I had always figured that rich people were bizarre in their tastes regarding their mansions, but this is beyond reality. It’s not even bizarre. Actually I can’t think about a word that’s fit to describe it.
I had heard about recording studios, clubs, gyms, vaults and even panic rooms, but what this mansion hides in its basement is almost scary, and I’m not even sure if I want to know why the owner asked for it.
An operating room filled with all kind of shit that any hospital manager would wish to have in his facilities. Why the hell anyone might want to have their own operating room? And who the hell is the owner of this mansion?
We drive directly to the basement, using a back door located at one side of the big mansion at the end of a ramp.
‘Mad Doc’ almost comes in his pants when he enters the operating room, and his eyes almost jumped out of his face, checking out the latest high tech equipment that is spread all around. ‘Little Doc’ is too stunned to even talk but his face is a pretty clear reflection of what he’s thinking right now.
However, ‘Mad Doc’s’ excitement lasted exactly three minutes; that’s all the time Ricardo gives him to get used to the place before he reminds him he’s here to operate on Hanna, adding that he has to make sure the scar left is as invisible as possible.
Once more Ricardo’s voice doesn’t leave me any room to complain. So in response, ‘Mad Doc’ nods ‘yes’ eagerly, asking for us to leave him alone with ‘Little Doc’. We oblige not saying a word and enter the lift together, heading up to the main floor.
Ricardo and I haven’t spoken at all since we left Santa Maria, driving back to LA, but we’ve been glancing at each other from the corner of our eyes. I guess it’s because even though we both know Hanna is in good hands and her life is out of imminent danger, we are still shocked. Well, at least I’m still shocked to the core. On the other hand, Ricardo has regained his usual coldness. Nevertheless I bet he’s as touched as I am, if not more. Only thing big dark guy is a hell of an actor, he’s good at pretending but his gaze is tinted with a sadness that not even he can hide from me anymore.
We have shared one of the most dangerous situations and that fact has to leave a mark. I have no doubts it has been that way for me and I know I won’t be the same guy again. But I guess that even though Ricardo surely has seen himself involved in some similar situations countless times, I bet this was the first one in which his goal has nothing to do with whatever pushed him before.
I’m thinking about that fucker Snake, prattling about Ricardo like he was some kind of assassin. Well, if that’s true, his skills saved Hanna’s life and mine. That’s for damn sure. So, I figure if that’s what Ricardo Montenegro is, then I’m fucking grateful for that fact. I have no doubt he has been trained like those damn black ops fuckers and sure as hell he has leadership skills. Last night not even one of Big Sexy’s men dared to contradict his orders, and I bet those guys are not exactly the kind that would follow orders that easily.
I can’t believe we got her back and I’m still trying to digest the events. My hands are still shaking and I can’t help but wonder if they will regain their usual state any time soon. My head is killing me and I feel a little numb, like I’m walking on autopilot and not even conscience of my own moves.
Ricardo heads directly to the kitchen, mumbling something about he needs a shot of alcohol before he phones Elaine. I can’t fucking believe it. He acts like a cold motherfucker almost 24/7 but just thinking about his wife’s reaction is causing big dark guy needs to work the nerve to tell her he was injured last night.
I can’t stop myself and before I realize it I’m laughing, replying that he’s a damn pussy. All I take for an answer is a snort as he flips me, mumbling some shit about when I’m father I’ll eat eggs. I roll my eyes, shaking my head. I think I know what he means with that popular expression. I heard my dad using it on a couple of occasions. It means I’ll understand things when I’m mature enough and then I’ll act exactly like him.
I grin wickedly, chuckling as I follow him. It seems that Ricardo knows this house pretty well and he’s even walking around like he owns the place. I wonder what his relation with the owner is and how many times he has been here before today.
The mansion is empty, there’s no one here, apart from us; not even the people I figure a big house like this one requires for maintenance. But in spite of that fact the place is as bright as new pin.
I’m looking down at the carpeted floor when all of sudden I cross in front of a double door that is wide open. I raise my head, looking inside as my eyes almost jump out of my head at the vision in front of me. Holy Fuck!
