The most impregnable fortress that most likely can’t be defeated by force, subdued, or overthrown. When Phoenix Ltd. acquired the island they made sure no one, and I mean no one was able to get there just for the hell of it.
They didn’t bother to build a fence or to even keep spec. ops guarding the indecently luxurious complex that Joyland hides right in the middle of its fifteen square kilometer expanse.
Why? Because the fucking place is surrounded by a damn jungle, that’s why. And if that alone wasn’t enough they set traps all over the fucking place. Not to mention that the waters in the Caribbean are shark infested.
Those fuckers even brought species from other places that weren’t autochthonous, such anacondas, alligators and a whole selection of poisonous shit like spiders, mosquitoes and plants. Like dealing with the natural predators that live within it wasn’t shit enough. Fuck!!
“Listen, Sean, if something happens…” Ricardo starts, locking eyes with the DEA agent but he cuts him off.
“I know what to do, man.” Sean says firmly, going serious in a heartbeat. “Sexy and I will take of everything.” He adds, tapping his shoulder. Ricardo sighs hard, glancing at Elaine and then he looks back at Sean.
“This is my last job, man.” In response the DEA agent grins lightly, nodding in agreement.
“Watch yourself out there, bro.” Sean replies, pulling Ricardo to him, hugging big dark guy. Then he releases him in a heartbeat, turning his attention to me. “You should think about growing a goatee, you know, Toretto? It would give you some style, man.” He teases me, shaking my hand as he taps my shoulder.
I roll my eyes, snorting. “Yeah, whatever, fucker.” I reply, causing Ricardo and Sean to burst out laughing.
Sean then heads towards Hanna and Elaine, hugging them tightly, kissing their cheeks. They hug him back. This is not a ‘see you later’; this is a good-bye because if we make it out of Joyland we have to vanish forever.
I glance from the corner of my eye at the little skinny fucker named Ramón, as he keeps pulling out all kind of shit from two small black duffel bags. Neck comms., ear plugs and a set of small tracking devices that he’s handing to us, explaining how to use them.
He joined us at the military base where ‘El Padrino’ was waiting for us with the commandant we met the night before at that warehouse. True to his word, the drug lord provided us with everything Ricardo asked for, making sure that the Mexican military were cooperating with us from minute one.
‘El Padrino’ didn’t want Hanna going with us and he didn’t make any effort to hide his disappointment. The old drug lord was more than just concerned and he even tried to convince Hanna, laying out in the open what he thought.
However, Hanna’s reaction left us all shocked when she embraced her grandfather, kissing his cheek. He was the first one caught off guard because he wasn’t expecting such a show of affection. Nevertheless, the old man recovered in a second flat, returning Hanna’s embrace, holding her tightly, kissing her forehead.
Hanna smiled sadly and releasing him, she said in a cold, emotionless tone of voice that Reynaldo wouldn’t see another dawn. Her voice sounded firm, no trace of doubt or hesitation. And for the first time, I saw how ‘El Padrino’ was holding Hanna’s gaze with pride in his dark eyes.
She’s a woman and in his world, women were just wives and mothers, but with no doubt, he was looking at her in a different light now. Hanna gained his respect without even being aware of it, or even searching for it.
What ‘El Padrino’ saw on that CD made him realize that Hanna was much more than just his only heiress, but also a woman with an unbreakable fighting spirit, restless in her search of justice. Two qualities hard to find in ‘El Padrino’s’ world and that’s why he nodded ‘yes’ firmly, wishing his granddaughter the best.
The commandant took care of every single detail and a military plane dropped us close to the small island, literally.
I glance at the pile of neoprene coveralls all of us were wearing while swimming to shore. Now we are all dressed in the same outfit. Camo pants, matching long sleeve shirts and bandanas, military boots and bulletproof vests.
Any other day I would probably have had the time of my life, jumping from a plane to land in the ocean. Not this time though. I couldn’t stop thinking that the water is infested with sharks, and I found myself praying silently for us to make it out of that shit in one piece.
I returned my attention to Ramón, who now adjusted his black bandana. I can’t help but think that this Ramón is weird beyond reality.
“Don’t let his shady look fool you, bro.” Ricardo whispers, chuckling. “That skinny fucker is the best hunter and tracker this side of the ocean.” He adds, grinning.
I frown slightly, watching Ramón. He can’t be taller than 5’ if that much and he may be around 100 pounds of skin and bones. Black long hair in a low ponytail and three tiny earrings piercing his left brow.
“Where the hell did you draw him from? Sesame Street?” I joke, grinning. Ricardo chuckles, shaking his head.
“From the United States Navy Sea, Air and Land, actually.” Ricardo smirks, dropping his cigarette butt on the sand of the beach, stepping on it. “Ramón is an ex- SEAL, Dom.”
Ramón turns around as he attached his neck comm., then he clears his throat.
“This is my way or the highway. You do as I say and not the other way around. You step where I step and not an inch further. You keep quiet until I tell you to speak. You don’t breathe until I say so. You keep up with me or you die. Do you copy?” He says firmly, watching us.
Hanna and Elaine cross glances in silent dialogue, rolling their eyes.
“Cut the bullshit, Ramón,” Ricardo growls coldly. “You’re not a fucking SEAL anymore, fucker.” He smirks.
Ramón grins, showing small white teeth and pulling out one shiv, he gestures for us to follow him.
Ricardo looks at me, shaking his head as he grabs one of duffels. “Ready, man?” He asks me, pulling out two shivs.
“Yeah, let’s do this.” I sigh hard, grabbing the other duffel, adjusting it on my back. Then I pull out my gun, flicking the safety off, glancing at Hanna.
She takes a deep breath, pulling out her gun as Elaine produces two shivs from her waistband. And the four of us start marching in line in Ramón’s path, going deep into that fucking jungle. Damn!
Fifteen minutes later, we find ourselves in the middle of a dense mesh of trees, vines, groves and bushes. The warm humidity in the air is so thick I find it difficult to breath and I feel like I’m one lung short. The trees are so lush in this part that not even the rays of the sun can go through causing the place to be washed in shadows.
Ramón is opening the path, cutting vines and bushes, Hanna following him a few feet behind, slightly placed at his left side but still stepping almost upon his footprints.
Elaine is at Hanna’s right side, looking around. Her eyes are narrowed and her jaw set hard. She’s completely focused on her surroundings but I’m sure she’s also watching Hanna.
Ricardo and I are walking a few feet behind them and big dark guys’ dangerous presence is almost overwhelming even though he seems as comfortable as if he was having a nice walk through a forest with his kids.
I bet he already lost count of how many times he saw himself making his way through a jungle like this one in some forsaken place. I wonder what he’s thinking right now, or even if he’s thinking at all.
Drops of perspiration mixed with warm water are covering all my skin in a thin veil. I swear it feels like it’s raining in here. My camo pants and matching long sleeve shirt are damp and this bulletproof vest is starting to get on my damn nerves.
I slap my hand against my neck, crushing my ninth mosquito in less than two minutes. Fuck!
Ricardo glances at me, smirking and I hear him through my earplug, humming. I can’t fucking believe the fucker is humming. I turn my head, looking at him as soon as I hear him singing in a low tone of voice.
“Welcome to the jungle…we’ve got fun n’ games…we got everything you want…honey, we know the names…”
I knit a brow, hearing Elaine and Hanna giggling, not faltering one step as Ricardo keeps singing so low I can only hear him through my ear plug.
“We are the people that can find…whatever you may need…if you got the money, honey…we got your disease…”
All of sudden I hear Elaine singing in an equally low tone of voice.
“Welcome to the jungle…we take it day by day…if you want it you’re gonna bleed…but it’s the price you pay…”
Their gazes meet and Ricardo winks at his wife, grinning from ear to ear as she keeps singing.
“…and you are very sexy girl…that’s very hard to please…you can taste the bright lights…but you won’t get them for free…”
I shake my head, chuckling. These two are made for each other. I swear.
I hear Hanna giggling as she turns her head, looking at me, her green eyes sparkling like stars. And all of sudden I find myself forcing the air to past through my lungs, watching her. Damn! She’s fucking beautiful!!
Ramón comes to a dead stop, crouching down, causing all of us to freeze in a second, mimicking him.
Man, I don’t even know how I did that. I didn’t even give it a second thought.
The ex-SEAL turns his head, looking at Ricardo, making a sign with his hand. In response big dark guy nods as his gaze turns cold, his eyes narrowed.
Ramón gets to his feet slowly, advancing a couple of steps, Elaine in tow and they both crouch at once. I look at Ricardo and he gestures for me to move ahead, following a narrow path at my left side.
I nod once firmly and without hesitation I oblige, looking back to Hanna. She’s crouched at the right side of Ricardo and I see how she nods once, gesturing with her hands in a much similar way to Ramón.
