I follow Mark back into the interrogation room. He holds the door open for me, closing it behind me. He then places a piece of paper down on the table in front of Zack. Six mugshots, each numbered. Zack looks at them.
“That one,” he says, tapping number five.
“Think carefully,” Mark replies.
Zack stares at the photos, studying each of them. His eyes keep returning to number five.
"That's definitely him,” Zack says, pointing to number five. “He has a scruffy beard now, but… That's definitely him.”
I cover my face, fighting back tears.
“For the record,” Mark says. “Zack Freeman has positively identified Dennis Dimato from a mugshot line-up. Dimato has kidnapped Felicity Brennan.”
Mark steps over, wrapping his arm around me. I drop my hands, wrapping my arms around him.
"I'm sorry, Erin,” Zack says.
I let go of Mark, stepping forward & slamming my hands on the desk, making Zack jump.
“She was safe until you took her!” I shout. “And now she's in the hands of the nastiest man, hell bent on destroying my family. I will never, ever forgive you for this!”
Mark pulls me back before I can do anything else. Zack's phone beeps with a message. We all frown. Mark steps over, picking up the evidence bag. He turns the screen on. I peer at it.
Come find me, Constable Brennan.
“How… How does he…?” I ask.
Another message appears- a photo. Mark takes the phone out of the bag & places it in front of Zack. Zack unlocks it, quickly disabling the passcode.
“So you don't have to keep handing it to me to unlock it,” Zack says, sliding it back over to Mark.
Mark picks it up & looks at the photo. I try to look, but he turns it so I can't see. I can tell from his face that it's of Felicity. I grip the chair in front of me for support, forcing back the image in my mind of Felicity dead.
And then Zack's phone rings. Mark places the phone on the table & answers, putting the call on speaker.
“You’ve been awfully quiet, Erin,” A man’s voice comes through the phone. Going off Mark’s jaw clench, I know it's Dimato. “I thought you’d be far more vocal after seeing your little one’s face. Or has your cop brother denied you the chance to see her one last time?”
“Just let her go!” I reply.
“And why would I do that?” He asks. “Why would I return to you the one thing you cherish most, when you killed my nephew?”
“Is that why you're doing this?” I ask. “Because you think that I killed Eddie?”
“I don't think. I know you did.”
“He killed himself. All the evidence proves that,” I reply, leaning in towards the table. “Your nephew was stupid enough to kill himself.”
Mark lightly hits my arm. I look at him & he glares as he shakes his head.
“And I’m supposed to believe the colleagues of your brother?” Dimato asks.
Dimato laughs. “Maybe I should keep you on the line so you can hear her scream for you.”
I snatch up Zack’s phone, stepping away from Mark before he can take it from me.
“Listen here, Dimato,” I snarl into it, holding it close to my face. “You hurt her in any way, & I will ensure that you get buried six feet under. Maybe you’ll still be alive, so you can slowly suffocate while surrounded by darkness as black as your heart.”
Dimato laughs. “Speaking like a true murderer, Erin,” he says. “I wonder what your by-the-book brother has to say about that?”
Mark comes over, & opens his mouth, but I get in first.
“Just give me my daughter back!”
"You want her back, you better get started finding where we are.”
“Or, we talk,” I reply. “Face. To. Face.”
Mark’s eyes widen. “No,” he mouths.
“And how do I know that you're not luring me into a trap?”
“You get to pick the place,” I reply, watching as Mark tries to be angry quietly. “And I’ll come alone.”
Mark runs a hand down his face.
Dimato stays silent.
“Do we have a deal?” I ask.
“If it turns out that you're lying, I won't hesitate to put her down.”
“The police don't even know this is happening. I’m talking to you on my own. Mark’s out of the room.”
“Then you’ll keep it from him,” Dimato replies. “I’ll text Mr Freeman’s phone the details shortly.”
He hangs up. Mark looks furious. He opens his mouth but I hold a hand up to silence him.
“The phone is tapped,” I mouth.
He nods, & I lower my hand. He snatches the mobile from me, puts it back into the evidence bag & places it on the table. He grabs my arm, pushes me out of the room, shuts the door behind us & then escorts me into the other interrogation room.
“What the hell?!” He says.
“Hey!” I reply. “Before you jump down me for that, hear me out, okay?”
He sighs, crossing his arms as he scowls.
“We set up a perimeter around wherever he picks,” I say. “At a distance where he won't see you, but one that blocks all his exits- both road & by foot.”
“What about you?” He asks. “What about Felicity?”
