Wednesday, November 20, 2013 | By: Drotuno

Fire & Ice Chapter 10 & Pics

Chapter 10
“Because your dad would be pissed. I’m Boris Zukov.”
My breath caught for a second at the sound of that name. He’d been the complete unknown in this whole thing, yet an important missing piece so far. We couldn’t even find pictures of him, much less find him after he’d disappeared from MCC.
“Oh my damn, pretty boy may just pull the trigger, Bells,” Mickey whispered to me, our weapons still trained on the stranger surrounded by the entire lot of us.
As she murmured that only to me, my heart clenched when Edward reached up to his Glock and chambered a round. The click-click-click was loud in the silence around us, and it made me jump into action. I hopped down from the back of the van, rushing to the older gentleman that was still fucking grinning.
“Edward, wait,” I stated softly, looking to the man with my very angry, very ready to pull the damn trigger husband in front of him. “If you’re Boris, who were they?” I asked, jerking a thumb behind me toward the woods where the four bodies had been stashed.
“George Stefan’s men most likely,” he guessed, his brow furrowing. “Too bad George wasn’t with them. That would’ve been really helpful.”

I gave a quick glance at Edward, seeing his anger, but a little bit of doubt, as well. Turning back to the man claiming to be Carlisle’s old friend, I reached up and took the sniper rifle out of his still-raised hands. Blindly, I passed it behind me to Jasper, who took it.
“You have to understand, we can’t trust you at your word,” I told Boris, then to Emmett, I ordered, “Pat him down,” stepping back a little. Emmett found his wallet, a set of keys, and a knife in his pockets, handing them to me. The ID inside was for Boris Zukov, but considering I had my own fake identification in my cargos, I didn’t trust that, either. “Not buying it yet,” I told him, holding up his wallet.
“I wouldn’t expect you to,” he countered, looking to me. “But my God, you must be Bella.”
I had to move quickly, placing a hand in the middle of Edward’s chest and pushing Boris back a little. He stumbled a step or two, but maintained his balance, especially when it was Emmett’s broad chest he fell against.
“Wrong thing to say,” I sighed mainly to myself, but Boris heard me, glancing at me just before Edward spoke.
“Asshole, you’d better start talking, or you’ll join those bastards in the woods,” he threatened.
“I just saved you from those bastards,” Boris argued, but flinched when I pointed a finger at him.
“And we’re grateful, truly, but if you don’t start talking – like how you know my name – then I may just get out of his way,” I told him, jerking a thumb behind me toward Edward. I knew my husband well enough that he was probably grinning evilly behind me at that threat.
“Okay, okay,” Boris groaned, shaking his head. “I am Boris Zukov. I’m fifty-six, born in St. Petersburg, Russia. I first met Carlisle Cullen in the Gulf War. We’ve worked together for about twenty-five years, even after we both left our respective militaries. I was at… Edward, I attended your mother’s funeral.” I frowned at the noted sadness that came through his voice, even more when he said the next thing. “Carlisle showed me pictures. You look just like her.”
I glanced to Edward, who seemed to be a bit shocked, but I turned back to Boris. “And me…how do you know me?”
He grinned. “Because Carlisle is so very proud of his goddaughter…now daughter-in-law. And don’t get me started on those grandchildren of his. He speaks of the four of you endlessly…that is, when we talked last.” He sighed, the smile slipping off his face. “You have no reason to trust me, but I promise you, I’m here to help.” He jerked his chin toward the woods, but looked directly at my husband. “I owe your father a life-debt. He saved my ass twice. It’s time to repay him.”
“And just how did you know we’d be here?” Edward asked, but he at least sounded like he was willing to listen.
Boris grimaced a little. “Sergei Maslov received Alexander Gunter’s journal…and the plans to the Mining and Chemical Combine in Krasnoyarsk…from me.”
That statement made everyone go rigid.
“Why is that?” Edward snapped. “You should know it got his ass shot.”
“He’s dead?” Boris gasped, his mouth hanging open and his eyes widening.
“Not yet,” Emmett rumbled from behind him. “Damn well came close, though.”
“I fucking told him to watch his ass,” he murmured to himself, but looked back to Edward. “Sergei…he’s in trouble. His whole town is in trouble. I went to Norilsk weeks ago at Carlisle’s request. He asked me to look around, speak to Sergei on his behalf, and to look into the man that wanted to buy the mine.”
