Authors: Drew Sinclair
Before she knew it Clayton had his arms around her and was dragging her to the bed. She tried butting his nose with the back of her head, stomping on his feet and kicking his shins, but he had taken every precaution to pin her in an unbreakable hold and he was so much taller than her that she couldn't seem to find anything weak or vulnerable in him to latch onto.
"We need to talk rationally about this Nadia. Trust me, there's a better way."
"The best way isn't always your way. Let me go for Christ's sake. I wasn't serious, I'm not going to jump out of a window. Where would that leave my mom?"
There was a knock at the door and then Ruben's head appeared in the door way.
"You two love birds having fun in there?" He said with a deadpan expression.
Clayton released his hold on Nadia and she pushed herself off the bed.
want?" She asked him.
"I want you to get ready for the switch."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Clayton stood up from the bed as well.
"I'm talking about the only option we have. They hand over Angel and Louise, we hand over her."
"You see." She looked accusingly at Clayton. "I'm not out of my mind. This is the only thing to do."
"It's crazy and it's not happening." Clayton said.
"I thought you said Ruben was the best in the business. An expert in his field." She mocked.
"Even experts get it wrong sometimes. This isn’t happening. Period."
"It's the only way to get everything that everybody wants Clay." Ruben said. "No other way. Nadia goes willingly to Boyevik, but she'll be carrying one of your personal tracers so we'll be in contact with her all the way. Zero risk. Angel will return to us with information about Boyevik that we can leverage to take him down. Louise is with us, taking her out of the equation and any leverage they have on Nadia. As soon as we have the secure we send our guys in to get Nadia out of there. Then we tip off the cops as to the whereabouts of the very wanted Mikhail Boyevik and his crew of heavies. I'm not saying it’s easy or without risk, but I guarantee you that it’s the only way out of this mess."
"It’s too risky. I don’t buy this story about him wanting Nadia back to work for him. He's a vicious, insane criminal and what he wants is revenge."
"And one hundred million dollars." Ruben added calmly, as though it were a minor consideration.
There was a short, deafening silence while the number settled in to everyone's minds.
"He can have a hundred million." Clayton said. "But he can’t have Nadia."
"I'm not yours to give." She said.
"It’s not negotiable." Ruben said. "It's all or nothing. If Nadia ever wants to see her mother again or if you ever want to see your old buddy Angel back in action, then this is the plan. Do you want her to ever see her mother again?"
"Of course I do. I'll make damn sure of it." Clayton said.
"Good. Then you won’t object to my having already made arrangements for the exchange to take place."
"Ruben, I'm warning you. I brought you into this because I trusted your judgment." Clayton glowered at Ruben who arched an eyebrow but held his ground.
"This is the only way. Either you run with this Clay, or you're on your own."
The two stared at each other for several tense moments before Nadia stood up, almost directly between them. The men looked towards her.
"It's on. Tell me what to do Ruben. I don’t need his permission for this." She said referring to Clayton. "If he wants to contribute his one hundred million so be it, but I know Mikhail will take me in exchange for my mother with or without the money. I'll tell him what the deal's going to be when he calls again."
Ruben nodded and put his hand out to take Nadia's.
"God damn it. Okay." Clayton said. "Tell him we have a deal but I have my conditions as well." He took Nadia's hand away from Ruben's. "She's not going in there alone. Not without surveillance, not without protection."
"I never suggested she would." Ruben said.
"Good, then let's get working on the details before this slimeball calls us back."
Nadia had been ready to go it alone but inside she was relieved; with Clayton Hargrave behind her, maybe she really could beat this thing after all.
"By the way, there's one other thing Clayton." Ruben said with his ultra cool demeanor.
The name sounded almost like it was from the distant past, that much had occurred in the last twenty-four hours.
"Do you want to deal with him now? He's waiting for your call."
"Hold on." Nadia interrupted. "What are you going to do? He's my problem, not yours."
"He's a player on the team I own. He is my problem. Minor, but still an annoyance nonetheless."
"You own his entire football team?" Nadia's mouth hung open.