“I’ll go in-”
He sighs, shaking his head.
“But you’ll be tailing me, okay?” I reply. “You’ll be there, hidden but watching the whole thing. You’ll have our backs.”
"It's a very dangerous plan.”
“And the only way we have of getting my daughter back, Mark! I’m not going to leave her with him overnight!”
“And what happens if he catches on?” He asks. “What happens if you don't have Felicity back, & he opens fire? What if Felicity or you get hit?”
“So get an ambulance on the perimeter!”
He shakes his head.
“Mark, I’m not asking for your permission,” I add. “I’m asking you to help me.”
“And I won't.”
“Fine. I’ll go on my own,” I reply, stepping past him towards the door.
He stops me by putting his arm across the doorway to block my path.
“No, you won't.”
“I’m getting my daughter back,” I reply. “With or without police assistance.”
He sighs. "You're stubborn, you know that?”
“I just want my terrified daughter back,” I reply. “You’ll know that feeling soon enough.”
He hangs his head. “Fine,” He says. “But I’m going to need to talk to Sarge. He’ll need to give permission, as we’ll need a large amount of our officers.”
I nod. “I’ll go wait in with Zack. Wait for the text.”
“If it comes in… wait for me.”
I smile. “I wouldn't leave without my protective brother.”
He narrows his eyes. “You just threatened to.”
“Emphasis on the threatened,” I reply. “You know I was just trying to get you to look past your anger over my plan & agree to help.”
He shakes his head, sighing.
At 6pm, as the sunlight is fading, Mark walks out of the station. Alone. He crosses to us, greeting me with a kiss.
“You look mad,” I say, wrapping my arms around him.
“You should all head home,” he says to Tyler, Aaron, Piper & myself.
“What about Erin?” Aaron asks.
“She… She has to stay,” Mark replies.
“What's going on?” Tyler asks.
Mark explains that Zack’s identified Dimato as the one behind all of this, & how Erin recklessly arranged to meet him face to face & alone.
"We'll be heading out soon to the arranged meeting place," he says. "It would be good for you to all go home & wait for us there.”
The others say good luck & goodbye. I hang back. Mark pulls me into a tight hug.
“Come back to me,” I whisper as he hug.
“I will,” he whispers. “We all will.”
We part. I give him a long kiss.
“Bye,” I whisper.
“Bye,” he whispers back. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
I watch him head back inside, before heading to the carpark to catch up with the others.
After the police confirm that Dimato, Felicity & his men are in the building, Sarge gets the perimeter set up- road blocks at all main roads a block away in every direction, with the back streets covered by on-foot officers.
Mark tightens a bulletproof vest on me.
“Is this necessary?” I ask.
“You wanting to go in on your own is too much of a risk,” he says. “This way, I can feel a little less anxious about your safety.”
“And what if he gets his men to search me?”
“Then you come up with a way of getting him not to,” he replies. “If they open fire, get Felicity & find the closest place you can hide.”
I tilt my head. “Like I needed that advice.”
“Doesn't hurt to reiterate it,” he replies. “There's also a microphone hidden right here…” He points to the top of the chest plate, at the neckline. “So we’ll be able to hear everything.”
“Your team came up with this so fast.”
“We already had the vest. It's a new bit of our gear.”
“Right,” I reply. “I feel less special now.”
He smiles. “You're always special to me.”
I smile as I pull my jacket back on. I do it up to hide the vest.
“Unfortunately we don't have an earpiece that will be easily hidden, so I won't be able to talk to you once you're in there.”
“Ah, there's the silver lining,” I tease.
He looks unamused. “Now’s not the time to joke, Aer.”
“Alright, let's do this,” Sarge says.
Mark & a team of four officers escort me most of the way from the command centre to the building where Dimato is.
“Aer,” Mark says, when we reach the point where I go on by myself.
I turn to him. “I’ll be alright.”
He sighs. “If anything happens, promise me you won't go after Dimato,” he says. “Leave him to me. You only need to care about getting Felicity into a safe spot.”
I nod. “I will.”
He smiles. “Good.”
He pulls me in, giving me a crushing hug.
“Can't. Breathe,” I say.
He relaxes a little, still hugging me but I can breathe now. “Be careful.”
I nod. “I will.”
He lets me go, & I head off towards the building. I turn back, seeing him standing there watching me, looking extremely worried. I give him a reassuring smile, before turning around & continuing on my way.
I walk into the warehouse, escorted by two of Dimato's men. Dimato is waiting with more of his men in an open space.
“Well, well, well,” he says. “You're pretty.”
