Unbound: The Pentagon Group, Book 2, page 20
“Did they get the guy?”
“I have no idea. I’ve only seen the doctor and nurse. Now, you. Thank you for coming.” She squeezed my hand. “I don’t even know the name of the guy who saved me. If it wasn’t for him crashing into the cab, I may as well be dead.”
“Oh, Perla. You don’t think someone at Pentagon had anything to do with it, do you?”
“The thought crossed my mind. Maybe they thought getting rid of me would null and void the contracts. I haven’t gotten word from Turner about whether the entire board had signed my employment agreement. They were supposed to do it by midnight. I conveniently get kidnapped before midnight. Just my luck, I get involved with a man whose company has the means to take me out of the equation.”
“You don’t think Matt was involved?” ‘He was certainly angry enough.’ I thought.
“No. I haven’t heard from him. I know he was angry with me for my rejection, but to have me kidnapped and potentially killed. No, it’s not him.” I defended. The possibility of the man I was in love with and shared so many special moments, albeit on pretense, would try to hurt me was unfathomable. However, I couldn’t put it past the other men.
She stared away. “We should call your dad.”
“No. Nobody.” I glared at her. “I’m not involving anyone else in my mess. It’s my problem, not theirs.”
“I don’t want to yell at you while you’re hurt in a hospital bed, but you never tell anyone what is going on with you. You keep everything so secretive and we’re always trying to figure out how you’re suffering. You select who you’ll ‘burden’ with your issues. The only way we know exactly what is happening with you is if I call Carson or your dad and we compare notes.” Chelsea confronted. I looked at her shocked she would reveal her issues with me in my vulnerable state.
I paused and thought about what she said. Chelsea continued, “Every one of us loves you and really cares about what you’re going through. We want to listen, want to help, and want to act on your behalf. You’re always doing for us, but you just shut everyone out when we want to help you. Unless of course only when you need a lawyer.” Her words stung. I didn’t know if she meant it to, or just stating the fact.
A knock on the door stopped her diatribe. My savior from last night stepped through the door, flowers in hand. When he walked in, I said, “You. Hi.” I pressed the button to sit up. “Chelsea, this is the man who saved my life last night. I’m sorry, I don’t know your name.”
“Kenneth Dobner, ma’am.” He shook Chelsea’s hand.
“Call me Perla, please, Kenneth.”
“You can call me, Ken. I brought you flowers. I just needed to know if you were okay.” Putting them on the counter across from me, the beautiful white lilies were in a vase.
“I’ll be okay, thanks to you. Are you okay?”
“I’m a big man. It’s going to take more than a crash to take me out.” He said with humor. Chelsea and I laughed.
“Did the police make contact with you?”
“Yes, ma’ . . . Perla. I spoke to the police at the scene. I was stunned a bit when I hit the car. I didn’t notice when the guy driving had taken off on foot. The front wasn’t damaged like the back was. I was more worried about you. The police said they’d come in today to talk to you, but the doctors haven’t given them permission to talk to you while your suffering from head trauma. They’ll probably be in this afternoon.” Ken said. I listened intently. I was surprised the driver, my kidnapper, had escaped.
“How long have you been here?”
“I stayed here. I live up north in New Hampshire. I promised to stay with you, but the staff sent me away. I stayed in the waiting room. I tried to make sure you were okay, but they wouldn’t give me any information. However, they finally let me come in during visitor’s hours.”
“Oh goodness, thank you for your concern. I’m fine. I’ll be okay. Just tired. You must get home to your family.” I said with concern.
“No. I’m alone, but I think I’ll go home and get some rest. Take care, Perla.”
“I’ll never be able to repay you for saving me, Ken. Let me give you my number. Please keep in touch.” I took the pad and pen on the side table and wrote my number, offering it to Ken. He took the slip of paper, folded it, and tucked it in his back pocket.
“Get better.” He said to me. “Nice meeting you.” He said to Chelsea before he walked out of the room.
