Alex Cohen shook his head and said, “The situation’s critical now! People’s lives are at stake, so I have no other choice but to go over.”
Hunter Yates blocked Alex and said with a straight face, “Young Master, I don’t know exactly what the situation is currently, but the kidnappers are most probably Keon Well’s men. If you go over, you’ll definitely die, and my duty is to protect you…”
“It’s not like I haven’t experienced this kind of situation before…you know that I’ve always managed to turn a bad situation into a good one every time.”
“This time is different! Young Master, this opponent is more vicious than any opponent you’ve encountered in the past. It’s evident enough that they can just kill someone at the drop of a hat. They have no sympathy for the innocents. Let alone for their enemies like you! Besides, even if you go, the hostages will most likely die along with you!”
“But…if I don’t go there, Isla’s parents will die!”
“Young Master, after Big Ken briefed me on the situation, he drove over there to handle it. You should just wait at home. Actually, Young Master, there’s no room for discussion on this matter. You can’t go anywhere today. This is a fixed command Big Ken ordered me before he left.”
Hunter was going to say that even if he knew that Victor Sullivan and Xena Sanders would die, he would still not allow Alex to go over.
Big Ken had also expressed a similar view more than once.
Even though they were all people, Alex was much more valuable than the average person. His life was even more so.
Hunter and Big Ken reached a consensus on this and it was their duty to protect Alex.
Everyone had a different perspective on the issue as they all had different roles to play.
Alex appreciated their concern and understood Hunter’s decision. He knew Victor and Xena were kidnapped because of him and their lives were hanging by a thread, so he could not just sit back and do nothing. Otherwise, he would feel guilty for the rest of his life. Although Big Ken had rushed over to the scene, the situation was different.
If Big Ken stepped in, it would not meet the demands of the tattooed man, so Alex would not be able to save the hostages.
Alex was adamant, took a deep breath, and said to Hunter, “I’ve made up my mind, so don’t bother persuading and stopping me. It’s my own choice to bear all the consequences. I’ll call my father later to explain the situation, and whether I return today is not due to your negligence and you don’t have to take responsibility!”
Hunter shook his head and said, “Young Master, Big Ken and I forbid you to go over there, not only because we don’t want to be punished for negligence…”
“I know…hey, there’s no time to explain. I have to go!”
Alex shook his head and took a step forward, ready to walk around Hunter to leave.
Hunter suddenly reached out and clasped Alex’s right arm and said with a sullen face, “Young Master, I’m sorry…”
Hunter had grabbed Alex’s right arm. Shortly after, Alex felt a tingling pain, so he instinctively retracted his arm.
Only then he saw the thin needle about 3cm in length, wedged between Hunter’s middle and forefinger.
“What the hell?”
Alex suddenly felt a sense of dizziness and realized something was wrong. He froze and said to Hunter, “You…you drugged me?”
“Young Master, I’m sorry, but I was forced to do so.”
Hunter quickly put the fine needle into a small box and tucked it away, his face was sullen as he said to Alex, “I know it was a reckless move but I am willing to accept the punishment. Don’t worry, it will temporarily make you lose your mobility. It won’t cause any damage to your body. After three hours, the toxic components will degrade and leave no side effects.”
“Three hours? By then, the hostages will be dead! Hunter, hurry up and give me the antidote!”
“Sorry Young Master, I don’t have the antidote with me…even if I did, I can’t give it to you.”
“Hunter, I’m ordering you to give me the antidote immediately! Or else, I…I…”
Alex did not finish his sentence, he felt his strength draining from his body and within seconds, he was unable to stand up and was collapsing. His head was also getting dizzy and it desperately made him want to sleep as if he had not slept in a few days and nights.
Nonetheless, he could not sleep at this urgent time!
With his quick reflexes, Hunter caught Alex from falling to the ground and helped him onto the sofa. He turned to Isla and bowed, then said sincerely, “Ms. Sullivan, I’m really sorry. My duty is to protect the Young Master and I won’t let him go over to save the hostages. Please understand. Big Ken is already on his way to save your parents and he’ll do his best to rescue them. If…if he did not manage to, please don’t put the blame on Young Master. You saw earlier his determination in saving your parents. I stopped him from going, so if you had to blame someone, it should be on me…”
Isla was not drugged, but she felt drained and was about to collapse. She leaned against the wall as she made her way to the sofa to sit down. Her eyes were red as she stared blankly at her toes and fell into deep thought.
She was torn when she found out that the tattooed man was Alex’s enemy.
If Alex was willing to go over, should she support his decision?
To support Alex, it was like allowing him to risk his life with the possibility of never returning.
On the other hand, if she opposed it, she could be taking away the only chance to save her own parents.
One was her beloved and the other was her biological parents, all of whom she cared and loved the most.
Any choice she made would leave a knot in her heart.
No matter who died and lived, Isla would suffer from the guilt for the rest of her life.