"That's right and he's bringing in negative publicity for management, for his team mates and for me with these crazy antics of his. Now please butt out for ten seconds while I take care of him. Do you have his number Ruben?"
"Be my guest." He said, handing his own phone to Clayton.
Nadia couldn’t believe it. Just a day ago Patterson had been the bane of her existence; a high profile celebrity client threatening to ruin her entire career. Today, he seemed like nothing more than a minion in the vast world of the Hargrave empire.
"Hi. This is Clayton Hargrave. Who's this?"
Nadia heard the familiar foghorn voice on the other end of the line, but it was calmer than usual, more polite.
Clayton listened for about three seconds and then cut in.
"Excuse me for talking over you Patterson, but please shut the fuck up."
There was instant silence.
"You will co-operate with the police. Do you understand?"
"You do. Good. You will get help for your problems. Do you understand?"
"Good. You will stop speaking to the press and forget about your fucking 'privacy consultant' or whatever the hell she was. Do you read me loud and clear?"
A slightly longer pause.
"Good. Now if you can keep your dick in your pants and your nose clean we'll support you one hundred percent. Any fuck ups and you're out. You'll never play in the NFL again. Now goodbye Patterson, don’t make me have to speak to you again."
He ended the call and looked at the amazed Nadia.
"I'm sorry." He said. "Was there anything else you wanted me to say to him?"
She shook her head, dazed with amazement. Only Clayton Hargrave could make problems like that disappear with a single phone call and he wanted to solve all her problems for her.
So why the hell did she have such a hard time with that again?
"Okay. Are we all ready for this?" Ruben asked.
Dale nodded, so did Clayton and then they both looked to Nadia. She took a deep breath in and nodded as well.
"We're going to do a sweep on you with the best technology available on or off the market. If anything shows up we'll replace it or lose it. Boyevik needs to think that you are one hundred percent clean."
Nadia nodded and waited for the inspection to begin. A female member of Ruben's security company had been drafted to give Nadia a full body search. The two left the men to go into a bedroom and some minutes later they returned.
"What did we find?" Ruben asked his employee.
"Clean as a whistle Mr. Mayweather." Ruben didn't look happy.
"You found nothing at all." He said sternly. The employee faltered.
"I conducted a full body search and electronic sweep."
body search?" Ruben pressed the point.
"Company standard Mr. Mayweather. No stone left unturned."
He ran his hand through his short, dark ruffled hair and turned to Clayton.
"You guys must be getting better at this." He said.
"Best in the world Ruben, you know that." Dale told him.
"Okay, you can go now. Thanks for your help." Ruben dismissed his employee.
"Okay Nadia," he said, "as far as I'm concerned you're ready to go. If my people can't find a tracking device on you or spot the difference between those smart specs and normal glasses then nobody can. I've got to hand it to you Clay, your tech is pretty impressive lately."
Clayton nodded. It was something he didn't need to be told.
"We'll know exactly where you are and as long as you have the contact lenses in we'll record what you see. As long as you're wearing the glasses we'll have a full picture of whatever is going on digitally and electronically at whatever location he brings you to and we'll hear everything that you hear. Try not to lose them or give them up for any reason."
She had to admit their technology was pretty amazing. Each of them would wear, slim, lightweight, bullet proof fabrics, two of the undetectable surveillance devices, smart glasses which would give a combined audio, visual and electronic picture of all around them and if even all of that failed there were still the contact lenses to transmit back location and images of their whereabouts.
They were as safe as you could get.
Nadia looked at the sleek glasses again. The same damned glasses that had outed her as a surveillance professional. Maybe they would repay the debt owed to her now and bring her back into contact with her mother.
"Come on." Ruben said. "We need to get going. The switch will take place downtown at the Battery Park Control house. We'll need to make the transfer of funds and then the exchange. Should all be as smooth as Belgian chocolate. We'll get Angel debriefed and then proceed to track you wherever he's planning to take you. And don't worry, " he gave a rare, small, but hugely reassuring smile, "there's nowhere on earth he can take you that we won’t be able to follow."
"What if I don’t want you to follow." Nadia said quietly.
