A young woman is kidnapped by a man she didn't know was stalking her. She is moved all over the states to stay one step ahead of the authorities. He wants a family; she just wants to go home. After five years on the run from authorities, the man believes that he has brainwashed her enough to take his family out shopping. He isn't expecting her to recognize old co-workers and she isn't expecting to recognize anyone either. What happens when the young woman's family reaches out to these old co-workers after getting a message that she might be in New York? How was the young woman able to send a message without her kidnaper finding out? Did her allow her to keep a hobby that she loved to do just so that she would stay happy? And will her co-worker risk it all to save not only her life, but also that of her three kids? Will she ever be able to go home? Or will she stay with her co-worker's family after reconnecting with an old friend?
I had been doing good at my job. Always on time, unless my feet decided to kill me or I wasn't feeling good. I was getting along with my co-workers, though my best friend no longer worked there. I missed the Shah family and I knew that one day I might see them again, if I ever made it to New York. Some co-workers still talked to him and I knew that he and his family were doing good. In little over five years, his son would be getting married to his cousin (which in Pakistani culture is what family members did). It was also around this time that a man around my age started to frequent the buffet a lot, and he always asked if I would serve him. At first I thought it was nice, that he had found the one employee that he like talking to while he was eating at the buffet, but after a while, I began to notice the way he would stare at me. He would watch me whenever he believed I wasn't paying attention and it was starting to bug me.
There was something wrong about this man. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I could just feel that there was something wrong about him. He said his name was Jason and that he had seen how I interacted with the rest of my guests. He said I would make a good mom one day after seeing me interact with a guest with a couple children. Unfortunately for him, he also said it in front of that guest and she saw my smile falter a little bit, but so did her smile as well. She could tell that there was something off about him as well. But I kept my composure and finished helping her before asking another co-worker to grab ice cream while I went to get some cupcakes. We didn't need them; I just needed to get away from him. I went to the back, but went to my water bottle instead. I grabbed it and started to drink from it, all the while keeping a look out for a manager. I was going to ask if they could keep an eye out for Jason and see if they noticed anything strange about the way he acted.
I didn't get the chance because apparently the guest that I had been serving and that had overheard Jason's comment had spoken with one of the 'Front of House' managers and told them what had conspired. I knew that Chef Perry and Chef John were both in the kitchen at the moment, but I was still trying to keep my heart from jumping out of my chest, and it wasn't a good feeling either. When Celina and Martin came into the kitchen, they had Bruce and Lil with them. They had radioed and asked for them to meet in the kitchen. I smiled an awkward smile and Celina came over to me. She asked me about the man named Jason and what he had said and I let them know what he had said and how he had said it. I also let her know that the guest had felt uncomfortable as well. Martin said that the guest had mentioned this already and the guest was worried about me as 'Jason' seemed to know me. I just let them know that he was a frequent guest.
And then I went on to tell them that I felt uncomfortable around him and it felt like he was keeping an eye on me, though I wasn't exactly sure why he was doing it. That I would catch him watching me out the corner of my eye and noticed when he would tense up if any of my male cop-workers or managers spoke to me, as if he was acting a little possessive. I wasn't dating the guy, so I didn't understand why he was acting the way that he was towards me. Lil and Celina did however and they told me that I needed to stay in the back on Steamers or on Prep and help in any way possible. I figured that they were going to keep an eye on him and make sure he stopped frequenting the casino as much.
When the managers went back out to the floor, I turned around and noticed Jessica looking at me. She smiled and motioned for me to wrap up the food that she had been preparing for the stations. She didn't say anything but I got the feeling that she understood what the managers were talking about. I stayed in the back the rest of my shift and when it came time for me to leave, Chef Perry was by my locker. He said that he didn't mind giving me a lift home that night and I got the feeling that something had gone down that I didn't know about. I wanted to ask what was going on but before I did I got a text from my mother telling me to take the offered ride. And that got me a little more suspicious.
I took Chef Perry's ride and was home within twenty minutes. He waited till I was inside before leaving the way he had come. When I was inside, and after I had put my stuff in my room, I went upstairs like I always did to get something to drink. Mom and Steve came out of their room and Sam came up from downstairs. They asked me to sit and then asked about a customer that I had had that day named 'Jason'. I only told them that he creeped me out a little bit and I stayed in the back the rest of my shift. I then learned that mom had gotten a call from one of my supervisor's letting her know that a customer had been 'stalking' me at work. I didn't think 'Jason' had been stalking me but I let my family voice their concerns. They wanted me to alert anyone at work if I ever saw this 'Jason' guy again while at work or on the bus. I told them that I would but I highly doubted that he would follow me onto the bus. After that little chat, I headed for my room with a water bottle and some chips.
For the next few weeks, 'Jason' never showed back up. What I didn't know was that he had been secretly watching me at the bus stop, heading to work and home, while out with friends and family. It was on the way to the library one day that he pulled up next to the power transformer and got out. I was listening to music on my phone and wasn't really paying attention. My 3DS and its charger as well as my phone charger were in my backpack. My laptop and charger were in my laptop bag as well as my tablet and its charger. The internet was down at moms and I was heading to the library for some much needed music download time as well as to figure out what I wanted to publish on Fanfiction. I had my debit card on me as well as my ID, bus car and some cash to buy something at the library vending machine
When he stepped out of his car and came into my line of sight of the bus stop, I panicked. I almost screamed except for the fact that he put a knife to my stomach and said if I screamed, he'd kill me. So I didn't scream and he told me to get into the passenger seat. He let me keep my belongings on me but as soon as I was seated with my stuff on the floor between my feet and after buckling up, he told me that we were leaving Washington State and nobody would ever find us. From that moment on, I started to hatch a plan that he knew nothing about. Thank god I had internet on my phone still and it had just been paid. I had not however bought anything with my paycheck nor had I paid rent yet since rent wasn't due until the first of the month and it was only the middle of the month. I had also set up auto-pay on my phone so I was good for at least a few months before my money ran out. I was also hoping that my parents would realize that I had been taken and that they would start searching for me.
We left Washington as soon as he was able to pick up some stuff from his apartment, which was surprisingly sparse. He said that his parents kept most of his stuff at their home and that we would be heading to them for a while. That people needed to stop looking for me before we could really start to have a life of our own. I dreaded what that meant and I prayed that I would be found soon, not realizing that it would take five years and four moves before I was safe in the arms of people that actually knew who I was and had been looking for me.
It took my family less than 24hrs to realize that something was wrong. My mom knew that I had the day off and that I had been planning on going to the library for the day. But she also knew that I would be on the last bus home, which didn't happen. She called my sisters and let them know that I wasn't home and asked if they had seen me. When they answered that none had seen or heard from me, my mom called the cops. Her mind immediately went to 'Jason', the guest that had been stalking me at work. No one knew just how much he was really stalking me or that we were no longer in the state. All they knew was that I was gone and they had no way of finding me.
The cops got involved almost immediately. When they learned that I had had a stalker while at work, they were immediately concerned. Most stalkers will hurt their victims unless they want them for something else. As it was, my body hadn't turned up yet and nobody had found any of my belongings which told the police that I was still alive and still in control of what I'd had on me at the time of my abduction. When the news got ahold of the story, it went viral. My work learned from my mom that I had been kidnapped and took me off the schedule almost immediately. They still kept my name on the schedule just in case I was found within the first few weeks, but that was all. People asked about me, wondered where I was at, and then realized that I wasn't coming back. Friends understood that something had happened and it wasn't until Jessica asked about my 'stalker' that anyone actually realized that I might not be coming back.
Days turned into weeks as the search continued, but by that time, Jason had been able to get to his parent's home in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. His parents knew that I was with him, though he kept me locked in his room all day. He allowed me small comforts. For example, he didn't take anything that I'd had on me at the time away from me as he wanted me to feel as comfortable as possible. He told his parents that I was a really shy girl and that I didn't like meeting new people, but that was far from the truth. When his parents found out the truth, they still did nothing. They believed that I would come to love their son and that I would give them grandchildren who they could spoil.
You see, his family was rich, and I'm talking worth $20 billion. They had done something in the stock market and had won it big, then cashed out before the huge meltdown happened. Now they lived somewhat simple lives. Their cabin in the mountains was huge. And it boasted a hidden underground living quarter that Jason started to stay in when the cops came around asking his parents questions about where he was and if they had seen me with him. The underground living quarters was soundproof. It had its own kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, living room, and 2 bedrooms. Jason took one bedroom and told me to stay in the other bedroom unless he said otherwise. I was only allowed to venture out of the room if I needed to use the bathroom. I made no attempt to write any 'notes' for help because I knew that his parents weren't going to help me anyways.
Weeks turned into months and though my family never stopped looking for me, the cops had to declare my file a Cold Case. By this time, his father had removed my Birth Control Implant because 'Jason' wanted to have kids and the Implant would get in his way. When 'Jason' wanted me in his room, he would cuff me to the bed so that I would not be able to get away. Jason had raped me over a dozen times and though I wanted nothing to do with what he was doing, I did eventually become pregnant. He was happy that I had become pregnant and would allow me to sleep in my own room. It was also around this time that the California cops were asked to look into Jason's family again and they came knocking once more. The original blueprints for the house did not have the Underground living quarters on them so again the cops searched the property but came up empty-handed.
Jason's parents believed that keeping me in the house any longer would spell danger to the family, so with the help of tinted windows in one of their vehicles, me and all my stuff was packed into the vehicle and then subsequently moved to the airport. I held onto all of my stuff as Jason and I boarded a plane and then watched as I was again removed from everything I had ever known. Jason would get a monthly income wherever we ended up settling and his parents wanted updates every month when the check came in. Jason said he would give it and that he would make sure to update them when the child was born.
Chapt.3: Year 1:
We ended up in Texas and I knew immediately that I might be able to get away somehow. Two of my friends from my military days lived in Texas. I just needed to get to them in order to survive. But unfortunately for me, he did not trust me to leave his sight. He got internet in the apartment and only let me get on for two hours a day, mostly to update my Fanfiction account because he wanted me to be happy. He allowed me to continue to write. But it was his one mistake. He never read my stories; he said he didn't like to read made-up stories, only true stories. So, after uploading the stories to my account, I would get on to edit them and put a note at the bottom of the chapters, asking for help. I made it known that the help I was asking for was real and that if they checked the news and internet, then they would find out that I had been kidnapped.
Jason never knew what I had been doing. He just figured I was posting the stories just like I always did. And he never checked to see what editing was being done either. I didn't know it at the time, but one of my stories had been reported to the admin and though they did not take it down, I was sent a message through PM that they had heard my message and would forward the message to the cops. I just needed to continue to send the messages through my stories and they would relay where the chapters were updated from. Jason never had a clue. I also PM'd the authors that had favorited me and let them know what was going on. I gave them my mother's number and my home address. Through Fanfiction, I was able to connect myself to home.
As I connected through Fanfiction, my mother started to get calls from people around the world saying that they had heard from me. I had removed the notes from my stories and just kept PMing people that reviewed my stories instead, handing out my mother's name, phone, and address hoping that someone would understand that I was alive and I was willing to try to get back home. My message was being heard and when my mom went to the police with the information, she was asked to get onto my Fanfiction and find my account. It wasn't that hard, I had over 340 stories and counting. Some of my older stories were saved on MS Word and then I deleted the content, publishing what I could through those stories, letting the world know what he had been doing to me.
We didn't stay in Texas long, but when we moved, I knew for sure that two friends living in Texas had gotten my message. Luckily for me, and thanks to the military, I had friends all over the country that were now looking for me. I might not have been able to get onto Facebook, but I was communicating with the outside world through Fanfiction and my captor knew nothing of it. And he would know nothing of it until too late.
We headed for Florida next, and that was where my oldest daughter Anita Grace was born. She was 5lbs.6oz and she was beautiful. He let me name her, even let me her my last name, off the record of course. His last name was on the actual birth certificate. Anita Grace was born on December 24, 2018. We celebrated Christmas together that year and Jason bought me all the clothes that I would need to keep her comfortable. I knew it was a bribe to keep my silence, but I would do anything to keep my daughter safe. We didn't stay in Florida long, someone on the outside had recognized my face while we were in the hospital and a few days after Anita was born, we were on the run again.
Chapt.4: Year 2:
In January 2019, we settled in Vermont. We would stay there for a year, where I would also give birth to a second daughter, though she would not survive the year with my unconventional family. Jason had taken Anita and Abeni to go sledding on a mountain and when they returned, Abeni was not with them. I got the story from the news the next day. A six-month-old child had been found in the snow, apparently forgotten about by her parents and had frozen to death. I would not learn the truth until after Jason was in prison. I cried that night. My second daughter was dead and it was at the hands of Jason. He was supposed to be her father. Abeni Joan was born on Nov. 21, 2019. She died on May 13, 2020; or so I thought.
We moved right after Abeni was pronounced dead. Jason didn't try to comfort me. He knew what he had done and that it was his fault. He knew that I hated him for it. He figured the only way to cheer me up was to get me pregnant immediately after that but I wouldn't let him near me. I slammed the door in his face every time he came to my room. Anita slept in my bed with me and all of my original belongings were still in my backpack and laptop under the bed. They were always put away.
And yet, I still kept writing. While Anita was asleep next to me, I would get onto Fanfiction and upload a chapter to the world letting them know what had happened. I hoped my family would find the cops in Vermont and get the child shipped to them so that she could have a proper burial. And I knew that somehow that was what had happened, except I could know that she was alive and being taken care of by my sister and her boyfriend.
