“I think you should wait here, Toretto.” Ricardo says to me as he pulls out one of his brand new shivs. I freeze, motionless for a second and without saying a word, I keep loading my gun, ignoring him. Ricardo sighs hard, looking at me. “Listen, man, don’t get me wrong. I know you have balls but this fucker is not like those two dicks. And if he doesn’t want to say shit I’m gonna do whatever I need to make him spill where Hanna is.”
I suspect he’s trying somehow to protect me, leaving me outside the mess I guess he’s going to have to make but I’m tired of people dying to protect me. First Vince, now maybe Hanna. I don’t know why the fuck everybody seems to believe I’m worthy of their lives when I know I’m not.
I close my eyes for a second, thinking about the real meaning of his words. I know what he’s not saying. I know what he’s insinuating and I don’t give shit. At this point I don’t care if he has to torture the fucker in order to get what we want.
I’ve seen Santos gut five guys alive; I don’t think that watching another one is going to kill me.
“I’m ready.” It’s all I say, locking eyes with him. In response, Ricardo shakes his head, chuckling. Then he turns his head, looking at the house.
Under the moonlight and as silent as a feline Ricardo makes his way through the garden, heading in the direction of the back door. I narrow my eyes, following his moves. Damn, big dark guy seems like one of those fucking black ops specialists. When he reaches the wall, he gestures to me to follow. I look around and taking a deep breath I mimic his moves. I might not be a trained agent but I have a brain here.
We enter the house like two shadows in motion only to find Bilkins already waiting for us. He’s sitting comfortably at his desk inside his office. Slowly he lifts his head, looking at us, a light grin tugging at his lips.
“I was wondering how Hanna made it through all this mess alive for that long,” he pauses for a second, chuckling. “I should have known she wasn’t working alone.” Ricardo hardens his face, locking eyes with him.
“Where’s Hanna?” He asks, holding Bilkins’ gaze. In response, Hanna’s boss shrugs his shoulders.
“She’s dead.” Bilkins replied, his grin widening lightly. “This shouldn’t have happened in first place. If only Hanna wasn’t so damn good at doing her job. Actually that cold bitch was fucking great.” He chuckles at his own words. “Hanna should have kept out of their business. She knew the risks but she kept going further and further, not caring if she was fucking with them.”
I feel my blood boiling inside my veins as a deep grunt escapes my lips. Ricardo moves forward, closing the distance between Bilkins and him.
“Where’s Hanna?” Ricardo asks again, his voice cold, emotionless. Bilkins makes himself even more comfortable on his leather chair, staring at me.
“Dead.” He retorts, holding my gaze. “God save The Ice Queen.” He adds in a mocking tone. I frown deeply, holding his gaze.
“Hanna trusts you. You were supposed to protect her. Why? Why did you turn your back to her?” I ask. I know we’re running out of time but I want answers. We came this far and there are still missing pieces from this puzzle.
“Take a look at me, Toretto. What do you see?” Bilkins asks me. I narrow my eyes, not taking my gaze off him.
“I see a dead man.” I hissed through clenched teeth. His grin widens even more.
“Exactly.” Bilkins retorts. “Why Should I say shit, huh? You’re going to kill me anyway.” He says, turning his attention to Ricardo who is looking at him absently.
“Because if not, then I’ll kill you slowly, enjoying each and every single second of your endless painful death.” He whispers emotionless. “And believe me, Bilkins, I’m not fucking around. You know what I mean.”
A strong shiver runs up my spine at hearing Ricardo’s voice and all of sudden I find myself secretly giving thanks to God because big dark guy is on our side. Fuck!! I swear Ricardo Montenegro is a scary motherfucker.
Bilkins’ eyes widened, fear sparkling in them as he swallowed hard, clearing his throat.
“You don’t know who you’re talking to, asshole. I’m an ex Pale Horse black ops specialist. I’ve been tortured before, fucker.” He replies, his voice full of pride and self-confidence, even though holds a slight edge of fear. “You can start whenever you want ‘cause I’m not saying shit.” In response, Ricardo chuckles as he turns his head, looking at me.
I can read his mind and I already know what’s coming. In response, I tighten my jaw, nodding ‘yes’. Ricardo’s lips spread in that predatory grin as he turns his attention again to Bilkins, staring at the blade of his shiv.
I clench my teeth, swallowing hard at that damn invisible knot. Each single second counts now more than ever. We have to get Hanna before dawn because Bilkins already gave Snake the order to kill her.
