Stepping out of the car, Aiden scanned the darkness as he followed the two sombre-looking suited capos. As he approached the entrance to the Spanish-style Malibu villa, he watched the unblinking, stationary security cameras curiously. He knew Rafael Hernandez well enough to know that his security was as good as Fort Knox and seeing the cameras had been turned off was troubling.
“Wonderful for you to visit. It has been too long, my friend.” Rafael said. Aiden shook his extended hand and was instantly pulled into a manly hug.
“You've been working out, I see,” Aiden said, clapping the grey-haired gentleman on his back.
“Of course! How else do you think I keep up with all my fine young ladies,” Rafael said, directing his hand for Aiden to take a seat.
Aiden sat in the ornate wooden armchair and waited for Rafael to sit. He hated small talk, but with Rafael Hernandez, it was a must. Aiden had learned the first time he had accepted a contract from him that business was never discussed until Rafael thought there had been enough chatter.
“How are you keeping, my friend?” Rafael said.
“Good. I haven’t been as drunk as I would have liked or had as many women, but we can’t have everything,” Aiden said.
Rafael roared with laughter and clicked his fingers. A long-legged brunette carrying a small tray with two glasses of whisky sauntered to him, then backed away with a blown kiss after handing the men their drinks. “Another snap and I can have a line of women for you to choose from. What do you say?”
Aiden laughed out loud and shook his head. “My dead friend, they would run a mile at the thought. Besides, you know me well enough to know that I’m all work and no play until the job is completed, of course. Until that moment, I will leave the fucking of beautiful women to you.”
“You see, this is why I like him,” Rafael said to the capo on his right. “He understands the business he is in. He also knows that his handsome face doesn’t compare to my Spanish blood. My wolf friend and I have women falling at our feet for two very different reasons. They want me in their bed, and you, my friend, you make them drop dead, he laughed. “Come, let us discuss something in private.”
As soon as Rafael had spoken, the atmosphere changed to dangerously tense. Rubbing his nose against the scent of distrust that radiated around the room, Aiden stood and scanned the room. Nothing seemed unusual, but something told him to be cautious.
Stopping at a wooden door at the side of the kitchen, Rafael took a leather pouch on a short piece of string from around his neck. Aiden watched as Rafael opened the pouch, pulled out a key, and unlocked the door.
“You saw the security cameras are off, I trust?”
Aiden heard the lock hit home as Rafael spoke.“I did. It’s not like you, Raf. Wanting to see me at night, too? What’s going on?”
“I will tell you, my friend. Sit.” Rafael poured whiskey from a decanter and handed Aiden a glass. “There is something amiss with my staff. It would seem that I can no longer trust someone, and as I don’t yet know who that is, I can’t trust any of them. This is the only secure room in the villa. Soundproof, bulletproof, and hidden blockers to prevent any electronic devices from working.”
Aiden raised an eyebrow but waited for him to continue. “The cameras are off for your protection. I asked you to come tonight to reduce the risk of you being seen. Nobody but myself, the woman who served the drinks and the two capo's in that room, know you are here. It’s bad enough that I am under surveillance. I don’t want you being brought into it, too. That said, I do have something that I need taking care of.”
“And nobody outside of this room knows about this problem, I take it?”
Rafael shook his head and sat opposite Aiden. “Being me is hard. People expect things and think they can take advantage of me. In the beginning, I had nothing but my name. People learned to fear me, and a few even loved me, but now they work to break me. This problem must be taken care of delicately. If not, it will cost me everything.”
“The trial, I presume?” Aiden said. He had heard that Rafael was facing a hefty prison term, but he had thought the charges would have been dropped by now. He had faced trials before, but nothing ever stuck.
“There is a witness,” he nodded. “Nobody has ever dared to stand against me but this person, she comes along and thinks she can do what she pleases. She thinks she can ruin my life without consequences. I cannot have that. I have built my reputation on removing such issues, but she is out of my reach.”
“She's in the program, isn’t she?”
Again, Rafael nodded. “She is like a bait on a line, dangling before my face but just out of my grasp. If any of my men go within looking distance, it comes back to me. This is why I need you, my friend. You are the best there is in your line of work.”
“What do you have on her?” Witness protection cases were awkward, to say the least, but Rafael was as close to a friend as Aiden had; besides, business was business.
“Her name is Charlie Garcia. She’s twenty-seven and has been moved to the south of England.”
“England! They’re determined you’re getting nowhere near her, aren’t they? What did you do?”
“I killed the people she loved. If she testifies, I go down for life. I have many enemies in prison, Aiden. Too many to count. I will be dead before they have the chance to lock the cell.”