Meanwhile in Washington State…FBI Agent Ryan out of the Seattle Field Office got out of his vehicle. His partner, Agent McKenzie got out of the passenger side. She went to the back of the vehicle as Agent Ryan went up to the door. When he knocked, he could hear dogs barking, something he had gotten used to while making house calls to the Duffy Residence. Agent McKenzie had pulled out the diaper bag and put it on her shoulder. She'd picked up the little girl from the car seat and shut the door. They would remove the car seat later, before the left the house.
Kristi Duffy opened the door and invited Agent Ryan in. She headed back up the stairs so she didn't see Agent McKenzie coming through the door with a baby in her arms. Agent Ryan shut the door and went first. He knew the possibility of the adult kids being at the house. Ever since my disappearance, the family had weekly dinners on Sunday to see how everyone was doing. They wanted to stay as tight as possible and the possibility of new information about me always kept my family going. So when Agents Ryan and McKenzie stopped at the top of the stairs, it was my younger sister Macaylah—who had become a regular fixture at these dinners—that clasped her hands over her mouth. They were ushered into the living room and Agent McKenzie sat on the couch. Agent Ryan stayed standing; the dogs were put in a room and the door was shut.
When the whole family was sitting in the living room, it was Macaylah who asked the questions they all wanted an answer to.
"Whose child is that?" Macaylah asked.
"Her name is Abeni Joan. We know that because it's the name written in permanent marker on her lower back. We believe Jami wrote her daughter's name on her lower back just in case something happened to her. We also believe that after a day of sledding, Jason refused to take the child back to where he was keeping Jami. Abeni was found by some hikers who heard a baby crying. They rushed her to the local hospital and the news ran the story that the baby had been found dead."
"So, how do you know that she belongs to Jami? This could be anybody's kid." Ashley asked.
"She could have been, except for the fact that twenty minutes after the news conference, the police got anonymous phone calls from around the world telling them who the child was and who she belonged to. This much we do know. Jason has continued to allow Jami to write Fanfiction and she is using an 'Author's Note' story to communicate with the world. We believe that Jason does not know what Jami has been doing therefore he does not know that we have always been one step closer to finding them every single time she posts a new chapter. Suffice it to say, she is also learning. She's learned that if there is only one chapter to this 'Author's Note' he can never trace it back to her if he gets onto her account and sees o note to her fans about what story is coming next. We know that she tells people to copy and paste the notes and to have a constant update every few days. But she is also smart. After the chapter is given a significant amount of time, she uploads an actual 'Author's Note' so that he won't know what she is doing."
"And back to the baby?" Jessica said.
"We know through the last 'Author's Note' that Jami wants the child to be with her family, but understand if her parents can't take care of the child themselves. She wants the child to grow up knowing who she is and that she will find a way to free herself. We are leaving the child in your care."
"So, we figure out who is more apt to taking care of a six-month-old. We all work full-time jobs, but I think my schedule is the best. I pick Paisley up every day after work. One more child at the daycare won't hurt and Paisley will learn to love having a little sister who is really her cousin. We'll explain to the kids later." Sam said.
"Thank you, Agents, for bringing the child to us. Please do keep us informed about any new leads into Jami's whereabouts."
"We will and have yourselves a good rest of your day."
With that, Agents Ryan and McKenzie left. Steve went with them to grab the car seat as well as what toys had been bought for the child. After grabbing the belongings of the child, he went back inside and looked at the baby in Macaylah's arms. The little girl had bright blue eyes and chubby cheeks. She had a smile on her face despite what she had gone through in her short life. Sam stood up from where she had been sitting and went to the young child.
"We'll raise you right, just like Jami would have wanted. You will grow up loved, with family and in a house where you are wanted. When your mother is found, you will be reunited with her. Until then, welcome to the family. We will introduce you to the rest of the family later.
The little girl just smiled, laughed and kicked her legs. She had the sweetest smile.
Chapt.5: Year 3:
We ended up Michigan right after June 2020. I was now 32 years old. Anita was turning three this year and she was a happy child. She was her mother's child. She didn't really like her father and tended to stay away from him. He didn't mind. This was the family that he had always wanted, even if it was a kidnapped one. He was still clueless to what I had been doing on Fanfiction. I always deleted what was in the bogus document so he could never find out what I had been writing. Again, I knew that I had friends in Michigan. Ashley and Mikael might not have lived in Michigan forever, but I knew that they had moved there. Ashley had gotten a Fanfiction account just to keep tabs on me. She had been in contact with my mother, letting her know that she was the Ashley that I had lived within Everett. My family might not have liked her back then, but she was a great help keeping my family in the loop as to where we were living. And all the while, the cops could never find us. They knew what states we were in, but they could never find us. And Jason's parents always said they never knew where he was.
It wasn't until we were living in Michigan that I got an unknown PM to my Fanfiction account. The unknown PM was from Jason's mother. She knew what I was doing and yet she was keeping it quiet from her husband and son. It turns out that she wasn't exactly liking how everything had panned out. She actually hated what her son had done and was still doing to me. She would keep the cops apprised as to what was going on when she could get out of the house. She said she had started an event planning business and would start to plan parties outside of her house. She would do what she could. So now I had another ally.
While living in Michigan, my son Enzo Randal William was born on October 31, 2021. I was 33 years old. Jason didn't actually like the name, but he didn't have a choice. He'd always said that one day we might not be together and that I needed to be able to look my children in the eye and tell them why their father was no longer with us. I knew exactly what I would say. But shortly after Enzo was born, we moved from Michigan.
Chapt.6: Year 4:
This time, we ended up moving to New York. And I knew that there was a possibility of getting away for good. Not only did I know an old co-worker that lived in New York, but nearly his entire family did as well. I never showed my excitement when we moved to a city that I knew people. I knew better and knew that if he ever found out that I knew people in the city, he would kill me and the kids. I kept it to myself. The apartment was three bedrooms. He wanted a study and the kids and I stayed in a bedroom together. There was a crib for Enzo to sleep in while he grew, but mostly I kept Anita and Enzo in the bed with me. If I was sleeping with the kids, he wouldn't come into my room and have his way.
It was also in this city that Jason turned violent. He never once hit the kids, but he always came after me. In my mind, I knew that I should stand up to him, at least that was what I believed would be a good idea. I had written about it so many times that it was hard to see myself in the position I now found myself in. He never hit hard enough to land in the hospital, but it did leave bruises. Anita would ask but she knew better than to tell Jason to stop hurting me. She was too afraid of him to say anything. Sometimes the beatings would last all night; sometimes only a couple minutes. But always, in the end, I had to go into my room and wipe the blood away.
Jason was done running. And he blamed it all on me. He said that it was my fault that we always had to run. He of course never knew the real reason. I feared that this would be the year that he killed me and the kids but it never happened. He said he could use his brother's identity since they looked so much alike. His brother was living at home with their parents and didn't have a job as far as Jason knew. And his brother even said 'go for it'. The family knew that he needed a steady job if he wanted to stay in New York for very long. With me at home and him at work, it left very little time for any beatings, but he still hit at some points.
He got a job at an Engineering Firm and said that he liked it. He'd taken a picture of me and the kids, saying that if I didn't smile, I would be beaten. He made me wear makeup and after the picture was taken, he put the kids in Enzo's crib with a movie and moved me into his bedroom. He removed the makeup and pushed me onto the bed. He had his way with me over and over again that night. He said he was happy and he wanted another child. I feared that if I gave him another child, he would kill one of my existing children so that he didn't have three kids to look after. But he sensed that that was what I was thinking and said that he had learned from the previous killing that he wouldn't do it again. He loved his children; the child he got rid of was too needy and wouldn't listen. I tried to tell him that she was only six months old when he killed her, but he wouldn't have any of it.
In the morning, he got ready for work, printed out the picture on his computer and put it into a frame. He took the picture to work with and put it on his desk. He did what he was supposed to do at work, trying not to draw attention to the fact that he was working illegal and still getting away with keeping me and the kids by force. He started to make friends and started coming home later and later. He would eat out but leave enough food in the fridge for me to make some food for myself and Anita. Enzo was still being bottle-fed even though he was six months old. He would also come home drunk. I hoped that he would slip and tell one of his co-workers what he had done while they were all drunk. I knew the possibility was slim, but I didn't know that an old friend of mine had been offered a full-time job at Jason's firm until he came home from work early one day.
Meanwhile in Washington State…Abeni Joan was a bouncy three years old. She played with her sister Paisley in the front yard of the house they lived in. her mother was on the porch sipping lemonade with her father. She didn't know that they were getting ready for a funeral. Her great-grandmother Shirley had died from a heart attack and they were planning the funeral. A Will had been found and after reading through it all, it was determined that Sam would move into the house with Paisley and Abeni. Dale had already moved out, though he was by every weekend to get more stuff. His daughter had allowed him to move in with her since he couldn't work anymore. He liked taking care of his grandson every day.
The funeral would be held on Friday and the family was going over the details for the reception afterward. Since Marty had the biggest house, everyone was going over there to pay their respects to the family. Since the abduction of one of their daughters, Terry Force and Kristi Duffy had stayed in each other lives more and more. Petty arguments had been set aside. Family members got along better now than they had before. Sam and her father were discussing what might happen afterward. Yes, Grandma Shirley had the money for her own funeral, but going through everything that Grandma Shirley had would take a while. Nobody wanted to get rid of anything just in case Jami was found. Plus, Jami had stuff at Grandma Shirley's place and nobody wanted to get rid of what she had owned.
As the girls played in the front yard, Sam got up and went inside. Her father stayed outside while Sam went to get something from the back room. She had found it recently and had wanted to show her father. While she was still inside, Abeni Joan walked up to her grandpa and smiled at him. He smiled back and knew that one day the young girl would learn the truth about who she was and who her mother and father really were. But the question remained: would Abeni Joan want to go live with her birth mother after learning the truth? Or would she want to stay with the only mother she has ever known?
Chapt.7: Year 5:
I was teaching Anita to read when Jason came home early from work one day. He said that he had become a member of a team at work and they wanted to come over to watch the Superbowl. I was to be on my best behavior and not to speak unless spoken to. The children were to be out of the way at all times. He had ordered pizza and said that they would be at the apartment that weekend and that it better be spotless. He bought all the necessary items for me to clean the house and even pitched in when he got off on Friday afternoon. The apartment would be a little messy on Saturday, but it was nothing that couldn't get cleaned up and put away in a jiffy. He also brought home some groceries. He expected me to make the food and keep the kitchen clean as well. He said that if I behaved this weekend, he would take me and the kids outside to the park on Monday since he didn't have to work. He also said that he was going to let me take the kids to the library so that Anita could get more books so that she would be able to read. I only nodded.
Superbowl Weekend: Nearly five years since I had been kidnapped. I was 34 years old. And with Enzo being one year old, Jason had gotten me pregnant again; this time with another boy. He wanted to show off his pregnant with and show what a beautiful family he had. I kept Anita and Enzo in my room nearly all day. The one bathroom in the apartment connected to both bedrooms and could be easily accessed when Anita needed to use the bathroom. She was fully potty trained so she could get up and go to the bathroom whenever she wanted, but I told her to wait for me if she had to go to the bathroom. I was explaining to Anita that all she had to do was ring the small bell and I would come to help her. Jason walked in at the end of the sentence. He seemed pleased that he had gotten his family to obey him for the weekend. He approved the bell as he didn't want her wandering into the living room.
As the guests started to arrive, I put my kids in the crib and made sure the bar was down a little so Anita could grab the tablet charger to keep the movies rolling as well as to get some blankets. Enzo was next to the wall so that he wouldn't fall out. There was also a small backpack of snacks for them so they wouldn't get hungry and come out to where their father didn't want them to be. I shut the door until it was only open a sliver so that I would be able to hear the jingle of a bell and then went out to the living room. Jason was opening the door as I made my way into the kitchen. The pizza had arrived five minutes ago and I was making some macaroni bites and some dip that would go along with the chips. I also had cookies standing by,
The Seahawks managed to make it to the Superbowl again and I was thrilled. Jason's understanding that I was from Washington also understood why I rooted for the Seahawks whenever they were on TV. It was my one link to the year they had won Superbowl, which just so happened to fall on my birthday that year. This year, however, my birthday had come and gone just this past week. Jason hadn't celebrated but Anita had made me a card and I had put it on the dresser in our room.
Jason greeted his fellow co-workers and they all began to sit down in the living room. In total, there were about six guys from his work plus their wives or girlfriends. Jason seemed to think it was a good idea to have the apartment full of strangers. He would soon regret it and he would understand what it felt like to be trapped with no place to run to. He walked into the kitchen and placed a hand on my stomach, the baby kicked and he kissed my head. He didn't have to say anything. I knew that if I made any attempt to try and get away from him, he'd kill the kids and then he'd kill me. He grabbed some beers and sodas from the fridge and headed back into the living room. The beets were for the guys, he didn't think the women drank. He learned he was wrong.
I brought out the food that I had made and then the pizza. I placed the food on the table and moved back into the kitchen. Jason wanted me to stay within his sight. He wanted to know that he had complete control over my actions during the day. This was his test to see if he had me brainwashed enough to take me out the next day as well as let me and the kids go to the Library by ourselves without his constant watching. It was while he was turned towards the TV, yelling at the opposite team with the rest of his co-workers that I saw someone I knew. He had turned around to crack his neck and noticed me in the kitchen. Jason must have seen him looking at me because he asked his co-worker what he was looking at. His co-worker just said that he was cracking his neck. I guess Jason believed him because he asked me to bring some more beers and soda. The women had been sipping on their guys' beers but I could tell Jason didn't like that. He was trying to control them just like he controlled me. I brought the drinks but before he could say anything else, we heard the tinkling of a small bell from the bedroom.