I know I’m many things but I’m definitively not a lucky motherfucker. Snake has Hanna in an abandoned warehouse near a small town named Santa Maria. At least she’s still alive but not for much longer.
Fuck!! Now what?! Damn, what the hell are we going to do now?
A deep growl left my lips as I grip the steering wheel so tightly my knuckles turn white in one second flat. I’m not gonna lose my woman; I’m not gonna lose Hanna. Not after all the shit she went through.
Fate has delighted in tormenting her since she was a little girl, subjecting her to unbearable experiences she didn’t deserve over her life. And one more time, Fate fucked her life up.
It was an accident. Those were Bilkins’ last words before I pulled the trigger. It was a fucking accident.
That damn day Fate was in the mood to play with all of us, changing the courses of our lives forever. We didn’t go after the wrong truck; we went after our own damn fall without being aware of it.
Hanna was right when she told me all of us were just pawns in their game. We didn’t know what we were getting into trying to steal that fucking truck. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“I received a phone call, ordering me to abort the theft before it took place…. In no way could that truck be stopped or diverted from its original destination… It wasn’t the first time that an FBI investigation crossed paths with another, by one unfortunate connection, but…the other didn’t belong to the FBI jurisdiction. I did what I thought would cause the minor damage…”
Now everything makes sense to me. Bilkins was the one calling Hanna, giving her that order. We didn’t know but my team, Hanna and I were caught in the middle of a secret war between the CIA and the fucking FBI.
“…It was one thing to look aside while you crossed into Mexico with your team and Mia, and another thing to be a silent witness to all of you getting killed before you were able to stop that truck…”
Back then she didn’t know what was inside that truck; she only knew those fuckers were going to kill us. My God, she was right. Hanna was fucking right. She had no other choice. She did the only thing she thought would keep me alive. She sent me to prison. I bet Hanna thought it was better to be locked four years in Lompoc than dead in the middle of the desert.
According to Bilkins’ words the CIA couldn’t leave us alive. They were taking out each and every single person who knew something about that truck. The CIA couldn’t tolerate that an asshole who was spending his time racing cars like Dominic Toretto was fucking with them. The fact I didn’t know shit wasn’t going to stop them.
Just like Bilkins said the CIA never leave loose ends. Their methods don’t mean shit as long as they reach their goal. Nobody cares as long as someone makes the dirty job.
As soon as I entered prison, Hanna used her connections and knowledge to find why that truck couldn’t be touched. It was then that she knew that her case had crossed paths with another case that belonged to the CIA jurisdiction.
Just like she told me, it wasn’t the first time but there was something strange in all that shit. Her instincts grabbed a hold of her and she kept investigating until she found that the truck was carrying weapons and that those weapons had been bought by a Cuban named Reynaldo Casamajor.
The name rang a bell inside Hanna’s brain and she remembered I had told her about my past link to that sick fucker and the reason that pushed me to get way from his hold. I had shared with Hanna that horrible experience, telling her Reynaldo’s partners had raped a chick in one of his damn parties.
Hanna shared her intell with his boss, Bilkins, and in response he gave her the green light to keep with her research, knowing she was damn good at that. Bilkins let her keep digging because the CIA was starting to be more than pissed off with Reynaldo. The Cuban had done some business behind its back, using the CIA connections and money but not sharing his profit benefits with them.
I guess while on her research Hanna put two and two together and somehow she found the chick raped was her friend Magdalena. I figure it was then when Hanna started to get tunnel vision, focusing all her energy and time is finding everything concerning the Cuban.
Then she found she was pregnant with my baby and asked for a year off duty but she didn’t leave her investigations at all. Pushed by her obsession to take Reynaldo down, Hanna run across by chance several payments that had been made through different bank accounts spread all over the world in tax havens.
Back then Hanna was still oblivious to three essential facts: those weapons had been paid using funds of a corporation called Phoenix Ltd; the CIA was the one behind that firm and her own boss was a mole working for the CIA using his position inside the FBI.
Three facts that were meant to be Hanna’s fall.
Then she lost our baby and asked to start again with her duties. Hanna had dug her own grave without even realizing it as soon as Bilkins offered Casamajor’s case, giving her freewill to lead the case as long as she took the Cuban down and all of his organization.
I figure Hanna saw the perfect chance to get me out of prison without answering too many questions, saying I was essential to get Reynaldo. Bilkins agreed because just like Terry told Ricardo their boss was expecting to kill two birds with one stone.
