Brenda watched Zander swim. She didn't doubt but that he was a Florida boy and raised in the water. He swam like a fish. When he reached the low end of the pool, where she was sitting, he waded out and came to sit beside her. Brenda studied him. He was a gorgeous young man and she doubted he realized what he had going for him. She studied him as he slicked back his hair, letting her eyes rove down over his sculptured chest and the flat stomach, then she noticed his strong legs and then she stiffened. On his inner, left thigh was a birthmark. It looked almost like a scar and was in the shape of a star. A memory hit Brenda and she closed her eyes.
"What?" Brenda opened her eyes to see Zander looking at her with concern. "Oh...I'm fine. Just a little water logged." She couldn't help it, her eyes drifted back down to his thigh. "Uh...interesting birthmark."
Zander rubbed it. "I guess."
Brenda was going to ask him about it when Lunch was announced. "I guess I'll go change and meet you in the dining room."
"Okay." Zander stood up and helped Brenda to her feet. "It's been fun."
"Yeah...it has." Brenda smiled then turned and walked away. She was escorted to her rooms and once there she locked the door and went to the low dresser. She opened the bottom drawer and removed a small box. There were two things inside. Two things she kept with her always. A gold wedding band and a small picture. Brenda's hand was shaking as she removed the picture. It was faded with age. A tear slid down her cheek as she stared at the little girl holding a newborn baby boy. A little boy wearing only a diaper and clearly marked on his left thigh was a star shaped birthmark. Brenda blinked back tears as she brushed a fingertip over the image of herself and the little brother she thought had died, twenty-one years ago.
* * * * *
Zander felt nervous as he paced the docks. After swimming he had gone to his room to change but upon reaching the dining room he had learned that Brenda would not be joining him. She had a headache and would rest in her rooms. Zander had decided to skip lunch and had approached George for the package. The one he now held in both hands. He was supposed to be planting it in Carly's club, but Zander wasn't ready to take that step. He couldn't do it without knowing what was inside.
Moving to a bench, Zander sat down and stared at the package. A moment later he ripped over the paper and wasn't in the least bit surprised to see two dozen packets of white powder. Zander's guess was cocaine. Alcazar wanted to set Carly up. She would be arrested and Zander didn't want that. He was still angry at Carly for the way she had dumped him for Jason, but his real gripe was with Sonny. Zander had cared about Carly as a friend, and as something more. That she didn't love him back didn't change how he felt about her. He couldn't do this. Moving to the end of the dock, Zander dumped the packets in the water, then he dumped the paper in a nearby trash can. He turned to go only to feel hands upon him. Zander started to struggle but his hands were tied behind his back even as a blindfold was tied around his head. Then he was gagged and dragged off.
Zander couldn't see anything but he knew he was in a car when he heard the doors slam and felt it go into motion. He was trapped between two heavy bodies, so he guessed he was in the back seat. No one said anything and he had no idea how much time passed before they stopped. Fear coiled itself in Zander's stomach and he felt like retching as he was dragged out of the car. He couldn't even begin to guess where he might be and this time he was carried by the two guys so it was even harder to judge location. But Zander heard doors opening and closing so he figured he was inside, especially when he could tell it was warmer. Then he heard a door open and then he was tossed forward, grunting as he hit the floor hard. He gasped for breath as he rode out the pain that that rippled through him from jarred bones, and then he heard a door close and the slick of a lock. He was locked in somewhere.
A cold sweat broke out on Zander's skin as he shifted his body and tried to sit up. He managed to prop himself against a wall and worked at trying to free his hands, but all he managed to do was abrade his wrists and Zander could feel the warm slickness of blood on his skin. Needing desperately to see, Zander rubbed his head against the wall, trying to remove the blindfold, he almost sobbed in relief when it slipped off, but felt a wave of terror wash over him to realize that he was in pitch blackness. He blinked to see if maybe his eyes were out of focus, but the blackness didn't change.
Zander felt his chest constrict and he tried to keep his breathing calm. But fear won out and his breathing quickened into harsh pants and with the gag in his mouth, Zander felt as if he might suffocate. He closed his eyes and prayed.
