A part of me saw her as a delicate beauty that needed protecting. But she wasn't a flower that gets torn apart in a storm; she was the storm.
Before it’s over, someone will die.
Attacks are coming from all sides: arrests, sabotage, picketing, even being framed for murder. Who is the invisible force behind it all?
And what secrets has Joe Bishop been keeping about both Adriane’s and Alec’s pasts?
“I just need you to surround the building and make sure all of Malleus goes where they’re told.”
He sneered, the happy kind. I’d just told him he could beat the shit out of any of them if he wanted.
I waved one of the guys in the back to come forward. He was a local small-time con artist, extremely personable when he wanted to be. He came up to me. His smile looked like Prince Charming.
“There are a few people living in the building who are not connected to Malleus. I want you to mark their door so El Parros doesn’t mess with them. And inform them that most of their neighbors are being evicted and to please stay inside and lock their doors.” I gave him a sheet of labels on which I’d written “PROTECTED.”
Still smiling that smile, he took the labels and the list of apartment numbers and headed inside.
I sent the thugs to surround the building, and once Prince Charming came out, I sent in El Parros to start evicting.
Only a few minutes later, they started streaming out like cockroaches. The first one out the door bolted for the fence at the back of the apartment building, and then he stumbled forward and fell face first into a dirty patch of grass. No one seemed to have noticed where Vincent had gone, the third-story laundry room window of the neighboring building. The rounds in the rifle were just rubber; they wouldn’t kill anyone, but the gun packed enough force to knock a man down and the rounds hurt like a motherfucker.
The next man out tried to run as well, until a rubber bullet made him smack into the side of the building.
“Over there!” Vlad commanded and pointed to the middle of the road, and the rest of the cockroaches followed as ordered.
Carlos came out of the building and across the street to me. “That’s all of them, bitches, too.”
“Did you come across any children?”
“No kids. Just a few crying in the protected apartments.”
I glanced around to be certain Garrison still had the local uniforms busy elsewhere and then walked over to where Malleus was gathered in the middle of the street. They were closely surrounded by El Parros and the others.
Everyone focused on me as I stood in front of them.
I addressed Malleus. “You’re leaving town. Now.”
“Right,” a guy with red, spiked hair scoffed.
I nodded slightly toward him, and a rubber bullet made red-spikes smack into the asphalt.
“I suggest the rest of you look around,” I said. “Anything seem unusual about your company?”
They glanced around at their herders—sneak thieves, con artists, drug dealers, enforcers, and El Parros. Several of them raised their eyebrows. This group didn’t usually associate in general, let alone work together on a job. “Any idea what would bring such a group into this unlikely alliance?”
A young man in a dirty white T-shirt raised his hand.
I managed not to roll my eyes and just looked at him.
“You, Mr. Kaden.”
“Very good. You get a gold star.” I started walking casually around the group. “How many of you are from this city?”
Several of them slowly raised their hands.
“Then you’ll know quite clearly what happens when you cross a Kaden. Anyone care to explain to the class?”
“We ain’t never crossed you,” dirty-white-T-shirt said.
I gave a slight nod, and a well-placed round hit him in the thigh and knocked his leg out from under him. He yelled out in pain.
I squatted next to him and spoke calmly. “I suggest you shut the fuck up before I make you bleed.”
He pressed his lips together, and pain etched itself in his face as if chiseling rock.
I stood and continued slowly circling the group. “You will leave town. Tonight. You will not return. You will not maintain any relationships with anyone in this city. You will not even discuss this city. I have informed all of my contacts that you are not welcome here, and they are to demonstrate that if they see you.” I stopped walking and faced them squarely. “I have authorized them to use whatever means of demonstration they find most effective.”
Vlad, El Parros, and most of the others sneered.
I started walking away, toward my car. “I’m giving you five minutes’ head start before my contacts begin demonstrating.”
Running footsteps sounded from behind me. They yelled at each other to get out of the way. My enforcers laughed as they watched.
About the Author
M.S. Kaye has several awards and published books under her black belt. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, Florida, where she tries not to melt in the sun. Find suspense and the unusual at www.BooksByMSK.com.
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