Ice monkeys drunk monkey.., p.9

Ice Monkeys [Drunk Monkeys 7] (Siren Publishing Ménage Everlasting), page 9

 

Ice Monkeys [Drunk Monkeys 7] (Siren Publishing Ménage Everlasting)
 



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  And right now, she wasn’t about to take unnecessary risks when she had it a damn sight better than a majority of the world’s population.

  She read for over an hour. Her only “splurge,” she allowed herself to buy e-books on her Kindle. It was an escape from reality, and even if she didn’t have a handsome hunk, at least she could read about heroines getting them with their book boyfriends.

  Eventually, she got ready for bed. Fortunately it sounded like the President was done with her speech out in the living room.

  Yes, some people would accuse her of living in denial. No, she wasn’t denying there were bad things happening out there.

  It wasn’t like she could do anything about those bad things. So why should she make herself feel bad when she had a life to take care of, responsibilities, a job? Those were things she did have control over, and unless the news was reporting about her bank, or Atlanta in particular, she didn’t want or need to hear it.

  It was her life, and she’d worked damned hard to make it. Therefore, she’d live it the way she damned well pleased.

  Chapter Twelve

  Stunned, Jerald sat and stared at his TV, unable to believe what he’d just watched. Not only had the President effectively negated the one sword they had dangling over her head, she’d swung the nation’s opinion of her firmly into her court, told the country to stop donating to televangelists, and placed that Reverend Karsu dude on a pedestal.

  Son of a bitch.

  Arliss had skillfully outmaneuvered them. Of that there was no fucking doubt.

  Especially since the motherfucker had been standing there with the First Family when normally he had no business being there.

  There was also no doubt, in Jerald’s mind, at least, that Arliss had architected it.

  What else has he out-thought us on?

  While they had their own research team in a secure lab at the St. Louis stronghold trying to synthesize a Kite vaccine, they weren’t close yet. Losing the LA facility and all its samples had set their work back by months. That’s why Silo had leaned on President Kennedy to get her to order Arliss to bring in SOTIF1 and any scientists from The List who they’d managed to locate.

  Maybe this development also explained why so many of their Washington contacts had seemingly “disappeared” as of late.

  Jerald had also left Silo in the dark about that factoid, not wanting to further inflame the man’s growing instability. It was bad enough he’d had to sit through one enraged tantrum earlier that day after Silo had gone online to watch the televised interview, since he’d missed it because of giving a sermon.

  And Silo had seen the two new clips posted. He couldn’t help seeing them, because the network had helpfully shown them after airing the selectively edited “interview” to make it look even worse than it had to begin with.

  Dammit.

  Jerald didn’t bother looking at his ringing cell phone when he answered it. He already knew who was calling. “I saw it.”

  There was a moment of stumbling, almost incoherent screaming from Silo before the man finally formed recognizable words. “What the fucking hell?”

  “Good question.” Jerald took a long pull from his beer. Tonight, he suspected he’d need another.

  Or maybe even five more. “I’m guessing when you visited her a few weeks back you mentioned her daughter and the abortion when you leaned on her, huh?”

  “Well what the hell else was I supposed to do? Ask her to pretty please bring those goddamned assholes in? It was the only dirt I had on her!”

  Jerald took one more swallow of beer and dropped his voice. “Listen to me, and listen good. You do not answer your phone or talk to reporters tonight. Actually, scratch that. You don’t answer your phone, period, unless it’s me calling. Understand? Everything goes through me from this point on.”

  “How dare—”

  “Really? Really? Do you want to go there, Hannibal? Fine. You can talk to the press and get hauled in for questioning by the police the first time you go off on—”

  “Okay, fine!” It sounded like he was trying to get himself under control.

  The increasingly frequent outbursts worried Jerald. It was only a matter of time before the guy had a tantrum in front of a witness and it ended up captured on video. Then his years of carefully cultivating the man’s gentle, fatherly image would go up in smoke.