“The man is huge. Maybe you should have gotten his number so he can protect you from Pentagon.” Chelsea said about my angel, who could easily double as a body guard.
“What happens to your Pentagon shares if you were to die?” Chelsea asked. I didn’t want to respond.
“It reverts back to Matt. They’re technically still his, but since I’m designated as a proxy, if I were to become declared incapacitated or dead, they go back to Matt.”
“Stop, Chelz. I’m supposed to start work on Monday.”
“You can’t possibly go to work on Monday.”
“And why the hell not?” I asked defensively.
Chelsea audibly sighed. She walked to the corner and took the chair, bringing it beside the bed and sat down next to me. “Because you have a concussion after an attempted kidnapping where you tried to escape through the window you broke of a moving car which crashed in a God forsaken part of northern Massachusetts.”
“Yeah. Well, it didn’t break me.” I said
“God, you’re so stubborn.”
“Chelsea. I need income. I stopped working at Duration to start at Pentagon. My lease is up in a few months and I need to make money to move to Boston, so I can be closer to work.” Chelsea leaned back in the chair.
“What if the doctor says you can’t? You’re going against medical advice?”
“Ugghh. I should’ve called Carson.”
“Fuck you, Perlz. I know you hate my mothering, but sometimes you need to be nagged.” She argued.
“I will only be out of work, if the doctor says I can’t. Understood.” I huffed.
“Fine. It’s not like I can stop you.” She glared at me.
“I’m not even sure if the contract has been signed by everyone. I’ll call Turner later to confirm.”
Nurse Leslie walked in, interrupting us. “Hi. I just want to check in and see how you’re doing. I got the okay to get you something to eat. But only light food, broth and Jell-O so we can make sure you can tolerate food.” I nodded. She asked about my pain. I was too scared to admit I felt a bit loopy and tired. I didn’t know if it was from the medication or the symptoms of concussion. Lying and saying I was ‘fine’, would be relayed to the doctor and increased my chances of starting work at Pentagon on Monday.
After taking my vitals, Leslie left us. Another knock on the door and I groaned. I really wanted sleep. As much as I loved Chelsea, I thought I should’ve called her in the morning instead.
“Ms. Mercurio. I’m detective Donald Whitten with the Topsfield Police. I’m wondering if I can ask you a few questions about last night.” I was expecting him. I wanted to help as much as I could. Ken let me know my captor was on the loose. I didn’t know if this was an isolated incident or if I was a target, but I had to see if I could help the authorities figure it out.
I nodded. “Can you give us some privacy to speak, Chelsea?”
Chelsea looked offended. “Perla. I think . . .”
“Lovey, I just need a moment to share with the detective. Why don’t you get yourself something to eat at the café?” She looked at me warily.
“Fine. I’ll be making some phone calls too.” Chelsea narrowed her eyes and turned up her lip sarcastically. I’d hoped she didn’t do something stupid and call my dad, or worse, Matt. Chelsea stood and excused herself.
“Do you mind if I have a seat. I’ve been working on this since last night.”
“Please do.” He sat.
“Can you start from the beginning as to where a
“Did you know the driver?”
“No. I rarely take cabs. This was probably the third time in a month I’ve taken one. I didn’t know him or recognize him from any previous interactions.”
“Did he speak to you?”
“He never responded to my questions. He didn’t even look at me, but through the rear view mirror. His attention was on the road and I guess his destination. I’m sorry I don’t have much to offer. I think this was just a random incident.”
“Do you know of anyone who may want to hurt you?”
“Are you married?”
“No. I’m divorced.”
“Would your ex-husband still hold any resentment or grudges about the end of your relationship?”
“No. My husband initiated the divorce. We’ve not spoken or seen each other since Chelsea’s, the friend who just left, wedding a few months ago.
“Would your boyfriend?”
“I’m not in a relationship.” I started to get nervous about the line of questioning and the way it was leading into the discussion about Matt.
“An ex-boyfriend who wasn’t happy about the breakup?”
