I hadn’t been sitting at the table for very long before a figure loomed over me from behind. I turn in my seat to face him and my eyes lock with a pair of crystal blue ones. He has dark hair that’s been slicked back and styled, and a cocky smile played at his lips. I narrow my eyes at him in suspicion. And it wasn’t until he opened his mouth that I realized I did, in fact, know him.
“Haven’t seen you in a while,” His familiar voice drawls as he takes a seat next to me.
I glance around quickly, looking to see where the boys are before I quickly reach my hand up in the pretense of checking my earrings, but instead I remove my earbud. This is not a conversation they need to hear. He raises his eyebrows in interest at my movements.
“Working with a team now, are you? That’s not going to last very long. Tell me, have you had the insane urge to rip out their throats yet?”
“What do you want, Jackson?” I ask.
He smiles coyly. “What makes you think I want something?”
“You always want something,”
“Maybe all I want right now is the pleasure of your company,”
I give him a flat look and he smirks, a sly glint sparkling in his eyes. He was the last person in the world I wanted to deal with right now.
Jackson Storm. That name meant something to law enforcement and criminals everywhere. The police had been trying to catch him for years, but they never had enough evidence to charge him of a crime. The only evidence they ever had, was the testimony of the victims themselves. Unfortunately for the police, the victims would typically either refuse to press charges and insisted nothing had happened or end up dropping the charges soon after the investigation started. Ultimately it came down to them no wanting to look like fools. If there was one thing you could count on from Jackson Storm, it was that he’d make you look like the biggest fool to the police and the world if you were to ever try and explain exactly how he conned you out of one thing or another. Since all his victims were always very wealthy people, they often accepted the loss and moved on.
He’s a silver-tongued devil, who could talk himself out of anything or into anything. More specifically, anywhere. You give him enough time and he’ll have talked the security guard and the manager into showing him into the bank vault. He’s cocky, conceited and thinks that the laws are just there as a friendly suggestion.
I’ve never particularly relished in the opportunity to deal with him. In my opinion I’ve already had too many dealings with him. He knows better than to try and con me out of anything. He knows how that’ll end for him, but that doesn’t mean he won’t try. He’s sly as a fox and sharp as a whip. He’s walking disaster in his own way.
The Storm. That’s what people have taken to calling him. In a way I guess he’s kind of like that. He comes in like a whirlwind and leaves a path of destruction in his wake. Though, I think storm is too light of a word, I prefer hurricane. Hurricane Jackson has a nice ring to it.
The first time we’d met had been an experience in itself. I had been on a mission, waiting for my mark to show up when Jackson had stepped right up and introduced himself as Wyatt Franklin.
Jackson’s been known to go by about a million different names. He never introduces himself with his real name. If Jackson Storm is even his real name. He always went by some other random name he’d come up with and then, only after he’d committed his crime, would he reveal who he really was. No one has a clear picture of him to be able to identify him by and use to be on the lookout for him. He’s a master of disguise and no description of him is ever the same. I don’t even know what he really looks like. He’s always wearing color contacts, dying his hair, and doing just about anything and everything else to change his appearance. Sometimes his hair is long. Sometimes it’s short. It could be curly, spiked up, slicked back, straight, and so forth. His eyes seem to change colors daily, and he uses tight or baggy clothes to change what his body shape looks like. I wouldn’t be surprised if he cross-dressed.
Whenever he changes his appearance, there is always one identifying feature that he couldn’t change. His nose is slightly crooked . . . and he has me to thank for that.
When we first met he’d been trying to con me, and for him that involved seduction. I’d played along at first, trying to figure out who he was and what he’d wanted. He’d crossed a line when he stuck his tongue in my mouth and grabbed my ass though. So, he received a broken nose, a concussion and a knee to the groin from me. His nose never healed properly after that.
And I, in no way, felt sorry for him.
“Ok, so maybe your company is not as good as I make it out to be,” He says after a moment of silence. “I need a favor.”
“That never ends well,” I point out and he gives me a look of disbelief, so I continue, “The last time you needed a favor you had me in the skimpiest outfit you could find so I be would eye candy and a distraction for all the men you wanted to con.
He smiles at the memory. “Ah yes,” He says wistfully. “Red really is your color,” I glare at him. He shrugs innocently. “I really cannot be blamed for that. You agreed to go along with it. And that dress was . . . quite something. Though I’m sure it would’ve looked much better on the floor.”
“I’m about five seconds from ripping your throat out.”
“Calm yourself. What I had in mind has absolutely nothing to do with dressing up or playing a distraction. I just need information.”
“What makes you think I’ll help you?”
“What do you want in return?”
I look at him suspiciously. I know the answer to that. I want whatever information on Tony Martin he can find. He has access to a lot of people who would gladly give him whatever information he wanted. We had whatever files on Tony Martin that the agency had come up with, but a criminal’s perspective would definitely be helpful. He could dig up the kind of dirt that the agency couldn’t.
I drum my fingers on the table, the poker game that I had been playing long forgotten. I was pretty sure the dealer was getting irritated that we weren’t playing, only talking, but he wouldn’t say anything. Not since I happen to be considered one of Marcus’ friends.