  This was not what he’d signed on for. Help the guy with dirty tricks? Sure. Get rid of the dregs of and drags upon genteel society? Fine.

  He’d wanted to help control an empire from the shadows, not babysit a sexually sadistic, geriatric toddler sociopath with poor self-control issues.

  He damn sure hadn’t signed on to engineer an apocalypse.

  “I know you’re under a lot of pressure, Hannibal, but let me tell you something. You need to save that and get it under control. Every eye is on you now. What if someone saw or heard you just—”

  “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not stupid. I’m home alone.”

  “Do you realize there are microphones that can pick up sounds through glass and walls as if you’re standing right there and talking to a person? Cell phone signal interceptors? Someone could be hiding outside under your window right now.”

  Silence.

  “Do you hear me?” Jerald yelled, wanting to drive his point clearly home.

  “Fine.”

  Petulant child was back.

  Great.

  “All this means,” Jerald said, “is that you hit a nerve and a weakness in her. We’ll try other methods. I might have to activate a few key contacts.”

  “Who?”

  “Never mind who. At this point, all you need to worry about are the results, not the hows. Plausible deniability. I need you distanced as far as I can get you from any kind of potential scandal. You’ve got enough on your plate. FYI, start packing. You are leaving for the St. Louis compound by tomorrow afternoon.”

  “Why?”

  “Because Kite is starting to make its way east, that’s why. I need you where I don’t have to worry about anyone sneezing on you.”

  “How will that look to the police?”

  “I’ll take care of notifying the detective in charge of her case tomorrow. I’m going to cite your health, so don’t act all skippy when you’re in front of people.”

  Silo let out a sigh. “Why is everything going so wrong?”

  “God’s will,” Jerald said as he got up to go to the kitchen. “Everything works to God’s will. That’s what you always say.”

  “That’s bullshit and you know it.”

  Well, finally, at least something honest fell from the liar’s mouth. “Oh, nice to hear you admit it after all these years. Listen to me. You want to call this game over, we announce your retirement to focus on finding your wife? Fine. But if you want any chance in hell of salvaging all of this, get hold of yourself. On the other side of this, if we play it right, you still have a good chance of being elected president and being free of your wife. You cannot, however, keep losing your shit. It’s your call.”

  The man still sounded unhappy, but Jerald was beyond caring. He had enough money hidden away he could simply disappear and be okay even though it would mean he knew Silo would retaliate by implicating him in not only Mary’s disappearance but in everything else as well. He had three fake IDs he’d set up that Silo knew nothing about. He had the bank account.

  But he wanted more. Needed more. He hadn’t planned on things going south this soon, much less Mary Silo up and disappearing.

  Barstow.

  Fuck.

  How the fuck was he supposed to know the military would blow up a fucking town and over a million refugees?

  That was a special level of ruthless crazy even he would bow down before. It had drastically shifted the entire course of his thinking over the past several weeks as everything spiraled out of their control. His previous plans were out the window. There was no way Hannibal Silo would ever manifest his loftiest dreams, but Jerald couldn
t let him realize that. If Silo came to the conclusion that none of his plans would come to fruition, Jerald would, at that point, be useless to him.

  And he knew damn well Silo had some contacts of his own. He couldn’t let himself get liquidated.

  “Well?” Jerald asked.

  “We carry on,” Silo said, sounding defeated.

  “Good. Then let me do my job. Keep your mouth shut and sound surprised if anyone mentions any of this to you. You didn’t even see the speech. You were on your knees in prayer, begging for Mary’s safe return, and then you went to bed. You’re happy our President has capable advisors who are medical experts, and you pledge your support and any resources you and the church can offer behind the effort to help save the world.”

  “Really?” He sounded doubtful.