After listening to Hunter explain the situation, she finally made a decision. If Alex went over, her parents would be of no use to the bandits and could be killed. If Alex did not go over, perhaps the bandits would let her parents live a little longer to hold it over Alex.
Thus, Isla could not allow Alex to go over and instead turned all her hope on Big Ken.
Just when she was about to take a stand, Hunter acted first and forcibly restrained Alex, so she did not have to struggle with her decision. There was no other choice, so she prayed for Big Ken’s triumphant return. At that moment, she felt very useless. At a time when her parents’ lives were at stake and help was urgently needed, she could not do anything but count on others.
Generally, when people were nervous and troubled, they would overthink and that was what she did.
The more Isla thought, the more anxious she became. She could not sit still, so she stood up, and started to pace back and forth in the room. Every few seconds, she would look at her and Alex’s phones. Hopefully, the kidnappers would call again for a chance to continue negotiations, or better yet, she hoped that it would be good news from Big Ken. Either way, it was much better than simply waiting.
Unfortunately, as time passed by, there was no movement from the phones. The 40-minute deadline the tattooed man gave was closing in, Isla’s palms and back were sweating and her heart leaped to her throat.
In an urgent situation, it should feel like time was passing by slowly.
Instead, Isla felt that time was flying by too fast and all she wanted to do was to try to save time for Big Ken. She stayed in a trance for40 minutes until her phone rang right on time. It was another video call from her dad. She prayed her father was rescued and was calling her to tell her he was safe.
On the other end of the video call, Victor and Xena were still kneeling on the ground.
Isla was disappointed but that did not make her give up. She said eagerly, “Alex…Alex is already on his way there! He left right after he talked to you. But you’re quite far from us, so 40 minutes isn’t enough. Just wait for a bit, he should be arriving soon!”
The tattooed man shook his head and asked, “How do you know I haven’t already seen Alex Cohen? He didn’t come at all, right?”
“No, no, no…he really went!”
“Even if he really was on his way here, the deadline’s long overdue. I’m a man of my word, so it’s time to kill the second one. Isla Sullivan, these two remaining people are your parents, right? Just because you’re pretty, I’ll give you a chance to choose. Which one do you want me to kill first?”
“Don’t mess around! If you dare kill my parents, I won’t let you go even after I die!”
“Let me remind you that Alex is the reason your parents are getting killed. It has nothing to do with me. It looks like you don’t want to choose, so I’ll have to make my own decision…”
After the tattooed man finished speaking, he did not look into the phone. He ignored Isla’s hysterical cries and raised his gun, aiming the muzzle on Xena’s head. To him, there was no difference between Victor and Xena. Xena was simply closer to him.
Without having to take a step, he could already reach her.
Isla was crying and shouting in hysteria until she lost her voice, but to no avail.
Hunter noticed that the tattooed man was going to do it, so he hurriedly grabbed the phone over. To watch her parents die was nothing but cruel. If Isla watched her parents getting shot, it would leave a scar in her heart and traumatize her forever.
On the other hand, Xena was so scared, she pissed her pants. Her survival instincts kicked in and she struggled violently, but again to no avail.
When the tattooed man was ready to pull the trigger, Victor suddenly leaped over to knock Xena away and kneeled in front of the tattooed man. He stabilized himself and went forward to press his head to the gun barrel. With his bold and determined eyes, it was as if he was saying to the tattooed man, “Kill me first!”
The tattooed man was stunned by the action. Instead of shooting, he ripped out the towel in Victor’s mouth as he curiously asked, “From what I observed it seemed like your marriage was just average. It looked like you wanted to run away from the house when I saw you earlier. Yet now in this situation, you’re willing to take a bullet for her? What’s with this change of heart?”
Victor said righteously, “Despite our disagreements, she’s my wife who stood by me for decades. Till death do us part, right? I’m well aware of the decision I’m making and I stand by it! If you’re a man, shoot me instead! Don’t lay a hand on a woman!”
“How righteous! I’m so touched…Dumb*ss! Since you want to die in place of your wife, then I’ll grant your wish.”
“Wait! Please give me a minute to say my last words!”
“Tsk…what’s the use? In a few minutes, she’ll be following in your footsteps.”
“Just a minute!”
Victor quickly turned and stared at Xena, then said, “What happened today was fate. No one should be blamed, especially not Alex. Alex has always been extending his hands to help us. I ended up living a comfortable life and I can’t ask for more. The only regret is that I wasn’t able to walk Lala down the aisle. If you can survive this, live your own life and avoid the temptations of fame and fortune. You must see to it that Lala and Alex get married and help them start their family. Cherish what you have and enjoy life every day. This is what’s most important because you never know if tomorrow will ever come. And…if there’s an afterlife, I hope to be together with you again in my next life. For now, I’ll say goodbye. I love you, honey!”
In his last moments, Victor Sullivan let go of all resentment. He was usually not good at expressing emotions, but at this crucial time, he blurted out all that he could think of. After decades, this was his first and last “I love you” to Xena Sanders.
Victor took a deep breath, looked at the tattooed man, and slowly closed his eyes…