“A Time to Kill”
“Huck, you said he was dead!” Olivia challenged. Huck sat in the chair beside her hospital bed. Without objection, Fitz had left the room to get Huck when she asked for him. She had expected Fitz to demand to stay during their conversation. Instead he’d given her a kiss on the forehead, rubbed her belly, and left them alone to talk. His compliance had made her a little suspicious.
Huck didn’t respond, but he squeezed his eyes together and pinched the bridge of his nose. He looked like he was concentrating, in pain, or both.
“Liv, I’m thinking okay!”
She let her head fall back on the pillow, proceeding to take deep breaths. Her emotions were doing a number on her as well as Bam Bam who seemed to be swimming from one end of her stomach to the other. Olivia had an overwhelming sense that all the proverbial chickens were coming home to roost in her life. When she was finally experiencing a measure of stability and happiness with Fitz, the baby, and her charity work, this reappeared. I can’t bake my way out of this one, she thought.
“I lied to you, Liv. I told you I killed him, but I…instead I made a deal with him,” Huck admitted slowly.
Olivia’s puzzled expression begged for an explanation.
“I don’t know how to find the words to…It doesn’t…” Huck sputtered.
“Just say it.”
“I went to his compound that night with every intention of killing him. But Liv, I’d never killed anyone before. I was a kid living on adrenaline and hate. I hated him for trying to keep you in Zurich, for his threats to us…everything. When I was holding the gun to his head, he started talking to me, pleading with me to let him go. He convinced me that there was another solution that would keep him alive and keep you safe. He said that he would stay away if I guaranteed that you’d always continue stealing art. He said that the best punishment for you would be to never have a real life,” Huck explained.
Olivia looked into the distance as if she was trying to find the words to respond.
“So you’re telling me that Casper promised to leave me alone unless or until, I got out of stealing and tried to have a normal life?” Olivia verified. “Huck, that sounds far fetched and a little too romantic coming from him. How could he possibly know if you kept your end of the bargain or not?” she figured. Her eyes widened. “You haven’t been keeping in touch with that bastard…telling him the details about my life?”
Huck looked like he was going to be sick. “Not quite, Liv. I agreed to send him the name of the pieces we stole and the location from which we stole them. As the years, passed on, he just wanted the serial numbers.”
“Huck, I cannot believe you did this to me. I never want to see you again! Get out!” she railed at him.
“Liv, you have to let me explain. I’ve continued to send him…” he attempted.
“Just go,” Olivia screamed, pushing the call button.
“What’s wrong? What’s-” Fitz rushed in just as Huck schlepped out. “Huck?”
“Livy, honey what happened?” She was turned to the wall now.
She didn’t say a word. Of three things he was sure. She was hurting. It had something to do with Huck. She couldn’t talk about it now.
“Cyrus, this is not negotiable. You are not my keeper. When it became clear that Olivia and I were a couple, you should have told me about the deal you made with Lundgren instead of trying to concoct schemes to outsmart this guy. From what I’ve read on him, he is used to getting what he wants. Your stalling has put Olivia in danger. I never thought I’d be thankful for Isaac, but I am. His surveillance and stalking actually saved her from being taken by one of Lundgren’s goons.”
Fitz stopped his verbal attack on Cyrus to pour himself a tumbler half full of scotch. He had been emboldened by his fear as he’d never spoken to him with such disdain. Cyrus didn’t protest, but took it all in.
“Despite all that’s happened Fitz,” he sighed heavily. “I have only wanted you to be happy, successful, and fulfilled. You’re like a son to me. When it became clear that you loved Olivia and wanted to be with her, I immediately began looking for ways to throw Lundgren off. He is very adamant about getting Olivia to Zurich. You need to find out what went on between them. It can only help us understand this guy and his motivations.”
Fitz gulped back the liquid spirit and poured another helping. He didn’t relish finding out the details of her relationship with Lundgren. He knew they’d been involved. He could feel it. For that reason, he wanted to snuff the guy out. She was sleeping in the bedroom and he knew he’d have to approach her about it when Cyrus left.
“Drink?” Fitz offered.
“Yes.” Cyrus took the tumbler and sipped.
“I need to know one thing, Cyrus. Will you support me in whatever way I try to handle this?” Fitz questioned.
“What do you mean?” Cyrus took another sip.
“Will you support me if the only solution is to end this guy. Will you provide the-”
“Yes, anything, Fitz,” Cyrus assured.
“Baby, you shouldn’t be doing that,” Fitz reached out and covered Olivia’s hand with his as they were doing some serious pounding on a wad of dough.
She pushed his hands away and continued, “There are a lot of things that shouldn’t be done, but they are done anyway so I will make bread whether I should or shouldn’t.”
“Okay,” he accepted pulling up a chair. He watched her manipulate the dough for a while. She used the same technique every time. “I need to know, Livy.
“Tell me about your connection to Lundgren. I need to know the details,” he ventured.
