The rain poured down over my face, the wetness so heavy I felt like I was drowning. But I ran, my feet splashing through the puddles of the dark Manhattan alley. I couldn't think. I felt like I was hardly moving, yet my lungs ached and my mind raced as I ran faster and faster. Gasping and fighting the heaviness, fighting the secret destruction transpiring in my heart.
How could he do this?
What was he thinking?
This had to be a nightmare. I couldn't be living this. My life couldn't be about this. Everything I ever did. Everything I lived for.
Now I had nothing.
Nothing but her.
All I could think about, all I wanted was her.
I had to get to her.
But the only thing I could feel was the rain pouring down on me. It wasn't cleansing; it was dark like soot, like volcanic ash clogging my lungs and blackening the atmosphere around me. I couldn't see, I couldn't move. I could only think one thing.
How could he?
Chapter 1- Agent of Destruction
"45" by Shinedown
"Edward, you can't catch me!"
"Yes, I can, yes, I can."
I took off after my brother, his blonde hair flopping in his eyes as usual. I would surely catch him, even if he was older than me. Eric was always slower and distracted way too easily.
My five year old legs carried me as fast as they could and I tackled him. He was seven. But his 16 months on me didn't make a difference.
"I got you!" I pounced and we rolled through the sand.
"You cheated!" He screeched through his laughter.
"How could I cheat just runnin' down the beach?" I questioned as I collapsed next to him.
"I don't know. Why can't I be as fast as you?"
"You're stronger." I offered.
"And smarter." He giggled.
"Hey!" I tossed some sand on him and he threw some back.
"You think Mom has popsicles in the house?" He asked then.
I drew a devious grin and started to get up before he could see me.
"Hopefully grape ones…I'll race you!" I jumped up and took off.
"Cheater!" He yelled again and I could hear him behind me trying to catch up.
"You can't catch me Eric!" I was laughing as I tore up the beach to the house.
But then I didn't hear him behind me anymore. I stopped, huffing and turned to find him.
"Eric?" I called as my eyes searched for him. I knew I had great sight, but I still couldn't see him.
Where was he? I looked across the sand and it instantly turned. We were no longer on the beach and my vision was blurred. Instead I was in a dark parking lot, my eyes honing in on my next assignment.
"Eric?" I called again.
Where was he?
He was gone…
I woke up to the slight buzzing of a fan and a hot breeze gusting across my face. But the breeze wasn't cooling, it was hot and muggy and I instantly felt the sweat running down my back.
My eyes felt swollen and sticky as I tried to open them. It was the waning light of day and I was sure that, as usual, I only actually slept a few hours, probably not having gone to bed until in the afternoon. Even the sleep I did get was filled with dreams of Eric. Our childhood, our high school, our college… just memories.
Where the fuck was I anyway?
Oh right. Romania. In the heat of fucking summer and sweltering to beat all hell. Not like I could sleep anyway in this godforsaken place.
I rolled out of bed, my knees and ankles cracking as I pressed them to the floor.
Fuck, getting older sucks.
My thirty-four year old body just didn't bounce back like it used to. I could feel the tightness in my muscles from my mixed martial arts session with Felix yesterday. Not to mention the ache in my head from the fucking Tuica I drank last night. Once again I indulged because even though I am deep undercover there is nothing else to do here. Nothing but hone my skills shooting and fighting and drinking and fucking. Which only aids in my cover since I have to make good with the Draconis, find their ties, find their connections before I can take down the bosses of the family.
And unfortunately prove my loyalty.
I knew when I joined the Agency I would have assignments like this. With my special skills and ability to learn languages quickly, I had been assigned to Romania for just under two years. I was working up a cover to get inside with the Romanian crime family the Draconis. The family was run out of New York and big into all things twentieth century black market. Sex trade, guns, drugs, biological weapons, you name it they ran it. But all of their ties were back in Romania. It was here they shipped their guns, ran the girls and hid their money. It was here I had to get in with the right hand men who had Vladimir and Stefan's trust. The Draconi brothers were the godfathers of the organization and were some seriously twisted motherfuckers. So it was here I had to prove myself by being a loyal counterpart, by taking the assignments they gave me without a word.