There’s a big salon with several white leather couches strategically situated. There are exclusive furniture and expensive carpets spread all over the large room as well as countless paintings hanging from the walls. The sunlight is lighting the entire place through huge windows with thin white curtains. Fuck, fuck, fuck! I’m not an expert but I swear this place looks like one of those pictures I saw in Lester’s magazines.
My eyes wander, taking in each and every single detail when all of sudden one thing catches all my attention, making me focus my gaze, making my heart skip a beat, speeding its rhythm. What the fuck …?!
A large poster of “The Barefoot Countess” dominates the far wall like its some indecently expensive piece of art. The poster even has its own lamps strategically situated to enhance the picture.
I narrow my eyes in suspicion, padding slowly to that wall, never taking my gaze off that poster. I stop in front of it, staring at the printed eyes of Ava Gardner when all of sudden I strong suspicion grabs a hold of my guts. It’s so bizarre and so out of place and time than I dismiss it as soon as pops inside my head, but still…
I never believed in coincidences but sure as hell I believe in Fate and that’s the reason why part of the conversation I overheard between William and Hanna at the motel pops inside my mind without warning.
“You sure you know what you’re getting into, Blondie?”
“It’s not like I have too many options at this point, William. That tracking bracelet must go, the sooner, the better. If Reynaldo sees it, Dominic will be dead in seconds.”
“I wasn’t talking about that, Hanna.”
“I know it.”
I blink my eyes, coming back to the present moment, thinking about that conversation. Back then I thought they were talking about the case and my implication on it. Now, all of sudden I have serious doubts whether that was the real meaning behind William’s words even though I can’t explain to myself the reason why.
William’s voice sounded like he was mad and concerned at once. And I wonder if that old fox was aware of this shit. I narrow my eyes, lost in that idea when a vision of William’s eyes sparkling with a bizarre excitement, like he was hiding a card under his sleeve pops in my mind. Back then he was visiting me with those two dicks, the day the FBI offered to me the damn deal.
I remember back then I thought that William was up to something and that whatever it was; he was hiding it well from those two assholes. I know William better than he thinks and I know he loves to play dumbass. Actually that old fox is damn at good playing the town dumbass, but he’s far from being that.
When we were at the Court, some of his colleagues were making fun of him, joking around, saying what a pity he has a trial in the morning and he couldn’t watch the matinee soap opera. In response, William grinned like an idiot and played along, replying he has asked a neighbor to record the show, adding he would watch it later. His colleagues laughed out loud, retorting he’d better go and visit a doctor to treat his insane addiction to soap operas. William just chuckled, shaking his head and told me not to worry about anything because he might be considered a freak but he knew what he was doing.
Hell, in fact he’s someone out of the ordinary, and not only because he loves those soapy shows or because since I met him I know he’s in love with Ava Gardner, but because William hates computers and his desk is a damn chaotic mix of papers, folders and leftovers from his last meal. For God’s sake, he still files his documents in filing cabinets!
However, watching this big poster now of Ava Gardner’s and Humphrey Bogart’s picture, with Ava’s personalized autograph written down on it, is making me rethink my vision of William Porter. And that suspicion is still there, wrapped around my stomach, stronger than a few seconds before.
What if the damn owner of this mansion is William? What if he has been all the way in since the beginning? What if that old fucker helped Hanna to set up this damn game, being a player in the shadows?
“Here.” Ricardo’s voice sounds behind me. I turn my head, looking at him. He has in his hands a bottle of Jack Daniels and a Corona. “You look like shit, Dom.” He adds, chuckling as he hands me the beer. In response I grin slightly, shaking my head.
“Fuck you.” I reply, my grin widening. Ricardo laughs out loud as he lifts his bottle.
“Later.” He replies, winking at me as I clink my bottle with his and with that we take a chunk from our drinks at the same time. Ricardo collapses onto one of the couches, making himself comfortable, pulling out a cigarette.
Mad Doc told us Hanna’s operation was going to last at least a couple of hours. He had to stitch up muscles and tissues, and after what Ricardo told him I bet he’s going to take his time, making sure to give a whole new meaning to the word ‘perfect’.