I left the room and went to the bedroom. I paused the movie and put the tablet on the bed. Enzo was asleep, which I pretty much figured would happen once the movies started playing. I took Anita into the bathroom and removed her underwear. At night she still wore diapers just in case but during the day she wore underwear. I put her on the toilet because at the moment there was no small stool for her to climb on. As Anita was using the toilet, I went and got Enzo and changed his diaper so that he wouldn't start crying and interrupt Jason and his friend during the game.
Being six months pregnant, I understood the ways of my body during a pregnancy. I had gotten sick before and Jason had understood. I had begun feeling that way again during his Superbowl party. I did not think that he would understand this time. He had never had anybody over to see me and I knew that he wanted to make a good impression on his co-workers with how well his wife reacted around guests. After Anita was off the toilet and washed her hands and Enzo's diaper was changed, I settled the kids back into the crib and set the tablet on Anita's lap and turned the movie back on. She was always waiting to watch more than just the kids' movies that I'd bought, but unless I was in the room with her, she knew better.
I went back out to the living room and Jason looked up. He smiled at me but I could barely muster a smile. His smile didn't falter but he would be speaking to me later about it. He understood that if I didn't feel good, I would let him know. It had happened before and he had understood. He knew it had something to do with pregnancy, but he didn't quite understand. He'd wanted to ask his parents about what might actually happen during a pregnancy, but he knew better than to reach out to them. Upon recent discovery through a conversation with his brother, Jason learned the cops were pressuring his parents to give him up and that if they didn't they would be imprisoned. But his parents held strong and refused to give up their son. And they had the money and the lawyers to stay out of prison.
After cleaning up the kitchen, I put the food into containers that were easily accessed by Jason and his company. I never looked in Chris's direction again, I just made sure to go to where Jason was sitting and put my hand on his shoulder. He looked up and I bent down and whispered in his ear that I wasn't feeling well and that I was going to lay down with the kids. The kitchen was clean and the food was in containers that could be grabbed by his guests. He nodded and I headed for the bedroom. Once inside the bedroom, I removed Anita and Enzo from the crib and lay them down on the bed next to me. With the head of the bed up against the wall and one side against the wall as well, Enzo had no way of falling off. Anita cuddled up to me and we placed the tablet on the side table so that if we fell asleep, it would not get pushed around and unplugged.
As we settled down together, Superbowl eventually came to an end, the result with which the Seahawks had won the Superbowl again. The first time they had won, had been my birthday. This second time, my children and I were a captive to the man that had kidnapped me nearly five years earlier. This wasn't something I card particularly for at the moment. I had only one thing on my mind at the moment. I had behaved very well according to Jason and he was going to take his family out and allow us to go to the library. I would need to figure out how to get away from Jason while I had my kids at the library. I needed the kids to be safe and I needed to get away. I would not allow him to read my mind; he knew that one day everything would come crashing down on him and he had no way of knowing that his Superbowl Party would be the downfall of all of his strategies and plans.
The next day found me better and Jason in the kitchen. When I came out of the room, he looked up from what he was doing and asked how I was feeling. When I told him that I was feeling better, he said good. He then informed me that we were going to the park and he was packing a lunch for the family. He asked me to go get the kids ready and that we would be gone most of the day as he also wanted to show me where the Library was so that I could take the kids on Tuesday while he was at work. He wanted me to be able to go to the library to get books for the kids every week so that I could start homeschooling the kids. He actually thought that we would be with him forever and that he would never get caught. Even I knew how stupid that was for him to think.
Anita already knew how to read from the books I'd had on the tablet that I'd bought from Google. Enzo was listening along while I read to Anita and had her read some words as well. Enzo was too young to learn to read at the moment, but he would start soon and being able to go to the library meant that Jason finally trusted me enough to be out of his sight. He believed that he had brainwashed me enough that he didn't have to worry about me going to the cops. His threat was that if I ever went to the cops, he would find me and the kids and kill us in our sleep. I had a fear that he would do that someday but also knew that if I didn't get my kids away from Jason and as soon as possible.
So while Jason packed a picnic lunch, I went and got the kids ready. Anita was already starting to wake up but Enzo just rolled over in his sleep so that he didn't have to wake up. Enzo was like me before I'd been abducted; I never wanted to get out of bed either. But I'd learned as I became a mother to get up when my kids were crying. If I didn't get up when they cried, Jason would get to them first. I got up knowing that I needed to keep my kids safe from Jason and that if I didn't, he would find a way to harm them. I had learned the hard way with Abeni. I didn't need nor did I want him to kill another one of my kids.
I got Anita dressed in some jeans and a t-shirt and put a small sweater on her that could be taken off just in case it got too warm out. I picked Enzo up and put him in a pair of overalls and a t-shirt, putting a sweater on him as well. I put socks and shoes on both children and then I packed a small backpack for the diaper bag since I didn't actually have an actual diaper bag. I put in some extra clothes just in case Anita got dirty while playing in the park. We exited the room as Jason came out of the kitchen with the picnic basket. He handed me a to-go cup full of my favorite tea and then we headed towards his car. Since we used the same car to move, the car seats were already in the back seat.
As we got into the car, Anita asked where we were going with a smile on her face. She hadn't been outside since we lived in Vermont. Jason looked in the rear-view mirror and saw the smile on Anita's face. He couldn't be mad because he knew that she was excited to be out of the apartment. I also had a smile on my face and when I look back at my kids, I could tell that both were excited to be out of the apartment. I looked over at Jason, but he had turned back to watch the road. In his head, it was a normal family outing to the park. In my head, it was a hundred ways that could get us killed. If he sensed that I was thinking about finding a way to get out of his hold, he would pull the car over to a secluded area and kill all of us, including the unborn child that I was carrying.
When we got to the park, Jason went to the trunk and pulled out the stroller he'd gotten a few days before in preparation for this outing with his family. I pulled Anita from the car and told her to stay next to me while I got Enzo out. Anita stayed next to me but her eyes started to wander as she looked around the park. Besides going sledding when she was two while we lived in Vermont, she hadn't been outside to play; moving between states didn't count because she never really got to leave the car unless it was to go to the bathroom at a rest stop. Jason had just popped the stroller open when I pulled Enzo from his car seat. I settled Enzo into the stroller and Anita looked up at me, there was no room in the stroller for Anita. I smiled and told her that she would be able to walk as long as she held my hand. She smiled up at me and Jason started to push the stroller. He headed ahead of me and picked out the perfect spot for us to settle down on. He'd packed both breakfast and lunch so that we could stay at the park all day, well most of the day. He said that we would get some take-out dinner.
As we settled on the blanket, Anita went to play on the jungle gym. It was the first time she'd ever seen one but she kept that to herself as she went to join the other kids playing. Her laugh was something I hadn't heard in a while and it was refreshing. I had brought my old cell phone, having charged it the night before so that I could take pictures. Jason had approved since it didn't have any service on it. As Anita played, I took pictures of her. She would come over to grab a drink of her juice, I'd take pictures of Enzo and then she'd go back to playing. I even recorded her a few times. I took pictures of Enzo as well and while Enzo was asleep in my arms, Jason took the phone and took pictures of me holding Enzo, of me holding both Enzo and Anita, of Anita holding Enzo while we were eating some food for breakfast. I took the phone back and managed to snap a good picture of Anita and Enzo taking a nap together. It was the first time in a long time that I actually believed we would be able to get away from Jason; I just never said anything to him about it. I kept those thoughts hidden behind my smile as I settled down to take a nap next to my kids. Jason pulled out a book to read as he didn't feel tired. I wasn't really tired either, but I wasn't going to let him know that I had books on my phone because if he knew that, he would throw the phone away and never bring us out again.
As noon came around, I woke first without realizing that I had even fallen asleep. I don't know what actually woke me up, but it felt like I was being watched. I looked over at Jason but he had put down his book and eventually taken a nap as well. I sat up but Jason didn't stir much, he just got a little more comfortable. I left a note saying I was headed for the bathroom and headed in the direction of the restroom. He would wake to see me not there but hopefully understand that being pregnant meant that I needed to use the bathroom more often than he or the kids did. As I was in the bathroom, after using the toilet and washing my hands, a woman about my age walked into the restroom. At first, I did not heed her and she went into one of the stalls. As I was drying my hands, she came out and went to the sinks. It was then that I recognized her and my heart thudded in my chest. I stared at her through the mirror and she stared at her. Before she could do or say anything, my arms were around her neck. I told her that I was going to the library tomorrow and that she best be there with Uncle. My hug and plea lasted only a minute but she got what I was saying. I headed out of the restroom and made it look like I had washed my face before heading back towards the blanket. Jason was awake and Anita and Enzo were as well.
When I got back to the blanket, Jason nodded his head. I held my belly as I bent down to sit next to my kids. I puckered my cheeks and Enzo started laughing. Anita looked over at me and realized I was making funny faces and started to laugh as well. Jason didn't say anything. He understood that being pregnant I needed to use the bathroom more times than others that were not pregnant. He knew that I would not lie to him, or so he thought. He did not know however that an old friend was in the park. I did not know that Atiqa and her entire family were in the park for the day. After lunch, Anita went and played on the jungle gym again and I took Enzo to the swings so that he could have some fun as well. I had my phone on me so that I could record Enzo on the swing, something he had never experienced before. He was laughing and when I looked back over at Jason, he had closed his eyes again and was leaning back against the tree our blanket was under.
When I looked over At Anita, she was playing with a little girl who looked of Middle Eastern descent. I wasn't racist, but I knew that Jason was. I wanted to get my daughter away from the little girl just in case Jason woke up and saw who she was playing with. He would punish her by not allowing me to take the kids to the library. I had to get Anita to come with me without Jason waking up and knowing why. I didn't get that chance as the little girl's mother came up and grabbed her hand, pulling her away from Anita. I guess she saw me staring but she must have also seen my fear as I looked over at the man sleeping under the trees. She saw that I wasn't racist, but the man with me could very well be. She understood that fear and removed her daughter so that no harm would come to her or her family and so that I would not have to call my daughter to me which would awaken the man that I was with.
Anita came over to me and I put her in a swing as well. She didn't ask why the young girl was removed from playing with her. She knew that it might have something to do with her father because she had heard him talk bad about different colored people before. As her mother, I had tried to tell her it was okay to be friends of different races and colors, but I knew that her father wanted nothing to do with them. Yes, he worked with them, but he didn't trust them and he thought that they were all below him. We'd all be watching a movie and he'd say how it would have been better if the entire cast had been white and how he believed that all colored people should go back to the countries in which they were born. I did not want to try and correct him; I knew it would get me a beating.
I focused my mind on pushing my kids on the swings and taking pictures. I did not know that someone else in the park was also taking pictures, just not of her family. She had followed me out of the bathroom and seen where I had gone to. She was using her phone to take pictures and video of my movements. And she knew that whatever happened the next day, she had to get her Uncle to the library and be there as well because she had an inkling that I was going to tell them something that needed immediate attention. Besides, at the moment, she just believed that the man I was in the park with was my husband. She did not know that he was actually my kidnapper. After she and her family had moved to New York, they'd lost contact with me and weren't even friends with my parents on Facebook.
When Jason woke again, I was just coming over to the blanket with Anita and Enzo. Both were tired and hungry. I pulled open the basket and gave them something to eat and grabbed an apple as well. As they snacked on their food and juices, I looked over at Jason and smiled. He smiled back because all he saw was a smile with laughter in it. He knew then that he should have done this outing months before, he just didn't know if he could trust me or not. When we got ready to leave the park, I picked Enzo up and held Anita's hand. Jason packed the blanket and picnic basket onto the stroller and we headed for the car. I stopped long enough to look back at what I would definitely miss while trapped back in the apartment. It was then that I saw Atiqa again. But this time Ahmed was with her. He must have noticed her staring off in the distance and looked to see what she was staring at. When our eyes met, his mouth fell open but by the time he had enough courage to yell my name, the kids were in the car and I was in the front passenger seat and we were leaving the park. I looked out my mirror and understood what I was about to do the next day. I needed everything to be perfect because I knew what the possibility was of not going back to the apartment the next day. I knew what the possibility was of Jason finding out my plan and stopping me before I could put it into action.
We stopped at Subway to get some food before heading home. It would be our dinner and Anita was excited because she had never got food that I didn't make. When we got back to the apartment building, I pulled Enzo out of his car seat and took Anita by the hand as she jumped out of the car. Jason had gotten the stroller, blanket and picnic basket while I also grabbed the food. We headed to the elevator together and then five minutes later, we were back in the apartment. Anita helped get everything put away from the day out and then as a family we sat around the small dining table and ate our sandwiches. Tomorrow would bring me challenges, one of which meant my kids and I might be free from Jason forever.
When dinner was done and we had thrown the scraps away, Jason went to the TV while I took the kids to the bedroom and got them ready for bed. I also got ready for bed but before I could get settled for the night, Jason stopped by the bedroom and announced that I would be staying with him and that the kids needed to stop sleeping in my bed as they were getting old enough to sleep on their own. I knew what he wanted. He'd gotten used to having sex with me while I was pregnant. He said it made me even sexier than normal. I might have like a fantasy before Jason kidnapped me, but now I hated the idea. I had also deleted the porn from my computer and made sure it was deleted from the recycling bun as well. I had deleted all my searches on it as well because I did not need him knowing what I had been looking at before he had taken me, though I got the feeling that he already knew.
