Wednesday, December 4, 2013 | By: Drotuno

Fire & Ice Chapter 14 & Pics

Chapter 14
“You stupid son of a bitch!”
I braced myself for the hit that was coming. I was being held, so there was no way I could protect myself. I grunted, gritting my teeth against the hard punch. Apparently, my good friend whose cousin I’d killed at the hotel in Moscow needed a little get-back. His face was a bruised, purple swollen mess from our last encounter.
“Looking good. You should model with that fucking face,” I taunted, shifting my weight against the men holding me. What they couldn’t see was what I was hiding in my grip.
Another punch – this time, to my gut. I doubled over, groaning and chuckling at the same time, because he’d just given me ample opportunity to grip the weapon I’d made out of my spoon. A few bends back and forth, and the spoon part was gone, leaving a nice, sharp, twisted piece of metal, not unlike a shank in prison fights.
With both hands wrapped around the spoon’s handle, I surged forward, swinging hard. I caught the asshole hard in the stomach, only to jab again at his neck. Smiling at the fact that I’d left the spoon’s handle in his flesh and at the sharp, metallic scent of blood filling my cell, I shoved the fucker back.
It was a fatal wound. He’d bleed out from his jugular before he made it out of my cell. His buddies dropped me, but it was too late; he collapsed to the ground, holding his neck. Within a few seconds, I had two men on me, kicking, punching, and shoving me against the wall.

“Enough!” a voice yelled, causing the men to drop me.
There was a moment when the room went black, the jackasses having gotten in a few kicks to my head. My stomach ached, the fingers on my left hand felt broken, and the zip-ties that bound my wrists had cut even deeper as I’d fought. I still pushed myself up into a sitting position, glaring at my captor.
“Fuck the lights, Yury,” I panted. “I know it’s you, you stupid motherfucker. You can stop hiding.”
His laugh was light, but it didn’t last long. He stepped past the light at the same time that several men dragged out the bloody body. The cell slammed closed, but a guard was left inside with an automatic rifle.
“Impressive, Carlisle,” Yury drawled, jerking a thumb behind him. “You saved me the trouble from doing that shit myself. I’d ordered you not to be touched.”
I nodded. “You’re fucking welcome, then.”
He grinned, and it, too, fell quickly. “Perhaps I underestimated you. You know who I am, you killed one of my men…”
“Maybe,” I allowed, flinching when pain shot through my head and ribs. “Or perhaps you need better men. You can thank one of them for letting your name slip.”
He smirked, but he didn’t say anything for a moment. “It’s time to call your son, Carlisle. How much faith do you have in him? Would you bet your life on him?”
I didn’t answer him, simply staring at his face. He seemed over-confident, like he knew the answers to all the cosmic riddles. I trusted my son – and his crew, for that matter – with my life.
“He’s had plenty of time to do as I’d asked. Guess we’ll find out if we can kill you or not, huh?” Yury posed.
I snorted, rolled my eyes, and waved him on. I was pretty sure if Edward had what this asshole wanted, he wouldn’t just hand it over…or at least, I hoped not.
Yury pulled out a cell phone, and I noted it was a different one from the last. I wondered for a second if that was giving Alice shit-fits trying to trace calls. He put it on speaker, letting it ring.
“Cullen!” my son answered, and he sounded pissed the fuck off.
“Ah, young Cullen. I hope I find you successful in your progress.” He grinned my way, but I gave him nothing.
“Fuck you. I wanna talk to my father before I tell you shit. Now. Like ten fucking seconds ago,” Edward demanded, sounding a bit more in control than the last time we’d talked.
Yury nodded, walking to me and holding the phone out. “Fair enough. Carlisle, say hello to your son.”
“Edward,” I stated, and my head gave another dull throb, which made me wonder just how fucking hard those assholes had kicked me.
“You okay, Dad?”
Glaring Yury’s way, I said, “Yeah, son, but don’t you dare give these motherfuckers a damn thing. Am I clear?”
“Dad, I’m going to do what I have to in order to get you out of there. I need you to hang in there for me,” Edward vowed over the line, and while I heard somewhat of a tone of sarcasm in his voice, I didn’t let anything show on my face.
Yury snatched the phone away, standing up and starting to pace. “Not so fast, Edward. Tell me your progress.”
