Santos is sitting on a chair, his hands tied at his back. ‘El Padrino’s’ bodyguard had already stripped him naked and he left us alone with him.
Elaine and Hanna are outside with ‘El Padrino’ and Ricardo’s wife phoned Sean, confirming for the DEA agent that we will meet him at Mona’s place in one hour, adding to make sure that the girls were back in US safe and sound.
I glance at Francis who is shaking in fear, covered in sweat. The kid is scared to death but Ricardo told him that if he dared to move from where he was standing; that he would be next and big dark guy wasn’t shitting.
Ricardo turns his head, looking at me. His eyes are darker than ever before and his gaze is saying what he wouldn’t say aloud. Ricardo won’t ask me to stay but he won’t ask me to leave either. It’s up to me if I want to be a witness to Santos’ death.
Any other day I would have run as fast as I would have been able, not having the guts to stay where I am, not today.
I don’t have a clue about how Ricardo is planning to kill this sick bastard but I’m not leaving his side. I’ve already lost count of how many times he’s saved my ass, risking his, not giving a second thought and I’m not letting him down now.
Ricardo and I have been together almost 24/7 since we met and on more than one occasion I found myself wanting to beat the shit out of him and even to kill him. But tonight, I want to be at his side because even though he won’t say it aloud, I know Ricardo wants me here with him.
I don’t need to put voice to my decision; Ricardo knows I’m not going anywhere and slowly, he lifts a hand, squeezing my shoulder hard. We’re in this together and that’s how it has to be.
As if in slow motion, Ricardo pulls out a shiv making the blade flash a silver gleam as he waves it in his hand, testing its weight. Then he slides a finger along the sharp edge, closing his eyes, almost reverently. That shiv is nothing like the ones I saw him using before. Actually it’s the first time I’ve seen it.
Blinking, Ricardo opens his eyes as he moves forward, staring at Santos. The Italian stares back at him, not a single gesture showing what he’s feeling, not a single emotion is reflecting on his features. Santos is a cold heartless bastard and he’s not scared of Ricardo Montenegro. And that’s the reason why I suspect that big dark guy won’t even waste a second, trying to make Santos shudder in terror because that shit won’t work with a fucker like him. Santos knows he’s going to die but he won’t beg for his life. Actually, the sick bastard is almost daring Ricardo to kill him as a dirty grin spreads on his lips.
In one deadly lethal move, Ricardo stabs Santos in the chest, pressing hard until the edge disappears from view, cutting the flesh. Almost immediately, blood spills down his torso, covering the skin with endless lines that falls down his belly.
Francis gasps loudly as he drops to his knees, his eyes shut and shivering like a leaf. I suspect the little asshole will end up passing out. All the colour of his face drained at once and he’s shaking so badly I’m not sure if he’s breathing at all.
Santos eyes are shut tightly and his teeth gritted hard. His breath is ragged and his hands are closed in fists but the only sound that left his mouth is a faint grunt.
I stare at Santos’ face, watching his bedeviled gaze as his eyes glance down at the shiv stabbed at his chest. A groan escapes Santos’ lips followed by a deep muffled growl and my own gaze travels down, following the path drawn with his blood, finding a ragging hard on. And silently I give thanks to Ricardo because tonight Crystal’s death serves for something, if only to stop this freak, this monster from walking around.
“You won’t miss something you never used, Santos.” Ricardo whispers as that devil smile graces his lips.
Santos’ eyes widen completely as he snaps his head up, staring at Ricardo. I return my attention to him too and my eyes narrow at the sound of his deadly cold voice and his words.
“You lived like a heartless monster, now you die like one.” And with those words said he rips the Italian’s heart from his chest, raising it at Santos’ eye level. “Filio de putana.” Ricardo mutters, spitting at the Italians’ face and then he throws Santos’ heart at his feet, stepping on it.
I’m not sure which one screamed, if it was Santos or Francis. My own heart skipped a beat as a strong shudder crossed my body from head to toe, but that was all. Crystal’s soul can rest in peace, knowing her assassin will rot in hell for all eternity.