I make myself comfortable as well on another couch, putting my feet on the small coffee table, drinking from my Corona. I think I’m going to keep my suspicions about William’s implications in all this shit to myself, at least for now. Partially because I’m not sure if I just went totally insane, seeing ghosts where there’s nothing, and partially because my brain is already overwhelmed enough with what I do know for sure. I don’t think adding more shit is going to help me at all right now much less considering the fact Hanna is downstairs, in the basement, being operated on by ‘Mad Doc’ and ‘Little Doc’.
They said that everything was going to be okay; that minor surgery wasn’t a big deal. I’m not a surgeon but I don’t think it’s that easily anyway. Something might go wrong and I don’t want to lose Hanna. I can’t lose my woman now that I found her.
I’m doing my best to try and keep my mind focused on another thing instead of Hanna, but that’s an impossible task. I can’t push aside the vision of her body covered in her blood; the way she was fighting for survival, so fiercely, so determined. I need to talk with her; I need to see those eyes, looking at me. I need to hear her voice, saying my name; I need to tell her I love her with all my heart and soul as she holds my gaze so she can be sure I’m not shitting and I needed to do it yesterday.
I can’t help it; Snake’s words resounded inside my head, making me to narrow my eyes, thinking about the meaning. I don’t even know the reason why but even though I’m sure that bastard said a lot of bullshit, I can’t stop thinking that the fucker wasn’t shitting when he said that shit about Hanna’s real profile.
“…Not Hanna Miles’ official profile, but the real one; the profile the NSA keeps so deeply hidden in its fucking data base… It seems that the ‘Ice Queen’ rewrote her own profile, using her knowledge and connections, wiping away any trace of her real past and origins… Hanna Miles is not even her real name…”
Why the hell Hanna would want to wipe away her past? Who helped her in that task? And an even more bizarre question. Why the fuck has the NSA hidden her real profile?
I guess it’s not the best time for me to be wondering about those unknowns but my brain seems to be more than determined to find answers than I would like to admit. Ricardo’s reply to Snake pops without warning, adding more questions to my already busy brain.
“…Tell us something we don’t know…”
I look at Ricardo, frowning slightly. He has his eyes fixed on the ceiling of the room as he keeps smoking. There’s that invisible tension upon his shoulders, like he’s carrying the weight of the world on his back, not to mention that air of danger floating around him. It seems even more visible when he looks relaxed. However something tells me big dark guy never leaves his guard down completely.
“He can kill anybody without regret, even you, asshole or her. Most of the fuckers he killed never knew he was in the same fucking room.”
Maybe it was the first time Ricardo and Snake were face to face but sure as hell those two have a past in common. Maybe they only had read their mutual profiles, but they both knew who they were dealing with. I wonder if Ricardo has been living a similar life as Snake’s.
“Come on, shoot.” Ricardo’s voice pulls me out of my own thoughts and blinking I look at him, frowning, puzzled.
Ricardo rolls his eyes as he put his cigarette off, leaning forward, resting his forearms on his thighs. “I can read the questions in your eyes, man.” He winks, grinning wickedly. In response I frown even deeply, clearing my throat.
“Did you know Hanna had changed her profile?” I ask directly.
I need to know the reasons why he has been hiding things concerning Hanna from me. I can think about dozens of reasons that made him keep Intel from me, but I need to know I still can trust him even if he did. Ricardo grins lightly.
“Yes. And … before you ask me I’ll tell you I was the one helping her with that task but you should know that we changed a profile that had been already changed once when she was a little girl.” He answers as serious as a heart attack.
I frown in puzzlement, looking at him. Damn! What the fuck is he saying? Hanna’s profile has been wiped away on two different occasions? Why? I guess my silent question is flashing in my eyes because before I have time to ask it aloud, Ricardo answers it.
“I don’t know who or why her profile was changed the first time and I seriously doubt she knew it had been changed on one occasion already. I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t even take a glance at her own profile, Dom. Hanna is fucking great at doing her job, that’s for damn sure, but she doesn’t have those connections.” He pauses, frowning slightly.
“Why did you change it?” I have to ask that because even though I’m starting to suspect the reasons, one more time I need answers. Ricardo narrows his eyes, and after a long moment, he answers.
