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“My God, you’re amazing.”
Jerry stumbled through the darkened living room, nearly tripping over his own feet as he toed off his Italian loafers. He fumbled with the buttons of his designer shirt, attempting to undress himself without tearing his mouth away from the curvy brunet wearing the snug black cocktail dress. Giving up on the buttons, he stepped back and tugged at his shirt, pulled it over his head, and tossed it somewhere behind him.
“I’m going to make this a night you’ll never forget,” Jerry promised, hands sliding up her body to cup her breasts, his breath labored.
“That’s because he intends to strangle you to death.” D’s gruff voice carried through the shadows, and he grinned at Jerry’s startled red panda impression. D loved those little guys. He’d never seen a more overly dramatic animal. Except for Jerry here. Red pandas were adorable, unlike Jerry, who didn’t deserve the air he breathed.
“Fuck!” Jerry jerked the brunet in front of him, using her as a shield.
“Real classy, Jerry.” D shook his head and emerged from the darkness, gloved hand raised, his trusty SIG P320 with suppressor aimed at the monster standing in the living room of the multimillion-dollar South Florida mansion. Jerry’s eyes went comically wide from behind the brunet, who gasped, terror filling her big brown eyes. “It’s okay, sweetheart,” D assured her, keeping his tone soft. “I’m not here for you. I’m here for the guy who was planning on killing you during sex and then having his goons dump your body where no one would find it. Just another Saturday night for our psychopathic friend here. Isn’t that right, Jerry?”
She choked on air and darted away from Jerry, arms wrapped around herself as she started to tremble. Poor girl. She had no idea how close she’d come to becoming a tragic statistic. As it was, D hated he was too late to save the others, but how could he stop something he hadn’t known was happening?
Now he knew.
Jerry attempted to move, and D shot him in the leg, ignoring Jerry’s howl as he hit the tiled floor.
“It’s just a flesh wound, Jerry. Stop being such a baby.” D rolled his eyes. Really? The guy dragged himself dramatically across the floor like he was a WWI soldier who’d been shot in no-man’s-land. “You can use your left leg, you know. There’s nothing wrong with your left leg.” Jerry ignored him, grunting and groaning as he pulled himself, smearing a trail of blood along the way. Idiot. D approached the young woman, hands up in front of him. “I’m not going to hurt you.” Not that he expected her to believe him, what with the gun still in his hand.
“Please.” Tears streamed down her cheeks as she slowly backed away.
“What’s your name?” D asked gently.
“Miranda, there’s a driver waiting out front, ready to take you wherever you want to go, but I can call you a Lyft if you prefer. You’re safe, okay? No one is going to hurt you.” He offered her a warm smile. “I know that’s hard to believe coming from a guy who just shot someone, but trust me, he deserves it.”
“Was he really going to kill me?” Miranda asked, chin wobbling and voice breaking. Her eyes went to Jerry, and D glanced behind him, releasing a heavy sigh. He stopped beside Jerry and pressed a booted foot to his wrist, stopping him from picking up the cell phone he’d pulled out from the pocket of his discarded suit jacket.
“Jerry was planning on making you victim number twelve.”
“Twelve?” Miranda gasped, her hand flying to her red lips.
“He’s been doing it for years, and Daddy’s been helping him cover it up.” D crouched down, grinning broadly at Jerry. “I’m afraid dear old Dad won’t be in the race for governor next election. What with him facing prison time for helping you keep your dirty little secret.”
“You have no proof,” Jerry spat out.
D reached into the inner pocket of his leather jacket and pulled out the photos tucked inside. He tossed them in Jerry’s face. “I think the bodies of the eleven young women you raped and murdered is proof enough, wouldn’t you say?”
Jerry stared down at the photos. “How… how did you get these?”
“Exposing secrets is my business, Jerry, and I’m very good at my job.” He also had an entire agency and team of professionals behind him, but Jerry didn’t need to know that. It’s how he’d found Jerry’s little trophy stash.
A screech pierced the silence, and D jumped to his feet. One second Miranda was standing on the other side of the room all quiet and scared, the next she was kicking the shit out of Jerry. D cringed when Miranda stabbed her stiletto into Jerry’s back. Ouch. That had to hurt. Judging by Jerry’s wail, D gathered it hurt a lot. Should he do something? Maybe he should do something. In a minute.
“You sick motherfucker!” Miranda kicked Jerry in the balls so hard, D felt it. He sucked in a sharp breath and cupped himself. Holy shit.
“Okay. Time to go,” D prompted, wrapping an arm around a cursing and spitting Miranda. He lifted her and put her on her feet by the door. “Go home. Take care of yourself, and if anyone asks, you never saw me.”
