“That Volkov son of a bitch. Took him back to his house.”
“How do you know all that?”
“Heard them talking. Some Mexicans are waiting back at his house. Going to torture him to death. Bastard deserves it, coming into an Italian neighborhood like he owns the fucking place. Took out six good people. Friends of mine. Pietro went to school with my grandson. I hope they kill him twice.”
My heart sinks. Alexsei was in an Italian mafia restaurant and he had no back up because of me. The first time we came, I asked him not to bring his bodyguards. I wanted a night of pretending to be a normal couple. We got in the rhythm of it after that. And now he’s probably dead because of me.
I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. I touch my stomach. There’s a baby growing inside there. Alexsei’s baby. Is the father dead already?
A few weeks ago, I’d have been relieved. Set free from the nightmare of being married to him. But I don’t feel that way anymore. I feel sick at the thought of life without him to protect me.
He’s being taken to his house to be tortured. I could leave him there. This would be the perfect chance to walk away, go back to my old life.
Sure, I’ll have to deal with Terry sooner or later. My father too. But at least I won’t be married to a Russian monster any longer. He’ll be dead and I’ll be free. Just like I wanted.
I hail a cab. “Where to?” the cabbie asks.
I tell him the address and he starts driving. “So what’s there?” he asks. “Work or pleasure?”
“Just drive,” I reply, closing my eyes, a headache building at the back of my throat.
I’ve just made either the smartest or the dumbest decision of my life.
“You will sign,” he says, tapping the paperwork piled up on my desk. “You will give us the combination to your safe.”
I stretch in the ropes holding me in my chair, spitting on the contract. “Go fuck yourself.”
He smiles a thin smile, nodding at the man holding the cable. It gets pressed into my back yet again, sending a jolt of electricity arcing through me. My back spasms and my jaw clamps shut, my eyes bulging.
When the current switches off, I’m soaked with sweat.
“We can spend all day torturing you,” he says, sitting down in my chair, looking bored with the whole thing. “Why not just sign and we can all go home?”
There’s four of them in the room. The one giving the orders sits at my desk. He’s wiry with a thin mustache like a worm. Grins every time the electric hits me. Behind me is the one with the cable, stocky, balding, sweaty. Over by the door are the twoguards, keeping watch to make sure my men can’t get close.
The main fight is over in east wing. My people and Diego’s duking it out to see who gets the upper hand while Wormtash tries to get me to sign over the rights to my Swiss accounts. Wants the cash out of my safe too. Not happening.
I shove my ass back in my seat, shifting my left arm slightly. The electrical current works in my favor. It shoved my arm muscles in opposing directions, loosening the knot around my wrists enough for me to start wriggling my way loose. I just need to keep their attention on my mouth, not my hands.
“I’ll tell you why,” I say, making my voice sound panicky, wanting to lure him into thinking he’s got the better of me. “You come up here from Juarez, a couple of hired hands. It’s disrespectful. If the cartel wanted to make a deal with me, they could have had the decency to send a boss, not a glorified gopher.”
“I’m no gopher,” he says, a smile forming on his lips. “I am the most feared torturer in Mexico.”
“I doubt that. You’ve been here an hour and I’ve still got all my limbs. I reckon you’re frightened in case you do too much damage and I can’t sign that bullshit contract.”
“I’m not frightened of you.” He slams his fist on the desk. “You Americans, all alike. Think you rule the fucking world but you’re not in charge here. I am!” He nods and more current flows through my body.
This time, the knot is loosened enough to get my wrist out. As the electrical cable slips away from my spine, I ease my hand into the right place. I’ve got to be careful. The two men over by the door are armed. When I make my move I need to make itfast.
What I need most of all is a distraction. “You see these scars on my back?” I tell him. “My father tortured me a lot when I was a kid, whipped me, burned me, toughened me right up so that when some asshole Mexican like you came to me, I could laugh him off like I’m doing now.”
“You won’t laugh me off when I cut your balls off.”