This must be one hell of a delivery if I had to come all the way out here for the pickup. These shady locations meant a delivery to a man’s final and watery resting place. But I didn’t care as long as I got paid.
The gravel crunched under my ’69 Cadillac’s white walled tires as I pulled up to the old warehouse. When I stepped inside the building, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. Something wasn’t right, the air was too still.
Three men stepped from the shadows with pipe wrenches in their hands. My pulse raced in my chest and sweat dripped down my back, ruining my Armani shirt. These weren’t any hired muscle; these were Zeven’s personal enforcers. Viktor with the greasy blond hair, Alexei with the smile scars, and Yuri with a giant diamond stud in each ear and a bright white smile.
Shit! Zeven knew about me and Devora, this night was not going to end well for me.
The three of them stepped closer surrounding me.
“Evening gentlemen. I take it we’ll be delivering a message that can’t be sent via email. Where are we headed?”
“Nowhere. The three of us are here to give you a message.” Yuri flashed his signature charming smile. “You’re fired, Sergei.”
“This is what happens when the boss finds out his smoking hot wife is fucking the lowly Gopher,” Alexei said before laughing like a damned braying donkey.
“Do you think I’m that stupid?” I said. “Everyone knows not to look at Dev… Mrs. Vasiliev for too long. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got a job to do.” I stepped back from them. There had to be a way out of here that didn’t involve me in a body bag.
“Z is pretty convinced you are in fact that stupid,” Viktor said, slapping the wrench against his palm. “He said he had proof and you unknowingly hand delivered him the video.”
“How was there ever a…”
Viktor’s shoulders flexed raising the wrench an inch. A bone-deep survival instinct launched my foot square into his balls. He clutched his gut, the wrench clattered to the ground. A growl vibrated in my chest as I grabbed his head and jerked my knee into his face. Hot blood splattered across my tailored pants and Italian shoes. I shoved him into Alexei, he stumbled back and pushed Viktor to the ground.
Adrenaline surged through my body, I needed to keep moving. I swung around to Yuri my arm flying up in front of my face, blocking the wrench. The raging pain exploded stars in front of my eyes and the sound of bone cracking knotted my stomach.
In that moment Alexei attacked. His wrench slammed across my ribs. I couldn’t breathe, the edges of reality blurred. That same survival instinct kicked in. As he readied for another swing my fist collided with his throat. His eyes bulged and he gagged. Before the wrench could hit the ground my other fist crashed into his unprepared gut. The moment my fist sunk into his stomach the butt of Yuri’s wrench bashed into my skull behind my ear.
The world tilted and spun. My stomach rolled and twisted like a python crushing its meal and my pulse sounded like a freight train in my ears. I couldn’t keep my balance, my right shoulder and hip collided with the concrete floor.
A boot sailed towards me…
My boss’s sexy wife clutching at the sheets and gasping with pleasure…
A fist and the coppery taste of blood in my mouth broke through the vision.
A wrench swung at me…
The lounge overlooking my favorite club with thousand dollar bottles of booze and slutty little sorority girls rubbing their tits on me and grinding their ass into my lap while blaring techno drowned out the need for useless conversations…
Another steel toed boot to my stomach shattered that memory.
The barrage of fists, boots, wrenches, and palpable visions seemed never-ending. My body felt weightless as if I were floating. How was that possible? I should’ve been in sheer agony. But not anymore.
Reality came crashing back. The freezing concrete made my teeth chatter hard enough I feared they might crack. But at least no one else was here beating the shit out of me. How long was I on this floor anyway?
As I tried to stand up, a wave of hellfire spread through my body. My vision swam with vivid and terrifying mutations of memories, experiences and sins. Now I wasn’t feeling that weightless euphoria, now the bone fractures filled with blazing razor blades that sliced, nicked and singed every single one of my nerves. Maybe this was the true reality instead? Or maybe I was dead and this is what Hell felt like.
After what seemed like an eternity of slipping between consciousness and lucid fever dreams, my eye cracked open. I still laid on the concrete while rays of sunshine slanted through the broken windows. It must have been around one in the afternoon, but I had no idea if that meant I’d been left for dead for a few hours… or a few days. Hell, I didn’t even know how I survived. But I did.
First order of business was to get to my storage locker, the one place I made damned certain to keep hidden from the Vasiliev family just in case something like this ever happened.
I drug myself to my feet and forced them to walk me to my Caddy. Or the scorched hunk of metal that used to be my Cadillac.
Fuck! This car cost me a small fortune. She was a first off the line, matching serial numbers, with pitch black paint, white as snow interior, and purred like a kitten. Rare and beautiful, an absolute perfection… ruined.
And now there were twenty miles ahead of me. Twenty goddamned miles on busted knees, broken ribs, and bare feet. No way in hell these city dwellers were going to give me a ride. Not with a shattered, swollen face and blood and sweat stained Armani shreds hanging off my body looking like a creature from a bad zombie movie.
I grit my teeth. Why did those assholes have to take my shoes? My fifteen hundred dollar, hand sewn fucking shoes. The pain pushed me forward. Those bastards should’ve made damn sure I was dead.