“I’ve got what you want, but this trade will go my way. And I don’t give a shit where you are or where you have to come from. You’ll make this trade at the Mayak mine in Norlisk.”
I studied Yury when he didn’t answer my son immediately. He looked nervous as shit when he spoke next. “No can do, Cullen. That’s not good for me.”
“Trust me when I tell you that George Stefan is out of this fucked-up race you’ve put me in. I have control of his little village, and he’s soon to be…removed from the equation altogether. Now… I have the missile casings and the uranium. I want my father in my sights before you get shit. Front gates, at dawn.”
I couldn’t stop my eyebrows from rising up if I tried. George Stefan. I snorted just a little to myself, shaking my head. Yury was playing a dangerous fucking game. I knew for a damn fact George Stefan wasn’t behind my kidnapping. That wasn’t his style. I knew if they were looking for Alexander Gunter’s work, then then there was either big money involved…or it was personal. I knew George Stefan traded arms all over Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S., and I knew that Yury answered to someone else when he left my cell. There was a player in all of this I couldn’t figure out. If I had to guess, then maybe Gunter had a relative, perhaps a son, that wanted revenge.
Yury finally gave Edward an answer. “Okay, but I want to be able to see both crates from the road.”
“I can do that,” Edward replied instantly, but I’d taught him well enough that he was most likely laying a trap.
“Dawn,” Yury stated through gritted teeth, but he hung up and then spun to me, livid. “How does he know? How?!” he yelled in my face.
“Know what?” I asked, now understanding that whatever Yury’s plans were, they just flew out the fucking window.
“How does Edward know about Stefan? How could he possibly know?” he hissed, leaning toward me to smack my face.
Groaning at the pain of my head more than the hit, I squeezed back tears. “You wanted him to do this job, then don’t be surprised when he one-ups your ass. Trust me, I’m not the only one you’ve underestimated.”
He pulled out his phone again, speaking quickly and angrily. “Abort Mayak, Stefan. You can’t go there. The whole thing’s blown. Pick me up now. I have to get out of here.”
Yury turned back to me and spewed profanities in my face in both English and Russian. With every word, he punched and punched. I curled up into a ball on the dirt floor in order to protect myself, but we both jumped when my cell door slammed open.
Yury stepped away from me, looking to the man at the back of the room. Through narrowed eyes, I could see that he was my true kidnapper…and the carbon copy of his father: Alexander Gunter.
“Get away from him, Yury,” the man ordered. “I told you, I want him alive at least until we trade him. Now, go clean yourself up and get ready to meet his son. I need this shit over and done with.”
Yury backed out of the room, but the other man stayed, stepping closer. He was wearing casual, yet expensive clothes.
“I must apologize for my cousin. He tends to get…passionate,” the man said slowly, smirking a little.
I frowned at the word cousin. In all my research, in all of Alice’s background checks, no one had come up as anyone from my past. I would’ve recognized the last name Gunter.
“Ah, I can see you’re a little confused. I’m Vladimir Stahl. I refuse to use my father’s name. It comes with a bad reputation, you see.” He placed his hand on his chest, but went on. “I’m sure you remember him, since it was you that killed him and stole his work in St. Petersburg.”
“I didn’t steal anything,” I grunted, pushing myself back up. “And your father was a proven danger to society. He was a job to me. No more. No less.”
“My father was a genius, and I wanted to continue his work. I need to show them all that he only did what they asked of him. I went to his house to talk to him, but he was dead. His journal was gone! Everything was gone! I tore the place apart looking for his work, but I accidentally burned the place down,” Vladimir sighed, shaking his head. “It took me a long time to find out who asked for his death and who killed him. The man that paid you died a most gruesome death. However, my cousin was working his way up through Norilsk when I realized that my father’s killer signed his damn paycheck.”
Smirking, I shrugged a shoulder. “I wouldn’t have sold to him.”
“No, but I was able to get you into this country. That’s all I needed. And I knew your history, knew what you used to do, so I took a gamble on whether your son, your old crew would help me beat that traitor, Stefan, to the punch,” he said with a sneer.
I laughed, hard, though it ended in a groan from the pain. “You hired George Stefan to find your father’s work? Let me guess how that turned out… He found a better, higher-paying buyer for it. I bet he left you high and fucking dry.”
That seemed to piss Vladimir off. He rounded on me. “You’re damn right he betrayed me. He’s going to sell my father’s work to the fucking North Koreans!”