  “Yes, really. Getting into a juvenile pissing contest will only drive people away in droves. Do not bring the topic up. If someone else mentions it first, that’s your party line and stick the hell to it. If they try to goad you into a reaction, do your usual schmooze on them that you do on people of other faiths. That what’s in a person’s heart and soul is all that matters, not the delivery system. That God doesn’t restrict his love simply to one particular dogma.”

  “Dammit,” Silo muttered. “Hoisted by my own petard, huh?”

  The man finally sounded rational again. “Damn straight. Good night.”

  Jerald hung up without waiting for a reply and finished off that bottle of beer before immediately cracking open another. In addition to the funds he’d been slowly amassing over the years, he’d had a bank account set up for a side charity, a front for one of the Kite operations, but they hadn’t activated it yet with all the Preachsearch Projects on hold at this point.

  Money off the books. Over ten million dollars sitting in an offshore account. Money he’d accrued over a span of months so as not to trigger the international reporting documentation.

  Money only he knew about, by necessity.

  Time for that money to disappear, too. With what he already had, it would give him more than enough—barely—to comfortably survive the current world situation for several years if he was very careful and very prudent.

  If Silo went completely off the rails, Jerald would kick his own emergency plans into action.

  For now, he needed to tough it out. It was way more self-interest than he’d ever admit to Silo that kept him there. Jerald knew damn well if he left now that Silo would immediately point a finger of blame his way for Mary’s disappearance.

  No, Jerald needed to try to find her—alive or dead—before he disappeared. If possible.

  He also needed to erase his own tracks in past projects.

  He was prudent, not stupid. Jerald had spent a lot of years conning Hannibal Silo into believing he was harmless and totally faithful to the man and his cause.

  Which he had been…until everything unraveled and took them completely off their carefully choreographed playbook. No way in hell would Hannibal be able to get himself elected as an independent presidential candidate without the Kite vaccine under his control. With a missing wife and the sex tapes and audio evidence dangling over his head, Silo would be radioactive to the Republicans or the Democrats.

  That was if they even made it to the elections.

  If Kite got to be too much of a problem, Jerald knew he’d need to bug out to safety. For now, if it was possible to stop this Kite madness, he had to do what he could.

  And he had to do something he never thought he’d have to resort to, and that was figure out how to get rid of Hannibal Silo. That meant Silo had to die, before he could take Jerald down with him.

  Jerald couldn’t put that into motion until Mary was handled, though. Logistically, for a lot of reasons, she had to be located before he could eliminate Hannibal.

  Not that he was a believer in the hereafter, but what was that old chestnut about foxholes and faith?

  Well, he was ass-deep in a foxhole right now.

  And wishing he’d never hitched his wagon to the crazy faith train that was Hannibal Silo.

  * * * *

  Hannibal Silo stared at the phone in his hand, his rage slowly dissipating.

  Like it or not, he was stuck with Jerald. Under the current circumstances, there was no way he could move Jerald out of his position like he’d originally planned.

  Hannibal wouldn’t put it past the guy to retaliate. To make it look like he was responsible for his own wife’s disappearance. Hannibal knew that’s what he’d do, if in Jerald’s position. Set everything up to make it look like the boss was the one behind it all.

  Kite. The Preachsearch Project.

  He winced. Dammit.

  He’d let himself be blinded by visions of power, of glory, of the presidency. In Jerald, he’d found a highly competent assistant and had allowed him to gather far too much power and information over the years.

  I didn’t follow my own rules.

  He never should have allowed Jerald to amass that kind of power base. But Hannibal had gotten greedy. When he’d idly floated the idea of trying to gain the presidency, Jerald had readily agreed and pointed out inroads even Hannibal hadn’t considered before.

  As if it were meant to be.

  Then Kite happened and Jerald had the perfect idea.

  Get the vaccine, and get the presidency by default as a grateful nation showed its thanks.

  Even if not in the next election, the one after, for sure. Lean on the President to name him as her veep, then he’d be a shoo-in as the nominee and winner with the strength of his church sheeple behind him when it was his turn to run.