“I thought the buyer backed out,” I asked, narrowing my eyes on the man.
“He did, eventually,” Boris concurred, “but only when we started digging into his past. Carlisle wasn’t gonna sell to just anyone. He wanted to make sure that if he did release it, it was going to someone that would run it correctly, maybe even clean it up.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“When I visited Norilsk, I saw the man that wanted to buy the mine. Yury Spektor. He’s Sergei’s second-in-command there. I didn’t trust him, because he seemed to have a little bit more command of the men around him than Maslov did. And that’s when I knew Maslov was in trouble. So I traced Yury to Krasnoyarsk.”
“How are they connected?” I asked, my brow wrinkling. “We tried to tie MCC and Norilsk together, but we didn’t find anyone that showed up at both mines.”
“You wouldn’t,” he stated, shaking his head. “Yury would’ve only showed up at one of the mines. In Krasnoyarsk, he was paid cash for his services.”
“What fucking services?” Edward asked.
“He was paid to transport uranium out of the country. It supposedly went to Canada, and most of it did, but not all. He was smuggling it, fixing the numbers, and hiding it inside Norilsk,” he stated. “For George Stefan.”
“Okay, this asshole’s name keeps popping up. I wanna know what the fuck he has to do with all of this,” Emmett spoke up.
“And his connection to Vladimir Stahl or Gunter…or what-the-fuck-ever that asshole’s last name is,” Edward added, sounding a heartbeat away from losing his patience.
Boris’s eyes widened. “You know more than I thought. Vladimir and Stefan are in a race to get Alexander Gunter’s work back. They both want it. See, Stahl had originally hired Stefan to bring him his father’s work, but Stefan only sells to the highest bidder, and he’s got someone willing to pay way more than Stahl. That’s why he took Carlisle, to blackmail you into moving faster than Stefan.” He grimaced before saying, “Stahl is using you guys to beat Stefan to the punch.”
“How do you know this?” I asked.
Boris shrugged. “You pay the right amount to the right people, ask the right questions, you find out who’s screwing whom.”
Edward hissed a string of curses, finally lowering his weapon from Boris’s face. “And just how did Stahl know about me? About my crew?” he asked, waving his hand around him.
“Maslov, probably,” Boris answered, shrugging a shoulder. “He knew of your dad’s former career. Or it’s possible he found out who was hired to take out his father.”
“And just how does Gunter’s son fit into Norilsk?” I asked, finding myself getting angry.
Boris looked a touch guilty, but he locked gazes with me and then Edward. “The man that hired us all those years ago to take out Gunter was found tortured in his own home. If Stahl did that, then it would’ve led him straight to Norilsk as soon as he researched Carlisle’s name.”
“And you just let them take Carlisle in order to for him to do all of this?” I snapped, my hands balling up into fists.
Boris shook his head vehemently. “I didn’t have time to relay all of this to Carlisle. Once I knew he was already in Moscow, I was deep inside MCC – as you call it. I was trying to get information to give to Carlisle. He needed to know who his potential buyer was associating with, not to mention how they’re practically holding Norilsk hostage.”
“Is that why you disappeared?” I asked him. “Because Carlisle had no idea you’d vanished.”
“I got the hell out of there when Maslov called me, begging me to help him. He was about to have a meeting with Carlisle, but he thought that he was being watched. I emailed him everything to sneak to your dad. That was two days before they took him. It was the only way we could do it in order not to set off alarms,” he explained. “What I want to know is why your dad came over here anyway? He normally wouldn’t.”
Edward shook his head, but sagged a little. “Maslov manipulated him. So…whoever’s pulling those puppet strings must’ve threatened him in order to convince my dad to fly at least into Moscow. They were fucking around enough to send red flags up. My guess is Maslov was in too deep, so when he finally tried to ask for help, it was too fucking late. When we got involved, discovered who you were and that you’d gone off the grid, my father finally knew he was in trouble.”
Boris looked crestfallen at that. “I should’ve moved faster.”
“Maybe,” Edward agreed, shrugging a shoulder. “I’m not sure I believe you. You’re still on thin fucking ice with me, but we need to get the fuck out of here. Whoever’s holding my dad only gave us a small window to get what they need. If we’ve got this Stefan guy out there, then my team has to be better, faster, smarter.” Edward looked around at us. “He’s to be watched at all times. Don’t take your eyes off of him, but load up. We’ll head back to Kiev first.”