Grinning, I shook my head. “Of course he is… They’ll pay him three times what you were going to pay him.”
We both looked up when the sound of yelling voices met our ears, even through the thick cell door. The next sound I heard made me grin: rapid gunfire…lots of it.
Vladimir ran to the door, yanking it open, but then turned to the guard, giving him an order in Russian. The guard left us quickly, engaging his weapon as he fled the room.
“Who could’ve found me?” Vladimir asked me, pulling out a handgun.
I chuckled low, because I could’ve sworn I felt the rumble of familiar chopper blades in the distance. “Well, either your cousin betrayed you…or my son is here. Either way, it looks like your little game is fucking over.”
“Oh my fucking God,” Kurt muttered, punching the accelerator of the Humvee. “Edward’s gonna kick my ass for this.”
Mickey and I snorted, but I shook my head, saying, “No, he won’t. I gave this order, Kurt.”
“Pretty boy may kick all of our asses,” Mickey added, grimacing a little. “We lost George Stefan.”
“No offense, but Stefan isn’t my priority. Carlisle is,” I stated firmly, checking my weapons, ammo, and earpiece. “He was the priority of this mission from the get-go. I know we said we’d stop those bombs from being sold, and we did, but this is the reason we came over here, why we’ve busted our asses for the last…what? Almost three weeks.”
The Humvee stayed quiet when I finished speaking, but they nodded in agreement, and I could’ve sworn I heard Edward mutter something, too, but I couldn’t quite make it out.
“Now, Alice…tell me what you can see. Send it to me,” I ordered over the com link.
“Okay, okay, okay…you’ve already got it,” she replied instantly. “Satellite images show movement, and lots of it. From what I can tell, there’s a structure of some sort out in front, then an opening to what looks like mine tunnels. Igor’s searching now for old maps of this place. It hasn’t been active for like twenty years or so.”
“I’m a go for take-off, sweetness,” Edward called over the line.
“Copy that,” I murmured back, studying everything Alice was sending me.
“I’d stop up here,” Emmett stated, eyeing our surroundings. “That little hill will hide us, but kill the fucking lights.”
We went dark, and Kurt skidded to a stop in the dirt, saying, “Alice, you’re our eyes and ears. I’m going with them.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” she chanted, but I could hear all my girls working in the background.
The four of us stayed low, glancing over the slight hill. There was an old warehouse-type building, along with the entrance to a mine off to the right. All of it was dilapidated and creepy…and busy.
“Damn, we’re gonna have a fucking hard-ass time getting in there,” Emmett muttered, looking through the NVGs. “Look. That building is open, it’s two stories, and there are men every-damn-where.”
“You know,” Mickey grumbled, shaking her head. “I’m fucking tired of all this sneaking around. Can’t we just go in hot?”
“Yes,” Edward answered over the com link. “As soon as I reach you, we’ll go in hot and heavy. Boris will cover you with the machine gun on the chopper. I’ll fly low and inside, copy?”
“Roger that,” Emmett sang with a grin on his face. He pulled his weapon around to his front, engaging it with a glance to us, and we followed his lead. “Mickey, Bella, take the right flank toward the mine entrance. Kurt and I will take the left to clear that blind spot out. That’ll leave plenty of room for Eddie to get in there and clean house.”
The thumping sound of chopper blades loomed closer. We all looked behind us, seeing only the blinking red lights of Edward’s helicopter. He thundered over us, swiftly turning sideways so Boris could open fire. As soon as the first sound of gunfire rang out, we jumped over the ridge and ran down the hill, splitting up like Emmett had suggested.
“Shoot to kill, sweetness,” Edward ordered. “I don’t give a fuck. If it moves, shoot it.”
I wanted to laugh at that order, but the closer we ran toward the mine shaft, the more men I could see using the old rundown building for cover. Mickey and I used a fallen concrete barrier as cover in order to clear out the mine entrance. The noise from the machine gun on the chopper was almost deafening, never mind the chopper itself. Edward was stirring up dust, debris, and chaos because he was flying so low.
About five men ran out of the mine, shooting blindly our way, but Mickey and I took them down. Taking off at a low run, we moved in closer.
“Fuck me, that’s creepy,” Mickey grunted, spinning to watch our backs. “Alice…anything on this tunnel?”
