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I'm Not Letting Go

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“Tyler!” Mark calls out as I’m crossing the courtyard to Harold’s.
I stop & wait for him to catch up.
“What’s up, bro?” I ask as he steps up.
“I just finished work & was headed to meet Paige after her shift when I saw you,” he replies. “I thought you said you had a lot of work to finish.”
“I did. After our lunch,” I reply. “Which was what? Three, four hours ago? I didn’t say how much each car needed work on.”
He nods. “You meeting Piper?”
I nod. “Yeah, she’s waiting at home. Probably with Erin,” I reply. “I was going to get a cake or something. She was disappointed that I wasn’t able to go home with her.”
He smiles. “You’re really falling for her.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I’m just worried that… if things don’t work out, not that I’m saying they will, but…” He sighs. “You two have a similar age gap to Paige & myself. It caused a lot of issues for us. We made it work, but… I just don’t want you to go through the same thing. I have faith that it won’t, but I can’t help being protective of you.”
I smile. “I get it. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.”
****
“Let them go,” I say, as Piper and I back towards the lounge. I keep my focus on Eddie, who is following us, gun raised at me. “You want me, right? Well, you have me. Just let Piper go. She & Felicity don’t need to be here.”
“But they do,” Eddie replies. “Piper’s seen me. She knows I have you. And I know your big brother is a cop who is determined to catch my uncle.”
“I promise I won’t say anything!” Piper says.
“You’re not going anywhere!” Eddie shouts, waving his gun at Piper’s head.
She steps back, holding Felicity against her. I step in front of Piper, putting myself in the gun’s line of fire.
****
Mark returns to our table as he hangs up his phone call. He’s frowning.
“The officers stationed outside our house have missed their last check-in,” he says to Paige & myself.
“Maybe there’s nothing to report,” Paige says.
“They have specific orders to check in regularly,” he replies. “Even if there’s nothing to report.”
“Hey, don’t stress,” Paige replies, taking his hand.
“I won’t stress when I finally have Dimato & all his men behind bars,” he replies. “I’m sick of them keeping me on edge, constantly worried about my family’s safety.”
“Which is why you need to have a bit more faith in your colleagues.”
“Paige is right, Mark,” I add.
“You should be worried too, mate,” Mark replies. “If there is something wrong, then your girlfriend is caught up in it along with our sister & niece.”
“Okay. Why don’t we just go home?” Paige says. “You can check on the officers, & you’ll see that everything is fine, & you can relax a bit, knowing that your family is still safe.”
He nods, letting out a shaky sigh. Paige & I get up. I grab my take-away box of cupcakes as she grabs her purse. She links hands with Mark & we head out to our cars.
****
Mark pulls into our driveway, Tyler’s car pulling in behind us. Mark flicks off the engine & hops out. I quickly follow. Mark heads back down the driveway, past Tyler’s car as Tyler gets out. Mark stops as he reaches the bottom. His back is to me, but I can tell he’s tensed.
I look at Tyler & we hurry over to him. He’s staring at the unmarked police car. We’d been so focused on our house, none of us had thought to look at the car, at the officers, as we drove past. I clasp my hands over my mouth to stifle a scream as I take in the sight of the two deceased officers.
Mark turns towards the house, taking a few steps in that direction before I grab his arm & stop him.
“Mark! Do this the right way,” I say. “Don’t go rushing in there, without back up.”
“But-”
“I know. I want to see them safe too,” I interrupt. “But you have to play this by the book. As much as I want them out of danger, I don’t want you to throw yourself into danger in order to save them! You’re angry & very protective, & I love that about you. But you just can’t rush in there. Not when you don’t have a vest or a weapon. So please just stay here with us, & call it in!”
He exhales shakily, before running his hands over his face.
“You’re right,” he replies.
****
Eddie peers out the front window, his gun pointed at us. I’m thinking of the best way to allow Piper to escape with Felicity, without him shooting at them. Eddie snarls.
“Which one of you two called them?” Eddie says, looking at us.
“Called who?” I ask.
“Called your cop brother, baby brother & your cop brother’s misses.”
“Eddie, calm down,” I reply, stepping in front of Piper to shield her. “All three of them live here. They were bound to come home, okay? Neither of us have called or texted. You’ve had your eyes on us the whole time.”
“How dumb do you think I am?!”
“You’re smart, Eddie. I know that,” I reply. “Just like you know I wouldn’t lie to you right now. Trust me.”
“I why should I trust you when you packed up & left me?”
“I did that to protect my little girl,” I reply. “You were losing control of yourself, & it just wasn’t safe for her to be there.”
“So why come here?”
“To my brothers? I think that’s obvious.”
He growls, turning back to the window. He peers out at Mark, Tyler & Paige. I look over my shoulder at Piper.
“Get your phone,” I whisper. “Call Tyler. I want them to be able to hear all of this. But keep it hidden.”
She nods.
****
Mark’s on the phone, organising for more cops to come. Paige & I wait at the end of our driveway, both uneasy.
“Piper’s in there,” I say, staring up at our home.
“She’s smart,” Paige says. “Just like Erin is. They’ll be alright.”
“I hope so.”
