Ice monkeys drunk monkey.., p.28
Ice Monkeys [Drunk Monkeys 7] (Siren Publishing Ménage Everlasting), page 28
Frankly, he knew he—or Donna—would probably be dead by now had the other team grabbed either of them first. He had no doubts they were hired by Hannibal Silo to find him, ultimately.
Ax: Stay safe.
Tank: You, too. Catch ya later!
At least she was still alive. Maybe once things were a little less crazy he could figure out a way to meet her.
If they survived.
* * * *
Thursday evening, Silo was just getting ready to leave his residence and head down to the dining hall to put in an appearance with the huddled masses for dinner when he felt a buzzing in his pocket and dug out the burner cell.
He answered. “Yes?”
“Target’s residence acquired, but target doesn’t appear to be home. The roommates are there.”
“Then ask them questions until they tell you where she is.”
“How far do you want to take this?”
“All the way. Extreme prejudice. I want to know where that woman is, and I want her found.”
Silo hung up and shoved the phone back into his pocket. No, he hadn’t told Jerald any of his plans.
Every relationship needed a few secrets, right?
It didn’t help that he was beginning to suspect if Jerald found Mary first that it might be bad for Hannibal.
As in Hannibal might find himself on the wrong end of an accident kind of bad.
The sooner he could get his hands on his wife and prove she was alive—before she died, of course—the easier it would be to get Jerald out of the way.
The problem was, he didn’t know exactly who in his organization now was loyal to him or to Jerald. No telling what back-end plans the man might have put into place.
No telling what stories Jerald might have been spreading about him behind his back. All the pretending to not be well.
Maybe Jerald was selling that bit just a bit too well.
Well, all the more reason to go downstairs and eat with everyone. Let them see the kindly grandfather still on top of his game and not some addled idiot.
But not too bushy-tailed. That wouldn’t gel with what Jerald was trying to sell to the cops. The ordeal with Mary had taken a toll on his health. Sympathy.
He couldn’t look like he was devil-may-care now.
Hannibal had just finished eating dinner and was on his way back to his residence when the phone rang again.
He glanced around before answering. “Yes?”
“We have another address.”
“Good. Find her and bring her to me. Next time I talk to you better be face-to-face in my St. Louis living room.” He hung up, a smile filling his face.
By Friday morning, Atlanta was slowly defrosting. The city busses were running and main roads had been salted and cleared.
When Donna saw the morning news, she tried calling Lisa, then Ginny. Neither of them answered their cells, the calls going to voice mail.
“What’s wrong?” Victor asked.
“They should be answering.”
“Maybe they’re at work.”
She tried their work numbers, but no one was answering at their desks, the calls going to voice mail.
Donna looked at the men, who then turned to Lima for a ruling.
Lima pointed to Omega. “He outranks me.”
Omega nodded. “Go on. You need help?”
Uni and Victor exchanged a glance. “Probably just on their way to work and not answering their phones.”
Donna latched onto that, and held on to that all the way to their apartment complex.
Until she saw Lisa’s car was still in parked in the lot, one of the few still there.
The men kept her from getting out. “Wait,” Uni said, looking around where he sat behind the wheel.
The men exchanged a glance. “Try calling them again,” Victor said. “Maybe they caught a ride in with someone.”
With a growing sense of dread that maybe the men suspected something bad, Donna pulled out her phone and tried Lisa and Ginny again.
The calls went to voice mail.
“This is ridiculous. I’m going up.”
She started to reach for the door but Uni reached over the seat and caught her arm. “No. Give Victor your key.”
“How do I explain that?”
Another of those glances between the men. “Just tell me what you think is going on!”
They turned to her. “Just in case,” Uni said. “Give him your key.”
She finally handed it over. It didn’t comfort her to realize Uni had drawn his gun and had it lying in his lap, his hand on it.
Victor didn’t move to get out. “Let’s circle around once.”
Frustration set in, of not knowing. “This is stupid, let’s just—”
“Donna,” Victor said. “You trusted me in the car Wednesday. Trust me now. Look for the patterns.”
She met his gaze, studying it, trying to put off what was steadily growing as a horrible inevitability in her mind.
“Okay,” she whispered.
Uni backed out and drove through the complex. Donna grew even more worried the way both men seemed to be on high alert, heads swiveling back and forth. When Uni finally parked, behind a different building, Donna wondered if she really wanted to go upstairs.
Hopefully they weren’t there. Hopefully they were just on the way to work.
A numb sort of stillness had set in within her, frightening her.
Something no bubble of happy could shove out of the way.
The pattern didn’t look good.
“Together,” Victor said. “I don’t see anyone, but if someone’s up there, we can’t leave her out here alone.”
“We can wait for backup,” Uni said.
“I don’t think that’s going to matter.”
Directed by Donna, they approached from the back, after taking the long way around another apartment building. Their apartment wouldn’t look out on this direction. Their breath frosted in the air, hanging there, drifting. When they reached the back stairwell, Victor went first, gun drawn as he slowly made his way up the stairs and down the hallway.