I glance at Francis and he’s puking his guts out, crying like there’s no tomorrow. He had pissed his pants again and I bet he won’t forget what took place here, ever. I won’t forget it either but for different reasons.
Ricardo turns around staring at me. His hands drenched with Santos’ blood. I don’t need him to tell me where we’re going now.
Tonight will be the luckiest night of a bunch of homeless kids somewhere in Sinaloa.
‘El Padrino’s’ bodyguard took Francis with him, following the drug lord’s instructions, to make sure that everything was ready to fly to ‘Joyland’ in four hours. He didn’t want the kid around. With that done, Elaine, Hanna and ‘El Padrino’ headed to Mona’s place and waited patiently for Sean and us to join them.
Mona’s place is a small bookstore and Mona is a tiny woman. She’s no more than 5’ if that tall and she looks like a small fine porcelain doll. She has long black hair, dark skin, wicked brown eyes and a warm smile gracing her lips. She’s somewhere in her fifties, but sure as hell she was more than beautiful when she was young.
Ricardo told me that Mona is the closest thing to a mother figure he had when he was a little kid and still living here. He also told me that she was the one who taught him to read and write. However, the first thing Mona did as soon as she laid eyes on big dark guy and he bent to kiss her it was to give him a loud slap followed by a fierce hug, almost choking him.
Ricardo curses under his breath and not even have the words slipped from his mouth when Mona gives him a love tap on his head. Then she let out a string of obscenities at the speed of light in Spanish causing Ricardo to laugh out loud, holding her tightly. When he releases her, Ricardo introduces me and Mona takes my hands in hers, squeezing gently as that warm smile spreads on her lips.
Mona insisted that all of us eat so we could regain our strength and not getting a ‘no’ for answer, she started to pull out casseroles and pans, cooking a delicious meal we aren’t in the mood to give justice. But Mona doesn’t get mad at us and she doesn’t ask anything either.
Hanna is staring down at her hands that are resting on her lap and I noticed she’s not wearing Reynaldo’s wedding ring anymore. She had already changed her clothes and now she’s in a pair of black jeans and a tank top Elaine lent her. Hanna hasn’t said a single word at all. She just made herself comfortable on a couch at my side.
Carefully I take her hand in mine as I hold my breath, hoping silently that she won’t remove it. Hanna tenses for a second, shivering but she interlaces our fingers, and I let out the air I was holding with a heavy sigh. Hanna doesn’t raise her gaze to meet mine but she squeezes my hand softly as a small whimper passes her lips. Then she stands gracefully to her feet and without releasing our hands, she takes a seat again, but this time straddling my hips.
I feel ‘El Padrino’s’ cold gaze fixed on us but I don’t give a damn. I know what Hanna needs right now. Words aren’t necessary at this very moment but the intimate gesture speaks volumes. So without missing a beat, I pull her to me, holding her gently with my free arm as she encircles my neck, whispering ‘thank you, Dominic’.
I grin lightly at hearing my full name in her hoarse voice and closing my eyes for a second I whisper ‘my pleasure, Hanna, baby’. In response, she chuckles sadly, kissing my neck softly as she presses herself against me a little more making us both shiver at once. One second later, we’re breathing in unison and our hearts are beating as one.
Mona enters the room, smiling widely and offers ‘El Padrino’ a cup of tea. The drug lord looks at us for a brief moment and without saying a word, he stands, following Mona to the kitchen.
I glance at Ricardo from the corner of my eyes and he grins wickedly, winking at me. Elaine is sitting on his thighs. Her eyes are closed and her head is resting on his shoulder. Big dark guy is stroking her lower back, drawing circles as she absently is rubbing his neck.
Nevertheless, the magic intimate moment we were sharing vanishes as soon as Sean enters the room, pulling all of us back to reality. The DEA agent looks back and forth between Ricardo and me. He seems a little uneasy and I figure it’s because the Intel that CD contains.