“Not that I know of.” I couldn’t talk about Matt. It would lead to many questions about him and ultimately, Pentagon.
“Any discord with family or friends.”
“No.” I said adamantly. “I don’t know why I would be the target of anyone.” I affirmed. “Do you have any idea who would have tried to kidnap me?”
“We’re looking into it, Ms. Mercurio.” He rubbed his chin. “We’re thinking it was a random act. The car isn’t a licensed cab. There was no identification of a driver in the cab. There was no functioning meter. We had no tabulations of other fares, but yours. We dusted for prints and there were no prints on the front row of the car, so the perpetrator must’ve worn gloves. Do you think you could identify the guy in photos or a lineup, if we gave you an option?”
“I’m willing. I just hope I can actually help when the time comes.” I offered. He nodded and stood. He reached into his back pocket, retrieved a business card with his contact information, and handed it to me.
“If you can think of anything else or have any questions about the case, please call me. I wish you well, Ms. Mercurio.”
“Thank you, Detective.” I smiled meekly. He gave a curt smile and a nod. The detective stood and walked out of the room.
I wondered if I had done the right thing by not discussing Matt and the potential for his associates at Pentagon to have been angry enough with me to have someone kidnap me. Many scenarios of how I could’ve told the truth and controlled the line of questioning away from Matt swirled through my mind.
Chelsea returned with a tray of food for me. “They delivered this while he was here. I held onto it because I didn’t want them to leave. It looks appetizing.” She kidded. She set it on the moveable bed tray. “So, how’d it go?” She asked. I knew she’d want more information about the line of questioning.
“No information. The guy took off. No cabbie identification. No fingerprints. No leads. They will contact me, if they have leads or need me to identify.”
“Well, did you tell them about Pentagon?”
I looked at her puzzled. “Why would I?” I reminded myself that Chelsea didn’t know I blackmailed the men with a sex tape. If I revealed anything to the detective about Pentagon, I would be opening up Pandora’s box.
I grunted, sipping my broth and taking a bite of Jell-O. I looked at her, sitting with me. I thought of all the times I sat in her place, looking at my mother as she lay ill and dying. I’d never wanted to be placed in this position. Upon shaking the memory, I was determined to never let anyone put me in this situation ever again.
My cellphone rang. I saw the caller identification. It was Turner. “Please give me some good news about the contract.” I answered.
“They’ve all signed. Your salary is in place. An advance has been directly deposited into your bank account. The total is seventy five thousand dollars, which is ten percent of your base salary. It’s the standard advance for relocation, which you can use as you please.” I shook inside. I’d never had so much money in my account at one time. I started to sob. I didn’t know if it was because of everything that transpired last night or the culmination of what I went through with the Pentagon Group.
“Are you okay, Darlin’?” Turner asked.
“It’s just been a lot, Turner. Thank you for everything. Please send me a bill, so I can make sure you’re paid.”
“Actually, darlin’. Remember, I included my fees in your contract. They’ll be sending me a check for all the attorney’s fees, from Matt’s gift to your contract negotiations. You don’t have to give me a dime . . . just a nice wedding gift.” He laughed. I giggled.
“I still don’t know if it would be enough to repay you, Turner. I love you, my friend.”
“Love you too. But there is one issue.”
“Oh, no. Here it comes.”
“The office isn’t ready. It won’t be ready until Wednesday. They can set you up in a conference room or you could work from home. They’ve assigned you two assistants who will help schedule your meetings. They’ll be working on getting your office figured out. Expect a call soon from Gill Harty and Andrea Giovagnoli.” Two assistants, I was intrigued.
“That’s fine. I think I’ll work from home until Wednesday.”
“You should expect a copy of your contract and employment package delivered to you today. I’ve gotta run. Carson and I are going down to Newport to check out some wedding sites with his mother. Pray for me.” He said. I laughed.
“My love to Carse. Talk to you soon. Bye.” We hung up.
“Everything is settled. I start work on Wednesday because my office isn’t ready. I have two assistants. I have an advance, so you and I will be going shopping when I get out of here.”