At least it wasn't the girls.
I also knew when I joined the FBI that these were the kind of sick, nasty motherfuckers I wanted to take down. The Draconis moved in when the Volturis and the Ghattis and the Mancinis went down. Well not entirely went down, but those who didn't get put away or killed went dark. But the Draconis were worse. It was no longer about illegal liquor or drugs or some guns here and there. Now the big money was the slave trade and bio weapons and these sickos plucked girls from all over downtrodden places in Eastern Europe and sold them to the most horrific and disgusting of people. They traded them like candy and tossed them aside. It sickened me and yet to be undercover I had to participate in the trade, as the enforcer so to speak.
Maybe that's why I don't sleep at night.
No, it's probably from all the people you've killed…
It's just a cover. I had to tell myself that every day. That all of the "assignments" I took were just as sick and twisted as the fuckers who ran the organization and I was simply ridding the world of their eminent transgressions.
Soon enough I would gain access to Vladimir and Stefan myself. I was close, I already garnered favor with their right hand man, Corin. He was a tightlipped steely SOB though, and I couldn't seem to get past his shield. Felix was a bruiser, but the head of security for the organization and he and I got along and I even trained with him, hoping I could garner greater insight into the workings of the organization.
I actually didn't mind Felix that much, until I always had to conveniently leave when he took a liking to a new girl. He liked them young, and I often had to keep myself from hurling lest I lose my cover. I would pretend I had to make good on an assignment from Corin, just like I had the night before. Before the Tuica.
No wonder you're fucking hungover, you always go overboard after an assignment.
I switched on the light in the stifling apartment in Bucharest. I only hoped that soon enough I would get my nod and be able to get the fuck out of here. I was only supposed to be here for a year. But setting up the cover had proven more difficult than expected. The Draconis were highly organized, much more so than we originally thought. I had to work my contacts to even meet with a low-level man and then work my charm and my skills to move up through the ranks. I had been undercover before, but never longer than a few months and I was starting to feel like the monster I was portraying, like I was becoming a part of the black underground that I wanted to destroy. It was tedious and at the same time gut-wrenching and I felt like I lost a piece of myself with every assignment, a piece that wouldn't be returned even with a return to the States.
Not like you have anything to go back to.
I looked around the seedy apartment and thought of what a far cry this was from my childhood. I thought of my dream earlier: Eric and I playing on the beach in the Hamptons. My parents' house there was one of those perfect Hamptons estates with a pool and a sprawling lawn and a sun room ready for brunch. It was like the epitome of yuppie America, straight out of 1980's Wall Street. Yet, my parents somehow stayed grounded and kept the three of us level-headed as well.
Imagine what they would think if they knew what I did now.
Maybe it was because, even though they had the Hamptons house and the townhome on the Upper East Side, they were always just Carlisle and Esme. My father never wanted the Dutch-American affluence that came with his family name. Although he wore it in his bright blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, Carlisle Cullen was the farthest thing from a New York elite you could ever meet. He was humble and quiet and hard-working. A family man to the core, he loved my mother like she was the only woman to ever walk the Earth, because to him, she was.
He met Esme in college at Penn. Of course he had to attend Penn because he was a Cullen, or Van Cullen as the family name used to be, and all the Van Cullens went to Penn. Somewhere along the line the Van was dropped, but it didn't matter. The Van Cullens were one of the first Dutch settlers to settle in New Amsterdam, what is today New York. They rose to affluence during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, first in shipping and then in banking. The Van Cullens later lost the "Van" to become more Americanized. But of course they still had the Estate on the North Shore of Long Island next to the Vanderbilt's, the Roosevelt's, the Whitney's and the Morgans. It's where my snobby grandparents reside to this day and still insist on keeping the Dutch bloodline and perfection of their family.