Ricardo lifts gently Elaine from his thighs, getting to his feet, gesturing for me to do the same.
I let out a heavy sigh; I don’t want to move from where I am. I don’t want Hanna in any other place but right where she is now. However, I know that I have no other choice. So kissing Hanna’s cheek tenderly I reluctantly release her and the three of us head towards another room located at the back of the bookstore, leaving Elaine and Hanna alone.
Ricardo inserts the CD into Francis’ laptop and immediately the screen shows two folders with a title for each one, records and pictures.
He clicks first on ‘records’ and the folder opens, showing several files with different names such as Angola, Iraq, Iran, Guatemala, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Chechnya, Congo, Haiti and the list goes on to at least twenty more countries including the US.
What the hell?!
Randomly, Ricardo selects one of the files and it’s subdivided into three different sections: murders, kidnappings and tortures. Big dark guy growls deeply as he opens ‘murders’ and on it spreads a list with names, men and women, and dates. The dates are all between the late 90s until last year. Fuck! This fucker, the leader of the Zetas, has been really busy over the last ten years.
He then opens up a couple of more countries, finding them subdivided into those same three categories, and again names and dates are listed inside of each and every single one. Ricardo closes all the files, clicking on ‘pictures’ as he lights a cigarette, taking a deep puff.
Jesus Fucking Christ!!
There are at least 100 pictures if not more. Pictures showing men, women, kids…and all of them are dead. Their bodies are showing all kind of atrocities. Some appear mutilated; others have been shot, but most of them have been tortured, and some of them are showing on their bodies those same dark burns like the ones Hanna has. Even the kids, girls and boys, and the most horrible thing is that some of them don’t even seem to be older than ten years.
I shut my eyes tightly, gritting my teeth, feeling rage overwhelming him in a second flat. My God! What kind of fucked up monster would be able to do that aberration to a child?
Ricardo grunts, annoyed, as he scrolls the mouse down, and the pictures keep showing all kind of horrible acts not even the Devil himself would carry out. It’s not even hair-raising or damned scary; it’s fucking terrifying.
Ricardo keeps selecting pictures, one after another, in an endless succession of unnamed horrors. There are no words to describe what we’re looking at; there’s no way any human being’s mind is able to think about one single reason to justify these atrocities. There’s no way an ideology would be able to back this shit up, not even freedom or the old peace all around the world shit.
Sean curses loudly as he punches the wall, causing his knuckles to dent the surface. We may be three tough motherfuckers but what the fuck are we dealing here with? Who is that bastard?
“Stop doing that, Ricardo, you’re making me sick.” Sean hisses in disgust as he pulls a cigarette out, lighting it. “What the fuck are you looking for, man?” He asks, blowing the smoke through his nose. “They’re all the same shit, Damnit!” Sean curses loudly, shaking his head.
“A behavioral pattern.” Ricardo replies coldly as he puts his cigarette out, lighting another one and then he elaborates. “There’s no name on these files, Sean. So the only fucking way to know for sure who this motherfucking psycho is, is to find his MO.” He pauses, puffing from his cigarette. “Every single sociopath has one, and that’s exactly what I’m searching for.”
“Why don’t you ask ‘El Padrino’, bro? It would make all this shit easier.” Sean replies, rubbing his head. “Aside from the fact that you would save time.”
“I want to know it myself before I ask him.” Ricardo answers, flicking the ashes in an ashtray. “I wouldn’t be surprise if Miguel didn’t know it himself for sure.” And with that he returns his attention to the task at hand.
I sigh hard as I close my eyes, pinching the bridge of my nose. The only psycho I can think about that would be able to do those things is ‘Snake’. And all of sudden my stomach drops to my feet as I snap my eyes open.
“Search the files of US.” I say before I give it a second thought. Ricardo turns his head fast, staring at me. And once again words aren’t necessary between us. We both are thinking about the same son of a bitch. Snake.