"Don't worry Nadia. It's going to be okay. We won't leave you with him for long and the authorities don't need to know about a thing. At least not until this whole thing is over and you and your mother are back safe with us again."
Nadia was still finding it all hard to believe but she nodded her agreement and prepared to make the journey downtown.
Two hours later Clayton and Nadia were sitting, as directed, on the nearest bench to the entrance of the Battery Park Control House. Dale and Ruben were parked nearby in a customized, but not out of place, high end BMW M6 with blacked out windows. They watched the couple remotely through a secure laptop, waiting for any sign of trouble.
It had been four years since Nadia had seen her mother - four years since she had disappeared. How she would react to seeing her now in front of her, alive and under such disturbing circumstances, she had no idea.
"Don't worry Nadia." Clayton said quietly. He could feel every breath the woman next to him took, every beat of her racing heart. "Everything is going to be okay. We have this. Trust us. Nothing is going to go wrong here."
She was about to look at him, reach for his hand, when she saw them emerge from the train station. Her breath froze, her heart pounded.
"That's her." She whispered and rose to her feet. Her mother looked confused and lost and then frightened as the man next to her stopped walking and corralled her back in. The phone next to Nadia on the bench rang. She sat back down and picked it up.
"That is better." Mikhail said. "Please don’t move yet Nadia."
She looked around to see if Mikhail was visible anywhere, dreading the sight of his evil face.
"Don't waste time looking for me Nadia. I see you clearly but you don't find me nowhere near you. My employees take care of this little business for me. Look behind you. My representative is there."
She turned her head and saw a man in his mid-thirties, in need of a shave but wearing a smart business suit, approaching them nonchalantly.
"That is him. You can call him 'Mitch'. He will take over from here. Of course, I still watch you Nadia, so only intelligent decision please. I trust you, but idiot American boyfriend I have to watch. Don't let him do nothing stupid or he die very quickly."
The call ended and a shiver of horror ran down Nadia's spine.
This was the man she intended to hand herself over to. Maybe Ruben and Clayton thought they could outsmart him but it was also likely that they were out of their depth here. She might disappear into this evil man's world and never see him again.
It was a moment of revelation. She looked at Clayton, his fearless demeanor and absolute calm was awesome. He didn't just look the part, this guy was the real deal and there was no-one else here beside her.
Would she be able to stand losing him? She had lost her mother for so long, never known her father, said goodbye to a whole world in order to maintain her integrity and freedom. Did she have to lose him as well?
Boyevik's guy sat down roughly next to Clayton, bumping into him. Clayton gave him a cold look.
"Where's Boyevik?" He said, looking down at the smaller man.
"Shut up you prick." Mitch said. He spoke with a Jersey accent, a local recruit into Boyevik's organization. "I'll fuckin' tell you if I need you to speak or not. Fuckin' asshole." Clayton blinked slowly, took a deep breath and visualized the moment when he would cave in this mobster's jaw.
"Look at your mommy over there Nadia." Mitch said. "Good to see her again, ain't it?"
Nadia nodded, struggling with her desire to run to her mother, hold her, make sure this was all real.
"Where's Angel?" Clayton asked.
"Didn't I tell this prick to shut up?" Mitch said to Nadia.
"This prick is going to ruin your organization, put your disgusting boss in jail and then destroy you personally." Nadia said. "I'd be nice to him if I were you."
Mitch made a wry face and then addressed Clayton.
"I do apologize Mr. Hargrave." He said sarcastically. "Your guy Angel is right over there."
"Where? I don’t see anything."
"See that parked van?"
"I see it."
"I got the keys right here boss." Mitch reached into his pocket.
"Slowly." Clayton warned him. "Move very, very slowly.
Mitch smiled and with great deliberation pulled a set of car keys out of his pocket and held them up in front of Clayton, gripping them tightly. Clayton put his hand out to receive them as Mitch slowly unwrapped his fingers, put his mouth a little closer to his hand and then blew. A barely visible cloud of white dust lifted in front of Clayton and Nadia's faces, making them close their eyes and draw back.
"Sorry about that. They're a little dusty." The mobster said.
When the Clayton and Nadia opened their eyes again, everything seemed okay. Clayton still had his hand was still outstretched waiting for the keys.