“My, how your energy has changed.” Chelsea said. I smirked at her remark.
“Do you mind if I take a little nap?”
“Sweetie, I’m here to watch over you whether you’re napping or wide awake being a pain in the ass. I’ll go get a couple of things from the gift shop. I’ll pick up a book and hope you haven’t read it.” Chelsea said with a wink.
As I sat reading the newspaper and drinking my coffee early in the morning, I received a phone call from the security detail I had placed on Perla. They’d been protecting her since she’d decided to keep my shares and work for Pentagon. I quickly calculated it was after four o’clock in the morning. Jumping from my chair, I answered quickly.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Dr. Keene. It’s Ken. I want to assure you Feather is fine, but there was an incident an hour ago.”
“What happened?” I asked gruffly. I listened intently as Ken, her evening bodyguard who was supposed to stay incognito, saved her from a kidnapping attempt by crashing into the getaway car. The kidnapper fled the vehicle as Ken recovered from the crash. I felt an ache when he told me she was driven by ambulance to the hospital. He’d seen the results after the crash, and she was bruised, suffered minor cuts, and apparently had a concussion. She was transported to the local hospital where Ken went as soon as he was allowed to go by police, and was awaiting to visit her during visiting hours. Because he wasn’t family, he’d been denied any information on her status. My mind raced as I figured out my next steps. I could’ve rented a plane to take me back to Boston. However, I wasn’t due to return until the end of next week, but I needed to see her.
“She’s a smart woman, sir. She broke the passenger window and kicked it out while the guy was driving on the highway. She tried to escape through the window, and flagged me down when she saw me following behind them. She’s tough, sir. She’ll be okay. I’ll check in on her during visit
“One last thing, sir. She has seen me and spoken to me. She doesn’t know I’ve been tailing her for the last couple of weeks, but in trying to keep her conscious for the ambulance, I had to keep her company.” Ken said meekly. I sighed. I didn’t want the security to get involved unless absolutely necessary. I was appreciative he broke his undercover status to keep her alert.
“Thank you, Ken. Just keep her safe. Make sure the day guard maintains his post. Keep me apprised when you find something out.” After his assurances he would, we hung up.
I scrolled through my phone, seeking Dr. Harvey Baylis’s phone number. As our personal concierge doctor, he makes himself available at any time of day we call. He answered immediately. I apologized profusely for the late hour of my call. I gave him all the information and he assured me he would call the hospital for details, and go early in the morning to observe her himself. I thanked him for his time. I desperately wanted to know what was happening and waited impatiently for his return call. Within half an hour, Dr. Baylis confirmed Perla had suffered a concussion, bruising of her ribs, some superficial cuts and bruises to the face and arms. She had an elevated alcohol count in her system, which I knew to be uncommon for her, and she was given an intravenous line to ensure to rehydrate her. I asked for an update when she woke up and he had a chance to speak to her, and he agreed.
I dialed Zipper next, not caring about the time. He picked up after many rings, but before it went to voicemail. “I’m going to have to turn this shit off before I go to bed.”
“Stop whining, you little bitch. There was an attempt to kidnap Perla tonight. Do you have any idea which one of those fuckers may have tried to take her out?” I asked without any hesitation in accusing my longtime friends of such a heinous act.
“What? What happened?” I told him everything, sparing no details, and included information of the call I made to our doctor.
“We all signed the employment contract tonight . . . rather, yesterday. The only delay was Lark. I hadn’t heard of any plans to take her out to stop the contract. In the grand scheme of things, Perla’s an asset, not a liability. I’ve already updated you on how she impressed us with her change of plans for Pentagram. We’ve all agreed to her new design concept and as soon as she starts working on Wednesday, she’s expected to hit the ground running with design meetings and construction schedules. Even Brady was impressed with her suggestions. She’s not costing the company any more than it will be making. All is fine. I think you need to let go of the idea of one of us trying to hurt her.” Zipper argued. I wasn’t convinced.