Meanwhile, Louis was relief that Annie listened to him. He slowly takes his T-shirt away from Annie's hand and looked at her cut. It's not bleeding a lot now; just a little blood is seen. He then picks up the scissor again and cuts out a tiny lock of Annie hair from the back. Then he smiles weakly at her, "See that's all they want."

    The more Annie gets to know Louis, the more she don't see him as one of them. He is not the same as them at all. And something tells her that he is here to help her. "Why do they want my hair? And who are you?"

    Gazed toward the doorway, Louis answers, "They want to send it to your dad." He returns his sight to Annie again, "Trust me, I won't harm you and I'll not let them harm you." He smiles at her, "I'm Louis. Your name is Chung Chung right? What is your last..." Marco walked in so Louis stops his questioning.

    With eyes on Annie, Marco asks Louis, "Have you got her hair yet?"

    Louis expression change when he talks to Marco, "Yes, I did brother Marco!"

    "Good let's go and get the rest of our plan rolling," Marco looks at Annie for one last time, "Don't cause any more trouble, Chung Chung." Annie gave him a cold stare and didn't say anything. Marco turns around and walks out with Louis.
    ******

  9. #69
    Senior Member Paradise's Avatar
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    Yak, I really like the development of this story. I have been waiting for your update a long long long time. =)

  10. #70
    Senior Member Yak's Avatar
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    Paradise, thanks for the comment It's nice to have some encouragement. Anyway, enjoy the next chapter

  11. #71
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    Default Chapter 23: Roaring Thunder

    "Tai Tai, Saam Seeu," greeted an old maid after she opened the door for Lisa and Raymond to enter. Lisa just gives a slight nod to the maid.

    "Mom, you were out?" asked Flora with a hint of surprise.

    With a weary nod, Lisa replies, "I couldn't sleep, so I asks Raymond to go out for a walk with me for a while. Is there any news on Annie?" Lisa looks into her daughter eyes with concern. Flora just shakes her head sadly causing both Lisa and Raymond to frown. "Has your father woken up yet?" asked the mother as she glances on her watch, which is stating eight-twenty in the morning.

    At the moment, Howard walks down the stair and head to his wife. He warmly reaches out to hold Lisa hand and gave her a reassuring squeeze. "You should of wake me up to walk with you," his warm but tired voice said.

    "It took you till four this morning to fall asleep. I wanted you to rest more," answered Lisa with caring eyes on her husband. Howard started to walks her to the dinning room. Both Flora and Raymond follow along.

    From the dinning room they hear whispering of Gallen voice from the kitchen. He is asking a servant to help him warm up a glass of milk and get him some crackers. After he had gotten what he wants he heads out of the kitchen. "Dad, mom," he greeted.

    Seeing him holding the glass of milk and crackers, Lisa curiously asks, "You're having crackers for breakfast?"

    "No, these are for Maggie. She is having morning sickness. Flora said these could help ease her vomiting," explained Gallen.

    "Is she alright? Flora, maybe you odd to check on her," suggested Howard.

    "Flora did already, dad. Don't worry Maggie is fine. I'll bring these up to her first. We'll come down for breakfast soon," Gallen exclaim and exit the dinning room. Right when he exits, John theirs gardener rushes into the dinning room.

    Nervously, John heads to Howard, "Mr. Lam, I found this envelope right outside our gate. It's addresses to you, sir." The four pairs of eyes are on the envelope with tension and their heart begins to beats faster. Howard quickly grabs the letter and opens it. Seeing a piece of paper in it, Howard quickly pulls it out. Three inches fragment of Annie's black smooth hair falls onto the dinning table and Howard creamy vest.

    "Is it Annie?" Flora fearful voice murmured, but no one reply.

    Howard quickly opens the folded paper to read the content. His eyes swiftly scan pass lines after lines searching for fact that tell him, Annie is still safe and alive. His weaken deep voice read the note out loud, "I hope you are glad that they are only your daughter's hair. But I can't guarantee you that it won't be her fingers or toes next time. So listen clearly and follow my instruction exactly the way I wanted you to. I am giving you two days to get fifty millions together. I want them in large bills and don't try to give me a cent less. After you have the correct sum, wrap the money in newspaper and place it in a backpack. Remember not to play any trick or your precious daughter will not see you again. I'll inform you now, that she is getting to be a bit annoying to one of us and he will certainly be more than happy to get rid of her for you or at least make her suffer. So it's wise of you to not crosses us. After you get the money ready, we'll call you back for the next step."

    Instantly Howard's face darkens, his hand tightly crumbles the letter that he just read. Sitting back down on his seat, he rubs his tire and heavy eyes with a soft sigh. Lisa is silent and numb, she can't react anymore cause she is too tire and overly worried. The statement about Annie being annoying to them, make them worry that those monsters will harm her.

    Both Gallen and Maggie walk over to the dinning room to join the rest of the family. When they notice the silent, they know that everyone must be worrying about Annie. Pulled a chair out for Maggie, Gallen too sits down next to his wife. He saw the crumbled piece of paper in his father hand along with fragment of hairs on the dinning table, which make him guess it's from the kidnapper. "Has they finally contact us?" he asked.

    "Gallen, help me get fifty million put together. I need to go lie down," Howard wearily said. Pushing his chair out, Howard sadly stands up to head up to his room. He hasn't had the appetite to eat since yesterday. Not having the appetite to eat also, Lisa went after her husband, wanting to make sure Howard will be okay. Howard had wanted to heard Annie voice to make sure she is okay, but it seem like they are not going to call him. There is nothing else he could do now, but wait.

    After Flora and Raymond explained to him about the letter, Gallen went to make several phone calls. He has called several banks in order to pull the ransom sum in cash ready.
    -------

    Not wanting to trap herself home anxiously worrying about her kid sister, Flora has decides to head out for a walk. She end up driving herself to the same toys shop that Bowie took her weeks ago. She chose to walk the toys shop cause she has promise to buy toy for one of her patient. Even though Flora is in the toys store, she has no mood to shop. Everything seems to blend together and turns gray on her.

    Absentmindedly, Flora just stares at everything with her dull and tired brain. She slowly walked aisle after aisle staring at everything blankly, than she stopped suddenly at the view of the big Hello Kitty in front of her. She remembered that Annie always loved Hello Kitty accessories ever since she was four. This Hello Kitty that is in front of her now is exactly the one she buy for Annie's fifth birthday.

    In order to buy that big stuffed Hello Kitty, Flora ended up tutoring her classmate to earn money for it. Back than she was only thirteen, but she was the smartest one of the class. It took her a while to save up enough for the gift, which is why she remembers it so well.
    Flora remembers that her dad has given her allowance to spend, but she didn't use her allowance to buy the gift. Instead, she has chose to use her own saving on it, cause she wanted it to be something special for Annie. The memory just brings tears to Flora's eyes.

    Meanwhile Bowie and his five-year-old son Toby are just at the next aisle over picking out a remote control toy car. Toby is testing out a blue and white police car by moving it with the remote. He is having fun and driving it toward the next aisle while his father follows couple feet behind.

    The plastic police patrol car ran into Flora foot and stopped with sound of siren starting to alarm. Toby chuckles at the sound and curiously looks up to see whose he hit. Bowie finally turns the corner into the aisle finding Toby and Flora. Bowie is surprise to see Flora here.

    On the other hand, Flora has tries to keeps all of her stress and emotion inside, but once the toy car bump into her, she instantly started to sob and it became a cry. The five-year-old boy is shock to see her crying, he felt bad and guilty thinking that he has hurts her a lot, so he too starts to cry. Bowie pace quickens to reaches the two sad souls. "What's wrong?" Bowie concernedly questioned Flora. He hasn't seen her cry like this before. "I'm sorry, did Toby hurt you?" he asked, but he doubt that being the reason, cause that plastic rubber made car is too harmless.

    With watery eyes, Flora looks up and saw him in front of her burry vision. Feeling a bit vulnerable, she lean toward him in order to borrow his shoulder to cries on. Sobbing nonstop, Flora hugs Bowie really tightly while she finally felt save to let all of her emotion run wild. It has been too much pressure for her to hold up any longer. She felt responsible because of Marco involvement.

    Standing still for her to cry on, Bowie could feel her pain and sorrow. He don't know what to do except to gently run his hand up and down Flora's back. "Shh... shhhh... everything will be okay...shhh..." Flora is not finish yet, so she continues to sobs on him.

    Toby face turns tomatoes red as he cries with his frown. He is sorry for making Flora cry. Crying louder, he leans over toward Flora to hugs her legs. "I'm sorry.....I'm really sorry...." mumbled the child as he cries his heart out.

    Flora didn't notice Toby present until she felt Toby tight arms around her legs. She quickly realizes what she is doing, so she snapped out and collected her fragile self together. She slowly let go of Bowie and wipes her tears away as she squat down to move Toby tight grip. Toby wipes his tears and looked at Flora face, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you... They should have bumper on those car."

    In between tears, Flora let out a soft chuckle and pulls Toby in, giving him a warm hug. Released the young boy, Flora looks into his eyes. "I am sorry Toby. Don't feel bad, it's not your fault, you didn't hurt me at all," assured Flora. She forces a weak but warm smile, "In fact you helped me release my stress and pressure. Thanks you." Toby silent to looks at her in confusion, he never gets what adult thinks about. Flora slowly stand back up and she saw Bowie stare at her wanting to know what is wrong with her. "I am fine now, sorry to make your shoulder wet," apologized Flora.

    With suspicious eyes on Flora, Bowie questions, "Where is Annie?" He has a gut feeling that something had happen to Annie. Cause he know that there is no way for Annie to suddenly fly to the state. And to witness Flora shedding tears like this make him more concern.

    Flora is a bit taken back by his question. "Aa...she...she is visiting a friend..." weakly replied Flora while turned away not wanting to give any eyes contact.

    But Bowie is not satisfied with that answer and is not willing to let it go that easily. With gentle but yet firm hands, Bowie turns her to face him. Toby curiously stares at his father and this strange female. Bowie notices his stares so he orders, "Toby go play with the other toys and let me talk to aunty Flora." Toby stares at them for a while before he turns around to play elsewhere. Bowie returns his attention to Flora again, "Flora, tells me the truth. I know Annie for a very long time, and I'm pretty sure that she wouldn't leave with out telling me. You know I treat her like my own sister. Flora, I'm really worried about her. Please?"

    Seeing Bowie caring eyes, Flora sighs and whispers into his ears not to let other hear her, "Annie...she..she has been kidnaps..." Bowie eyes open widely and in shock, he was not expecting to hear this at all. "But don't tell anyone...cause she might get kill because of it...," requested Flora. Noticing the blank face on Bowie, Flora calls out, "Bowie?"

    Snapped out of it, Bowie questions, "Yeah, I won't. But how? When? You need to tell me. Is there anyway I could help?" He looks at the surrounding and saw many people around. "Lets go to my house," he suggested. Flora nods.
    -------

    It's only eight in the evening, but the sky is as dark as a bowl of black grass jelly. The weather is hot and humid, but the busy Cat Walk street is still filled with people walking around enjoying the night of entertainment with food and small bargain stands that sell basically anything. People are crowded all over trying to get to their favorite stands of streets food. Cat Walk's street is located in a poor neighborhood that is very dirty and messy. People around here know to protect their purse and wallet away from three hands thefts.

    At the corner of this street is Louis wearing black from head to toes. He is walking toward the old apartment building. Like usual, Louis is send by his gang members to buy lunch boxes for dinner. It's his responsibility cause he is the newest member of the gang. Louis didn't mind at all cause he needed this short time to get his important business done too.

    With sharp eyes studying the tall worn out apartment complex, he ponder about being followed. So Louis turn back to check with his usual cold and stern expression. Seeing the coast is clear, he quickly head toward the old building. Slowly, Louis walks up the dirty and graffiti staircase. Even though it's hot and humid, he still has a black long trench coat on, with the collar pulled up to cover his neck and half side of his face. He don't want anyone to notice him, cause it will ruin his entire plan.

    Cautiously his ears perk up for suspicious sound while he walked up with very firm but silent footstep. Suddenly, his pace stop. His eyes anxiously turn slightly back toward the sound of footsteps coming up behind him. With experience, Louis never panic, he just simply and quietly enters the tenth floor residential flats area. Hiding behind the door in the dark, Louis single vivid dark eyes peek through the small opening of the tenth floor door looking at the empty staircase for the people that are behind him to show up. His eyes are cold and empty as he stares at the dimly lit stair with flickering light. He could hear the sound of footstep slowly heads toward the tenth floor. His heart pounded a bit faster cause he thought it could be someone that followed him.

    After a couple agonizing minutes passed, an old couple walks up slowly and shakily as they head up toward the eleventh floor. Louis releases his breath and rolls his eyes in relief that no one is following him. He stays put on tenth floor waiting for the two old couple to walk up far enough before he decides to step back out to the staircase and head up toward the roof of the building again.

    The flat roof is dark and quiet with nothing but antennas, some water pipes, and construction material. Scanning the area, Louis walks around to look for the person that he was suppose to meet, but he was no where in sight yet. Disappointed, Louis steps toward the edge of the building to looks down at the tiny people and cars below. He is a bit startled when someone from behind patted his back. He knows exactly who it was, so he turns around to stares him straight in his eyes coldly and seriously. "Where have you been lately?! I has try to contact you for the pass few days!" frustratingly stated Louis to his best friend slash supervisor.

    "You're looking for me? You had no idea how many troubles I go through to find out news about you and Eddy gangs for the last couple weeks! Louis, I thought you are a dead man," he exclaim half jokingly.

