I was driving us to the estate, the silence in the car somehow hurt me more than any words Syrus could have thrown at me. I hated silence in the company of allies…
He was still angry with me, and he made no effort to hide it.
And I was horrible at making apologies.
“Sy…” I trailed off, attempting to use his nickname as a sign of companionship.
“My friends call me ‘Sy’…” he replied, I sighed at the implication of what he had said.
“What is it, Porter?” He asked, sounding tired, probably frustrated with how I had been acting. Frustrated with me not trusting them yet. Last name usage… that stung a little.
“I’m sorry about what I said to your sister, I took my frustration and anger out on her. I should never have done that.” I apologised quietly, I hope he understood how hard it was for me to apologise. Hoped he saw how badly I had to have felt to do so.
“You’re bloody right you shouldn’t have, and I’m not the one you need to apologise to about it either.” He said bluntly, I nodded.
“I know…” I whispered, agreeing with him, but I knew it was a start, anyway. I would apologise to Nylah when I saw her next, in a few days. “I also wanted to say that… you shouldn’t think I haven’t told you about my past because I don’t trust you. I do. I do trust you and Nylah, it’s selfish of me, but I don’t want you to think of me any differently than you do. I like the way things are, but I know that telling you about my past will change things, it always does. It always makes people respect me more, it’s nice to be respected for who I am, not where I came from and what that means. It’s so hard to find people that haven’t heard of the Shadow before and know everything about me already…”
“What do you mean?” He asked, and I tilted my head to the side at the question.
“You listen to me, but still question me in a lot of situations. I’m not saying that I like it, but it is refreshing… that will probably go away once you know my past. It defines me, it’s just nice to have two people whose opinion on me doesn’t stem from it. I don’t want to lose that.” I explained.
“Well, you won’t know if it will change anything if you don’t tell me.” Syrus pointed out the obvious, I shook my head.
“I guess not,” I replied, pulling over onto the side of the road. The manor I was going to be entering was just around a corner of the street, and Syrus was within walking distance but had to stay hidden until I needed him. If I needed him. I made sure he took his walkie-talkie and watched as he got out of the car. “Remember, if I need you, I’ll give you the signal. If you come before the signal, I will probably get irate so keep that in mind.”
“Okay, but I still want updates every fifteen minutes. If I don’t get any, I’m going to find you.”
“No, you won’t. You need to trust me to do this by myself, I will let you know if I need you, alright?” I told him, my tone not leaving any room for him to disagree with me.
“Fine,” he replied. He didn’t know that I usually forgot to give updates… I didn’t see the point when I could just send a distress signal when I needed to. I said nothing else as he closed the door and I immediately drove the rest of the way to the manor. The reason I had picked tonight to go for this heist was for one simple reason; a party was being hosted there tonight. It made my cover perfect. I parked in between numerous cars and got out the car, straightening out my black and white waitress uniform, and tightened my ponytail.
“Caeli!” A voice shouted from the other side of the kitchens once I entered, I looked up and smiled once my eyes landed on the person who had called my name.
“I tried to get here earlier, but you know me, fashionably late like always,” I replied, a smirk on my face as I walked up to Michael, someone who owed me a favour that I was cashing in tonight. He ran a catering company specialising in private functions… such as parties hosted by wealthy criminals. I had once worked as a part of his security detail for a favour.
“Look, I don’t care as long as you keep Hansen away from my other girls,” Michael stated, looking to his other servers. They were mostly young women like me, and Hansen, the man who owned this manor and was hosting the party, was a well-known predator.
“Don’t worry Michael, everything is going to go as I planned, you just have to trust me,” I told him. He shook his head.
“If one of my girls gets hurt-”
“They won’t. I’m small, and I will act so dumb and naïve that you won’t know it’s me out there, I’ll be the perfect target for him.” I said with a smile, adjusting my fishnet stockings and the sheath I had on my thigh, just hidden by the short, black skirt. “This plan has to work, Michael, I don’t know what I’m going to do if it doesn’t.” Were my parting words as I grabbed a tray of champagne and carried it out through the doors. He really didn’t know how serious I was until later on that night.
The night was finally dying down, people were slowly beginning to leave, which meant I could make the last move and put the rest of my plan into action. The first step; get the host’s attention. I walked towards a group of men and lined up my target, ‘accidentally’ bumping into them and spilling the champagne on my tray all over his suit.
“Oh my gosh, I am so sorry sir, so sorry, is there anything I can…” I trailed off as I looked up at the towering man with a hint of fear placed in my eyes. It was the right person, only known by the name of Hansen. A drug kingpin with a hobby of collecting antiquities and artefacts, while also using his spare time to prey on teenage girls. Especially ones who seemed weak and easy to inflict damage to. Exactly how I was coming across at that moment.
“You should watch where you’re walking, girl.” He told me, and although the tone and words were threatening, there was a disgusting curiosity behind his eyes. The look was making my skin crawl, but I had to hide that. I was the scared little girl.