I feel my heart pounding inside of my chest as I swallow hard. Hanna’s gaze is as cold as big dark guy’s, devoid of any emotion as she looks around. Her senses focused on anything that seems out of the ordinary.
The only sounds around us are the distant squawking of exotic birds, coming from nowhere but echoing everywhere at once and the faint crawl of what I hope are small rodents.
I glance at Elaine, she’s still at Ramon’s side and she has a pair of pliers in her hands. I narrow my eyes slightly, watching her as she cuts something at her feet, gesturing to Ramón. In response, he pulls out another pair of pliers, moving forward a couple of steps.
I keep looking around, back and forth, searching for anything that seems out of place but so far there’s nothing. My legs feels a little cramped, so I balance my weight a little, dropping one knee to the ground, noticing how it sinks a little in the wet dirt.
I notice a subtle pressure around my left thigh, squeezing it lightly. What the…? I frown, glancing down and my eyes widen completely as I froze in place, not even daring myself to breath. Shit, shit, shit!!
A thin yellow snake is slithering up my thigh, dangerously close to my groin, flicking out its forked tongue. Damnit!!
“Don’t move a muscle, Dom.”
I hear Ricardo’s voice through the earplug. Slowly I close my eyes for a second, swallowing as I hear a faint whistling. Snapping my eyes open I frown.
The snake is nowhere to be found and in its place there’s a small scratch, bleeding slightly, flashing at me through the rip of my camo pants. What the fuck?!
I snap my head up; the snake is coiled up around one of Ricardo’s shivs that’s stabbed into the trunk of the closest tree. I narrow my eyes, tightening my jaw and slowly I turn my head, looking at Ricardo.
“I wasn’t going to suck the venom out, bro.” His voice chuckles through my ear plug.
“You cut me, fucker.” I whisper, holding his dark gaze. In response, he rolls his eyes, smirking.
“What a whining brat you are, Toretto.” He replies, grinning.
“That’s my dick you almost cut, Montenegro.” I retort, grinning.
“Coño, can’t believe you’re thinking about sex in a moment like this, man.” Ricardo teases me, shaking his head. “You’re a twisted fucker, Dom.” I open my mouth to retort ‘fuck you’ when he directly adds. “Later.” I frown deeply, watching him.
“What are you now, bro? A mind reader?” I reply, chuckling.
“Yeah! And a magician. I’ll be in town until the end of the week.” Ricardo jokes, grinning. I grin and then I go serious in a heartbeat.
“Thank you, man.” I whisper.
“Told you, I wasn’t going to suck out the venom.” He replies, winking.
“Come on kids, break is over.” I hear Ramón voice, chuckling. “Target is ahead of us, about five minutes.”
At once, we get to our feet, resuming the march. Five more minutes and we will reach the complex that Joyland hides, along with the two fuckers we are going to kill. Fuck them!!
I had no fucking clue that five minutes could last so damn long or that so many things may be able to take place in such short amount of time. Damnit!
An anaconda larger than a day in the desert without water; two starved crocodiles, fifty traps and like one hundred bloodsucker mosquitoes later we finally reached a clearing in the middle of this fucking jungle from where we can make out the fucking complex.
We need to wait for a couple of hours until the sun goes down completely, so we can enter the fortress without being detected by the men patrolling the area.
Elaine and Ramón crouch together, pulling out at least forty of the fifty detonators they both gathered while disarming the traps. I narrow my eyes, watching Elaine getting them ready to be used again as Ramón gets to his feet, pulling out a small map and heading towards where Hanna and Ricardo are.
Elaine’s fingers seem to have a life on their own, twisting, pressing and bending. She’s not even looking at her hands. I bet Elaine would be able to do it with her eyes blindfolded. And all of sudden a suspicion grows, I wonder if she was just a waitress when Ricardo met her.
My gaze slides past Elaine, resting on Hanna. She’s sitting on her heels, talking quietly with Ricardo. They are looking at that small map of the island, deciding the best spot to get through the complex.
Ramón is going to set traps around so that when we’re done inside, the place will blow into pieces, not leaving any trace of our visit.
Elaine squeezes my arm softly, catching my attention and tells me to help her to attach several of those detonators to small rectangular pieces of plastique.
These fuckers may be rich but sure as hell their taste sucks. The place is lit up with countless streetlamps, washing the entire complex in the most strident orange tone.
The complex is separated into different areas with bungalows. Each of them has been designed in a different way and all of them are so damn ornamented and customized that the final result is a bizarre mix of styles. And what it worse, the next one is even more horrible than the previous one.
Surrounding the bungalows there is a golf course and right in the center there’s a heliport with three helicopters, ten fuckers guarding them. At the far end there’s what seems to be a small convention building with four guys standing on guard. All of them have night vision goggles resting on their foreheads.
I clenched my jaw tightly, cursing under my breath when I recall what that Mexican commandant told us. He said that there would be at least sixty guys guarding the place; ex- CIA fuckers mostly but also freelancers. He also told us that ‘Snake’ was nowhere to be found and I wonder if that psycho is already here or if he has vanished one more time.
How the hell are we going to find Reynaldo and William within this complex? There’s no way to know for sure where those two fuckers are hiding. Fuck!!
They must be waiting for us, no doubt there, but I don’t think they are hiding together in the same place. I saw William’s face, Reynaldo fucked him good, and even though they are both now under the direct protection of Phoenix Ltd or what’s the same; the fucking CIA, I don’t think those two are allies anymore; not after what took place at Sinaloa.
My guts clench almost painfully when I think about my dad, but I force myself to keep focused, pushing to the back of my brain those thoughts. I’ll need that rage later when I face them.
Ricardo taps my shoulder lightly, pulling me out of my thoughts and he gestures with his head to the convention building. At once, Hanna lies on the ground on her stomach, hissing softly in pain, as Ramón hands her a rifle with a telescopic sight.
I wince slightly, watching her as she takes a deep breath, fixing her gaze through it, shutting one eye. Her elbows are firmly set on the ground, her hands gripping the rifle as she breathes slowly, cracking her neck bones, and then she adjusts the night vision goggles on her forehead.
Ramón hands a second rifle to Elaine as she lies next to Hanna, pointing at the guards that are standing in front of the helicopters.
Ramón grins wickedly and slowly he starts crawling, following the line of some trees, planted at one side of the path that leads to a small hut. According to his map this the place where the generators that supply with electricity the complex are located.
I arch my brows at once, watching that skinny fucker; he moves damn fast and he reaches the hut in just seconds, not being spotted. I swear he reminds me of a rat and I bet that’s why he ended being a SEAL even though he looks anything but what movies show. I thought all SEALs looked like big, bad motherfuckers. I guess Ramón is a small, bad motherfucker after all.
Ricardo gracefully gets to his feet, pulling out two shivs; their blades made of black steel. His gaze turns cold as his eyes sparkle with a predatory gleam that sent shivers up my spine.
“Let’s paint.” Ricardo whispers coldly, that evil grin tugging the corner of his lips as he takes a deep breath, cracking his neck bones just as Hanna did.
Slowly I get to my feet and, taking a deep breath, I check to make sure that my gun is loaded and ready to be fired in a second flat.
“Ten and counting down.” I hear Ramón’s voice in my earplug, followed by a grunt and a fierce snap. “One down, fifty-nine less.” The skinny ex-SEAL adds, chuckling at his own words.
Ricardo shakes his head, chuckling coldly as he narrows his eyes, fixing his gaze on one of the fuckers that are standing guard in front of the convention building.
I pull down my night vision goggles and at once all of the lights in the complex switch off. Fuck!! I blink fast, adjusting my vision.
Ten seconds is all the advantage we have over them until they pull down their own night vision goggles and they start firing back.
Hanna and Elaine start shooting, taking down the fuckers that were around the helicopters, one fucker after another, not missing a beat. Amazing what kind of mayhem can be caused in ten seconds when you’re coordinated and focused.
Five more minutes and the power will be up again. Ricardo and I start running directly to the convention building as we keep hearing shots coming from everywhere. Then all of a sudden I hear an explosion, followed by screams and shouts in pain and I grin widely.
Too fucking bad those fuckers were still wearing their night vision goggles when Ramón decided to blow the helicopters, causing such a bright light that I bet he blinded them in a second flat. Fuck them! Fuck them all!
I chuckle at my own thoughts as I keep running, following Ricardo until we both reach the back of the building, crouching at once. We can hear Elaine and Hanna cursing as they keep firing, counting the fuckers left.
Panting lightly, we cross glances in silent dialogue. I nod once and Ricardo peers around the corner as I cover his back. My eyes are slightly narrowed because the fire caused by the explosions is hurting a little but so far I’m doing fine.
Big dark guy gestures for me and without hesitation I go around to the other side of the building. All of a sudden I run into one of those fuckers and without missing a step, I shoot him as I keep walking, not even thinking about what I just did.