“Where's my daughter?”
“We’ll get to her in a minute,” he replies, walking over to me.
He circles me, creepily looking me over.
“You really are a beautiful creature,” he says, stepping in front of me, well in my personal space.
I lean back slightly. “We’ve met before.”
“Eddie wasn't good enough for you,” he replies. “He’s a good kid, but… Not the sharpest tool in our family. Doesn't know how to...” He strokes my chin. “Treat a woman right.”
I lift my hand & push his hand away. “What do you want?”
“I want to make a deal with you,” he replies. “I’ll drop all this… Hate. All the blame I have for you over Eddie's death.”
I roll my eyes.
“I’ll let that all go, & give you- & Felicity- a life of luxury for the rest of your life.”
“And what's the catch?” Erin's voice comes through my earpiece as I lead my team towards the warehouse, ready to storm it if she needs us. Three other teams are waiting at other entry points.
“That you…” Dimato says. “You become my mistress.”
I tighten my hold on my gun. I’ll kill him!!!
I step back, feeling sick at his suggestion. Repulsed.
“I’m giving you the chance to provide Felicity with the best life she could ever have,” he says, circling me once again. “She’ll have our protection. You won't have to worry about her being taken ever again.”
“You are aware of the fact that Felicity isn't Eddie's. You have no obligation towards us.”
“I am fully aware of that fact. I’ve been blackmailing her stupid father all week!” He says. “I’m simply giving you the opportunity for a much better life.”
“As long as I hand myself over to you, so you can rape me whenever you wish.”
He steps really close to me. “It won't be rape,” he replies. “Over time, you will love me.”
“You can sleep in a different room until you do,” he says. “Until you're ready to share my bed.”
“I will never love you.”
“You haven't given me a chance.”
“Don't need to. I know what you're like,” I reply. “And do you really think that I would even consider sleeping with you after everything you’ve done to my family?”
He grabs my neck. “You're being rather ungrateful,” he replies. “I wouldn't be so bold, given how much power I hold. I could get my men to bring out your little girl. Let you watch her die.” He brings his face very close to mine. “Or watch you die a slow, painful death.”
I lift my right knee, colliding it with his private parts, before punching his gut. He lets go of my neck, stumbling back a few steps as he bends over in pain. His men move towards us, but Dimato holds his hand up. They stop.
“Feisty,” he says to me. “You’d make a good asset.”
“Mmm,” I reply. “But you’ll never find out.”
He reaches into his pocket, bringing out a radio. He activates it. “Bring in the screamer,” he says.
A door across the other side of the space opens. An Asian woman walks out & I gasp as I see Felicity in her arms. Crying.
“Mummmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!” She screams when she sees me as she reaches for me.
I step towards her, but Dimato grabs me. I try & fight, but he has a tight grip on my arm.
“You can have her back,” he says. “Only if you agree to my condition.”
I think through the situation- Mark & the other cops could barge in now. I could say the code word, the signal we agreed upon to bring them in. But that leaves me with getting Felicity from that woman. And I don't like my chances of attempting to fight her without hurting Felicity. Especially with the police fighting Dimato & his men.
So there's only one way I can get Felicity safely. But in order to get her, I have to do the only thing that makes me so sick.
I close my eyes, taking several deep breaths to ease the nausea. I then turn to Dimato, look him in the eyes, & say, “I agree.”
“I don't believe you.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes to save my baby girl.”
“How?” I reply. “Do you want me to pull my pants down, spread my legs & let you screw me?”
He smirks. “If that's what you’d like.”
I stare at him.
“How about just a kiss?” He asks. “For now.”
I suppress the urge to vomit. I glance at Felicity, knowing I have to keep this up until I can get her. And then this can all be over.
I step over to Dimato, grab his shirt, get on my tip-toes & kiss him. He pulls me in closer, to deepen the kiss. Scared he’ll feel the vest & not wanting to kiss him too much, I push back, breaking us apart.
He laughs. “Playing hard to get, are we?”
“You need to be lenient if this is going to work,” I reply. “You can't expect me to be all over you from right now. Not with what you’ve done to me, to Tyler, to Paige & Mark.”
“Do you know what I do to show my dominance? To bring new members under my command?”
“A few things spring to mind,” I reply. “But I’ll keep them to myself.”
He smiles. “I use force. As much as is required to bring them in.”
He takes a step closer. I instinctively step back.
“Test my patience any more, Erin,” he says. “And I’ll have no choice but to use all the force I have to to bring you in to line.”