“It’s not very deep!” she yelled back over the earpieces. “That’s apparently why it’s closed. It collapsed about a half mile inside, and since it didn’t produce…”
“Alice!” we both yelled.
“Okay, okay, okay! You’ve got a split about fifty yards just inside the opening. The right shaft dead ends at the cave-in sight. The left isn’t long at all, but if I trust the infrared, then there’s heat sources that way.”
“Then that’s the way we’re going,” I told Mickey, who nodded in agreement, but we both spun around at the hissing sound of an RPG being launched.
“Edward!” I called out, watching with fear and fascination as he shot up, evading the missile aimed his way.
There was another shot and another, but Edward maneuvered quickly, flying low up and over the crumbling building the whole time Boris practically leveled that second floor. In fact, several rotten beams collapsed under the gunfire. The left side fell to the ground level in a cloud of dust.
“Emmett? Kurt? Check in! Now!” I snapped, trying my best to hear them over all the noise.
“Man down!” Emmett called. “Kurt! Talk to me, man…”
“I’m okay!” Kurt grunted, much to my relief. “It’s just my leg! Go!”
Edward flew back over the building, but it was Boris that said, “I’ll cover him, Emmett. Take out that second floor!”
I didn’t have to see Emmett to know what was coming next. Our enemies weren’t the only ones that had an RPG. The hiss and bright tail of the missile made me grab Mickey to pull her down.
The sound was unlike anything I’d ever heard. There was an explosion, followed by the thunderous crack of the second floor falling to the level below. At that point, the building was pretty much destroyed, and the guards started to scatter. Edward veered off to chase after a truck that shot out from the back of the building.
“Emmett! Get Kurt to the truck, then follow the girls!” Edward ordered.
“Copy that,” Em grunted back.
“I can fucking walk, Emmett!” Kurt argued. “Jesus, would you put me down? Just go!”
I shook my head, turning to Mickey. “I want in that mine.”
“Yeah, definitely,” she agreed.
We both peeked over our cover, finding that things had slowed down a bit. She leaped over first, and I followed. There was little resistance before we made it inside the mouth of that tunnel. Once inside, we slowed down, using the bumpy, rocky walls as cover. It wasn’t much, but it was barely lit by some dim bulbs every few yards.
The floor of the mine was taken up mostly by old, rusty train tracks that looked like they hadn’t been used since the dawn of time. They sat almost submerged in water on either side of the tracks, and the air was cold, damp, foul.
We followed Alice’s advice and stayed to the left when we finally came to the split. It was even darker down that shaft, but we kept going, and the sounds of gunfire and chopper blades started to sound dull and muted the farther in we went. I was just about to think we’d taken the wrong way when we started to come across metal doors. The first few were open or not even attached to their hinges, but we rounded a corner, and a faint light glowed up ahead. Along with it came the sound of muffled voices.
Mickey and I moved quicker, stopping just outside the door. Mickey used a tiny camera to peek inside. There were two forms, one clearly holding a weapon to the other one’s head. I looked closer and shook my head, glancing up at Mickey’s concerned face. We couldn’t speak, but with silent signals, we quickly made a plan.
She stayed put against the tunnel wall. Leaving my Sig with her, I took out my nine mil. I trusted it, was a better aim with it, and this shit was going to be fucking tricky. Wrapping both hands around my gun, I stepped slowly into the doorway.
My heart shattered at the sight before me. Carlisle was a mess. It was obvious he’d been beaten. He was filthy, and bruises covered just about every inch of his face. His hands were zip-tied together, as were his ankles, which meant the man with the gun to my godfather’s temple was basically holding him up…and using him as a goddamn shield. I struggled to maintain my firm posture, when all I wanted to do was rush to him. My temper flared, my lip curled, and my stomach rolled against memories of my own capture, but my hands were steady as I aimed my gun.
“I’m gonna kill this motherfucker,” I muttered, mainly to myself, but everyone heard me.
I tried to ignore the explosion of voices in my ear, the loudest being Edward, who demanded an update. Mickey filled him in as softly as she could, but I focused on the man controlling the situation.
“Don’t come any closer, or I’ll shoot him,” the man threatened. His accent was definitely Russian.
Ignoring the bastard, I focused on the most important person in the room. “Carlisle, you okay?”