Miranda nodded, her brown eyes almost black as she glared at Jerry, no doubt wishing him a long and painful demise. “Just promise me you’re going to make that hijo de puta pay.”
“Him and everyone else involved,” D promised. He’d knocked over the first domino in a very long line of depraved and corrupt pieces. They had no idea what was about to hit them.
Miranda gave him a curt nod, then disappeared.
“When my father finds out about this, you’re dead!”
D chuckled at the threat.
“What’s so fucking funny?”
In reality, nothing. If the average person saw even a flicker of the horrors he’d witnessed, it’d break them. D didn’t break. It was why he could do what he did, or at least what he used to do. The term compartmentalize had been created with people like him in mind. He’d come across the most putrid, dehumanized filth the world had to offer, and locked it away behind closed doors, the keys of which he’d tossed into the ocean of his mind to be forever lost. Then he would do his job. Jerry wasn’t the worst he’d seen. Not even close. Which was why D found the man amusing.
D crouched down in front of Jerry. “Can’t kill a guy who’s already dead, Jer.”
Being dead had its advantages. For one, people who’d been out to kill him were no longer looking to do so, and those who wanted him dead now were chasing a ghost. Dying wasn’t fun. It had hurt like a son of a bitch, and then came all the misery of leaving people he cared about behind, people he’d never be able to talk to again, but he’d brooded over that enough.
His death had not been peaceful, and he sure as shit hadn’t gone quietly into the night. Bitter betrayal and a bullet to the chest tended to do that to a guy. No, his last breath had been coupled with blind fury.
“You don’t look dead to me,” Jerry spat, eyes narrowed.
Wow. Sharp as a whip, this guy.
Clearly he wasn’t actually dead, but he had died. When Alpha found him, he’d expelled his last breath. They’d revived him and placed him in a medically induced coma. No one came to visit him. Not that anyone would have been able to find him had they known. His funeral had been lovely, or so he’d been told.
Two years later, here he was, in possession of a new name, a new life, and a new purpose. Today’s purpose was currently glaring at him in the hopes D would explode into human confetti.
Sweat trickled down the side of Jerry’s face, his soulless eyes studying D’s face, as if trying to figure out an angle he could exploit. His lips spread into a satisfied grin, and the hairs on the back of D’s neck stood on end.
Click. D sprang into action, darting toward a large leather sofa and diving behind it as a spray of bullets turned the once quiet living room into a war zone. D removed his second SIG from the shoulder holster beneath his jacket, followed by the suppressor tucked into the slim pocket beside it. Fucking Jerry. He’d clearly pushed some kind of panic button while D had been dealing with Miranda.
Where the hell had these guys come from? He’d knocked out all the guards in the small command center behind the house as well as the half dozen patrolling the property. He’d done surveillance on the place before making his move. Always did. He tapped the tiny earpiece in his right ear.
“Alpha, I’ve got unexpected company. I need eyes on the new guests.”
“I’m on it,” his boss’s digitally altered voice replied. “Accessing security feed. Six heavily armed hostiles, more on the way. Three near the sliding glass doors, two near the front door, and one with the target. Police have been notified of an intruder, and officers have been dispatched. ETA fifteen minutes.”
“I’ll be done in ten.”
“I thought you took care of security.”
“I did,” he said through his teeth, rolling onto his stomach, preparing to make a move.
“I’ll look into it.”
D waited for a pause in the gunfire before darting out from behind the couch and shooting two of the goons by the glass doors—clean shots to the legs. Once upon a time, he would have aimed much higher and taken them out of the equation, but that wasn’t him anymore. That wasn’t his job. These weren’t targets. They were stupid men who’d picked the wrong employer. D landed behind the loveseat, his pulse steady. Two down, four to go.
Alpha’s voice came over the line. “Target had a panic button built into his belt buckle. Extra security came from a van parked down the street.”
“For when he killed Miranda.” Maybe they hadn’t picked the wrong employer after all. Still. He had his mission, and he never deviated from the mission.
“Five minutes,” Alpha stated.
“Got it.” D ducked behind a pillar, grateful for the open-plan layout of Jerry’s ridiculous, modern two-story mansion. “Police are on their way, Jerry. It’s over.”
“Please,” Jerry scoffed from somewhere across the room. “My dad has the police in his pocket. Not that it matters. All you’ve done is put me in a position to garner sympathy from the public, which will only serve to boost my father’s campaign.” The shooting stopped while Jerry fed his ego. “Just think about it. He’ll appeal to them as a parent, promising to do something about the crime and corruption. How crime in South Florida is out of control, his own son a victim of a violent and ruthless criminal who broke into his home and shot him.”