Nevertheless, Bilkins was also oblivious to three facts: the ‘Ice Queen’ wasn’t planning to work alone on this case; she had already found her bosses double game and the existence of Ricardo Montenegro.
Hanna found all those transactions had been made through Phoenix Ltd. Just like she said she was a bookworm, so Hanna spent hours searching about anything linked with that corporation, until she run into bizarre information. Phoenix Ltd. Administrative Council members had been veterans from the Vietnam War. As a direct consequence, she ran into the infamous ‘Operation Phoenix’ and its damn Pale Horse black ops specialist, discovering her own boss had settled a trap for her.
So as soon as I was left by Terry and Stuart at that motel, Hanna stopped reporting to her boss about her progress in the case and started working on her own with the help of Ricardo, Elaine and who knows who else.
Bilkins filled up in the blanks we had about all this fucking shit and he did it without Ricardo laying a hand on him. Big dark guy had other plans and he started to fuck with Bilkins’ mind, using Hanna’s boss weakness to pull all that information out.
I can’t help but chuckle at that revelation. Now I know who helped her to improve that natural skill to be able to detect people’s weakness.
Bilkins was dying to rub all his crap in our faces. The fucker was proud of what he did back then in Vietnam and about what he was doing now. He almost came in his pants, relishing in the fact he could finally talk about how he was respected and feared by the regular military.
Bilkins even told us all his fucking medals and stuff are stocked in the basement inside of the CIA headquarters located in Langley, Virginia. The fucker only had a glance at them before they stored them, hidden from the view.
I guess he was expecting for us to feel sorry for him because he couldn’t get to own his damn medals. Fuck you, asshole. I don’t even know why you deserved any fucking medal in first place. You are just an assassin.
All his bitterness and rage came full force remembering how he fought for his country, expecting to be treated as a damn hero as soon as he was back in the US and he found himself treated like dirty scum not only by the rest of the citizens but also by his own Government. That was the reason why his partners and himself didn’t think twice and using their connections they founded Phoenix Ltd with the support of the CIA. At the end the Intel agency had been the only one offering them a way out, using their skills, making themselves rich in a few years.
Bilkins snarled, saying we were just a couple of damn morons, thinking we could stop them. No one can do that. Their connections are spread all over reaching even the Government.
Among Phoenix Ltd. Administrative Council are members of the Congress, judges from the Supreme Court, top US Army commands and powerful businessman. All of them tided up by two goals: power and money.
Hanna has been missing for almost four days. Actually, 86 hours have passed; those hours are equal to 5160 minutes or 309600 seconds. I’ve been counting silently, making calculations, forcing myself to keep my mind on that task and not thinking about what we’re facing tonight.
I close my eyes, rubbing my forehead. I’m starting to suffer the consequences of being without sleep over the last 48 hours. I’m more then tired; actually I’m exhausted. Ironically I’m not exhausted in a physical way, quite the opposite. In fact I feel adrenaline pumping through my veins, rushing mixed with my bloodstream at the speed of light.
I open my eyes, sighing hard as I glance at my watch. It’s almost 3am and we still have one more hour, waiting for our backup to join us. Right now Ricardo and I are in the middle of nowhere with my car parked at one side of a dead end road. The only lights are the moonlight and Ricardo’s cigarette.
I’m sitting on the hood of the car, staring at my hands. They are still shaking slightly. I close them in fists, trying to stop the trembles but it’s not working. Ricardo told me that’s nothing out of ordinary. He said I’m emotionally overwhelmed with the implications of my recent acts, and even though my brain didn’t have time to assimilate all the facts yet, my body has already started to suffer the aftereffects. Ricardo also said to me it will get worse before it gets better.
I figure he knows what he’s talking about. I haven’t noticed his hands shaking as badly as mine. I bet he’s tougher than I thought at the beginning. However Ricardo seemed for a long moment as if he was far way.
Big dark guy was talking to me absently like he was thinking at the same time. Maybe he was remembering something about his past. I’ve spent quite a few hours glued to him like we were Siamese brothers and the more time we hung together the less I’m interested about what exactly Ricardo is. It’s not like I’m not curious anymore because that’s not true, but watching him and putting together the few hints he’s dropping, I think I’m starting to have a pretty clear idea about who Ricardo Montenegro is.
