“How come you aren’t with Mrs. Sambora?”
“What are you talking about?”
“She just drove through the gate. Alone. Well, except for the dog.”
“Just a few minutes ago.”
“Thanks Ted. I’ll get back to you.” Hanging up, he went looking for Richie. He found him in the studio, an acoustic guitar in his lap, fingers strumming experimentally. “Do you know where Tori’s going?”
Richie looked up at him. “No. Did she tell you she wanted to go somewhere?”
“No, she just went.”
Long fingers froze. “What do you mean she went?”
“She just drove out of the gate.” He raked a hand through his hair. “You’re not aware of any appointment or anything she had today?”
Richie set aside the guitar and shook his head. “No, and she would have told you if she did. Dammit, she knows better than to just take off!”
Not sure what else to do – there was no point in driving aimlessly around the city hoping to find her – they headed for the office to check her calendar and see if there was any hint of where she might have gone.
Richie’s eyes fell on the pad of paper that still held the pencil rubbing. “What’s this? It looks like an address. Maybe that’s where she’s gone, although it’s not familiar to me.”
Rob knew without looking that it would be familiar to him – or at least that he’d seen it before. He reached for his phone. “Fuck!”
“What?” A ball formed in the pit of Richie’s stomach. The bodyguard’s reaction gave him a bad – very bad – feeling.
“Yeah Mike, we’ve got a problem. Tori ducked out and is on her way there.”
“What??!! How the fuck did that happen?” That’s just what he needed! Between the nutjob and whatever Jon had planned, the whole scene was a powder keg waiting to explode – the last place Tori should be!
Rob winced. “I don’t know. She heard me talking to you earlier. She must have decided she didn’t want to wait to see what you found out.”
Mike sighed and thought quickly. “Okay. I’ll tell the guys to be on the look out.”
“Do you know yet if it’s the right place?”
“Looks like it. A woman matching her description is renting a room there. But no one in the building has spoken to her to get a name. I’ll keep you posted.”
“Okay.” Hanging up, Rob sighed and looked at Richie. “The team’s watching for her. Mike’ll keep us posted.”
Richie stared at him like he’d grown another head. “Fuck that! I’m not sitting around here waiting to see if some demented whackjob hurts my wife! Let’s go!”
Knowing it would be impossible to stop him, Rob figured it would be better to go with him and try to help. As he followed Richie out he just prayed that they all got out of this without serious injury.
When the phone beside him rang, Jon picked it up on the first ring. “Tell me you got the bitch.”
“We think we have,” he rattled off the address. “But that’s not why I’m calling. We’ve got a problem.” Mike took a deep breath and braced himself for the reaction his next words were sure to get. “I don’t know what you have planned – and I don’t want to know – but you might want to know that your sister has apparently decided not to wait for us and take on the bitch herself.”
“WHAT??!!” Jon sat up straighter in his seat and gripped the phone tighter. “What the fuck is she thinking?”
The most obvious answer wouldn’t get him any brownie points, so Mike played dumb. “I don’t know, but if I can catch her first, I’ll ask her. All I know is that she found out the address, snuck out of the house with the dog, and is on her way here now. I’m hoping to stop her before she goes into the building, but she’s obviously pretty....oh shit...THERE SHE IS! Jon, I’ll call you back.”
“Mike, wait!” But it was too late. He’d already hung up. “Fuck!” Cursing his sister, he punched in numbers. “It’s me. I have the address, but tell your guys to keep an eye out for my sister. Curly brown hair, blue eyes, looks like me...and may have a golden retriever with her. She’s a friendly. Target is blonde – or at least she was last time we saw her. Yeah, thanks.” Jon passed on the address and hung up.
Tori pulled up in front of the address Rob had written down and stared at the rooming house. “I hope she’s in there Taffy. This bullshit has got to end. Now!”
As soon as she opened the car door, Taffy jumped out and stood waiting for her. Tori thought about putting her back in the car, but decided having company might not be a bad idea. Walking slowly and openly up the walkway, she glanced around hoping that Mike or one of his team was watching and saw her. It wasn’t that she was scared, exactly, but it never hurt to have back up when you were dealing with someone’s whose cheese has slipped off her cracker.
It took a few minutes to find the right room, but she finally located it on the second floor at back of the house. Tori took a deep breath and knocked. Taffy’s low growl warned her of a presence on the other side of the wooden panel before the knob started to turn. “Taffy hush.”
When Jasmine put her eye to the peephole and saw who her unexpected visitor was, to say she was shocked would be an understatement. She was also a little nervous. Opening the door, she leaned against the frame. “Well, well, well. So nice of you to come to me. Saves me from having to follow you and try to avoid those nasty security people.” She looked Tori up and down. “You heal fast.”
Noting the bruises still visible on the other woman’s face, Tori smirked. “Faster than you apparently.” She pushed her way into the small living quarters, Taffy all but glued to her heels. Reaching the window on the far side, she glanced out briefly, then turned and faced her nemesis. “This ends now Jasmine.”
Jasmine closed the door and snorted. “Going to try to beat me up again?” She glanced down. “Or sic your dog on me?”
“If necessary.” Her expression hardened. “Whatever it takes to keep you away from my family, once and for all.”
Richie and Rob parked in front of the house. Stepping out of the car, they were immediately hailed by Mike.
“Have you seen my wife?” Richie asked anxiously.
Mike nodded. “She showed up about ten minutes ago with the dog. They’re inside.”
“We believe she’s in there. A woman matching her description came in through the back door about an hour ago.” He hesitated. “Have you talked to Jon?”
“Not in the last few days, why?”
“I....I think he’s got some....friends....around here someplace. We need to get Tori out of there....now.”
“What do you mean ‘friends’?” Richie was afraid he knew the answer, but he wanted to hear it.
“I don’t know. He just told me he wanted the address and to get my guys out of the way.”
“Great.” Of course. Richie couldn’t really say he was surprised. You didn’t mess with Jon’s family and expect to escape without some sort of retribution – and he supported that sentiment whole heartedly! But it was all more reason to get Tori out of there, and fast. “I’m going in. If we’re not out in ten minutes, send in reinforcements.”
“Be careful man.”
He didn’t need to be told. But it didn’t matter what the risk was. He was tired of sitting on the sidelines.