Rodin led her down the alley beside the residential, alert for any movement. This time of the morning, he didn’t expect to be interrupted, but it always paid to be careful.
“I don’t normally work with anyone else,” he said, keeping his voice low.
“Should I be honoured?” The bounce in her voice was grating.
“Just saying. You need to do exactly what I say.”
He headed to the rear door, ignored her complaints about the stink, and pulled out his screen, checked for signals. Only the call-back from the hack he’d inserted yesterday.
Beyond the door, the screen’s glow illuminated the hallway, cracked paint on the walls and mould across the ceiling. There were a couple of doors, one to either side, and stairs at the far end.
The woman eased past him, far too close, straight teeth showing in her grin.
“This is exciting,” she said.
Rodin closed the door, eased past her and walked to the stairs. “This is work.”
“What happens when we get to him?” she asked, so close he could feel her warm breath on his neck.
“You do what I say.”
“Be good to have some idea.”
She wasn’t going to shut up, so he stopped. “Okay.” Might’ve helped if she’d listened first time. “Horran has a room on the third floor. We go up, I open the door. I find him, restrain him, and then we have the chat the boss wanted.”
“You mean my father?”
“My boss, then. We talk, and then I do what I’m being paid for.”
She nodded. “You kill him.”
He took a breath. “I remove the one stealing from your father. That’s the contract.”
“And you’re sure it’s Horran?”
Interesting, the way she tilted her head, like she was challenging him.
“You came up with the evidence.”
And now she beamed. “I did, didn’t I? See—I’m not just Daddy’s little girl.”
So that’s what this was all about. Rodin had been wondering, ever since he’d put everything else together.
“So we’re clear?”
“You don’t want me to say anything up there?”
On the third floor corridor, ceiling tiles illuminated the stained walls. Horran was in 304, at the far end. His door was sealed, but Rodin’s hack opened it.
The man lay on a brown sofa, bowl of chips resting on his protruding stomach, hairy arms holding a glowing screen that illuminated his chubby face.
Before Horran had time to move, Rodin was across the room, piercing the man’s neck with his lance, the drug rushing into the man’s body.
The effect was almost instant. Horran let out a cry, and his body relaxed. The bowl slid to one side, greasy chips tumbling onto the threadbare rug.
Rodin straightened, and the girl came to his side. Horran saw her, and his brow furrowed.
“You?” he managed to say.
She nodded, then turned to Rodin. “He’s safe now?”
“Paralysed from the neck down. Can still talk. Temporary, though.”
“Long enough.” He shot her a look. “Thought I told you to stay quiet.”
“Won’t make a difference now.” And she stepped forward, hands on her hips. “You’ve been a bad boy, Horran. Daddy’s not happy.”
The man whimpered. “You said he’d never find out. And…and it was only the once. I mean, you’re not a kid, right?”
Her eyes ran over him with a look of disgust. “I must’ve been drunk. So maybe you took advantage. You know what that makes you?”
The man whimpered, tried to shake his head.
And Rodin understood, the final piece falling into place.
She turned, grinning like a maniac. No, like someone who knew exactly what they were doing.
“Go do your stuff,” she said.
Horran’s eyes widened in terror as Rodin unsheathed a blade.
“You know what this is about. He’s not happy. Someone’s been syphoning off funds. Enough that he wants to stop them. Permanently.”
The man’s mouth flapped for a moment, before he found words. “But…I do security, not finances. I’d never steal from him. Please! You’ve gotta believe me!”
Rodin leaned in, rested the sharp metal against the man’s throat. “You saying you never took anything that wasn’t yours?” He glanced at the girl, Horran’s eyes following.
“She led me on. Come on, man! He pays me well. I don’t need any more. You’ve gotta believe…”
Rodin placed his hand over Horran’s mouth, all warm breath and sharp stubble. “Just doing my job.” He glanced up, jerked his head at the girl. “You want to come closer?”
She bounced over. “Make it slow. I want to enjoy this.”
Rodin shook his head. “Not my way.”
“He needs to suffer.”
“He already is. Suffering for letting some daddy’s girl take advantage of him.”
And now she stiffened. “What?”
“You know what a patsy is?” Rodin pulled the blade back, just a fraction. “Whoever’s been stealing from your father, they’ve been doing it for years, knew a lot about his accounts. They started small, amounts he probably wouldn’t even notice. But they got greedy.”
He had both their attentions now. Rodin shifted his stance, prepared.
“It was only a matter of time before he noticed. And what then? The money was already gone—no way to replace it. The only way to avoid discovery was to set someone else up.”
And now, Rodin spun. His aim was true, and the blade slid into the girl’s stomach. He twisted it as he wrenched it free, widening the wound.
She staggered back, collapsed to the ground. Her chest heaved as she struggled for breath.
“What…what are you doing?” she managed to say as blood pooled around her hands.
He leaned over her. “I’m completing your father’s contract. I’m removing the one who stole from him.”
And Rodin silenced her.
An Issue With The Car
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Always A Silver Lining