“Your coffee, Sir.” Aiden smiled his thanks at the buxom waitress, then admired her rounded backside as she walked away. The sway of her hips brought another smile to his face as he pictured his hands digging into her flesh while she rode him through the night. I might have to come back here for a visit after I'm done, he told himself, still watching the waitress as she leaned across a table to clean it. Shaking his head to clear the cock brain, he turned back to his laptop and the Internet search he had been doing. Having ruled out several Charlie Garcia's who were the wrong age along with a few who had died, he had ended up sitting at a café in Hastings, eyeing up the waitress while working a hunch. He had found a Charlotte Garcia who was the right age but, according to records, had been adopted out of the United St
Listening to the continuous ting of rain hitting the roof of his car, Aiden stared at the red-bricked house across the road. He had parked in a side street, away from the streetlights but still close enough for him to watch the house without attracting too much attention. After leaving the car park, he had waited for Charlie to drive away and then followed her until she got home. The whole drive had only taken twenty minutes, but it was the longest twenty minutes of his life. He had never felt such an instant and intense attraction before. Not with anyone. But those eyes… He couldn’t stop thinking about those caramel eyes that were so deep he could drown or the way her dragon tattoo crept over her shoulder and covered her heart as though it was pro
“My afternoon appointment was rescheduled so I’m getting off for the rest of the day. I’ll be around town if you need me, though. Not that you ever do,” Charlie said. “I’ll be fine. Tell Zoe I said hi,” Jamie said. Charlie felt a stab of guilt as hope crept across his face. “She won’t call, you know. You’re not her type, babe, but I did try to tell you that before you went and threw yourself at her.” “I know,” Jamie said, “But you never know. She might feel sorry for me and give me a chance.” Shaking her head, Charlie couldn’t help but laugh at his determination as she let the shop door close behind her. Jamie was a glutton for punishment when it came to the ladies, which often resulted in Charlie’s sh
He knew Charlie was there, even before he saw her ruby red hair shimmering in the lights as she stood at the bar. His eyes wandered over her hourglass figure, lingering at the handles on her hips. Aiden instantly had a mental image of pulling those hips to him so he could bury his face between her thighs. He had always been drawn to a woman with a larger body. In his eyes, skeletons and bones were made for graveyards, not bedrooms. Aiden found a table that offered a good view of the club floor and kept his eyes on Charlie. The failed attempt the day before had left him perplexed. He had always been a bastard when it came to a contract. There had been countless times he had heard the screams of women and the pleading of men but he had never cared. He had adapted his skills, learned to get things done before his victims even knew what was happening and had never let his feelings get in the way, until now. Get your hands off her… A
He knew Charlie was there, even before he saw her ruby red hair shimmering in the lights as she stood at the bar. His eyes wandered over her hourglass figure, lingering at the handles on her hips. Aiden instantly had a mental image of pulling those hips to him so he could bury his face between her thighs. He had always been drawn to a woman with a larger body. In his eyes, skeletons and bones were made for graveyards, not bedrooms. Aiden found a table that offered a good view of the club floor and kept his eyes on Charlie. The failed attempt the day before had left him perplexed. He had always been a bastard when it came to a contract. There had been countless times he had heard the screams of women and the pleading of men but he had never cared. He had adapted his skills, learned to get things done before his victims even knew what was happening and had never let his feelings g
Aiden shot Charlie a look of warning then raised his hands in defeat. “I give up,” he shouted. “I'm done with you and your shit, Charlie.” “Are you for real? Seriously?” She asked. “Of course I’m for real!” Aiden shouted. He scraped the dining chair across the tiles as he stood. “I can’t fucking cope anymore. One minute you’re all loved up and the next, you’re accusing me of fucking the bitch across the road! What the fuck goes on in your head, Charlie?” "Look at you, acting like the innocent party in all of this. I know what I saw. How long? How fucking long?” “You saw nothing because there was nothing to see. It’s all up here.” Aiden tapped his temple as he spun on his heel. “I'm going out.”
Charlie paced the floor as she stared at the phone in her hand. Her stomach felt like a knotted rag being whirled around on a spin cycle as she willed the phone to ring. She had thought her world had crashed around her the moment Aiden had told her who he was, but that had only been a tremor in the quake that had brought her running out of her house faster than should have been possible, and racing to the dingy bed and breakfast, where she had rented a room for the night. After fainting in the shop, Aiden had spent hours trying to convince her that he wanted to protect her, rather than kill her. Dropping onto the single bed in the corner of the room, Charlie thought about that conversation. “Yes,” Aiden said, “He sent me. I tried to call it off but it doesn’t work like that. He will send others if I don’t complete the
“Are you sure she won’t mind?” Aiden had said he was taking her somewhere nobody would be able to find her - to his mothers. Charlie had been worrying for the entire journey. Hanging out with a stranger was one thing but temporarily living with one, was another thing entirely. What if she was a deadly mafia assassin, too? “She won’t mind. I can guarantee it,” Aiden said, knocking on the door to a house. “Aiden! What have I said about knocking? Come in. Come in,” Sarah beamed. “Thank you,” Charlie said as she followed Aiden inside. “It’s about time he found himself a beautiful woman,” Sarah whispered as she closed the