“Aren’t you worried you’ll be followed and kidnapped?” I asked him.
“No,” Vasilli looked at me while holding out his hand. “Would you kidnap my little brother?”
“Good point,” I said as I took it and got up off the floor. I was sure there would be food all over me. The fact that there wasn’t was a miracle in and of itself. As I understood it, Vasilli was an equalizer of sorts, when someone needed a mob member taken out of the game, they called Vasilli. He didn’t take out random contracts or kill people he didn’t think deserved it. Somehow that made it better in my opinion. I wasn’t sure why since he was still a killer, but it did.
Zeke was on his cell phone. I wasn’t positive, but I was guessing he was talking to Apex. By his facial expressions it wasn’t Apex with the sniper rifle. I had only met him once, but he seemed like a good guy if a little protective of Aislinn Cain. Anthony had tried to explain to me that Apex had known her parents before the world became dysfunctional. Which would explain a few things about him, but not everything since I was pretty sure he and Vasilli were in the same line of work.
“We’ll need to move fast,” Zeke said to me as he hung up. Fast I could do, I was getting really good at ducking and weaving. In the past two years, the attempts on my life had increased dramatically, which was saying something for a woman who had been under a contract to be killed for over twenty years. At least the mob wanted money, that I could do. Aislinn Cain was another story. She would only go where she wanted to go and while this seemed like her type of serial killer to hunt, she wasn’t going to drop everything with Gabriel missing to come to Russia and sort out my family’s problems.
Then again, by now, it was possible she had tracked down Gabriel’s kidnapper, burned him alive and had a clear schedule for a few days and would in fact come to Moscow. It was hard to know for sure with her.
“Vasilli, do you have any contacts you could call to get us out of here?” I asked, sounding a little more desperate than I intended. Sniper rifles tended to make big holes that were hard to patch up.
“Not really, I know you don’t always understand what the problem is, but Whatever his stupid name is, was holding together a crime syndicate. They were all working together because he was distributing the wealth to those in charge. Since he has become incarcerated, it’s been complicated. The syndicates no longer work together and even more rarely speak to each other except to send death threats about territory. He was scary and no one as scary as him has come into power. Without that unification, chaos has erupted, and organized crime has become less organized,” my uncle Nikolai told me. “We are battling new thugs all the time that want to be like the Mob elites, but they aren’t, they are just thugs with guns who deal a few drugs and they think that makes them powerful enough to encroach on firmly established borders.”
“In other words, the guy with the sniper rifle might just be delivering very deadly messages from some gang that wants to deal drugs in Moscow.” Zeke said to me. “Nature abhors a vacuum and we created a vacuum and nature has yet to fill it.”
“This is the kind of environment where psychopaths flourish, that’s why I was hoping you’d bring Aislinn Cain.” Nikolai told me.
“I didn’t even know about it until I stepped off the plane and besides, Aislinn might be psychopathic enough to unify these people, but I don’t think you want her leading them, she is one step too close to being a serial killer herself.”
“No, no, no, I was hoping you’d bring her because the last guy with enough power to clean up some of this disorder, was flayed alive and left in front of St. Basil’s.” Nikolai told me.
“The guy in the picture,” I said.
“Yes. He was old guard, KGB. He also made millions of dollars selling guns to Chechens and drugs to Muscovites. He would have been good creating a powerful syndicate, but then he went out for drinks one night and turned up at St. Basil’s the next morning and not in a good way. Since then, those that could probably take control, won’t because he isn’t the first. We’ve had nine of them so far and they are all dead at this point.”
“Yes, not a lot of people want the job if they know it is going to immediately lead to their very gruesome death.” I said. “So how do we get out of here?”
“The same way we came in, but with you in the middle,” Zeke told me. “Since we don’t know if they want you dead or if they are trying to kidnap you or if they were trying to stop you from being kidnapped or if they thought you might be Aislinn Cain, then we have to assume they are still out there.”
“The woman hasn’t even set foot in the country and people might be trying to kill her,” I sighed. “She told me if her world spilled over into mine too much, it would be bad. I hated when she is prophetically right.”
“When you play with dangerous people,” Zeke told me. “Yes, yes, I know.” Zeke was convinced that most of this was my Fate, like I was on some predestined course to be hunted like a terrified rabbit for the rest of my life because the Universe had deemed it so. If that was the case, then when I died, Karma and I were going to have a long talk about what I had done to deserve its massive lifetime of beatings, shootings, and stabbings. Not to mention being mauled by a tiger. Maybe the Universe really did hate me.
Zeke moved into a protective position and Vasilli moved in front of me. I was completely hidden behind my larger cousin. Vasilli was the perfect example of a very large Russian man. He had black hair, kind of a fair complexion, broad shoulders, wide hips, taller than even Zeke, and built a bit like a tank. Unless someone shot him in the head, the bullet was probably not coming out the other side, unless the guy on the rooftop had a fifty-caliber. Some part of me hated myself for knowing that.
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This book is a work of fiction. Any names, places, characters, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination and are purely fictitious. Any resemblances to any persons, living or dead, are completely coincidental.
Copyright © Hadena James 2016
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