Which was why when Carlisle met Esme at Penn in 1975, Sasha and Jan Cullen were not too happy with their son's selection. Esme was from a poor Irish family in Philadelphia who earned a scholarship to the Ivy League school through her hard work and perseverance. She was tough as nails and yet gentle as a feather. My mother didn't grow up attending parties and teas and lounging by a pool.
No, Esme Platt Cullen grew up scrubbing floors and washing dishes and caring for her five younger brothers and sisters while secretly reading until late hours of the night to become as learned as possible. She wanted an escape, an escape from her misery of a drunken father and a long lost mother and a life that held only despair in Philadelphia.
She earned her scholarship and graduated summa cum laude with her Master's Degree in Architecture. Taking care of her younger siblings, my mother said she became "resourceful" and learned how to put things together. She also had a catching eye for design and used to admire the tall buildings of downtown Philadelphia from the bus as she rode to her myriad of part-time jobs to help put food on the table.
But it was during her last year at Penn that she met my father, a fourth year medical student finishing his degree as well. My father always said he was in love with her from first sight and he knew he was going to marry her from the second she walked into his lab. She had volunteered for a study to earn a little extra cash on the side to help her through school. My father was always more interested in the research side of medicine and when she sat in his chair he was instantly smitten.
Eventually they eloped, obviously against the wishes of Sasha and Jan and beyond the auspices of my mother's estranged father. They moved to New York, and although my grandparents could threaten to take away his trust fund, they simply couldn't touch it based on how my great-grandfather set it up. He and Esme bought a place in Greenwich and he worked for a pharmaceutical company in their research department. My mother was offered a job with a prestigious architecture firm and they enjoyed the newlywed life until my brother was born.
Eric Carlisle Cullen. My older brother and best friend from the time I was born only sixteen months later.
I sighed as I looked in the mirror at my black hair and black eyes. The bags protruding from the skin made me look older than my thirty-four years. I thought of how much different I looked, but I always looked different. Eric had my father's blonde hair and piercing blue eyes of Dutch heritage and so did my little sister Alice. Although she always died hers black simply to buck against it as her own personal rebellion against Sasha and Jan.
I thought about my sister then. She was always so animated and full of life. She was three years younger than me and she married her high school sweetheart when she was only twenty-two and right out of college.
My brother-in-law was laid-back and a good counter to my sister's spunky personality. He attended NYU with Alice and worked at the Met as one of the educational directors. He was a history buff and more knowledgeable about the Civil War than anyone I had ever met. Ironically he fit in more with the Dutch-American family than I did. With is sandy blonde hair and blue eyes, he hailed from Texas but his parents moved to New York when he was twelve.
But not me. I was Esme's son. I had her strange bronze hair and green eyes, a fleck of which I couldn't see in the mirror at the moment but I knew it was there.
I missed my family. I missed my parents and my sister. I missed New York. I hadn't seen them in two years. But I didn't know if I could see them. Because seeing them would only remind me of what I missed most.
Mostly I missed Eric.
I stepped in the shower, turning the leaky faucet to its dull spray. I could barely get wet, let alone get clean, from the ancient shower. I washed my long hair as best I could and scratched at my beard. I knew the cover was necessary. The black hair dye and the dark brown, almost black, contacts and the beard made me look more like them.
More like a Draconi. A Drac. Emil Mazzonn to them.
I thought about my parents some more and how they worked so hard to separate themselves from the Cullen name. My mother of course never took to the high society Sasha and Jan expected of them. Rather, she raised us to be self-sufficient, hard-working and honest. I thanked her every day for it. I hated when I had to attend events for the Cullen side of the family. I was proud of my name and my heritage, I just hated the bullshit that went along with being a New York elite.
My parents were elite in their own right but they hardly showed it. Eventually my mother left the design firm and freelanced once she had the three of us. My father became a VP and ultimately head of the entire research department at Reycon Pharmaceuticals. They were invited to the yuppie parties and attended the Met. But I knew my Dad's favorite thing to do was to take in a Yankees game with Eric and I or read a research journal or the newest brand of fiction. My mother enjoyed cooking and laying on the beach with her sketch pad simply watching the waves and the sunrises and sunsets.
