Unexpectedly, men from Diego’s past show up. Colonel Coffey, his former boss, tells him he’s needed again.
“If I find out this is a ploy to get me back, there won’t be a safe hole to shit in.” Diego took a step closer to the colonel, slipping out of Janet’s embrace. He leaned in so his face was mere inches from Coffey’s. “You said yourself, no one’s as good as me.”
“You’re threatening me in front of witnesses, Hernandez.”
“They don’t hear a thing,” Diego flung the statement into the room.
The other men paled. Janet got the impression the threat extended to them.
Colonel Coffey shook himself, squaring shoulders. “Get your things, Hernandez. We need to go.”
“I’ll go when I’m ready, Coffey. You’re dragging me back in the game, you’ll give me the time to say goodbye. I’ll see you here tomorrow morning at nine o’clock. Not a second before.”
Coffey tried to protest, but decided against it. He and his men left without another word.
Janet flew into Diego’s arms. “You can’t leave me again!”
“I have to find these guys, babe. If what Coffey says is true, none of us are safe.”
“And if he’s lying? They may not be here—they may never find you!”
“If they weren’t a real threat, Coffey would never have come.”
“He hates you!”
“No…. If those men take me again….”
“You can handle it.”
“I almost broke,” he told her in an agonized voice. “They did things to me no man should have to endure. And I lived. I don’t know how, but I did. I can’t let them do that again.”
“What about me?”
“I’ll be back,” he promised. “You can’t get rid of me.”
The rest of the night, they spent together, making love with a kind of desperation neither of them could contain. It added a new, deeper dimension to their union that made it more exciting, but also more heart rending.
At 8:00 A.M., they had a shower and fixed breakfast. Diego dressed in a black suit with a white shirt and blood red tie. His dark hair was clipped close to his scalp once more. Janet hardly recognized him. He was a stranger in her lover’s body.
“Come back to me. Don’t you dare be gone so long.”
“I’ll be back, I promise. I love you.”
The men arrived at 9:00 sharp. Diego kissed her one last time—and was gone. Janet sat on the floor, weeping uncontrollably. She curled into the fetal position and couldn’t move.
Ramona saw Diego leave, from her mother’s kitchen window. She ran to him as he got to the car.
“Where are you going?”
“I can’t explain, Mona. I’m sorry.”
“You promised you’d stay!”
“Janet needs you!”
“I know. Mona….”
“You’re a bastard, Diego Hernandez!”
He smiled sadly. “Not according to Mama. Take care of her, little sister. She needs you more than ever.”
“Then why are you going?”
He touched her cheek. “To protect her. I have to go.”
Ramona hugged him fiercely and watched as they drove away. She called to her mother, and together they went to check on Janet. They found her on the living room floor, curled in a ball, weeping. Together, they persuaded her to get up and sit on the couch.
“Why did he go?” Diego’s mother demanded.
“I can’t tell you, Mama. It’s a secret. But he left to keep us safe,” Janet sobbed.
“How does his leaving, keep us safe?”
“I can’t tell you.”
©2020 Dellani Oakes