An hour earlier she had been sitting at a dusty old deck in the middle of a condemned office space, staring at her laptop screen. The sounds of rats scurrying against the decaying floorboards did nothing to break her gaze.
After three nights here, she was beginning to find the sound of the plastic tarp that covered half of the windows blowing in the wind soothing.
Putting a bed on this floor would be asking for tetanus or hepatitis. Instead, she had bought a hammock from a surplus store and hung that up. She should be there now. The combination of the wind blowing through the abandoned room, the scurrying sounds constantly moving across the floors and through the walls and swinging slightly in the hammock made her feel like she was in a hut in the wilderness.
She loved it.
It felt comforting, familiar.
She should be there now.
Zipping up the front of her leather jacket, she pulled the hood of her black hoodie up over her head. The wind was cool against her skin, harsh.
There was no reason she should be in the city, she told herself. No reason she should be staying in that shit hole that reminded her of the wilderness.
Edward Levi was living on a private ranch about three hours out from the city. She should be there, scouting the woods, finding the perfect vantage point or the best way to get in.
Moving through the crowd, she grit her teeth. She hated crowds because she hated most people. Yet, here she was still in the city.
She had thought about asking herself why that was, but changed her mind when she realized she didn’t want to know the answer.
Turning the corner, she stayed tight against the wall, her eyes glued to the opposite side of the street. She was watching a man in a red plaid shirt with a black toque on his head. His head was low, his shoulders raised up around his ears and his hands shoved into the front of his pants.
He effortlessly dodge the people around him, every so often he would bump shoulders with someone. He didn’t even look up, just kept walking.
She did a better job dodging people as she walked down the street. She made sure no one touched her as she walked. Her stomach was tight and her jaw was set as she moved.
Suddenly the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, a shiver running down her spine.
Her wince was just a subtle jerk of her cheek as she sucked in a breath of surprise, sending sharp pain through her tender ribs. The man across the street she had spent all afternoon following faded into the background.
Her heart beat slow, but heavily in her chest as she looked at the tall man standing next to a short, but visibly fit woman with her hair piled in thick twists on top of her head and skin the color of rich mahogany.
The shape of his jaw, the stern look in his eyes and the crooked nose all seemed familiar, but not as familiar as deep, pink jagged scar across his cheek. It started at the lobe of his left ear and ran into the corner of his mouth.
Older now, and much taller; he could seem like a completely different person, but not to her.
Weaving quickly through the crowd, she made her way in closer. Her ears were burning as she listened to the hushed conversation between the two. The woman started her conversation with a long, low sigh. “There’s no sign of her at the apartment. It looks like she hasn’t been there in days, mail stacked up inside the door.”
“Her car is not at her apartment or her office.” He interjected.
Letting out another sigh, the woman rubbed her hand across her forehead before shoving both her hands into the pockets of her black trench coat. “Maybe she just… left.”
Scoffing, he shook his head. “Why? She is already out of Refuge, living a completely free life out here in the city, making her own calls so long as she sends Aleksandr what he wants at the end of the month. She basically has his blessing and hasn’t had to go toe to toe with anyone in years. Why run?”
“Her leash may be a bit longer than ours Twee, but she is still on one. Sasha has always wanted a different life. There’s only so much freedom, even for her.”
A frown made his harsh features seem almost grotesque. “No, not Sasha. If she ever did run, she would have left something, some sign to piss him off. She would want Aleksandr to know, a final slap in the face before she disappeared.”
Thinking it over, she pursed her lips before nodding. “So where is she?”
As the crowd started to thin slightly, she ducked into a doorway to keep them from seeing her.
The two fell into step with one another, walking down the street. She kept up with them easily, listening.
She was filled to the brim with intrigue.
It was him!
“We can’t call him until we have answers.” The woman said.
“Then we’d better hurry up and find some. Aleksandr is not the kind of man you keep waiting. If we don’t find the answers he is looking for, he is not going to hesitate to send someone else who can.” Twee said.
“I checked the surveillance at her office. Her parking spot is in a blind spot, behind a pillar. I am guessing that is not an accident. Sasha was probably meeting with people down there…” She hunched her head a little, pulling up the collar of her jacket. “I saw her car pulling away three days ago. Nothing strange that I can tell.”
“We need to run her plates, find out where she was going. There has to be a traffic camera somewhere that has picked her up in the past three days.”
As she listened, she knew they would find nothing. She had made sure of that.
That suddenly wouldn’t work for her.
She needed them to find Sasha.
The two of them jumped into the back of a cab. She grabbed a cab of her own and told him casually to follow her friends, there was too many of them to squeeze into one ride, she murmured.
They pulled into a motel on the outskirts of town. It was the type of motel that took cash and rented rooms by the hour. After watching them to see what room they went into, she walked around the property.
After everything was imprinted in her mind, she hopped in another cab and went back to the area she had ditched Sasha’s car.
Waiting for Sasha to be found was no longer an option. She needed them to find her now; she needed Sasha’s name to be all over the news, for the circumstances of her death to be in the paper.
A big time businesswoman like Sasha found in some abandoned, filthy building by the docks with her neck broken… that was the kind of thing that opened eyes.
The kind of thing loved ones took revenge over.