We could have done anything from our prominent background. Eric followed in my Dad's footsteps and right out of college he worked for Reycon.
Reycon, which was housed in the World Trade Center buildings.
I couldn't think about that day, it still made my stomach clench and my head ache. I had to force myself to think of better things, of better times with Eric.
I smiled to myself as I thought of college instead. I considered Columbia and staying in New York or another Ivy League school with my advanced skills and ridiculous memory. But Eric chose Georgetown and I of course had to follow suit. He was my brother and my best friend and I wanted to be just like him. I still remember my first visit to campus as an seventeen year old. I thought he was a God…
"Yo E, you ready to go out and hit up some bars?" He wiggled his eyebrows at me and I looked at him dumbfounded.
"Eric, how am I going to hit up bars, I am only seventeen…and you're only eighteen for that matter?" I questioned him.
"Oh please little brother; it's the first lesson of college. You gotta get yourself a fake man."
He handed me something and I looked at him in disbelief.
"Eric, Mom and Dad would kill me if they knew I had this!"
"Dude, you look older than me. E seriously, you need to lighten up. Everybody does it. Just think you can use yours in New York."
I shook my head. My brother was always the risk-taker of the two of us. Eric liked to push the envelope and be the center of attention. I was more reserved, but tagged along nonetheless.
We made our way to the bars and of course my brother had all the girls around him joking and laughing. Eric was ever the ladies man. He loved it when all eyes and ears were on him. I would stand back and watch in amazement.
"E," he whispered to me at the bar. "You see that chick over there, go talk to her."
I looked at the girl he was pointing to in my drunken haze and all I could see her blonde hair pouring down over her shoulder. She had long tan legs and a short denim skirt on.
"Eric, I can't talk to her she's way out of my league." I argued with him.
"Seriously E. You need to fucking man up. She's been giving you fuck me eyes all night. Go over there and talk to her." He said sternly.
So I welled up the nerve to go say "hi" to her after a shot from my brother. I walked over to her group of friends fucking scared out of my mind.
I didn't know how to talk to girls at a bar, what the fuck was he thinking?
"Hey…so, can I buy you a drink?" I asked her hesitantly. She looked at me with her dark gray eyes and smiled coyly.
"Sure thing cutie; but I would like more than a drink." She sipped her straw and I thought my eighteen year old dick was going to jump out of my pants. It can't be this easy right? No wonder Eric gets any chick that he wants.
I cleared my throat and asked her what she wanted and her name, Chelsea. Before I knew it, Chelsea and I were making out in some corner booth. We were getting hot and heavy when suddenly Eric appeared with a girl on each arm saying something about going home.
I didn't know what the hell was going on. I just knew I fucking loved college and my brother was fucking genius at the moment.
So we went back to his place with Chelsea and Ashley and a third girl who I never caught her name. Sure enough my brother managed to get me laid even though I had only been with one girl before. Chelsea was a hot experienced, college girl and my brother just loved the fact that he was able to "corrupt" me.
But the next morning Chelsea was gone and I felt like I did when I had to look at the young girls at the Dracs club and pretend like I was interested. I was disgusted with myself. Eric loved to chase the girls, but I was always a bit more reserved. Yeah I had my fair share, but I was more of a relationship guy, until relationships didn't work anymore. Like with Claire.
I scrubbed my face and the sweat from my body. My muscles instinctively tensed as I thought about her.
Claire. Who I thought I was in love with and was in love with me. Who I thought would be there for me through everything no matter what.
But after Eric was gone, no one could be there. No one could understand. Mijn Broer was the one person who got me. He may have been different from me, more of a player or a jokester, but he was my best friend. He was the one who I idolized and played basketball with and played the guitar with. He was the one who loved Led Zeppelin and shooting the shit until four in the morning and playing pool in the basement at the house in the Hamptons. He was the one who understood that I liked my quiet and I liked to read and play the piano, but pushed me to be more social and hit the gym at the same time. He was the one who knew I wanted to go to law school and make it on my own just like Mom and Dad. He was the one who would understand why I had to join the FBI, why I had to contribute in any way I could.