I set the tablet onto the bed, feeling a hell of a lot better after a shower. Chernobyl had left me feeling gross and dirty, not to mention a little off kilter after having watched four men meet their demise at ugly end of a sniper rifle. The drive back to Kiev had been quiet, but we were one step closer to getting Carlisle back. The next question was where to next.
I could hear Edward’s voice in the hotel room next door. Eleazar and Felix were taking charge of watching Boris. Jasper had disassembled the sniper rifle, and the older man hadn’t had any other weapons on him or even in the car he’d rented, which Emmett had driven back.
Rose’s face was the one that greeted me when I connected to Alaska.
Smiling, I said, “Tell me she’s finally sleeping.”
Rose snorted, rolling her eyes. “Alice is finally sleeping. I’ve threatened the lives of all her minions if they wake her.”
I chuckled. “Fair enough.”
“You guys okay?” she asked.
Nodding, I said, “Yeah, we’re okay. That was a close one. Next time, we’ll need you guys. We didn’t see anyone approach. We almost lost Alec and Kurt.”
“Believe me, Alice was pissed the hell off. She spent a good few hours reconfiguring Igor to alert you the next time there’s a heat source approaching.” Her nose wrinkled a little. “I’m pretty sure a mouse could move in on you and you’ll know about it.”
I grinned. “I have no doubt. The pixie doesn’t like mistakes, and never allows them to happen twice.”
Rose laughed. “No shit. If Igor was a man, she’d have castrated his ass.”
I spent the next few minutes catching Rose up with our most recent events, including everything that Boris told us.
She took notes, started some research, but finally looked up at me. “You know…if this Yury guy and the weapons dealer…um, Stefan… If those jerks are using Norilsk to do all their dirty work, then where is this Stahl jackass?” She smiled ruefully, holding up a finger. “We find that, and we may just find where they’re holding Carlisle.”
“I know. Trust me, that thought has crossed my mind. Alice was going to do a search on him, using his mom and the different last names. Do you know if she came across anything?” I asked her.
“She was following a few leads. I’ll know more when she gets up,” she explained. “She didn’t want to tell you anything until she knew for sure.”
“Okay,” I sighed, understanding that line of thinking. We had enough information coming our way as it was.
“So where to next?” she asked.
“Back to El’s safe house,” I told her. “Irina’s brother is flying into Kiev tomorrow to pick up some of us in his plane. There are now too many for Edward’s chopper. We’ll regroup there, try to figure out whether MCC is where we’re headed next. My guess is that it is. We’ll only have two days to have everything before there’s another ransom call.”
“That’s gonna be tough stuff,” she sighed, shaking her head. “That place is pretty locked down, from what I can tell.”
“That’ll be all on Mickey, the poor thing. We’ll have to break in, actually,” I told her. “I’ll know more once we get back to the safe house.”
“Okay. Speaking of minions, want to see yours?” Rose asked with a chuckle.
“Very much so.” I grinned. “That’s really why I was calling.”
I heard her call for Bethy and Sammy at the same time that Edward stepped into our room. I waved him over, and he lay down next to me on the bed.
He dropped a kiss to my head, whispering, “Thank you. I was going to ask you to call them before we crashed.”
Smiling, I nodded, but both of us drank in the sight of our kids when they popped up on the screen.
“Hi!” Bethy chirped.
“Hey, pretty girl,” I sighed. “You bein’ good for Aunt Kate and Gamma?”
“Caleb got in trouble. He broke a window with a ball,” Sammy said with a mischievous grin.
“But we’re bein’ good, Mommy. Promise,” Bethy vowed, even going as far as to cross her heart.
Edward and I laughed, and we sat for a good while just listening to them babble at us. They told us that Tom was teaching them how to saddle the horses, that they sheered the sheep, that Lock and Load chased a rabbit all over the property, and on and on. The sound of their chatter was just about the best thing I’d heard in a long time.
“Beffy had a bad dream,” Sammy whispered, ducking when his sister shushed him.
“Don’t hit,” I chided, frowning. “Baby, what bad dream?”
“Wanna talk about it, little sweetness?” Edward asked, his face sobering up.
“No,” she grumped, shooting her brother a scathing look. “Gamma says it’s just ’cause I miss you.”
“We miss you, too,” Edward and I said at the same time.
“Both of you,” Edward added. “But you’re okay? What was that dream about?”
Bethy pouted just a little, but we took her nightmares seriously. She didn’t have them as often as she once did, but occasionally, her kidnapping would come back.