My heart is beating fast within my chest and adrenaline is running through my veins with such speed I feel almost as high as a damn junkie. Damn! Gripping my gun, I finally reach the other side, finding Ricardo crouched, surrounded by two dead fuckers and one who is coughing blood.
Ricardo grabs the guy’s hair as he bends his head. “Where are the guests?” He asks coldly. In response the guy curses, coughing.
“F-fuck…you…” he breathes, grunting. Ricardo knits a brow, sliding his shiv to the guy’s cheek. He shivers in panic, as his eyes grow wide.
“Answer my fucking question and I’ll kill you fast.” Ricardo whispers, a breath away from the guy’s lips. His voice, as deep as the ocean, sounded emotionless, so dark I shiver hard. The guy swallows forcefully, coughing again.
I wince unconsciously, pulling off my night vision goggles, throwing them to one side.
“The…the blue house…” he answers, squeezing his eyes shut, whimpering in pain. In a flash, Ricardo slices the guy’s throat, standing.
“I thought he would say the pink bungalow.” I frown deeply. Ricardo turns around, looking at me. “There.” I gesture with my head. He follows my line of vision, growling.
There’s a bungalow painted in several shades of pink and turquoise colour. Ricardo frowns a little, staring at house located behind some big trees.
“Well, turquoise colour belongs to the spectrum of blue.” He says, cleaning his shiv on his pants. Then he turns around and we both move backward, crouching at one side of the building.
The lights come back at once, washing the place in that awful orange glow. We hear Elaine and Hanna cursing and Ramón checking if all of us are okay.
“Don’t you think it has been too fucking easy, man?” I ask Ricardo, frowning deeply. Ricardo returns his attention to me. “I mean, where the hell are the rest of these fuckers?” I ask, holding his gaze.
Ricardo narrows his eyes in suspicion. Then we hear Elaine’s voice speaking through the comm.
“There were just fourteen guys around. Four here and ten around the helicopters and we took down at least six more fuckers that were patrolling.” She says, her voice hard.
“That makes twenty fuckers plus the one Ramón killed.” Hanna adds.
Ricardo and I keep looking at each other. That shit doesn’t make sense at all.
“That commandant said there would be at least sixty guys, man.” I say, frowning deeply. “So where the hell did the rest of those CIA fuckers go?”
“What if that old fucker is helping us to catch the Cuban?” Ricardo replies, narrowing his eyes even more. I arch my brows at once. “What if Bill set a trap for Reynaldo, using the rest of the fuckers to cover his getaway?”
“You think he left the Cuban behind?” Elaine’s voice asks through our earplugs.
“William is not dumb and he wouldn’t risk his life for anyone. No after scheming for years.” Hanna adds, her voice cold.
“I figure there’s only one way to know for sure.” Ricardo growls, getting to his feet.
There’s a dead silence surrounding this part of the complex; too damn quite. Not even one fucker guarding the outside of the three big houses. Something’s wrong, very wrong and my guts clench painfully. It’s a trap, a fucking trap but it’s not as if we have too many options.
All the lights are on inside and out. The pink and turquoise house is right in the middle; the other two houses, located at both sides, slightly behind, drawing a triangle, and both of them are painted in similar shades of yellow and dark red tones. The three bungalows look like a damn carousel.
I glance at Elaine from the corner of my eye, watching her tighten her jaw hard, swallowing.
“I’ve got a bad feeling.” She mutters under her breath, never taking her gaze off the houses located down at the end of a path, right behind some huge trees.
I drive my gaze past her to see Hanna and Ricardo crouched at the other side of the hill, several meters away from where Elaine and I are crouched. They both are talking so quietly that I can’t hear them at all.
A few minutes before, we had decided to split into two groups. Ricardo took Hanna with him, heading to the east side of the small hill while Elaine and I headed to the west side.
Ramón is setting traps all over the complex, using the detonators Elaine readied, making sure that the place blows completely, not leaving a trace of our visit or the complex. The explosions will start in about ten minutes, at the other side of the huge complex, following in sequence until they reach this side.
“Heads or tails, Elena?” We hear Ricardo’s voice through the earplug. Elaine chuckles.
“Tails.” She replies, locking eyes with me. I nod in agreement, grinning a little.
“Coño.” Ricardo curses causing Elaine to grin, shaking her head. “You’re too damn lucky for my own good, mami.” He adds. In response, Elaine snorts, looking back at where they are crouched. “You’re one to talk.”
Elaine looks back at the houses, narrowing her eyes. “You two go through the back, Dom and I will take the front.” Elaine says firmly.
“Copy that.” Ricardo replies, chuckling at his own words. Elaine’s grin widens a little. “Watch yourself there, Elena, we got two naughty little kids to take care of, mami.” He adds, all trace of joking gone from his voice.
Elaine’s grin dies on her lips as she takes a deep breath, clearing her throat a little.
“An inch per day, Richard.” Elaine teases him, but her voice sounded hard and cold yet concerned. In response, Ricardo sighs hard, his gaze fixes on us.
“Deal.” He growls.
Elaine breathes deeply, looking at me for a second. Her gaze is sparkling with such coldness that I shiver slightly. Damn! She’s dangerous all right.
Without letting go of my gaze, she pulls out two shivs, gesturing for me to follow her. I nod firmly and without hesitation, we both start sliding down the hill, right behind a line of short bushes.
We reach the side of one of the bungalows in less than a minute. Elaine is like a graceful feline. Shit! There’s no way she was just a waitress or that she’s just someone’s mommy. Elaine moves are sure, one step after another, breathing evenly, her eyes darting back, forth and around, taking in our surroundings.
I follow her, looking back and forth, covering her back as she keeps heading ahead, not faltering one step. She turns her head to look at me and we both nod to each other. We’re about to enter the circle of light.
I remove the small duffel bag, setting it at my feet and I pull out two gas masks, followed by two smoke grenades. Elaine looks at me briefly, grinning devilishly as I hand her one and putting them on, we throw the smoke grenades and they land right in front of the bungalows.
Taking a deep breath I grab the duffel bag and we both rush at once, using the green smoke to cover us, running until we reach the side of one of bungalows, crouching at once, our backs firmly pressed against the wall.
I figure the smoke may alert those fuckers, but that’s exactly what we want. To drive them out into the open. If not all of them, at least a few of those CIA fuckers. After a moment, the smoke dissipates and we both remove our gas masks at once.
Elaine is looking everywhere at the same time, her eyes narrowed, her jaw set hard. She’s watching for any threat as her eyes sparkle with that deadly gaze. After a moment, she gestures for me to move ahead, following the outside wall. I nod once and, crawling, I oblige, stopping at the corner. Then I get to my feet, crouching again, peering out.
I can’t see Hanna or Ricardo but I know that they are already at the other side, opposite to us. I can feel their presence; it’s like a latent danger; subtle but overwhelming at the same time.
Ramón curses, muttering obscenities, saying there’s a helicopter approaching the island. I frown deeply, thinking about what Ramón said, when all of a sudden I hear Ricardo growling through the comm., followed by grunts. Then I hear Hanna cursing and a fierce snap.
I can’t help but the fact that I don’t know what’s going on with Ricardo and Hanna is killing me. Just thinking about any of them getting injured or worse is making me feel sick all of a sudden.
I notice Elaine’s hand on my upper arm. “Keep focused, Dom.” She whispers coldly, squeezing my shoulder lightly. “Let’s get this done.”
I shake my head a little, putting aside those thoughts as I nod ‘yes’ without looking back at her. I can still hear Ricardo and Hanna, taking care of whoever they found inside the other house. So at least they are still alive.
I pull out one of the detonators, sticking it to the wall, applying a little pressure, molding the plastique, just as Elaine taught me. Then I glance at my chrono. Five more minutes and the explosions will start.
We both move backwards, surrounding the bungalow, sticking the detonators all over until we come to a stop, watching ahead of us. Shit!!
There are four fuckers hidden behind the pink house, getting ready, talking in whispers to each other. They seem to be waiting for some kind of signal to attack.
I swallow hard, pulling my silenced gun as Elaine taps my shoulder, catching my attention. I look at her for a second and she gestures to one of the guys.
I frown deeply as I lift my gun, pointing at the fucker’s head. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to hit him right between the eyes, but…
I fix my gaze on him, counting silently to three, I shoot, and without thinking I point to the guy at his side, shooting again; twice. In seconds, the two fuckers are down.
His partners turn around, looking in all directions and I watch, fascinated, as two of them fall to their knees as if in slow motion. One of them has a shiv stabbed at heart level, the other in his neck.
“Four less fuckers to worry about.” Elaine says coldly, no trace of emotion in her voice. I look at her, grinning.
“Damn, woman! You mean business.” I tease her, making Elaine laugh softly.