“I’m so sorry, I thought I heard my name, so I turned to see who had said it and the next second I was running into you… is there anything I can do to help you? I could grab some napkins from the kitchen if you would wish, sir?” I asked, eyes wide and afraid, I was aiming for the ‘doe stuck in headlights’ kind of look. Judging from his predatory gaze, I would say that I definitely hit the mark.
“What was your name, darling?” He asked, and I had to keep myself from gagging, so I made myself hesitate before I spoke. For added effect. God, acting was so easy. Maybe I should make a career out of it.
“Hayley, sir,” I answered. The name sounded similar to my own, but it was different enough that no one should make the connection.
“Hayley, I am going to have to change out of this suit as it’s a little wet now. The only thing I need from you is some help with choosing a new suit. Would you like to come with me, please?” He asked me, I parted my lips slightly in confusion, and his eyes noted the movement. It was so easy to lure him in, the idiot.
“Sir, just give me a minute to put the tray back in the kitchen,” I stated, quickly walking away and entering the kitchen with a smirk on my face. Michael saw the look and understood what it meant. My plan was going well, his employees were safe from Hansen for tonight. When I walked back to Hansen, his group of cronies were laughing quietly, whispers following me as I walked behind Hansen, up the stairs and away from the view of the crowd.
“Do you know how expensive this suit is, Hayley?” Hansen asked, and I shook my head in reply. “This suit probably costs more than your car, if you have one.” He answered, and it took everything in me to stop myself from blowing my cover too early.
“Oh…” was the only response I could muster that also kept my cover. I had to push down the fact that I had a few million dollars to my name and a fully restored 1960 Corvette in storage. This was more important. Getting this statue was critical.
I would put him in his place once I held the statue in my hands.
“Where are the suits?” I asked as we reached what I assumed to be his bedroom. He was being given one last chance at the moment to not get killed after all of this, even if he didn’t know it.
“I wouldn’t worry about that Hayley, why don’t you help me take this one off?” He asked me, even though the tone left no room to respond. Well, he just blew his last shot at living.
“Excuse me?” I asked, my wide-eyed look gone, the sweet voice I had been putting on replaced by the venomous tone I reserved for people like him. I wasn’t playing around anymore. Not that he seemed to notice the change.
“You’re going to help me take this off, and do whatever I ask, or the rest of your life is going to be a living hell.” He responded while facing away from me. He didn’t see me as a threat to give his back so easily to me. It sent anger coursing through my veins, but if I complied I would be in very close quarters with him, it would make it easier to slit his throat…
“Okay…” I whispered while I pulled a dagger from that hidden sheath under my skirt, placing it ready in my hand as I reached to grab his jacket and slip it off. Once he would turn around, he would see the weapon, probably laugh at me, then I would reveal who I really am, threaten his life to get the statue and the slip out into the night with it. I still hadn’t decided whether to kill or castrate him.
Just as he was about to turn around, security sirens blared through the manor, the sound caught his attention. I sighed as I assumed why the sirens had turned on, but I really hoped that Syrus hadn’t tried coming in, especially in a way that I had explicitly told him not to, but it wasn’t sitting right with me. My gut was never wrong, and at the moment, it was telling me that Syrus was the reason behind those bloody sirens.
Hansen turned around to see me with the dagger and did exactly what I expected. He laughed at me. The audacity of the man.
“I wouldn’t laugh if I were you, you still don’t know who I really am,” I told him, spinning the dagger around my finger while staring directly into his eyes.
“And who might you be, little one?” he asked, trying to belittle me even more. I liked my short stature, so I took it as a compliment.
“Caeli Porter, although you might know me better by my alias instead. The Shadow.” I told him. He still didn’t seem too threatened by me, even after the big reveal. It didn’t worry me, men always underestimated me, even with my evident reputation. It just allowed me to have the upper hand, even if it was getting repetitive.
“The Shadow? You’re nothing but a small, scared girl with a knife she probably doesn’t know how to use.” Hansen responded, and it made me roll my eyes.
“It’s a dagger, actually,” I replied. It made him laugh again.
“I shall play along with your little game, I’m interested to see where it goes. So, Shadow, why might you be here?” He asked with a tone like he was talking to a child playing pretend.
“I came to steal an artefact you own, and I am going to get it, or you are going to die. Simple as that.” I told him bluntly, he didn’t seem to believe me. He really didn’t know how desperate I was for this bloody statue.
“My guards will come for me soon, so hurry this little play up.” He told me; it made me laugh.
“Your guards? Yeah, they won’t last ten minutes against me. I’m sure you’ve heard the stories.”
“Stories in this line of work are usually exaggerated, especially for reputation and assassins,” Hansen told me, I shook my head in response.
“You think the people I leave alive would exaggerate what a girl can do to them? Everything you’ve heard about me is true or understated, and that makes my reputation interesting.” I took the ring dagger off of my finger and held the tip of the blade before I threw it towards him. It landed between his ribs on the right side of his body. It wasn’t fatal… yet. He laughed once more and moved to pull it out.