“The Mean Man,” she muttered, not looking at the screen.
Edward’s face was heartbreaking, because anytime the Mean Man was mentioned, he’d wrap our daughter up in the safety of his arms and talk to her, but he couldn’t touch her now. I knew it had to be killing him.
“Little sweetness, look at me,” he ordered softly, and she did. “What did I tell you about him?”
“That he’s gone, Daddy. I know! Sammy shouldn’t have told!” she practically yelled.
“Gamma said you had to tell them!” Sammy argued, rolling his eyes.
Edward chuckled at them both. It was impossible to keep a straight face when they were so much like us – stubborn and smart and just plain brave.
“Enough, both of you,” he said with a chuckle. When they looked back his way, he said, “I know this is hard, that we don’t usually stay apart this long, but I…” He frowned, stopping himself.
“Guys,” I called, linking my fingers with Edward’s. “We’re doing our best to get done and come back. You gotta be patient. We love you and miss you, and we’re working really hard. But Bethy, you did a good thing by going to Gamma, ’cause guess what,” I told her, smiling when she shook her head. “I had a nightmare, too. They’re scary, and I know no one chases them away better than Daddy, but a hug from Gamma works, too. Do it again if you have to, okay? Nightmares happen to everyone. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
“Where you scared?” she asked, playing with a pencil on the table.
“Absolutely, baby,” I told her.
“And Daddy gave you hugs?” she asked, looking between us.
Edward chuckled, because he’d given more than a hug, but our daughter didn’t need to know that.
“He did, and I know he’s the best at hugs, but Gamma is a close second. I promise. Take it from someone who knows, yeah?” I said, grinning and leaning into Edward’s kiss to my temple.
“I want hugs and ’mooches when you come home,” she ordered Edward, pointing a finger his way.
“Yes, ma’am!” he grunted, giving her a wink and a salute.
“Did you find Poppy yet?” Sammy asked softly.
“Not yet, buddy, but we’re trying,” Edward told him.
“You think…if you find him…we’ll still go campin’?” he asked us.
“I’m not sure Poppy has ever broken a promise to you guys, has he?” Edward asked them. “He never broke one to me.” He shrugged, smiling when the kids shook their heads. “He may be late, but if he says he’s gonna do somethin’, then he’ll do it.”
That was a tough promise to make, but I could see the harsh determination in my husband’s eyes when he looked to me. He was planning to move mountains to get his father back, if only to be able to hand his children their Poppy back.
I nodded, turning to the tablet. “I love you guys. Be safe.”
“We’ll talk to you again soon,” Edward said, waiting until they said the words back. He reached up to turn off the tablet, and when he turned to me, I could see his worry. “I-I c-can’t f-fail th-them.”
“I can’t imagine you could if you tried, Edward,” I soothed, taking off his hat and raking my fingers through his hair. “Go shower, baby. I want you rested when we fly out tomorrow.”
He sighed wearily, getting up off the bed. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Do you think we can trust this intel now?” Jasper asked, giving Boris a side glance, but pointed to the layout of MCC on the tablet in his hand.
“We don’t have a fucking choice,” I muttered back, shrugging a shoulder. “No matter what, we’ve got to get inside that combine and take that uranium.”
“That’s illegal as fuck, you know,” he said, leaning against the hangar doorway.
We’d been back at Irina’s long enough to land, eat, and for everyone to grab a little sleep – very little sleep. It was the only place Eleazar and I figured would fit everyone. Kurt, Mickey, and Bella were just about to contact Alice. We needed to know if she’d found anything on Vladimir Stahl. Boris was under Felix’s control, but Eleazar was walking our way.
“I have a suggestion about getting into MCC,” he whispered so that it wouldn’t echo up the hangar. “But first…I want to talk to my sister. I want to know what Carlisle’s said about this asshole,” he grunted, pointing to Boris.
Grinning, I slapped his shoulder. “We should let him listen in, yeah?”
Jasper chuckled. “That ought to make him sweat. She says the wrong thing, this motherfucker is toast.” He leaned closer to me. “And I’m not so sure Bellsy won’t beat you to it.”
Snorting, I nodded. “I may let her.”
We walked through the hangar back to the living area. Eleazar and I sat down next to Bella, who was already pulling up a video chat with Alice.
“Wow, why so serious?” Alice taunted, but held up a hand. “Don’t answer that. Ignore me. I’ve been staring at maps for the last few hours. Sorry about Chernobyl. It won’t happen again.”