“Never underestimate a pissed off mom, protecting her kids, Dom.” She replies, winking at me. “Let’s get in the house.” Elaine says, still grinning a little.
I nod in agreement and we both move backwards again, until we reach the back door of the bungalow. I kick the door open and we crouch at each side of the doorframe.
“I like your style, Dom.” Elaine jokes, grinning wickedly. “Not very subtle but it works for me.”
“I’m doing my best here, baby.” I reply as I wink at her, mimicking her wicked grin.
We both peer at once, looking at the room and we both narrow our eyes in suspicion, looking back at each other.
The room is filled with boxes, piled one upon the other, and there’s an unbearable stench coming from inside. Elaine gets to her feet slowly, entering the room, cursing.
What the hell? I follow her inside, still on guard, looking around, finding at least three corpses already rotting. Fuck!!
“What’s going on here?” I asked under my breath as I breathe through my mouth, swallowing hard.
Elaine grunts softly, heading directly to one of them and slowly she crouches at his side.
“This one was one of Reynaldo’s monkeys.” She says, narrowing her eyes, looking around absently. “Check what’s in those boxes, Dom.”
I frown slightly, heading to one of them and carefully, I open it, looking inside.
Weapons. Reynaldo’s weapons. The ones he bought in Miami. Damn!!
I move to another, opening it as well, and there is more high tech shit. Fuck, fuck, fuck!
I look around, counting silently. That fucker bought more weapons than this, not all of them are here, judging by the number of boxes. I return my attention back to Elaine and she’s nowhere to be found.
“Elaine.” I whisper through my neck comm.
“Upstairs.” She replies in a low tone of voice. “What a mess, damnit.” Elaine mutters, sighing hard.
I peer outside through one of the windows, it looks clear, so pointing my gun, I head towards the stairs, climbing them slowly, looking back from time to time until I reach the second floor.
Elaine is standing in the hallway, her back facing one of the walls. There are more corpses piled up, and not all of them are Reynaldo’s monkeys. Some of these fuckers are wearing assault gear, similar to the ones the other fuckers outside were wearing.
Elaine curses under her breath and then she presses her neck comm.. “Richard?”
“Yeah.” Ricardo’s voice answers.
“Guess what we found in the house.” She says, shaking her head a little. In response, Ricardo chuckles.
“Boxes full of high tech military shit and corpses.” He replies coldly.
I turn on my heels, ready to go back down when all of sudden I hear a faint ‘click’ that freezes my blood within my veins in a second flat. Slowly I turn my head back, not moving any other muscle in my body, locking eyes with Elaine. And as soon as I do that, I feel my knees about to buckle, watching Ricardo’s wife.
Elaine is pale, the colour drawn from her face as she holds my gaze, both frozen like statues right where we’re standing.
As if in slow motion, her gaze slides down to my boots as she swallows hard, blinking once. I glance down and I find a red gleam blinking under my right foot. Shit, shit, SHIT!!
I look back up at her, meeting her gaze as I broke into a cold sweat. I don’t need her to tell me. I’m fucked. I’m so damn fucked!! Damnit!!!
“You both get the fuck out of there, right now!!” We both hear Ricardo growling through the comm. “The houses are mined with anti-personnel mines. ¡Coño!”
Elaine shut her eyes tightly as she cleared her throat. “We can’t.” She sighs hard, opening her eyes again. “Dom stepped on one, Richard.” Elaine adds, staring at my eyes.
“Son of a bitch!” Ricardo curses loudly, grunting.
“Dominic!” I hear Hanna gasping and then Ricardo growling.
“Whoa, princess, you’re not going there.”
“Let me the fuck go, Richie!” Hanna’s voice replies fiercely. “I’m not losing him. I said let me the fuck go, goddamnit!!”
“NO!!” Ricardo roars, causing Hanna to grunt, just to let out a yelp.
I shut my eyes tightly; praying silently for Ricardo not to let Hanna come close to me right now. I don’t care what he has to do, but please don’t let her come here.
“Coño, Hanna, you do as I say or I swear I’ll knock you out, got it?” Ricardo growls menacingly and I hear Hanna gasping loudly.
“You’re not letting Dominic die, got it?” She whispers coldly, a fierce resolution in her voice.
“Wasn’t going to let my brother fucking die, Hanna.” Ricardo retorts with equal determination in his voice. “But you’re not gonna storm in that fucking house either, princess.”
“Okay.” Hanna says after a long moment and I let out the air I’ve been holding with a painful sigh, causing Elaine to smile sadly, looking at me.
“Yo, kids, you better hurry the fuck up because that helicopter is landing and the fire works are programmed in one minute.” Ramón’s voice echoes through the comms..
Elaine’s gaze hardens as she pads slowly to my side, lifting one hand to stroke my cheek. I notice drops of sweat, sliding down my back as I lean my head slightly against her palm, breathing slowly.
“Please, Dom, don’t move a single muscle or it’ll be the end.” She whispers, her eyes flickering to mine.
“My leg feels cramped, Elaine.” I whisper, wincing a little. Elaine sighs hard.
“I know, just hold on a little more, okay?” She replies and then she removes her hand, passing me, heading back down.
I close my eyes, feeling like dozen needles, piercing my soul. Fuck!!
“What’s with you, man? You think the world revolves around you, huh?” Ricardo whispers, chuckling.
I snap my eyes open, blinking fast and he’s standing in front of me, staring at my eyes. Then he starts circling me, looking down at my feet. I swallow hard, clearing my throat.
“Man, you better leave me here, bro. I…”
“Shut the fuck up, Toretto, and let me think about how I’m gonna get us out of this shit, fucker.” He replies coldly, but he’s grinning.
I chuckle, closing my eyes, breathing hard. My heart is pounding within my chest and my hands are sweating.
“I’m scared to death, Ricardo.” I whisper under my breath.
“Yeah, well, that makes two of us, Dom.” He replies, meeting my gaze.
I blink, shocked by his words. I never thought I would hear him saying that to anyone, much less to me and sure as hell not right now. I’ve always known Ricardo Montenegro was a scary motherfucker and certainly he’s more than just dangerous. But right now, and even thought he admitted he’s scared, his gaze is defiant and that evil grin is tugging the corner of his lips.
“If you’re trying to make me feel better, I gotta tell you you’re doing a shitty job, fucker.” I tease him even though I’m starting to shake. Ricardo chuckles, shaking his head.
“I’m trying to save our damn cocks, man, ‘cause we’re getting out of here together or we’re not going anywhere.”
I take a deep breath, nodding in agreement. “Okay, now what?” I ask him. He grins lightly, squeezing my shoulder.
“Okay, listen to me. I got a bit of good news and a bit of bad news. Which one you want first?” Ricardo asks me, crouching at my feet.
“Don’t fuck with me, man.” I reply, swallowing forcefully. “It’s not like I can think or anything right now, you know?”
Ricardo chuckles. “Okay. The good news is that you’re wearing combat boots, so called ‘blast boots” actually”. He pauses, looking up at me. “The bad news is that this mine seems to be some kind of blast mine which means the blast wave will send the compressive force upwards.”
“And that shit means…” I whisper, shivering a little.
“That means we gotta jump far enough so that when the mine releases the energy, the blast wave doesn’t end up blowing off our balls.” Ricardo states as matter-of-factly.
“You gotta be kidding me, man.” I mutter in disbelief. “My leg is numb, I don’t even feel it.” I hiss, swallowing hard. Damn! I’m gonna faint. “How the fuck am I gonna jump, huh?”
“We go on three.” Ricardo says firmly, ignoring my words.
I can’t fucking believe what he’s saying. We’re gonna die. Damnit! After all the shit we went through; we’re gonna die here.
“Showtime, kids!” Ramón’s voice says and we hear the first explosion.
“You heard Ramón, man. It’s showtime.” Ricardo grunts, sheathing his shivs, getting ready to grab me.
“Wait!” I hiss, looking around. “What if there are other mines like this one? The explosion will detonate them all at once.” I whisper, looking back up at him. “We’ll blow up in a million pieces.” In response, Ricardo frowns deeply, rubbing his chin.
“Only one way to find it, ‘sides these kinds of mines are not that big. They are designed to kill one man, two at the most. Not enough power to blow the house and I don’t think they put two that close to each other.” He replies, narrowing his dark eyes. “We are already fucked, man.” Ricardo adds, sighing hard. “It can’t get worse, Dom.”
The traps Ramón set keep exploding with just a few seconds between one and the next, and soon they will make the floor tremble under our feet, causing the mine to explode before we have a chance to make it out of this shitty situation.
“We go in three.” I say firmly, meeting his gaze.
Ricardo nods ‘yes’ and without hesitation he grabs my forearms. I take a deep breath, feeling my heart about to explode inside my chest.
“Ricardo, if we don’t make it out of this shit…”
He cuts me off, growling.