* * * * *
Luis studied the papers on his desk. IT was the information he had asked for on Zander. Police records, medical records, the kid had spent alot of time in the hospital. Shot twice, beaten multiple times. Luis found it fascinating reading. But what intrigued him the most were Zander Smith's birth certificate and the accompanying certificate. Zander Smith was adopted.
Pausing in his reading to glance at his watch, then rose to his feet. It was time to teach Zander a most valuable lesson.
* * * * *
Zander realized he dozed off when he came awake with a start. It was still pitch black and he had no idea how long he had been locked up. But his body ached, his arms and hands felt numb and he had passed starving a long time ago. The only constant was the fear that had taken up residence in the pit of his stomach.
Then he heard it, a muffled sound like footsteps and, without warning the door opened and harsh light spilled into the room, blinding Zander. Whimpered and closed his eyes, then he jumped when hard hands gripped his arms, hauling him to his feet. He was dragged out the door and Zander blinked. The image of Luis Alcazar came into focus. His expression was hard and cold and Zander blanched.
"Leave us," Luis ordered his men.
Zander swayed on his feet as the hands that had held him upright were removed. He had to lock his knees to stay standing. Then he saw a blur of motion and a palm connected with his face. The force behind the blow knocked Zander off his feet and he crumpled to the floor, falling to his side since his hands were still bound and he couldn't catch himself.
Luis knelt beside him and reaching out he smoothed the dark hair out of Zander's eyes.
Zander flinched when Luis's fingers gripped his chin, forcing him to meet the dark gaze. Then he felt the hands move behind his head and the gag was removed. Zander licked his dry lips.
"I saved your life, Zander," Luis said softly. "And this is how you repay me? With disobedience?"
"I'm sorry," Zander whispered, and his voice was hoarse.
Luis nodded then he pulled Zander up and supported him while he untied his wrists. "I want to believe you. Why did you dump the drugs?"
Zander winced as he moved his arms so he could bring his arms in front of him. They felt tingly and pain welled up as the blood flow evened out again. Zander looked at his raw wrists and winced again, then he looked at Alcazar. He knew he had to tell the truth. "I didn't want Carly to go to jail. She doesn't deserve that."
"Why not? She hurt you, Zander."
"Par for the course." Everyone hurt him at some point.
Luis sighed. "You still care about her."
Zander shrugged and it set off a new wave of pain. He bit back a moan and gritted out, "I guess I do. She was a friend." Zander made himself lock eyes with Alcazar. "I'm sorry about the drugs. I'll give you back the money you gave me to cover the loss."
"I don't want the money, Zander," Luis purred as he reached out to caress the red mark on Zander's cheek. "I want your loyalty and your obedience."
"You have them. I swear." Zander could hear the desperation in his voice. He needed Alcazar to believe him. "It won't happen again."
Luis helped Zander to his feet. "We'll see. Go shower, you need to sleep. Are you hungry? I'll have something sent to your room."
Zander shook his head. "I'm not hungry." He felt shaky but he managed to walk off without falling down. He made it to his room and only then did he look at his watch. He had been locked up for sixteen hours. It had felt like days. Zander peeled off his clothes as he headed for the bathroom. He relieved himself then stepped into the shower, turning on the spray till it was almost scalding. He scrubbed his skin and washed his hair, then he dried off and wrapped the towel around his waist. He walked out of the bathroom to find Alcazar waiting for him. Zander waited.
"Come lie down," Luis said, motioning to the bed. When Zander didn't move Luis took his arm and guided him over to it. The covers were already drawn back. "Get in."
"Mr. Alcazar,' Zander began, but broke off when strong fingers grabbed his forearm. He flinched as Alcazar probed the tender flesh of his wrists.
Luis smiled. "I brought ointment and some aspirin." He pointed to the bedside table. "Get in bed and I'll take care of you." He forced the issue by unwrapping the towel from Zander's waist.
Zander froze for a moment, feeling awkward and embarrassed as he was exposed to Alcazar. He could feel the other man's eyes roving over him and that set Zander in motion. He crawled into bed and drew the up blankets to cover himself.
"Take this," Luis ordered, holding out the pills and a glass of water. He waited for Zander to comply then he took the glass back and reached for the ointment. He gently smoothed it over the abrasions. "Sleep now," he said when he was done.
Zander obediently closed his eyes, but before he drifted off to sleep, he felt Alcazar's fingers in his hair.
© Shelly 2004