Claire couldn't understand how I couldn't let him go, and I couldn't understand how she could expect me to.
I washed off the last of the soap and stepped out of the cold shower to dry off.
Probably the most comfortable I would be all day, after a cold fucking shower, and I didn't even have a reason for a cold fucking shower. There was no Claire in my life, no tantalizing woman. Hell I hadn't even been with a woman in a year. I couldn't look at any of them the same over here after I got inside that club for the first time. I just always wondered in the back of my mind how old they were when they were sold into the horrific system. Not to mention I couldn't have a woman in my life if I wanted to. I couldn't have a relationship like Alice and Jasper because I was undercover.
I went back to the mirror to groom up my beard. I trimmed up and turned again and caught the tattoo on my bicep in the reflection and thought of Eric again.
Fuck it's been over ten years is this ever going to get easier?
I slammed my fist against the wall and pressed my hands on the sides of the sink, thinking again about what brought me to this fuck hole of a place. My commitment to Eric, my commitment to my country, my vow to do whatever it took to clean up the fucking Draconis and the other disgusting pigs of the world. It was my mission; I would make it up to him no matter what I had to do.
I threw on a black t-shirt and dark jeans and black jacket. Because even though it's hot as fuck in Bucharest, everyone wears black. I slicked back my hair, putting on my aviators and a cap.
I checked to make sure my Glock and was hidden and locked up the dingy apartment. I was carrying, but as part of the cover of a crime family I had a much stronger and very illegal weapon.
I made my way down the street to a pay phone, one of many I used to check in and stay untraceable. But as I did every week, I made the one phone call I knew I wasn't supposed to make.
I dialed the numbers and waited for her response. I knew it was completely against the rules and out of code, but I had to do it. It was my only connection to him.
"Hello?" Her sweet voice answered on the other end.
"Hi E. Let me go get him he's in the other room playing x-box." She said.
I heard shuffling on the other end of the phone and the sound of his voice.
"E!" He squealed into the phone and all I could do was smile.
"What's up squirt? How was baseball this morning?" I asked.
"It was awesome! I pitched and I struck out seven batters!" He sounded so excited. I could only imagine what he was like after his game.
"That's great Eliot. Did you get any hits?"
"Yeah, a double, but I struck out once too." He said dejectedly.
"A double! Way to go." I tried to sound as excited as I could. "You're going to strike out sometimes too squirt; it's just part of the game."
"I know E, I know." He sighed.
"So did you catch any bad guys today?" He switched gears.
"Oh yeah, lots of them." I lied. "Are you still going to catch bad guys when you get older?"
"Of course E, I want to be just like you!"
If he only knew.
I tried to laugh but I knew it was forced. "Ok Eliot, I have to go, more bad guys to catch. Say hi to your Mom for me okay?"
"Ok E, talk to you later!"
The phone clicked off and I looked at it for a moment. The only connection I had to my real life and my old world. I wish I was catching bad guys, I wish I was really a cop in Miami like I told him. I wish I could have the satisfaction of looking in his eyes and telling him I put away criminals on a daily basis.
But I couldn't. And he didn't want to be like me. He didn't want to have no one. He didn't want to be consumed by this need to avenge his brother. He didn't want to be a killer. He didn't need to know how I felt and what I saw on a daily basis. He didn't want to consort with the type of people I did.
And I didn't want him to. No. I would never let Eliot become like me.
I readjusted my shades and looked around behind the lenses, careful to make sure no one noticed my stop. I stepped away from the phone and made my way to the back alley and the doorway that led to Poarta Ardeal.
From the front it looked normal, an Eastern European club where the college students would come and drop thousands of dollars from their rich Daddy's bank accounts while on break in Europe.
But it was in the back that held the secrets, the connections I needed to bring down the Draconis. It was the back I only had access to after the last few months. It was in the back that the unassuming college girl who was separated from her friends was forever lost or the poor girl from the streets whose parents would never see her again.
I gave one of the guards the password and made my way through the dark muggy hallway. It was hot as fuck in here too and I knew the club was only getting started. It couldn't be much past 10:00 at night and this place was known to be crazy until 5 or 6 in the morning.