“We’re gonna make it out of this shit ‘cause we didn’t come this far just to die in a shithole like Joyland.” He mutters coldly, looking directly at my eyes. “Besides we still gotta kill a few more fuckers before the sun rises in a couple of hours.” He adds, as that devil grin spread on his lips.
I chuckle at his words, swallowing hard. There’s something I need to tell him and damn it all if I’m going let the chance go.
“Thank you for being my friend, Ricardo.” I whisper, clearing my throat. Ricardo narrows his eyes, looking at me.
“Don’t go all sentimental on me now, Toretto, ‘cause I’m gonna kick your ass anyway, and then I’m gonna show you how to avoid traps, so you don’t fuck up again.” He replies, his grin widening.
I can’t help it and before I can stop myself, I’m mimicking his grin. Then I close my eyes, clearing my throat. There’s another more important thing I have to do just in case everything goes south.
“I’m here, Dominic.” Hanna’s voice shakes a little.
I swallow hard, past the invisible knot in my throat. “I love you, baby.” I whisper, tightening my jaw.
“I love you too, Dominic.” She whispers, sniffing.
“Okay, enough of this shit. Now shut up and get ready.” Ricardo growls, squeezing my forearms.
I let out a heavy sigh, nodding ‘yes’ firmly one more time. “Three and counting down.” I say, swallowing hard.
“Three…” He says, moving backward one step, balancing his body slightly as he gets ready to jump back, pulling me with him.
“We’re two crazy motherfuckers.” I whisper, taking a deep breath, grabbing his forearms tightly.
“Two…” he growls, flexing his knees and I lean forward my torso. “One!” Ricardo shouts, pulling me to him hard as I gather momentum with my other leg.
I feel the wave caused by the explosion of the mine pushing us up and forward, sending us flying several meters through the air in time with a ray of searing pain stabbing my leg. We both land hard on the floor as I feel the air being knocked out of my lungs with such force my gaze blurs.
I blink fast, adjusting my vision. My ears hurt like a bitch and so does my right leg. I look around, watching how several pieces of the walls are spread all over as well as part of the wooden floor.
I try to breath but I don’t seem to find the strength to force the air to pass through my lungs. No wonder. I’m underneath Ricardo’s body and he’s laughing? I can’t fucking believe it. The motherfucker is laughing silently, staring down at me.
I swallow dryly, tasting blood. Shit! I think I bit my tongue. Damnit!
“You okay, Dom?” I hear faintly Ricardo’s voice as he rolls to one side, grunting.
“I don’t know, man…” I reply, shaking my head. I feel a little numb. “I’m not sure but I think the wave of the explosion burst my eardrums.”
Ricardo chuckles, getting to his feet, helping me to stand. “At least your balls are still in place.” He jokes, hissing as he stretches his back, cracking his spine. “Let’s get out of here.”
My leg hurts like a bitch and when I look down my eyes widen. There’s a large rip in my right leg, below my knee and my camo pants are drenched in blood.
“I guess it could have been worse, huh?” I say, frowning deeply. Ricardo shakes his head, helping me as I walk, limping downstairs and outside.
He comes to a stop and I lean against the wall, supporting my weigh on my left leg, looking around. There’s no trace of Hanna or Elaine. Damn!
Joyland is ablaze; the bungalows set on fire along with the convention building and other facilities within the complex. The explosions have ceased but the electricity went down, plunging the entire place almost into darkness if it wasn’t for the orange glow produced by the fires burning all over.
The only sounds around are the propellers of that fucking helicopter and those fuckers shouting orders to each other.
There’s no trace of Hanna and Elaine though, and we found, close to the place where Ramón lay, one of their neck comms along with a note with two words written.
Ricardo crouches at one side of Ramón’s agonized body, growling.
We found him near the meeting point a few minutes before; Ramón is still breathing even though someone slit open his torso and left him there, bleeding to death. Damnit!
With the little strength the ex-SEAL has in him, he locks eyes with Ricardo and mutters ‘do it’.
I curse silently, looking around, covering Ricardo’s back as he pulls out one of his shivs and in one fast clean move, he slashes Ramón’s throat, killing him fast so his agony doesn’t last any longer.
Slowly, Ricardo closes Ramón’s eyelids and pulling out two coins, he reverently placed them over his eyes.
“To pay the ferryman.” Ricardo whispers solemnly, sighing hard.
I saw that once in a movie. The guy had died and he had no money so his friend placed two coins on his closed eyelids to pay the ferryman who takes the bodies across the river into the land of the dead.
It’s a very old tradition, or that was what the guy from that movie said. If you don’t have the money to pay the ferryman then you will wander forever, lost between the two worlds and your soul will never rest in peace.
I have no clue if that tradition was real or if there were still people that followed it. However, I’m not surprised that Ricardo knew about it. And all of a sudden I find myself swallowing hard, watching the deep respect and compassion Ricardo showed to Ramón. Just like with Crystal.
I lean against the trunk of a tree, swallowing hard. My leg hurts like a bitch even though Ricardo improvised a bandage with some rags made from my camo pants.
Gracefully, Ricardo gets to his feet and turns around to look at me all in one motion. His face is expressionless, save for the fact that his dark, cold eyes are smoldering with blind rage.
I only saw that scary gleam sparkling in his eyes once; right before he ripped Santos’s heart out of his chest.
Slowly, he pressed the button of his neck comm. as that devil smile spread on his lips.
“Game won’t be over, until I say so.” Ricardo whispers softly, almost sensually, as his grin grows wider.
Then, he ripped off his neck comm., gesturing for me to do the same. I do it, without hesitation and we lock eyes again. And all of sudden we are back in the desert, waiting for ‘Big Sexy’ to join us, looking at each other eyes.
In this occasion it’s not only my woman that is being kept as a hostage somewhere within this fucking place, but our women, Hanna and Elaine.
Once again we’re running out of time and even though each second counts, we have to plan this carefully, otherwise we will run the risk of them getting killed and that shit is not happening. Damn it all, but we’re not losing our women, not tonight.
“We do this our way, Dom.” Ricardo whispers, his voice devoid of emotions. There’s no trace of that blind rage in his eyes anymore, and yet his gaze is sparkling with a murderous gleam.
The fact isn’t lost on me that he used the word ‘our’ and not ‘my’, for the first time since we met, and he did it on purpose. I know him well enough to be sure that Ricardo would never mistake one word for another, ever.
We are in this together and we are all the fucking way in. It’s a life or death situation, no point of return once we seal the deal. We have to trust each other without hesitation or doubts, but this time not because we have no other choice or because there’s no one else around; but because we can trust each other and even more valuable, we want to do that.
Death is an art, at least in Ricardo’s book and he said himself that he was an artist about to paint his masterpiece. Then, let’s paint already.
“You know what? I’m tired of all this military shit about ‘snatch and snuff’, Ricardo.” I whisper, holding his gaze. “I just want our women back safe and sound and kill those fuckers once and for all, bro.” I add, unconsciously mimicking his evil grin.
“And you know what? You’re right, Dom. I never got along with that military shit.” Ricardo replies, raising his right hand, closed in a fist. “Let’s get close and personal, man.”
I raise mine, pressing my own closed hand against his. Our knuckles white under the fierce pressure, fitting perfectly one against the other.
“Hooyah.” He says, winking.
“Hooyah.” I echoed as my grin widens.
The deal is sealed.
Ricardo’s gaze slides down to my wounded leg and, frowning, he shakes his head a little. Then he looks back up at me and pulls out a stick of bubblegum from his pocket.
“Chew on this for a minute. I gotta go shopping.” He whispers and with that he disappears into the bushes.
I arch a brow, staring at the bubblegum and after a couple of seconds I oblige, leaning heavily against my good leg. The wound is still bleeding and it feels like it’s burning from the inside out. I suspect I’ll walk with a limp from now on. Shit!
Low price to pay if I recall all the times I could have ended up dead if it wasn’t for Ricardo.
I grit my teeth as I force myself to keep focused, watching around intently, doing my best not to let my fears grab a hold of my mind. I don’t even want to think about the fact that Hanna and Elaine may be already dead.
After a moment Ricardo returns with a bunch of green leaves, a couple of stems, what looks like a lime, a very thin hollow reed and a pencil case?! What the…?
“Spit the bubblegum out and chew this.” He says, handing me a couple of leaves as he puts his palm open under my chin.
I spit the chewed bubblegum on his palm, warily eying the leaves. “What’s this?” I ask him, sniffing them. “It smells like tea.”
“Yeah, but it’s coke; coca leaves actually. You’re gonna need them to run with that leg.” He explains to me as he slices the lime, never letting his guard down. “Now you suck on the lime to increase the release of cocaine from the leaf.” Ricardo adds, handing me the half lime as he pulls out another stick of bubblegum, chewing on it.
I oblige, sighing hard as I watch Ricardo kneel at my side, opening the pencil case, turning it upside down.
