Val stepped out of the car, glancing up and down the seedy Chicago street. It was dark, and the area looked deserted, but that didn’t mean no one was watching. Val crossed the sidewalk quickly, her heels stepping over crumpled bags of chips and cigarette butts, two bodyguards right behind her. She telepathically scanned the old brick building, and even though she didn’t sense any danger, she let one of the bodyguards go in first.
Blueblood had set the meeting place. That meant she needed to be more cautious than usual.
They stepped inside a pool hall. It was big enough to hold six pool tables, a bar, and a dozen or so stools. Two of Blueblood’s men were playing a game, one of them lining up a shot with his cue. No sign of Blueblood himself or Joey, and that made Val worry. Not out of personal concern for Joey’s well-being, but out of the knowledge that if he hadn’t made it back, then the job had gone very, very wrong.
If things had gone wrong, it would benefit Blueblood. He just needed to make a show of trying to help her father so no one suspected him when he made his murder attempt. (Or more likely maneuvered Val into making the attempt. She doubted he’d risk doing it himself.) He may have ordered his men to fail, or set them up to without telling them. Either way, if something had happened to Joey, it was because Blueblood wanted it to. And him eliminating Val’s minions without her permission didn’t bode well for their future partnership.
Then Val noticed a third figure in the room: JB. He was hunched over on one of the barstools, sucking soda out of a glass through a straw.
“Hey, kid,” she greeted. Then she turned back to the men. “Where’s Blueblood?” Continue reading
Moreen sat on the edge of her hospital gurney, her right foot tapping rapidly on the floor. From her curtained-off cubicle, she watched doctors, nurses, and the occasional police officer rush past. Someone would moan or cry out occasionally, drowning out the hushed conversation and beeping medical equipment. The ER was a hive of activity, none of it enough to distract her from the pain in her arm or the worry gnawing her insides.
A familiar figure in goggles and a tight, blue and yellow suit spotted her and rushed up.
“How are you?” Harris asked.
“Fine,” she grunted. “Any news?”
“You’re not fine. Your arm’s broken, right? They putting you in cast?”
“Surgery first. They need to put in wires or something. It’s fine. Any news?”
She knew the answer even before he shook his head regretfully. If he’d had good news, he would have blurted it out before asking about her arm.
“We’ve got eyes on every possible bolt-hole they could be taking him to,” Harris said. “Giordano’s and Madame Morphine’s faces are plastered across the news. We’re hauling in everybody who’s ever spoken to them for questioning. And a psychometrist is going over the whole hotel. We’ll find him.”
“I should be out there, too.” Continue reading
Dave opened the stairwell door to find Joey Giordano, Madame Morphine, and another goon coming up the steps. The four of them stared at each other for a fraction of a second before all hell broke loose. The goon started shooting, and Dave yelled at the others to run.
Chung and Attwater pulled Puebla back down the hallway as a bullet stung Dave’s side. Giordano charged up the last few steps, and Dave braced himself. The sleeve of the other man’s suit jacket had a bloody tear (Moreen? Was she okay?), which would make him stronger than normal. Dave sidestepped when Giordano swung at him, trying to use the man’s own momentum to throw him. But Giordano was too good a fighter; he didn’t overextend the punch. When he missed, he pivoted and threw another.
Dave raised his arm to block, then used the fist of the same arm to pop Giordano in the jaw. Giordano lurched back and hit the doorframe, knocking the door off its hinges. Judging by that reaction, he wasn’t as strong as Dave yet. But this was no time to play nice. Dave aimed another punch at this head, but Giordano jerked out of the way at the last second. Dave’s fist hit the wall—and went straight through it.
Dave wrenched his hand out of the hole, but it cost him a precious second. Giordano brought down both fists onto the back of Dave’s head. Dave’s vision went white, and he staggered. Pain spiked through his skull, and he tried to shake it off, but Giordano didn’t give him a single instant. He socked Dave in the stomach. Continue reading