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The snow was my friend.
In the middle of the night when it was snowing, people stayed inside. That was to my benefit, and the swirling white also gave me cover. I parked the car a mile from where we’d had the fateful meet up with Venedict, and then I approached the scene cautiously. I didn’t take the obvious path; I certainly didn’t head straight for where I’d dropped the man who threatened us. Instead, I took a circuitous route and ended up viewing the scene from the roof of the next building.
I didn’t know what I’d been expecting. Part of me imagined there would be cops at the scene. Maybe someone saw something, reported the shooting, and called 911. In which case, the bag would be in evidence, which was another worry in and of itself. I’d get Alfie out of that one simply enough, talking about how he was visiting me and we embraced, and he put the bag down. That scenario was one that I wish had happened. A simple embrace, a kiss, a forgotten bag, and we would be done.
We could say we knew nothing about the man on the ground with a bullet through his brain.
The cops might even believe us.
So that was scenario one. But the parking lot was empty; no cops, no yellow tape, nothing to indicate that a corpse had been found. And worst of all, from this angle, I couldn’t see if Venedict’s body was even there still.
I know he’d been dead, I watched the life leach away from him as the bullet destroyed him, so I know that he didn’t get up and walk away from this situation.
But there were no cops. I shifted my position again, which gave me a better look at the scene. The body was gone.
Which meant only one thing.
I slid down the retaining wall and sat there with my head in my hands. Venedict had been taken, the scene had been cleared, and that meant Alfie’s bag was likely gone. It wasn’t as if I could go down there and check. Venedict could have worked with a team of more than just the person who had spirited his body away, in which case there would be a ‘watcher’; someone waiting for me to return.
How far would they take this? If they had Alfie’s ID, then they had access to the rink, they’d know about the team, Alfie’s friends, about everything. Panic gripped me, and for a second everything was black, with no possible solutions.
And then when I’d wallowed in my misery for a few moments, I shook off the panic and began to think.
Alfie was safe; they weren’t here for him; they weren’t here for the team, or Alfie’s friends. They wanted me.
“Dusan, what did we do,” I muttered under my breath. Killing Dusan had been an act of mercy, something he demanded of me, but my uncle Yuri never forgave me. He’d wanted Dusan alive, because the old man was the only person who knew the password to billions of dollars in bitcoin currency. Money that he’d wanted whatever the cost to Dusan.
“I miss you old man,” I said, sadly.
A bastard, a murderer, a man with so much blood on his hands, but he was more a father to me than any other man, I knew Dusan wasn’t a good guy, but he’d loved me and got me away from the mess of Russia, and over to America. I stayed away from him, wanting a life free from my fucked up family, and I never once even contacted him.
Until the day Dusan ordered me back to Russia.
“I have no one to protect me. You owe me Sacha.”
He had cancer, and naively I’d thought that he wanted me as a support, as a friend, but all he’d wanted was one thing — his own death. Hooked up to machines to keep him alive, my uncle was there in the wings, ready to take the mantle of Dusan’s corrupt empire. The only thing that meant Yuri hadn’t killed Dusan, was the promise of giving that password to my Uncle Yuri. Otherwise, Yuri would have long since put him down. He’d grown stronger on bigger and bigger drug deals, become the new kid of the block, the one waiting to inherit Dusan’s legacy. There were guards on Dusan’s room, the majority of Dusan’s men were now loyal to Yuri, and Dusan was being tortured for the information that Yuri needed.
I used every skill I had, got into the room, left a path of bodies, and did what Dusan wanted, I put a gun to his head and shot him.
The password to his entire fortune in crypto-currency had gone with him.
Everything crumbled then, Yuri was long dead now as well, but I’d never expected the hate to follow me here; I thought everything over in my homeland was done with the loss of the money.
“Stupid,” I told the snow. “How many men are here with Venedict? How many guns for hire had he employed?
I had Goog and Taz on speed dial on my burner phone, and it was Goog I started with. I explained quickly that they should be aware of security, and that I couldn’t explain more, and to tell the rest of the team that I wasn’t messing about. I genuinely think that Goog thought I was joking, but after a few heated moments, he listened and promised to pass it all on.
“Where’s Alfie? Is he okay?” was his last question.
“He’s fine,” was the only answer I could give. I checked in with security at the rink, put a call into the cops as a concerned citizen, and to team management. I even spoke briefly to Layton Foxx at the Railers and explained enough to have him awake. Now, everyone knew that the Rush could be in the center of something I had no control over.
Determined to make this stop I made my way down to ground level and walked with purpose to the scene of the death, and then I stood absolutely still under the light of the street lamp, with icy snow poking at my skin. I held my hands out to the side, and in my loudest voice I gave away the biggest secret of my entire life.
“Tell whoever cares that I know Dusan’s password. I can make you rich, so let’s make a deal,” I announced in Russian.
And then I waited.
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