I suck on the lime, screwing up my face slightly as soon as the acid liquid makes contact with my tongue, which starts to feel a little numb.
“Man, this shit tastes like hell.” I whisper, swallowing the leaves along with the limejuice, shivering uncontrollably.
“Just wait until that shit works its magic.” Ricardo chuckles, glancing at me. “It’s like getting high but without the chemical additives that end up frying your cell brains. Same effects as the coke but without running the risk of overdosing.” He explains as he crushes the two stems with the handle of one of his shivs.
With that done he slices a pencil in half, taking out the lead, mixing it with the juices of the stems.
I blinked, staring at him, a questioning expression all over my face.
“What’s that for, man?” I ask, frowning, watching as he starts to unwind several paper clips, wetting them with the juices that resulted from crushing the stems and the pencil leads. “You playing MacGyver now?” I tease him as Ricardo gives the bubblegum a sharp shape, attaching it at the edge of the thin reed.
“Yeah, Hanna and I used to watch the show on TV.” Ricardo replies, grinning. “Gotta admit, most of the things he used to do don’t work in real life though.” He adds, pocketing the clips in one of the pockets of his camo pants. “But this one does.” He gets to his feet, admiring his handiwork. “A home-made blow dart with its own lethal poison darts and all.”
“Holy shit, Ricardo, the things you come up with, man.” I grin, shaking my head a little. He knit a brow, looking at me.
“Stick with me, kid and I’ll show you the dark side of the Force.” He jokes, grinning.
“Fuck you, Darth Vader.” I roll my eyes, feeling my heartbeat speed up a little. Ricardo glances at me, grinning.
“Later.” He replies, winking. “Now let’s get our women back.”
We’ve been studying the map Ramón had and realized that there’s a small building located at the east side of the complex; it’s marked on the map as a tool shed.
It’s the only place save for the jungle surrounding the complex that is not burning, yet. So there are a lot of possibilities that Hanna and Elaine are being kept there by those fuckers. And maybe with a little luck Reynaldo and William are there too, waiting for us to show up.
We don’t know that for sure but it’s not like there are many other places to hide, save for the jungle and now that it’s dark, I don’t think the Cuban would go deep into it. Surely William wouldn’t have any problem, venturing there himself but I seriously doubt he would risk Hanna’s life.
Ricardo and I already agreed that Hanna is still more valuable alive than dead, at least for William because he can use her as a bargain against ‘El Padrino’, but Elaine…
Ricardo told me that his wife knows how to take care of herself, and after what I saw tonight, I have no doubts that Elaine is as dangerous as big dark guy, if she has to be. However, he also told me about the deal they made just in case one of them was caught without an option to get out alive of whatever shit they found themselves involved.
To die before revealing any information that may lead those fuckers to their kids.
“What you don’t know; you can’t reveal under tortures.”
Ricardo’s words to me echo faintly within my brain.
Elaine knows enough information to represent a serious threat to the lives of Mia, Alejandro and Marcos, even though Ricardo is the only one who knows the exact location of my sister and the kids.
We’re not dealing with drug traffickers here anymore, but with ex CIA fuckers that are as trained as Elaine if not more so, and at this point of the game, none of them have anything to lose, except their lives.
Nevertheless, I have no doubt that Elaine would die before saying shit and that’s exactly what she will do without hesitation; if she’s completely sure there’s no way out, that is.
We both crouch at once, close to where the convention building was located. At this point it’s already reduced to a huge bonfire, its flames extending several feet above the level of the island.
I wonder if the surrounding governments are in the pay of the CIA and if any of them will send someone to check on Joyland. I figure that all the explosions might have alerted them.
From where we are, we can see the helicopter Ramón was talking about, it’s not a civilian model like the others Ramón blew away, but a military one. Its propellers are still spinning and it’s surrounded by five fuckers armed to the teeth.
They seem to be waiting for somebody to show up or for something to happen. I’m not sure but what I know for sure is that inside that helicopter there’s no room for all those fuckers. So unless they had some kind of ship somewhere that fucking helicopter is their only way out of Joyland.
Ricardo elbows my arm slightly and without saying a word, he points his index finger to our left side as he hands me the small binoculars.
I follow his line of vision, narrowing my eyes. There’s a group of five fuckers, surrounding another one; their guns pointing in all directions. I tighten my jaw hard, breathing through my nostrils as I look through the binoculars to have a better view of them.
“You motherfucker.” I mutter under my breath as soon as I see who those guys are protecting.
He’s wearing assault gear, similar to the others but I can see the fucker is also wearing military insignia, showing his rank. Lieutenant.
I follow his every move, still watching him through the binoculars until he stops at the side of the helicopter, turning around, barking orders.
All of sudden I see five more guys, carrying boxes, loading them. Shit! The fucking weapons. The boxes seem smaller than the one we found in those two bungalows. I wonder what the fuck is inside of them.
I zoom the sight of the binoculars, fixing my gaze on the drawing printed on the boxes. It’s the silhouette of what it seems to be a coat of arms with the wings of an eagle coming out from behind and four letters underneath ‘AAAP’.
Damn! I’ve seen that shit before, but where, damnit!
“What the fuck the abbreviation ‘AAAP’ stands for, man?” I ask Ricardo as I wrack my brains, trying to remember where the hell I saw them before.
In response, Ricardo growls and I feel the sudden anger radiating from him in waves.
“Anything, Anywhere, Anytime, Professionally. It’s the slogan of Air America”. Ricardo replies, cursing under his breath.
“Air America? As in Mel Gibson’s movie ‘Air America’?” I ask, watching those fuckers, loading box after box, piling them inside the helicopter and William barking orders like a man possessed.
Ricardo snorts. “Yeah, only thing without old Melvin and a lot of bloody mess the movie didn’t show.” He answers, chuckling. “During the Vietnam war the fucking CIA had its own airlines to transport whatever they feel like it between Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos. Civilians, commandos, diplomats, refugees and even visiting VIPs… but they also used it as a cover to fly other, much more profitable, goodies, such as opium, heroin and weapons.”
I frown deeply, thinking about Ricardo’s words.
“I was sure that inside the bungalows weren’t all the weapons that Reynaldo bought in Miami, and I don’t remember the boxes stored there having that drawing on them.” I whisper, turning my head to look at Ricardo. In response, he chuckles coldly.
“That’s because the weapons we blew up weren’t the ones that fucker bought in Miami but the ones that were inside the truck you were going to steal.” Ricardo replies and then he points his fingers in the direction of the helicopter. “Those weapons are the ones the Cuban paid for and they had your name all over them.”
“Reynaldo used the CIA money to buy them but the deal was made in your name.” Ricardo says coldly. “You even got the commission for that purchase, Dom.” He adds, frowning slightly.
My brows arch at once. Shit, shit, shit!
At that exact moment the bulb within my brain shines as I remember when I had seen that damn coat of arms with its fucking wings. Francis’ laptop. That little pansy had it as his fucking screensaver. Damnit!
“Miguel, open a new account under my friend’s name, transferring that fucker’s cut…don’t look at me like that, my dear Dominic, that money is better in your hands than in that scum’s…”
That was Reynaldo’s order to Miguel and his words to me right after Miguel killed Reynaldo’s contact in cold blood because that little asshole was raising his cut, trying to fuck the Cuban with the deal. Fuck!
I’m in deeper shit than I thought at the beginning. I bet Reynaldo did that shit to tie me to him, another thing aside from the fact that I killed his own brother. Damnit! I wouldn’t be surprised if Reynaldo recorded that shit. Who knows if the bastard had cameras within his office?
I frown deeply, lost in thought. What if Reynaldo and William agreed to put my name on that fucking deal so that they can control me in case everything else didn’t work out the way they wanted? There were many things that could have gone wrong.
Ricardo lets out a deep low growl, pulling me out of my thoughts. I blink a couple of times, focusing my attention on him.
He’s watching those fuckers with the binoculars. His jaw set tightly.
“I spy with my little eye, something that slithers…” Ricardo trails off as that evil grin spreads once more on his lips. “Look who’s joining the party, bro.”
I turn my attention back to them, narrowing my eyes. There are five more fuckers heading directly to the helicopter. One of them is walking ahead of the group.
From the spot we are I can’t clearly see the face of the fucker but I would recognize that fucking silhouette among a million.
“Snake.” I hiss, feeling my blood boiling within my veins.
As soon as Snake reaches the helicopter, he salutes William and the old fucker returns the salute to that psycho bastard. What the fuck…?
Snake barks a couple of orders to six of them and the guys turn on their heels, marching down the east side of the complex. After a moment, Snake saluted William again and with that he follows them, pulling out two shivs.
“It seems to me that this shit ends tonight, Dom.” Ricardo whispers as he taps my shoulder, getting to his feet.
