Or maybe he was hoping that eventually I would let my guard down, and he was waiting until it was the right time to strike. Either way, I wasn’t going to be caught off guard.
The raid had been immediate. After I’d gone to the cops, they’d wasted no time getting a warrant and breaking in within two hours of my leaving.
But they’d found nothing. Nico was gone, as was Johnny. The rooms had been cleared out, with no traces of drugs, guns or trafficking. As for the kid… I had no clue. He could be dead for all I knew. On top of it all, I was left with the lingering concern that Nico had a paid contact in the NYPD who’d warned him of the raid. There was a good chance that was the case, which left one question… did he know I’d been the one who’d betrayed him?
I headed downstairs, taking the elevator to the gym on the fifth floor. Lucky for me, everything I needed was either in the building or within a block of it. I’d spent the last five weeks when I hadn’t been at work either in my apartment or the gym—the only two places I could at least guarantee a small measure of safety.
It couldn’t last forever.
Down in the gym, I changed in the locker room and hopped onto the treadmill. Starting off at a trotting pace, I pushed the speed faster and faster until my legs burned and sweat began to pour. Only the buzzing of my phone in the treadmill’s cup holder pulled me out of my focus.
I hit thestopbutton, picked up my phone, and gave the screen a look. The number wasn’t in my contacts, but the display read that the area code was for the Denver area.
Normally, I’d never answer an anonymous number like that. The fact that it was from Colorado made all the difference in the world.
“This is Dr. Ecomides,” I said. The treadmill slowed to a stop, and I stepped off. The front of the gym was made up of tall, floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over the city, and I made my way over to them.
“Alexandros, how are you? This is Duncan Pitt.”
My pulse quickened at the name. Duncan Pitt,Dr.Duncan Pitt, was one of the biggest names in medicine in America. His company, Pitt Medical, had been founded years ago as a private alternative to the dismal American health care system. The company had grown like wildfire since then, opening multiple locations throughout the country, with plans to expand to the east coast within the next few years.
Duncan and I had met by chance at a medical conference a few months back. We’d chatted at the conference bar only for me to find out that he was the keynote speaker for the whole damn event. Somehow, he’d recognized my name. I’d suggested that it was because “Ecomides” was a name that stood out among the Smiths and Jones in the US, while he offered that it was because I had a reputation as one of the best trauma surgeons in the country.
He'd offered me a job on the spot, but at the time I’d been too mired in my New York life to take him up on it. With things changing over the last month, however, I’d gotten in touch with him via email, letting him know that I was looking for something out of state.
“Duncan,” I said. “Good to hear from you.”
“Listen, I just wanted to apologize for not getting back to your email. I try not to slack on things like that. But with kids and the newest expansions to the main campus…”
His voice was low and commanding and I had no doubt in hearing him speak that he was a man of power and importance.
“Don’t apologize, please. I know you’re a busy man.”
“It’s not only that. When I read your email, I wanted to take some time and see where I could best use you. Not every day that one of the best surgeons in the country wants to make the move to private.”
“You’re too kind.”
“It’s true. When you told me who you were at that Long Island conference, I wanted to poach you on the spot. Pitt Medical only accepts the best of the best, and you fit that to a T. Anyway, I’ll cut with the flattery and get to the point. We’ve got a project going near our base of operations in Denver, and I think you just might be the man I’m looking for.”
I wiped the sweat from my forehead with my towel, leaning against the window.
“I’m all ears.”
“Pitt Medical thrives where public medicine fails. Funny enough, back when I started this whole operation, I wondered if there’d be room for a private practice the size I had in mind. Turns out, there’re are all sorts of holes in the medical industry. And that’s where we step in. You familiar with Evergreen, Colorado?”
“Can’t say that I am.”
“Right, you’re a New York guy. Evergreen’s a small town just on the outskirts of the Denver metro area.”
“How small are we talking here?”
He chuckled. “Population ten-thousand, small. But it’s charming as hell—situated in the mountains, lots of green, and a charming downtown area. Even got one of the best pizza places in the state there.”
“You haven’t hung up so far, that’s a good sign. Anyway, there’s a hospital not too far from Evergreen. When I found it, it was in a bad state—skeleton crew, peeling paint, desperate for supplies. But I saw potential; it’s right in the middle of three counties, after all.”