    "How could I die if you haven't die yet Julian?" said Louis with a smirk. "I couldn't come out to meet you cause the entire gang decided to hide at Sky Swan Mountain to stay away from Cheapskate Joe's gangs. I have no excuse to leave the cabin other than buying lunchboxes. I did try to contact you several times."

    "Never mind about that. Is there any new info on Eddy next big plan? We really have to nail him since we basically fail our last attempt. Have you find any important evidence to put them in jail yet? It's just too bad that we let him destroy all the evidence last time," with a sigh, Julian gazes at the city lights below.

    Standing next to Julian, Louis studies the street too. He let out a sigh, when he thinks of Annie. His expression quickly became serious and stern with worry for Annie's safety. "Julian, they had gone crazy! I mean it too. They had kidnapped a girl to try to ransom money for their debt. I tries to contact you, but I can't cause they were looking very closely at every move I made, especially that Evergreen jerk. I called the police on the day of the kidnapping when I had the chance, but no one came in time!!" Louis face is frustrated and angry, "I really think that our police department needed to change it pace of getting things done."

    Julian is concern with the drug case being change into a more serious case of kidnapping. He turns around and looks at Louis in the eyes, "Whose did they kidnap? And when was the kidnapping? We haven't received any call on kidnapping lately." Julian disappointedly shakes his head, "But the victim's family usually doesn't report them anyway." He sighs, "It would be so much easier if those people just trust the police more."

    Louis hasn't confirms with Annie about her name yet, since he didn't get enough time to do so. "I'm not sure what her full name is. All I know is one of the members called her Chung Chung..."

    "Worm?" chuckled Julian. Louis gazes at him to get serious. Julian clears his throat, "Continue."

    "I'm guessing that is a pet name. In fact I don't know any information about her, all I know is that she is blind and she know one of the member name Marco," finished Louis.

    "That doesn't help, there is so many blind girls out there. Even one of my cousin is blind," obliviously stated Julian. Julian never thought of the girl being Annie at all, cause he couldn't imagine Annie being kidnaps and no has mention to him that Annie is missing. "Marco Ngai?" asked Julian. Julian has no idea who Marco is either, since he was studying oversea during the time Flora met Marco. He remembers the name only because Marco name is in one of his case file.

    "Yeah, he is the one. So far the girl is save, but they are planning to ask for the ransom money on Monday. I have a feeling that it's not going to be a simple kidnapping case, cause they had buy many weapons and bombs from those mainland underground society. We really need to help the girl, I'm afraid that she is going to be in between this whole mess of firearm." Louis voice softened, "And she is blind."

    Even though Julian is worry for the hostage safety, he is more excited about this case cause this could be a chance to put Eddy and his entire gang in jail for a longer time than drug dealing. "This is a big deal. It'll be our chance to catch them committing a crime and finally put them in jail. Did they mention on who they are asking the money from?"

    Sadly Louis shakes his head, "Every time I try to asks Eddy more question, this Evergreen jerk kept interrupting on purpose. I try to ask the girl, but they didn't give me enough time to be with her alone, and they do keeps a pretty close eyes on her at all time."

    "Don't worry Louis, we will help save her and imprison all of those who done wrong. But we must know more about her and her family. We need to contact her family and convince them to work with us. If they wouldn't file a kidnaps case, the head of the police department is not going to let me take my crews to help save her." With a glance toward Louis, Julian continue, "Try your best to find out more and meet me here again tomorrow night. I'll go now and be careful." Louis nods to his order. Julian left the roof leaving Louis behind. Louis stays there awhile longer and thinks of how he could get his chance to talk to Annie alone and find out more.
    -------

    Meanwhile back at the cabin, Eddy and Marco have walked out to look at the mountain nearby surrounding. They are deciding where it would be the best place to have Howard meet them to get their ransom. In the old cabin are only Evergreen and five other members waiting impatiently for Louis to return with their dinner.

    As usual, Evergreen is getting very impatient as he paces around the cabin grumpily. The other five members are playing cards while smoking, eating peanut, and drinking beer. As for Annie, she has been listening to Louis advice on staying obedient. So she is quiet and didn't even make a noise the entire day. It was also because she is really hungry and weak. Because of her stubbornness, she hasn't eats since Thursday night dinner and it is Saturday night now. She was too stubborn to eat what they give her, but finally she has decides to eat tonight dinner cause she really can't take this starving feeling any longer. With her stomach growling, Annie continues to impatiently wait for Louis to come in and give her the lunch box like usual.

    "Eekk..." slightly squeaked Annie when she felt a rat ran over her foot. Annie has always hears of horrible story about rat when she was young, mainly due to Raymond wanting to frighten her. Her three most feared creatures are rat, snake, and spider. Having to live with rats for the past two days had been an agonizing experience for Annie.

    Slightly frowning, Annie curls herself up in a ball so that the rat can't touch her much. But still she felt one of them ran pass her feet again. "Stay away! I gave you all my food already, so be nice!" she scolded as she scoots herself closer to the wall and sits silently hugging her legs again.

    Annie wish so much that she can go home and sleep in her own luxurious bedroom and eat Maggie's food, especially the orange peel chicken. Annie sighs loudly when she thinks of the orange peels chicken that Maggie made for her every once in a while. "Maggie, I missed you..." she murmured as she lick her lips. Her stomach growled loudly like the rumbling of the sky outside. "No Annie, stop thinking about food!" she warned herself with another sigh.

    "I even start to miss Benny too, I would do his algebra and physic homework if I can just be home right now..." Annie starting to feel bad for how she has treat Benny from the past. She knows she is a bit demanding and rude to him with her childish behavior. It is only now that she starting to learn that she odd to treasure friendship more. Annie frowned, "I'm sorry Benny. Hope you are not mad."

    Rubbed the side of her right cheek onto her folded arms that are rest on her kneecaps, Annie mumbled softly, "What are they all doing now? Must be much better than me for sure." Tears flowed down her cheek, she bravely sniff it away, "Mommy, you must be very worry about me...I missed you too." She took in a deep breath and wipes her tears away. "Come on Annie, you are a tough girl! You can't show those idiots out there that you are afraid of them."

    After a moment of silent, her stomach growls again. "Where are Louis and my dinner?" Annie pouted as she listens to the sound of thunder from outside. Ever since her accident sixteen years ago, Annie has always fear the sound of thunder. Nervously, she clenches tighter to herself and tries to ignore the sound of the coming storm. "Please return soon, Louis," Annie whispered into the dark. Louis has become the only one she could depend on out of the handful of monsters outside.

    Meanwhile outside of her room, Evergreen is getting irritated with being stuck in the cabin the entire day. He is pacing around angrily growling, "When can we get out of this dump!! I could be out there right now enjoying gourmet food, instead of waiting for that lousy Louis and his lousy lunchboxes! And all the pretty women are waiting for me out there!! AgrR! This dam place has nothing but mosquitoes!" He yelled while slapping his arm to kill the poor insect.

    Robbie laugh as he walks toward Evergreen, "Come on brother Evergreen, we just need to wait till Monday to come. Than we can eat and have all the girls we wants! I just can't wait till the money is in my hand!! I am going to spend it on a new sport car!"

    Laughed, Evergreen pushes his head away playfully, "All you thinks about is car. No wonder you like parking cars." He loudly sighs, "I can't take this any longer!! I am going out to get myself a decent girl, and a meal!" He is about to heads toward the exit door, but Robbie and Roy stop him.

    "Brother Evergreen, you can't go out. It's dangerous out side, since Cheapskate Joe and his gangs could be anywhere. Come on, Louis is coming back with the food, just wait a bit longer," Roy exclaim.

    Rolled his eyes with annoyance, Evergreen said with dissatisfies, "You call that food?" He lean his head closer toward Roy, "Alright, it's not just the food. I still need to pick up a chic you know? I had been stuck in here for so long cause of that stupid Cheapskate Joe! I am a man and I have my needs!!" he proudly said.

    A loud clashing of thunder is hears following by the loud frightful scream of Annie from the room. Evergreen attention immediately darts toward the room with a slight evil grin glowing on his perverted expression. He quickly lost the itch to go out, since there is what he wants from that room.

    Seeing his expression, both Roy and Robbie know exactly what he is up to. They quickly tried to stop him. "No brother Evergreen! You can't touch her. Did you remember brother Marco words?" Robbie reminded.

    The mentioning of Marco name brings bitter flame into Evergreen eyes. It made him more tempted to mess with Annie as revenge toward Marco. With sharps piercing eyes on Robbie, Evergreen forcefully grabs Robbie by the shirt and lifted Robbie in front of him. His blazing cold eyes stares into Robbie's soul with his icy blue flamed eyes. "Don't you dare to command me on what I should or should not do!! And don't you ever put Marco name in to scare me! HE IS NOTHING TO ME! I don't need to listen to him!!"

    Swallowed down his anger, Evergreen releases Robbie and smiles at him wickedly, "Beside, she is just our prey." He chuckles cockily, "Like she could get away alive. You know brother Eddy, he is definitely not letting her live after the deal close. So how could a little happiness time with me change anything? Beside, I'm doing her a favor before she has to die." Evergreen stares at Robbie and Roy warningly, "Stay out of my way." His stern expression became a perverted smile with narrows brows, "When I'm done with her, I'll let you two enjoy her." With that, he fearlessly heads toward Annie's room. Robbie and Roy don't know what else to do except to go back to theirs cards game with the other three members.

    Inside the dark room where Annie is kept, a soft humming is audible. Annie is slightly rocking herself back and forth as she hum. By humming, she wants to distract herself enough to ignore the horrible sound of the thunderstorm. Since young, her cousin Julian has taught her to use this method if she ever felt fearful during thunderstorm. Annie quivering voice continues to hums with the rains as the background.

    Her ear suddenly twitches toward her right, with her humming die immediately and her body became still. She could hear a pair of solid footstep heading toward her room. Being blind gave Annie the advantage in recognizing the difference of each individual way of moment. From the unfriendly pace, Annie knows that it definite doesn't belong to Louis. Those heavy steps made her felt very unpleasant as it approach closer and closer to her. Without a doubt Annie knows exactly whom the steps belongs to. The thought of him hitting her again made Annie gulp, she thought that her humming has irritated him.
    With pounding loud heart that skips a beat when she heard the doorknob turns, Annie swears she felt a slight heart attack. After the door swung open, Annie could sense the hard breathing along with cold unfriendly stare on her. Those stare gives her a creepy feeling of doom. Protectively, Annie hugs herself tightly as she try to move away from the stare as far as possible. She knew it was Evergreen, so she keeps quiet like how Louis instruct her to in order to keep out of trouble.

    But this time, Evergreen has something else in mind, so he is definitely not backing off at all. Hearing him continue to approach her way, Annie starts to panic cause she got the instinct of what he wanted from her. Her messy mind keeps wondering about Marco and Louis where about and why did they allow this monster to enter her room. Not knowing what to do, Annie just swallows her fear down while wrapping herself tightly into a ball. She hides her head under her arms with her eyes closes, hoping that somehow Evergreen would walk back out.

    On the other hand, Evergreen smiles at her naive action with his evil crooked grin along with his cynical laughter. With a swept of his strong masculine hand, the old wooden door of the room solidly slammed shuts with a loud echoing bang vibrating into the dark damp room. Startled by it, Annie entire body become stiffen with terrified fear sneaks under her skin. Hers heart beats wildly as Evergreen continues to step closer to her. Automatically, Annie's head shook pleading Evergreen to stop scaring her like this. "What do you want..." her quivering voice asked the obvious question.

    "Your humming was sweet," replied Evergreen sounding like a cat teasing a mouse.

    Hearing the change in his voice, Annie is positive that her instinct is not wrong at all! She quickly yells from the top of her lung, hoping to alert anyone who can help her. "HELP!!! He is in here!! Louis, help!!" screamed Annie horsed voice. Sensing Evergreen pant brushes by her left side, Annie immediate scoots herself toward the right. "Get back out now!" she demanded with hard fearful eyes darts toward Evergreen breathing.

    Evergreen chuckles at Annie fear and the way she tries to order him to leave. His eyes travel down Annie's smooth creamy white shoulder. Swallowed down his hunger, he swoops down to barbarically jerk Annie into a standing position. With his heavy weight, he shoved Annie against the wall and begins to roughly kiss her from the neck down to her shoulder.

    "Stop it! Don't touch me!" ordered Annie to the monster that seem to be deaf. Annie felt a creepy tingling feeling run down her spine with Evergreen kissing, she tries to push him away, but she is way too weak compare to him. Knowing that pushing wouldn't help, Annie begin to stomp or kick him, but he wouldn't budge. "Help! Help! Louis where are you?!" yelled Annie panicking tone. Finally, Annie shouts out the name that she has stubbornly tries to never use ever since eight years ago, "Daai gor gor!!"

    Ignoring Annie's struggling scream, Evergreen continues to satisfy himself. Annie is in tears while she hit him nonstop with her two fists, still trying to free herself. Her heart can't stop beating against her ribcage. She tries to shove him away, but it only made him presses his body against her harder. "Please leave me alone!! Help!!!" Annie pleaded and screamed but no one seems to care.

    Continue to ignore her, Evergreen is enjoying himself and slowly move his hand onto her tank top strap. Annie cries in fear cause she senses his large hand move across her shoulder. Fearful tears were cascading down her cheek as she pleaded and struggling to get him away. "Please don't touch me...please...no...NO!!" But Evergreen didn't pay any attention to her pleading and screaming. He continues to move his hand to grab the shoulder strap of Annie's silk tanks top. His hand is so close that it's brush against Annie's cheek. She quickly turns toward his hand and bite it as hard as she could.