I grit my teeth, getting to my feet as well and this time without Ricardo’s help. The wound in my leg still burns but not like before. The cocaine has already worked its magic on my body. Ricardo was right though. I feel as if I’m high on coke but my brain is working sharper than ever.
“We gotta get Hanna and Elaine before those fuckers, man.” I say firmly.
In response, Ricardo nods ‘yes’ and with that he grabs the small duffel bag, putting it over his shoulder. Then he pulls out the map, unrolling it.
“You follow the path down the hill, always behind the line of these trees. The tool shed is right here.” He traces the invisible line on the map, tapping a spot. “You gotta be faster than those fuckers. It’s the only way to reach the shed a couple of minutes before they do and then you take down as many as you can while waiting for me to join you.” Ricardo says, handing me the map. “Don’t use the silencer on your gun, so Elaine and Hanna can hear the shots. That way they will know there’s a way out.” He pauses for a second, grabbing my arm, squeezing it as his face hardens. “And you better watch where you’re stepping, man, or you’ll die along with Hanna and Elaine.”
“Done.” I reply as I roll up the map. “What about you?” I ask him, pocketing it in my camo pants.
“I’m gonna test my blow dart with those fuckers and then I’m going to blow that damn helicopter into a million pieces, making sure they won’t have any other way to get off this fucking island.” Ricardo whispers emotionless, pulling out a shiv and his homemade blow dart. “And then I’m gonna get all close and personal with Lieutenant William Porter.” He adds and with that he heads towards the opposite side of where we are now.
I’m not sure if it was the effect of the coca leaves, the rush of adrenaline or what, but the fact is that a couple of minutes ago I was running like hell, following the path Ricardo had told me, and now I’m crouched with my back pressed against the trunk of a tree, right behind some bushes.
I feel my leg pounding in time with my heartbeats, but it doesn’t hurt as much as before. It’s like a dull throbbing. My breath is ragged and I’m sweating like there’s no tomorrow. My long sleeve shirt is drenched and the bulletproof vest feels like it’s glued to my torso.
From where I am, I have a perfect view of that tool shed and there are two guys standing on guard at the front door. They set flares all round the area near the shed, washing its walls and the dirt surrounding it in a soft green glow.
I was expecting for the shed to be smaller, but it’s at least a one-floor building. Not that I care too much right now. I know what I gotta do so let the games begin.
I force myself to take small, short breaths slowly, filling up my lungs, expanding and letting out the air slow but leisurely. I think I’m getting the knack of that yoga shit. About fucking time though because now I need to keep as calm and focused as I can.
All of a sudden, the door of the tool shed opens and a third guy shows up at the doorframe. He whispers something and the three of them start to laugh out loud.
Yeah, enjoy your last minutes of your sorry excuse for lives, fuckers, ‘cause sooner than you think you’ll be bleeding to death.
I narrow my eyes, pointing my gun, thinking about how I’m going to do this, when all of a sudden I remember an occasion when my dad took me to a fair and there was one of those shooting galleries.
Grinning, I shut one of my eyes, pretending that those fuckers are ducks and I’m about to score the big prize if I get to take them down with a maximum of four attempts. Yeah!
I fix my gaze on the fucker standing right at the doorframe and cracking my neck bones, I pull the trigger. Damn!
I’m not sure how I hit him but I did because the fucker gripped his neck as he fell forwards, face down. Not a clean shot but it’s not like a professional. I’m doing my best here.
One down. Two to go.
The two fuckers left pull out their guns, looking in all directions at once. One of them crouches down, his gaze moving franticly, trying to find from where exactly the shots are coming. His partner turns on his heels ready to storm inside the shed.
Too fucking bad I have other plans for him.
I pull the trigger again; two shots this time. One of the bullets hits his shoulder; the other hits his back. Grunting, the fucker stumbles backwards, crushing sharply into the dirt.
Another one bites the dusk. One less motherfucker to deal with. Fuck him!
Time for my last shot and I’ll win the little blue bear for Hanna. Yep.
I figure that at this point the girls have already realized that the cavalry is here. Time for me to take down the third fucker. With a bit of luck, there won’t be more than two or three left inside and now Hanna and Elaine knows that either Ricardo or I are outside the shed.
So without giving it a second thought, I aim my gun, shooting one last time, hitting the third fucker in the knee. He lets out a yell in pain and the door of the shed slams closed. Damnit!
I point again, directly at his head but before I can shoot again, I feel the cold barrel of a gun pressed at the back of my head.
“Don’t you dare move, you fucker.”
I slightly released the pressure of my trigger finger, tightening my jaw hard enough to hurt, swallowing hard as I weigh my options.
“Put the gun down, now.” The guy says as I froze, tensing every single muscle in my body.
My heart is pounding hard and I feel my heartbeats thundering within my brain. A fresh rush of adrenaline runs wildly through my veins as I broke into a cold sweat. Damnit!
What a fucked up moron I am!! Shit, shit, shit!!
“I said now or I’ll blow your brains out.” He hisses menacingly, lightly tapping the barrel of his gun against my head to add more emphasis to his words.
If I drop the gun now, it will be game over. They win and we lose. Hanna and Elaine will die and what about Ricardo?
I close my eyes for a second, breathing hard through my nostrils as a vision of Hanna being tortured pops without warning within my mind, pushing aside everything else.
Not gonna happen. No fucking way. No one will hurt my woman again.
I feel my blood boiling in my veins; my sudden rage growing faster than ever and my mind blurs. Fuck it!
I spin around, facing the barrel of the gun for a fraction of a second, and without thinking I grab the fucker’s wrist, twisting it hard until I hear a ‘snap’ coming from somewhere. The guy lost his balance, dropping to his knees and I kick him hard in his chest with my good leg.
“Fuck” I hissed, feeling a stab of pain crossing my body as soon as my wounded leg supports my whole weight for a second.
He falls backward and before he has the chance to react I point my gun against his forehead, pulling the trigger.
Then I hear a shout in pain and spinning around I see Elaine slashing the throat of the fucker I shot with one hand as she grabs his gun with the other, shooting another fucker.
I blink fast, staring at her. She’s wearing only a t-shirt and blood is dripping from a cut on her right thigh. Damn!
“Elaine!” I shout, getting to my feet.
She rolls for the dirt, using the fucker she killed as a barricade and she keeps shooting, emptying a whole magazine, taking down the fuckers that Ricardo and I saw, marching here.
“Reynaldo ran through the back door, Dom!” Elaine shouts as she reloads the gun with a new magazine. “Hanna went after him!” she adds, taking down another fucker.
Fuck, fuck, fuck!!!
“You okay, baby?” I shout, crouching, pointing my gun, firing back, hitting one in his right knee.
Elaine lets out a string of obscenities as she crawls backwards, reaching a line of bushes.
“Yeah!” She replies as she keeps firing back from behind the bushes. “Go get Hanna!” Elaine shouts.
I look around frantically, my eyes narrowed. There are two fuckers left and they are behind the shed, peering out from time to time, shooting in Elaine’s direction. Fuck!
“Elaine! You sure you’re okay?” I ask, concern evident in my voice.
In response, Elaine curses loudly in a rapid-fire in Spanglish that makes me grin widely.
“I said I’m fucking okay now go get Hanna!” She shouts as she rolls to the other side of the bushes, hissing in pain. “Okay, fuckers! You asked for it!!” She yells, getting to her feet. “You pissed me off, now you deal with Elena Montenegro.”
I hear her muttering and with that she disappears behind the trees, cursing under her breath.
Damn, that woman has a set of balls there. No wonder Ricardo treats her like a queen. She’s not fucking around.
I shake my head, grinning as I start crawling, making my way through the line of bushes where Elaine was a few seconds before. I look around me, making sure there are no others fuckers hidden and slowly, I get to my feet.
I hear an explosion, followed by another and another. I figure Ricardo blew up the helicopter along with the Air America weapons but why the hell is he not here already? Damnit!!
I stretch my back, feeling the bones cracking. My leg feels like it’s burning and when I glance down I notice that the bandage Ricardo put it is drench in blood. I clench my teeth, letting out a growl as a sting of pain crashes through my leg. The effects of those coca leaves are subsiding now. Cursing under my breath I reload my gun with one single word echoing within my brain.
“Hanna!” I shout as I make my way through the trees that are spread all over this side of the complex. No answer. Fuck!! “Hanna!!” I shout louder as I march faster, looking back and forth, searching for my woman when all of a sudden I hear Hanna’s voice faintly.
“You can run, Rey, but you can’t hide.”
I stop dead in my tracks, turning around in the direction from where her voice came. Damn! I swear to God I’ve never heard Hanna’s voice sounding like that.
“Come out, Rey, let’s play.”
A shiver runs up my spine as I head towards her.
It’s her voice, no doubt, but I swear it sounds colder, emotionless, even though she’s almost whispering. Fuck!