“Alice,” I said with a chuckle at her fierce expression. “No one’s blaming you. I know we need to go over some things with you, but is it possible for you to get Esme?”
Her head snapped around from the screen she’d been studying, but nodded solemnly. “Yep, yep, yep. Let me get her.”
Bella looked to me, her brow wrinkling, and I kissed it, whispering, “You’ll see.”
Mickey, Emmett, and Felix all took seats around the table. Boris was the only one out of the camera’s view when Esme showed up on the screen. She looked like Alice had woken her up. She was wearing a robe, but her face was hopeful.
“Edward? El? Everything okay?” she asked, and I saw how worn out she looked. It hurt to think she wasn’t getting rest.
“We’re okay, Es,” her brother answered. “But we have some questions for you. I’m sorry if we woke you.”
She waved away the concern, but said, “I don’t care about that. What do you need?”
“Tell us what Carlisle’s told you about Boris,” Eleazar stated, giving the man in question a raised eyebrow. “Did you meet him? Talk to him on the phone?”
She was already shaking her head. “I never met him. Carlisle was looking forward to introducing us, but we didn’t…”
“I understand,” I soothed her. “What did Dad tell you?”
“I heard him on the phone, though,” she answered, smiling a little. “He’s Russian, but his accent isn’t thick, and his English was perfect.” When I nodded, she went on. “Your dad showed me a picture of the two of them…from the Gulf War.”
My eyebrows shot up, because so far, she’d said everything the older man at the other end of the table had said.
“Can you remember what he looks like, Es?” Eleazar prompted.
“Yeah, he’s about Carlisle’s age, shorter, with gray at his temples, though Carlisle said there’s more gray now. And he also told me Boris walks with a limp, that he’s lucky to be limping, because he almost got killed on some mission ages ago. He said that if he hadn’t pushed him out of the way, the grenade would’ve killed Boris instead of just wounding his leg.”
Glancing up, I saw Boris nodding, but he was taking this line of interrogation just fine, like he’d assumed it was coming. I had to hand it to the old man; he’d been cool as a fucking cucumber when my gun was pointed at his forehead, even more when my wife had questioned him, and he’d taken being guarded like a POW with a grain of salt.
I looked back to my stepmother. “Anything else, Esme?”
She nodded. “Yes. Carlisle gave me Boris’s contact number. He said if I lost contact with you guys or we were separated in Moscow, I was to call him, to trust him. I was supposed to tell him who I was, and ask him…” She frowned, rubbing her forehead. “I was supposed to say, ‘home is where the heart is.’”
“Your heart stays with you, it’s your soul you leave at home,” Boris replied softly.
“Yes, exactly! How’d you guys know that?” Esme asked.
Smirking, I shook my head. So the old man was for real. I waved him over. “Esme, meet Boris Zukov.”
Bella got up and offered Boris her chair, and he took it, but she stood behind me with her hands on my shoulders.
“Esme, it’s an honor to meet you,” Boris said softly, placing a hand over his heart. “I’m so sorry it’s under these circumstances. I was not fast enough. I tried to get to you. Honestly.”
She smiled warmly at him, but it turned serious. “The last time you two talked, why didn’t you tell us to go?”
“He swore to me that he had everything under control. And the last time we talked, I didn’t know how deep this ran. On my life, I will get him back for you,” he vowed, and for the first time, I saw why my dad trusted this man. He meant every word.
Eleazar read his sister better than the rest of us, because he stopped her from saying whatever it was she was about to say. “Easy, Esme. He came through with flying colors yesterday – pulled our asses out of a tight situation. He’s going to prove most helpful,” he promised her, but it was the grip to Boris’s shoulder that didn’t go unmissed.
The old man grimaced, but nodded at the same time, which caused Jasper and Emmett to snicker at him. Eleazar was an older man, but he was not to be fucked with. We all respected him, and he was tough as fucking nails.
Esme nodded, looking around the screen. “Everyone still okay?”
“Yes, ma’am,” we all answered her – every last one of us.
“Good. If that’s it from me, I’ll give you back to Alice before she paces a groove in Kate’s floors,” she said, giving us a small smile. Before she left the screen, she glanced up at us. “Edward, Bella, I’m keeping an eye on Bethy.”
“Another bad dream?” Bella asked, leaning forward over my shoulder.
