“Something’s missing from this whole shit-storm. Like what are they playing at? Is this just a job from the Yakuza? Retribution for what we did to their operations?”

“Now you see why I asked if anyone was missing. It’s not like the Russians to do a job like this without some of their connected men in on the operation.”

Simon has his fingertips steepled together in front of his face. His eyes are watching us both like a spider getting ready to snap us up.

“So you think we missed someone or something?” Johnathan asks.

“It’s crossed my mind, and Lucifer’s. We both agree a puzzle piece is missing, but… We don’t know what it is.”

“You think we fucked up that bad or you thinking we’re rats?” Johnathan asks as he scoots forward in his chair.

Rolling his eyes, Simon says, “No, we have no doubts as to your loyalties.”

Nodding his head, Johnathan says, “Then what the fuck are you getting at?”

Watching the byplay, I can see the faint dark circles around Simon’s eyes. He’s tired and stressed.

This isn’t normal for him.

Simon is nothing if not a completely detached professional. He doesn’t deal in emotions or feelings. He’s one of the analytical elites. He deals with data, numbers, and intel. If I hadn’t seen him get stabbed once in the leg, I would think he was a fucking robot.

He’s so fucking collected, calm, and disgusted by dirt. He has contacts that reach across the world, and that’s why they call him the Spider. It’s not a name said in good humor either. If he’s got someone in his web, they’re as good as dead.

If Simon isn’t connecting the dots… fuck.

“How sure are we that this is something?” I ask, trying to get between the two before tempers flare.

Simon’s eyes wander back to me. “We aren’t.”

“Bullshit. My hackles are raised now just as much as yours.”

Johnathan slumps back into his chair.

“Too much is not happening,” I say.

“Where’s Ivan? What’s our info say about him?”

“He’s gone to ground. Ghosted our men as soon as he got out,” Simon says with a wince.

“What the fuck do you mean he ghosted? Where the fuck is he?” I nearly yell.

“From the whispers I got, he and the wife have been taken back to the motherland. To answer some tough questions.”

“Are you fucking with me?” I ask.

“No, that’s what we figured would happen after the raids. Looks like they want to know how word got out about those two little groups.”

“Well, fuck,” I say. “I still don’t like any of this. It’s too easy.”

Simon shrugs his shoulders and frowns. “I’ve got feelers out on the ground right now. I need you guys to keep an ear out.”

Nodding my head, I look down at my watch. “I need to go up and talk to the boss. He wants to know how my girl is doing in her new school with Evelyn.”

Simon rolls his eyes and starts rubbing his temples. He emits a long sigh. “Yes, let’s just put a hold on things so we can discuss the women in your lives.”

Laughing loudly, Johnathan holds out his fist to Simon. “Not going to trap us, brother! Fucking leeches, all of ‘em. Soon as they can they get their claws in ya, they get you turned around so much you don’t know where your balls went.”

If anything, Simon looks disgusted by Johnathan. I can practically see the revulsion Simon feels at the thought of touching skin with a biker.

“What? I washed my hands a couple of hours ago, ya fucking priss.”

Simon turns in his chair, away from us both, before waving a hand in our direction. “I’ll call when I know more.”

We both stand and walk out of the office, towards the elevators.

Pushing the up button, I look over at Johnathan. “You really like pushing his buttons, don’t you?”

“Fuck yeah. Dude’s so uptight, I bet he turns lumps of coal into diamonds in his spare time by shoving them up his ass.”

Shaking my head, I say, “Yeah, well, he probably still considers you a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal.”

“Someone’s gotta be the muscle in this place.”



If this was a movie, it’s right now, as I’m pulling into the garage, that I would have some big fucking breakthrough thought about all that’s going on around us.

I don’t get it though. It’s been a busy two weeks since I spoke with Simon. The city has gone from a hornet’s nest of activity to absolute quiet.

Nothing is happening—no wars, no violence, no tension. The world it seems is going on with life. Everything is normal. We’ve got Abigail in school, been house shopping, clothes shopping, grocery shopping…

Shopping out my fucking ears.

I don’t like the normal. Normal is the bad part. Normal is when the villain springs a trap on the unsuspecting adventurer. It’s like the longer things go on in life like nothing happened, the worse I know the next event is going to be.

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