Three thoughts occurred to her almost simultaneously. The first was that the men downstairs were standing about popping sheets of the bubble wrap that often came in packages. The second thought, right on the heels of the first, was that such an idea made absolutely no sense. Carly's third thought was that something was terribly wrong.

It was her third thought that was correct. The door to the entertainment room exploded inward and within seconds Carly and Michael were surrounded by masked strangers. None of Sonny's guards were nearby to defend them. Sonny always maintained that if intruders made it all the way to the upstairs of a dwelling, then more protection was pointless. He always promised that such an invasion would never be allowed to happen to his family.

“Get your hands off him!” Carly screamed. She clawed her way through the phalanx of men surrounding her to reach Michael's side. Two of the intruders effortlessly held the little boy immobile while another carefully placed flat cotton pads atop Michael's eyes.

“He is not harmed.” The most muscular of the intruders shook Carly fiercely. “But if you do not cooperate, then he will suffer. Dearly.” He grasped both of Carly's wrists in one large hand. “Now come along.”

The group made its way down the stairs. With Michael in plain sight, Carly followed willingly. She murmured encouragement to her young son, who had been so frightened by events that he did not even weep.

They reached the bottom of the stairs. Carly could not prevent the hoarse gasp that flew from her throat. Sonny's men lay scattered about the first floor landing like discarded Kleenex, each dead from a single bullet wound to the forehead. She began to silently weep as she followed her captors through the maze of dead bodies. Francis, Rinaldo, Benito, Marcos… men she had come to know and rely on… all dead.

Carly's muscular captor pulled up short as she suddenly balked and refused to follow. There was hope for her and Michael as long as they remained at the safe house where Jason could locate them. “Where are you taking us?” she stalled desperately.

“You will find out when you get there,” the big intruder growled. “Now MOVE!”

Carly caught them all by surprise. Her hand shot out and she tore off the ski mask her captor wore, revealing his expressionless face.

“You should not have done that,” he observed sadly. “You really shouldn't.”

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