“Yes. I think it’s simply because she’s worried and misses you, but she’s been coming in my room,” she said and then smiled. “Not that I mind. She’s a good snuggler.”
“That she is,” I said with a chuckle. “Thanks, Esme. We’re doing our best.”
“I know you are. We all do,” she stated before standing up. “Love all of you. Be careful, yeah?”
Again, the hangar echoed with, “Yes, ma’am,” from all of us.
Alice sat back down at the computer, eyeing the man between me and Eleazar. “Has he got ID?” she asked, narrowing her eyes.
“Yep,” Kurt replied, holding it up for her to see.
“Mmhm,” she hummed, looking like she wasn’t going to believe shit until she checked Boris out for herself. “And just where the hell have you been?” she asked him, but didn’t give him a chance to answer. “Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see… You talked to Carlisle about three days before he was taken. You don’t own a home in your name, yet your activity mainly resides just outside of Moscow,” she said, raising an eyebrow. “You know, credit card activity, pharmacy registrations, library card…and movie rentals.”
Boris’s eyebrows shot up. “So much for hiding.”
“Pfft, as if,” Alice scoffed, rolling her eyes. “Not from me. Not when Carlisle taught me what to look for. Ghosts, my ass. It’s all about where you look.” She smiled super-sweetly at him. “And will you look at that… You arrived in Moscow a day late and a dollar short, not to mention a little trouble here and there.”
Bella chuckled. “That’s enough, pixie. He’ll either earn our trust,” she said, giving Boris a firm glare, “or he won’t. I suggest that he behave, or else it won’t be pretty.”
Chuckling at my evil girl and the pale, worried face of Boris, I turned to Alice on the screen. “Stahl, Alice. What did you find out?”
“Okay, okay, okay,” she chanted. “Down to it, then. There’s nothing in that man’s name. I mean nothing. I researched his mother’s name, only to follow their trail after leaving Chernobyl…and Vladimir’s father. They left the Ukraine, rented a small place in Moscow, only to finally move north to St. Petersburg to live with Celia’s only living relative…her sister, Sasha. Her last name was Spektor.”
“Oh hell,” Emmett sighed, sitting forward. “Let me guess, shorty. Our buddy Vlad’s got a cousin. Perhaps goes by the name Yury?”
Alice frowned at the screen and then at us. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. How the hell did you know that?”
We all looked to Boris, but then to Eleazar, who spoke up. “Cross reference Yury Spektor with Norilsk, Alice,” he told her.
“He’s the buyer that backed out,” she whispered, looking up at us. “Okay, spill…what do you know?”
I turned to Eleazar. “I’m thinking Yury is playing both sides of the fence. What do you think?”
El laughed softly. “I’m thinking the same thing. He’s loyal to his cousin, but George Stefan makes him more money. So…let’s see.” He got up and started to pace. “So Yury grows up with Vladimir, hearing all about how things went down in Chernobyl and then later when Alexander was killed. I see Gunter followed his family to St. Petersburg, so I’m wondering if the kid didn’t see his father against Mom’s wishes.”
“Oh, damn,” Bella gasped, her mouth hanging open. “So…Vlad’s father probably spins this tale of how wronged he was, maybe Vlad did find out who took the hit on his father, and they set up to take Carlisle from the get-go.” She smiled a little. “But when they hire George Stefan, he screws them over…or Yury helps screw his own cousin over.”
“What do you want to bet it’s Yury we’re talkin’ to on the phone?” I asked to no one in particular. Everyone stopped for a moment, but stared at me. “What? It’s just a guess,” I defended, shrugging a shoulder.
“No, no, kid,” Alec stated, standing up. “It’s a really fucking good guess. In fact, it’s a helluva thought.” He turned to Boris. “It’s time to earn your keep. When you were in Norilsk, what did you see?”
“Not much,” he replied. “Yury was there, but I think because I came in under Carlisle’s order, he made himself scarce. But his men watched me the entire time.”
Bella leaned over me again. “Alice, where does Yury spend the majority of his time? His money?”
Alice typed away on the computer, nodding as she usually did. “He mainly works at the mine named Mayak.” She popped a Norilsk map up onto the screen. “See…Norilsk is kinda big, but there are like six fully functioning, fully operational mines. Each mine kinda has its own village around it where the workers live. It’s all apartments and housing, but he lives there with his wife and works out of that mine’s offices.”
“So did Sergei Maslov,” Boris added with a nod.