He tried to nod, but his captor squeezed his throat, jerking him so that Carlisle’s body was shielding him even more. I could’ve taken a shot, but his face was so close to my father-in-law’s that I didn’t want to chance it just yet. I needed to force this guy make a mistake.
“I’ll let him go when you give me what you promised. I want my father’s work,” he snarled, pulling back the hammer on his gun.
I nodded in acknowledgement, but decided to go the honest route. “No can do, Vladimir,” I told him softly. “We don’t have it with us.”
“Then he dies!”
“Lie, sweetness. Stall him,” Edward murmured over the com link.
“We can get it, but you gotta let him go first,” I told Vladimir.
He shook his head no, but his eyes grew wide when he realized I wasn’t the only one with a weapon aimed his way.
Mickey stepped slowly into the dimly lit cell, her own weapon trained on the two of them. However, she started to move behind me toward my left, which made Vladimir very nervous because he couldn’t quite decide who to watch.
I eyed the entire situation and stepped forward, locking gazes with Carlisle for a moment. He was so much like Edward that I knew what he was about to do, so I braced for it, pulling the hammer back on my weapon. He struggled in Vladimir’s grasp, sending a heavy elbow to the man’s stomach, which gave me just a short view of my enemy. I didn’t even have to think about it. I popped off three shots, and Mickey shot twice. We caught Vladimir in the shoulder, the arm, and finally, the head and chest. He and Carlisle both fell to the floor. Mickey ran to Vladimir to check for a pulse, but I couldn’t get to my godfather quickly enough.
“Carlisle,” I barely said aloud, but that was enough to send everyone that could hear me over the com link into action.
“Bella, I’m in route on foot to you,” Edward stated, his voice sounding scared, yet angry at the same time.
Emmett popped his head in the door, just to check on us, and then muttered something about meeting Edward in the tunnel.
Carlisle’s breathing was heavy, but his eyes opened to mine.
“Hang on,” I told him, pulling out the knife Edward had strapped to my ankle earlier. “I’m going to cut this off, okay?”
He nodded weakly, but it was the smug smile that quirked up on his lips. “I knew you’d come.”
Tears welled up in my eyes at the same time I sniffled a laugh. “Are you kidding me right now?”
He snorted, but his pain-filled grunt when I cut the ties off of his legs and wrists made his laugh disappear. The sight of his torn-up skin from those restraints made me swallow back a sob.
Carlisle struggled to reach up to my face. “Don’t, sweetheart. I’m okay. I’m just a little battered. You hear me?”
I nodded, swallowing thickly. “Just…hang on. Edward and Emmett are coming. We’ll get you out of here and someplace safe.”
“I know,” he whispered back with a small smile, but his eyes drifted past me when a string of curses filled the room.
Edward rushed to us, falling to his knees beside us. He kissed my temple and placed a hand on his dad’s chest. “You guys okay?” he asked, though his eyes flickered to Vladimir’s body, which Mickey had tugged away.
“Yeah. We need to get him out of here, baby,” I whispered to Edward, who was already nodding.
“Okay.” He nodded, looking around the room. “Emmett! Get your ass over here. We’re gonna carry him back to the chopper.”
“Sure, Ed,” Emmett replied softly.
Edward was just about to lift his dad up, when Carlisle stopped him.
“Thank you, son,” he whispered, placing a hand on my husband’s shoulder.
Edward nodded solemnly, saying, “You’d have done it for me. Now, let’s get you out of this fucking hole.”
Emmett walked to stand by me, but I leaned over my dad, asking, “Are you hurt, Dad? Can you walk?”
He nodded, sat up, but I could see he was weak. Giving Emmett a quick glance, we helped Dad to his feet, but wrapped his arms around our shoulders. Once we knew he’d be able to walk with us, we started for the door.
“Armed?” Mickey asked, eyeing the body of Vladimir Stahl with zero emotion on her face.
“Only as precaution,” I replied, jerking my chin for her and Bella to lead us out. “Most of these assholes are dead. Even the car that tried to leave was eliminated.” As we stepped out into the mine shaft, I added, “And watch that building. It’s unsteady out there.”
“Okay,” Bella added, giving my dad the once-over before following Mickey.
