“Forget it,” said the other. “We got a job to do.” He followed his words by reaching into his coat pocket and taking out a mean-looking knife. The weapon was a sign that these guys weren’t as dumb as they looked, or at least, had been given orders by someone smarter than they were. Committing crimes in New York with guns brought attention and heat. Knives, on the other hand…
He stepped toward me. I was confident, despite the pain. These guys were huge, but that was all they were.
The goon shoved the knife forward, going for a hard stab to my belly. I pivoted away, grabbing his huge arm as it flew past and brought it down hard onto my raised knee. A sick crack sounded out, and he let out a cry of pain as I snapped his ulna like a dry branch. I followed up the move with a quick jab to the face, stunning him and breaking his nose all at once. He toppled and went down.
The other goon watched the events with wide eyes, as if he couldn’t believe what had just happened. The surprise on his round face turned to determination, however, as he rushed in with a knife of his own as fast as his out of shape body could move him.
A palm strike to the nose brought him down just as fast, and I swooped my leg under his to trip him up for good measure. When the men were down, I grabbed their knives and tossed them into the nearest storm drain. The street around us was dark and quiet… not a soul had seen the fight that had started and finished in under a minute.
The men were down, groaning and moaning. While they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon, I didn’t want to be around when they regained their bearings. I broke out into a jog, quickly making the rest of the way to my apartment, my heart beating hard.
Once I was up in my place, reality dawned on me.
Nico knew. Nico knew and he wanted me dead.
My plan to leave New York at the end of the weekend had to be pushed up right fuckingnow.
I rushed around the place grabbing only the essentials. I packed my bags, putting a few outfits together to get me through the first week and potentially some meetings with Duncan. Next, I grabbed the bug-out bag that I’d assembled for such a situation, a small kit with my IDs—some fake, if I needed them—along with lots of cash.
Didn’t take me long at all to get ready. After thirty minutes of preparation, I stood at the entrance to my place, a pair of duffel bags next to me. I’d have to take care of matters with the apartment later—send money to the property management firm and then hire movers to both move and dispose of what I had. Everything other than what I had packed would need to be replaced.
It was a damn shame, really. I liked that apartment. More than that, I liked my life in New York.
But it was all over now. I took one last look at the place before picking up my bags and heading out.
My Jeep was parked below in the parking garage, my motorcycle next to it. As tempting as the idea of driving cross-country on my bike sounded, I knew the Jeep would be more practical. I approached slowly, gun in hand as I checked the vehicle for any sign of Nico’s goons. Once it was clear, I gave another look under the hood and under the chassis to make sure there was no nasty surprise awaiting me when I turned the ignition.
There was nothing. I settled into the driver’s seat, wondering how I’d made it out so easy. Nico didn’t screw around when it came to getting even, and for him to hire two inept losers and nothing else… it was strange.
I wasn’t about to sit around second-guessing my good fortune, however. I started the Jeep and pulled out of the garage and was on my way. I drove through the city one last time, taking in the sights and sounds of the place I’d called home for years.
Google Maps revealed that the drive from New York to Denver would be twenty-seven hours, a good three days of driving. That was fine with me, I had a hell of a lot to think about.
I was soon on the road, pulling out of the Holland Tunnel with the city lights shining bright behind me. My new life was about to begin. What it had in store for me, I could only guess.
One month later…
Iwalked out of the doctor’s office in a daze, still trying to wrap my head around what I’d just learned.
Twins. I was going to havetwins.
Haley flashed me a grin as the two of us made our way down the sidewalks of downtown Denver. It was the middle of the day, the mid-August air pleasant and warm.
“That’s two,” I said.
“Two babies. There are literallytwobabies inside of me. Right now.”
Haley put her arm around my shoulders, stopping me in my tracks. She smiled, but there was an expression of concern on her face.2
“You alright? I mean, that’s a hell of a lot to take in.”
I stood there for a moment, people walking around me. It was a good question…wasI alright?