"It was an ambush," I say, heading into the compound to shower and change. I have a few scrapes that could stand to be cleaned and bandaged, but nothing substantial. Dmitri and Luka made it out alive, but it was a blood bath, and the Italians were waiting for us, with their guys outnumbering us ten to one.
They sent many of their low-level associates, which made picking them off one at a time considerably easy.
"Not surprised. Lucy left a couple of hours ago," Mikhail says.
My jaw tightens. "Left? Where the hell did she go?"
Mikhail let her leave? She was supposed to stay at the compound, where it was safe.
"To the airport, and before you say anything, I had one of our guys look into what flight she got on."
"And you don't think the Italians could do the same thing?" I run my fingers through my hair and wince, not realizing there's an abrasion on my forehead. The pain is dull compared to the ache in my chest. "Where did she go?" She will get her son and herself killed if she's not careful.
"She flew into O'Hare," Mikhail says.
Just as I suspected, she wouldn't escape for a vacation or go into hiding without her kid. "I need to get a flight to Chicago tonight."
"Are you sure she's worth the hassle?" Mikhail asks. "I'm giving you a free pass. I know what I said about making you pay for the locks, the security, the fence installation…" he trails off.
If this is his way of apologizing, it's as close as I'll come to hearing it from Mikhail. "I was making her pay for it," I say. "She's going to work for me at the club." At least that had been my intention last night, until shit blew up in front of me, and now, I'm considering chasing after her.
What the hell am I doing?
"Chasing after her is strictly business?" Mikhail asks. His stare tells me that he doesn't buy my load of bullshit, but he's not the one who needs convincing.
I don't answer him. "I can't go to the airport with bloody clothes." I hurry up the stairs to get dressed and cleaned up. I hop in the shower before the water is hot and grimace.
It's icy and burns as it pierces against my skin until the water warms. The blood trickles down the drain, and as soon as it's warm, I'm shutting off the shower, drying off, and putting on a fresh, clean suit.
Mikhail knocks on the bedroom door, and I yank it open, a pair of black socks in hand. "I don't know how you intend to find Lucy, but I've got my pilot ready, and he'll meet you at the airfield."
I breathe a sigh of relief that I won't have to go through TSA or any security checkpoints. While I always prefer to fly private, it's not up to me. It's Mikhail's plane and pilot.
"Thank you, sir."
"Do you even know how to find her?" Mikhail asks.
I grab my phone off the bathroom counter along with my bloody clothes. I open the tracking app, but it doesn't give me much information. She's still en-route to Chicago. Her last known location was the airport. "Yeah, I put a tracker on her keychain last night." The Italians are likely to discard her phone. They're less likely to search her keys for a tracker. We surpass them in terms of technology and surveillance equipment.
"Are you sure she's worth the trouble? You know what, never mind." He shakes his head, clearly not wanting me to answer. "It's clear you have a thing for the girl."
I open my mouth to object. It's not like we're the good guys, going on rescue missions to save pretty ladies. He may be on to something; my motives aren't selfless. But it's not something I want to dwell on.
I grab a set of keys for the pickup truck and hurry out to the garage, jumping in the driver's seat. I hit the button to open the garage and tear out in earnest. Anton is operating the gate, and he opens it, letting me pass before I have time to slow down.
I head toward the regional airport, where Mikhail's private plane is kept. The pilot is already on the plane when I arrive, doing his preflight checks. I have no luggage, nothing to carry with me other than my phone and the weapons I'm carrying.
Grabbing a seat on the beige leather, I let the pilot handle getting us to Chicago. There isn't much I can do but sit on my ass and wait.
I'm not a patient man.
I hate waiting.
The only pleasure I have in this is that Lucy isn't that far ahead of me. She's got a couple of hours' head start, but I'll be in Chicago tonight and find her.
After take-off, I open the mini-fridge and grab myself a drink and a snack. I'm not likely to have dinner tonight, and I'm famished from the firefight.
I'm antsy and restless until we finally land and I can track her location once again. There's a car rental already waiting for me when we arrive.
One glance at my phone, and it's obvious her cell phone has no reception. It must have been discarded because its last known location is somewhere along the side of the interstate. Still, the tracker that I snuck onto her keys the previous night when I had them in my possession ping her last known location in the middle of nowhere, at least an hour southwest of the cell phone location.
There's no current signal being emitted, but she's being detained where her signal was last broadcast if I'm lucky.
I hurry in the direction of her whereabouts, unsure what I'll find. Her sister and son reside in the city. I'm traveling in the opposite direction. Hopefully, she didn't notice the tracker and shucked her keys off with some poor fellow on her flight to lose me.
Would she do that?
I rush toward the location, and as I head farther out of the city, there's more farmland and open fields. No obvious sign of Lucy or the mafia dumping a body. My stomach churns. It's dark outside, and there's no moonlight, just a thick, cloudy sky and a few rain droplets that pelt the windshield.
I exit the highway and follow to her last known location, a farmhouse. The road is dark, dimly lit, and quite difficult to find. But I'm not the only one who's at the house.
A half-dozen vehicles are parked out front, their headlights on. Men with guns shoot at the front door, bullets tearing apart the wood siding, blistering the building.
I put the engine in park and jump out of the vehicle, brandishing my gun. A wise man would run, turn the car around and hightail it out of there before they even noticed there was a witness.
Not that they care about witnesses or going to prison. They'll kill anyone who stands in their way.
I'm not the least bit afraid of death. I unholster my gun and shoot off several rounds, taking out three men before they divert their attention from the farmhouse to me.
I'm pinned under fire.