In the morning, Jason got ready for work like normal. Knowing that we would be gone most of the day at the Library, Jason left enough money for us to get some food while we were out and money for the buses that we would have to take in order to get to the Library. I was still asleep but he knew better than to wake me. He knew that when he fell asleep, I had gotten up and slipped into my shared room with the kids. Anita slept in the crib with Enzo whenever Jason wanted me to sleep in his room. An hour after Jason had left for work; I woke up and got ready for the day, taking a shower so as not to smell like Jason while out and about around other people. Once washed, dried and dressed, I got Anita up and dressed in a nice outfit before waking Enzo up. He was still semi asleep as I dressed him in something comfortable and then headed into the living room with the kids. I saw the money and bus passes on the counter. Jason had thought of everything for our outing today. Everything except what was actually going to happen at the Library. There was a key to the apartment as well, sitting next to the money so that I could lock the door and get back in on our return trip. There was enough money on the bus passes for a roundtrip for both me and Anita since she was five and would need to be paid for.
I clipped Enzo into the stroller, grabbed the backpack diaper bag, and made sure Anita was holding onto the stroller. I had grabbed a small purse and put the money, bus passes and my charged cell phone inside. The key would go in as soon as the door was locked. When we left the apartment, I locked the door and deposited the key into the purse then zipped it closed. We headed for the elevator and rode it down. I used the map that Jason had left and we headed for the first bust stop that would take us to the Library. Once at the bus stop, we waited about ten minutes before the bus showed up and when it did, we boarded just like everyone else. Because I had a stroller, the room had to be made for me and the kids on the lower section of the bus. Riders seemed not to care and Anita stayed especially close to me. Once seated, I pulled Anita onto my lap and she held onto the stroller so she wouldn't be taken from me. Everything was new to her and she had no idea how to react.
When a young man sat down next to us at the next stop, he tried to start up a conversation with us by asking where we were going. I tried to ignore him, but Anita was intrigued by the way the man kept persisting that we talk to him. And when he said something that I knew everyone heard, my face grew red.
"You know, you kind of look like that young woman that was kidnapped five years ago from Washington State. You wouldn't know anything about who she is or where she can be found, do you?"
"Nope, don't know what you're talking about."
"How about you look me in the eye when you tell me that, Jami!" My heart fluttered when he said my name. I swallowed before looking over at him. He was of Middle Eastern descent and my heart swelled.
"How do you know my name?"
"I'd know your face anywhere. You and I were going to get married about six years ago before your parents changed your mind. Atiqa is my sister-in-law. She asked me to meet her and our Uncle at the Library. I'm assuming you're going to meet her like you said you would yesterday."
I only nodded but look around. People on the bus were staring at us, including the driver. I tried to keep my breathing under control but I could tell that they were all somehow judging me. When he spoke again, I knew Khurram only wanted what was best for us; he just needed to know that we were safe before he could do anything about it.
"Where is the man that kidnapped you?"
"He's at work and no, I don't know where he works so don't even ask. All I know is that it is in an Engineering Firm. We'll talk later, when there are less prying ears listening."
He took the answer and as the bus came to a stop in front of the Library, we all got off together. He made it look like he was getting off to head in a separate direction while I got off and headed up to the library using the wheelchair ramp. I looked back to see the bus still sitting there with its riders looking out at me. I could only guess what they were doing on their cell phones. The bus took off as I stepped into the Library and headed towards the kids' section. Once at the Kid's Section, I let Anita go look at the books while I settled into a chair. Enzo was asleep in the stroller, which I kept rocking back and forth with my foot. I was still reeling over the conversation on the bus when a light tap on my shoulder brought my face into view of Atiqa, her Uncle and Khurram who was now with a little girl. The same little girl I recognized from the park. Khurram spoke to the girl who went to look at the books next to Anita who immediately recognized her friend from the park.
Uncle, Atiqa, and Khurram all sat in chairs around me. And all had the same questioning looks on their faces. Before they could say anything, I spoke up.
"Before you say anything, I know. I know you weren't expecting to see me again. Khurram pretty much told the whole bus what had happened five years ago. They were all listening. I asked you to come here because I need help. I need help getting away from him. He told me that if I ever tried to escape from him, he'd kill me and the kids in our sleep. I need this rescue to be done by the books. I need the cops to be involved because if they aren't, I'm afraid for our lives. I don't want to die, I don't' want my kids to die and I do want to see my family again. But Jason cannot be free for any of that to happen. He needs to be in prison. Now, who did you talk to when you got home? Which of my family knows I'm in New York?
"First of all, I was so shocked to see you in that restroom that I didn't know how to react until you hugged me and told me where to meet you. Second of all, I knew immediately that something was wrong. I started to follow you with my phone and when Khuslam was playing with your daughter, I told my sister to remove her from playing before the man you were with woke up because I feared that something bad would happen. I was right, wasn't I?" Atiqa asked.
"Yes, Jason is very racist, though I tried to teach my kids otherwise. I feared that he wouldn't allow us out to the library today and I still think we should find a more secluded place than we are right now."
"Uncle says that there is a secluded place on the second level overlooking the whole library and you and the kids could sit in the back while we sat where we could see everyone that came in."
"Then let's go there. I don't want to be caught out in the open talking to people that Jason doesn't know. If he finds himself in the library, I don't want him to know that I know anyone in New York."
"I'll gather Khuslam and Anita. You gather your things."
Atiqa grabbed Khuslam and Anita who saw that I was friends with the people I had been talking with. Looking over my shoulder, I didn't notice anyone watching. We headed for the second floor and sat where we could see everything. I sat in the back while the kids played in the middle of the chairs and Enzo was still sleeping in the stroller. The backpack was at my feet. Atiqa, Khurram and Uncle sat in a semi-circle around me, making sure the chairs were blocking any view of me from downstairs. And that's when Khurram started talking.
"You have matured these last five years, Jami."
"And you look like you have moved to the states, Khurram. But maybe we call me by another name for now, at least here."
"And what shall we call you, for the safety of your life?"
"The first character I ever made up went by the name of 'Cory Walker'. Let's go with 'Cory' for now."
"Alright, 'Cory' it is. How many kids do you have?" Atiqa asked.
"Officially three and one on the way; but Jason killed my second daughter when we were living in Vermont. So the answer now is two now it two with one on the way."
"Why would he kill her?" Uncle asked.
"I believe because she was always crying. I tried to tell him it was because she had colic but he wouldn't listen. When he got home without her and after the news reported her death, I wouldn't let him near me for almost an entire year. I knew that eventually, he would want to be back in my bed and eventually he did force his way back in by telling me he'd kill the kids if I didn't let him back in."
"So, you're asking us here is your way of asking for help?"
"Who in the family did you contact after seeing me yesterday, Atiqa? I know Ahmed saw me as well and would have called out if we hadn't driven away at that moment."
"I got onto Facebook and contacted your mother. I told her that there was a plan in motion to rescue you and the kids safely. She asked that as soon as you were somewhere safe, that you call her immediately. Not now, because you'll just cry, but when the cops arrest Jason, then you need to call your mom."
"I will, I promise. So you'll probably want the address to where we are living. I've written it down on this piece of paper and I need you to go through the cops, otherwise, everything will be messed up."
"You have our word; best if you grab a book or two and be on your way. You'll know when the cops have been contacted. It's also best if we are not seen leaving with you." Atiqa said.
"I only hope that it comes before Jason gets home from work so he does not believe that I went to the cops myself. He'll be home at six-thirty tonight, some kind of work meeting."
"Alright, we will see you when you are rescued."
"I knew having friends like you would come in handy eventually."
At that, I got up and Anita grabbed the books that she had picked out earlier. We headed to the checkout area, got a library card for the both of us and paid for it and then headed out. We stopped at a street vendor and got some hot dogs before heading for the bus stop again. Once at the bus stop, we ate our hot dogs while waiting for the bus. The books were in the stroller and the backpack was on my back. When the bus pulled up, we threw the garbage in the trash, paid the driver and headed back to the apartment. I prayed that my friends would get to us before Jason got home from work.
Uncle Shah To The Rescue:
It was decided that Uncle would go to the police. I had made sure that Atiqa had taken a picture of me and given it to Uncle along with the address as to where we were being kept. I knew that they wanted to get me out of harm's way as soon as possible because the possibility of being killed grew higher the longer Jason suspected something. We were home before Jason got home from work but I had no idea if the cops would get to the apartment before or after Jason got home from work.
When Uncle went to the cops, he gave them the picture and the address, saying I had reached out to his family for help because his nephew and I had once worked together. The cops confirmed his story by calling my parents and they told them to believe whatever the Shah's told them. They headed for the apartment as soon as possible. They had to bring the FBI into the situation since I had been kidnapped from Washington State five years prior and we had crossed multiple state lines before landing in New York nearly two years earlier. But since they had to wait for the FBI to move in on the apartment, they were unable to get to me and my kids before Jason came home.
When Jason came home at six-thirty, his dinner was in the microwave as the kids and I had already eaten. I had told Anita not to say a word about the friends that met us at the library. She knew that if she did, something bad would happen. So Anita kept her mouth closed and opened the book that she had gotten from the library. She sat Enzo on the kid's couch while I sat next to Jason on the regular couch. She never looked up from her book and showed her little brother the pictures inside. He laughed at some of them. After Jason was done eating, he asked how our day out was and I told him that I loved being able to go to an actual library. I could do only do so well with the books that I had on my tablet. He seemed to understand. He said he was going to watch a game and I took the kids into the bedroom. While in the bedroom, the kids got onto the bed and continued to look over the book. I packed all of my belonging into the laptop bag and everything the kids would need into the duffel bag and diaper bag.
The kids and I had just laid down to get some sleep when loud banging could be heard on the front door. I sat up with one leg off the bed and my kids behind me. Anita and Enzo had fear in their eyes and Anita's eyes had gone huge. When the shout 'POLICE, OPEN UP' came through the door, Jason was instantly on his feet. Instead of heading for the door though, he came into our room. I feared for our lives. Before I could do anything, he grabbed my arm and threw me to the floor. He began to kick me and I curled into a ball to keep my unborn child from any harm. Anita was screaming and as he slammed his foot down onto my left hand, the apartment door was broken down and the police surged into the apartment. An officer and an agent came to a stop outside the room and then barged in. Jason was tackled immediately. I ignored my pain and crawled to my kids. Anita had stayed with Enzo and had put her body between him and her father. I grabbed Anita's arm and she held onto my arm, crying and trying to stop herself from screaming.
With Jason on the ground, the rest of the cops were able to filter into the room. Anita had been able to stop herself from screaming anymore, but she was still crying. I was heaving. One hand was over my swollen belly, the other was clutching my daughter's arm. Enzo had crawled out from behind his sister to where I was sitting and had grabbed my hand as well. He wasn't going to let his sister get all the attention from his mother. A NYPD Detective moved over to us and asked if we were alright. I was only able to nod yes. I watched as Jason was hauled to his feet. He was still very angry. He looked in my direction.
"You bitch. I thought I trained you better than this! You will pay you, whore, you will pay. There is no place that will ever be safe for you. I will find you! I will kill you! You're dead! You're dead!
He was hauled from the room and the Detective helped me to my feet. Anita grabbed Enzo and moved him to the floor. Paramedics came in to assess my injuries and see if the kids needed any medical attention. When they realized that my hand was broken, they brought in the gurney. The Detective asked if I wanted anything from the apartment and I showed her to the bags that were packed. She nodded and grabbed the packed bags. Anita took one last look at the place she had called home and allowed a couple of cops to pick her and her brother up.
Meanwhile in Washington State…The Force and Duffy family had gotten together at Marti Olson's house. Agent Ryan said he had some information that they needed to hear and everyone was getting together for a dinner on Saturday to hear that information. Kristi Duffy and Marti Olson got along better now than they did before Jami had been taken. Before she'd been taken, they couldn't stand each other. As the adults cooked in the kitchen talking about what this 'new information' could be, Paisley, Abeni Joan, Avery and Luxlynn played in the kids' room.
Abeni Joan was now four-years-old. If she had any siblings, they would be older or younger than her. She'd found out that her 'mom' wasn't actually her mother. She'd overheard her uncle say that she looked just like someone named Jami. And then her uncle had gone on to say that Jami was never coming home and that she was most likely dead. Abeni Joan had run to her 'mom' and asked what her Uncle Kevin had been talking about. And then the family was forced to tell the young girl that she had been born somewhere in Vermont and that her birth mother had reached out to friends to find out what had happened during a day of sledding. They let her know that she was loved and that her birth mother would return home and that her Uncle Kevin had never believed that Jami would be coming home.
So, as the family gathered around the little girl to hear about this 'new information', the young girl knew that this 'news' would be what everyone was waiting for and would forever change her life. At the age of four, she knew that her life could change with this 'information' and she hoped that she would still be able to live with her 'mom' whatever the outcome was. So, when the doorbell rang, right as dinner was done being made, everyone was called to the living room, where a couple of tables had been set up since there was a lot more family in the house than normal. Abeni Joan ran with Paisley to their 'mom' and hid behind her 'moms' legs as the Agent was let into the house. Sam sent Paisley and Abeni out of the living room along with Avery and Luxlynn. Paisley and Avery took the younger kids out of the room and back into the playroom. Paisley looked back at her mom and then had shut the playroom door, even though it was never allowed to be closed for any reason.