Maybe I should follow his advice, thinking about what I do know instead of wondering about what I want or what I need to know.
So far I know he’s a dangerous, cold and a scary motherfucker. Ricardo is intelligent and smart, never letting his nerves get the best of him. He’s also able to restrain himself to the point that not even his eyes or his face give away what he’s thinking or plotting, unless he wants to show it.
I’ve been watching his moves and the fucker seems like one of those black ops specialists, not to mention I’m still wondering where the fuck he keeps his shivs so they are at his reach but nowhere to be seen.
I narrow my eyes completely lost in my thoughts, recalling his conversation with Bilkins and the slang he was using to reach Hanna’s ex-boss. I’d swear those two had met before, and all of sudden a suspicion pops inside my busy brain. What if Ricardo was once a CIA agent or some shit like that? Because sure as hell the fucker has military training that’s for sure. However, big dark guy seems to have issues regarding the authority and for some kind of weird reason, I can’t explain myself, I can’t picture him following orders of his superiors.
Then there are his underground connections and the fact he moves like a fish in the sea amongst dark people. But all of them, as far as I know, respect him in some way. I would even say they were scared of Ricardo and the consequences if they crossed him. In any case it’s not any less true that he treated all of them with respect as well but always keeping them at distance. I don’t think he trusted any of them that much. However I notice a bizarre thing. Some times he seems uneasy, like if he doesn’t feel comfortable in his own skin.
Ricardo’s lighter flame makes me blink, realizing I had fixed my gaze on a spot only I could see, lost in thoughts about him. I raise my head, looking at him as he takes a seat at my side.
A dead silence lays upon us, not that it was much noisier before. At the end we are in the desert. He narrows his dark brown eyes, holding my gaze like he’s reading my mind for endless seconds until he clears his throat.
“I was around 26 years old the first time I saw Elaine, you know? She was a waitress in a bar in the upper side of LA. I don’t even know what the fuck I was doing there that night.” He pauses, puffing from his cigarette. “She was a tough woman who had seen enough shit in her life to turn her into a cold bitch but…” He chuckles at his own words, shaking his head. “She’s far from being cold.” His tone of voice turns softer, yet still tinted with that unmistakable coldness. “I fell for Elaine the minute I locked eyes with her. That woman saw the real me, past the surface and she didn’t give a shit about what she found hidden.”
I swallow hard, clearing my throat. I know exactly what he means. I fell in love with Hanna as soon as I saw those beautiful green eyes, holding my intense gaze that night at the races. And just like Elaine with Ricardo, Hanna is the only one who can read me like an open book. She’s the only one who was able to see my real soul and spirit in seconds.
“How long you two have been married?” I ask him, raising my head, looking at him. His eyes sparkle with that mischievous gleam.
“Ten fucking great years.” He answers as he blows the smoke in the direction of the open sky, grinning. I chuckle at his words.
“Two, Alejandro and Marcos.” Ricardo answers, and I notice his voice sounded full of pride, saying his sons’ names. “They are nowhere to be found, out of any of these fuckers’ reach.” At those last words, his face hardens lightly as his eyes flash me with an intense gaze.
I nod in understanding. Elaine, his kids and Hanna are his family. For someone like Ricardo who was a street kid, family holds a completely different meaning than for most people. I know as well as he does that love and trust are treasures for guys like us.
The only members left of my family are Mia and Hanna. So now I have no doubts about the reasons why my woman hooked us up together. Big dark guy and I have more than one thing in common. I guess we’re sharing Hanna after all.
“I want my woman back, Ricardo. I want Hanna with me.” I say before I even realize I spoke. In response, Ricardo holds my gaze as his expression turns as serious as a heart attack.
“We’re gonna get Hanna back, Dom. I give you my word.” His voice doesn’t leave any room for doubts. He puts as much reassurance as he can on those words, making sure I notice.
I do and I realize he made a promise to me. And all of sudden, I find myself looking at him in a different light.
I wouldn’t say he likes me because I’m not sure at this point about almost anything but I respect him and I trust him. No wonder Hanna trusts him with her life. This fucker would be able to go to hell and back just to keep his family safe.
“What are we going to do when we get there?” I ask him, narrowing my eyes. Ricardo’s eyes widen as that predatory smile spreads on his lips.
“We kill all those fuckers and we get Hanna back home.” He says it matter of factly. I knit a brow, holding his dark gaze.
