He bent down and flashed a blade in front of my face. For a second I thought that was it. I didn’t have a time for even a last-ditch desperate act. But there was no bite of cold steel against my throat. It slid between the strap of my helmet and was jerked away. The helmet followed.
I let out the breath of relief I didn’t realise I was holding, but I felt a thousand times more exposed.
With a kick the body that was pressing down on top of me was tipped over. I was grabbed by the vest around my shoulders and thrown onto my front, face down. Rough hands grabbed at my wrists and yanked them together. There was a buzz and a cable tie cut into my skin. He was fumbling at my waist. Velcro ripped. My belt was gone, along with its gun.
My mind screamed for me to act, but I could see no reasonable course of action that wouldn’t get me killed. Problem was, that included inaction. I somehow doubted I’d have the opportunity to escape like the last time I was in this situation. The only idea I could place any hope on was Jack and Mike somehow escaping capture and helping me.
I was half-lifted half-dragged across the room by the shoulder strap of my vest. My knees trailed through the growing pool of crimson, but I was already bathed in blood. I could feel it drying on my face, cracking when I blinked. My stomach turned, but whether that was out of fear or disgust I couldn’t tell.
“Wait, Carl. Search her. She might have more weapons,” Gib said from out of my sight.
“You’re so paranoid about this one.” Carl laughed, but hauled me up and slammed me into the wall. “You, don’t move a muscle or Gib’ll put a bullet through that pretty little head of yours. Don’t think he won’t. He’s a trigger happy shit and you really make him nervous.”
His rough hands brushed along my arms, my legs. They hit my ankle holster, but he pulled up the leg of my pants and found it empty. “Lost your little blade, girl?” For some reason he didn’t unbuckle my vest, maybe he didn’t think it was actually a ballistic vest – that I was playing dress-up?
I glanced over to Gib and the woman, searching for weaknesses, weighing up options. Both had their guns trained on me. Gib was sweating, his finger was already working against the trigger of his pistol. The woman held the muzzle of her gun an inch or two lower. It would only take a moment to aim, but it was more comforting. I’d take a moment more of life. Her face settled into a frown as I caught her eye.
One thing was plainly clear. I wouldn’t stand a chance. They’d kill me before I could get a couple of steps down the hall, or towards them. I considered using this guy as a shield, he’d protect me from a few shots maybe – but it would be far too unpredictable. He’d struggle, or I’d have to really hurt him, and I wouldn’t be able to carry him in a way that would protect me.
Besides, there were two of them, and where would I go?
God damn guns, everything would be easier if it came down to a fistfight, a knife fight even. Getting stabbed, it wasn’t that bad. I could manage a few cuts if it meant my life. Getting shot would likely end it.
The search was ended with an almost disappointed, “She’s clean.” He grabbed my hair and slammed my head back into the wall. I slid down to my knees, stars bursting on my vision, before his fist came around and struck me. Everything span. My vision tunnelled.
* * *
I opened my eyes. The carpet was gone, replaced with a functional rubberised floor that burned my feet as I was dragged roughly.
I couldn’t have been out for more than a few seconds. I was still being moved. The décor, in contrast with the utilitarian floor, was in keeping with the whore’s room. Fancy, but tasteful patterned wallpaper that wasn’t even peeling. Smart, and real, wooden doors, varnished so you could see the grain. I was definitely in the same building, probably on the same floor.
I didn’t have long to gather my senses before I was picked up and thrown face-first into a room. I failed to stop my momentum with a pathetic dance of my feet, and fell. I twisted, taking the impact on the hard floor with my shoulder. My bad shoulder. I tried to ignore the stabbing knives of pain.
I twisted, and got my legs underneath myself, kneeling, ready to-
“Don’t bother getting up,” Carl said with a lazy drawl. The three followed me into the room, keeping a good distance themselves and me like I was going to jump at them.
Which, of course, I was considering. They weren’t making it easy. I scanned the room for anything that could be of use to me. Weapons, distractions, methods of escape. It had the air of business around it, a conference room almost. I could see a thick wooden table pushed to the side of the room and played through scenarios in my head. A potential shield? Was it bullet proof? I wasn’t sure I wanted to test it. Could I kick it at them? What about the chairs, they’d make a good weapon if I didn’t have my hands bound behind my back.