As the adults settled in the kitchen to hear the 'news' all was quiet. Agent Ryan hadn't been to see the family in nearly five months. They had believed that 'Jason' had moved again and they were trying to find out where they had moved to. Macaylah and Samantha had been keeping up with Jami's Fanfiction account, wondering when she was going to post another chapter to her 'Author's Note'. However, in the last month, Jami hadn't posted anything on Fanfiction that would tell them how she or her children were doing. So as Agent Ryan started talking, all siblings looked at each other.
"I'm aware that you were expecting to see me a few weeks ago, but I wasn't in the state. I have a sister in New York who is a Detective. I'd asked her to let me know if she ever came across anyone who claimed to have been kidnapped five years ago from Washington State. My out of town business had nothing to do with your daughter's case, however. Since your daughter's case is considered a 'cold case', I am obligated to work on other cases. But I did reach out to my sister to let her know about this particular 'cold case'."
"So what does this have to do with Jami?" Macaylah asked.
"Last night, Jason was arrested. Your daughter and sister were rescued. They are at St. Catherine's Hospital. They will be there for two weeks until the doctors deem Jami healed enough to be discharged. After the hospital, she will stay in a Safe House for a month. And then from there, she will be transferred to the home of a friends'. I'm told that Kristi is in contact with this friend." Everyone looked at Kristi who looked at the Agent.
"Which friend are you talking about? There are two friends in New York that I know of. Christopher Rhodes moved there for a job. And then there are the Shah's. They moved to New York to be with family before Jami was kidnapped."
"On Monday, Jason took his 'family' out to the park because he believed that he had brainwashed Jami enough. He believed that she wouldn't say anything to anyone. His kids knew not to say anything because they were too afraid of their father to say anything. According to my sister, she got up to use the restroom and when she was done, she ran into Atiqa Shah. Both were surprised to see each other. Jami hugged Atiqa and told her to meet her at the New York Library on Tuesday. Jami left the bathroom and went back to her kids and Jason before he woke up from his nap, but she could feel herself being watched while her kids played. Atiqa Shah took out her phone and continued to track your daughter with video and pictures up until they got into a car and left the park. Jason knew nothing of this encounter, nor did he suspect her of what she was about to do on Tuesday."
"So what exactly was the plan for meeting up at the library?" Samantha asked.
"Jason left for work at normal and then Jami got up and helped the kids get up and get ready for the day. She grabbed the backpack she used as a diaper bag and then she and the kids headed to the bus near their apartment building. They took it to the library and as they were on the bus, a young man struck up a conversation with her that drew the attention of all that were on the bus. She didn't want to speak with him on the bus so she said that she would tell him later, but he had already revealed enough about her predicament that the police were inundated with tons of phone calls as soon as she and her kids were off the bus. They had no way of knowing just how true those calls were since some of the calls were from actual gang members who'd been on the bus at the time. When Jami and her kids got to the library, they went straight to the kids' section and were met by Atiqa Shah, her brother-in-law Khurram and his daughter Khuslam and their Uncle. They went to a more secluded area on the second floor to talk and Jami asked for their help in getting away from Jason. They agreed. It was only after they had called Kristi did they learn what Jami had been up to the last five years. They wanted her out of harm's way as much as everyone else who she reached out to on her Fanfiction account. Their Uncle went to the cops and told them what he knew. My sister along with the rest of her department as well as the FBI burst into the apartment last night screaming out 'Police'. Instead of staying in the living room, he went to the room Jami shared with her kids and proceeded to beat up on her. She was in surgery for four hours but is expected to make a full recovery. Her unborn son was not harmed in the attack, but old breaks had to be re-broken and set properly, so she'll be walking with a moon boot as well as crutched for a while. She should be out of the hospital in time for the trial, however."
"Is there any way any of us can go to New York and be with her? Those of us that don't have a job right now need to decide who would go and they should be with her. She needs to have some form of family with her." Jessica finished.
"My sister believes that she would want someone with her but she needs to be the one to make that decision. She did not want to call you before she went into surgery because she did not want to get upset and her doctors didn't want her to get upset either. But my sister promised to call me as soon as Jami made the decision about whether she wanted any of her family to be with her during her time in the Safe House as well as the trial. But if you are actively searching for a job right now and she does decide she wants family with her, you won't be able to work when you are with her in New York. She and her kids would have to be your top priority."
"That can be handled, as long as we get to see her," Titan said.
"I will talk with my sister tonight and let you know in the morning."
"Thank you for this information. We'll discuss it amongst ourselves to see who will go be with her once she decided if she wants us in New York with her. Otherwise, we will contact the Shah's and demand weekly updates."
"Just so you know, Ahmed, her old co-worker doesn't know that Atiqa, his Uncle and his brother played a vital role in getting her away from her kidnapper. Once she is released from the Safe House and safely on her way to the Shah family, then he will know. She wants it to be a surprise and Atiqa agrees that it should be a surprise. Please only speak with Atiqa if you do plan on calling the Shah's."
"Thank you for this information, Agent Ryan. Please give your sister a 'thank you' from this family." Terry said.
"I will and I will let you know of Jami's decision on whether she wants you in New York or not. Goodbye for now."
And with that, Agent Ryan left the Olson house and the kids were allowed out of the playroom. It was time to eat dinner. They would decide things after dinner and once the kids were back in the playroom. For now, the Duffy, Force and Olson family settled down for dinner and prayed that their sister, daughter, and cousin was safe wherever she was.
Chapt.9: A Safe Place:
As I was loaded into the ambulance, the Detective put my kids into the back of the police car and said that they would follow the ambulance to the hospital. The kids needed to be checked out by a doctor as well. It took twenty minutes to get to the hospital and when the ambulance was unloaded, doctors were waiting to take a look at me. My only concern, however, was for my kids and I was wondering where they were at when I saw the Detective in the waiting room. My kids were sitting in chairs while a nurse was looking at them. Anita looked apprehensive, to say the least, but she never took her hand off of her brother while the nurse looked them over. I was wheeled into the ER so the doctors could take a look at me. I lost sight of my kids for the period of time, which started making me anxious.
As the doctors worked on me, the Detective walked in. she wanted to let me know that my kids were fine and that a few cops were sitting with them now. She also let me know that my packed bags were in the waiting room with my kids. I let her know that the tablet and its charger could be taken out so that the kids had some movies to watch. She said that she would let the officers know but that she was staying with me for the time being. She also let me know that during my stay at the hospital, an officer would be with me and my kids the entire time. This tidbit got the doctors and nurses in the room to look up and around.
"Why does she need police escort? What the hell happened that she can't be in the hospital by herself?" before the Detective could say anything, I spoke up.
"I'm the victim of a kidnapping. The man that kidnapped me five years ago also raped and beat me the entire time. I'm pregnant with my fourth child, but I only have two with me. My kidnapper killed my second oldest while we were living in Vermont. And my kidnapper threatened to kill me and the kids while he was being arrested. Does that answer your questions?"
"Yes, yes it does. We'll allow the cops to stay with you, but you are going to need surgery. This hand is broken and we need to do a full set of scans to see if there are any other broken bones in your body. Any injuries prior to your kidnapping that we should know about?"
"I broke my collar bone when I was six and a tendon wrapped around it. I also had a ganglionic cyst removed from my right foot in 2009. Other than those, no."
"Alright, I'll let the officers know now. While you get situated in X-Ray and then surgery, we'll move to a more secluded room. Might you know which room Jami is going to be situated in after surgery?"
"We can get the room set up now if you want?"
"That would be better. Just in case something happens with the transfer of her kidnappers, I don't want her kids sitting out where they can be seen."
"I'll let the nurses set up her room and you can sit in there while you wait. When she's out of recovery, we'll have her moved into the room."
"Thank you, doctor."
And with that, the Detective left the room, but not for long. She was letting the officers with my kids know what I said and was helping move the kids, and our belongings, to a room upstairs on the surgical floor so that they couldn't be seen if Jason did manage to escape somehow. The doctors finished their cursory exam and were about to move me up to X-Ray when the Detective came back. I still hadn't asked her what her name was and she hadn't told me. Everything just happened so fast. I figured she would eventually tell me when the time was right, probably after I was out of surgery. The Detective smiled and followed the doctors to the elevator.
While in the X-Ray room, an OB doctor came down to check on me and the baby. She spoke with the doctors and then turned towards the Detective. The Detective told the doctor that the police had walked into my room to see Jason beating and kicking me. I had tried to protect the unborn child and he had been pulled off of me. She said that after the X-Ray was done, she wanted to take a look at how the baby was doing and get me onto a monitor to make sure the baby stayed safe.
While still in the X-Ray machine, the doctors realized that I had a bunch of old broken bones and realized that most had not been dealt with properly. They had found a couple of broken ribs, a broken cheekbone, my collar bone that I had broken when I was six had been re-broken and another tendon had wrapped around it, making me unable to even move my right arm above my head anymore; my right foot had been broken and not set right and a bone in my left leg had also been broken and not set right. During the surgery, they would need to re-break all bones that hadn't healed right and set them in their proper places. The Detective nodded and entered the room as the X-Ray machine stopped functioning. She stood over the bed and smiled down at me.
"You've been very brave, Jami. Now is there anyone that you want to call? I've been told that it can't upset you and that has to be quick."
"There is nobody I can call that won't upset me. I'll burst into tears if I call my family."
"Alright, then I will see you after surgery."
The Detective left and the doctors came in to move me to surgery. As they moved me to surgery, the Detective brought my kids to me so that I could let them know that I was going to be sleeping for a few hours and that they were to listen to the police, doctors, and nurses that came to see them. Anita nodded but Enzo was already starting to fall asleep. All the excitement from the last couple of hours had started to wear him down. I smiled at my son and placed my hand on his cheek. Anita gave me the best hug she could and then with the help of one of the nurses, kissed my forehead. I smiled.
My kids were taken back to the room that I would be occupying as I was wheeled into surgery. The Detective couldn't come in, but she was allowed to sit in the gallery to make sure the surgery went well. My parents would want to know that everything possible was done to keep me and my children alive. Because I had been under general anesthesia before, I knew what to expect. The OB was sitting next to me just in case the baby's heart rate dropped to a dangerous level. As the surgery began, all doctors and nurses in the room knew the amount of pressure they were under. A kidnap victim and her unborn child were on their table. It was also the pressure to keep the victim alive to be reunited with not only her kids but also her family.
Four hours later and the surgery was completed. Bones had been re-broken and set properly. I had a cast on my leg and my right foot; a cast on my left hand, my right arm was in a sling to keep my collar bone as immobile as possible. My jaw was wired shut so that my cheekbone had the time to heal. I wouldn't be able to talk for a while, but I could always use the computer or a cell phone to get across what I wanted to say. And I could sign to Anita. I had to teach my daughter something while we were stuck in the apartment all the time. As I was wheeled to Recovery, the Detective showed up by my bedside. She talked to the doctors and learned that I would need to stay in the hospital until I was healed enough to be released, which would be about two or so weeks.
Once settled into Recovery, the Detective headed to the room where my kids were and set down to talk with Anita. She told my daughter that I was going to live and that I would need to stay at the hospital for at least two weeks, but that they would be able to stay as well. The room that they were in would become like a small department, a small safe house until I was released from the hospital. Cops and Agents would be around at all times to keep us safe. Anita nodded and went back to the movie that she'd been watching.
An hour later and I was being wheeled from Recovery to the room where my kids and I would spend the next two weeks. I was still unconscious, but the nurses let my kids know that I should be awake within the next couple of hours. The Detective left the room to get a schedule set up for the doctors and nurses as well as the cops and agents that would be around until I was discharged and headed for a real safe house. All names were written down and clipped onto a clipboard and hung outside the room. For an added safety measure, the same list was posted at the Nurses Station as well as within the Doctor's lounge. Jason's name as well as his parents and any lawyer maintained, were added to the list of people not allowed to see me or the kids. The entire Coultier family was on the 'No See' list and all the doctors and nurses were shown their faces so that they would know who to keep an eye out for.
Detective Ryan stayed the night as well. In the morning, she would ask if I wanted my family with me during the trial or if I just wanted to stay with the Shah family. At this point, the FBI and Detective Ryan do not know about Chris but they soon find out from Jami's family that she has another friend who lives in New York.
On his way to jail from the police station, Jason fakes a seizure and the vehicle stops. The cops are unable to stop Jason from escaping their custody and then the entire city is on alert because they believe he will head towards me and the kids at the Hospital. Detective Ryan was contacted and the room where we were staying was reassigned as a medical closet. It was made to look smaller than it was and the window was covered to make it look like medical equipment was kept in the room. A couple of nurses stayed in the room and made sure that I was still breathing. Their pagers were let outside the room and all electronics were shut down so Jason couldn't find us even if he was looking. A security guard was also in the room and communicating via text message with the head of security.
When it was learned that Jason was indeed at the hospital and searching each room for me and the kids, the room went silent. Since the machines had been turned off, the nurses kept checking my vitals to make sure I stayed alive. My kids, thankfully had been sleeping during the entire ordeal and Detective Ryan stayed next to the bookcase that hid us from view. She was able to peer through a hole in the bookcase and keep an eye on the door. When the door opened and Jason looked around it, he seemed to be checking the size of the room and why it looked smaller on the inside than on the outside. But his hesitation in the room was what eventually had him back in custody. He was arrested once more and this time, the FBI transferred him to Ryker's Prison. He was immediately put into 'Solitary' so that none of the other prisoners would be able to harm him before the date of his trial.