Trotting lightly I head towards her until I spot Hanna, stopping again. She’s standing, her eyes closed and her head slightly tilted to one side and a gun in her right hand.
Hanna is only wearing her long sleeve shirt and her panties.
My gaze slid down her legs and I notice that she’s barefoot and her soles are slightly scratched, surely because she had been running through the trees.
I swallow hard, clearing my throat, and Hanna snaps her eyes open, spinning around, pointing the gun she’s holding to my head.
Her gaze is cold as she stares at me. Hanna narrows her eyes slightly, meeting my gaze and I shudder fiercely.
“Hanna…it’s me, baby, Dominic…” I whisper, staring at her eyes.
Slowly I flick my gun’s safety on, putting it in my waistband at my back and I lift my hands, palms open.
Hanna’s gaze followed my every move, tensing her muscles. The hand gripping the gun has the knuckles white under the pressure. Her gaze shows nothing at all. Not rage, not pain, not fear.
“I will find him and I will kill him, Dom.” She says, her voice as cold as her gaze, not a single emotion or inflection.
Dom. Hanna said ‘Dom’ and not ‘Dominic’. Once again the one talking isn’t Hanna but ‘The Ice Queen’. I curse silently, knowing that Hanna is not herself right now and the fact that I don’t know how she’s going to react is not only worrying me but scaring me as well.
I swallow hard, never taking my gaze off her as I slowly nod ‘yes’.
“Okay, Hanna, let’s do it together, baby.” I say, forcing my voice to sound soft. “Let me help you find him.”
Hanna’s eyes narrow a little more before she nods ‘yes’, lowering the gun. I let out the air I was holding with an almost painful sigh. Fuck!
Hanna gestures to me to go to the left side while she heads to the right side. I grit my teeth and, pulling out again my gun, I flick the safety off.
As I walk, I look at her, watching how she’s making her way through the trees, not even flinching when she steps on some prickly plants or little rocks.
I hear the sound of a branch, snapping and we both cross glances in silent dialogue, nodding. We come to a dead stop, crouching at once. A couple of seconds and we hear it again.
Hanna jumps to her feet and without a second thought, she runs in the direction from where the sound of the branch being snapped came. Fuck!!
I get to my feet, following her. My leg is screaming in pain but I ignore it, running in a half limp behind Hanna. When all of sudden I hear her grunting. Shit!
I speed up a little, feeling my leg going numb, probably from the loss of blood, until I come to a stop.
There’s s small clearance among the trees. Hanna is standing a few feet from Reynaldo, her gun pointing at him, and the Cuban is facing her, a defiant smirk on his lips.
He’s panting lightly, drenched in sweat. I grit my teeth, fixing my gaze on him as I point my gun at him too.
The bastard is high; he’s probably up to his ears in coke. It figures. He’s looking at Hanna, grinning that stupid half smile, as if he has no care in the world.
“We both know you won’t shoot that gun, beautiful Hanna.” He snarls, his smirk widening. In response, Hanna chuckles coldly.
“Won’t I?” She replies, tilting her head to one side. “This one is for making me point a gun to my man’s head.” She says as she pulls the trigger of her gun.
The bullet caused a nasty scratch on his right thigh, burning the flesh with its speed but not puncturing it. Hanna missed the shot on purpose.
Reynaldo’s eyes widen in shock as he stumbles, almost losing his balance. He looks back and forth between his bleeding wound and Hanna’s gun.
“Come on, puta, do it. I’m not gonna beg for my life.” Reynaldo hisses, holding Hanna’s gaze.
Hanna laughs coldly. “Not yet, but you will.” She retorts coldly, pointing her gun at his left leg. “This is for the dancers.” She pulls the trigger again, and this time, she doesn’t miss, blowing away his left knee.
Before he can stop himself, the bastard lets out a yelp of pain, biting his lip hard, falling down. He’s panting hard and slowly he lifts his head, looking at me.
His eyes are sparkling with a bedeviled gaze as he swallows hard, gritting his teeth.
“Do…do you still dream of your woman, Dom?” He asks me, smirking.
I knit a brow, watching him as I move forward a couple of steps.
“I do. I dream of her wet pussy, gripping my cock as I fuck your woman hard and fast…” He snarls, between pants. “Just like that night at the yacht. This bitch loved every second, and you know that, don’t you?” The bastard adds, laughing. “I bet she loves to have her rear fucked hard too, begging for more… until she bleeds.”
My jaw tightens so hard that my neck muscles hurt as I fight the urge to put a bullet between his brows. But I know that’s what he wants. For me to kill him fast so he doesn’t have to beg for Hanna to kill him already.
“Fuck you, son of a bitch. You deserve a slow, painful death and I won’t save you the agony, bastard.” I mutter as I narrow my eyes, watching him. “I’m going to let my woman kill you, Naldo and I’m going to enjoy every damn second of it.” I add as I move to Hanna’s side.
I don’t even recognize the sound of my own voice. It sounded as emotionless as Ricardo’s and for a second I frown deeply, intently watching this bastard bleeding to death. And I realize that I don’t give a fuck at all.
I want him dying slow and painful for all the pain and damage he caused to Hanna. When he left Magdalena, bleeding to death in a trash bin in an alley on the outskirts of LA, she was still breathing. The forensic report said that she died of an overdose of coke, but I have serious doubts about that one.
I’m almost sure that William was the one coming up with that shit, so people don’t ask unwanted questions. Who would give a damn about a prostitute who was found dead? People assumed some of her clients got rougher than usual or that her pimp got mad and things got out of hand.
But the fact is that Hanna’s sister died suffering endless agony caused by her many internal injures. Magdalena could have lived if this bastard would have dropped her near some populated place. Maybe someone would have heard her cries.
Hanna glances at me, grinning lightly and then she looks back at him. Slowly she points her gun again; this time to his right shoulder.
“This one is for Crystal.” She says coldly, pulling the trigger.
The hard impact causes Reynaldo to fall back, cursing loudly, yet the bullet burned the flesh once more in its path and now his shoulder shows a really nasty deep scratch that starts to bleed in a second flat.
The Cuban’s breath is ragged and not even the coke can stop him from feeling the pain anymore. His eyes are shut tightly as a small whimper escapes his lips.
Hanna doesn’t want to kill him; she wants to leave him alive but bleeding to death, just as he did with Magdalena. He’s going to die in the middle of nowhere, alone and knowing that Hanna was the one who took justice in her hands.
Reynaldo grunts, looking up, meeting Hanna’s gaze. “Did…did you know that Crystal loved to be fucked by Dom? That little bitch was screaming like the whore she was, enjoying being fucked by both of us at once, begging for more.” He swallows hard. “She was a sweet little bitch, just like Magdalena.” He chuckles weakly, coughing hard. “She was another whore and she enjoyed every second of what we did to her. What a pity they died, huh, Hanna?”
Hanna grits her teeth, her hand holding the gun tighter. I glance at her from the corner of my eye as her eyes smolder with a mix of anger and pain.
This bastard is spitting venom in a lame attempt to reach her, to make Hanna shoot him in the head, killing him. But she won’t do that because Hanna wants him suffering. And even though she’s imparting justice, I suspect that she’s not going to feel any better once she’s done with him. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
I just hope that Hanna can silence Magdalena’s voice, whispering within her mind, claiming justice from her grave.
Swallowing hard, she lifts the gun, pointing the barrel at Rey’s abdomen, right below the line of his bulletproof vest.
“This is for Magdalena.” She says, her voice shaking slightly as she blinks fast, pulling the trigger one more time.
Reynaldo screams in pain grabbing his waist, blood spilling down from all his wounds, covering his clothes and the dirt around him.
Hanna moves backwards a step, her hands shaking slightly as a tear rolls down her cheek. I feel my heart clenching painfully, watching her going through this.
Reynaldo whimpers in pain, his lips are bleeding because he bit them hard. He’s breathing heavily through his nose as he raises his head. His gaze is glassy and I bet the fucker’s vision is blurry because of the pain.
He mouths something, swallowing hard and then he coughs. Uncontrolled shudders are shaking his body as he collapses to one side. His clothes are drenched in his blood as he grits his teeth in a lame attempt to block the pain.
Hanna’s gaze hardens as she pads to his side, looking down at him. Her face devoid of emotions or feelings as she locks eyes with him.
“Please…” He breathes raggedly. His shudders are stronger now as little spasm keeps shocking his body. “Please…do it…” Reynaldo whispers weakly, all pride gone; all trace of defiance vanished in seconds.
The blood spilling from his abdomen is almost black, that means the bullet is in his liver. It will take him several minutes to die and it will be painful as hell. I know that shit because one of the shots that hit Vince was right there.
Hanna closes her eyes, shivering uncontrollably and then she meets his gaze again as she whispers coldly. “And this is for me.”