“We’ll get them out,” she replies. “Whatever’s going on in there, we’ll get them out.”
I nod. My mobile rings. I pull it out, seeing Piper’s ID. I frown & turn it so Paige can see. She frowns. I answer it, putting it up to my ear.
“Hey Pipes,” I say into my phone.
She doesn’t answer. Instead, I can hear some guy talking in the background.
“Do you really think that I would let you come here, to your cop brother & not come after you?” he says. “You’re probably snitching on my uncle, aren’t you?”
“No, I’m not,” Erin says. “Like I said, I came here because I felt like Felicity was in danger around you.”
And it hits me who the man is- Eddie. I make eye contact with Paige, & then point to Mark. She understands what I’m asking & nods. She walks over to him, & I watch her talk to him as I listen to Eddie.
“Stop lying to me, Erin!”
“I’m not, Eddie!”
“Why else would you come here, without telling me?”
“Maybe it’s because I was scared about what you would do if I stood in front of you & told you I was leaving,” Erin says. “You gave me a black eye. I know you didn’t mean to, but it happened. And I was scared that it would be worse. I’m sorry that I just left. That I didn’t leave a note. But you have to understand that I was just protecting my daughter. You know she means a lot to me.”
Mark & Paige come over. I put a finger to my lips, to keep them silent, as I lower my mobile & put it on speaker.
“Yeah, just like I thought I meant a lot to you,” Eddie says.
“You do,” Erin says. “It’s just that I will always put my daughter’s safety first.”
“Is that… Eddie?” Mark mouths.
I nod. He clenches his jaw.
“But not enough to deserve a goodbye.”
Mark flicks his mobile over to its recorder, & starts recording as he puts it close to mine so it picks up the call clearly.
“I don’t know how many times I have to say it, Eddie! I was scared!”
“Or you’re lying to cover up the fact that you’ve fled here to get your cop brother to help put my uncle & I behind bars!” Eddie says. “I know that he’s after my uncle. I know that you overheard us discussing things you shouldn’t have heard. So stop lying to me, cause I know you’re here to tell him everything, so he can use it to arrest Uncle Dennis!”
Mark hands me his mobile, & steps around Paige. He starts heading up the driveway. Paige quickly stops him.
“I have to get in there!” Mark hisses.
“Just wait for the others!” She hisses back.
Mark looks at our house, & I can see him fighting himself in his mind- to barge inside unprotected & alone, or to be good & wait. It’s the hardest inner battle. I’m barely keeping myself from running up those steps & inside, so I know what it’s like.
“If they don’t get here soon,” Mark whispers. “I need to at least get a look inside. Find out what’s going on.”
“Just wait a little longer,” Paige pleads.
He nods, almost defeated. She wraps her arms around him, laying her head on his chest. His shoulders drop, & he wraps his arms around her. He rests his head on top of hers. I admire the way she can break through his walls like no other can.
****
The other officers finally arrive. The road is blocked off as I speak to Sarge about how to handle this. Tyler’s mobile has been linked up to police devices, recording the whole call, with officers listening to it at the same time so we know what’s going on.
“You can try & stop me all you want, Sarge,” I say. “But there’s nothing you can say that will stop me from going in. With all due respect, Sarge, I can’t stand here while my family is at risk.”
“Wouldn’t even dare try to keep you back,” he replies. “I can see how hard it is for you to have waited this long. I almost expected to have arrived to find you’d gone in by yourself.”
I purse my lips together. “It’s been hard resisting doing that,” I reply. “But Paige reminded me of why I need to not rush in.”
Sarge smiles. “Alright, here’s what I believe is the best scenario,” he says. “Two teams. One goes round the back, the other through the front. Breach at the same time. Locate your family & the suspect. Protect the hostages & take down the suspect. Hopefully he’ll still be alive at the end.”
I nod. “Sounds like a good plan.”
“You want to lead the front team?”
“Do you have to ask?”
“I’ll be leading the other,” he says. “So I’ll be in charge once we get in there.”
I nod. “I understand. You don’t want me in charge cause of how personal it is.”
He nods. “I want this to go as smoothly & cleanly as possible.”
“Yes, Sarge.”
We cross to where the officers of our teams are standing, ready to go. I adjust my vest, & pull my gun out of its holster.
“Team A, you’re with Brennan,” Sarge says. “Team B, you’re going round the back with me.”
The other officers nod. Three of the officers follow Sarge up the driveway. I lead the other three, bound for the front door. Tyler hurries up & falls into step with me.
“Let me come with you,” he says.
“It's too dangerous,” I reply, as we continue up the driveway.
“You do remember who is in there, right?” He asks. “It's been killing me too not to be in there. I want to be in there. To comfort Piper.”
I spin around on the steps up from the driveway, blocking his way.
“There's too many people from our family caught up in this as is,” I reply. “There's no way I’m adding you to the list.”
“Try & stop me.”
“I’ll handcuff you to the railing if I have to.”
Tyler opens his mouth to reply, but is cut off by BANG!
Everyone jumps at the gunshot, the officers & I instinctively aiming our guns at my home. A chill runs down my spine. And then the worst happens.
BANG! BANG!