“Hanna wanted to become a damn FBI agent and with her criminal record they would never have allowed her to get a post, working for those fuckers.” He answers as his jaw tightened, his neck muscles clenching.
Her criminal record? What criminal record? I knit a brow thinking about that when all of a sudden the Intel I read about the profiles she used as covert for this case spreads in my mind.
Hanna Miles is now Hanna Evans and she had been arrested on a few occasions for indecent exposure, prostitution and illegal possession of drugs. I wonder if those personal details are real and not a fake background for this damn case.
Ricardo clears his throat, pulling me out of my thoughts and blinking, I return my attention to him.
“I asked why the hell she wanted to be a part of the three letters and she delivered me a damn speech about feeling safe and not wanting anyone else to hurt her, adding that she wanted to be able to fight any other fucker who tried to rape her.” Ricardo pauses, chuckling sadly. “I replied I was going to be there always to protect her but she retorted what would happen if my ass landed in Lompoc again. She would be alone to face whoever tried to hurt her.” He growls deeply, his face hardening in a second flat. “Looks to me like her training didn’t serve shit at all.” Ricardo mutters in disgust, fixing his gaze in a spot only he could see.
It seems to me that I’m not the only one feeling like I failed her. But I already know Ricardo won’t say that aloud. No need though. I guess we both know we weren’t there to protect her when she needed us most.
I sigh hard, shaking my head. There’s no point to keep thinking about what we should have done. We have to focus our energy on our new goal. We have her back and we have to make sure that what took place never happens again in the future. We don’t need to talk about that though because without words, we agree on that point.
“Have you read her real profile?” I ask, narrowing my eyes in suspicion. Ricardo shakes his head ‘no’ and then elaborates.
“The profiles the NSA hides on its secret data base are not available that easily, Dom. They can’t be hacked at all, mostly because some of those files are written on paper. They are not even updated on any computer. Besides you require a top high clearance, reserved only to the NSA High Command. And the only way to have access to that date base if you’re not part of the NSA High Command is using a legal authorization signed by a judge from the US High Court.”
I frown deeply, rubbing my forehead. My head is about to explode any minute. My eyes are moving franticly, recalling Ricardo’s words and their meaning. How the fuck did Snake have access to her real profile with those restrictions? I narrow my eyes, wondering about that question when all of sudden realization dawn.
Phoenix Ltd. Its Administrative Council is composed of members of Congress, judges from the Supreme Court, top US Army commands and powerful businessman. Bilkins was part of the administrative council and that’s how Snake found her real profile.
“What do you know about the NSA anyway?” I ask, holding his gaze. Ricardo chuckles sadly as he leans back on the couch, putting his feet on the coffee table in a much similar way I did.
“It’s as old as the US itself. Actually in one way or another, through one name or another, there has always been a NSA. The National Security Agency aka “No Such Agency”, and also known as “Never Say Anything”. They are frequently described as the world’s largest employer of mathematicians as well as the owner of the largest group of supercomputers which it’s true though, but they have always kept a low profile and they are much more than just that, you know?” Ricardo replies, taking a long drag from his bottle of Jack Daniels.
I knit a brow as my brain digests all the Intel he gave me and a question pops inside my mind.
“What are those fuckers? Spies?” I ask, sipping from my beer. Ricardo’s eyes are sparkling a little and his gaze turns from wicked to mischievous.
“They started out with code breaking, but soon they were collecting massive files as well. Traditionally the NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities that occur within the borders of the USA.” He pauses, pulling out another cigarette, lighting it up. “They intercept their Intel from any form of communication. Named: radio broadcasting, the Internet, phone calls, the works, and its secure communication mission includes military, diplomatic and all other confidential and secret government communications.” He explains as he keeps smoking. My eyes widen open on its own will, while hearing him.
“So the NSA is everywhere, listening to each and every single conversation?” I ask before I even register I’m speaking. Ricardo grins devilishly as he nods ‘yes’.