    Quickly withdraws his painful hand that has Annie bite mark, Evergreen angrily yells, "You bitc..." Before he could finish, Annie has taken the opportunity to kick him right between his thighs area. The pains shock up into Evergreen causing him to jump up and down cursing without sound.

    During this time Annie quickly heads toward the door, she know the only way to keep him away is to get Marco or Louis for help. She runs like a speed of bullet with her heart beating rapidly while her body trembles with fright. The sound of thunder and loud wind add on to her fear, causing her to run even faster. When she reach the wall where the door should be on, Annie pats the wall with panicking mind trying to search for the door. Her heart lightens with relief when she finally felt the doorknob. Annie quickly turns it but before she could pull the door open wide enough to exit, Evergreen has forcefully slammed the door tightly shuts. "Let me out..." she shouted with tears streaming down her cheeks.

    Flamingly, Evergreen roughly clenches onto the front of Annie tank top and jerks her closer in front of him. With piercing hard eyes on Annie, Evergreen threatens, "You'll pay for what you done!" He forcefully shoves Annie to the cement ground. Annie is screaming and yelling for help again. She tries to quickly get back up, but he has forcefully shoves her back to the ground and gotten his heavy body on top of her. Choking on her own tears, Annie know that this time, she won't be lucky enough to free herself again. Her entire body shakes with fear while her heart felt like it's on a roller coaster.

    Another sound of thunder along with a strike of lighting flashes bright purplish light across the indigo sky. Annie gulps with her eyes shuts tightly trying not to be scare of thunder during this critical moment. Not willing to give up on protecting herself, Annie starts her punching and kicking at him again. She is able to punch his eye when he was leaning down toward her wanting to kiss her. Being hits by Annie again made Evergreen furious. He growls loudly with hatred while his two hands reaches over to grab Annie's head to lift it up and forcefully hits it hard onto the cement floor.

    That instant, Annie felt like everything blanked out. Her hearing became blurred with a loud continuous ring while she felt like her head is spinning with pain hammering deep into her brain. All of her strength seems to drains right out of her after that blow on the head. She tries to push Evergreen away when he lean in to kiss her and touch her, but Annie has lost all of her senses to locate him, even when he is right on top of her. All she could do is scream loudly with all of her might, "HELP!!! Please help me! GET Him off of me..."
    ******

  12. #72
    Senior Member Paradise's Avatar
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    Default Oh no!

    I think someone will save her in time or else....

  13. #73
    Senior Member Yak's Avatar
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    Dec 2002
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    Default Chapter 24: Secured Feeling

    Outside the rain continue to pour soaking up the knitted forested mountain. A distance away Louis is running toward the cabin with two bags of lunchboxes above his head to shelter from the rain. "Louis!" called Eddy from his right. Both Eddy and Marco are heading back to the cabin too since it started to rain. "What take you so long?" asked Eddy while walking toward Louis with Marco.

    A loud cry of Annie is hear from the cabin alerting all three pair of eyes toward the dimly lit cabin. Without second thought, Louis immediately rushes back to the cabin as fast as his legs allow him. From Annie stressful screaming he could tell that something is horribly wrong. Both Eddy and Marco run right behind Louis.

    Meanwhile back in the cabin, Evergreen continues to satisfy his carving on Annie. Ready to take his raping attempt to the second level, his hand travels up toward Annie's right tank top strap. Barbarically, he rips the strap apart, revealing Annie's smooth bare shoulder.

    Crying uncontrollably, Annie weak hands clench to Evergreen shirt trying to push him away, but no matter how hard she tries, it was no use. At that point, Annie knows that she can't stop him no matter what she does. Feeling sickeningly frightful, Annie cries louder as she pleads, "Don't...don't...please don't..."

    When Louis enter the cabin and notice Evergreen missing from the group, while Annie is begging as she desperately cries in the closed room, Louis actually felt fear in his heart like never before. He has never experience this strong sense of fear for another person well being before. Along with his fear for Annie's safety, a strong surge of anger boils up into his eyes. From Annie's fearsome pleading, Louis knows exactly what Evergreen is doing in there. While still holding those bags, Louis hands tighten into a firm fist ready to bowdlerize Evergreen. Louis charges over toward the shuts door with his deadly sharps eyes dart at the door filled with hatred toward Evergreen.

    Urgently, Louis opens the door wide to reveal Evergreen trying to rapes Annie while she is struggling to push him away. All three sets of eyes settle on Evergreen back witnessing his action, while he is too indulged into Annie to notice their present. Growled with waving sharps pain in his heart, Louis angrily throws the bags aside causing it's content to spill. Louis charges up to Evergreen and forcefully yanks him away from Annie. Before Evergreen could response, Louis forcefully punches him on the eye and repeatedly punches his abdominal.

    Meanwhile, Annie quickly pulled herself together and clawed back against the wall trembling with tears washing her cheeks. With arms crossing over her chest, Annie is numbed by fear and shaking uncontrollably with sniffing sound and pale lips. Seeing her in this stage of fear, Marco temper skyrockets to the extreme. His daggering bulge eyes land on Evergreen with steaming heat. Rushed over to Evergreen and Louis, Marco shoves Evergreen toward the wall and punches him like a sandbag.

    While Marco is beating the heck out of Evergreen, Louis return his set of concern eyes on Annie. Witnessing her trembling and in distressful shock with her pair of watery frightened eyes unlike those innocents one that she use to carry, made Louis felt his heart sink. Louis approaches her wanting to shelter her fear, but Annie scooted back, cause she has no idea who is walking toward her. After what just happen, Annie no longer trust anyone in here, they all seem like monsters to her. And this place has become hell in her mind.

    Sensitive to her feeling, Louis slowly kneels down in front of her and warmly reach out to pulls her into his secure arms embracing her tightly. Annie's heart dropped a bit when he did so, but it quickly relaxes when she felt the warm and safe feeling. Annie's heart releases a strange sense of relief and secured feeling. From his caring embrace, Annie knows that it's Louis because it's only him that could give her this sense of secure during these kidnapping days.

    Louis hugs made Annie felt so relief that she starts to cries loudly to release her fear. She is so scared out of her life that she couldn't even find her voice to speak. Searching for more comfort, Annie snuggles her head on Louis chest while she continue to sobs. It broke Louis heart to felt Annie fear and vulnerability. He held her closely with a side of his cheek rubs against her head trying to assure her that he is here for her. "Louis," murmured Annie sniffling weak voice, "Louis...you finally came back...Louis, I thought...I thought..." Annie couldn't continue, she just cries on Louis chest again as she hugs him tightly not letting him out of her side again.

    Glaring at Evergreen coldly, Louis has the urge to kill him right now at this second. Patting Annie on the back, Louis soothingly assures, "Shh...don't worry, I am here...shhh....everything is okay now." His deep eyes gaze into Annie's vivid watery one. "Trust me. I won't let him touch you again," he promised. "Shhhshh...It's okay, it's okay. Did he hurt you?" Louis questioned while trying to search for sign of injury. Feeling pain in the back of her head, Annie nods as she continues to cry, she cried so much that she started to hiccups.

    Meanwhile Marco finally stepped back and release Evergreen, he looked at him with rage. Without second thought, he pulls his gun out and pointed at Evergreen right on the forehead. Wanting Evergreen dead, he swiftly pulls the trigger back ready to fire. Evergreen face is paled right away, cause he could tell that Marco will fire. Eddy could tell that Marco is seriously going to fire this time too, so he quickly pushed Marco's arm away causing Marco to fire an inch away from Evergreen head. The loud shot shocks the life out of Evergreen; he thought that was the end of his life.

    The sound of that shot scared Annie too, she screamed in fear and clenches to Louis tighter. Her body trembles, she wishes so much that none of this is happening. Comfortingly, Louis soothed Annie's back to calm her fear, "Don't be afraid, it just Marco helping you teach that bastard a lesson. It's alright, it's alright." Annie couldn't calm down, how could she, she was almost raped and gun was firing next to her.

    Once again, Eddy is between Evergreen and Marco just likes this morning. Marco stares at Evergreen with hatred eyes and backed off a bit. "I TOLD YOU NOT TO TOUCH HER!!! DO YOU WANT ME TO KILL YOU? I REALLY WILL, TRUST ME! IF BROTHER EDDY IS OUT OF THE WAY, I'LL KILL YOU RIGHT AWAY!!" furiously yelled Marco with full rage.

    Eddy sigh, he hates to see both of his best helpers fight like this. Trying to ease Marco anger down, Eddy pats Marco back and moved him several steps back and away from Evergreen. Once they backed off, Evergreen slowly slide himself down to the ground and hold on to his stomach, cause Marco has punch it so many time. He felt like his intestine have all been ground up inside.

    "Marco relax," ordered Eddy, "Listen to me just for this one time. Let him go this time, I'll make sure he won't touch her again, okay?" Marco didn't answer; his eyes are still burning as he stares at Evergreen. "Marco," called Eddy wanting Marco to agree with him.

    Hissed, Marco cools down a bit, he couldn't say no to brother Eddy, cause he respect him a lot. "Alright. But if he ever put his hand on her again, he is dead for sure!"

    Smile in relief, Eddy nods in agreement, "I won't stand in between next time, I promise." Eddy steps toward Evergreen to lift him upright. Before Evergreen could say a word, Eddy punches him across his cheekbone and nose. Evergreen quickly cover his painful bleeding nose and trying to stop the bloody nose. "I warn you not to touch that girl! You deserve all of this!!!" scolded Eddy. He jerks Evergreen closer to face him. Eddy bitterly warns, "You listen to me! If anything happen to her, Howard Lam will hunt us all down like animals. He has enough money to hire assassin to get rid of you as easy as rubbing an ant on his fingers! Do you understand me?!" Silently Evergreen nods as he gulps. "And I promise Marco that I won't stop him next time if you tick him off again, so you better be smart and stay away from the girl." Disappointedly sighed, Eddy drags Evergreen, "Lets get out of this room, before you get yourself kills!"

    After they left, Marco walks toward Annie. He squat down to her and Louis, wanting to see how she is doing. Louis tries to let go of Annie's hug so Marco can take a look at her, but she wouldn't let him go. Even though Marco was the one who suggested to Eddy about kidnapping Annie. But ironically, he has never thought of harming her in anyway during the kidnapping. All he wants is the money. Marco felt guilty for letting Evergreen had a chance to touch Annie. With sorry eyes on Annie, he reaches his hand toward her to wipe her tears away. Annie turns her head deeper into Louis shirt not wanting to be touch by anyone else.

    "I'm sorry. Are you okay?" Marco sincerely asked with a caring voice.

    Sniffing on her tears, Annie swings one of her arm out to push Marco away. "I HATE YOU! You are the one who got me here... I hate you! I hate you," cried Annie repeatedly. Annie rubs her pair of wet eyes onto Louis shirt. She murmurs sadly, "You have forgotten about the scar on your arm and your promise to protect me. Why do you have to change?"

    "Chung Chung, believe me or not, I would never hurt you," Marco exclaim.

    "Then why am I here?!" Annie demanded an answer. "You are the one who kidnaps me!" Annie shouts angrily feeling betrayed. She sniffed, "And stop calling me by that name. I'm no longer your Chung Yee and you are no longer my Daai gor gor. I'm happy that jie see the real you soon enough. You don't deserve her," Annie bitterly stated.

    Frowned guiltily, Marco is sorry to put her in this spot. He sighs with his heart heavy and hurt that Annie hated him so much now. With eyes on Louis, he softly instructs, "Louis, help me take care of her. You'll stay in here to guard her from now on. I don't trust that bastard out there." Louis nods silently. Marco gently wipe Annie's tears away again with her resisting it. "Chung Chung, he is here to help you now so don't worry." Annie moves herself away from his touch and silently sobbed on Louis chest. Marco sighed and turns around to exit the room.

    After Marco left with the door shut behind. Louis gently releases Annie and tries to look at her face, but Annie wouldn't let him. She just snuggles her head closer and harder against his chest for comfort. She is sobbing and tears kept rolling out of her eyes along with little hiccups and sniffling. Silently sits there, with her in his arm, Louis rubs her back gently to comfort her while letting her continue to sob.

    A long while passed, Louis notice Annie's sobbing slowly die down. Curiously, he gently moved her away. Sniffed her tears away, Annie let go of him and pressed her lips together. Louis deep eyes gaze into Annie's puffy watery one. He has an urge to help her wipe her tears away, but he didn't want to make her felt intruded. "Don't cry," his deep voice warmly fills the room. Seeing her tears made him felt an attracting force that drawn his hands to cup her cheek and help her sweeps her tears away, so he did.

    Louis warm comforting touch and caring deep voice gives Annie a special sensation of love that she never felt before. It is different from what she felt from her family and friends. With an urge to embrace him again, Annie leans toward Louis to wrap her arms around him wanting to make sure that he will stay next to her. Because he is the one who is able to give her the sense of security she needs right now.

    Her sudden hugs made Louis unknowingly smiles. "Are you okay now? Don't worry, I'll be here, I promise," promised Louis. He releases her grip and looked at her right shoulder where her tanks top's strap been torn apart revealing her smooth and white shoulder. Louis moved his hand to grabs the two broken half of the strap. Annie is startles by his action. "I just want to tie the strap together for you," assured Louis to ease Annie's fear. With a nod, Annie trusts him enough to stay still for him to help her. Louis tied the two half into a knot and looks at Annie with a warm smile. "Everything will be fine from now on. I'll be here. You look really tired, why don't you sleep for a while okay?"