I had to bite my bottom lip in order not to rush to her. I could see her worry, her panic just beneath the surface of things. And I knew where it was stemming from: my dad looked like shit. His face was bruised, beaten, his lips split. Both wrists were cut and bloody from having been restrained, and he was fucking filthy. I was glad the girls had shot that motherfucker before I could get my hands on him. But I knew I needed to calm her down once we got somewhere safe; her memories could send her into a panic attack, even though my dad was okay.
My dad stumbled once we got to the main tunnel, and Emmett and I stopped to check on him.
“Dad?” I asked, tilting his face my way. “Stay with me. Stay awake,” I ordered, eyeing the fucking bump on his temple. “Just in case, okay?”
“I’m okay, I’m okay,” he muttered, nodding a little.
We got to the exit of the mine, and the girls gave a quick sweep, but all seemed to be quiet. I’d landed just a few yards away from where Kurt had parked the Humvee. My dad stumbled a couple more times before we reached the chopper, and I had to chuckle at Boris, who had truly proven his loyalty with flying fucking colors.
He had someone bound and gagged on the ground, but was taking a look at Kurt’s leg as he sat on the edge of the cargo bay. The youngest member of our crew was sweating bullets, but he looked okay. I’d seen him fall when I was in the air, but Kurt’s attitude over the com link had been spirited, to say the least.
“Give us some room,” I grunted.
Boris glanced up, a string of Russian words hissing out of him at the sight of my dad. “For fuck’s sake, Cullen,” he finally said in English. “Did you take them all on, you bastard?”
“Maybe,” my dad said with a weak grin.
“I swear, he and Edward are so alike…” Bella muttered, her voice trailing off.
I snorted into a chuckle. “He was a terrible influence, sweetness.”
Bella giggled a bit, but helped Kurt slide over while asking if he was okay.
“Yeah, yeah…it just nicked my thigh, Bells,” he explained, fingering the rip in his cargos where a haphazard bandage was applied. “I’m just glad it wasn’t a bigger fucking bullet.”
“Or two more inches to the left, you ass,” Mickey teased with a laugh. “Glad you’re okay.”
We sat my dad down on the edge of the cargo bay. The girls took a preliminary look at him. They handed him a bottle of water, cleaned his face a bit, and checked his wrists. He needed a fucking hot meal and a shower, and I knew that wasn’t quite feasible – not yet, anyway. Boris asked him a few questions, and he seemed to be pleased by the answers, but he checked his eyes anyway.
“We need you out of here,” he told him.
“Exactly,” I agreed, spinning to Emmett. “We need to get back to Mayak. At least there, he can rest in Sergei’s office until sunup. From there, we’ll head back to Irina’s.” I walked away a bit with him. “I wanna make sure he’s fit to go back to Alaska, and I wanna get with El, see what he wants to do with Gunter’s bullshit. I want it out of my fucking sight.”
Emmett smirked, but nodded. “I’ll drive the Humvee back and meet you there.”
I nodded, eyeing my father again and then my girl, who was wiping Dad’s face as clean as she could with a rag and water from a drinking bottle. Finally, my gaze landed on Boris’s prisoner.
“Boris?” I called, pointing to the man that had all but been forgotten. When he turned away from my dad, I asked, “Who the fuck is this?”
Boris grinned. “Say hello to Yury Spektor. I thought you’d want to meet him, considering he’s mostly responsible for this shit. Caught him trying to sneak out to the main road.”
“You mean, remaining living fucker responsible,” Mickey added. “Vladimir Stahl…well, he didn’t exactly make it.”
My dad gazed down at Yury with narrowed eyes. Before any of us could move, he snatched Mickey’s handgun from her waistband and pulled the trigger, which nailed the guy in the thigh.
“You need him for anything?” my dad rasped, looking to me. “This was the asshole that called you.”
“I figured,” I told him, walking over and placing a hand on my dad’s shoulder. “Did he do this shit to you?” I growled, gesturing to his face.
“Some. I took care of the other one,” he answered.
I nodded, not understanding what he meant, but I was sure he’d tell us everything when he’d gotten something to eat and some rest.
I tapped my com link. “Hey, El?”
“You got him?” was the answer I received.
“Ten-four,” I said with a grin. “He’s seen better days, but he’s okay. Mission accomplished.”
“Well, hot damn!” Eleazar laughed, especially when hoots of celebration from Alec, Jasper, and Felix joined him.
“Question, El,” I told him.
“Go ahead.”