She stopped kneading. After awhile, she turned to face him. After wiping her hands on the kitchen towel, she walked over to him and sat in his lap. He smiled involuntarily, not expecting her to be affectionate as she had been pretty distant since coming home from the hospital yesterday. She grasped either side of his face and pulled his lips to hers. She kissed him deeply and throughly, hoping to convey the depths of her feelings thorough the kiss.
“Fitz, I love you so much,” she smiled. “You are part of me…quite literally through Bam Bam, but I felt this way before we knew about her or made her. This is hard for me to talk about because it was a dark time in my life…when I was with Casper. I was lost. I think that’s what attracted him…that I was untethered…well, except for Huck. He was my only constant. So, It was year one into my life as an art thief. We decide to go to Zurich to lift two paintings from the Kunsthaus Zürich museum. The names escape me right now…of the paintings, I mean. In any case, we take them, get out, and are suddenly surrounded by these figures dressed in these all black body suits. Huck and I offer to give them the paintings, but one of them, the leader, Casper, steps forward and offers a compromise. He will let us live, he says, if we join his team. Huck and I consider the offer. I decide that we should take it. Looking back, Fitz, I know it was just wanderlust or a profound dislike of myself that led me to say yes. We worked with him for a couple of months. It’s obvious he likes me, wants more from me…to be involved. A couple of more months go by, and I decide to say yes…to him.”
Olivia stops her story because Fitz had a stony look on his face.
“I know, Livy. I don’t have to like it, okay…continue.” he grumbled.
She gave him a kiss on the cheek before she continued.
“Our relationship takes a bad turn really quickly. It’s the classic story. He’s jealous, possessive, and controlling, the abuser’s trifecta. He doesn’t get violent I’m sure because Huck is always there. But I know…I can tell that it’s only a matter of time before he…” She doesn’t complete the sentence. “He didn’t let me go on heists anymore. I had to stay put and attend these elaborate galas with him. Ironically, his father was on the Federal Council in Switzerland and no one knew what Casper was involved in.”
“So he would take you to official galas given by the government?” Fitz asked, his curiosity upending his jealously.
“Yes. It was weird. He treated me like an artifact. I want to speed this up because talking about it makes me feel funny,” she insisted. He picked her up and they moved to the sofa.
“Soon I was ready to end it. I didn’t even pack my belongings. I called Huck to get me and then we planned to leave Zurich in the following days. Well, when Huck got there, and I told Casper it was over, he said I couldn’t leave. Huck was thrown out of the house. I was there for three days against my will. I managed to escape by hiding in the weekly linen that was sent out to be laundered once a week.”
Fitz rubbed her shoulders as she continued. “I made it to Huck, and he hid me. He was angry. He was adamant about confronting Casper. I tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t listen to me. He took a gun. A couple of hours later Huck returned. He told me that he killed Casper. We left Zurich three days later and never looked back.”
“Why were you angry with Huck at the hospital? At least that is what it looked and felt like.”
“Fitz, I don’t really know Huck. I thought I knew him, but I don’t. He didn’t kill Casper. He made a deal with him. He said he couldn’t kill Casper, but made a deal with the devil instead. That bastard promised to leave me alone as long as I continued stealing art. He said that he never wanted me to have a regular life,”
“How did Lundgren plan to check in to make sure you were stealing?”
“Huck promised to send him the name and location of the missing art each time we stole something. This was how he proposed to keep tabs on me. I cannot believe that Huck would communicate with him all this time and then let him know that I’ve stopped.”
“Livy, how do you know that Huck told him that you’d quit. Huck isn’t my favorite person sometimes, but I can rest assured that he will put your safety before his own or anyone else’s for that matter. Did you get his side of it? Why did he negotiate with him?”
“I can understand why he couldn’t kill another person. Why couldn’t he lie to Casper and then after we were gone just forget about it?” Olivia said.
“From what you’ve described of him, I don’t think he would have left you alone this long without Huck’s communication and keeping up with his side of the bargain,” Fitz observed.
“I guess you’re right, but it was a deception, Fitz. Huck deceived me all these years. I don’t know how I will could ever trust him again,” Olivia said.
“I understand, Livy. But, Huck is your family. You can’t just cast him away. You’ll come to regret it. Let’s find out why he did what he did. There are still some unanswered questions. Promise me you’ll talk to him,”
Olivia snuggled deeper into his embrace. “Okay.”
“Great. Bam Bam agrees. She is giving me a high five.”
Olivia closed her eyes and smiled, intending on taking a quick nap right there in his arms.
Fitz walked out of the bathroom. He’d just taken a shower and was looking forward to joining Olivia in bed. She was sound asleep, a past time she indulged in a lot. Fitz padded into the kitchen for his phone. He dialed Cyrus.
“Cyrus, I think I know how we can defeat this bastard without killing him. We need to talk to Huck first,” Fitz explained before taking a healthy swig of water.
“Fitz, I was just getting ready to call you. We have a problem. Tim just called to tell me that Huck is on a plane to Zurich. Tim thought I could ground the plane faster than you could. He got to me too late and-” Cyrus relayed.
“Cyrus, we have to move swiftly. I think Huck is going to try to finish the job he promised Olivia. I think he is heading to Zurich to kill Casper Lundgren. We have to stop him.”