The Safe House:
Two weeks later and after the doctors were sure that I would make a full recovery, my kids and I were headed for an FBI Safe House. I was on crutches and my arm was still in a sling. My left wrist was casted and my unborn child was still healthy. The Safe House was a two-story house in the suburbs. They'd used it on many of their cases where the victims needed to be kept safe until another safe place could be found for them. We would stay in the Safe House for two weeks while other arrangements were made for me and my kids. We settled in as best we could. A crib had already been set up for Enzo and Anita would sleep with me. Now that we didn't have to fear that Jason would come into the room at night, we started to sleep better as well.
Detective Ryan and the FBI agents bought the groceries and set up the living room with a TV that was Google Play Accessible so that we could watch the movies on a real TV and not on my computer or tablet. I got the room set up will all of our belongings while the Agents and Detective Ryan set up the spare bedrooms for when they had to stay the night with us. There would always be someone in the Safe House with us at all times and though we could go on supervised visits outside, we mainly stayed in the back yard, which thankfully was filled with Gazebo's that could hide our activities from prying neighbors. There were Gazebo's lining both sides of the fence and a Gazebo in the middle of the yard. My kids like being able to play outdoors and now that we weren't cramped in a small apartment room together and were allowed outside, I did as much as I could in the backyard while waiting for the Trial to begin.
I had declined Detective Ryan's offer to have someone from my family flown to New York as I didn't want them to see me in the way that I was. It would have been too hard to see my family while still going through a Trial and subsequently suing Jason's family for not calling the cops on their son and helping him evade capture for five years. They knew exactly what he had been doing to me and still had defended his actions. I figured that that was what they were going to do when they showed up for his Trial. They were going to blame me for everything that had happened. And then there was the fact that Chris had still not come forward. I figured Jason had figured out that he and I used to be friends and somehow gotten rid of him. I did not know that the FBI had already been over to talk to him and that he had agreed to testify on my behalf. I had told Detective Ryan about him and how he hadn't known who Jason was when he had accepted the invitation for the SuperBowl Party. I guessed he'd gone home that night and called my parents to let them know that he had seen me. And according to what he had told the FBI, that is exactly what he had done.
I learned to wake up at a normal time again. The kids didn't have to be afraid of Jason walking in and yelling anymore. We watched TV like normal people, played outside under the gazebos, cooked and ate normal food, played board games and put puzzles together. The kids played with each other while I talked with Det. Ryan about the upcoming trial and what the kids and I would do after the trial was over. The District Attorney was looking into the other states that we had lived in and was contacting the lawyers for those states. The trial would be held in the next month and probably wouldn't last long with all the evidence against Jason Coultier.
Chapt.10: Among Friends:
After a month in the Safe House, Det. Ryan showed up one day with news that some friends wanted to see me and that they were willing to let me live with them if I so chose to. I really did want to, but I knew that I would be putting their family in danger if Jason ever escaped prison again or if his family ever wanted to enact revenge on me for throwing their son in prison. So I told Det. Ryan that I was staying in the Safe House but that I would like to meet with the family and see them. Det. Ryan relayed the message to the friends I knew wanted to know if I was safe. They accepted the answer and Det. Ryan set up at a time for them to be driven to the safe house to meet with me.
It was on a weekend, two weeks before the trial was to begin, that the Shah family arrived with Det. Ryan. I was in the kitchen making sandwiches while Anita and Enzo were in the living room watching a movie. 'Frozen' was their favorite movie since it involved snow, something they had never seen until being brought to the Safe House. The back yard might have been covered in gazebos but there was still snow in the middle where there wasn't a gazebo. They loved playing in the snow. As I made the sandwiches, I heard a knock at the door. I didn't answer it as I was not allowed to. The agent watching me and the kids got up from the couch and answered the door. It was like any other social meeting, only that it was friends that had saved the life of another friend and her kids. I had just plated the sandwiches when Det. Ryan walked into the kitchen. Atiqa was right behind her and when I saw her, I almost started to cry.
I placed the plate of sandwiches on the counter and moved around it to give Atiqa a hug. She hugged back and almost refused to let go of me. I had to tap on her back to get her to let go of me. When she pulled away, I realized that she wasn't alone. Ahmed and their Uncle were with her. Ahmed had tears in his eyes and a frown smile on his face. He broke his religion's rules against hugging women and was hugging me before I knew it. I let him hug me as did Atiqa and Uncle. When Ahmed pulled away, I turned towards Uncle. He nodded and stepped forward. We hugged and he wouldn't let go got the longest time. When we did separate, I looked at the clock. It was 2:30 pm and the kids still hadn't eaten anything.
I motioned for everyone to go into the living room and grabbed the plate of sandwiches. I also grabbed some napkins and juice packs. We sat down in the living room and I turned the TV off. Anita and Enzo turned towards me to protest but before they could, they saw the food. Anita stood up first and came over to get a couple of napkins. She grabbed a sandwich and bit into it and then looked over at her brother. Enzo was too fixated on the new people in the room to eat anything. At one, he barely ate sandwiches but his sister set on in front of him which distracted him enough to eat some. The Agent & Det. Ryan also grabbed one. I motioned for the Shah's to also take a sandwich but they declined. All they saw were the meat sandwiches. I turned the plate and showed them the egg salad sandwiches and motioned again for them to take one. They nodded and took a sandwich. No talking was done while we all ate our sandwiches. Anita talked to her brother but that was all. She was trying to get him to eat some more. Atiqa spoke up first. And by then, I had finished the sandwich that I had been eating and was sipping from a juice pouch.
"So, Det. Ryan told us that you did not want to come live with us. We have our own place now. You guys would have your own room."
"It's not that I don't want to Atiqa, it's that it would be too dangerous. I would love to live with you guys more than anything. Jason has already escaped once. What's to say that he won't escape again and find his way to your family? What's to say his family won't figure out where you live and show up one day? No, it is safer for the kids and me if we stay here. Besides, I don't think I can handle another move right now."
"Alright, we got an explanation out of her. Can we drop it now?" Ahmed asked.
"You've been speaking with the people back home, haven't you Ahmed? You and Emilio have been speaking to each other."
"I may have mentioned that you were in FBI custody and he may have relayed that information to the rest of the staff."
"I figured you would have said something. I'm not even talking to my family or letting them come and stay with me and the kids because I'm too afraid the Coultier's will find a way to ruin our happiness. But I will need some help when the trial starts. I'm almost thinking that I want to have one of my sisters come up and help in that regard."
"So, I can tell my brother that you want one of your sisters to come and help during the trial?" Det. Ryan asked.
"Yes, you can, but I do not want Ashley here. She's too much for me to handle right now."
"Dually noted; I will let them know that." Det. Ryan got up from where she had been sitting and went into the next room to call her brother. I knew they would fight over coming and hoped only one of them came.
"So, if your family can't come, do you want the kids to say with us during the day? I know Khuslam would like to be with her." Uncle asked.
"She would like that, wouldn't she? But I do not want to interrupt anything that Khurram's wife might have to say about his ex-girlfriend's children hanging around with his daughter."
"Khurram isn't married, at least not anymore. His wife died in childbirth. He said that he would never marry again. But now that he's seen you again, that might not be such a bad idea." Atiqa said.
"I'm sorry for his loss. But I will never lie with another man, not after what I've been through. This was a forced marriage and family. I wasn't actually married to him but there is the process of Common Law Marriage."
"That does not apply to you. You were kidnapped and beaten and god knows what else. Your kids were frightened by him and you still protected them the best that you could. You were taken from your family and you had nothing to protect yourself with except your words."
"What do you know about my words?"
"Do you know how many people around the world have been following you on FanFiction? Do you know how many people have been calling your mother every day of every year because of your 'Author's Note'? Jason didn't realize that you were the reason he had to keep moving. He never had any inkling." The agent in the room finally spoke up.
"His mother did and she still didn't tell her husband or Jason."
"What are you talking about?"
"She PM'd me on my account and she kept telling me to keep writing. I never really responded. I figured she would use my words against me as soon as Jason was arrested and a trial was set."
"And you figured right. Jason's mother has told their lawyer about her contacting you. Apparently, her husband knew all about it. They hadn't told Jason about it because they did not know about your 'Author's Note' or that you were PM'ing instead of writing the 'Note'. According to the lawyer, they are going to make it look like you were at fault the entire time, that it was your fault you were being stalked and it was your fault that Jason kidnapped you. They won't get away with it because of course, the whole world has practically been following your every move since the day you were taken."
"Now, if I could only convince myself of that point. The worst part is, Jason's parents could sue for full custody of the kids. They could win. What happens if that ends up happening?"
"It won't, we won't let it. And Jason has no right to the kids. His parents, if they are stupid enough to sue for custody will never be granted because they would make sure that you were never allowed to see the kids. And the kids obviously don't want to be separated from you." Ahmed said.
"Yeah I know, it's just something that has been going through my head."
"Alright, I think it's best if we get going for now. We promised Khurram that we would be back around sic and it's itching up to five-thirty now. We will see you soon, Jami. Do not get too discouraged. You have friends here that want to help you. There is no need to get yourself up in a huff about things that haven't even happened yet." Atiqa said.
"I know. I will see you guys later then, best if we say our goodbyes here. The Agent will walk you to the door. I'm not allowed anywhere near it unless they are with me, just to be on the safe side."
"Alright, well we will meet up with you later then. I hope one of your sisters can make it up here." Ahmed said standing up and hugging me, giving me a kiss on the cheek. Atiqa ignored it; she knew that I needed the reassurance of friends right now and not jealousy. Also, she also knew that Ahmed saw me only as a sister and that he always had.
The Agent escorted the Shah's to the door and I cleaned up the living room. My kids had fallen asleep on the floor next to each other and once Det. Ryan and the Agent came back, they helped me move them to the room they shared with me. Once my kids were settled, I headed back to the kitchen to clean up the mess I had made while making lunch earlier.
Meanwhile in Washington State…Samantha had gotten in touch with Ashley, Jessica, and Macaylah. They were all at the Duffy house that night not just for dinner. The kids were in the playroom downstairs with Kaiden watching over them. He was promised that he would be told what the commotion was about after the meeting was over and the kids were all headed home with their respective families. He watched as Abeni laughed and he smiled. He had never gotten along with me, but he was very protective of my daughter. I had slipped through his fingers but he wasn't going to let that happen with Abeni. He would make sure she had a life of fun and love no matter what the predicament was. She would be loved until they could love her no more. But he could also hear what was going on upstairs. And to deter any of the kids from going upstairs, Kaiden and Papa had put food, snacks, and drinks in the fridge downstairs. The dogs were also downstairs and the door was closed so that the kids couldn't get upstairs.
So as Kaiden kept the dogs and kids under control, the siblings sat on the couch with Kristi & Steve and discussed what was going on. Kristi had gotten a call from Agent Ryan and now they were discussing what this meant for the rest of the family. It was Macaylah who spoke up first.
"So what exactly did Agent Ryan say? I mean didn't he already say that Jami didn't want any of there with her? What changed her mind?"
"According to his sister, Det. Ryan, Jami changed her mind after visiting with the Shah's and seeing how her kids reacted around other people they hardly knew. She's going to need someone in the courtroom with her and she's going to need someone to watch her kids for her while the trial is going on. Whoever goes will have to let their jobs know that they will be gone for the better part of two months or so. I'm sure you could get temporary jobs in New York. The FBI is willing to put anyone who goes up at a hotel and make sure the room is paid for fully. They did say that you could live at the Safe House with Jami and her kids as well but that would be up to the lead agent in charge."
"So, who's going? I can't, I have to work but there are still three other sisters here."
"I would go, but Eric and I are losing the farm so we're going to need a miracle to keep it."
"It's alright Ashley; you wouldn't be allowed to go anyways," Steve said.
"What, why not? Even if I could go, why wouldn't I be able to? She's my sister too."
"She gave specific instructions that you were not allowed to show up to stay during the trial."
"You have got to be kidding me! Why the hell would she do that? What the hell kind of sister is she?"
"Ashley, she can't handle your drama right now. This has nothing to do with you. This has to do with her and keeping her as sane as she possibly can be right now. She doesn't need any more drama in her life right now and you being there is just going to stress her out even more than she already is. You have to understand that!"
"Yeah, I guess you're right. I can be a lot to handle. Alright, I won't make a fuss out of it. So that leaves Sam and Macaylah. What do you two have to say about it?"
"I can go as long as my dog is taken care of. Dad said he'd look after the dog but I just learned that he's going to be out of town during the time of the trial." Mick said.
"Well, unless I get someone to look after Paisley and Abeni for the entire time, I can't go. I know she needs us right now, but for the time being, I think she'll just have to take Mick."
"Well, Steve, Kaiden and I can watch Paisley and Abeni. And Mick, why don't you give Jessica your dog for a while and the two of you go together. I don't think it would be a good idea to bring the kids into the situation in New York."
"What do you know mom?"
"I already talked to your father. He and Annika will be in New York for both of their works. They'll be staying at a hotel but the FBI already knows that they are going to be in the state. You guys could stay with them while you are in the state and then move into the Safe House when they come back home. I think Earl is taking care of your dad's dogs while they are in New York."
"They could have told us."
"I don't think they wanted to overwhelm Jami and the kids. Agent Ryan promised to tell his sister that Jami's father and girlfriend were in town. It would be up to Jami if she wanted to see her father or not."