  He shut off the TV, stifling the urge to throw the remote at it. Then he looked around, at the living room windows.

  It was close to dark and he hadn’t pulled the blinds yet. He’d cut back his Sunday night sermon schedule in the wake of Mary’s disappearance, Jerald telling everyone the stress was affecting his health.

  The truth was, he was fucking stressed right the fuck out.

  Hurrying over to the windows, he pulled the blinds closed. Their rather modest house sat back off the street on a huge lot, surrounded by a tall fence.

  Didn’t mean it was a fortress.

  Jerald was right. He needed to move to St. Louis. He could still broadcast from there, do live televised sermons to the church here. There would be less media pressure on him in St. Louis than there was here.

  Less scrutiny.

  With all the blinds in the house drawn, Silo went to his bedroom to pack. As he passed Mary’s bedroom he slowed, then stopped, pushing the door open.

  Part of him hoped to see her sitting there, waiting for her daily punishment. That this had been a nightmare.

  Nope. Empty.

  Mocking him.

  How long had she faked everything? Pretended to be doped up? That was the only explanation he could think of. That she’d somehow hidden her medication, maybe flushed them instead of taking them.

  That she’d planned. Schemed.

  Copied videos off his computer, videos he didn’t even realize she knew he still had, much less how to access them.

  Taken money…

  Well, okay, that money technically was hers, but the stuck-up cunt didn’t deserve it. Not a damn cent. Not when it was his hard work that had built this empire in the first place.

  All this could have been hers, this and a loving husband, had she simply not made fun of him in college when he asked her out that time. Had she not been a bitch to him.

  Had she just been polite.

  He’d arranged for a friend to drug her at a frat party and make her the star of a gang-bang that he got on video and used to force her to marry him. It was that, or he would have shown it to her conservative, highly religious parents. As well as made sure her reputation was ruined.

  Maybe I finally pushed her too far.

  Hell, they’d been married for forty years. He wasn’t even sure she had a working brain anymore, certain it’d been pharmaceutically turn
ed into mush.

  Now she was somewhere, out there, no longer under his control.

  Enjoy this while you can, woman. Because your life will truly end once I have you back.

  He headed to his room to begin packing.

  Chapter Thirteen

  Sunday night, Uni and Victor sat on the couch in the Georgia safe house and watched the President give her speech on TV. Lima, sitting in an easy chair on the other side of the coffee table, was head-down over his laptop and hadn’t been paying attention.

  “Do you fucking believe that?” Uni asked, stunned. “I think our boss just handed Silo his ass.”

  “General Arliss did look rather smug,” Victor agreed. “And hey, now we’re famous. We’ve been unofficially confirmed.”

  “She said no comment.”

  “That’s as good as a confirmation in government-speak,” Victor countered.

  Uni slowly shook his head. An interview with Silo had aired that morning, immediately followed by more of the evidence their mystery hacker had released to three different networks.

  “It’s a bad day to be Rev. Hannibal Silo,” Uni said, standing and stretching. “We’ve got an early morning tomorrow. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m going to bed.”

  From the far end of the house where the master bedroom lay, they heard a woman’s soft squeal.

  Omega and Chief had retired nearly an hour ago.

  “Actually, scratch that,” Uni said. “I think I’m going to go for a swim.”

  Victor laughed as he stretched out on the couch. “I’m going to stay right here for a while. They’ll wear themselves out in a little bit and I can go to bed.”

  Lima didn’t look up from his laptop as he waved at Uni. “Be ready to roll out of here at 0400 hours tomorrow morning,” he said. “I want us on the ground and ready in the city before rush hour hits.”

  Uni grabbed a towel from the bathroom and stripped, wrapping the towel around his hips for the walk down the back hallway and out to the pool lanai.

  Dropping the towel onto the deck, he smoothly dove into the deep end, swimming the entire length of the pool before coming up for air.

 
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