“Who, by the way, may just pull through,” Alice muttered, giving us a pointed look. “He’s still critical, but he seems to be hangin’ in there.”
“Good to know, Alice,” I told her, but turned to Eleazar. “Let me ask you… Back when Norilsk was working dirty deals out the back door, which mine was the so-called back door?”
El grinned. “Mayak.”
“Of course it was,” Bella chortled. “It seems some things never change. And I hate to rush anyone, but we’ve really got to talk about MCC. Because we’ve got…” She glanced up at the clock. “We’ve got less than forty-eight hours before this asshole calls us…or rather, calls Edward back about Carlisle and…”
“Easy, sweetness,” I soothed her, turning to pull her to me. “I believe Eleazar had an idea about that.”
Eleazar nodded, looking to Felix. “I don’t know about you guys, but I really don’t think it’s a smart idea to be breaking into a facility that could essentially put us all in jail for the rest of our lives. Breaking into MCC is dangerous. I say…let Stefan do it.”
Everyone started to argue at one time, but Mickey’s shrill whistle shut us up.
“Will you shut the hell up and let him explain?” she sighed, rolling her eyes.
El snorted, but nodded once her way. “Felix and I could go there in a…professional manner. Explain the situation. We could take sole responsibility for the possession of Gunter’s uranium. We could tag it, track it, and follow it.”
“Wait,” Bella said, turning to face him. “You mean go in as yourselves, as CIA operatives, telling MCC exactly what’s going on.”
“Yes, because I guaran-fucking-tee you that Stefan is on his way there as we speak. He knows the only place he can get that uranium for those missiles is there,” El stated, pointing to the storage container that we’d taken from Chernobyl. He then picked up the extra GPS chips and a couple of micro cameras. “We’d assume responsibility for it, not only promising to get it back, but stop the asshole from smuggling it. We tag it and follow it. I’d put big money on the fact that it heads straight north to Norilsk, specifically the Mayak mine.”
“And if it doesn’t?” Jasper countered.
“We’d still be able to track it,” Alice piped up. “With no problems, actually. Especially if we know no one with fuck with it. Tell me now, and I’ll walk Kurt through calibrating them, and Mickey can show you how to attach a camera so it’s not seen.”
All eyes landed on me. And fuck me, not for the first time, I hated that I was calling the shots. It made my father’s absence that much more in my fucking face.
Sighing, I glanced around, but my gaze landed on Emmett, then Mickey, and finally, Bella. Breaking into MCC was so fucking touchy…and illegal, and if for some reason we weren’t successful, then everyone in that hangar could essentially go to jail or get killed. Following Eleazar’s suggestion would make it easier on everyone, but the possibility of losing the last key to getting my dad back was weighing heavily on me. I stood up, my hands clawing at my hair.
As if he could read my mind, Felix’s hand landed on my shoulder. “We won’t lose him, Ed. If I have to follow the asshole all by myself, we’ll keep track of that uranium.”
I nodded that I’d heard him, but rubbed my mouth as I weighed it out. Looking from El to Felix, I bit my bottom lip. “Okay,” I sighed, nodding. “Okay, but we do this my way.” I held up a finger. “You want to look official, and we gotta beat these assholes there, so I’ll fly you. Alec and I will be inside the chopper. Everyone else stays here.” Everyone started to argue, my wife one of them, but I held up my hand. “Stop!” I yelled, looking to Bella. “I mean it. They need to look as official as possible, and they’ll be in and out. That’s it. We’ll fly back to here to regroup and track Stefan. Once we know for sure where it stops, we’ll go in hard and fast. Got me?” I asked, and I received murmurs of acceptance.
Bella shook her head, glaring at me. “This will be the only time we’re separated, Cullen,” she ordered firmly, “but I get it. I’ll run info with you…” She held up a finger. “On one condition, Edward.”
“What’s that?” I asked her, thinking I’d do anything she asked, because she always thought about sides of shit none of us considered.
“Take Jasper with you, drop him somewhere he can monitor you. I want you guys protected at all times,” she stated, looking to Jasper, who looked willing to do as she asked.
I turned to Eleazar. “Got a problem with that?”
“Nope, kid,” El said with a chuckle. “In fact, it’s smart thinking if Stefan has his own men out there.”
Turning back to my wife, I smirked, “Deal, sweetness. Now, let’s get this shit ready to roll. I need to fuel up, and Eleazar and Felix need to get dressed. I wanna move out in an hour.”


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