"Okay, then it's settled. Mick and I will go to New York and stay with Jami during the duration of the trial. We can both get the time off of work, even if Mick does take a temporary position at a firehouse in New York."
"Alright, I will call Agent Ryan and let him know what we decided. There is one more thing that you need to be aware of."
"What, what's wrong?"
"Jami is pregnant. She's due in May sometime."
"So this guy managed to get her pregnant again? What's she going to do when she gets home? She obviously doesn't have a job at the Casino anymore and she has no money to her name. Where is she going to live with four kids?" Ashley asked.
"We'll figure it out, Ashley. Kaiden can move upstairs and she and the kids can have the whole downstairs if that's necessary. He won't mind if it means the kids are around him and he can look after Abeni; he loves that little girl."
"But she won't be able to pay you any rent, mom. You've always had her pay you rent while she lives with you."
"Ashley, she needs to feel surrounded by her family. She doesn't need to feel neglected. She needs her family now more than anything. Enough talking; we all have stuff to do. Sam and Mick, Agent Ryan will be at the house at the end of the week. I suggest you have your stuff packed and your respective works know where you will be. Everyone in the state has been keeping a close eye on this case so it shouldn't be that hard to get the time off. We'll make Jami's room up for the girls and they can sleep comfortably. It's a good thing she didn't get rid of some of her movies; they'll have something to watch while they are here."
"Alright, we'll see you at the end of the week. Jessica, is it okay if my dog stays with you?"
"I have no problem, but he'd have more fun at Marti's. If it becomes a problem, they would be willing to watch him as well. This is a family effort."
"Alright, fine with me. Let's get going then.
And the family broke off. Sam collected Abeni and Paisley and headed over to Grandma's house. Even though Grandma Shirley had been dead for two years, they still referred to the house as Grandma's house, it was just easier. Ashley collected her kids and Jessica and Mick left together. There was a lot to do by the end of the week.
Chapt.11: The Trial:
It was a week before the trial was to begin that I learned that two of my sisters were coming. Sam and Mick had agreed to stay the whole time for the trial and anything that came after. I also learned that my father and his girlfriend were in the state for work purposes. It would be up to me if I wanted to see them. But since I had asked if my sisters could stay at the Safe House with me and the kids, the house was in full swing. The upper floor, an attic if you want to call it, was being prepared for my sisters to stay in. it was accessed with a small staircase and two beds had been placed in the room. I was cleaning the linens so that they would have fresh sheets and comforters which had been bought just for the occasion. It was one thing to be here for the trial, but they would need something to do instead of sitting inside all day like I did. Sam and Mick were supposed to be here on Wednesday and my kids could sense how special the event was.
Det. Ryan showed up early and helped get the attic functional. We used furniture that had been bought from the local goodwill. The beds were already in the house and they were cleaned before they were made up. And on Tuesday, the day before my sisters were to get to the state, my dad and his girlfriend showed up with the Shah's. Det. Ryan hadn't told me that they had gotten in touch with the Shah's so I didn't know that they had even met until they showed up with some furniture of their own. I had a basket of dusty towels that we had used to clean the room in my hands and was headed for the washroom when I saw my father. I dropped the basket and even before I could move, my father was around the Shah's and his arms were around me. I let him hold me and then the tears came. I hadn't wanted to cry. I had wanted to try to get through the trial without crying but just seeing my father, I sobbed into his arms.
Anita had pulled Enzo into the kitchen area where we were standing and watched as the older man hugger her mom and tried to figure out if it was a good thing that the older man was even in the house. When my father finally let go, it was Annika's turn to hug me, but she hugged me briefly. My father would not let go of my arm, as if letting me go would mean that I would disappear altogether. When Annika pulled away, I removed myself from their presence and went over to Anita. I grabbed my daughter's hand and pulled her and my son over to where my father was standing.
"Anita, Enzo, this is your grandfather and nana. Dad, this is your granddaughter Anita Grace and your grandson Enzo Randal William. I am pregnant with another son. So now you have three new grandkids to spoil."
"It's nice to meet you both. And spoil you we will. What's your new son's name going to be, Jami?"
"I wanted his name to be John, but I didn't like what the initials would be. Then, Danny came to me in a dream and I knew what I needed to name my son. So his name will be Daniel Earl William; Daniel after Danny and Earl after grandpa. How are they doing anyway?"
"Annika and I have moved onto the farm. Lois passed away last year from a heart attack and dad hasn't been doing so well. So we've been living on the farm and I've been running it for dad. I left the Mill so I can be at the farm full time and I sold the house. Annika is still working but since she now lives at the Farm with me, she works at the Portland Hospital."
"We may have to stay at the farm for a little while when we get back. The kids will love the outdoors."
"Well, dad already made me promise to bring you down to the Farm once this is all over and you are home for good. When are Sam and Mick getting here?"
"Det. Ryan said sometime tomorrow. We're getting the attic set up for them to stay in now. I need to make lunch, but you are welcome to go up and help, dad. Annika stays down here with me. I need some help in the kitchen."
"No problem, up I go. I'll see you kids at lunch then."
Dad hesitated only a little before heading upstairs to the attic. I could just see that there was a sad smile on his face. Annika followed me into the kitchen while Anita and Enzo went back to the living room to watch their TV show. I pulled out some food and then pulled out some utensils. Annika helped the best she could but realized that I knew my way around the kitchen a whole lot better now after all this time away from my family. She decided to talk to me instead and sat on one of the barstools while I made sandwiches and soup.
"You know, your family was pretty upset when Agent Ryan said that you didn't want anyone in New York with you. Everyone wanted to know what was going through your head."
"Det. Ryan asked me as I was about to go into surgery. She was told that I could make a phone call but that it couldn't upset me. If I had called home at that time, it would have upset me beyond belief. I knew that you guys knew I was safe, but I had to think of my health first. I wanted to get through the trial without having and family around but then I realized that I wouldn't be able to make it by myself in the courtroom. I knew that I would need someone here to help me through yet another ordeal that Jason was putting me through."
"I understand, Jami. But the others don't seem to understand. Your grandfather's blood boiled when he found out you didn't want anyone here with you. Enough, I don't want to upset you. Tell me what your plans are once you get home."
"I haven't decided that yet. I do know that I do not want to live in Marysville. I will learn to drive and I will get a car for me and the kids. But beyond that, nothing."
"What about going back to work at the Casino?"
"I can't, not after everything that has happened. Jason met and found me at the Casino. I can't go back to work for them, at least not within the public eye."
"But you are so good with people Jami. Don't give up on that gift."
"I won't give up on that gift. But I know that I can never work in Customer Service again after all that has happened to me."
"I understand I really do. What can I do to help as of this moment right now?"
"Get some bowls and plates out. I made grilled cheese and tomato soup. I hope it's okay."
"You know me, Jami, as long as it's not red meat, I'll eat it."
"So, why are you and dad in New York anyways? I mean what was the reason that brought you here?"
"Well, I had a conference for work and your dad wanted to get away from the Farm for a while. We thought we could catch a few shows while we were here. Now we have something better to keep ourselves occupied. We are supposed to be home by Monday."
"So you are leaving Sunday, the day before the trial is to begin. Well, ain't that just peachy. At least Sam and Mick will be here. Wait, back up, you guys live on the Farm now?"
"Your dad did mention that when we first got here."
"I wasn't really paying attention to that part. I was still in shock from seeing you guys."
"Yes, after Lois died, we moved in with your grandfather. We stay in the guest room but Sam, Jessica, Ashley, Mick, and all their kids are down nearly every month."
"Is the Shop still standing?"
"Yes, but it's not used as a Shop at the moment. Your father thought it would be a good idea to fix up and turn into a guest house of sorts; all new flooring and walls. It's now brick instead of wood so that it'll stay better, but we used the older wood in the furniture as well as some of the art pieces. What we still want to use is tacked in the small carport where the tractor-trailer used to sit. That's a whole new carport too, built of bricks as well. It even had a garage door. With more and more people going to the Farm now that we live there, we needed more places to house people. You'll see when you come home."
"It's on my list of places to visit when I get home. I want the kids to experience the Farm as well as snowmobiling. I know I won't be able to drive for a while, gotta get back in shape of sorts and make sure I'm all healed and all, but I want to get back into the mountains. My kids will know how to snowmobile, no matter what. I'll figure out the whole 'no money' part later."
"Alright, getting better into planning what you and the kids are going to do after you get home. Lunch looks done, I'll go get everyone from upstairs."
"And I'll get the kids settled with their food."
As Annika headed upstairs, I pulled the kids into the kitchen eating area and set them on their kid table. I gave Anita half a sandwich and a little soup; she could have more if she asked. I gave some applesauce to Enzo as well as a sippy-cup of watered-down apple juice. As they started to eat, the rest of the adults wandered down. I set the sandwiches in the middle of the dining table with the large cistern of tomato soup. A couple of pitchers of ice tea also sat on the table. Plates and bowls were stacked together around the table with some spoons so that people could eat their soup separately if they wanted to. But because it was me making the sandwiches, I had used Mayonnaise on the bread.
As everyone sat down for lunch, dad and Annika sat next to me. They wanted to be around me at all times and not let me out of their site. Talking ensued and then laughter. The Shah's talked about the outside world for my benefit mostly because they knew that all I had of the outside world was the backyard covered in gazebos. Annika kept glancing over at me and dad had his smile back. His hearty laugh made me smile. This is what I had missed about my family; the pure energy we got from each other, no matter what mood we were in.
After lunch, the Shah's went home, but promised to be back later. They had some more things to bring over but they needed to get to their respective jobs for the time being. They would come back once all my family had a chance to get to the Safe House. I hugged Atiqa goodbye and nodded at Ahmed and Uncle. They smiled in return and then the family was escorted from the house. They had parked about a block away so they walked to their vehicle and then left. I turned towards my kids before addressing my dad and Annika. Enzo was falling asleep in his chair and Anita's eyelids were also drooping. With all the excitement that had gone on today, it was no wonder they weren't already asleep. I motioned for Dad to help and then I picked Enzo up as he picked Anita up. He followed me and Annika walked behind us. I put my kids in the crib that had been set up when we'd first gotten here. As soon as they were both in the crib, Anita rolled over and slung her arm around her little brother. I pulled the blanket up and made sure that the little bell was on the nightstand near the crib so Anita could reach through and ring it to let us know that she was awake.
I left the door open two inches wide so I would hear the bell and then we went up to the attic. I was surprised when I saw not two beds but three as well. I turned towards Det. Ryan with a confused look on my face. But it was dad who spoke up.
"You didn't think we were going to be leaving you and the kids here now that we've found you again? No, Det. Ryan and the Agents assured us that we would be able to get to our conference on time every day but we checked out of the hotel this morning. Our bags are in the car we rented. We just need to go get them." Dad said.
"Sam and Macaylah will have the two twin beds set up over on that side. Your father and I have the big bed on this side. We will put up a partition so that we can all get dressed respectively, but this is to be our new home while we are in New York. You can't get rid of us that easy, Jami. You need to rest, we can help with the kids from here on out. And we may be able to get you and the kids out of here over the weekend. We'll visit some places that you've never been to and we'll make sure some of your friends in the city know that you are safe."
"What friends in the city? Other than the Shah's, there's only Chris and he hasn't been by once since the kids and I were rescued."
"He's wanted to come. But he didn't know how you would react to seeing him again. It's been a month Jami. The trial will last another month. You'll be home by the end of May most likely. This nightmare of yours is almost over." Det. Ryan said.
"So, he was worried about how I would react? We were best friends back home, I may never trust men the same way again and I will never take a husband most likely, but I don't see why he would be worried about how I would react. I would have hugged him till he couldn't breathe. When I saw him in that living room, I almost dropped the dish I was carrying. I wanted to hug him then but I knew that that would get either me and the kids killed or Chris hurt and I wasn't willing to put him in any danger on my account."
"He would have put himself in danger on your account if given the opportunity. I think he knew that something was going down. We talked to his boss and were told that Chris tried to keep Jason at the office longer. He must have known something was going on because he sensed right."
"Chris was always good at sensing things. He was always good at being a good friend when I needed it. He talked me out of a lot of stupid things that I wanted to do."
"We know what kind of things he talked you out of. But Jami, you need to start looking forward now. Once you get back home, you'll need to get a job and the Casino always said that they would take you back whenever you were found and returned home."
"I know I need to look forward, but I will never go back to the Casino. As much as I liked my co-workers, it's where Jason found me and where he started to stalk me. Going back would be like going back to what my life was like back then. No, I will find something else to do that will let me help people out as much as I can. I already told Annika that I wouldn't live in Marysville long. It's where everything happened and there are too many bad memories stemming from the abduction that isn't going to go away any time soon."
"You don't have to make up your mind now. I think we all need to get some sleep and then when your sisters get here in the morning, we will talk more. We may even be able to get you and the kids out of here to see some real city and eat some real food."
"That sounds good. I'm going to go check on the kids, grab a small snack and then head to bed. See you in the morning."
And with that, I headed down the stairs and checked on the kids, who were still sound asleep. I grabbed some carrots and ranch and then headed back to my room. I watched a movie as I ate my snack and then shut my laptop and went to sleep. I would deal with my sister and whatever came after in the morning. For now, I was tired. Dad and Annika also settled down for the night as did Det. Ryan who was staying the night.
