Page 32 of Marked With Love

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“Oh, honey, what is wrong?” She rushes over to me the second she sees me, engulfing me in a hug. “Is everything okay? What happened?” She pulls back, her eyes roaming over me trying to see if I’m injured or something.

“Eros broke up with me.”

“Right.” She snorts a laugh but stops when I don’t join her. “Eros did not break up with you.”

“He did. You’d tell him to break up with me too if you’d met my parents tonight. They offered him two million dollars not to be with me.”

“He didn’t break up with you.” She shakes her head adamantly. “He’s likely in jail. He punched your father, didn't he?” I can see where she might come to that conclusion, but that’s not the case.

“No, he just left me. Said he was getting the car and then texted me.” I pull out my phone and show her the message.

“No.” Still she doesn’t believe it.

“How are you so adamant he didn’t break up with me when you see it in text right here?” I point down to the message.

“Something has to have happened.” Worry takes over her expression. “I know because he’s told me some things. Bought something. He’s not breaking up with you. He’d be more likely to kidnap and keep you if you tried to run on him.” I wince.

“He told you about that?”

“He told me some.” She gives a small shrug. I adore that he’s close to his mom, and the more I talk to her, the more I think she might be right.

Something is wrong. But where in the hell is Eros?



When I come to,my first thought is that I hope Morgan is okay. My second thought is where the hell am I? It looks like a mobile office with vinyl walls and a few old metal desks that were scavenged from some World War II bunker. There’s a dry erase board across from me, and as I swivel my head to my left, I spot the door and—Is that Louis over there tied to another chair?

“What the hell are you doing here? I thought you were behind all this.”

Louis looks like he’s been through the wringer. His face is all bruised up. His hands are tied behind his back, and his feet are tethered to each leg of the chair. I look down to see that I’m in the same situation. Under my feet and running the length of the trailer is a long plastic sheet. The area around Louis is stained copper color as if someone tried to mop up blood but didn’t do a good job of it.

“I don’t like the looks of this, Louis. What have you gotten into?”

“Where is the painting?” he rasps out.

“I don’t have the painting.”

We don’t have any other conversation because the door suddenly bangs open. In walks a man no taller than Morgan wearing a custom-made navy suit. He has a cigarette in his mouth and two scars on his cheek. He drops the smoke onto the plastic and grinds it with his heel. “Mr. Flynn, I am Mr. Wray. You have something of mine.”

“Is this about the painting? Because as I was just telling Louis here, I don’t have it.”

He comes over to my chair and leans down close enough that I can smell the onion from his lunch burger on his breath. “Then you need to get it.”

“Okay. I mean you could’ve just asked instead of kidnapping me and dragging me into this mobile office setup. You’re going to scare my family.” Morgan is probably thinking I abandoned her. I’m not supposed to be adding to her pain. I’m supposed to be reducing it.

“I don’t really care about your family, and if you actually do care for them, you’ll tell us where the painting is.” He stands up and walks over to a table behind Louis that has a hammer and a wrench. Simple tools, but effective. I’m not a fan.

“I have a feeling if I tell you, you’ll kill me. How about you and I get into a car and we’ll drive there together.”

Wray ignores me, turning back with the hammer in his head. “We’ve made quiet requests through Louis to return the painting, but you were uncooperative and now we’re forced to do this.”

“I don’t think I understood the urgency. But I do now, so let me deliver it like you want.” I can’t tell these losers that the painting belongs to Morgan because I can’t have these dogs running to kidnap her. “I have to say that all of this over the painting seems a little over the top. I’m happy to paint you another one just like it, but I suspect that it’s not really the painting you were after. What did you stuff behind it?” I try to think back. The canvas back was still attached, but it did feel a little heavier than when I first sold it. I attributed that to the frame, but now I’m thinking that there was something inside. “Are you storing some drugs back there?”

Louis rolls his eyes. “That’s all you guys can think of.”

“I’m sorry I’m not up on my criminal enterprises.” If it’s not drugs, what could it be?

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