“In fact the NSA listens on other agencies as well not only organizations or individuals. They are authorized to collect any information that constitutes foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, even acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of US citizens.” He pauses anew, blowing the smoke and leaving the bottle of Jack Daniels on the table. “But the truth is that they actually work actively against the CIA and even against the DEA on a couple of occasions. The White House gives them a free lead to spy. ¡Coño! Their budget is ten times as large as the entire damn CIA. No wonder those fuckers are worried about the extent of the NSA’s powers.” Ricardo laughs, shaking his head.
I narrow my eyes, watching him. “And how the fuck do you know all that shit about the NSA?” I ask, staring at his eyes.
Ricardo’s laughter dies on his lips as he knit a brow, staring back at me. I feel a strong shiver run up my spine. His eyes are piercing my soul again, like he’s weighing the consequences of answering that question. His gaze turns cold in seconds.
“Are you sure you want to know the answer, Dom?” He asks me, narrowing his eyes lightly, never letting his gaze off mine. I swallow hard at his words, seriously wondering if I really want to know it. Hell, yes!
“I asked, didn’t I?” I reply, holding his gaze. In response Ricardo shrugs his shoulders.
“I’m a freelance, Dom. That’s all you want to know. Trust me on this.” He replies and with that he gets to his feet, heading outside the room, leaving me alone with my own thoughts.
Ricardo told me there’s a big suite at the end of the hallway upstairs, adding that it will be the bedroom where we’re going to lodge Hanna as soon as she’s out of the operating room. Neither Ricardo nor I know for sure in what state Hanna’s psyche will be when she finally regains consciousness. So we agreed it would be better if she awakes in a bedroom with us instead of at that operating room with ‘Mad Doc’ at her side.
I take a fast shower, skipping the need of a good shave. I’m not in the mood, not to mention my hands are still shaking. I don’t think I’d be able to do a very good job right now. I dress in clean clothes with one single thought in mind. I can’t wait any longer to see Hanna. In fact I’m almost dying to see her eyes. I know I’m not going to breathe again until I look at those eyes.
When I cross in front of a large terrace I see Ricardo lying on a big hammock, talking on his phone and I can’t stop the huge grin that graces my lips. Just a glance at his face and I know he’s talking with his wife without anyone needing to telling me. Big dark guy is wincing lightly, hearing whatever she’s saying. I bet Elaine is giving him a good telling off about that new scar. I roll my eyes shaking my head and without a second thought I head toward the basement. I think Hanna has been already spent enough time alone.
I take the stairs, almost running down and just when I’m about to reach the bottom I find ‘Mad Doc’ and ‘Little Doc’ who are talking quietly. I frown deeply, staring at them. ‘Mad Doc’ tells me he’s done with Hanna and that she’s now sleeping under the effects of strong painkillers and sedatives, adding she probably will be awake in a few hours. I nod ‘yes’, thanking him and he replies ‘it’s nothing’. Then ‘Mad Doc’ locks eyes with me and taking me apart he tells me he would like to talk with me about her actual physical state, but that he can wait until later.
I close my eyes for a second as I nod ‘yes’ again, thinking about the reasons for that pending talk. My stomach clenches painfully as I swallow back down my sudden rage and frustration. Now is not the best moment for that conversation. I want to see Hanna first.
‘Mad Doc’ says it fine with him, adding he and ‘Little Doc’ are going to rest for a couple of hours if it’s okay with me. One more time I nod ‘yes’. I figure they are as exhausted as Ricardo and I. At the end we all went through hell.
I turn around ready to keep walking to the recovery room when ‘Mad Doc’ tells me Hanna is not alone. I stop dead in my tracks, turning my head, looking at them over my shoulder. What the fuck…? ‘Mad Doc’ frowned a little, explaining to me that an old guy came before with Ricardo but that big dark guy just stayed a couple of minutes, leaving Hanna with the old guy.
I narrow my eyes slightly as I keep walking to the recovery room and as soon as I’m close to the half-opened door I hear his voice. William’s.
“And here I thought your dad was stubborn, Blondie.” William’s voice sounds full of sadness even though he’s chuckling. I froze, motionless, hearing him talking with Hanna. “I should have known something like this was going to happen.” He says as a heavy sigh left his lips. “Your father would be very disappointed with me, Ana Maria, not to mention your grandfather’s reaction. He will be mad as hell as soon as he knows about this shit.” William pauses anew, his voice now tinted with pain. “You almost died; Hanna and you didn’t even know half of the truth… Damn, Blondie, you couldn’t let it go, huh?”
