Chapter 23

"What do you want me to do with the other one?" A harsh voice asked from behind Justin.

"Go entertain yourself for a while. Just don't kill him… yet." Kralik replied, straddling a chair in front of Justin. "We might need him later."

"What are you going to do with us?" Justin asked, wringing his hands behind him to try to work the rope loose.

Kralik grinned maliciously as he noted Justin's actions. "You're just going to rub your skin raw," he noted. "You wouldn't want that beautiful pale skin of yours marred, now would you?"

"If I'm just going to end up dead, it doesn't really matter, does it?" Justin retorted.

"Now, who said anything about killing you, angel?" Kralik replied, his tone sarcastic. "I plan to enjoy your - company - for quite a while first."

Justin felt a shiver of fear go through him. He remembered that voice talking to him at Greenhills, although he couldn't remember much more than that. "You're not taking me back to Greenhills," Justin said. "I won't go back there." Not that he really had a choice at this point, but he had to say something to keep the man talking. Stall for time, Justin told himself. Keep your eyes open. Find a way out of this.

"Humph." Kralik snorted. "Don't worry, angel. I have no intentions of returning to that place."

"But… I thought you worked there. I remember hearing your voice…" He trailed off uncertainly. The man's narrow-eyed glare was un-nerving.

"I'm flattered," Kralik replied, his mouth twisting into a sneer. "You remember me."

Justin looked down at his feet, his forehead furrowed in thought. Something was nagging at the back of his brain. Something about this voice, but he couldn't put his finger on it.

"You were there when they first brought me in," he said, stalling while his brain raced. "But everything is so fuzzy. I can't remember much of anything that happened there. They kept me so pumped full of drugs, I wasn't even sure what was real half the time."

Kralik's expression softened just a bit. "I saw them bring you in. I snuck into your room that night. I tried to tell you to just go along with them; that they'd stop with the drugs if you didn't fight them, but you didn't listen. I knew how to play the game. They hardly ever tried to drug me."

Justin shook his head and glanced up. "I don't remember what you said; just the sound of your voice." So the guy had been a patient. Justin filed that information away while he continued to keep the man talking. "You stopped coming to my room though."

"I'd had enough of that place," Kralik answered. "Time to pay back the bastards that put me there."

"Yeah, I know the feeling," Justin mumbled.

"Ah, yes, Daddy dear." Kralik laughed tauntingly. "He really has it in for you, doesn't he?"

"He's the one that hired you, isn't he?" Justin could feel the anger building inside him at the thought.

"I always knew you were smart, angel," Kralik continued to taunt. "I would have come for you eventually anyway. This just moved my timetable up is all."

"What?" Justin looked up in surprise. Why would this man come after him?

Kralik leaned back and gave Justin a sardonic grin. "I told you I'd be back, but you didn't wait, angel." Suddenly, Kralik leaned forward until their faces were only inches apart.

"My beautiful won't get away from me this time."

Justin's heart began to beat like a trip hammer as the man ran a gentle hand down the side of his face. What was going on?


Taking advantage of the kidnapper's absence, Brian began to feel his way around the back of the van, trying to find something to cut the rope around his wrists. Feeling something sharp against his thigh, Brian turned his back to the object and rubbed the ropes against it. He gave a grim smile as the ropes loosened and fell away. Next to go was the hood covering his head.

Looking around, Brian took stock of his situation. He knew there were at least two men who had been in the van. There could possibly be others here though - wherever here was. One was lying on the ground unconscious at the back of the van where he had landed when Brian kicked him. Before Brian could attempt to leave the van, he heard footsteps approaching. He quickly squatted down, putting his hands behind him as if still tied.

"What the fuck?" The kidnapper climbed into the van and grunted when he saw the prisoner's hood was off. "Looks like you've been a bad boy," the man said then gave Brian an evil grin. "Bad boys need to be punished."

The burly man grabbed Brian's shoulder as if to push him onto his back. Letting himself fall backwards, Brian grabbed the man's shirt front and propelled the kidnapper forwards faster than the man had anticipated. Unable to stop his momentum, the kidnapper ran head first into the side of the van, collapsing on top of Brian.

Glad that no one else was there to watch his rather undignified squirming to work his way out from under the brawny man, Brian finally extricated himself then looked around for something to tie the kidnapper with. Finding more rope, Brian made quick work of securing the bear, then pulled the hood over the man's head for good measure.

Brian did a quick search of the man's pockets only to find a knife, a wallet and… bingo… his cell phone. He just hoped that the signal reached wherever they were.

Cautiously, Brian slipped outside the van and made his way to the front, not seeing anyone else around. He hadn't heard anything from inside and could only hope that Justin was okay for the moment. Opening the front door of the van as quietly as possible, Brian looked around for something else that might help him out while he hit speed dial.


Cynthia jumped, startled as her cell phone began ringing. Glancing at it out of habit, she didn't recognize the number but something told her she better answer it. She started waving her hand excitedly to get Detective Horvath's attention. "Brian?" She almost held her breath waiting for an answer.

"Cynthia, someone kidnapped Justin and me. We're in the middle of fuck knows where."

"Brian, we're with Detective Horvath right now. He wants to talk to you." Cynthia passed the phone over to Carl.

"Brian, are you in any danger at this moment?" Carl asked.

"No, but Justin's inside the cabin with one of the kidnappers. I don't know what's going on in there."

Carl leaned out the door and yelled for one of his co-workers, then began questioning Brian about anything that might help them track his location. Unfortunately, Brian wasn't able to give them much to go on. "Brian, I'm going to have someone trace the phone. Hopefully, we can triangulate your location. It the meantime, I want you to find some place to hide until the police get there."

Brian smirked into the phone. There was no way he was going to sit here doing nothing while Justin was alone inside. "Tell them to get a move on. These guys mean business, Carl."

Any reply Carl may have made was lost as Brian tossed the phone under the van where it would be out of sight and safe. Now he just had to make sure Justin was okay until the cavalry arrived.


Justin's mind was racing. 'My beautiful angel.' That voice. Those words. He'd heard that before. There had to be a way to turn this to his advantage. "I thought you'd forgotten about me," Justin said in a small voice.

"How could I forget about you, angel?" Kralik said softly, then seemed to remember where he was and pulled back sharply, his eyes narrowing again. "You found someone else quickly enough," he continued, his tone dripping sarcasm. "I hear you're 'in-love' with that Kinney guy."

Justin swallowed hard. He knew he'd have to be convincing. Brian's life might depend on it. "It was just a ruse to piss off my father and Brian's friends... our bit of revenge for what they'd done to us." Well, at least that much was true. "It obviously worked with my dad," Justin observed, a slight flash of anger in his tone.

There was a slight creak of the boards on the porch and Kralik was on his feet in an instant, throwing the front door open. "Well, well, Mr. Kinney. Why don't you join us inside?"

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