“What? You’ll rape me until I submit?”
“You should be more grateful.”
“It's been a very tough week.”
He looks me up & down. He then looks at the Asian woman. “Let her have her screaming kid back.”
“Are you sure?” The woman asks.
“Maybe she'll be more compliant if she gets to hold her.”
He then looks at me. He gestures towards Felicity. I walk over, holding back from running so I don't look too eager. Felicity leans forward, reaching for me. I put my hands in her armpits & lift her from the woman's hands. I hold her tight, putting her head high near my neck so she'll hear my heartbeat. I cup her head with my right hand, my fingers playing with her hair. It's a comforting method. I kiss her head as she grips my jacket.
“Lets get out of here,” Dimato says. “In case Constable Brennan is smart enough to track his sister here.”
His men close in on us, & Dimato walks over to me. His men make a formation- two ahead of us, one either side of us & then the last three behind us. The Asian woman stands behind us, ahead of the men.
We walk off, Dimato next to me the whole time. I realise we’re heading straight towards the side where Mark & his team are waiting. I have to warn them somehow.
I look down at Felicity, knowing if I whisper to her, I can cover myself.
“Hey, we're almost out of here,” I whisper, just loud enough that I know Mark can hear. “Almost out.” I kiss Felicity, leaving my lips against her & drop my voice a little more. “South side.”
I pray that Mark heard all of it & that they're prepared. We approach the door & my heart pounds. One of the men in front reaches for the door. Just as he does, it flies open- he gets shot & the team come in, shooting the men that they can.
Dimato grabs my hair, yanking me towards him. Mark clenches his jaw, training his gun on Dimato.
“I knew you were a two-faced bitch,” Dimato snarls into my ear.
“Like I said,” I reply. “I’d do anything to get my baby back.”
“Well,” he replies. “Your brother here now has a tough decision to make.”
“I’m not afraid to take you out,” Mark replies.
Dimato pulls out a gun, & presses it to my temple.
“But can you kill me faster than I can kill her?” Dimato asks.
This is a difficult situation- I have hold of Felicity, Dimato has a gun to my head but is still holding my hair tightly, & Mark won't be able to kill him in time.
Mark looks behind us, at the Asian woman. He then looks at Dimato again.
“Shoot my sister,” Mark says. “And I’ll make sure Michelle dies.”
Dimato laughs. “Go ahead,” he replies. “I don't care. She's replicable. Your sister, on the other hand, isn't. So risk losing her.”
“Do it, Mark,” I say. “Save Felicity.”
Dimato lowers his gun. He then forces me to turn towards him, & points the gun straight at Felicity.
“Want to risk it now, Constable?” Dimato asks, looking at Mark.
I study the way Dimato is standing, noting how high his arm is. Just within my roundhouse kick range, adjusted to take into consideration Felicity. I can disarm him long enough to protect Felicity & give Mark a chance to take him down.
I look at Mark & he glances at me long enough to see my nod. I shift Felicity a little, putting her in the best position to be protected when I twist mid-kick. I’m just about to launch into it when…
More of Dimato's men appear behind us. I see Mark tap the button on his radio he normally holds down to talk- he taps it twice, quickly. A signal, for sure. Calling the other teams in.
But there's no time to waste.
I do a roundhouse kick, turning my back to Dimato afterwards to shield Felicity. But as I put my right leg down again, I feel a sharp pain in it- so much that my vision blurs.
Both sides fire & I feel someone push me over & down behind a large wooden crate. I kneel on the floor, staying hunched over to give Felicity as much protection as possible. I look over my shoulder, finding Mark crouched next to me- he pops up every so often to fire off a few bullets.
Within minutes, the gunfire ceases.
“Where's Dimato & Michelle?” Mark asks into his radio.
There's a moment of silence.
“Both are in custody,” Another officer responds through the radio. “They tried to run, but encountered Team Bravo. We have them both.”
“Good,” Mark replies, relieved.
"The rest of his men are all dead.”
“Even better,” Mark replies. “Good job everyone.”
“What about your sister & her daughter?” Sarge asks over the radio.
“Both are with me,” Mark replies. “Both safe.”
I straighten up, sighing as I shift to sit on the floor. The pain in my right leg returns & I cry out.
“Erin?” He asks, concerned.
“Right leg,” I say, through the pain.
Mark runs his hands over my leg, searching for an injury. His left hand touches the back of my thigh, & I cry out.
"You're bleeding,” he replies, reaching for his radio. “I need the ambulance to the south breech point immediately. Erin's been shot.”