    Annie nods, she does want to sleep cause she felt a bit groggy from the hard impact Evergreen gave her head. Wanting to feel the sense of secure while she sleeps, Annie shyly leans closer toward Louis, gesturing him that she wants his embrace. She could hear a single chuckle of Louis that is barely audible. Knowing that she is being such a baby, Annie's cheeks slightly blush, but when Louis arms swing around her, she know it's worth her embarrassment. With her head snuggled on Louis, Annie close her eyes trying to fall asleep.

    It made Louis slightly smiles to hear Annie's breathing slowly became peacefully shallow. He is glad that Annie finally calmed down enough to fall asleep in his arms. Being thoughtful toward Annie, Louis stay as still as possible so that he doesn't wake her up. While Annie is sleeping, Louis observes her with delight. Somehow, Annie has always has this special attraction that drawn his interest toward her. He couldn't describe it because he too doesn't fully understand. After staring at Annie's sleep for a long period, Louis let out a soft yawn. He too is tired, since it's really late at night. He leans on the walls and fallen asleep with Annie in his arm cozily sleeping.
    -------

    Meanwhile, Julian just pulled his convertible up into his huge driveway. The sound of rain is audible once he turns his engine off. He yawns and stretches his arms before he step out of his car. With arms above to shelter his head, Julian quickly running toward the front door. A distance away, a beautiful purple bolt of lighting strikes across the sky ahead of him, luring his full attention. Seeing the lighting and hearing the soft thunderstorm, Julian face is illuminated with a warm smile, because it reminded him of Annie. He chuckles slightly when he remember how silly Annie was to be frightful of those harmless roar.

    While he enters the mansion and heading toward his room, Julian dialed Annie's number with his cell. Still waiting for his cousin to answer, Julian sandwiched the phone in between his cheek and shoulder while he undress himself getting ready to hit the shower. Annie's cellular phone continue to rings for the fifth time before her voice came up asking Julian to leave a message.

    Curious to why Annie didn't answer her phone, Julian glanced toward his clock. He rolled his eyes after noticing that it's one past midnight already. When he heard a beep he left a message, "Sorry Annie, I didn't notice that it's this late, when I dial. I just want to make sure you're alright and not shaking like a three-year-old cause of the storm. Anyway, you are probably sleeping right now, so I'll chat with you another night. Bye girl, see you around." Julian ended his call with a yawn and head into the shower.
    -------

    Back in the dark room, about an hour later, Annie's eyes are moving very rapidly under her eyelids and her head begin to toss. Her heart rate increases with fear. Sweats soak her hair a bit and cover her forehead. Struggling with her nightmare, Annie mumbles in stress, "Don't... please...don't. Louis.... Where are you?....NO!! Let go... Louis help.... let go...." Tears is slowly rolling out of the corner of Annie's eyes as she tremble in fear, "No, don't.....please let go... Louis!!! Help Louis help!"

    Louis jerks awake right away. He is alert when he hear her calling his name. Feeling Annie movement as she mumbles, Louis figures that she is having a bad dream, probably one cause of tonight experience. He nudged Annie to gently wake her up and get her out of her fear. "Wake up, it just a dream..." his warm voice told her. Annie seems to lock into her dream and didn't hear him. Louis wants to call her by her name to alert her, but he isn't sure what her name is. A smile lights his face when he recalls what Annie said to Marco hours ago. "Chung Yee wake up. It's just a nightmare," he told her while nudging, thinking that Chung Yee is Annie's name. "Chung Yee, Chung Yee..." he called repeatedly.

    Alarmingly startled, Annie's body jerks upright. Her breathing is heavy while she is searching for sound to tell her where she is now. With confusion building up, her forehead frowned not knowing what to do. Louis is able to see Annie's watery eyes cause the moonlight reflects from it. Wanting to assure her, he whispers gently, "You just had a nightmare." His voice is like the sound of the comforting ocean wave to Annie, causing her to relax and release the slightest smile of relief. Slightly spreading out her arm, Annie tries to locate him. She felt Louis right next to her, so she quickly sneaks her arms around his waist tightly for protection and comfort.

    Being stiffly still, Louis allows Annie to continue to hug him. He didn't expect Annie to be this clingy or dependent, but he didn't mind at all. He is just glad that she could trust him enough to find comfort from him. Feeling Annie hair being all sweaty from her fearful nightmare, Louis felt sympathy for her. In his heart, he promise that he will safely rescue Annie out of this joint as soon as possible.

    "Thanks," Annie suddenly murmured so softly as her eyes open and shuts while she rests her head against his chest.

    "No problem. Don't be afraid, it's just a dream," Louis gently told her. He hear Annie soft yawn causing his gaze to lower at her. "Lets sleep a bit more, okay?" He slightly moved Annie away to look at her, but Annie shakes her head no and clings to him even tighter. He could tell that Annie is very stressed out and afraid of him leaving her with Evergreen. Louis frowns to see her this frightful. "Don't worry, I won't leave you here alone. It's very late, aren't you tired? You only slept an hour," said Louis.

    Shaking her head on Louis chest, Annie snuggles closer on him. She murmured softly with her depressed voice, "No, I don't want to sleep ever again. I can't control what I dream. Please don't make me sleep. I hate the feeling of being alone...." Annie slightly wets her lips before she sadly whisper, "I want to go home, Louis...." Tears begin to cascade down her cheeks.

    Hearing her tone being so vulnerable, Louis heart melted. He nods, "I told you, I won't leave you alone. I'll be right here, right by your side. So sleep a bit longer, I'll protect you okay?" Silently shaking her head, Annie begins to sob. She misses home so much. Because at home she never has to feel fear, it's like a bubbled environment where her family and friends take good care of her.

    Louis knows that she didn't want to have the same nightmare so he didn't force her. He smiles and thought that this is a great chance for him to ask her all the questions he needed to know. "Alright, you don't have to sleep, but I need to ask you something, okay?" Annie nods, anything is okay as long as she doesn't have to sleep again and Louis is by her side. His heart lightens when he saw Annie fear slightly fades away. With his vivid dark eyes, Louis look into Annie's beautiful round one. "Is your name Chung Yee?" he curiously asked.

    Annie shakes her head and whispered her reply, "No. My name is Annie Lam."

    Satisfied, Louis smiles sweetly at her, cause this is the first time he really get to know who she is, and he will never forget her name either. "That's sweet, but why did Marco kept calling you Chung Chung?"

    "I know him since I was thirteen. He was the one who nicknamed me Chung Yee and later change it to Chung Chung since it sound like worm and also because my Chinese name is Chung Han. He said I was as shy as a worm when I met him because I always hide behind my sister, back than," Annie explained with a sad sigh.

    With a chuckle, Louis comments, "Chung Yee sound cute."

    Tilted her head up to face him, Annie warmly smile with a very faint chuckle. "No one has called me that for a very long time," she told him. Than Annie sighs, "Things had change so much. He is no longer the same person."

    Nodding, Louis agrees. "Annie, do you mind I asks who is your father?"

    Annie doesn't understand why he needed to know all of these. And aren't he suppose to knows who her father is since he is part of the people who kidnaps her? "Why are you asking me? Don't you know already?"

    Louis became serious, "Annie, you need to know that I am not interested in kidnapping you. Trust me, I'm here to help you..."

    "Then why are you with them?" confusedly asked Annie.

    "I can't answer that question yet, but one day you will know," he stated. Annie is confuses by his words, but she trust him enough to listen. Louis didn't want to tell Annie he is an undercover, cause he afraid Annie might blurt it out when she is scared or threatened. "Do you trust me?" he asked after seeing her blank expression.

    Nodding, Annie replies, "Yes. There is no reason for you to lie to me." She slightly smiles and answers, "My daddy is Howard Lam."

    Louis eyes became still, he is shock to know that she is the daughter of the richest man in Hong Kong. Somehow deep inside he felt sad cause the fact seem to create a distance between them. "You're the daughter of the boss who own Millennium Cooperation?" Louis disbelievingly questioned. While Annie didn't think that it was that big of a deal. She nods. After getting her confirmation, he let out a sigh of worry and sadness. "Then you know Julian Lam?"

    Surprised, Annie nods, "Yeah, he is my cousin. Do you know him? But how, he is a cop and you are a..." Annie didn't finish.

    "Bad guy?" Louis finish for her with a chuckle to see her expression.

    Without a doubt Annie shakes her head, "Something tells me that you are not a bad guy. I don't know what side you are. But I'm glad I met you." What she just said made Louis stare at her for a long while. She chuckles to the awkward silent, "Raymond always said that we can't leave out the gray scale. Maybe you are just a light gray..." Louis laughed. "Shhh...I don't want them to come in," she said with a frown. She than tilt her head toward his breathing, "You haven't told me how you know Julian."

    "Oh, I read on the paper that he is a very good cop," Louis lied. He sighs cause he knows that Julian won't like to hear about what he have to tell him tomorrow night.

    "Why did you join the gang?" Annie wonderingly asked with a hint of concern for him. "You will be in deep trouble if my cousin catches you, do you know that? Why don't you think of leaving the gang early before you get caught?"

    "When I'm still light gray?" Louis teased. Annie blushes a bit. Louis is happy that Annie was concern about him. "Don't worry about me, I have my own way to get out of trouble. Beside how can I leave now?" Louis smiled at Annie confuses look and continue, "I still need to save you remember?"

    Warmly, Annie smiled at him, "You promise?"

    "Of course, don't you trust me? Don't forget I had rescued you once during the bus trip," he reminded her with a chuckle.

    Annie giggled slightly. It make Louis really relief seeing her giggled after what happened tonight. "I trust you, you are like my guardian angel," she smile sweetly and hugged him. Louis is really happy and wanted to embrace her, but something inside tell him not to, cause she will never belong to him.

    Instead, he gazes into her cute face and smiled warmly. "Why don't you sleep awhile?" he suggested. Childishly, Annie shakes her head. "Don't worry, I won't let him in at all. And if I see you dream about him, I'll wake you up. I promise."

    With a pout, Annie ponders about Louis suggestion. She really doesn't want to have the nightmare again, but she is really sleepy too. "Okay, only if you promise to make sure he and the rats don't get close to me," bargained Annie.

    Louis softly laughs at her childish expression, "Deal. Now lets sleep before the sun comes up."

    Right when Annie put her head on Louis chest and shut her eyes, her stomach growled. It not until now that she realize she is still starving. "I am hungry, Louis," she exclaim.

    Glancing toward those spilled lunchboxes by the door, Louis smiles, "Wait a minute." He release Annie wanting to go get her food, but Annie hold him tightly. "Don't worry, I am just going to pick up the lunch box for you. I won't walk out on you." Annie releases him. Louis walks to the bag with the lunch box inside, he pulled one out, and walked back to Annie. "Here," he places the box of fry rice on Annie left hand and a plastic spoon on Annie right.

    Annie quickly eats her rice cause she is extremely hungry. Louis is glad that she finally decided to eat. "Slow down before you choke," he warned. Right when he just warned, Annie suddenly cough violently cause a piece of rice has enter her airway. "I told you to slow down. Are you alright?" he caringly asked while she nods.

    Right after she finishes and satisfied her hunger, Louis asks, "So can you sleep now?"

    A bit rosy, Annie softly said, "Only if you let me sleep close to you." A genuine smile spread across Louis face, he open his arms and pulls Annie in to lean on him comfortably. Annie snuggled herself safely on Louis and whispered, "I can't sleep now, can you tell me a bedtime story?"

    "Bedtime story?" Louis chuckled at the idea.

    Offended, Annie pouts, "It's not funny. That's what my brother always do before I sleep. Come on, I can't sleep thinking about him." She meant Evergreen and Louis knows it.

    With his steady eyes on her, Louis can't believe that she can be this childish and innocent natured. He frowns with uncertainty, "I'm not good at making up story. I'll probably give you even scarier nightmare. I don't read a lot either. Is there others things I can do to make you fall asleep?"

    A bit disappointed, Annie tries to think of other way, than she smiled sweetly when she remembers Benny singing her to sleep while he piggy back her up the mountain. "Yeah, can you at least sing than?"

    Bulged his eyes, Louis laughs, "Did you just says sing?" Annie nods excitedly making Louis shake his head. "You must be joking. I am not good at that ether."

    Pouted with disappointment, Annie demands, "Than what are you good at?!"

    Giving in, Louis rolled his eyes, "Fine, I'll sing. What do you want me to sing?"

    Smile sweetly, Annie yawns, "My favorite song, Paints My Love?"

    "I never heard of it before," Louis honestly confessed.

    "How could you not hear of it before?" Annie asks with a frown.

    Louis saddens too. He never has the time to listen to much music. Hearing Annie's tone, Louis felt that he and Annie are two different people in two different worlds. And Annie made him felt small with that question. He sighs and offers, "How about Twinkle Little Star?"

    Giggled, Annie rests on his chest again, "That use to be my favorite childhood song, my brother always sing it to me." She closes her eyes and waited for Louis to begin to sing. Instead of singing, Louis looked at her sweet face with the eyes closed and on his chest. He really enjoys having her by his side. Somehow he felt really close to her like he had knows her for a long time even though tonight is the first night that they really talk. Same with Annie, she felt really safe with him and trusted him a lot. Annie is getting impatient cause Louis still hasn't sings yet. "Louis, I am waiting," she reminded him.

