I've got a title for this book so damn good that I'm keeping it under wraps until the ARC copies go out! In the meantime, I'm going to be releasing a few chapters to introduce you to the couple having a whirlwind romance in the 4th book in the Still a Bad Boy series! Enjoy!
Chapter 2 ~ Eric
So far, so good. Every Folliero soldier that had laid eyes on me, and some who hadn’t, were dead. Clean kills, the result of weeks of planning and observation.
Four o’clock in the morning, two hours before the day-shift arrived and near the end of a long boring night. This was when they were at their sloppiest.
Guards started missing their verbal check-ins because they were taking unauthorized naps, a practice that should have been met with serious punishment, but was instead laughed off. Like so many wiseguys before them, they were too complacent, too fucking sure of themselves.
It was this ego that let me cut through their ranks like wet rice paper. They thought they were invincible until the very moment they felt my knife tickling their lungs.
Even so, a single-handed stealth mission on this mansion, with this objective would have been ill-advised if it wasn’t for Jace Barlow’s computer genius, Dan. The things he could do bordered on the supernatural as far as I was concerned.
With his skills, and Jace’s backing, we obtained the plans for the Mondalo family grounds and buildings, took out their hard-wired internet and hijacked their wireless backup. Their security system, always primed and ready to call in an army at the first sign of trouble was effectively connected to nothing.
They were trapped all alone with me, and even when the alarm eventually did go off, no help would be coming.
From the other side of the tree, I heard the dead man talking. At the same time, I heard his words in my earpiece, tuned into their frequency.
Unremarkable last words. He never saw me coming but, after I wiped my knife on his suit jacket and took his keys, he watched me leaving while his life quickly gurgled out of his throat.
The third key I tried from his keyring let me into the kitchen. I subdued the one guy there who was up early to bake bread for my target, the sheltered little princess of the mob underboss Vito Mondalo, and left him unconscious and gagged in the storeroom.
If Vito was home, they would have taken security more seriously. The place would have a standing army, but he’d taken to spending most of his time living in a bunker, literally an underground fortress in the middle of the desert. Due to his aspirations, his public appearances were guarded by public and private security, a difficult target in the political climate of today.
This was why Jace decided to get to him through his daughter, and that was why he needed me. Sure, he could have come in loud with a hundred guns blazing, but this called for precision. Things would be fucked if Eliana died in a shootout.
I garroted another Folliero henchman and shoved his corpse into a storage area under the stairs before silently ascending them. Eliana’s room was on the second floor, so I was likely to cross paths with a few more before getting to her. You could call it clearing the path for a quick getaway.
The Folliero Crime Family was now mainly under the control of Vito after Don Folliero named him as his successor due to the Don’s age and failing health. I ducked into a room and hid behind a desk as a group of three entered the hallway from a door about halfway down on the right, waiting until I heard them pass before slipping back into the hallway.
It wasn’t easy figuring out the real story behind Vito “Victor” Mondalo, but we were bound to find the truth since it became Jace’s obsession. Between Dan’s hacking, my execution of very specific individuals, Jace’s more traditional interrogation methods and this fucking evil shit that Jace’s chemist from Highston made, we pieced it together.
Vito was a hitman for the mob, like me, except he didn’t really give a fuck about who he was paid to kill. He did it all, that’s the way the Mafia liked it, and, for some reason, he was in Port Magnus shortly after Jace’s parents were killed. He was the one that told Jace that my former employers, the Picollis, were behind the hit when Jace was only six years old.
That was a fuckin’ strange thing for him to say to a little kid. Especially considering, according to our sources, he took contracts from the Picollis both before and after that year, before settling in New Mexico and working his way up the Folliero hierarchy.
Jace and him were going to have an interesting conversation once Jace had Vito’s daughter to use as leverage.
No innocents, no children, it was a rule that Vito never saw any reason to enforce on himself. It was a rule that resulted in me falling out first with the military, then with the Picollis, and the reason why I was reluctant as fuck to take this contract.
It was only after Jace gave me his word that he had no plans to harm Eliana that I accepted. He was going to use Eliana against Vito, that was all. Even then, I didn’t particularly want it. I’m a hitman, not a babysitter.