Jackson grins widely. “You’re totally going to cave,” I narrow my eyes at him. “So, what is it you want?”
“Same as you,” I reply before I can think it over further. “Information.”
“Not what. Who,” I say. “Tony Martin.”
He raises his eyebrows. “Not a nice man to deal with. No one wants to get on his bad side.”
“So you won’t do it?”
That sly smile appears on his face again. “I never said that. I tend to enjoy pissing people off. Consider it done, so long as you get me what I want.”
“And that information would be?”
He stares at me thoughtfully for a moment before answering. “What do you know about Crystal Carver?”
I think about it before shaking my head. “I don’t know her. Her last-name’s familiar though, but I don’t know where I’ve heard it before.”
“She’s a famous model.”
“I’m not getting you into the stalking business.”
He rolls his eyes. “It’s not her I want. I want to get to her father, Lawrence Carver.”
I can’t keep the shock from showing on my face.
Lawrence Carver, now that name rings a bell. When mentioned that Crystal Carver was a model, I’d simply thought that that had been where I heard the last-name from. Now I realize where I’d actually heard the name.
Lawrence Carver is one of the biggest crime lords in America. The police had never had any evidence to convict him (kind of like Jackson) and he was presumed to be completely innocent. Only the agency and criminals knew he was really behind all of it. And when Jackson had said Tony Martin isn’t someone you wanted to deal with, well, this guy is about a hundred times worse. People who screw him over, aren’t ever seen again. Not even the agency is stupid enough to go after this guy. He has allies everywhere, and all of them are just like him. You never knew who he had in his pocket.
But of course, none of this matters to Jackson, who has just proven he’s stupid enough to try and go after this guy. Money is all that matters to Jackson, and Lawrence Carver has a ton of it.
Though, if there’s one thing I know about Jackson, it’s that if your rich, he’s your worst damn nightmare.
So unfortunately, and I will never tell him this to his face, he’d be the only one who really could knock Lawrence Carver down a few notches.
When I still haven’t replied to Jackson he continues on. “Crystal Carver is his daughter, and he treats her like the spoiled and bratty princess she believes she is. So, the way I see it, she’s my best bet at getting anywhere near him.”
“And doing what exactly?”
He smiles his cocky smile. “What I do best of course.”
“Rob him of millions, if not billions of dollars?”
He scowls at me. “No,” He scoffs. “I don’t rob. I’m not a robber. I’m a conman,” His cocky smile returns. “When I do my job right, the mark just hands over all his valuables right to me.”
And I conman he is. The best in fact, but of course, that’s also something else I’ll never admit to him. At least, not to his face.
I focus back on the matter at hand. “Why do you need anything from the agency? Shouldn’t you be able to get whatever you need from your sources?”
He shakes his head. “No one betrays Lawrence Carver. So, naturally, no one’s talking. Though, I know the agency has been stockpiling whatever information they can on him, even though they have no intention of going after him. So I figure, since they’re clearly not using it . . .”
I roll my eyes and shake my head at him. “You get me information on Tony Martin, and I’ll get you the files the agency has on Lawrence Carver.”
He holds his hand out to me and I take it. “Deal,” He says as he shakes my hand.
“Personally,” He says. “I wouldn’t go directly to Tony. Your best bet would be getting to him through his son.”
I shake my head. No way in hell. “That’s not going to happen. His son is worse than him in so many more ways. He’d pick us out as agents before we could get anywhere close to him.”
Jackson shakes his head. “I completely agree, but I wasn’t talking about that son.”
I look at him curiously. “He only has one son.”
Jackson smiles again, but this time it’s a smile that says he knows something I don’t. “No,” He pauses for dramatic effect and I feel like strangling him. “He has two.”
I raise my eyebrows at him and he shrugs, leaning back in his seat.
“It’s not common knowledge. I know which son you were talking about and to put it bluntly, that guy’s completely psychotic. Seriously, he should be in an asylum . . . or launched into space. I’d never recommend a run in with him. No, the other son is actually the eldest. He’s in his early twenties I believe, though I don’t know his actual age. His name is Zachary Martin, though he goes by Zack. He’s nowhere near the level of crazy his brother is. As a matter of fact, this guy is completely normal. Your best bet getting at Martin is through his eldest son."
I nod thoughtfully. “I never knew Martin had two sons. I was only aware of the one.”
“Yeah, like I said, it’s not common knowledge. I’ll get everything I can on Tony Martin and I’ll give you a call when I have it. I’ll also do a work up on Zack, free of charge.”
I roll my eyes. “There was no way I was going to pay you for that anyway.”
He smirks and lets his eyes roam over me. “There are many forms of payment.”
“Girls usually tell me I’m romantic and sexy.”
“They clearly haven’t had the displeasure of doing business with you.”
He winks at me before getting to his feet and walking off to wherever. I try to follow his movements for a while, but suddenly it’s as if he completely disappears into the crowd. I shake my head and bring my hand up, putting the earpiece back into my ear.
I let out a breath of air before turning my attention back to the table. Back to the mission. Back to the man sitting across from me. Eventually I’ll move over a few seats so I’m next to him, but until then . . . let’s play.