I frown deeply, recalling William’s words as I push the door open, entering the room. William turns his head, looking at me. There’s no trace of the old lawyer I knew. He looks ten years older, his wrinkles are much more visible and dark shadows are present under his eyes.
“What the fuck is happening here, William?” I ask him, my eyes fixed on his. “Did you know about all this shit?” William frowns deeply, sighing hard as he gestures for me to follow him outside.
I oblige, following him to a small salon, filled with comfortable couches and a bar. There’s a small kitchen with a coffee machine in a corner. William pads directly to that place.
“I haven’t been here in years. Too many memories I guess.” William whispers more to himself than to me as he pulls out two cups from one cabinet. “I never expected she would be the one to open that damn operating room, but somehow I’m not surprised.” He says absently, pouring the steamy liquid. “At the end it was her grandfather who had ordered that one be built in the first place.” He pauses, chuckling. “I bet he wasn’t thinking about Hanna as the honored guest.” I arch my brows at once, staring at him, confusion written all over my face.
“What the hell are you saying, William? Who are you talking about?” I hiss, unable to stop my sudden anger. “You better start spilling, William, or I swear I’ll kill you with my bare hands.” In response, William chuckles sadly, shrugging his shoulders.
“You wouldn’t be able to know how many times I’ve heard those same words, son.” William turns around and padding to my side, he takes a seat at one table. “You don’t get to be my age, dealing with all kind of scum without getting used to threats like that one, Dom.” He adds, placing the two cups of coffee in front of him. “Take a seat, son, you’re going to need it.”
I narrow my eyes, taking a seat in front of him as he slides one of the cups to my side. I pick up the cup, sipping from my cup of coffee. William blows his and then he sighs hard.
“I was young and ambitious. I wanted to be rich and I wanted to have the world dancing on the palm of my hand. And hell if I reached my goal, son, but at what price.” William mutters through clenched teeth, closing his eyes, shaking his head. “I sold my soul in exchange for that power, but if I would have known back then those girls were going to suffer a living hell, I swear I would killed myself ten thousand times.”
“Things got out of hand, huh, Bill?” Ricardo says, entering the room. William snaps his head up, locking eyes with him.
“No shit!” The old lawyer retorts sharply causing Ricardo to tighten his jaw, growling. “You told me everything would be under control, Ricky.” William hisses, holding Ricardo’s cold gaze.
“Everything except Hanna.” Ricardo replies closing the distance between us. “She found who killed Magdalena, William.” He adds emotionless, his gaze hardening in seconds.
“What?!” William retorts, frowning deeply. “How…?”
Ricardo grins lightly, taking a seat on one of the couches. “Because she’s fucking great, Bill, that’s how.” He answers, chuckling as he makes himself comfortable. “But, I wonder if you already knew that.” Ricardo says absently as he pulls out a cigarette.
William narrows his eyes lightly as a grin tugs the corner of his mouth. “You were always a smart motherfucker, Ricky.” He replies, chuckling. “I guess my skills at playing the dumbass have been reduced over the years, huh?” William asks, arching a brow. In response, Ricardo laughs out loud, shaking his head.
“No way, Bill. You’re still damn good at that shit.” He answers, grinning. Then his expression turns serious as his voice sounds as cold as ice itself. “But now it’s not the time for games and I bet you know much more than we suspect.” Ricardo says as he lit his cigarette.
I glance at Ricardo and he keeps staring at William’s eyes, blowing the smoke through his nose. The old lawyer seems to be lost in thoughts and after a long pause, he sighs hard, shaking his head.
“Okay, Ricky, I’ll tell you, but both of you have to promise me to keep the secret. You won’t tell Hanna under any circumstances.” William says, looking from me to Ricardo and back to me. “I made a promise to her grandfather and he doesn’t want her knowing what her real origins are.” Ricardo chuckles as he glances at me from the corner of his eye. “She’ll be safe as long as the world is oblivious about whose blood is running through her veins.”