“You missed my heart by quite a few inches-”
“It’s a good thing that I wasn’t aiming for your heart. I wouldn’t pull that out if I were you… it’s in your lung, you might feel it now. The dagger is the only thing that is keeping your lung from collapsing and therefore, you dying.” I said, pulling my second dagger out in case he still tried to do anything. “I need the golden, Incan statue and I will do anything-”
The door being kicked in cut me off, and no one other than Syrus Dawson was behind it.
Keep calm, Caeli.
“What the hell are you doing?!” I shouted; I couldn’t keep calm. Not this time. Nylah wasn’t here, so he was going to get the full force of my anger.
“You haven’t given me updates for the last half an hour, I assumed-”
“Syrus, I am in the middle of something rather important here if you wouldn’t mind.” I pointed towards Hansen with my dagger, who was holding the other blade I had thrown in his chest, blood staining his champagne covered shirt as he was visibly struggling to breathe. It was going exactly how I wanted, minus Syrus’ surprise entrance.
“The one thing I asked for was updates and-”
“Honestly, I don’t care. You should have waited until I gave the distress signal. Did I give it?”
“Well, no, but-”
“But nothing then, just… don’t fuck this up more than you already have, please. I’m going to assume the sirens are your fault.”
“Broke a window because the bloody thing wouldn’t open. Tripped an alarm and-”
“I told you that if you ever had to come in to use the kitchen door, it was open and Michael is aware of who you are. You couldn’t even do that… now we have minimal time to find this bloody statue.” I said before I turned to look back at Hansen, who seemed very confused over the whole situation. “Statue, now, or you’ll find yourself without a dick soon,” I told him. It made him immediately start moving, holding the dagger to his chest like a lifeline.
“Why do you want a statue?”
“I don’t think you’re in the position to ask questions, now move faster before I lose my patience,” I told the kingpin who did as he was told and lead us to a room filled with glass cabinets and artefacts. This… I wanted this kind of room in my house if I ever got around to buying one.
“There,” I stated, pointing to the statue in a cabinet before I walked over and investigated the lock. “Key,” I instructed, but the kingpin tried to stall.
“I don’t have it on me.” He said, I laughed and shook my head.
“You have a dagger in your ribs, and you really think it’s a good idea to lie to me? Inside jacket pocket, left-hand side, are your keys. This room would use a master key for all the cabinets, I know I would keep a key to all this stuff on me at all times. So, you are going to hand them to me and tell me which one to use, or have you forgotten the threat I gave you when we were leaving your bedroom?” The man seemed both shocked at the fact I knew where his keys were and what I had said. Bumping into him had a purpose further than gaining his attention. It gave me a chance to check his pockets and know what he was carrying on his person.
Less than a minute later he unlocked the cabinet and the statue was finally in my hands. But I heard something, voices were carrying down the hallway.
“My guards are here…” Hansen whispered, but in the otherwise silent room, I heard him.
“I believe that’s our cue to leave,” Syrus stated, I nodded as I put the statue in his backpack and did up the zip.
“Out the window, climb down and run like all hell,” I told him before I turned to look back at Hansen. Repulsive. He was vile and being in the same room as him was making my stomach turn. “You… you deserve to die, after all the women you’ve hurt, abused and raped; I’m surprised that no one else has gotten to you before me.” I told him. He laughed, even though the sound was weak from my dagger in his chest. I walked over to him and gripped onto the blade, pushing it further into his ribs.
“Picking your victims… to make yourself seem superior over them. To fuel some part of yourself that absolutely revolts me.” I told him, listening to the footsteps coming closer down the hallways but not focusing on them. It would be easy to take them down if this took too long. I decided on what I was going to do to him. “Do you feel superior now? Or do you feel weak? Like you should?” I asked.
He moved to attack me, but with the dagger in his ribs, he was far too slow for me. My second dagger was in the side of his throat, hitting his jugular veins, and blood was already rushing from his body. I ripped both of my blades out simultaneously, still squatting next to him as his blood splattered over my face. He only had a few seconds, the pain he was in…
“I’ll see you in hell Hansen because this isn’t the end,” I told him. They would be the last words he ever heard as he finally stopped breathing under my watchful eye. I then stood up and looked at the door. I was contemplating just killing his guards, just for associating with the piece of shit who was lying on the ground. Dead.
“Caeli, we have to go,” Syrus stated, I looked towards him and saw the look of shock on his face. I sighed, disappointed I couldn’t get rid of any more scum tonight. It was beginning to sound like fun… but we had what we needed. I followed him out of the window.
We climbed down the side of the manor quickly. As we began running around the back, I was grateful for the number of plants Hansen had planted on his estate. It was great coverage. We then snuck to the car and drove away slowly, without the lights on, until we met the road.
Even though we were away from the danger of the manor, Syrus was now in a car with me. Trapped. While I was pissed with him and had blood all over my body. If he didn’t feel scared, he should.