    Snapped out of his though, Louis smiles. He never felt this warm and happy in his whole life. "Sorry, okay I'll start, go back to sleep now," he ordered. Louis cleared his throat and sings it softly and gently like a lullaby. "Twinkle twinkle little stars...How I wonder what you are...Up above the sky so high....Like a diamond in the sky....Twinkle twinkle little star...How I wonder what you are..." He pause to peek at Annie and saw her asleep with a sweet smile, it made him smile too as he lies back and sing the childish song over and over until he too fall asleep. "Twinkle twinkle little star...How I wonder what you are...Up above the sky so high...Like a diamond in the sky...Twinkle twinkle little star...How I wonder what you are..."
    ******

  14. #74
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    Default TYWML 2

    is it possible for you to update this second part to this fan fic? I am on chapter 18 of this on winglin.net/fan fic. Oh yeah anything I want to said, your fan fics are great. Keep it up!
    YY

  15. #75
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    Sorry Yinny, I have decide to catch up with this rewriten TYWML before I continue to update its' part 2. Thanks for the kind comment. And I do hope you read this novel form cause I changed some part to it.

    I'm greatly sorry to all my readers, I had been too busy to update, since school, works, and life has basically tie me down Anyway, enjoy the next chapter and I would love to hear from ya

  16. #76
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    Default Chapter 25: Angel’s Kiss

    With deep thought about the kidnapping case, Julian walks toward Bobby‘s café after he parked his car. He had promise his best friend Charmaine that he will recite her short little commercial script with her this afternoon. Julian walks with his head held low while he continue to ponder about the kidnapped blind girl that Louis mentions to him last night. Somehow the girl being Annie never popped into his mind. But it’s understandable, since usually you wouldn't think anything bad will ever happen to someone close to you.

    When he turns at the corner he accidentally bumps into a girl who is walking at the opposite side of the corner. Julian immediately squatted down to pick up her fallen purse for her. Even though it was Julian fault, the girl is about to apologize just to be polite, but once she recognize Julian face, her voice instantly diminished. Her eyes became furious while her expression became stern. She remember him alright, since he is the one that causes her trouble the first day she return to Hong Kong.

    A soft growl is hear from her causing Julian to look up from his squatting position. His brows arched with curiosity to why she seem so mad. To him, she is just a new face. He slowly stood back upright while apologizing, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bump…“ Before he could finish the girl has snatched her purse from him and stormed pass him like an angered bull.

    “Hmm…” was all Julian murmur while his eyes continue to glue at the back of the speedy girl. Her back and the way she walks away with anger seem very familiar to Julian, but he couldn’t quite point out who she is. With a shrug, Julian continue his way toward Bobby’s café.

    Seeing the large pig logo of a barbeque store at the opposite street, Julian instantly turned back to the direction where the girl had stormed away. A mischievous grin appeared on his face while he let a slight understanding chuckle of why that girl acted so strangely. “Ms Piggy,” he mumbled with pleasure to know that he had once again irritated her.

    While Julian is smiling weirdly, Charmaine stepped out of her uncle café with her hand waving in front of Julian. “Earth calling Julian,” Charmaine teased. Julian snapped out and look at her. “What were you staring at? What take you so long? I have been waiting for you the entire afternoon…” she rambled.

    “It’s just one in the afternoon, Charm,” Julian reminded her. They headed into Bobby’s café. Once Julian step into the café, the first thing he notice is Benny lying on a hallway table mumbling to himself like some mentally ill beggar. “What's wrong with him?”

    “I am a horrible teacher.... Is my teaching really that terrifying to run away like that?” Benny asked from the hallway with a sighed. “She could at least talk to me....I can probably have the academy send another teacher for her. Why do she hate me that much? I thought we were getting along pretty well.” Benny took a short glance toward her two siblings, “Jie ah, didn’t she and me get along pretty well the last few weeks?” Without waiting for an answer, Benny dull eyes look up at the ceiling, “I wonder what she is doing now?”

    Chuckled at her whining brother, Charmaine whispers to Julian, “I think he is lovesick.”

    Nosily, Julian leans his head closer to Charmaine, with their forehead touching each other. “Really? Who's that bad luck to have him love?” teased Julian.

    Giggling, Charmaine bump her head to hit his playfully, “Your cousin Annie of course! You idiot, my brother is not that bad.”

    Rolled his eyes, Julian flatly states, “If he is not bad than no one is bad in this entire world. And good for him to be love sick, I'm proud of Annie for breaking his heart.”

    Gloomily, Benny walks toward Julian and Charmaine, he didn't heard what they were talking about. Frowning, he plopped on a chair next to them and asks, “Am I really that bad?”

    Sees that Benny in this depressed shape, Julian no longer has the heart to joke, since he doesn’t want to hurt Benny feeling. Even though Benny has played many pranks on Julian, but Benny is still one of Julian very long known friend since childhood and he do consider Benny as a younger brother, that is very annoying. “No, you are nice in your own way,” Julian awkwardly said, he has never compliment Benny before. “Come on there are many girl out there for you to go after,” he encouraged.

    Benny looks at Julian weirdly to his meaning, “You make it sound like I hunt down my student!”

    “Aren't you going after Annie?” Julian puzzlingly questioned back.

    “What do you mean by after? I just wanted to teach her, is that going after her?” Benny defensively asked.

    Still confuse, Julian said, “So you didn't like her? Charm said you are love sick because of her.” He turn to look at Charmaine, and Charmaine giggled.

    Blushed a bit, Benny stare at his sister wondering why his face felt hot for no reason. “How can you belief a single words that came out of her mouth? Don't you know better by now?!” Benny said to Julian.

    Puts her arm around Benny, Charmaine playfully nudges, “Oh come on Benny admit you like her, I know you do and everyone that see you around Annie know you do!”

    Feeling a bit uncomfortable about the subject, Benny quickly grumbled with annoyance, “Oh please find yourself another victim, I'm in no mood to argue with you today.”

    It surprise Julian that Benny didn’t bicker back to Charmaine. He has never see Benny back out of a teasing competition before. “What’s wrong Benny?” Julian sincerely asked.

    Still giggling like a preschooler, Charmaine repeat herself, “I told you, he is love sick, and you don't believe me!” Benny ignored her and places his head down on the table as he moan and think of Annie. “See he missed Annie already and she only been gone since Friday.”

    Curious to Charmaine meaning, Julian remember that he couldn’t get a hold of Annie last night. “Where did Annie go?” he asked.

    Lifted his head up sadly, Benny flatly reply, “She went to some state to get away from me. I am the world worse teacher…”

    “She left to the state?” Julian asked with a bit of shock. He is definite that his cousin will tell him about this, since they has been close since childhood. Julian anxiously dart at Benny for answer, “When? With who? Why?”

    “This Friday afternoon, by herself, and because I drive her away,” answered the depressed tone.
    .
    Disbelieve is flooding over Julian expression, he yelled, “That is impossible! Uncle Howard and aunty Lisa wouldn't let her leave herself!”

    Seriously, Charmaine nod agreeing, “I think something is fishy too, cause Annie never act this way before. Plus the servant told Ada that she was on her way over to our cafe on Friday morning. It just doesn’t make sense on why she would just disappear to the state without telling us. But what weird is that uncle Howard himself told Ada that Annie left for the state. And it even stranger that uncle Howard is actually home during early Friday afternoon. You know how he love to work, so why was he home so early and answer the phone himself instead of the servant?”

    While Charmaine continue to speak her thought, Julian processes the massive information, trying to find a logical reason. Suddenly the thought of the blind girl Louis told him about last night. It finally strike Julian that the victim could possibly be Annie! Julian heart skipped at the thought of the kidnapped hostage being Annie, cause everything seem to match up right. “Oh my…” murmured Julian with a hint of fear. “Chung Chung…” he mumbled over and over with even more fear, cause Annie’s middle name was Chung. And Louis has inform him that Marco kept calling the blind girl Chung Chung.

    “Are you guy talking about Annie?” Ada asked when she join the group, she too is worry about Annie since it doesn’t make sense that Annie just left without notice.

    “It got to be Annie, it got to be Annie…” mumbled the worrisome cousin. He suddenly switch his vision to Ada with urgency, “When did you call Annie’s home and got the answer that she is on her way over?”

    “She was supposes to meet us for Bowie farewell party by ten. But she didn’t arrive, so I called her around eleven something,” informed Ada with anxious eyes on Julian trying to read his mind.

    Julian is muted cause he remember Louis saying they kidnapped the girl at around eleven. “Why didn't uncle Howard call the police?!” he suddenly blurted out with anger and rushes out of the café wanting to go question his uncle. He couldn't believe that Howard actually wouldn't trust the police to help.

    Ada, Charmaine, and Benny has a feeling that something horribly wrong with Annie from the way Julian has acted. They ran out after him and stopped him from going any further. They really want to find out what is in his mind, form the expression it didn't look good at all. Seriously hard, Benny’s eyes dart at Julian for an answer, “Is Annie in trouble?!”

    Trying to move away from them, so he can rush to Howard, Julian quickly answer, “I can't tell you yet. I’m not sure what is going on. I really need to find out, so move out!” All three of them blocked his way and stare at him with concern for Annie. Julian saw their worry face and stopped his struggling to move on. His serious dread voice told them, “I am starting to think that Annie has been kidnapped.”

    The three Kwan froze and looked blankly ahead as they try to logically think about it, Julian pushed them away and heading to the parking lot to get his car, Benny quickly snapped out and ran after him, he wanted to go too and clear all of this confusion up. Ada and Charmaine followed behind, leaving the entire cafe to Steven and the rest of the worker without a clue where they disappear to.

    Julian speeded his car to get to Howard mansion as fast as possible, in his head he tries to think of a way that best convince his uncle to listen and trust the police. His heart pound as he think of Louis saying they have machine gun and bomb. The rest was silent as they think of Annie and try to put the puzzle together, it really seem more logical that she is kidnaps than flying out to a state by herself.
    -------

    In the kitchen of the Lam's mansion, Flora stands still stirring Annie’s liquid medicine with honey. She missed taking care of her blind sister or hearing her whining about not wanting to take her daily medication. These last three days have been horrible for her entire family. The house was full of agony and despair like someone had past away. Not even a slight giggle or smile was heard for these three long days of waiting and worrying. No one could sleep peacefully throughout the night or complete a meal with the sense of fullness. Everything has become dull and lifeless as they waited for Monday to come.

    Being overly protective parents, both Howard and Lisa were worry sick and could only gotten little rest here and there. Lisa would always wake up cause of nightmare of Annie being kill or hurt, causing Lisa to fear sleep. Howard couldn't put his mind at rest and always sited out in the balcony gazing at the dark sky dully. Gallen and Maggie missed Annie too, they wish that they could hear her whining and pleading as she ask them for favors, like she always does. Both of them missed spoiling her. And hearing her sweet laughter as she bicker with Raymond.

    As for Raymond, he kept visiting Annie’s room at night remembering the moment he spend with Annie reading her bedtime story and seeing her asleep by his side. He remembered the night Annie read to him and it was his turn to fall asleep in her bed. A slight giggle escape from Raymond sad mood when he remembered finding Annie sleeping on the balcony swing with her teddy bear the following morning.

    These couple days have been terrible and slow as time passed by with every second seem like hour. With a sigh, Raymond releases the pressure built in his chest. He decide to head down the stair in search of someone to share his worry.

    It’s one in the afternoon already but the house seem so empty. It’s usually full of people, cause Sunday is family day and everyone suppose to be home if they could. They would talk and just enjoy each other company with laughter in the living room or maybe go out to a nearby golf course for a friendly game of golfing.

    Raymond slumped his shoulder as he walked pass the empty and silent living room. He looked out toward the yard and finds his parents sitting there with sad and empty stare. His head turns toward the kitchen as he heard the sound of a spoon being stir in a ceramic cup. He walked in and saw Flora stirring the cup dully as her mind seem to wonder else where. Raymond knows that everyone mind wander to the same place for these last couple days. “Jie what are you doing?” he whispered not wanting to startle Flora. “Are you alright?” he asked, even though he know that was a stupid question.

    Turn around to face him, Flora smiled weakly with glistering tears in her eyes. “I'm just adding honey to Annie’s medicine,” she plainly said with a drop of tear rolled down her cheek, she couldn't help it at all. In a slightly trembling voice Flora added, “Annie didn't have her medication with her for these three days. She has to have her medicine. I wonder how she is doing…I wonder…I” She dropped the cup and hugged Raymond tightly to sob. “I hope she is not in pain, Raymond. I hope they didn't do anything to her. I really wanted her to be back home…” mumbled Flora teary voice. Raymond felt the same way. He sighed as he move his hand up and down his sister back to comfort her. Tears are in his eyes too, but he is not letting it out, instead he kept blinking it away.

    Suddenly, they hear noises sounding like some one is arguing with their gardener John in the front yard. They both quickly walk out to see what it's about, their parent join them too. Gallen and Maggie walked down too as they heard the racket. They were all hoping that they get farther news about Annie.

    At the front heavy iron gate are Julian, Ada, Charmaine, and Benny trying to come in. Howard has order that he don't want to see anyone at all these couple of days, so he has ordered John to keep everyone out. When Julian saw his uncle, he stopped arguing with the gardener. “Uncle Howard, let's us in! I need to talk to you, it’s about Annie!” he said.

    Not wanting the entire neighborhood to heard what Julian was screaming about, Howard gestured John to unlock the gate. Howard gaze is on Julian with disappointment, he know exactly what Julian wanted. With a silent sigh of trouble, Howard head back to his mansion without waiting for them. The rest of the family member follow, while John open the gate for the four.

    They rushed in quickly heading into the living room where Howard and Lisa has sited down. Maggie is on the couch and Gallen sited by her side with his arm around her shoulder. Both Flora and Raymond silently stands as they looked at the four who are out of breath and breathing hard. “What do you need Julian?” Howard flatly asked unwelcomingly.

