While Mead was calling The Bar, Stacks called His mother. He told her that he had Candace, and asked if she was still at The Bar, or not. He told her that he wanted Candace to stay at his house, but he also asked her to come over, and to see if Sheila wanted to come too. She told him she was still there, but if he wanted to take Candace straight to his house she would meet him there. She also informed him that Sheila’s boyfriend, Larry, was there with her, and that Sheila would be going home with him. Stacks informed of her of their arrival time, then hung up the phone.
“The guy’s said that they would come to your house tomorrow. Collins said that Henderson has not found anything, that might help explain all this, as of yet, on the web,” Mead informed Stacks.
“I didn’t think it was going to be that easy,” Stacks said thoughtfully. “You know, I keep thinking back to when that Frenchman slapped Candace. I really wanted to kill him. Thanks for stopping me, Mead.”
“No problem, but to set the record straight, I wanted to kill him myself,” Mead said with a hint of malice in his voice.
“Yeah I know, but there is something else about that incident that bothers me. You know when he asked Candace where “It” was. He acted like she should know exactly what he was talking about. However, when Candace asked him to tell her what ‘it’ was, he shut up and walked away. Now that was weird.”
“You can say that again. These last two days have been weird, if you ask me,” Mead said.
“I think we had better just let it go, for tonight. I can’t speak for you, but I am so tired that I can’t put two thoughts together. Let just worry about this tomorrow. There has to be some way to figure this out,” Stacks said wearily.
Stacks stopped to let Mead off at The Bar, and then drove the next fifteen miles to his house fighting sleep. Candace woke as Stacks turned into the driveway. As he pulled up to his home, Gloria opened the door and stepped out to great Stacks and Candace.
“It looks like Mom is glad to see you,” Stacks said as he saw the tears running down Gloria’s face.
Opening the sliding door for Candace, Stacks carefully helped her out of the SUV. Candace let out a small groan as she stepped down to the ground.
“Are you all right, or do you need to go to the hospital?” Stacks asked her worriedly.
“I’m ok; I think I am just sore. I could also use a hot bath and twelve hours of sleep,” Candace said with a smile.
Gloria walked up and threw her arms around Candace and started sobbing. Candace embraced Gloria and tears started rolling down her face.
“Oh Gloria, I was so worried about you and Sheila. When they grabbed me, one of the men told me I was to shut up or they would kill me also. I just knew for sure they had killed you both, when they said that.”
“I think they were just trying to scare you, but they did knock us out. Who knows, they may have thought we were dead. Oh Candace, I am so sorry we could not stop them from taking you. Did they hurt you? Listen to me going on this way. Come on in the house and let’s get you cleaned up, and take a good look at you so we can see how bad you are hurt,” Gloria said as she took hold of Candace’s arm and started walking towards the house.
Stacks walked past them and held the door open for them.
Candace looked around the large modern kitchen and was shocked to see it was what she would call a dream kitchen. The island in the center of the room served as a cooks work station as well as a breakfast bar. The appliances were stainless steel, and there was everything from a walk in fridge to a set of large double ovens. Copper bottom pans hung from what looked like an old wagon wheel, over the island. The room looked like an Italian kitchen, complete with a brick fireplace oven.
“Oh wow, Stacks this kitchen is simply delightful. I have always thought that someday I would have my kitchen redone, and if I did, this is what I would like,” Candace said with awe in her voice.
Stacks smiled and said, “To tell the truth, I built it this way because Mom ‘suggested’ I do it like this. She stayed on me until I fixed everything exactly as she wanted.”
“Now Stacks, I just told you that when you get married, you would want everything nice, not looking like a bachelor pad.
“Yeah right, Mom, you just told me,” Stacks said as he rolled his eyes.
“Candace, are you hungry?” Sheila said as she headed for the refrigerator.
“Yes, thank you, but do you have a robe or something I could change into. I need to take a shower and clean up, if that is alright. I will go tomorrow and buy some clothes, but for now…”
Candace let her words trail off as she looked down at her torn and filthy clothing.
“Come with me Candace and I will take you up to the guest room you will be using. I stopped by my house before I came here, and picked up some things I thought you could use. I realize that I am twice your size, but sweats have tie strings and night gowns and robes are not size restricted. Well that is unless they are too small,” Gloria said laughing, as she led Candace up the stairs and down the hall.
Stacks poured a cup of coffee and sat down at the breakfast bar. He was tired, but relieved that he had Candace safely in his home. He knew he needed to take a shower, but he wanted some coffee first. As he sat there drink his coffee and thinking, he never heard Gloria as she came into the room.
“That poor girl,” Gloria said as she refilled her coffee cup and sat down beside him.
“She is so sore, that she let me help her out of her clothes. Stacks, I swear that child is almost covered in bruises. She was flinching as I helped her get her blouse off, I sure hope nothing is broken. I told her that she probably should see a doctor, but she said she was sore.”
“Yeah, she told me the same thing. I think we need to keep an eye on her and see what we think tomorrow.”
