After my shower, I found Zeke and Vasilli loading guns on the bed when I got up. I had to wonder if Vasilli just didn’t have a life. He’d brought Zeke and me morning beverages, he was accompanying us to these meetings, and he was definitely prepared. However, it would have been weirder if it had been his father Nikolai. I pushed those thoughts away. I needed to focus on the task at hand. I looked at Apex’s text message again and tried to memorize the serial killer characteristics he’d sent me. They were pretty specific, except that the Russian mob had a lot of Chechens on the payroll. Crime paid in Russia, especially if you were Chechen because nothing else really did.
I imagined in 10 years or so, Chechens would have their own organized crime rings. Right now, they didn’t because they were always under suspicion. But one day, they probably would. In other words, today there was no Chechen mob, but in a couple of years, it was very possible that would change. However, that was a different problem for a different day, and if I got lucky it would never be my problem.
Sadly, I was not a lucky person. We were standing outside the warehouse where we were supposed to meet our big shot mobsters. Some part of me, knew this was going to go very wrong, but that was just because almost everything in my life went wrong. Murphy didn’t just pop up in my life, my life was governed by his laws.
“Got your pearls?” Zeke whispered to me. I nodded solemnly. I had a small plastic baggy in the pockets of my jeans that contained an assortment of pearls no longer on a cord. Some of them had chipped or broken, because they were glass pearls. It had not been a pearl necklace; these pearls had gone in a much lower area and had been in the shape of a thong. My mother had insisted I buy them before my honeymoon. On sad honeymoon, we’d faced a car bomb, because I wasn’t the only one with a past in this marriage, and the zipper on one of our suitcases had broken sending the pearl thong skittering across the ground, in my horror and embarrassment, I had gone after the pearls that didn’t go around the neck, and collected most of them, which had saved me from being at the car’s trunk at the time of the explosion. Zeke now considered them lucky and asked me to carry them everywhere. Since they were just pearls at this point, I did.
I didn’t believe in luck, not really. However, Zeke like most mercenaries did. For some reason, bad ass men seemed to be superstitious. Thankfully, we were in a country where superstition was still integral to everyday life and I was currently trying to figure out how to use that to our advantage. I was coming up blank because while I knew Russians were superstitious, I didn’t know what they were superstitious about.
“You look like you swallowed a really big bug,” Apex said over the communicator in my ear. Zeke was also wearing one. Thankfully they couldn’t hear my thoughts even though it was so small it felt like it was touching my brain. However, I had to admit, I couldn’t see it in my ear in the mirror and I couldn’t see Zeke’s even though he was standing right next to me.
My uncle Nikolai was eyeing the three Chechens who had shown up to play bodyguards suspiciously. I don’t think he believed our “they helped rescue me” story. Nikolai had been a member of the secret police during the days of the Soviet Union, now he was a member of a different secret police, he mostly handled organized crime cases. I had told him he didn’t have to come; I didn’t want to put his life or job in jeopardy. However, I was dealing with the mob and he had insisted so now he stood outside the building with the six of us and two Russian Mob muscle guys waiting for the signal to bring us in. Vasilli was here because he was my go between. Sure, I was dealing with the mob directly this time, but Vasilli was still a good person to have around. He was big and scary and seemed to enjoy killing people in the mob. If he had been Chechen, I would have suspected him as the serial killer, but being Chechen seemed important, I had been reminded of it twice this morning by Apex, every time I had started to wonder aloud if Chechen actually mattered to the pop psychology profile, something Aislinn and more importantly Lucas, really didn’t believe in.
“You still look like you swallowed a massive bug,” Zeke said after a moment.
“I feel like I’m being punished,” I admitted.
“Well, no good deed,” Zeke shrugged but gently brushed my fingers. Unfortunately, he was right. Most of my good deeds resulted in pain for me. I looked at the ground in front of my feet checking for potholes and cracks. The average adult was capable of walking without looking at their feet, I was not average.
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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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