Letting Go - Chapter 3

Oliver turned the corner into the hall to Laurel’s apartment just in time to see Quentin Lance unholster his gun.

“Mr. Lance, what is it?” he asked, after rushing to the man’s side.

Lance turned and scowled at him, his expression conveying his annoyance at seeing Oliver there, not saying a word. He simply looked at the door to apartment 305. The slightly ajar door.

Oliver’s blood ran cold. Laurel would never leave her door open. She was a cop’s daughter. And even without that pedigree she knew what went on in the city. Locking one’s door was a priority.

Which meant...

Damnit, why didn’t he follow her when she left his house? This wouldn’t have happened. He would’ve protected her. He was already thinking ahead. What his next move would be. Establish who’s taken her and why. Track them down. Save Laurel. Permanently maim the assholes, because no one hurt the Arrow’s woman—and there was his inner Neanderthal. Apologize to Laurel. Grovel. Beg forgiveness. Beg for another chance. Confess his undying love and devotion. Make love to her all weekend. Spend the rest of his life with her.

“Stay behind me, Queen,” Lance growled.

Oliver could’ve told him he didn’t need protecting, that between the two of them he was the dangerous one, even with his bare hands, but in the end the guy was a cop and Oliver Queen was just a spoiled billionaire.

Gun pointed skywards, finger alongside the barrel, Lance gently pushed against the door. After a brief glance, they were in, Oliver on Lance’s heels.

The apartment seemed intact, no overturned lamps, no broken furniture. But that didn’t mean anything.

A scraping sound from Laurel’s bedroom made Oliver put his hand on Lance’s shoulder. The muscles were clenched tight, betraying the fear the man felt.

A nod to let him know Lance heard the sound too, a finger on the lips to indicate he should be quiet. What else would he do? Sing the Star Spangled Banner?

“Freeze!” Lance growled as they walked into the bedroom.

A petite, dark-haired woman holding paint samples squeaked.

“Hands in the air!”

Another squeak and the paint samples flopped onto the floor as she lifted her hands high in the air. “D-d-don’t shoot me.”

“Who are you?” Oliver asked. “What are you doing here?”

She turned her wide-eyed stare from the gun pointed at her head to him. “Y-y-you’re Oliver Queen,” she said shakily. “C-c-can you tell him not to sh-sh-shoot me?”

Oliver glanced at the paint samples at her feet. “Lance, put the gun down.”

“L-l-lance?” the woman asked. “L-l-laurel’s dad? The c-c-cop?”

“Yeah, I’m a cop,” Lance growled. “And I’m not lowering this gun until you tell me what you’re doing in my daughter’s apartment.”

“R-r-redecorating.”

“What?”

“S-s-she hired me to r-r-redecorate her apartment,” she elaborated.

“Where is she?” Oliver asked again.

“S-s-she left town.”

“What?!”

“S-s-she called me this morning t-t-to tell me I c-c-could start right away, b-b-because she was l-l-leaving town for a while.”

Lance smirked. “You expect us to believe that story?”

Oliver felt a spark of warmth at Lance using the word ‘us’. “Call her.”

“Why don’t you call her?”

“She won’t answer if she knows it’s me.” Not now. Not yet. That’ll change that soon, though. He’ll make sure of it.

Lance quickly glanced at him, a silent question in his eyes, but pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialed, the gun never wavering.

Oliver could hear Laurel answering on the third ring.

“Hey, honey, it’s me. Where are you?...What are you doing there?” A curse. “Why didn’t you tell me you’d be leaving town?” A long silence. “I see. There’s a woman in your apartment.” He looked at the woman in question. “ID, one hand.”

Her entire body shaking, she pointed at the handbag on the chair in the corner.

Oliver fished out her wallet and pulled out her driver’s license. Showed it to Lance.

Lance growled and holstered his gun. “When will you be back?” he asked his daughter. “Right. We’ll discuss this when you get back.” He hung up without another word.

Oliver looked at the woman before them, her hands still up in the air. “You can put your hands down, ma’am.”

“B-b-beth.” She lowered her hands, swallowed loudly. “M-m-my name is Beth.”

“Beth, the interior decorator.”

She smiled slightly. “Yes.”

“I’m Oliver and this is Laurel’s father, Quentin.”

She nodded. “Hi. Um, can I go back to work now?”

Oliver looked at Lance, who growled his assent. “Don’t leave the door unlocked like that,” he admonished.

“Sorry, I was distracted.”

“Distractions can get you killed,” Lance snapped, turned and walked out.

“Forgive him,” Oliver said. “He’s a bit gruff.”

“That’s okay.”

He looked around, down at the paint samples. “I’ll just leave you to it.”

He slipped into the elevator beside Lance when the doors were closing. “Where’s Laurel.”

“She went to visit her friend Joanna from CNRI.”

“For how long?”

Lance turned to him. “I don’t know what happened between you and my daughter lately, but I don’t like it.”

The surprise must have registered on his face, because Lance elaborated, “I don’t like anything that makes my daughter suddenly leave town without notice.”

“Did she tell you when she’s coming back?” Oliver persisted.

“Listen to me Queen, and listen well. I don’t like it that my daughter split, but I do like it that she doesn’t like you so much anymore.” Lance scowled. “Are you poking around Sara again? Because if you are, I’ll kill you.”

“There’s nothing going on between Sara and me.” There was only one Lance sister he was interested in. Has always been interested in. “Or between Laurel and me.” Not really. Not yet.

Lance chuckled mirthlessly. “Right. You expect me to believe that. You’ve been dancing around each other since you came back to town. You think I didn’t notice the puppy-eyes you keep giving one another when you think no one’s watching?” A sigh as the elevator door opened and they exited into the building lobby. “I still don’t know what any of my daughters ever saw in you, I just know Laurel’s been slowly starting to be herself again ever since you returned.”

Oliver knew it cost the man to admit that.

“She said she’d be back in two weeks,” Lance growled and walked away.

Oliver grinned. That gave him two weeks to devise his game plan.


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