“I don’t give a fuck who you made a promise to, William.” Ricardo hisses, tightening his jaw. “You know me and you know I’m not fucking around, so you better tell us all you know about Hanna’s past, and after that, Dom will decide if he should tell Hanna or not.” His tone of voice is hard and cold and yet tinted with restrained rage.
William gasps as his eyes widen in seconds. He then turns his head to look at me. I frown deeply as holding his gaze I speak.
“Listen, William, you were the one who told me to accept that fucking deal in the first place even though I told you I had a bad feeling about it. You were pushing me, saying it was the best thing for me because we were talking about my damn parole. You were aware of Hanna’s plans and you didn’t say shit to me. I’m your client and you’re my lawyer, but you consciously hide essential Intel from me, lying openly to all of us. Not caring if you were playing with our lives.” I pause, swallowing hard. “Fuck, William! I’ve faced the barrel of a gun on three different occasions. I’ve seen with my eyes a fucking psycho, gut five guys alive just for the hell of it, and two guys were shot in front of my damn face in a little more than 48 hours. Damnit! I’ve killed two men myself, William!” I raise my voice, not caring about anything at all at this moment. “I won’t sleep again and I have serious doubt about if I’ll be able to eat at all. That’s if I’m still alive when this fucking living hell is done for once and all.” I mutter in disgust, holding his gaze.
William shut his eyes tightly, hearing my confession. I can’t help it and short cold laughter escapes my lips, thinking about what I did and what I saw since my release from Lompoc.
“That woman over there has been abused, beaten, raped, probably gang raped and tortured. I think we have gone through enough shit over the last ten days, William, wouldn’t you say that too?” I ask him, punching the table with my fists.
William closes his eyes, shaking his head. I bet he didn’t know shit about the details of our little adventure. A dead silence lay upon all of us and after what seems an eternity, William clears his throat and swallowing hard, he opens his eyes, looking at me.
“Hanna’s real name is Ana Maria Félix; her biological father was Ramón Félix.”
What the fuck…?!
“¡Coño!” Ricardo mutters under his breath. “Are you fucking kidding?” He asks, narrowing his eyes. In response, William shakes his head ‘no’, sighing hard.
“No, Ricky, I’m not kidding.” He replies, sipping from his cup of coffee. “Ramón was married to Rosario Salazar, Magdalena’s mom, but he also had a mistress named Sheila Evans. She was a wild chick who only wanted to have fun. ‘El Padrino’ didn’t like it one bit the way Ramón was disrespecting his own wife, but he knew he couldn’t do shit.” William explains as he sighs heavily. “Sheila got pregnant with Hanna and as soon as she was sure Ramón wasn’t going to leave his wife to marry her, Sheila ran away from Mexico, taking a two year old Hanna with her. A couple of years later, ‘El Padrino’ was sent to prison and Ramón was killed. However I had been the lawyer of The Guadalajara Cartel here in the US for almost fifteen years. So while still locked in prison and before the cartel split into its two factions, Miguel Angel asked me to find his granddaughters, giving precise instructions about bank accounts, houses and all those kind of things, making sure they were okay.”
At his last words, Ricardo snorts. “You did a shitty job on that one, Bill.” He says coldly. William closes his eyes, nodding in agreement, sighing sadly.
Sure as hell, William didn’t do a great job, making sure both little girls were safe and sound. Magdalena’s stepfather was beating her constantly until she had run away, according to Ricardo’s words, and Hanna shared her sisters damn luck, only in her case, that fucker not only beat her, but he also raped her for years.
“Did you know both girls had been abused?” I ask William, narrowing my eyes in suspicion. In response, William shakes his head ‘no’ absently.
“Sheila vanished completely. It took me more than five years to find a valuable trace to follow. She was constantly moving from one city to another, changing her boyfriends as often as her own panties. That chick had skills to make herself invisible.” He whispers, his gaze fixed on a spot only he can see. “When I found her, a heroin overdose had already killed her, and there was no trace of Hanna. Magdalena shared her damn luck with her own sister as soon as she left her mom’s house.” William pauses one more time, swallowing hard. “When I finally found them, Magdalena was dead and Hanna was already living with Ricardo. Then I knew that bastard of her mother’s boyfriend had died in prison under strange circumstances while serving a twenty year sentence for abusing her.” He says, turning his head to look at Ricardo.