Keeping somebody alive is a lot harder than killing them, in certain circumstances. However, in this business, I discovered it’s almost impossible to find an employer with integrity like Jace, so here I was.
With one more corpse deposited in a hallway closet, curled around a vacuum cleaner like he was spooning a lover, and another in the convenient under-stair storage at the far end, I was on the second floor. Unlike the other floors, this level was darkened. Heaven forbid that light should spill under Eliana’s door and disturb the world she’d had served up to her on a silver platter.
I knew her from the background of some of her father’s speeches, the prim and proper girl-who-would-be-the-president’s-daughter, doing her best to mask her lack of interest in the speech with a stone-face better suited to a poker tournament. She probably couldn’t wait to get home and pack a little dog into a handbag.
Aside from the generous monetary compensation the contract offered, my only consolation in a job like this was that somebody who had everything without ever having fought for it, was going to have their world shaken up.
I just hoped Jace’s obsession with Vito hadn’t pushed him over the edge, turned him into the exact kind of person he’d sought to destroy. The kind of person who would lie to me and break my one simple rule.
Something was next to Eliana’s door. A gentle snort told me it was a guard taking advantage of the darkness for his own bit of shuteye on a chair.
Hugging the wall, I crept along as quiet as the shadows I was hiding in, and drew my knife again. After a glance in each direction as if I was about to cross the street, I stepped towards him.
His eyes fluttered open and I heard the gasp of a panicked breath drawn in. Lunging forwards, I swung the knife in an upward arc as he screamed.
The point entered under his chin, straight through the bottom and top of his mouth before stabbing his brain, effectively snapping his mouth shut on his last desperate screech. Fuck. Somebody must have heard that.
I pulled my knife out of the man on the chair and put it away, then unholstered my gun. Waiting for a few seconds, I listened intently to my earpiece in case luck was on my side and I might even be able to get Eliana halfway out of the house before anybody realized what was happening in their midst.
“Five, you hear that?”
“Nine, head up to level two, sounds like somebody stepped on a cat.”
“Wake up, seventeen, where the fuck are you?”
Fuck. Reaching into my pocket, I pressed a button on the simple little device that drowned the Folliero radio frequency in static as their verbal traffic became more agitated and I removed my earpiece.
This would add to their confusion, possibly delaying the alarm going off when somebody found a dead body and couldn’t call it in. Then, when the alarm did go off, they’d struggle to act as a cohesive unit against me.
I took a step back and then surged forward, kicking Eliana’s door hard enough to send it crashing off its hinges.
With my eyes having adjusted to the darkness as I crept along the hallway, I could see Eliana sitting upright in her bed, her hands hovering over the covers on either side as if ready to brace herself for balance. A classic “what the fuck is going on?” posture.
I rushed across her room. “Get the fuck up!”
Eliana’s long blonde hair, always so immaculately groomed to frame her angelic face when she was on television had that just-been-fucked-and-ready-to-fuck again mess going on as she scrambled to comply. Not quickly enough for my liking.
I reached down and pulled her to her feet by a firm fistful of hair at the back of her head and then held her against the wall with my hand on her throat.
“Open your mouth. Open your fucking mouth.”
She did and I pushed the barrel of my gun in there. “You’re coming with me. If you resist, you die. You understand?”
“You fuckin’ believe me?”
She nodded again.
When people are suddenly plunged into a situation like this in the middle of the night, they tend to react in fairly small range of predictable ways. They can be summed up as fight, flight or freeze, depending on their experience, who they are, and what they’re capable of.
Eliana was doing a decent approximation of ‘freeze’, not moving unless I moved her, compliant with my instructions. Her eyes were wide, but even taking into account the dim light I didn’t see fear there, much like I might expect from somebody who thought they were a badass biding their time to try to catch me off guard.
My contract, not to mention my underlying code of ethics, demanded that I deliver her alive, but the safest way for me to do that was for her to believe I could kill her. That lack of fear was dangerous. I leaned in closer, pushing my gun barrel another inch into her mouth.
“I’m faster than you, I’m stronger than you. You have no chance if you fuck around. Do not test me. Move.”
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