“It’s a good enough excuse as any,” Lucifer says.

“They knew where to plant the bombs. Knew where to get the biggest bang for their buck,” I say as I bend over a couple of bent and charred metal beams. “Someone gave them the blueprints. I’d get on the line and find out who. They came here to put a dent in us, this wasn’t for show.”

Rubbing off the dark burn marks on the metal, I sniff at the acrid smell. “This wasn’t C-4. I’d get the fire department to take samples so that we can start trying to identify exactly what was used.”

“Will do. Have you spotted any faces in the crowd?” Simon asks.

“None. At least, none that look out of place. I doubt whoever did this is still in the city,” I say.

“Do you think this was one of Alexei’s men?” Lucifer asks.

“Is he recruiting former FSB or SVR?” I ask.

Standing up from the metal, I start heading back to the truck.

“Yes, from the intel we’ve amassed, he’s been recruiting heavily from their ranks,” Simon says.

“If that’s the case, I don’t think he used an outside contractor for this. This was too well put together, and in such a short period of time…. I can’t believe they managed to pull it off this quickly.”

I hear a new voice in the background. “Agreed.”

“That Andrew?” I ask.

“It is. Meet us back at the compound,” Lucifer says.

“On my way. Get me a new vehicle, Simon. This one’s not going to be good for much longer. I can guarantee the Russian’s got eyes on me right now. They’re probably in a building somewhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t have a message for us sometime soon. They want to talk.”

* * *

Walking down one of the many hallways in Lucifer’s home, I see Simon standing outside of the office, talking on his cellphone.

“It’s time to come in from the cold, Eric,” I hear him say as I get closer.

Walking past him, I stop and look into the office, spotting Andrew sitting in a chair across from Lucifer. Johnathan looks up from where he’s perched on the side of a chair and nods at me.

“Think about what I’ve said,” Simon says into his phone before he disconnects.

“I’ve put out a call to a man I know and want to bring into the circle,” Simon says as he walks past me.

Following him, I’m tempted to trip his ass, but right now I’d rather just get this shit over with so I can get back to Meghan.

“What kind of guy?” I ask as I take a seat.

“Hitman. Very good at his job, and very trusted. He’s worked for us in the past, out east. Reliable, and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He’s had a spot of trouble with some of the heavy hitters, got shot up in Cincinnati. But with the time and healing he’s had, he’s ready to land somewhere permanent,” Simon says as he gets comfortable in a chair with his laptop in his lap.

“Get him here as soon as you can. If you vouch for him personally, I’ll meet with him,” Lucifer says, then motions to me. “So what do you have for us, any more thoughts?”

“Nothing beyond these guys are going to start hitting more and more targets. I’ve seriously pissed them off if they’ve gotten their shit together quick enough to hit us like this,” I say as I look down at my hands.

Something doesn’t sit right, though.

Looking back up, I add, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t in the plans all along. They had to work too quickly to get shit like this planned out. I know I’ve been inside of a cage for ten years, but I can’t imagine they were able to get all the shit they needed in the scant hours they had.”

“How long would it take to get the materials for something like this, Simon?” Andrew asks.

“For us? In our own backyard, six to eight hours,” Simon answers without hesitation.

“We’ve got eyes and ears everywhere. Shit like this would take some time to set up, especially if they needed the building blueprints, materials, and the right guys to pull it off,” Johnathan says.

“They had it in the works then. Perhaps even before the wedding. What if this is just a continuation of the bombings they started with Lucky Tails?” Lucifer asks.

There’s a long silence as we all think about that.

“Then it’s time for me to ramp shit up,” I say with shrug. “Where’s James and Jude?”

“James is with the police chief, smoothing things over. It seems that Sommers isn’t as useful as he used to be,” Simon says. “Jude is watching over a few guards for a couple of investment properties we can’t afford to lose right now.”

“Strip joints?” I ask with a chuckle.

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