“That fucker was already dead, but he didn’t know it.” Ricardo says, chuckling at his own words. “It was just a question of time before any inmate took justice in his hands.” He adds emotionless, shrugging his shoulders.
I rub my forehead, biting my lower lip, processing all that Intel. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Hanna is that drug lord’s granddaughter and Magdalena was her own sister. Damn! What a fuckup, shit! She’s avenging Magdalena’s death, thinking she was her best friend. Fuck, Hanna doesn’t know she was her sister? Shit, shit, shit. I’m not sure anymore if I should tell Hanna the truth. Who knows what’s going to be her reaction?
However there are still things I don’t know for sure and even though I suspect the answer, I need to ask the question. I’m more determined than ever to reach the core of the matter. No way I’m letting this chance go that easily.
“So you were the one who changed Hanna’s real profile?” I ask him, tilting my head to one side, arching a brow. In response, William nods ‘yes’. “Why?”
“One of my university colleagues was judge at the US Supreme Court. He owed me a couple of favors. His son has been involved in a dirty affair, so he extended for me the legal authorization to have access to the NSA secret profiles.” William answers, sipping again from his cup. “I always knew the NSA had all that Intel about ‘El Padrino’s’ family. Mostly because they had been listening for years to the DEA’s conversations regarding the Guadalajara Cartel. Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo was a drug lord, but he’s also an honorable man, respected even after he entered prison. And he loves his family above everything else.” I narrow my eyes, looking at Ricardo who has his eyes closed as he rubs his chin. “The DEA wanted desperately to take down the Tijuana Cartel and the Sinaola Cartel, the two factions of The Guadalajara Cartel, and they wanted to do it fast because there were rumors about secret deals between the CIA and both Cartels. We weren’t sure if the DEA would use that Intel against him, to put pressure on him, so I changed Hanna’s profile, wiping away any trace or connection with ‘El Padrino’.”
“What about Magdalena?” Ricardo asks before I have the chance. In response, William shakes his head.
“Magdalena was already dead. Besides her mom married again, changing her surname and her daughter’s.” He answers, sighing hard. “Magdalena wasn’t in danger anymore, but Hanna… she was another story.”
I lean in, resting my elbows on the table and closing my eyes, I grab my head. I’m overwhelmed with all this shit and I’m not sure if I can take anything else. This is the last straw I need right now, and I have still that damn pending talking with ‘Mad Doc’. I don’t know if I can face that now. I can’t fucking believe all this new shit. And here I thought it was too much last night.
“I need to get out of here.” I whisper absently as I get to my feet. “I’ll be with my woman if you need me.” I say to Ricardo. In response, he narrows his eyes, looking at me.
“I’m sure you will do the right thing, Dom.” He says seriously. His voice doesn’t leave any room for me to doubt about his trust in my decision whatever it is. In response, I nod ‘yes’, holding his gaze.
“I’m sorry, Dominic. I hope you will forgive me for all those lies, son.” William says, almost in an inaudible whisper. I turn my head, looking at him over my shoulder.
“I can understand your motivations, William, but not the way you did things.” I reply, tightening my jaw. “And it’s Dom, man.” And with that I keep walking to the operating room, in search of my woman.
He was my dad’s best friend and he always respected him. I know William loves me and Mia like we are his own kids, but he lied to us for years, hiding his secret life. I figure he thought he was keeping us safe as long as we were ignorant of his activities, but that fact doesn’t change the painful reality. I always knew he was damn good at playing dumbass, but the old fucker has been much more than fucking good.
Once more, the Intel I read about Hanna Evans pops inside my brain. Now, I have no doubts that those personal details were real and I bet William was the one who bailed her out on each and every occasion. He was that ‘someone’. I guess he took care of her in his own way, keeping himself at distance but always around.
It will take time for me to trust William again. I know he did what he thought was the best thing for everyone, but his past actions are going to cause a hell of pain to Hanna and that’s something I don’t want happening, much less right now.