Page 51 of Deadly Rescue

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And if I do, would I even know how to do that?

My examples of love and relationships are zilch.

But that doesn’t matter right now.

I push everything else out of my mind when Scotch opens the door. He follows me down the hallway to where Pavel’s sitting on his knees, hands and feet tied behind him, with his head hung low.

I take the seat on the chair nearby again because my knees are woozy-feeling. “Pavel, so, tell me about this bounty.”

With bloodshot eyes, he looks me over. It’s a look that makes my skin crawl.

Scotch snarls, “Keep your fucking eyes down.”

Instantly, Pavel snaps his eyes to the floor.

“There’s not much more to tell. The job is to find you and two other people. Two million dollars for each one.”

My wheels spin, three people? “How did you hear about this?”

“The dark web. It was in some of the chatrooms.”

Scotch shifts and folds his arms across his chest. “How many people were talking about hunting Simona?”

“A handful. But I think I’m the only one who knew who she is. Unless someone is keeping it close to their chest. Everyone else is just on a wild goose chase hoping to run across a woman of your age, origin country, and general physical description with the birthmark.”

I ask, “Was there a picture of the birthmark?”

“Yeah. There was. A small image. I think it was on a man’s face, though. You know how the holes in the skin look different?” He glances at Scotch.

Scotch says, “The pores, you mean?”

“That’s it. I’m not into facials or lotions and the like, so they are just holes to me.”

Scotch narrows his eyes. “So, who was hiring?”

“Everyone in those forums has a fake persona, just an avatar. It would be damned hard to figure out who it really is.”

I lean in, steepling my fingers. “But if you find me, how are you supposed to connect with the person who’s paying?”

Pavel shrugs, but doesn’t look at me. “Generally, I mean, you know this, there’s a way to send a message to the person through the forum. This job requires proof of capture and proof of the fact that you are alive. Then an exchange will be arranged.”

A shudder runs through me. “What else do I need to know?”

For a split second, his eyes flip up to mine, then to Scotch. “You know, I’m not the only one who’s seen that mole. Including him.” He tips his chin at Scotch. “He could decide to turn you over for a big fat paycheck.”

Lethally calm, voice pitched low, Scotch says, “Enough.” He looks over to me. “You might want to leave the room.”

I leap to my feet with my heart trying to escape through my throat. “Wait.” I’m shaking all over as Scotch’s ferocious protectiveness rocks my marrow.

Drawing a shaky breath, I get my fire back. “Hold on. I’ve got an idea. He needs to have all his body parts working for this.”

The grimace on Pavel’s face fades, just a smidge. Scotch, though, he’s having none of it. If the man could shred steel and concrete with his stare, this whole building would crumble.

I rest a hand on his forearm with pleading in my eyes. “Just listen.”

We stare off. Finally, he gives in. Offers just a quick, very small nod. I turn back to Pavel. “Now, what I’m going to say is in addition to what my friend here offered for your mother. So, listen up. Since your plan to get the money for me is shot, I have an offer. I’ll pay you ten thousand dollars to go back to the forum and dig around for information on the other two people that are being hunted.”

Scotch makes a sound close to a growl.