    Julian could see that it’s true that Annie been kidnaps or what else could explain why all of them carry this weariness face? Benny saw their expression and felt worry for Annie safety now, he listens silently along with his two siblings. “Uncle Howard is Annie kidnapped?” Julian finally spoke up and ran right into the point.

    Looked at Julian with a stern face, Howard coldly answer, “No.”

    “Uncle Howard, why don't you trust the police? Do you know that…”

    Impatient to hear Julian reasoning, Howard starts to boil up. He is in no mood to talk to Julian. “Who told you this?” he bitterly snapped at his nephew. “And no, I don't want the police to be involves at all,” he firmly warned Julian. “If Annie can come home safely I'll give them anything! So stay out of this Julian!!”

    Benny, Ada, and Charmaine were silent and shocked, even that they know before that it could be true, but to finally heard it from Howard mouth made them really certain and concern. Bravely, Julian steps up to Howard and stand in front of him. With a sigh, he too firmly replies, “Uncle Howard, this is serious. It can’t be kept away from the police if you want Annie home safely.” He pause with his pair of eyes soften with concern, “I’m not suppose to tell anyone this, but I am not keeping this away from you, cause I really wanted to save Annie. I have an undercover officer that told me the gangs he is following kidnapped a blind girl. Now it’s obvious to me that she is Annie. Uncle Howard this is not that simple! The undercover told me that they have massive firearm and bomb. You can’t take care of this yourself!” Lisa is shock and her heart lighten at every word Julian said. “Listen to me, you need to get the police to help if you wanted Annie safely home,” Julian firmly stated.

    “NO!!” loudly echoed Howard roaring anger. He hissed with frustration, “They promise not to hurt her if I JUST GIVE THEM THE GOD DAME MONEY!! I DON'T CARE IF YOU COP CAUGHT THEM OR NOT, ALL I WANT IS MY DAUGHTER SAFELY HOME!!! I WILL NOT RISK HER LIVE!!! YOU HEAR ME?!!”

    “SHE IS MY COUSIN TOO! I GROW UP WITH HER! Do you think I want to risk her life?” Julian questioned back with a trace of tear in his eyes. “Uncle Howard, the undercover say she recognize one of them, do you really think they will let her live and report to us?” Everyone are scare and their face are paler than paper. Flora felt guilty cause she know it was Marco, that Julian is talking about. Julian slightly shakes his head with a sigh, “They have bomb, uncle Howard. Annie needs our help. Uncle, please listen and trust the police before it’s too late.”

    “I don’t want her hurt. If they know I got the police involve, they will kill her. Do you understand, Julian? All I want is my daughter back,” Howard softly said with lost mind on what he should do.

    Julian warm eyes settle on his uncle seriously, “Uncle Howard the only way she can get home safely is through the police help. Do you seriously think that they will simply release Annie after you pay them? Especially since she know who done this to her?”

    Take in a deep breath, Howard worry that Julian is right, they would probably kill Annie cause she recognize Marco. He hesitatingly nods, “Okay.” Julian let go of his breath and let out a relief. “I will go call Thomas right away to get help,” Howard dreadfully said. He slowly headed up to his office room to call Thomas, who is the main chief of the entire Hong Kong police, he is also Julian head. The rest sat still waiting for him quietly. He walked back down with a relief face, he felt a loaf has taken off of his shoulder cause Thomas promise him that Annie will be safely home tomorrow. But deep inside Howard felt guilty to put Annie at higher risk cause of the police. “Julian, Thomas wanted you to go back and meet with him.”

    Nodded, Julian said, “I'll go now. Uncle Howard, don't worry you did the right thing. I'm meeting the undercover tonight again, I'll make sure to have him take good care of Annie for us.”

    “Julian wait,” called Flora, “Annie needs her medicine. Could you give it to the undercover officer?” Julian nod.
    -------

    At the old cabin Eddy and his gangs are standing around the wooden table discussing what the plan will be for tomorrow's big event. They had decided to ask Howard to get his daughter Flora to deliver the ransom money to them, cause they think he wouldn't dare to try any trick if both of his daughters are in their territory. Now that they had decide to have Flora to bring the money, they now needed to make a thorough plan that will guarantee them to get the money safely and no cop is involve. They had decided to ask Flora to drive to freeway 56 and stop at number 18B exit where they will leave a car and phone for her to use instead of her own, this will insure them that no one hooked their conversation with her. Then they will have Flora drive the car they left her, up Sky Swan Mountain and to the dry grassland east of the mountain, right in front of the forest, which is about fifteen minutes walk to the old cabin. They will observe her ever move from there to make sure no one followed her before they give her any further information on how to give them the money. As for Annie they has decide to tie a bomb on her, that can be activated by a remote control that Eddy will hold on to, and press if anything didn't go the way he planned.

    After discussing the plan they all went their own way to get everything ready. Eddy sends Robbie and Roy to go steal a car and get it ready at the position they wanted. While the other three are ask to set up telescope and other device in the forest so they can view Flora every move carefully. Eddy has ask Evergreen to put the bomb together and ready for tomorrow to place on Annie, since Evergreen is an expert with bomb. Like usual Louis get the job of buying lunch boxes for dinner. Louis smiles and agreed to do so cause it give him a chance to meet with Julian.

    After hearing the plan Louis is positive that he and Julian can help save Annie, but the most important problem is to get the bomb inactivated before Eddy have a chance to activate the timer with the remote, which mean he have to find an excuse to stay behind. Louis is planning to discuses it with Julian so he quickly heading toward Annie’s room to tell her that he needs to head out for a while. Louis know it will be a problem, cause Annie had been clinging to him like magnets this morning when he needed to buy lunch. She is still afraid of being alone with Evergreen just outside of the room.

    Louis rushed footsteps heading toward the room made Annie tense up when she hears the sound of approaching footstep. She is sure that it’s not Evergreen, but she hugged herself tightly anyway just in case it was him. When Louis open the door and saw her tense expression of fear, he sadden feeling sympathy for her. After shutting the door behind him, Louis quickly speak up to reassure Annie that it was just him. “Annie it’s just me,“ his caring deep tone said as he walks toward her and squatted in front of her.

    Sensing him near by, Annie sweetly hugs him with a quick swept of relief appear on her expression. It had been like this the entire day, Louis thought she is probably too shock and needed him to comfort her at all time. Louis didn't mind cause he enjoy being with Annie and comforting her. “Annie, I need to go out and buy dinner,” he gently put it, knowing that she will protest.

    Like how Louis has predict, Annie quickly lifted her head up toward his voice shaking ‘no’. She felt insecure again that Louis had to leave her alone again with those guys out there. Louis is one of those guys too, but somehow she never felt the same with Louis. Strangely, Louis has always be able to gave her a sense of secure and warmth ever since the bus incident. She know that he couldn't be that bad if he is willing to help a blind girl that he don't know, get home. “Why?” Annie soft innocent voice frustratingly asked. “Why does it always have to be you who buy the food? Don't they have legs of their own?” She cling to him like a baby gorilla to it mom. “Don't leave me alone again,” her voice became more soft, “please Louis.”

    Gently, Louis removed Annie to face him. His steady warm eyes gaze into hers insecure eyes. “Aren't you hungry?” he sensitively asked. “You were last night,” he chuckled a bit to loosen up Annie’s tension, but Annie just pouted like a child that is not getting what she wanted.

    “No, I just don't want you to leave me. Please,” she sadly pleaded.

    Giving a quick reassure embrace, Louis said, “Listen, I promise to save you right?” Annie is confuse on where he is heading but she nodded. “I really need to go out tonight to plan how to save you. Don't worry I won't take too long okay? Beside Marco and Eddy going to be here tonight, so Evergreen will not dare to come in again. You don’t have to be afraid of him. I promise I'll be back as soon as I can. Can you listen to me and stay here and wait for me?” He looked into Annie large but sightless eyes for an answer.

    With a frown, Annie shakes her head. She really hate to be left behind in this room again and knowing that monster is just outside. Somehow Marco and Eddy can't give her the security and comfort she is getting from Louis. Frustrated and over stress, Annie angrily grumbled, “Last night, you promise to be here with me. I don't want to be alone! Can't you just stay? Please!!” Annie is scare and afraid, she needed him by her side. The thought of being alone again made her eyes water up again.

    Louis sighed as he see her being so fragile and emotional, but he couldn't blame her, who could, she been through a lot from the last couple days. Louis wipes her tears away and pulled a pocketknife from his back pocket and places it in Annie hand. “Here, this will help you, don't worry I won't be long, I promise. After this time, I won't leave your side again, okay? And if he came anywhere close to you just keep him away with the knife,” he instructed.

    “Do you really have to go?” Annie whimpered softly.

    “Yes,” replied the deep warm tone.

    Hesitated, Annie finally nods. She know she can't stop Louis from going. She has an urge to be close to him for this short moment, so she lean in to hug him one more time for reassuring. Louis smiles at Annie sweet gesture. He never has a girl treat her this way before, nor has he experience this strange sense of loved. With eyes beamed on her soft innocent feature, Louis wants to kiss her forehead but he withdraws his action once he recall her high status background. Awkwardly, Louis turns to look else where while he lock himself up in deep thought about his own background compare to Annie.

    After getting to know Annie more and to be by her the entire night, Louis knows he has unknowingly fallen for her. He loves her, but his low self-esteem kept him away from being close to her. To him, he believe that he is not good enough for Annie. He knows that Howard Lam will definitely not like the idea of him being with his precious little pearl. Every time Louis wanted to get closer to Annie he would froze and think of all these problem that will occur if he let himself love Annie freely. He didn't want to start something that he will regret later and that it will hurt Annie in the process. He can sense that Annie likes him too but it just won't work out. Annie is the daughter of the Howard Lam, the richest man of Hong Kong and she must be loved like a precious gems. And he is just an orphan that struggle his entire life trying to support himself and his sister as he grow up with little education and a bad family background. Louis didn't dare to try giving Annie and himself a chance, cause he know it will end up with tears and broken heart.

    While Louis is in his little world of deeps thought, his eyes unknowingly return to gaze at Annie. Annie felt his weird stare and sense his heart is filled with other thought and concern. She didn't know exactly what he is thinking. One thing Annie notices is him backing off every time when he wanted to get close to her. Each time he would give her these strange stare instead. Annie has closely study Louis and note that this has been the third time since last night that he withdraw from her when she thought he would caress her. It kind of irritates Annie to sense his undetermined mind.

    Louis’s still set of eyes on Annie causes her heart to pound faster. Finally, she couldn't take this strange awkward feeling anymore, she has this inner emotional force telling her to raise herself a bit closer to him. Using his breathing to guide her, Annie got herself close to his lips. She could feel her heart pounded even more nervously. Bravely she place her soft lip on his gently and kissed him softly and tenderly on the lips letting her emotional side take over.

    Realizing what emotion has gotten her into, her mind finally caught up and signals her to back off quickly. Annie is shock that she actually kissed him just out of the blue. Blushing embarrassedly with crimson cheek, Annie felt nervously shy on how Louis take her sudden expression of affection. Hearing nothing but silent, Annie felt butterfly in her stomach. How much she wishes he would give her some kind of reaction to ease her shy feeling of stupidity.

    This is the first time she ever have this funny feeling and the first time she ever kissed anyone before. Annie is confuse and felt her heart beating uncontrollably with mixed anxiety while her cheeks are burning up. She can't control herself from smiling sweetly from the heart. The more she smile the more she blush and turns away from Louis. She didn't know why she kissed this guy that she just met, she don't even know his full name. She felt embarrass and weird as she keep her distant and try to hide herself and her feeling. She couldn't believe what she just did, but deep inside she felt really happy and can't contain her shy smile.

    Meanwhile, Louis is shock and froze with his eyes widen while a small smile creped up his face. He can still feel Annie's soft and gently lip on him and it was a feeling that he never felt so strong before. At that moment he know for sure that he love her and she love him, but could it be that fast? They didn't really met each other until last night. His heart was pounding fast too as he kept his position still with a smile lighted up on his face. After a moment of total silent, he snapped out and looked at Annie who had got herself to the corner and hide her head under her arm feeling embarrass and shy. Louis has a wide smile that nothing can change.

    Seeing that Annie could bravely shows him her affection in him, it gave Louis the courage to step forward. He scooted himself toward her. Tilted Annie’s face away from her arms, Louis lovingly pecks her forehead for the first time, he been wanting to kiss her for so long. All the questions that he is pondering awhile ago seem to fade away. Now none of those matter, cause Annie has giving him the courage to do so. Annie smiles sweetly and pulled her arm around him for an embrace that really meant something instead of just fear like last night. The kiss Louis just gave her is just like how many of her friend and family kissed her from the past, but somehow it meant really differently to her that it came from Louis. She felt nervous but extremely happy at the same time, as her heart beats in high speed and she can felt the same from Louis. She smile sweetly and snuggle her head on Louis chest as Louis held her tightly with love and tenderness.

    Louis doesn't know if he did the right thing, but it felt so right at this moment, and nothing else seem to matter to him right now. All that matter to him is that Annie is in his arm now and by his side. He know that this is not going to be simple, cause they will have to face many problems after this and they might not even end up together. He just wishes that the process wouldn't make Annie suffer too much and that he don't have to end up regretting. But he know he won't regret, just one minute with Annie belonging to him is enough for him. His most inner fear is that Annie would be heartbroken when he had to leave her. He kept thinking that one day he had to leave her cause they are from two different worlds.

    As for Annie she is very simple minded all she know is that she loved him and that is all that matter. She never thought of her parents not liking him or his background not matching her. She didn't care about his background at all, but what she worries most is that he might get in trouble cause of being with the gang and will have to leave her cause of it. She hugged him tightly afraid that one day she might loss him cause of his involvement with this gang activity. She worry that he would end up in jail and they would never get to be by each other anymore.

