Liam watched from the shadows inside his Jeep as a bewildered Sarah was ushered into a car by some guy in a wrinkled suit and taken away. His lip curled.
“Callie.” He breathed, murderous rage filling his body as he punched the steering wheel. “That little bitch!”
She was the only one of his girls who had gotten away, the ultimate prize and forbidden fruit. And oh, what a tender little peach she had been, her eyes so wide and innocent at first as she shyly responded to his sly innuendos. That had quickly changed to fear, which was so much more potent and seductive. She had been a little wildcat too; He still had the scars from where she had latched onto his right arm with her teeth in an effort to get away. Liam liked it though; the faint raised skin in an imprint of her teeth a tantalizing reminder and souvenir. She had marked him, but he had marked her too.
“Callie, Callie, Callie,” he tsked, shaking his head, the rage gone as suddenly as it had come. “You always were a stubborn one. I supposed that you need a little reminder about what happens when you open your pretty mouth without permission.” His eyes narrowed. “Your family always pays the price…” Picking up his cell, he pressed a couple of buttons, and when the person on the other end answered, spoke curtly. “Hey. I need another job. All the information that you can find on the Foster family–yes, that’s really their last name, idiot! I need it fast, quiet, and soon.” His lip curled again, this time in disgust. “Yes, your usual fee. Just get it done.”
Tossing his phone away, he put his Jeep into drive and drove away. It was probably best that he be around for a few days, until things settled down. That was fine; his parents assumed that he was away at college, so he could hang out there and have a plausible alibi built up. Those morons in his frat house never knew what was going on right in front of them anyway.
Let Callie and her family relax for a while; the fear and shock and pain was always so much more intoxicating when it came from a blitz attack…
“Um, guys? We may have a problem.” Callie said meekly. Her foster siblings stopped mid-bickering about which movie to watch, and turned simultaneously to look at her.
It was just the older kids at home for the night; Jude was fishing with Connor and his dad, who was a firefighter and a former Marine, so Stef felt comfortable letting the boy go with them. The cop was working another double, and Lena was stuck at school for mid-year staff meetings.
“As much as I love all this sudden family together time, I have a Photography assignment tomorrow. Brenda wants us to go watch the silent films marathon and do a media comparison paper.” She winced. “I know Stef and Lena said to stick together, but I’m sure they didn’t mean 24/7. I’ll be fine.”
“Um, no. You are not going to some dark creepy theater by yourself.” Mariana scolded, shooting her brothers a warning glare that dared them to argue. “We’re going with you. They picked Sarah up from the Olmsteads yesterday. Liam is bound to be pissed.” She added bluntly. “So no. You’re not going anywhere by yourself until they have enough to put him behind bars.”
“There’s an Avengers movie marathon going on tomorrow night that I wanted to go anyway.” Jesus said enthusiastically. “I’m in.”
“I have the same assignment from Brenda for Art History.” Brandon shrugged. “Might as well kill two birds with one stone.” He managed to keep his face bland when Callie looked at him in panic, but inside he was kicking himself. Had he really just volunteered to spend two hours in a dark, nearly empty theater with the one girl he couldn’t have? Idiot! he cursed, but it was too late.
“Great! So then me and Jesus will indulge in superheros, and you and Brandon get to continue to be stodgy and old.”
“Stodgy and old? I’ll show you old–take that!” Brandon seized on the opportunity to distract and lobbed a pillow at his sister, who retaliated with a squeal. Things erupted into a brief pillow fight that left the four teens breathless with laughter and lying on the living room floor, exhausted.
“Jesus, your phone is ringing again.” Callie mumbled without opening her eyes as the obnoxious ringtone reverberated through the air.
“Ugh–tell Lexi that she really needs to get off your jock.” Mariana grumbled, although she didn’t move from where she was using Callie as a pillow.
“It’s not Lexi.” Her twin snapped, deleting the message.
“Then who was it?” This time Brandon spoke up, his eyes narrowed.
Jesus groaned and avoided everyone’s gazes, which caused the girls to sit up.
“Please don’t tell me that it was Ana.” Callie, surprisingly, was the first to put two and two together. His guilty look prompted exasperated groans from the other teens.
“Jesus! Why? How did she get your number?” Mariana demanded.
“I went to tell her to leave us–you–alone, and she suckered me in.” He mumbled. “Now she won’t stop bugging me to meet her.”
“She’s a junkie; tell her that you’ll meet her, and then call Stef and tell her where she is. Maybe a stint in jail for possession will scare her away.” Callie suggested. “What? I learned that trick from a girl in juvie.”
“Badass Callie Jacob.” Jesus grinned, earning a smack on his arm for the language. His phone phone buzzed again, and instead of answering, he quickly typed a reply. “There. Now to call Mom…” He grimaced. “You all are sworn to secrecy upon pain of death and WWE torture.”
“He means it.” Brandon mock whispered to Callie. “Little punk is worse than a kraken, and ten times harder to pin down.”
“Hey Mom,” Jesus said into the phone, ignoring the by play. “No, everything is fine. Just, um, I don’t know how, but Ana found my phone number, and she’s been calling and texting me. She sounded pretty jacked up. I’m supposed to meet her at 6th and Jackson.” He winced and held the phone away from his ear. “No, which is why I’m calling you. Can you and Mike go instead? I’ve watched COPS. She’s harassing me.” He paused and listened before frowning. “Hello? Mom?” He shrugged, looking at his siblings. “She was breaking up a lot. I hope she heard me. I know I’ll hear all about it when she gets home though.” Mariana winced when he pointed at her. “Don’t think you’re getting out of this unscathed, twin of mine. I’m not sitting through the interrogation alone this time.”