When I woke the next morning, Anita and Enzo were not in the crib. I had removed the table so it wouldn't get broken while the two slept and it was missing from the nightstand I had put it on. I sat up straight and worry came to my heart. Anita must have woken up earlier and hadn't wanted to wake me up. She'd probably picked her brother up and headed to see her grandpa. When I looked over at the clock it was nearly noon. I got up, took a shower and got dressed. I was just coming out of the bathroom when my door opened. Anita stood in the doorway and before I could say anything she spoke up.
"Aunty Sam and Micky showed up while you were asleep."
"Somebody should have woken me up."
"Grandpa said to let you sleep. He said he would take care of us while you were asleep."
"Well, no need to slip back into old habits."
"What's that mean?"
"Nothing honey; come on, let's go downstairs and see what everyone is up to."
I grabbed a small shall and wrapped it around my shoulders as Anita and I went back downstairs. Sam and Macaylah must have heard us coming down the steps because as soon as we were in the living room, Macaylah's arms were around my neck. Sam didn't bombard me right away but let Mick hold on as tight as she wanted without hurting me. When Mick pulled away, Sam also hugged me and then grabbed my hand and practically yanked me into the kitchen where everyone else was at. My eyes immediately went to my kids, Anita had run to the kitchen and Enzo was in Annika's arms. Sam pushed me onto one of the bar stools and then some food was put in front of me. That's when I spoke up.
"When did you guys get here?"
"Around nine; when dad said you were still sleeping we wanted to march up there and wake you up," Sam said.
"Why didn't you?"
"Dad said to let you sleep. Det. Ryan says you haven't been getting a lot of sleep. Are you staying up all night playing games again?" Mick asked.
"Actually, Anita is the reason. She has so many questions going through that little head of hers that she can't stop talking even if she is supposed to be going to sleep. She's making up for all the time she wasn't able to talk while we lived with Jason."
"Ah, well that explains a little bit. Come on, eat up, we have a lot to do today."
"Just get me a cup of tea please."
"You aren't going to eat anything?"
"Unlike all my other pregnancies, morning sickness never really went away with this one. Tea is about the only thing that won't make me throw up. And we've basically been vegetarian since Jason took me. No candy, no meat (except eggs for breakfast), no soda, no junk food at all."
"Wow, you must have lost some weight on that diet. You couldn't kick that habit even when you tried to."
"Except when I was pregnant, I was skinny. He kept us healthy, but the kids never got to experience any food that he didn't want us to eat. He was very strict that way. Have they eaten?"
"Yes, they ate. Enzo not so much and he does feel a little warm to the touch."
"Yeah, he came down with a fever some time in the middle of the night. As long as we keep him bundled up, we should be good for the day."
"Oh no, we are getting him seen by a doctor."
"Mick, I don't have the money and I'm already in debt from the hospital bills after what Jason did to me. I don't need to go into any more debt."
"Who says you're in debt?" Det. Ryan asked.
"With the amount of time I spent in the hospital after we were rescued, I'm pretty sure I have upwards of $200,000 in debt."
"Actually you would be wrong. A GoFundMe page had been set up to thanks to your parents and donations started to pour in. The goal was about $50grand but it has reached far more than that."
"What's it at now?"
Somewhere in the hundreds of thousands; Sam, you know the exact number."
"It's about $500grand now. Most of that was supposed to cover your medical bills. But when we went to pay the bills off, the hospital accounting staff wouldn't take a penny. They said the doctors and nurses that tended to you during your time in the hospital were out of their own pocket. They saw no need to charge someone who had gone through what you had gone through. They said you were under the pro-bono category and the hospital was inclined to agree. They wanted you healthy so that you could get back to your family faster."
"So what's the money going to go to then? I know mom and Steve kept putting money into my bank account to keep it open. That's how I was able to keep my Spotify account, BigFish account, and Google Play account from being shut down and from Jason finding out that I was buying games and movies through the top two. I know I have to pay mom and Steve back for that money but what else am I going to do with the money?"
"You could buy yourself a house in Marysville and raise the kids that way."
Before answering, I looked over at Annika, who just shrugged her shoulders. She hadn't told Sam and Mick or dad for that matter what we had discussed. "Yes, about that whole situation"
"What? You are planning on living in Marysville, right?"
"No, not at all; I'm not going back to work for the Casino either. I can't live in the town where all the bad memories of that time will keep coming back and haunting me. I've always wanted to live in Leavenworth and I'll probably find a place up there somewhere. I'll stay in Marysville for a little until I can get moved up there, but after that, I don't know."
"But what about Abeni? She's grown accustomed to Sam being her mom?" Mick asked which brought a confused look from my face.
"What are you talking about?"
"Yeah, we were going to tell you since you were going to find out at the trial anyways."
"Find out what? Abeni is dead. Jason killed her when he took Anita sledding when Abeni was six months old."
"Yeah, she's not dead. I guess she was found by some hikers after Jason got back to the apartment with you and the news reported that a child had been found dead. In reality, Agent Ryan had brought the young girl to mom. You had apparently written in permanent marker on her back about who she was and who she was to be given to if she was found."
"Yes, whenever Jason took the kids out by himself, I made sure to write on them in permanent marker on their lower backs just in case he ever left them somewhere. After what he had done with Abeni, he stopped taking the kids out by himself. I didn't think I would ever see her again."
"Well, she's alive and living it up. I've been raising her but we now live in Grandma Force's house so she gets to see mom and papa all the time she wants to."
"Why do you live in Grandma Force's house?"
"Grandma died of a heart attack two years ago. We wanted to wait on that information until later, but Mick opened her mouth about Abeni."
"I'm glad that you are close to mom, Sam. I'm glad that Abeni is alive and with someone who will love her. And I'm glad that Jason will never get out of prison for what he did, but I cannot live in Marysville. We can speak more about that later, once I'm home. We have till Sunday to hang out with dad and Annika and I aim on letting the kids do that. So what are the plans for the day?"
"Well, we are going to meet up with the Shah's at one of their favorite restaurants in the city and then we are going shopping."
"Shopping for what?"
"Whatever you want; you haven't been able to buy real clothes in a while so we might as well get you some clothes that you can wear that aren't sweat pants and baggy sweatshirts."
"Good point; maternity and some regular clothes for when this boy is born."
"You sure it's a boy?"
"I had an ultrasound done at the hospital."
"Got a name picked out?" Mick asked.
"His name will be Daniel Earl William. I wanted his first name to be John but I didn't like the initials. So D.E.W. is better than J.E.W."
"Yeah, that is a good point; Earl William after grandpa, but who is Daniel after?"
"My friend Danny from high school, the one who killed himself from depression and other things. He's the one that I missed the most after he died."
"O I remember him. You said that if his funeral landed on a weekday, you were going to skip school to go to the funeral. Mom was actually going to let you do that, she even said she would drive and your friends out to the memorial. Good thing it was on a Saturday." Mick said.
"Yeah, and no chores the whole weekend; Come on; let's get ready to head out."
"Okay, but were going to get a doctor to look at Enzo so we are sure there really I nothing wrong with him," Dad said as we all got up to go get ready to leave the house, something the kids and I hadn't done in a month. This was going to be quite an adventure today.
As I bundled my kids up in clothes that they would be warm in, I also got some warm clothes on. I made sure that I had my purse with me and put the backpack I used as a diaper bag on my back before grabbing Enzo up. Anita moved in front of me as we moved back downstairs. Sam and Mick, who had gone up to the Attic with Annika and dad were coming down the attic stairs at the same time we were leaving our room. Mick bent down and swooped Anita into her arms and the little girl laughed. I smiled as we made it to the living room. I grabbed the stroller and made sure that we had enough room in the stroller to put only Enzo but also any bags while we got while shopping.
"So, are we walking or are we taking a vehicle."
"Do you really think your security guards were going to let us walk? They will let us walk around for shopping but we are driving to the restaurant." Sam said.
"Okay, but I could have really used the exercise. There is only so much exercise I can get walking around the yard with all the gazebos around the yard."
"You are going to get enough walking around while we are shopping. So, do the kids have any allergies that we should know of?" Dad asked as the rest of the group came down the stairs.
"They've never really eaten out much. Except for the Subway that they had after the park and the hot dog after the library, they really haven't eaten a lot of fast food or restaurant food. Do we know where we are going to eat?"
"The Shah's said that they would tell us once we got to where we were meeting them."
"I have grown accustomed to not liking surprises."
"Well, get used to it. Our family loves surprises remember."
"Yeah, I know just no major surprises, please. I don't need the drama at the moment."
"Well then, we won't tell you where you are going to live when you get home."
"Let me guess, I'm moving in with mom."
"Nobody else has a big enough house. And Kaiden doesn't mind moving back upstairs. Everything is basically moved around so that you would have to share the game room, but he understands that the TV is now the kids. Abeni basically has him wrapped around her little finger."
"I don't doubt it. When he was little, he would laugh at everything I did. I still have pictures of him in sunglasses sitting on my bed. He had a smile on his face and my tea sets were on the wall. I might have fewer tea sets now, but those are the first thing that will go on either the wall or in a display case. I want the kids to have collections of their own."
"Understandable; we'll get them something to collect; something they can't eat or break."
"Yeah, shall we get going?"
"Det. Ryan is outside; she's got the vehicle pulled around. The Agents will stay here at the house. I think we can handle it with Det. Ryan for now."
"Alright then; hey agents, eat your own food, please. I don't need to go grocery shopping while I'm out as well."
We walked out the door as a family. A smiled was on my face and I knew that I was truly home, even if I wasn't actually home. My dad and sisters were with me. I was happy, well as happy as I could get. We all piled into the van and the stroller went into the back. Enzo went into the car seat and Anita went into a booster seat. I pulled the backpack between the seats so that I wouldn't lose it and then Det. Ryan drove off. We chit chatted for a little bit, but then the van grew quiet. They knew how much this meant to me and the kids. I looked back at Enzo and Anita and saw their little eyes moving around, watching everything as it passed by. I smiled and somehow I knew that my kids were going to be okay. Unbeknownst to me, Mick had manages to take a picture of me as I looked back at the kids. She and Sam were talking in low tones and I could tell they were talking about something. Every now and then they would glance over at me, but I always made sure I was looking at my kids.
As the van slowed down, I moved my attention to what was in front of us. And I almost gasped. The van had come to a stop in front of a pizza parlor but it was what was outside the Pizza Parlor that had drawn my attention. I recognized a few of them from the bus the kids and I had ridden to the library. As we got out of the van, a gang member held out his hand. I turned towards Det. Ryan who just looked away a little. I could tell that she had something to do with this, but didn't really understand why she would do this, especially with the trial coming up. The gang member helped me out of the van and while the rest of my family got the kids out as well as the stroller and the bags, I looked at the crowd.
"Det. Ryan here said we could come and see you but not at the safe house where you are living at. I know it's weird to be talking to known gang members, but we learned that day on the bus, it changed our attitude towards what we see every day. That man had never personally met you, but he still knew who you were. He still stuck by his gut and stayed near enough to you to talk to you. He knew exactly what he was saying would get everyone on the bus intrigued. He was smart to play that card. Once the four of you were off the bus, we all called the cops, trying to get them to investigate. And that's saying something coming from me and my group who try to stay away from cops. We wanted what was best for you. And now that we know you are safe, we can testify to what we saw and overheard on the bus."
"I don't get why you would help though. You hardly know me."
"Just because we hardly know you, doesn't mean that your case wasn't highly publicized. By the way, you are a very talented writer."
"Um, thank you. So I guess I will see some of you at the trial then?"
"Some of us will be there yes, but not all of us. This was the group that wanted to see you before the trial. We will let you get on with your day. We just wanted to say 'hello' and that we are here for you if you ever need any more help."
"Well, thank you. But I do not really like the surprise that this is. Thank you for coming today, really, but this just makes me feel really insecure."
"We understand and won't bother you again. But we will be at the front of the courthouse just so you can get through the crowd of reporters more easily. You have your own personal bodyguards. My gang and I will stand to make sure that you don't get bombarded at every turn."
"Thank you for that, really. Now, if you don't mind, we have some things to do today. We are meeting some friends and we are already running late."
"No problem, have a good day, Ms. Force."
With that, we made our way through the crowd and on into the shopping area. It was a huge outdoor shopping market and most of the shoppers were of Indian and Middle Eastern descent; most looked at us as we passed through the streets. Det. Ryan was in front as she had the address of the restaurant we were meeting the Shah's at. I was starting to feel exposed with so many people looking at me. Sam had Anita in her arms and dad was pushing to the stroller with Enzo inside. I had the backpack on as well as my purse. Annika and Mick covered the back of our party. It had to look a little weird seeing so many white faces in a predominantly Middle Eastern area. I kept looking around; I was amazed at how much one could fit into such a small area. It was like China Town only a little smaller. But China Town was on my lists to see before we left New York. Maybe I could get Sam and Mick to take the kids and me while waiting for the trial to start back up over the weekends.
Mick pushed up towards me and took my hand. I looked down and then turned my head towards her; she smiled. She seemed to know that I was trying to take it all in. but there was also another look in my eyes. I was looking for any potential danger that might be lurking nearby. She squeezed my hand harder and this time did not let go. By the time we got to the Indian Restaurant we were meeting the Shah's at, I had calmed down a little but not by much. When I saw Chris with the Shah's, my anxiety went up a level. Mick squeezed my hand as a reassurance before letting go. It was long overdue that Chris and I hugged. His arms were around me before I could stop him. Anita noticed immediately. She'd seen the man in the apartment over Superbowl Weekend. She didn't say anything; she knew that her mom would explain everything later.