“Now Stacks, tell me where you and Mead did find her, and what is going on. On second thought, tell me everything from the minute you left here, and do not leave anything out,” Gloria said as if she was speaking to an errant child.
Smiling, then leaning over and kissing Gloria on the cheek, Stacks said “I will talk, if you put something together for us to eat.”
“What is this, blackmail?”
“Yep, sure is,” Stacks said laughing.
“Fine, then start talking,” Gloria said as she once again headed for the refrigerator.
By the time Candace took a hot bubble bath, and dressed, thirty minutes had passed. Towel drying her hair, she surveyed herself in the mirror.
“Lord, do I really look like that?” she said aloud. She was supporting one black and bruised eye, and her face was puffy on the left side. She was covered with bruises and scrapes, where she had been knocked to the ground when she had fought in the alley. Once they had untied her, she had fought once again, trying to get away from her abductors. That was when the man called Francoise has backhanded her, causing her to go flying back and she had slammed into a tree. Afterwards, he seemed to always be slapping or shoving her. Shivering with the thought of the evil little man; Candace hurriedly dressed in the nightgown and robe. Slipping her feet into the soft furry house shoes, she picked up her ruined clothes, and went to the kitchen.
“I feel like a person again,” Candace said as she walked into the room.
“What would you like to drink?” Stacks said as he stood up and turned towards her.
“That coffee smells wonderful. I have not had a cup since I was at The Bar,” Candace answered.
Sheila looked at Candace and clucked her tongue at all of her bruises and scrapes.
“I’m alright Gloria, is there anything I can do to help you?”
Stacks handed her a cup of coffee, and told her to sit down, “If mom needed help, she would have had me doing it already. She is only making us BLT sandwiches.”
“Candace, do you feel like telling us what happened after you were taken?” Gloria asked.
“Mom, it can wait, Candace is hungry and tired,” Stacks said admonishingly.
Lifting her hand to silence Stacks, Candace softly said, “Stacks, thank you for worrying about me, but it’s alright, I will tell you both, everything I remember.”
Taking a sip of her coffee, and looking thoughtfully, Candace said, “As you know, we were in the ally, when those men showed up and grabbed me. Sheila kicked one of the men in the groin and he fell like a rock. The man who grabbed you, Gloria, is named Francoise Dubois, or at least that is the name he gave me. Anyway, Sheila must have hit the man who had hold of me in the back, because he loosed his grip on me and fell down. That is when I jumped Francoise; he was fixing to hit you over the head with his gun, again. I jumped on his back and reached around trying to claw his eyes. I figured if I hurt him, he would leave you alone. I managed to claw his face up pretty good, but he kept me from hurting him. Anyway, that is when one of the other guys hit me over the head and I passed out. The next thing I knew, I was lying in the floorboard, my feet and hands tied and a gag in my mouth. They drove me straight to my home, but when they saw police cars in my driveway, they just kept going.” One of the men, Luise, I think, said that we needed to go their place to ‘lie low,’ but Francoise yelled something in French to him, and from then on, they only spoke French. We drove around for about an hour, and then they took me to what looked like a shack in the woods. We stayed there until around noon, then they shoved me back down in the floorboard of their van, and took me back to my place,” Candace stopped talking to take another drink of coffee.
“That is enough for now Candace. We need to eat and get some rest.” Stacks said, as Gloria placed a plate in front of her.
As they ate, Gloria told Candace what had happened at The Bar, after her abduction.
“How on earth did you find me Stacks?” Candace asked.
Grinning, Stacks related the story of his visits, both of them, to Ed Sander’s shop.
Laughing, Candace said, “This is the only time I can truthfully say that I am glad someone was willing to give out my personal information. I must remember to call and thank him tomorrow.”
Standing up, Candace took her plate and cup and headed to the sink.
“Would you like me to wash these, or just rinse them and put them in the dishwasher? I think I need to lie down now, I am so tired.
Grabbing the dishes from her hands, Stacks said, “No you don’t, Candace. I will take care of this, you just get some rest.”
“That goes for you too son,” Gloria said as she took the dishes from him. You two go on now, I have taken a couple of naps, so I am not so tired. Besides that, it will only take me one minute to put these in the dishwasher, and then I will go to bed also. Setting the dishes in the sink, she turned and hugged Candace.
“I am so glad you are safe now. Goodnight sweetheart.”
Walking side by side up the stairs, Stacks walked Candace to the guest room door. Stopping in front of the door, Candace turned to Stacks and looked up, deep into his eyes. She could not put a name to what she saw there, but she knew what she felt. With all her heart and soul, she knew she was in love with this gorgeous, gentle giant.
“Thank you, Stacks, for everything. You were truly my knight in shining armor tonight,” she whispered.
Stacks looked down, bent his head and taking her into his arms, he pulled her to him, and kissed her.
Melting into his arms, Candace felt as if she had always known and love this man. She sensed her body responding to his kiss, she clung to him. Everything around her disappeared, and there was only the two of them.
To be continued…