Uni made her stay behind him at the first landing, where she could barely see down the hall. She heard Victor reach the door and knock, calling for Lisa and Ginny.
Every pulse beat in her throat slowed, throbbed, nearly painful.
Her lungs screamed for air when she realized she was holding her breath.
He knocked again.
Then she watched him unlock the door and open it, step just inside, and wave Uni down.
“Stay,” he said to her before he took the second flight two at a time and bolted down the hall, gun drawn.
They were inside a couple of minutes when she couldn’t take it any longer. Donna ran up the stairs and headed down the hall toward the apartment, but Uni came out the door and intercepted her, grabbing her around the waist and lifting her up off her feet as if she weighed nothing.
She didn’t miss the grim look on his face.
“You’re not going in there,” he said as he carried her back toward the stairs.
“Why? What’s wrong?” She saw Victor emerge from the apartment, an equally grim look on his face and a cell phone pressed to his ear. When his gaze swept over hers, then darted away, she knew.
“Let me go, Uni.” She struggled against him, wanting to see for herself, not wanting to believe.
Not daring to hope she was horribly, terribly wrong.
“No,” he quietly said, carrying her down the stairs and pulling her down to the first landing, where he pressed her against the wall, hemming her in with his body.
“I want to see them!”
“No,” he said again, making her look him in the eye.
“They’re my friends! I—”
“No, you don’t.” He stared down into her eye
“They’re my friends!” She tried to kick out at him, to get him to let her go, but even though she landed a pretty solid knee in the vicinity of his nuts he pressed her more firmly against the wall, pinning her in place.
“No, sweetheart,” he whispered. “Stop. Please. You cannot see them. Not like that.”
“They’re my friends!” she tearfully whispered.
“And I love you, and that’s why I can’t let you go up there. Will not.”
The tears rolled hot and heavy down her cheeks. “What’d they do to them?”
“They...they’re gone, sweetheart. I’m sorry. There’s nothing we can do for them. It probably happened last night, probably not too long after you talked to them.”
Victor had pulled the door closed and walked down to join them on the landing. “We need to move. Bubba’s going to send the SOTIF team from the CDC over for containment.”
“Containment?” She could barely get the word out.
“To...clean up and take care of this.”
“I’m the only family they have,” she said. “I need to take care of them.”
Uni gently grabbed her chin and made her look at him. “We’ll have them cremated and returned to us. I promise.”
“Just like you promised they’d be safe?”
She regretted the words as soon as they were out of her mouth. Uni recoiled like she’d slapped him.
“We don’t know how they found them,” Victor said. “We’ll have to figure that out.”
“Oh, my god! My parents.” She managed to dig her cell out of her pocket but Victor took it from her.
“You can’t call them from your phone.”
“Then give me a phone!”
“We need to move. Now.”
“Not until I talk to them!”
Uni handed her a burner. With trembling fingers, Donna punched in her mom’s number.
Hysteria threatened to set in as it rang, until her mom answered. “Mom?”
“Donna? This is a surprise. What’s that number you called from?”
“Mom? Are you okay?”
“Yes, honey, we’re fine. Why?”
“Where are you?”
“We’re up at Uncle Davis’ cabin. We came up here before the ice storm. Why? Are you okay?”
Her knees buckled with relief as Uni caught her, easing her down to the floor where he and Victor both knelt with her.
“Mom, stay there. Do not leave there. It’s…it’s not safe to leave there.”
“Well, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you! The city’s not safe, and now with the ice storm knocking so much out—”
“Mom! Shut up and listen to me! There are bad people looking for me. They…” She choked up. “Someone faked using my computer and did something and now bad people are trying to find me. They…they hurt Lisa and Ginny.” She squeezed her eyes closed, trying to force herself not to scream.
“Oh…honey, oh my god! Are you all right?”
“I’m okay. I’m with friends who are…they’re safe friends. They can protect me. But whatever you do, do not come back to the city until I tell you it’s safe. Don’t let anyone else come back to your house, either. Okay? Please, promise me.”
“We won’t,” she said. “But what about the police? Will they get them?”
“It’s…it’s an undercover thing.” Lying was getting easier.
She hated that. “The bad guys made it look like it was my computer they were using while I was at the coffee shop during my lunch breaks. I’m already helping with the investigation, but you cannot say anything. If anyone comes around looking for me, and they are strangers, pretend you don’t know me.”
“But…what if it’s the cops?”
She finally forced her eyes open and found herself staring into Victor’s gaze. “If they’re legit, they’ll know the password. It’s Scooter. My stuffed animal dog. They’ll know that. If they don’t know that…”
Victor mimed shooting a gun.
She shuddered. “Seriously, if they don’t know that, defend yourselves.”