I could always try to dislocate… No. Not that.
Lamp, again, the issue of no hands. I couldn’t even throw it. What about the lights in general, could I take out the lights? Darkness would be invaluable… Surprise, hiding my movements. I could close distance on them and might not get shot. The skinny LED bulbs hung from the ceiling within paper shades. I scanned for the switch. By the door, just over the woman’s shoulder. Damn.
No windows, no-
The door opened, interrupting my thoughts. A figure entered. Someone I recognised. I could see the resemblance. He let the door swing slowly and silently closed. Its graceful movement ended with a harsh click of the latch that lingered in the room. They shared the same nose, the shape of the eyes. He had a similar piercing look as he consider me, leaning casually against the wall as I knelt, thrown at his feet.
But he wasn’t grinning. There was no trace of humour.
“And we meet again.” He tilted his head and scanned me. The others stepped back, respectfully silent.
I didn’t give him the pleasure of a reply. Maybe because I didn’t trust my voice not to shake. Not that there was much need for pretense, given the situation.
“I find you almost as curious as Father,” he said. “I do have to thank you, for providing that little distraction. It gave me a lot to work with. His actions were becoming more and more irrational as time wore on. It pained me to do what I did, honestly it did, but it had to be done of course.”
He pushed himself away from the wall and walked towards me. Still on my knees, I met his eye.
“I don’t know what all the fuss was about to be honest. You don’t seem very intimidating to me.” He was inches away. I could smell thick cologne. It clawed at my throat, making my eyes water. Then again, maybe it wasn’t the cologne.
“You must have help, surely?” He reached down, a slender finger traced the line of my jaw, stopping at where the scar met my chin. “You can’t have been doing all this on your own?”
I had, but the one time I mess up I drag my friends into it. I held my tongue, pressing my jaw together so hard my teeth ached.
“This is going to get boring fast if you don’t talk to me.” His voice lowered in volume, sending a shiver down my spine I fought to repress. “I don’t like boring.”
His knee rose up and smashed into my nose, throwing me backwards. Hands tied together, I couldn’t break my fall and my head smashed into the hard floor. I gasped to keep from screaming out in pain.
“I’m not my father. I’m a resourceful man. I look at you and I see a capable young girl. An asset to my organisation.” I rolled around onto my side. My mouth stung, my teeth had split my lip. I touched it tentatively with my tongue as a sliver of bloody spit dribbled onto the floor. “To whom do you hold your loyalty? What’s your motivation here? Whatever they are giving you, I can double it. I can triple it.”
I rolled, and got back up to my knees. I wasn’t going to give him the pleasure of keeping me down.
“Money? That’s easy, I can give you money. Drugs? I run the largest industry in Montreal, you can swim in the stuff. You can have the best equipment, resources you could only dream of. Why are we fighting like this? Let’s work together.”
I snapped my head up and spat. I didn’t know if I hit him, because his open hand caught me in the side of the head before I got my thoughts straight. I only had time to tense, but even then it jerked my head to the side. I wasn’t going to fall again.
“Stop it.” He rubbed his palm, massaging his fingers. I hoped they stung as much as my face. “Do they have something of yours? Blackmail? Are they forcing you to do this? We have men. I have connections. I can resolve these kinds of problems.”
The door interrupted his speech. The voice that I heard felt like a punch in the gut.
“You touch me again and I’ll tear your face off you-” There was a grunt. They’d caught Jack. I wondered if Mike had got away, but my fears were realised. Both boys were led into the room.
Mike looked to me, nodded solemnly, and then his eyes fixed on his brother.
“We caught them trying to break in through the roof with this, sir.” The new arrival who’d brought the boys threw down one of my batons where it bounced, ringing like a bell against the hard floor before rolling in an arc into the legs of the table. Too far to reach, and my hands weren’t free.
I watched Mike’s brother’s face contract into a frown. There was a silence. Even Jack shut up. The air was heavy with tension as neither brother spoke.
“You…” Mike’s brother said, breaking their silence.
“At least use my name, Victor,” Mike replied, then smiled. “We were due a reunion.”