“I’ve got one Yury Spektor here. If you’re gonna find George Stefan, you might be able to use this asshole for information. Want him?”
“You won’t need him,” Boris piped up. “I’ll find Stefan…with or without this motherfucker. I’ll go underground.”
“Not yet,” my dad stated, and Boris nodded in acquiescence.
“Perfect,” I sneered, walking to the man now whimpering about his bleeding leg. I snatched him up, dragging him away from the chopper. Slamming him against the closest barrier, I snatched his gag off. “I told you from the fucking beginning not to fuck with me. I told you that I’d fucking kill you for laying a hand on my father. And I fucking told you that you had no goddamn idea how badly you’d wish it wasn’t me you’d fucked with. Do you remember?” I asked him.
Yury nodded, swallowing back bile and fear and pain. His eyes were wide, but cloudy from tears.
“What’s to stop me from doing to you exactly the same fucking thing you did to him? Hmm?” I murmured softly so that only he heard me. “What’s to stop me from putting a bullet in your head right now?”
He shook his head.
“You underestimated me, my crew, and my father,” I told him wearing an evil smirk when I forced him to look back at the chopper. “See those girls? Beautiful, right?” I asked him in a whisper. When he nodded, I leaned to his ear. “Those two killed your cousin, Vladimir. Put like…I don’t know…five or six bullets in him. It was probably better than he deserved, but they didn’t even blink doing it. He was dead before he hit the ground. And now…he’ll rot in that giant-ass hole behind us.” I tilted my head at him, sizing him up. “You double-crossed your own family, your own flesh and blood? Do you know how fucking shitty that is?”
Yury at least had the decency to look admonished. Tears spilled over onto his face, blending in with sweat and dirt. “I needed the money,” he rasped, and every fucking phone call leapt to the front of my memory. He was, indeed, the asshole that had called me every single time.
I pulled my Glock out, pointing it to the middle of his forehead. “I’m going to give you a chance to rectify your mistake. Where would Stefan go to hide? Where would he disappear to?” I asked, hoping to at least give El and Boris a chance to finish off the guy intent on selling really fucking dangerous weapons to people that shouldn’t have them.
“I don’t know,” he whispered, shaking beneath my grip to his throat. “But he’s going to seek revenge. He’s pissed. He was set to make fifty million on this sale.”
I sighed, shaking my head. “And your cut for helping?”
“Ten,” he said with a sob. “T-Ten m-million.”
Smiling evilly, I tilted my head at him again. “Ten million…” I mused, taking a deep breath and letting it out. “Never mind that it was over a weapon that could essentially kill millions of innocent people, right? Never mind that it dragged my father into this shit and almost got him killed.” I shook my head slowly, eyeing the wound my father had pumped into his leg. The fucker would bleed out if I left him here in the middle of no-damn-where. Suddenly, I wanted nothing more to do with him.
I lowered my weapon, gripped his throat, and slammed him hard into the barrier behind him, and he collapsed to the ground. I turned to face my crew. “Fucker’s dead where he fell,” I muttered, mainly to myself, but I heard him shift behind me.
Without thinking, I spun, pulling the trigger twice. Yury fell over into a heap, two holes in his chest.
“And there’s that,” Emmett sang, brushing off his hands dramatically.
I walked back to the chopper, saying, “Load up. Mickey, Boris, you ride with Emmett in the Humvee.”
It didn’t take long to get back to Mayak, only this time, I was able to land on the roof of the office building and processing center. I’d need to find fuel before heading back to Irina’s, but Boris assured me the main Norilsk area had what I needed, since they had a small landing strip on the north part of the enormous property.
As the sun slowly came up, it beamed into Maslov’s office. My father was resting in a room next door – someone else’s office – with my wife curled up in a chair next to him as his watchful angel. Boris was down at the mine entrance with Eleazar, explaining the situation to a few of the miners. I could’ve sworn I heard cheers.
I picked up the tablet in front of me, connecting to a video chat. I couldn’t help but smile when Alice’s weary face popped up on my screen.
“You ever sleep, pixie?” I teased her, feeling extraordinarily tired after everything.
She grinned. “Only when my family is safe and sound,” she said with a sad smile and a wink. “She’s waiting to talk to you.”
“I figured. Go get her.”
When Esme’s hopeful and teary face emerged on the screen, I smiled again. “I got him, Mom.”


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