I shouldn’t have been calm, but I was.
When we landed, the authorities were en route. Kai’s men bundled me off the plane and had me in the SUV by the time anyone from the government showed up. The pilot had called in a distress signal. I still wasn’t sure what happened. We should’ve gone through customs. I’d been stressing about a passport at one point on the plane. But Kai had it covered. He seemed to have everything covered.
I figured they’d tell the police it had been self-defense. But Kai had on the guy’s jacket. He’d shot him in such close quarters that it could’ve also been argued as a self-inflicted shot to the head. A suicide.
Kai spoke to a police detective as the body was carried off the plane on a stretcher. No one took photographs or collected forensic evidence. It was wrong, but this was how the underbelly lived. And in some cases, thrived. Kai was thriving.
That man would be shuffled into a pile of paperwork. Maybe he would be mislabeled at the morgue. Maybe he’d be cremated sooner than normal.
Kai would make this go away.
He nodded to the detective, who put her notepad away. She spoke into her phone like a radio and moved past the stretcher into another vehicle. Kai talked to a few other men, some who had met us on the tarmac. They nodded and shook hands, and Kai turned toward the SUV.
A guard opened the door. Kai got inside, and as usual, it wasn’t long before the guards got in and our caravan of three vehicles departed.
Kai only glanced once at me before settling back in his seat, taking his phone out.
We didn’t talk until thirty minutes in, as our vehicles sped down the highway.
“You didn’t eat on the plane,” he said. “Are you hungry?”
My stomach dipped, but not because of that.
“You murdered him,” I said quietly.
He put his phone away and turned to face me. “If I let him live—”
“I know.” I just felt sad. “I heard. He didn’t deny.”
Neither of us mentioned that according to mafia law, the man should’ve been killed the first time. No exceptions. Kai had given him two. That was more than enough.
That’s how they thought in that world.
My stomach shifted. That world. I was becoming part of that world.
Kai might’ve dragged me over the line, but he had let go, and I’d stayed.
I closed my eyes. I didn’t need to hear concern in his voice. I didn’t want to see it in his eyes either. If I did, I’d succumb. That was my pattern with Kai.
“We didn’t go through customs,” I said.
I caught his frown when I looked over. I kept my head down, the blanket bundled around me.
“We would’ve.” A second of silence. He was gauging me. “Because of the shooter, we landed in a different location.”
Still. Customs. I’d never snuck into a country where I didn’t have to produce a passport, even if it was a fake one. That was a constant we handled with the Network. We had customs agents on our side who let the fake passports go through. They were sympathetic to the cause. That wasn’t the case here.
“You had a passport for me?”
He dipped his head. “Yes.”
“As your cover.”
I spoke without thinking. “The Network would’ve known. I would’ve been flagged in an alert.”
Silence sat between us, so heavy.
My employers would’ve known I was with him willingly, that I was staying. I hadn’t thought about what they might be thinking, but now it was so clear it was like someone had grabbed my spine and ripped it out.
I would’ve never been a 411 operative again. I’d had my doubts already—but it was still my choice, my decision for when I had time to process it. But this would’ve taken it out of my hands. The Network would’ve expelled me the second my cover’s passport was used.
I would’ve lost everything: Blade. Carol. Even my stupid cover as Raven.
My mission in life. Where would that have gone?
Where is it going now? A voice laughed at me, mocking me.
I blinked, shoving down the turmoil. “How was that man even on the plane?”
“There’s a storage unit he hid in. It’s accessible to us if we had needed to get in there.”
“Why’d he wait so long? Why not right away?”
Kai shook his head. “He was working up his courage? Maybe he lost consciousness and came to again later? Maybe he was waiting for all of us to be sleeping?”
I picked at the edge of the blanket. My vision started to swim.
“You seem fine,” I said. It was an accusation. “You don’t seem disturbed. Was this just another Tuesday to you?” A slightly unhinged laugh came from me. “It probably was. I mean, you’re in the mafia. You control half of Canada. Have you moved into Toronto yet?” I hiccupped, which turned into a snarl. “You can’t, right? You’re not into drugs. There has to be a drug business in Canada. If you’re not running it, who is?”
There was a look in his eyes.
I trailed off because I knew. “If you’re not doing it, you’re allowing someone else to do it.”
His jaw firmed. “Dissecting my business is not the reason you’re here.”
“Right.” I snorted. “I’m here to help Brooke, or to fuck you.”
This was pathetic. I was pathetic, because it was true. He’d brought me for those reasons, and sadly, I’d probably do both. Even now.
“Goddamn you,” I told him. “Goddamn you to hell.”
I needed to get drunk. Fast.
As soon as we pulled up to the log house nestled among a bunch of trees and overlooking a river, I grabbed my bag and hightailed it inside. Security had already walked through. They were coming out as I walked in, ignoring everything.
I took the first set of stairs and climbed. Up. Up. All the way until there were no more stairs. I think I was on the third floor. I was a pro at figuring out which room Kai would want me in. I followed the hallway all the way to the back and went into the last bedroom. It was large, with its own sitting room and a library nook. A person could sit there and literally reach forward for their next book. The attached bathroom—shared with another bedroom—had a glass-walled shower big enough for four people to have a dance party. This would be my room.
I searched for the liquor cabinet. Not finding one, I went to the room across the hall, the one I shared a bathroom with. In the back corner, I found it. I reached for a bottle, not caring what it was. Pushing off the cap, I tipped my head almost at the same time.
I was guzzling it before I even left the room and entered mine.
The men were coming inside. I could hear their voices below. The aroma of pizza wafted up to me, and that meant one thing: I needed more alcohol in my system.
I did not want to feel this self-hatred.
I was weak. I was an embarrassment to the ideals I’d dedicated my life to: helping others, saving others, protecting others. I was with a man who violated all of those principles, and I should run. I could run now, but I didn’t. I knew I wouldn’t.
I would give in when he came to me. I almost had to. There was a yearning deep down. I craved Kai. I needed my first fix. I needed to feel him inside of me, claiming me, fucking me.
I sank to the floor, still clutching that bottle.
A part of my mind was still thinking clearly, a small part, but it was fast disappearing. I knew I was having a breakdown. Maybe it was from everything or just from that man on the plane, or the fact that there was a man on a plane and everyone acted like it happened every day!
I was losing it.
Clambering to the toilet, I cleaned out whatever I’d had in my stomach. Maybe breakfast from a day ago? Would that still be there?
The bottle in hand, I struggled back to my feet. Good. The more blitzed I was, the better. Though, I was more unsteady because I’d lost everything in my stomach, not from the drinking. Shedding my clothes, I stepped into the shower. I knew I couldn’t wash it off of me, but damn if I wasn’t going to try. I found everything I could’ve asked for. Shampoo. Facial cleanser. Even a toothbrush in a package.
But I only needed booze, and I chugged down another shot.
It didn’t help.
I was dirty, inside and out. I’d never get myself clean, but I would try. Lord help me, I was trying. I scrubbed at my arm when someone stepped into the doorway. They could see me through the see-through glass, but I didn’t care.
I knew who it was.
I raised my head and squared my shoulders.
He could see every inch of my body, and his eyes roamed. My breasts. My stomach. My pussy. My legs. Back up to linger on my pussy. A new level of self-loathing exploded inside me, because an ache for him was forming. Again.
I felt heated, my breathing hitched.
When he looked at my breasts, they hardened. My nipples craved him touching them, covering them. His eyes were black now, his lust showing. He parted his lips before he tugged his eyes up to meet mine.
And I bit my lip because I tried not to let him see.
But he did.