I made my way to the end of the hallway and climbed the stairs, the music thumping and sending reverberations through the metal. I gave another knock at the top of the stairs and was asked for the second password. This one was easy, it was simply my name.
"Agent de distrugere." I replied as he peered through the slit in the door.
Vasilii opened the door and I stepped inside to see the couches and the red light. The two way mirror ran along the far wall and overlooked the club. I could see the lights flashing and the music was beating louder as my eyes swept the room. My 20/8 vision, an extreme rarity among humans is one of the best recorded ever, allowed me to see things most people couldn't see. It made me perfect for my job along with my speed and quick reflexes.
Unfortunately, it also made me see things I sometimes didn't want to see. Like the girls in the corner or the lines on the dark tables or the holsters strapped to most of the thugs in this club. But I knew it made me lethal and even better at my job.
"Emil. Brother, what are you doing here so early?" Felix asked in his thick Romanian accent as he slapped my shoulder and I winced in pain.
"Fuck, Felix go easy on a brother, you kicked my ass yesterday." I smirked at him. He flexed his muscles and gave me a toothy grin.
"You getting bigger like me though E. Much better my friend."
I nodded in agreement and he handed me a glass of Tuica. I had to admit the only benefit of Romania was that I was in the best shape of my life. I only had two priorities, meeting the family and my assignments. With no paperwork and no friends I had little else to do with my time but hit the dirty gym down the street and throw around some weight with Felix or practice my martial arts. What Felix would never know was that I was trained at Quantico and due to my ridiculous memory was even more lethal than I ever showed him in a sparring match.
I gave him a grim look as I sipped the Tuica and he chuckled.
"Emil, you just need to get laid my friend. Come along, we have some good ones tonight." His eyes lit up as he led me to the corner of the room. I could see two of them. They couldn't have been more than fourteen and they looked terrified. I was sure Felix would break them both in and then they would be sold off to whatever high fucking bidder came into the club that night.
"Emil. These are Nikola and Renata." I nodded at the girls who were petrified and obviously uncomfortable. Bile rose in my throat and I once again knew I needed to make my exit. I had somehow avoided it, in the two years I was there. I never had to break one in, because that wasn't my role, thank God. I had much more important tasks to fill.
"Yes, they are quite beautiful Felix. You're a lucky Labagiule*." I punched his arm and took the shot of Tuica from the rest of my glass. It burned as it went down and I could feel the bile from my hangover now rising as well.
"Ah, indeed Emil. How come you never take part? Don't you like the girls?" He rubbed his beard and looked at me intently.
I shrugged and gave him my best smirk. "I tend to like more experienced ones myself." Hoping that would cover it.
He roared with laughter then and I made my exit. I made the excuse to see if Corin had an assignment for me.
**I left the room through the secret doorway on the opposite side. Something I had only gained access to a month earlier, after I proved to Corin that I could follow through on over a dozen assignments.
My feet shuffled through the blackness and found the door for Corin's lair. The fucker never slept, never seemed to leave. I knew a large portion of the operations in Romania were run out of this office. I had seen more than one foreign dealer walk through these doors.
I gave the knock and he called for me from the other side and I entered.
"Emil. I have an assignment for you." He said in Romanian and I cringed internally as I thought about my night ahead.
He gave me the paper and I looked it over briefly; quickly storing the information with my photographic memory. He knew I didn't need to look twice, I remembered all the information perfectly and I never got an assignment wrong.
Then he burned it, so there would be no trace of the encounter. I knew this was why he used me. I wasn't a tracker like Demitri, but I was just as lethal because I could make information disappear. I could make people disappear. And with my 20/8 vision and impeccable precision I would disappear into the night with no trace of my presence left at a scene. Not even Quantico could teach me that. It was natural. I was born to do this job. I just tried to remember, made myself remember, that the only reason I did it was for Eric.