    Annie released him and silently lifted her head up showing her concern eyes to Louis. “Louis can you leave the gang?” her weak concerned voice asked, “I don't want you to be in trouble, please?” She hugged him again, “I don't want you to leave my side.” With a worrisome frown, Annie asks with a trace of glistering tears, “What will happen when I get to go home tomorrow? Then I don't get to be with you anymore.” She sighed sadly, “Can you come and see me?” With fear, Annie shakes her head, “No, I don't want the cop to see you. I don’t want Jule to arrest you…”

    Chuckled at Annie silly worry about him, Louis has the urge to inform her that he is an undercover. But since tomorrow will be the day to arrest Eddy and his gang, Louis thought it’s better to keep it safely unknown, at least until everything settle tomorrow. It really made him happy and felt needed to see Annie‘s concern for him. But what Annie stated is a problem for sure, how is he going to see her after tomorrow? He don't know how to face her dad, he kept on getting the feeling that her family wouldn't like him. Louis felt inferior because he is a low class and uneducated person, plus he was the one who ended his own father life. He sighed as all the problem from before came back to him. He would hate to have to let go one day, when reality hit. He looked at Annie eyes and smiled weakly, “Annie don't worry about me, I'll not be in trouble with the cop. And I will find a way to see you okay? I promise.”

    A sweet smile hung on Annie, she felt secure and warm by his reassuring words. Cheerfully, she pulled her hands out holding her pinky toward the sound of his voice, “Pinky swear?”

    Laughed at her childish attitude, Louis hooked his pinky with hers. Her gesture has always made Louis happy cause to him, it was really sweet and cute of her. “Pinky swear. I will always be by your side if I can,” he promised and pecked the top of her head, “I need to go now before it too late, are you going to be okay?”

    Letting go of him, Annie held the pocketknife out with big grin, “Yup!” Louis laughed. “But you promise to return. Hurry okay?” She felt Louis stand up so she stands up too, but suddenly she felt dizzy and groggy. Louis saw her and held her still cause she couldn't balance herself.

    Louis helped her sit back down on the floor. He notice Annie face looked really pale and her hands were cold all of a sudden. “Annie are you not feeling well?” he concern asked.

    With eyes that squinted shuts, Annie felt the sharp pain in her head. The pain that hadn't visited her for sixteen whole years has just came back to say hi. She shakes her head trying to release the pain and dizziness away, but it just persisted. Sensing Louis concern, she forced a smile to reassure Louis, “Yeah, I'm fine, I think I just got up too fast. You can go now, and come back fast okay?”

    “I will. I'll buy you some good lunch box too, okay?” Louis told her while still studying her expression. Annie seem to look okay to him now.

    With a chuckle, Annie try to control her headache, “Pick one that the rats don't like okay?”

    Chuckling again, Louis is relieved cause he doesn't see the pain that Annie is hiding. “Even better, I will buy them one, so they stay away from yours okay?”

    Annie just nods. Louis kissed her cheek and walked out. Once Louis was out, Annie grabs her head while the pounding of sharp pain getting more and more painful. She cried silently and hopes that Louis will return quick to hug her like last night to comfort her. She didn't dare to scream in pain, fearing Evergreen and those other guy would come in.
    ******

  17. #77
    Senior Member Yak's Avatar
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    Dec 2002
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    Default Chapter 26: Forgotten Pain

    The well know flea market street of lively event, somehow felt hollow tonight. Maybe it’s due to the cold ocean wind cooling it’s atmosphere several degree causing night surfer to hang out in crowded pub instead. But the cold empty air will not stop Louis from where he is determine to go. Swiftly but yet carefully, Louis head up the roof of the same apartment building to meet Julian and plan their arrest and rescue plot.

    Once he arrive at the roof, he saw Julian back facing him. Julian is gazing down at the street until he hears Louis footstep, he quickly turns around to question Louis urgently, “How is Annie? Did they hurt her? What take you so long?!”

    “Calm down, Julian,“ Louis suggested. He is curious to how Julian already figure out the girl being Annie. “She is fine right now.” Louis pleasant expression fade into a gloom when he recall what happen last night. “Though, she was almost rape last night,” he informed Julian.

    “WHAT?!!” overreacting shouted Annie’s caring cousin, who instantly grabs onto Louis’s shirt collar with tight fists.

    Loosening Julian grip, Louis assures, “I say almost. She was scared half to death, but don't worry she is much better now.” Louis could pick up Julian’s strong sense of protection toward Annie. If Annie hasn’t mention to him that Julian is her cousin, Louis would thinks that Julian is actually Annie’s boyfriend by the way he acted. Louis suddenly let out a soft chuckle, since he never saw Julian this serious about anything before. “How did you know the girl is your cousin anyway?”

    A bit calmed down, Julian replies, “I found out and confirmed with my uncle.”

    “So your uncle is willing to have the police help?”

    Seriously, Julian nods, “Yeah, he called Thomas, and Thomas order us to make sure Annie is safely rescue and bring home. He allows me to use as much men or weapon we needed for this case. Do you know what they have plan for tomorrow? We need every second to draw our operation plot.”

    “Yeah, Eddy Cheung went over his plot with his gang this morning. The main problem is that they will put a bomb on her that will be activated by a single touch of the remote button. Eddy Cheung will take control of the remote himself. And if anything goes wrong, I’m certain he will definitely use it. In order to safely rescue Annie, we need to think of a way to take the bomb apart before he has it activate. I could probably think of an excuse to stay behind to take it apart, but I will need time. Which mean I need yours help in buying me enough time before our team take action. It’ll certainly startle him to activates the bomb if he notice our team being involve,” Louis exclaim with precise detail.

    Nodding in agreement, Julian replies, “It shouldn’t be too big of a problem for us to buy you some time. When will they ask for the ransom? And where?”

    “Eddy Cheung wants Howard Lam to sent his older daughter to bring them the ransom. His reason is that she is a female and least likely to play trick on them. Don't even bother wiring her cause they will ask her to trade car and phone on the way. It’ll be too risky if they saw wire on her. Just tell her to follow all their instruction. The destination for the exchange is going to be the dry grassland east of Sky Swan Mountain.”

    “I could arrange our team to station there,” Julian added, while Louis nods.

    Turning slightly toward Julian with his serious eyes, Louis continues, “But be sure to keep a good look out. Because they are having people keep an eyes on the grassland at all time. Eddy Cheung is too sneaky, we must not startle him until the right timing. Remember to tell Flora Lam to drag the ransom exchange process longer to insure that I can take the bomb apart.”

    “I will,” Julian replied. After a few moment of thought, Julian spoke up again, “I think it would be better if I have the crew hike up the grassland tonight and hide there till tomorrow, that way they never notice anyone got there.” A bit more at ease and relief, Julian smile at Louis like his usual goofy self. “Louis, this would all work out and we will capture these bunch of idiots without them knowing what hit them. It serves them right for kidnapping my cousin.” He give Louis a bright smile like an epiphany just hit him. “Louis, if you can take the batteries out of the remote, than you can have all the time you need to take the bomb apart,” wisely suggested Julian with a mischievous grin.

    Louis chuckles at the simple but yet brilliant idea, “That is an excellent idea. I'll see if I can get anywhere near the remote tonight. If that is successful, I can't wait to see Eddy Cheung face when he tries to push the remote and nothing happen!” Slightly glanced at his watch, Louis notice the time is running short. He also know that Annie must be waiting for him impatiently. “I need to go now, before they get suspicious to my where about. But remember to give me some time in case I can't get the hold of the remote tonight.” Louis turns to leave.

    “Wait!” Julian called after him. Louis turned back to him, Julian pulled out a tiny bottle with the two pills that Annie always takes and a tiny vials of the liquid medicine. “These are Annie’s medication, have her drink it up when you get back. Is she having any headache for the past few days?”

    “No, she was just fine,” Louis answered with a bit of uncertainty. “Why do she need all of this medication?”

    Frowned slightly, Julian explains, “She has a brain problem, it was caused by an accident when she was six, which is why she is blinded also. Anyway she will get really sick with headache and dizziness if she skips her medication for a long period. I am glad nothing happen to her. Louis help me take care of her….”

    “Did you say dizziness?” Louis concernedly asked since he witness Annie being a bit dizzy when he was about to leave a hour ago

    “Yeah,” weakly answered Julian while observing Louis expression..

    “I need to head back now. Don't worry I'll have her take the medicine. Bye,” Louis urgently said and quickly stormed away.
    -------

    Julian went back to the police department and discuss the case with Thomas and then had his people get ready to go up to the grassland after midnight and wait till tomorrow to capture all of Eddy gangs red handed. He also went to Howard to inform him and Flora to get ready and follow their instruction. He promises to keep an eye on Flora and make sure she is safe during the process tomorrow. Flora was glad that she can finally help save her sister. Julian gave her a bulletproof vest to wear for tomorrow. Howard are getting more worry that Flora has to go instead of him or someone else, he didn't want anymore of his children getting anywhere close to those gangs. After the talk with Howard and Flora, Julian headed to take a short naps before he head up the mountain with his troops.
    -------

    Throb, throb, throb…the rapid beat sharply hammered into Annie’s head causing severe pain that she has long forgotten. The last time when she experience this kind of unbearable pain was when she was six. She was so young back then that she has forgotten how extreme the headache was, all she remember was that it too painful. The headache signal felt like sharps little knife japing and torturing her brain’s cells. Moaning in pain, Annie grabs hold of her head with her two fists. She kept shaking her head trying to release some of the build up pressure, but it’s no use at all.

    Weakly lies on the cement ground in fetus position, Annie felt feverish from head to toes. Her body heats up so much that it causes droplets of sweats to cover her hair, face, and neck. But to Annie, the fever doesn’t bother her much, since the piercing headache is what stolen her full attention. Groaning in discomfort, Annie tries to control her headaches by slightly rocking side to side on the dirty ground with her fists tightly clenched to her hair like a madman. The thought of rats no longer bother her, since she is in too much suffering to care.

    Fearing Evergreen would come in, Annie didn‘t even dare to scream out her pain or moan too loud. Therefore she has to presses her lips tightly together to muffle out her misery. Tears leaks from her vulnerable eyes as she begin to hit her head against the hard cement ground hoping to distract the persisting headache by triggering another pain signal. While she constantly repeats pounding her head, she recalls dialogues of her family past conversation replying over and over in her mind. Longing to return to her family, Annie hopelessly sob while mouthing “home” with her sniffling.

    As minutes passed, her fever has peeks up another notch causing her to felt strength less. Her cheeks became rosy and burn to the touch. Exhausted from pounding, Annie finally stop cause she no longer has the energy to bother. Her heart continue to speed with rapid beats that made her felt nervously weak. Annie starts to breath labouringly, since her fever and increasing heart rate causes her chest to felt heavily compressed. Being tortured like this make her wishes that she could just past out.

    Drawing herself more closure in a fetus position, Annie hugs her bend legs. “Louis, where are you? Please come back soon. Louis, I need....you,” her vulnerable weak trembling lips worded. “Oowww…,“ Annie moaned helplessly. Painful tears is cascading down her cheek.

    A very sharp signal shrike her brain like a dagger. “AAHHH!!“ Annie finally scream out her unbearable pain. After realizing that she has cause a disturbance, Annie is now fearsome to the consequent. She is afraid that Evergreen might come in to beat her up or something, but the pain is really unbearable to stand anymore. Gathering what left of her strength, Annie quickly push herself toward the wall for protection. Sits leaning against the wall, Annie hugs herself into a ball again for comfort and security just incase Evergreen come in. Constantly, she pound her head against the wall, like she is nudging the dirty wooden wall with her head.

    Meanwhile Louis is just outdoor and hear Annie scream from the cabin just like last night. His first thought is Evergreen mistreating Annie again. Louis urgently ran into the cabin, but to his surprise no one was around and Annie screaming no longer audible. A bit puzzled Louis drops off two bagful of lunch boxes on the plain table while he ponder about Eddy and his gang where about. The constant throbbing sound from the room bring his attention back to Annie. Louis quickly rush into the room worrying that Evergreen was able to harass Annie since Marco is not around.

    Annie quivered nervously from Louis sudden impatient intrude into her room with the door slammed open. She has no idea who the person is and what he wanted. Her first impulse is to search for the pocket knife Louis gave her to protect herself, she thought the intruder is Evergreen since the person movement sound harsh. With her painful headache Annie couldn’t concentrate to find her knife, she start to panic with stress. “Don’t come near me!“ she warned while her two hands are still patting her surrounding for the knife. “Get out, get out, please get out now…“ Annie pleaded with tears freely flooding her burning cheeks.

    That sight of her made Louis heart felt discomfort that he never experience before. “It’s me,“ he assured while quickly shutting the door behind him.

    “Louis!“ Annie called out with relief. She is smiling and crying at the same time to finally waited long enough for his return. Once Louis is within her reach, Annie cling to him tightly and cried all her fear and pain away. “What take you so long?“ Annie whimpered with sniffling.