"Take them Hargrave." Mitch said. "And smile." Clayton did exactly what he was told to do. "Now let's go check out that truck. You guy's ready?"
They both smiled and nodded.
Dale and Ruben watched on laptop from across the street in their car. Ruben had Nadia's view and Dale had Clayton's. The plan had been to make the switch and then quickly close in on Boyevik's men as they tried to get away with Nadia. A moment of quiet shock had run through Ruben as the thin white dust floated in front of Clayton's face.
"No." He whispered barely audibly. He had travelled extensively in Colombia where the drug scopolamine is widely used for criminal purposes. He never left his hotel there without two wads of cotton inserted into his nostrils to prevent inhalation of the world's most dangerous drug. One breath and you are out on your feet, all free will gone, willing to carry out any request for your captor.
But this was the Russian mob and they were in New York City, not Bogota.
"Crew stand by." He said. "Come on Dale, we have to move."
"Wait Ruben, everything's going to plan, they're going to make the switch."
He was following Clayton's view on his screen, looking into the darkness of the back of the van.
"It’s a drug." He said. "They're under his control, we have to move it."
"Don’t screw this up Ruben. Stick to the plan."
Ruben hesitated. If they moved out too early it could ruin everything. The switch wouldn’t take place, they would be back to square one and was that really scopolamine? The chances were slim to none.
He looked back to his screen and saw Nadia stepping into the back of the van and then look around to see both Clayton and her mother. They were all leaving together.
"Shit." He said. "That's not in the plan." He his ear piece in while he barked orders to his team.
"Don’t lose that van. " He said and two black BMWs pulled out immediately in pursuit. "And someone get that phone." The phone they had been using to communicate with Boyevik was still on the park bench.
"Downtown Manhattan Heliport." Ruben barked at their driver. It was a short drive from where they were but they could pursue better from the air if the van left Manhattan which it was likely to do. From the back of the car they continued to watch through the eyes of Nadia and Clayton who were now chatting amiably with Mitch in the back of the van.
"Okay rich guy, now's the time to come clean. Tracking devices, surveillance equipment. Whatever you two love birds got on you, I need to know about."
Clayton began to list the catalogue of undetectable devices that would guarantee their safety.
"We're wearing two each of the latest surveillance spots from Hargrave electronics." He said calmly. I've got one on my left wrist, the other is on my back under my right shoulder blade."
"I've got one on my neck and one on the inside of my right ankle." Nadia added.
"What the hell is going on?" Dale hissed in exasperation. "Why are they telling him this?"
"Scopolamine." Ruben said. "They'll do anything he asks and won't remember a thing."
"Lose the tracking devices first." Mitch said. Ruben and Dale watched as the dots on the screen went stationary one by one, flicked out the windows of the moving vehicle.
"I'll be damned." Mitch said. "Technology is a bitch. You sure that's all you got on you?"
"Now what else do I need to be aware of?" Mitch asked.
"Super thin bullet proof material in our clothes." Clayton added. "But probably the most important things are these." He said tapping Nadia's glasses. "My guys will already have picked up and indentified any digital signals you and your men have. You should probably get rid of all your cell phones and any other electronic equipment you have."
"Shit." Mitch hissed. "My damn phone is my life. So what if your guys know my number? Can't I just turn it off?"
"That might work Might not though." Nadia offered happily.
"Shit. All phones, give, give, give. Now. We can't risk it." His men handed over their electronics reluctantly and he began taking out the chips and destroying them.
"What else?" He said with growing irritation.
"Our glasses need to go, they can track us and see you through them."
"Is that a fact?" Mitch grimaced first but then smiled into the screen at Ruben before taking the glasses. He smashed them under his boot and tossed them out the window like the tracking devices. .
"Shit." Dale hissed as sound left the laptops as well. "Please don’t tell them about the contact lenses." He whispered. It was the last thing left.
"I better take these out too." Clayton added. The view into the back of the van disappeared. Ruben put his laptop quietly down while Dale wedged his angrily into the back of the seat.
"So much for our damn technology." He said. "Do your guys still have them in view?"