Fifteen more miles. What options did I have?
Option one; gather the essentials from my storage locker and leave this wicked, beautiful city. I would have to hide like a bitch and live in mediocrity. Which meant no more penthouse suites, no more overpriced booze and women, and no more fine cars… Jesus, that sounded worse than the jagged rocks pressing into my bare feet. It took me fifteen years delivering everything from documents to pizza to corpses to obtain this life and I didn’t have the time or patience to work from the ground up in a different city.
Damn, I could use a drink. Ice cold and poured like oil. The kind where one shot cost more than a phone bill and was as gentle on the lips as a woman’s kiss but would kick you in the balls if you weren’t careful… just like a woman.
Why did I ever think fucking Devora was a good idea? I guess that has always been my problem, I didn’t think. At least not past the feel of a woman’s tits in my hands and long legs wrapped around me. Especially when she belonged to someone else. There was nothing more thrilling than hearing another man’s wife scream my name, knowing I was doing his job better.
Ten more miles.
My second option wasn’t an option at all. Begging Zeven for anything resulted with a bullet in the brain. I may have had a weakness for booze, pills, and women I had no business hopping in bed with but that didn’t mean I was chasing the grave. Quite the opposite.
I never would’ve landed this gig if Zeven Vasiliev were a forgiving man. He was the type who smiled and listened to the person’s pleas and apologies and then told them he understood, everyone fell on hard times. But the moment hope flared in the groveler’s eyes, he’d call them every degrading, belittling name in the book until he grew bored. Then put the barrel of a nine-millimeter pistol to their head and pull the trigger without so much as a second glance. It was always my job to deliver them to their families.
So begging was out of the question. That left one other option. And for that I had to make it another ten miles to my—
The big rig’s air brakes snapped me from my thoughts. I jumped out of his way but he gave a quick double tug of his horn, signaling me over. I hobbled the short distance to the cab and hauled myself in. Sweat dripped down my neck, black spots popped before my one open eye, and my stomach roiled.
Fuck! I would’ve given my left nut for some Oxy… and a steak the size of Texas… and a cute little blonde to nurse me back—
A cold bottle of water scorched my arm.
“You look like you’ve seen better days my friend.” The grizzled trucker smiled and nudged the water at me again.
I downed the whole bottle in three gulps. It wasn’t vodka but at least it was cold.
“By the looks of those bruises and lack of shoes, I’m bettin’ a hospital ain’t where ya headed.”
“No.” I held my ribs in place and tried not to chuckle. “I need to get to my storage locker on Lake and Forty-Ninth.”
“My rig won’t fit down those tiny streets but I can get ya closer than nine miles.”
“The name’s Mick by the way.”
“Sergei,” I said, my head falling back against the seat.
“Hey buddy wake up.” Mick’s hand shook my shoulder, grinding all of the crushed bones in my left side against each other.
Swallowing back the urge to puke, my one working eye peeled open. “What the hell man? Just go.”
“I told ya I couldn’t fit down your little side streets.” He flicked his cigarette butt out the window. “This is as close as I can get. Lake and Forty-Ninth is just up the road a couple blocks.”
I glanced around. He was right this parking lot was only two blocks from my locker. How about that Mick made good on his word. “Um, did I pass out?”
He lit another cigarette. “You sure you don’t want to go see a doc? I know of a urgent care place only a few miles from here that don’t ask no questions.”
“You’re all right Mick, I like you. But no I’ll be fine.” My eyes fixed on the ember flaring to life and followed the smoke coiling out the window. “Although, I wouldn’t mind one of those?”
He passed me the cigarette, the faded jailhouse tattoo of a spider web peaked from beneath his shirt sleeve. “You know what they say; an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.”
Wasn’t that ironic?
“Thanks for the ride but I ain’t going for anyone’s eyes.” I forced my body out of the truck. My vision swam when my weight crunched down on my battered feet and crushed knees. The thundering pulse in my ears muffled the sound of his air brakes releasing.
Two more blocks. The nicotine buzzed across my nerves as a bolt of lightening splintered across the thick clouds blocking out the moon.
Two more blocks and I could eat a few pain pills, put on a fresh suit and work on option number three… the option I started planning the moment I realized money was no longer a question but an answer. A big, fat raindrop splattered on my cheek. And another. Jesus Christ, was the entire universe rooting for my death?
My locker’s orange garage door finally stood in front of me, and not a moment too soon. Another crack of thunder ripped open the clouds, pelting my back with rain. I pressed my thumb to the reader and punched in my security code. After a small hiss the reinforced door slid up and the lights flicked on. Thank God.
A blood red, ultra sleek sports car with sexy curves rivaling any woman’s welcomed me. Not my style, she was too flashy. But with less than a hundred of these speedy little demons on the entire planet I jumped on the opportunity to buy one.
I popped open the trunk, never so glad to see a no-name duffel bag in all my life. Now I had everything I needed; the skills, the equipment, the money and all of the families secrets. Zeven Vasiliev, his enforcers, and anyone else who had a hand in my early retirement was going to die. After tonight, the Vasiliev empire would be mine…