“Can’t you come join us? Your dad and cousin went out hunting for deer this morning. There’s deer all over, and I know I keep saying it’s a cabin, but it’s very comfortable and large. It’s like a lodge, there’s three bedrooms, and it’s warm, and—”
“No. It’s too dangerous. I…I have to stay with my friends. They can protect me. They’ll send someone to help protect you, too.”
“But how do we know to let them get close to the cabin?”
Victor motioned for the phone.
“Hold on. One of them will talk to you.”
He took it. “Ma’am?…No, I can’t tell you my name. You can call me Victor. Can you text me your exact GPS location to this phone number?…He can? Okay, perfect. Is there anywhere to land a helicopter close by?…Fantastic. Me and a few friends will be there in a few hours with a helicopter. Anyone else shows up and they’re not with me? Shoot to kill.”
Donna met Uni’s gaze again while Victor still talked to mom. “I want him dead,” she whispered. “I want that fucker dead.”
“We will, babe. He will die.”
Victor handed her the phone back. “She wants to talk to you.”
She took the phone. “Yeah?”
“Sweetheart, I love you. And so does your dad.”
More tears. “I know, Mom. I love you and Dad, too. I’m sorry I can’t come be with you.”
Her mom sounded like she was crying, too. “I’m sorry we wouldn’t let you bring them. If we’d let you all come… I’m so sorry. It’s our fault.”
That wasn’t technically correct. They might not have gone anyway and all been there at the apartment. “It’s not your fault, Mom. My friends will take care of this and make the bad guys pay. Make sure to text me the GPS coordinates right now to this phone. Have Uncle Davis do it.”
She wasn’t sure how, but the next thing she realized, she was in the SUV, Victor in the back seat with her and holding her as she sobbed while Uni drove.
He occasionally would say something to Uni, and it wasn’t until she lifted her head and looked that she realized Victor’s gaze was behind them, and Uni had taken a totally different direction away from the apartment complex.
She didn’t know how long it was before they returned to the safe house, but Chief and the others met them at the door when they walked in, Chief swooping in to hug her. “I’m so sorry, sweetie.”
Donna noticed Ax standing behind the group, his hands in his pockets.
Ripping herself free and screaming, she launched herself at him. “It’s your fault! This is all your fault! They’re dead because of you! I’m going to kill you, you fucker!”
Fighting, struggling, she wasn’t sure which of her men tackled her, knocking her to the floor, their arms around her, the other finally grabbing her legs. Working together, the harder she struggled the tighter they held her, managing to get her up and down the hall and into the bedroom.
They basically held her down on the bed as she sobbed, screamed, fighting them until she had no voice and no energy and nothing but raw, blistering pain left in her throat and in her heart and in her soul.
Uni and Victor wrapped their arms around her, holding her.
“You’re not leaving us, baby,” Uni whispered. “You’re going to stay with us.”
She couldn’t even process what he was saying. Her friends were dead and it was because of her.
Closing her eyes, she prayed for death to take her, too.
Unfortunately, all she did was pass out.
When Donna next opened her eyes, the light in the room looked dim, and she lay in bed with only one man. He had his arms wrapped tightly around her from behind, and they were cocooned inside a blanket and a quilt.
He nuzzled the back of her head. “I’m awake,” he said.
She tried to speak and not only couldn’t she get any sound out, it felt like her raw throat had been lined with jagged shards of glass.
Slowly rolling toward Uni, she met his gaze, the sorrow in his eyes nearly gutting her. “Victor,” she mouthed.
“They flew out. Victor, Chief, Omega, Quack, and Echo. Lima is here with us. Your parents are fine. They already made contact with them and checked to make sure the property was secure. Your uncle swears he didn’t leave any info at their house that anyone can use to track them to the cabin. He’s apparently very paranoid and didn’t want anyone else knowing about it.”
She nodded. “Their house?”
“Another team is handling that. Our guys are on their way back. They took some extra weapons and ammo to your uncle. They offered to leave someone there with them, but he indicated that they could handle themselves. They have about ten people there, most of them with guns.”
Donna nodded. Something else she’d been glad to escape. She’d hated guns and refused to partake of the lessons her cousins had been subjected to when she was growing up.
Now, she wished she had.
“Does your throat hurt?” he asked.
Tearing up, she nodded.
He pressed a long, tender kiss to her forehead. “Let me go make you something to help.” He cupped her face in his hands. “Baby, I am so, so sorry.”
She nodded. No, this wasn’t their fault.
It was Ax’s.
Directly, she was convinced it was Hannibal Silo’s fault.
“If I leave you here, promise me you won’t go out there and try to kill Ax.”
After a moment, she nodded.
To be honest, she wasn’t sure she could even walk. She felt gutted, drained, and before she could stop the tsunami of tears over wondering if Lisa and Ginny had been literally gutted, they exploded from her again.
He held her, cuddling her, enveloping her in his love and comfort.
“I wish I could fix this for you,” he said, sounding as horrible as she felt. “I wish like hell I could.”
by Tymber Dalton / Romance / Mystery & Thrillers / Science Fiction & Fantasy have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes