My eyes grew wide, wondering what message she wanted to pass. It was Psi, my mind went to the time Huang had mentioned a man…
“Even no luck finding Jong-su?”
“No luck, boss…“
I froze. It was Jong-Su, the man from Chang. What does he have to do with Huang and his men? Is he an accomplice? I asked myself. I looked at Penelope, urging her on, as Mom’s voice interrupted us.
“Yes, Huang and those I presumed, are his men,”
I turned my head in the direction of the stairs, giving Mom a suspicious look.
“Oh!” She gasped. “You’re still here.”
Lucille walked behind her, carrying tons of files. Mom handed the phone to her, making it downstairs. How she had managed to get ahold of the cell, without letting the files fall, amazed me. I stood up to go help her.
“Oh, baby, let Lucille handle it,” Mom called me back.
“Who were you talking to?” I asked with a suspicious look.
She took in a deep breath and put her arms sideways. “The commissioner, you know,” she looked at me. “By the way, has your Dad called you?”
“Don’t change the subject, Mom,” I scolded. “Thought you said you’ve spoken to the commissioner…?”
She threw her head to the side, avoiding my eyes.
“Fine. I lied,” she finally admitted. “I thought you were going to say a little something about them. And, by the way, what even happened there?’ She stared into my eyes.
I wanted to talk about the hidden walls; the underground that was far situated. But then, my words were stuck. Mom looked at me, eager to hear, but I said nothing at all, rising to my feet. “I need some air,” I rushed out the front door.
Lucille followed me, and Mom came out next. “Kendra, if you know something,” she said. “Anything that can help us fight these bad guys, just tell me.” She pleaded persistently.
“The place where I was,” I breathed in. “At first… was one with an underground; a place no one would believe existed.”
“The day I was kidnapped, I was shot and unconscious, and I had no idea where I was until I woke up to find—“ My throat tightened.
“Penelope beside me,”
Kamila placed her hand on her mouth.
“The place was nasty. There were skeletons scattered all over the ground. Past victims, I presume. I was there for some time until the boss-in-charge moved me to a whole different place.”
“Skeletons? A hidden room. Got it.” The Vice President spoke like a detective.
“Wait. How did you guys even know where I was?”
Kamila arched her brows at her. “Someone,”
“Really?” Kendra drew closer, resting her elbow on her left palm. Her fingers were touching her chin. They moved simultaneously as she rubbed the layer.
Kamila went on to describe how the call had entered—an unknown caller who seemed to know the location of her daughter.
“Hello, ma’am—“ she remembered his exact words. “I know where your daughter is…” She listened raptly.
“And, did he tell you his name?” Kendra asked, wanting to know more.
“No,” Lucille answered. “He never mentioned,” she joined the conversation. “Only that he asked us to move there right away, ending the call.”
Kendra scoffed. She had heard enough. It was certain that someone else knew where she was, and it didn’t make perfect sense.
“Kendra,” Penelope came out. “Kendra, I’m scared. I feel that awful man will hit me again—”
“Hit you?” Kendra stared closely at her. She moved closer to her and picked her up. The poor girl must have been through a lot, she looked at her in pity.
“Who will hit you, child?” Lucille asked.
The little girl buried her head in Kendra’s neck. She didn’t want to speak, as she was scared. She said no more but whimpered with her eyes shut.
“If Penelope could testify…”
“Mom,” Kendra made to stop her from speaking.
“You heard the girl, didn’t you?”
“Let’s leave her for now,” Kendra said.
Kamila shrugged and moved back inside, telling Lucille to come with her.
Kendra carried Penelope down and looked directly at her. “Tell me. Who hit you?” She asked, wanting to hear more.
“I can’t say, Kendra, but I know it was a man… a man,” she whimpered again.
Kendra was confused by what she meant she couldn’t tell. “Were you blindfolded?”
Penelope replied, “Yes,”
Kendra gulped as she answered, wondering what the little girl had undergone. She thought about the message she had passed, and she squatted, urging her to say more.
“Tell her to meet me at the same place I saw you guys,” Penelope remembered. ”He asked me to tell you to meet him at that same place…”
***The Next Day
Kendra woke up real early, ready for what the day had in store. She got out of bed, a bit sore, but didn’t let the state of her body put her to a stop. She rushed and showered before anyone woke up. Then, put on a coat and tiptoed downstairs. It wasn’t going to be easy moving past her mother’s watchdogs. She had to move out the back, without being seen.
“This should be easy,” Kendra breathed out.
The door of the study room jerked open to Kendra’s surprise. It wasn’t part of the plan, as she didn’t expect anyone to be wide awake… especially not in the study room. “Who is it?” She asked shakily. “Lucille?” The image of the woman stood out in the light.
Kendra remained quiet, hoping she wasn’t fully awake. She’s probably sleepwalking, she hoped in her mind. She thought with a shrug and covered her mouth. She is, she realized.
“Kendra. Kendra my child,” the idle-aged woman mumbled as she walked. “Kendra…”
Kendra hurriedly moved past her and, at the same time tried not to make a peek. But, what did she mean by ‘my child’? She gave a brief thought about what she had heard. She quietly turned the doorknob and opened the door. Outside she saw Brook, the brawny man who was in charge and who was there to ruin her plans.
“Where are you going?”
It was too late to turn back. Initiating plan B, Kendra thought to herself. “Thought I could receive a breath of fresh air outside,” she said with a warm smile.
“A breath of fresh air by this time?” Brook motioned to his watch.
“Fine. You caught me.” Kendra shrugged.
She devised another plan; a fast one that’d earn her an easy escape.
“You caught me. I was feeling uneasy so I decided to come out,”
“Uneasy? Have you told the Vice President?” Brook asked her.
Kendra threw him a frivolous smile and lowered her hands. “You can tell her if you want to.” She looked rudely at him. “Go on,”
“You’re one smart woman…”
Kendra brushed him off and moved faster than usual.
He was catching up to me, and I could see him. My heart raced faster as I mounted the bike in the yard.
“Come back here!”
I pedaled fast and instructed the watchmen to open the gate. They were reluctant at first but suddenly succumbed. I knew I was going to be late; I had wasted a lot of time.
I put my whole energy into pedaling, grunting as I did. It’s been a long time since I rode a bicycle, but I still had a hang of it. It won’t be long now, I thought to myself. 5:45—an unusual time to be out. Kendra, you better be doing the right thing,” I held my chest as I cycled.
Jong was waiting for me when I arrived. Psi? I was not shocked by what I saw.
“Lovely, isn’t it?”
“You mean awkward?”
I got off my bike. It was risky meeting up with this guy. But I knew I needed answers.
“We meet again, Kendra,”
“What do you want from me?”
“Oh, you have no idea.”
I growled at him.
“I’m not your enemy, believe me,”
“Then what are you?”
“Walk with me,” he said.
“I should walk with you? Why don’t we get this over with?’ I couldn’t afford to waste more time. He seemed like a jerk. An annoying one. But wait! Why was he looking at me like that?
“Where you the one who took Penelope…?”
”You already know that answer, don’t you?” He grinned.
“I’m sorry, do I look like I’m playing?”
It looked like he was going to laugh. “I’m sorry,” he tried to hold himself, but let out his muffled laugh.
“I can’t believe I thought you had something important to tell me…”
“Oh, believe me. I do.”