I nodded at Corin, knowing the business was complete and left again through the shadows and the red lights and the hallways. I exited again through the alley and lit a cigarette to keep my cover. I hated smoking, fucking despised it, but like everything else in Romania I had to pretend to do it for the appearances.
I knew this assignment. I had seen him in the club. He was a low-level drug pusher with a penchant for the young girls as well. But apparently he hadn't been paying on his girls and Corin thought he might be flipping to local authorities.
A liability. Take him out.
This time when I exited the alley I didn't return to my dingy apartment, I went the opposite direction to where my stash was held. It was the back of a laundromat with a digital lock and cash under the table. The owner had extra space and allowed me to rent it. For all he knew, I was just new to Bucharest and my place was too small for my "trunk" and spare furniture.
What he didn't know was that it housed my assortment of weaponry, my silencer, my secret phone, my passports and a number of other helpful devices that could get me out of a jam. I punched in my key code and opened the door, clicking the lock behind me. I rigged up my silencer and took off the glasses. I pulled on the mask and the vest that I used on assignment and quietly left.
I walked down the alley from the back of the laundromat, always careful to weave and turn to make sure no one was following me as I made my way to the bar where I knew the subject frequented. One of Corin's men was to call him thirty minutes after I left to get him to leave the bar.
So I waited like a specter in the dark casts of the alley. I pulled out my weapon and looked through the eyehole as I observed from the dark shadows. The heat was still smothering and I could feel it running down my face as I stood there covered in black, undetectable to even someone with my vision. Finally the door opened and he stumbled outside. I could hear him arguing on the phone and I aimed at his head through the blackness of the night.
I pulled the trigger.
With nothing but a whisper and an "oomph" he fell.
I disappeared back into the shadows unnoticed, before I could see the blood on the ground or the twitching of his body. Even if he was a criminal he was still a human.
I tried not to think about it. I tried to put his face out of my mind, and the sound of his fall to the ground out of my ears. But like all the others, he was stuck in my memory that was both my gift and my curse.
I made my way back to the stash room and quickly deposited my gear. I again exited taking twists and turns, sure that no one was following before stopping at a pay phone to dial in the completion.
This time Vasilii's voice came over the line and I was surprised with his request.
"He wants me to come back in?" I asked in Romanian.
"Da." The click at the end of the line gave me no choice. I didn't want to return to the club, I didn't want a second assignment or to see Felix or the girls or the drugs. But I made my way back and through the same path as I had night after night.
I gave the knock again on Corin's door and he beckoned me in.
"Emil. You have proven yourself loyal. You are wanted in New York."
I nodded, uncertain how to proceed with my apparent promotion.
"When?" I asked.
He nodded and I left through the blackness yet again. As I walked back to the apartment relief and adrenaline rushed through my veins in an unexpected combination. I didn't have to drown in Tuica tonight.
Finally. I was going to get out of this shithole.
Finally. I would have my chance to take down the Dracs and make Eric proud.
I was going home.
I awoke the next morning more refreshed than I had in two years. It was still stifling in the apartment, but I was finally returning to the States and that alone made it tolerable. I didn't dare return to my stash last night, so I knew I would have to wait until tonight to venture in and get my weaponry for the return.
I had a fake passport and a fake credit card linked to an offshore account and untraceable by the Dracs. They didn't know who I was exactly, they just knew I was for hire and I was good at what I did. I had garnered favor to make the trip to New York. I knew this was my shot at Vladimir and Stefan and the best chance our RICO team would have for getting inside the upper echelon of the organization.
Once nightfall came I made my way again to the laundromat with only a duffle and my necessary ware. I slipped out with only the case of my weapons, money and passports. The rest were just props and I would leave it for the next renter to find.
I found a secluded spot at the airport to make my call. They knew when I called in from this phone that it could only mean one thing. I would toss the phone as soon as it was over and board the plane to take me out of Romania.
The RICO contact picked up the line and spoke.
"You're coming home?"
Mijn Broer- My brother in Dutch
Agent de distrugere- Agent of Destruction in Romanian
Poarta Ardeal- Transylvania Gate in Romanian
Labagiule- Motherfucker in Romanian