It was finally the last day of the trial. The jury had just returned from their deliberation, and they were ready to read the verdict. The trial hadn't lasted very long, but it had felt like years to Danielle.

"Are you okay?" Anna asked her, reaching out and grabbing her hand. They were seated in the first row in the courtroom. Nathan was on the other side of Danielle.

"Yeah, I'm just glad it's almost over," Danielle replied, looking over at her friend. Anna nodded.

"Yeah, me too," Anna agreed. When Danielle had told Anna about her supposed half sister, Veronica, Anna didn't believe it. But it didn't take them long to do an online search and find out that Veronica was telling the truth. She was Albert Michael's daughter, making her Danielle's half sister. She had spoken with her a few times after she had corroborated her story.

"Has the jury reached a verdict?" Judge Jamison asked. The foreman stood up.

"We have, your honor. We, the jury, find the defendant…not guilty," he informed.

"What?" Danielle gasped. Loud noise erupted in the courtroom.

"What the hell?" Nathan said, standing up.

"Sit down, Nathan!" Anna ordered, reaching over and grabbing his arm. She didn't want him to get into any trouble.

"Order! Order in the court, I say!" The judge's voice boomed throughout the room, slamming his gavel up and down. The room quieted down again.

"How could this be?" Danielle whispered, looking over at Anna, who was shaking her head in awe.

"The way the system works amazes me every day. How is it possible that he was found not guilty? He's guilty as hell!" Anna commented.

"This is insane!" Nathan fumed.

"You know what…Veronica told me not to be surprised when I spoke with her the other day. I think that my father bought out the jury or something, or even worse, threatened them." Danielle stated. Anna's eyebrows rose.

"That could possibly well be, because there's no way in hell that the jury found him 'not guilty' without any incentive, that's for sure," Anna muttered.

"I'm still in complete and utter shock," Danielle stated, shaking her head. They watched as the released Brad, and told him he was free to go. Brad looked over at her and their eyes locked for a moment. Danielle looked away and turned back towards Nathan and Anna.

"Let's go, guys," she said, standing up.

"No! We have to get to the bottom of this!" Nathan argued, standing up as well. Anna followed Nathan and Danielle out to the front of the building.

"Nathan, be reasonable. There's nothing you can do," Anna told him.

"I can't believe this is happening," he said, incredulously.

"Me either," Danielle agreed. "Listen to me, please. Let's go far away where no one will find us. Veronica told me that things aren't finished, and I believe her."

"That's not an option, Danielle. It never has been and it never will be," Nathan replied, firmly.

"Why are you being so close minded? We're sitting ducks if we stay here!" she wailed, her emotions ready to burst out.

"I've already told you a thousand times. I'm not going to live my live in fear, running away from things that 'scare' me, Danielle. I just won't do it," he replied. She could see it in his eyes. Nothing she could say would change his mind.

"Fine!" she snapped. She turned and started walking away.

"Danielle!" Anna called out after her, catching up with her friend.

"What am I going to do, Anna? Only a fool would sit around waiting for the worst to happen," Danielle said, picking up the pace.

"I know what you're saying, Danielle. I can see where both of you are right." Anna shook her head. "Things are just so messed up."

"I know. They're more messed up than I ever imagined it to be. I never expected that they would set Brad free, even after my testimony. The defense totally discredited me on the stand, making me nervous and sound like a train wreck!"

"That's what they're there to do. But we both know you are telling the truth, and that somehow the jury was bought out or something," Anna replied. They stopped at the corner. Danielle looked back and didn't see Nathan anywhere. Sighing deeply, she willed the tears to not fall down her cheeks.

"I'm so frustrated and scared. I feel like I have no control over my life or my future," Danielle whispered, looking down.

"I know how you feel, Dani. Why don't we go back to your apartment? Hopefully Nathan will be there and you guys can talk," Anna said.

"Anna, why don't you come and stay with us for now, so we can stick together?" Danielle replied.

"I don't know, Dani. Nathan-"

"Nathan will love the idea. You were kidnapped, Anna. You're not safe alone in your apartment. You should stay with us. You can sleep with me on the bed and Nathan can sleep on the sleeper sofa," Danielle offered.

"No way. I'll agree to stay with you guys, but you guys will stay in your room, I'll sleep on the sofa," Anna stated.

"But, Anna-"

"No buts. I'll agree to stay with you guys, but only if you let me sleep on the couch," she said, firmly.

"Fine," Danielle replied. "Let's go to your place right away to pick up your clothes."

"Okay. Where's Nathan?" Anna asked, looking back and not spotting her brother.

"He's probably waiting in the car. Let's go to the parking lot." They walked back to where the car was parked, and they got into the car. Danielle didn't say anything to Nathan.

"Nathan, is it okay if I stay with you guys for a while? I don't feel safe in my apartment anymore," Anna stated.

"Sure, that's no problem. Let's go get your stuff." They pulled out of the parking lot. They didn't know there was a black sedan following them.


The following Saturday morning, Anna and Danielle were in the laundry room putting clothes to wash, when Danielle's cell phone rang.

"Hello?" she answered after a few rings.

"Danielle? It's Veronica. Listen, I've got great news. I decided to talk to Dad about everything, and I convinced him to not bring you guys in to erase your memories. I told him. When you told me that Nathan had given the information incriminating my dad to a friend, I told Dad that if anything happened to you guys, I'm sure that information would get out, and he would be ruined. The only reason that it hasn't come out yet is because nothing has happened to you, and the trial was about Bradley and not Dad. If there's a trial where Dad is the defendant, and the evidence that you have comes out, it would all be over for him. So I was able to talk some sense into him. He agreed to leave you alone. I know that there's no reason why you wouldn't take the evidence to the police anyway, but trust me when I tell you this, Danielle, the battle would be very long and very ugly. I think you should put the past behind you and move on," Veronica finished.

"You're serious? He's going to leave us alone?" she asked, her eyes widening.

"Yes," Veronica replied.

"Thank you so much, Veronica. If it weren't for you, things probably would've turned out a lot differently," Danielle thanked her sister sincerely.

"Hey, that's what family is for, even though we don't know each other much. But I would love to get to know you better. You are my only sibling after all," Veronica teased.

"That would be great. So how did Brad get released really?" Danielle inquired.

"My dad paid off the jury," she replied simply.

"How can he do that? How can he even know who's part of the jury?" Danielle asked.

"He can do anything, Danielle. Don't you ever forget that. He's more powerful than many people think. He's got the government behind him," Veronica reminded her.

"This is crazy," Danielle stated, shaking her head.

"What?" Anna mouthed. Danielle raised a finger to hold her off.

"I know, but that's just how it works with our father," Veronica replied.

"I guess I should get used to that. So listen, I have to go, we can talk later, I'm going to finish folding laundry here," Danielle replied. "Bye, and thanks again."

"Bye." Danielle closed her phone and put it back in her pocket. She closed her eyes and smiled.

"What, what, tell me!" Anna urged, her eyebrows raised.

"We're free!" Danielle replied, gleefully.

"What do you mean we're free?" Anna demanded. Danielle recounted everything her sister had told her, and watched relief pour over her friend's face.

"Oh, my word, this is amazing! I'm so happy! I can go back to my life now. We all can!" Anna exclaimed, grabbing Danielle by the waist and hopping around in circles.

"We're free," Danielle whispered again to herself, hugging her friend tightly. She sighed deeply and smiled.