“All the while Daddy continues to bury the bodies of the innocent women you rape and kill.”
“What else are those whores good for?”
D stepped out from behind the pillar. One, two, three, four. The bodies crumpled to the floor. Jerry stood, stunned stupid. He gaped at D before throwing his hands up.
Sirens sounded in the distance, and D ignored them, stalking to Jerry who tried to hop away, his back coming up against the bar. The men Jerry had hired were too busy trying to save themselves to bother with their employer. Hire scum, get scum service. D put the muzzle of his suppressor under Jerry’s chin. “I should save the taxpayers their money and go straight to the execution.”
D’s earpiece crackled. “Delta, killing the target is not the objective.”
D gritted his teeth, his jaw muscles clenched so tight his face hurt. “Those women didn’t deserve what they got, but you….” D moved the suppressor of his second gun to Jerry’s crotch. “You deserve to be in the ground.”
“Please. I’ll give you whatever you want.”
“Police vehicles approaching,” Alpha informed him. “Get out now.”
D’s finger twitched over his trigger. He’d killed for so much less. “Those women deserve justice.”
Jerry’s bottom lip trembled, but D wasn’t talking to him.
“And they’ll get it,” Alpha assured him. “Story’s breaking now.”
An evil grin spread across D’s face. He punched Jerry in the balls for good measure before securing one of his SIGs into the waistband of his jeans, then turned to swipe the TV remote off the couch. The blue-and-red lights from the small army of police cruisers pulling into the expansive driveway sent streaks of color swirling through the many open windows and glass doors, reflecting off the various mirrors and white walls, making the room look like a seedy nightclub.
D turned on the TV, a special news bulletin blaring through the surround-sound system, Jerry’s face plastered on the screen along with images of his victims, followed by news of his father’s involvement. D smiled as he headed for the side door, calling out over his shoulder.
“Have fun in prison, Jerry. Hey, maybe you and your dad will be cellmates. That’ll be real swell.” D slipped out into the darkness of the garden as a boom resounded and the shouts of SWAT officers echoed. He moved silently among the lush greenery, removing the suppressors from his SIGs and returning them to his jacket’s inside pockets before tucking his SIGs into his shoulder holster. Officers flooded into the mansion, and he crossed the street, strolling onto the dock, where a small speedboat waited for him.
“Good job,” Alpha said, and D smiled as he steered the boat away from the crumbling empire behind him. “How do you feel?” The electronic voice had taken some getting used to, not to mention the fact he had no idea who it belonged to. He’d stopped trying to figure out the identity of his mysterious employer a year ago. Whoever they were, they’d saved him, given him a reason to get up in the morning.
“One less monster in the world,” D replied, loving the smell of the ocean, the salty wind whipping in his face.
“Good. Report to the agency.”
“You got it.”
Music filled the air, and the colorful lights of Bayside Marketplace danced on the water’s dark surface as he approached the marina, steering past a small party boat filled with women and a handful of men. Salsa music blared from the boat’s speakers as everyone aboard danced and cheered. When they saw him, they clamored over to the railing, waved, and catcalled.
A perky blond wearing a satin sash stating she was the bride leaned over the rail, her ample assets on display for him. “Hey, baby, come join us! It’s my last night as a single woman!”
He slowed down and grinned up at her. Beside her, a tall dark-haired drink of water licked his lips, and D blew him a kiss. The bride-to-be’s mouth formed a perfect little O before she threw her arm around her companion.
“He’s single too!”
“I’ll take a dance from both of you,” D yelled up, laughing at the delighted shrieks. Boat secured, he climbed up the rope ladder hanging off the side, and jumped over the railing, the crowd of pretty people losing their minds, a sea of tipsy and drunk men and women up for anything as they helped their friend celebrate her upcoming nuptials. The bride took his hand along with the hand of her friend and led them to the center of the dance floor. D spun her around, smiling at her laugh before he pulled her against him, her friend stepping in behind him.
“Fuck, you’re gorgeous. Come home with me,” the handsome man begged in his ear, his hard erection grinding into D’s ass. D wrapped one arm around the bride as he danced with her, his free hand finding his male dance partner’s neck. He turned his head, responding to the plea with a deep kiss, the taste of beer swirling around his tongue.
The music pulsed, colored spotlights casting a wave of sparkling rainbow diamonds across the dance floor. He danced and kissed his way through the crowd, men and women grabbing fistfuls of his shirt, fingers trailing through his hair, hands sliding over his biceps and tracing his spine. Handsome returned, and he’d brought a friend, a cute blond twink with pouty pink lips.
“Well, hello, boys.”