“Just like that?” I reply, frowning deeply. “I’m not black ops, man. I don’t know what the fuck I should do if the shit hits the fan.” My voice sounds concerned and yet tinted with fear.
I’m scared of fucking things up. We’re talking about Hanna’s life here not a bunch of richies racing their cars or a couple of assholes fucking around with me.
“You don’t need that shit. You only have to close off the part of your brain that thinks and let your instincts take a hold of your actions.” Ricardo explains, taking a deep puff of his cigarette. “The primal instinct is survival. That’s your goal tonight, Dom. You cover my ass and I cover yours, so we both get back home to fuck our women.” He says, throwing the butt, winking at me.
“Snatch and snuff?” I ask as I knit a brow.
“Exactly, man. Whoever answers the door is wasted.” Ricardo says, grinning wickedly.
“April fools, motherfucker.” I said, unconsciously mimicking his grin.
“Yeah.” He replies, laughing. I can’t help myself and before I realize we’re both laughing out loud in the middle of the desert while waiting for ‘Big Sexy’ to join us on our mission.
“I’m scared, Ricardo. I’m scared of making a mistake and Hanna ends dead because…” Ricardo growls deeply, cutting me off in mid sentence.
“Listen, Dom. A man who isn’t scared is a dead man. You have to focus your five senses on one single thing: Get Hanna out of there and avoiding getting shot.” His voice sounds cold and hard, not leaving me room to complain at all. “I’ll take care of the rest.”
A few more minutes and we hear several vehicles heading to our side. Five black SUV with their smoked glass windows stop at our side. The drivers are wearing night vision goggles and they’re driving without lights.
‘Big Sexy’ climbs from one of the vehicles, greeting us. Then he heads toward the trunk of his SUV, gesturing for us to follow him. Ricardo taps my shoulder as we oblige. As soon as I take a look at what Big Sexy brought I feel my heart stop dead, racing inside my chest two seconds later like a wild horse.
A complete med kit fills up the trunk. There is shit any hospital would have in its ICU unit. They even brought a kit to reanimate someone who suffered a cardiac arrest, oxygen cylinders, blood bags, the works. All those things are closed hermetically and ready to be used in seconds. What the…?
I turn my head, locking eyes with Ricardo. All of sudden the sinister reality we’re going to face hit me so hard I’m about to puke.
“We’re getting her back but we don’t know in what state she’s already in. We can’t take her to a hospital.” He says, holding my gaze. I shut my eyes tightly as the meaning of his words sink inside my brain. “I’m not running the risk of losing Hanna, Dom or you either.” Ricardo adds, his voice holds a determination that sends shivers up my spine.
I open my eyes, swallowing hard as he taps my shoulder once more and with that he turns his attention to Big Sexy, giving him his approval.
One of Big Sexy’s men gives me a bulletproof vest, helping me to put it on. Then the same guy hands me a small can with camouflage paints.
“Don’t want you getting killed, Dom.” Ricardo teases me, chuckling. “My princess will need you in one piece, you know what I mean?” He adds, grinning as he gets ready too.
I know what he’s doing. Ricardo is trying to distract me from the fact that we are going to face at least five ex-green berets that have nothing to lose at all. I guess he trusts me enough as to be sure that when the real time comes I won’t fuck things up.
“Fuck you, asshole.” I reply, grinning. Ricardo laughs out loud, shaking his head.
“Later. Now let’s get that girl back home, okay?” he replies, chuckling. I nod ‘yes’ firmly. “Yeah, that’s my boy.” He teases me, grinning.
Big Sexy whistles, catching everyone attention. Ricardo’s expression turns emotionless once more as he takes a step forward.
“We’ll do this my way. No hostages, no survivors, no heroes.” He says coldly. “Are we clear?” Everyone nod ‘yes’ firmly. “Great, now let’s fuck those pussies.” Ricardo says, an evil grin gracing his lips.
At once all of Big Sexy’s men get in their cars and Ricardo turns his head, locking eyes with me. I frown slightly, concern all over my face. All of sudden I find myself almost panting, forcing the air to pass through my lungs. Fuck!!
“Dom.” Ricardo calls me. I snap back to reality, holding his gaze. My heart is about to explode inside my chest as I feel a powerful rush of adrenaline, running through my veins in anticipation. “Don’t think, just act.” In response I tighten my jaw, breathing through my clenched teeth.
“Let’s do this.” I said, putting as much determination as I can in my words. Ricardo grins that predatory smile as he nods ‘yes’.