    Comfortingly, Louis allow Annie to lean on his chest while he embraced her. While Annie is slightly panting as she rubbed her head onto his chest, Louis was able to felt her fever. He alertly place his palm on her forehead and it daunted him to felt her high fever along with her sweat. “Why are you having a fever?“ he asked while studying Annie for other symptom. He could tell she is in a lot of pain by her paled lips and red puffy eyes. “Are you having a headache?“

    Annie nodded as she sniffs on her tears with squinted eyes due to the agonizing pain. “It hurt, Louis. Could you please make it stop? I don’t care, you could knock me out of it if you want, just stop the pain,” Annie requested with a bit of anger at herself for having this illness. Her fist clenches onto Louis shirt, while her body begin to slightly jerk cause she is entering a seizure phase. Louis panic and didn't know what to do to stop her seizure, all he know is that she could accidentally bite her tongue. Without second thought, Louis quickly place his thumb side of his palm slightly into Annie’s mouth to let her bite onto it. He winched a bit in pain, but within second he no longer felt pain cause he is too overly scare to see Annie in this condition.

    “Calm down, calm down,“ he told Annie, but more to himself too. With panicking heart, Louis quickly dig into his pant pocket in search of the two small medicine vials Julian gave him an hour ago. “Don’t worry Annie, there are medicine to stop all of this pain,“ he assured Annie while he frustrating search his other pant pocket to retrieve Annie’s medication. Quickly emptied two pills from one of the vial, Louis urge, “Take these, it will stop the pain.”

    Annie didn't hesitate at all and just chew up the pills, she trust Louis wouldn't harm her at all. The bitterness of chewing the pills made her grossed out. Louis quickly grab her water bottle for her to wash it down. “This liquid medicine will help too,“ he told Annie while bringing the opened vial toward her lips. Annie obediently drink up the medicine like Louis instructed.

    The taste of that syrup medicine with honey was exactly like how Flora has made it for her, so Annie face show a confused expression. “How did you get my medicines?” Annie weakly asked.

    After a slight pause, Louis finally made up an excuse, “I brought it from a convenient store. You use the same medicine too? I always use it for my headache since it works pretty well.“ Louis didn’t want Annie to know about his identity yet, at least not until he safely rescue her tomorrow. “Do you know where everyone went?“ Louis immediately change the subject to avoid Annie further questioning.

    Seeing Annie tightly shuts her eyes again while pressing her head tightly against him, Louis know that she must be feeling another pain signal again. He suddenly has an urge to comfort her and ease her pain. Gently, Louis tenderly place his lips on her forehead and gave her a warm loving peck. That simple gesture of his made Annie felt happy from her heart, she let out a slight smile while continue to try controlling her pain. “Don’t worry, I'm here with you. You’ll be fine in a while, once the medicine goes to work. Try to stay relax and calm. Maybe you should sleep for a while, it will help you forget about the pain,” he caringly suggested.

    With her arms sneaks around him, Annie embraced him tighter. She exhaustingly whispers, “I can't sleep with the constant pounding in my head. Louis, could you think of something to distract me with?”

    Chuckled slightly, Louis said, “You are not asking me to sing again, are you?”

    Snuggling herself more cozily on Louis, Annie let out a slight giggle as she recall his singing. “No, I hear enough of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" last night,” she playfully complained. Slightly tilted her head up to toward his voice, Annie has an idea, “I don't even know your last name yet. Why don't you tells me a story about you? How about your childhood? You could tell me anything about yourself, I just want to hear your voice.”

    Louis frowned a bit to think of his life. His childhood is not one of those heartwarming story like most carefree children would have. His childhood is also one of his reason for having a low self-esteem, since he is never proud of his family nor is he proud of what he has done. “It not a very happy story though,” Louis finally exclaim after Annie nudged him to start.

    “I just want to know more about you,” Annie encouraged with a sweet smile. She felt slightly better, at least she could breath now, unlike moment ago.

    “Alright. Well, let start with my name than. I am Louis Koo and Koo Tin Lok is my full Chinese name,” Louis steady tone told her. He isn’t quite sure if he should share with Annie about his past, since he has never share this personal secret with anyone before.

    Annie giggled sweetly, “Lok Lok, that’s a happy name.”

    With a sigh Louis nod, but he thinks otherwise, since he hasn’t truly been happy before. “My family is not one of those warm and friendly one that most people have, Annie. I never remember a day with peace and joy living with my parents. My dad is a drug addicts that also love to gamble, and my mom herself like to gamble too. They would argue about money all the time and fight in front of us. When they lost huge sum of money or simply stressed out cause of life, they would use us to release their anger on.”

    With interest, Annie softly asks, “You have sibling?”

    “I has a kid sister that is four years younger than me,” Louis replied with a sigh and continue, “Our parents never take care of us. Mom hardly ever cook nor clean the house. Both her and my father never get home until they were satisfy with enough gambling. I was the one who has to take care of my sister.” A warm smile spread on Louis when he recall his close relationship with his sister, “Good thing she is not hard to take care of. Maybe because she also learn to be obedient since we constantly get beat or scold if we are not careful enough.”

    “You are the one who cook for your family?” Annie questioned with surprise. She life is way different than Louis. She never has to step foot into the kitchen unless she wanted to.

    “I remember I was six when I first try to cook rice; I almost burn our flat down. That was the time when both our parents didn’t return home for a week. They took a ferryboat over to Cuckoo to gamble. Joyce was crying saying that she wanted to eat rice instead of dry food.“

    “Joyce Koo?“ Annie asked in surprise, “Do she work in a restaurant now as a waitress?“

    “Yeah. You know her?“ Louis questioned back with surprise too.

    Nodded, Annie explain, “I think she is the same girl that worked for my uncle café. Go on, I want to hear more. Do you still live with your parents now?“

    “No,“ Louis deep voice answered with a hint of regret mix with hatred. “An incident occurred when I was eight that has rewritten Joyce and my life. I remember that we always tries to head into our room as soon as we finish dinner, because we always fear that they will hit us. Well, Joyce usually get beat up the most cause she can't defense herself, unlike me. So I have to protect her with my best ability, but what can I do to stop my heavy weight father.”

    Paused for a second Louis drops his head, “One day, my dad came home early. He ran into our room and roughly dragged Joyce out. At that moment, I just got back from school. I was alarmed by her screaming while dad hits her want her to come with him. My dad had decided to sell Joyce to the *****house to get money to repay his gambling debt. I still remember exactly what happen that day. Crying loudly in fear, Joyce bit his hand, wanting him to free her. He barbarically slapped her and throw her across the room. I was panicking and wish my mom would be back to help, but she was gambling herself and usually wouldn't be home till midnight.”

    Annie listens with her full attention and the pain seem to dulled out, she felt sorry for Joyce. Louis turned away as he hesitate to go on, anger and guilt has all came back to him now. “I try my best to keep my dad away from Joyce, but what could I do? He wouldn’t listen to me pleading him. He even hits me to get me out of his way while he continue to drag Joyce out of the flat.” Louis sigh and slightly wet his lip, “I know I couldn’t let him sell Joyce. And I was really angry with him for being so heartless toward us. I ended up grabbing the knife on the table counter and stab into his right lower back…” Louis voice trailed away while his mind seem to relive the scenery. Annie slightly gasp to know that he injured his father. “He was too busy struggling with Joyce to notice me coming toward him with the knife. I still could see his pair of enlarged eyes dart at me with daunted expression…”

    Annie gently said, “You just want to protect Joyce.”

    Nodding, Louis continue, “While he dropped to the floor, I grab hold of Joyce small hand and both of us ran to hide under the dinning table. I witness him lying helplessly on the floor with blood spurting out. I later on find out that I stabbed his kidney, which is why he is losing that much blood. Joyce and I were terrify as we sat on the corner of the kitchen floor hugging each other tightly and staring at our dad who is in pain. We didn't know what to do, I was shock that I stabbed him and I never saw that many blood before.”

    “After a while I finally collected myself and walked to him with Joyce clinging to my arm. I squatted down to feel his cold face and found out that he no longer breathing anymore. I panic and Joyce cried so loudly as she hugged me, I don't know what to do but to go to the neighbors for help, but none of them open up their doors to help us.” Louis paused to look at Annie, wondering how she is taking this deep secret of his. “Are you afraid of me now that I killed my own dad?” he asked with regretful eyes.

    Sadly, Annie shakes her head, “I know you didn't mean it or else you wouldn't ask for help from your neighbor, and you were just trying to save Joyce. What about your mom? Did you told her why you stab your dad?”

    “I did,“ Louis disappointedly answer cause he felt pain to recall how his mother react to his explanation. He continue, “No one from our neighbors are nice enough to even peek out to look at why we are screaming for help. But to our surprise my mom has just came home, but she is not happy seeing my lifeless father on the floor. She had her eyes narrowed on us and we try to get as far back as possible seeing her angry and cold stare, she yanked me in front of her and demanded an answer. I told her everything, thinking that she will understand that I did it to save Joyce, but she was furious cause she was with the buyer and waiting for my dad to bring Joyce down. She slapped me hard across the face and I was in pain. Not because of her slap, but to realize that she would actually sell Joyce too. I kept asking myself to what both Joyce and me has done to have this kind of parents? I thanks her for slapping me, cause it really woke me up. I know that both Joyce and me can’t depend on her anymore. At that moment, I stared at her with hatred and my eyes were dry as the desert. I can't cry anymore, I has lost all hope on my parents.”

    “I’m sorry,“ Annie suddenly whispered.

    “Then my mom turn and try to grab Joyce cause the buyer is still at the cafe downstairs. I was furious and try to pull Joyce away from her as I scream for help and kicked her. She let go of Joyce and coming after me, I yelled at Joyce to run and get help downstairs, she did as I say. My mom saw her escaping, so she ran after her, but I pulled my mom back. She was angry with me and grab me by my neck while she told me that I am her son and Joyce is her daughter, which gave her the right to sell us since she’s the one who bring us to this world.”

    Annie shakes her head in disbelief, her parent loved her like a precious pearl. Hearing Louis and Joyce’s parents made her missed her parents even more now. Louis continue, he couldn't stop now, as all the painful memories came back. “I stare at her coldly and wished she never had us at all. She finally let go of me and ran to get Joyce, I ran after her also, hoping Joyce found help or at least ran away far enough that my mom can't lay hands on her anymore. Joyce got help indeed, she got a police officer to help her and we bump into them when we were heading down the stair quickly.”

    “The police saw the condition and arrested my mom for child abuse and neglect. He was shock that I stabbed my father and looked at me with fearful eyes, like I'm some kind of heartless monster. I was too young to be charge for murder and the judge understand my situation. But they put me to talk with a psychiatrist for a month, just in case I go nuts,” Louis let out a soft sardonic chuckle before he continue, “We were send to an orphanage afterward. I thought all the bad things is gone and we could live there happily. But people there looked at me weirdly cause they know that I killed my own dad. The children at the orphanage didn't dare to come close or play with us, thinking that I was some crazy lunatic; they all isolated Joyce and me. Even the adults gave us weird eyes like we are some kind of monsters. So we decide to leave instead of begging them to keep us.”

    “We sneaked out and I found a little restaurant owner that is nice enough to keep us. He is really nice too, at least he is welling to give us three meals a day and allow us to sleep in his restaurant at night. In return, I help him wash dishes and take care of things around the restaurant,” Louis let out a sigh, “I worry about Joyce the most back than cause she was shock and traumatized by the event with our parents. She didn't talk much to me, I guess she hated me for killing our father and got our mom arrested.”

    “I don't think so, she is just depressed from going through so much and she was only four. I bet she still remember it even though she is so young back than,” Annie sadly said.

    “Yeah, we never mention about it again. It kind of had became a deep scar that both of us hate to talk about,“ Louis honestly said. He gazed into Annie eyes with gladness that Annie didn’t show any fear toward him after hearing his childhood. He continue, “Back than, I worked at the restaurant really hard and didn't have time for an education, but I asked the owner to at least help pay for Joyce schooling. He is nice enough and agreed to it. Joyce was quiet and kept herself away from other classmate at the beginning, but she slowly accept the fact and she put the past behind her. I was glad that she could pull herself together, even though we don't talk much to each other, I could feel her forgiving me and caring about me. After she got her general education done, we moved out and left the restaurant. At first we lived together but after a while I needed my own space and so does she, so I moved out. Somehow I felt our bond aren’t the same as how it was when we were children.”

    Curiously, Annie asks, “Why did you join the gang? I would of guess you‘ll be a chef.”

    Louis laughed, “To save you.”

    “Huh?”

    “You’ll know tomorrow,” Louis slyly said. He felt her forehead and smile in relief, “Your fever has dropped a bit. And you looked much better now. Is your headache cure?”

    “No, it still hurt,“ Annie whined even though her pain has left her. “Could you sing to me now?“ she childishly requested.

    By the sight of her pout, Louis know that she is okay. “You got to be kidding me right?”

    “Please?” Annie sweetly pleaded.

    “I only know kiddy song though.”

    “What if I teach you my favorite song?” suggested Annie.

    Louis shakes his head cause he know he couldn’t sing. He basically sound like reading if he ever try to sing. “No, why don't you sing it to me instead?” he bargained.

    Pouted, Annie moved away from his hug, “I thought you say you do anything for me. Didn't you say you love me?”

    “Who would love a spoil princess like you?” Louis laughingly teased, “And when did I say I do anything for you?”

    Childishly, Annie dropped her head with a cute pout, “Fine! I don't like you too…”

    Moved close to her, Louis hugged her tightly, “Okay I admitted it, I do have a tiny bit of feeling for you, Annie Lam.”

    “Only a tit bit?” she asked shyly. She suddenly lean in toward his breathing to peck his cheek. “How about now?”

    Giggling at her, Louis grin ear to ear, “How did I even start having feeling for this silly girl?” With eyes gazed into Annie’s, Louis became a bit serious. He smile and lean in to share a fench kiss with Annie. Annie was a bit surprise that he actually willing to take the first step this time. She returned his kiss with butterfly fluttering her stomach happily. Ended their kiss, Louis whispers, “You are special to me, Annie.”
    ******

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