Two Weeks Later
Alpha Yuri’s POV
I threw my glass at the television, shattering the screen as glass shards exploded onto the Pack members in my conference room. “Coast Guard and FBI Call Off Search for Jessie Donato’s Remains,” the CNN crawl says as they interview a former FBI agent on what it all means. The search had been hampered by bad weather and deep water, and later concern that the tip may not have been accurate. “Fucking IDIOTS! I could tell you what it means!”
“Another thirty million rubles,” one of my accountants said as he looked at the numbers on his laptop.
I growled and moved across the room, pulling him out of his chair with one hand and shoving his head into the screen. He struggled to breathe as I held him a good foot off the ground, squeezing his neck. “You think this is fucking funny, Anatoly?”
“No… sir…” he squeaked out before I dropped him. He coughed a few times, rubbing his neck. “Sir, I just meant the next payment will be due in two days, and we don’t have the cash to cover it. We need to discuss liquidating more assets, for this week and next.”
I went back and sat at the head of the table, pounding my fist. “These fucking payments are killing me,” I said. “Any luck finding another source of financing?”
“No sir,” Sergey said. He was my property manager. “With the uncertainty about the court case and the pressure on our illegal activities, it’s a buyer’s market,” he said. “Word is out that you are desperate to sell, and they think if they wait long enough the deals will get better.” He looked at his notes. “The commercial properties we are selling are getting offers at no more than a third of the market value for a cash offer.”
“We will hold our properties used for Pack members until last,” I said with a sigh. “Get me a list of the properties currently on the market with their latest offers, and I want options for the next ones. The way things are going, we may have to wait months.” The men looked down, nobody wanted to think about what that would mean to us.
The door opened, and one of the Pack computer techs came in, escorted by one of my guards. “Excuse me, Alpha, I was told to bring this to you immediately,” he said. He was holding a jump drive.
“What is it?”
“Alpha, the rewards have been taken down on the Internet, but one of the email addresses we used was still active. When I was closing it down this morning, I found this.” He went over to the computer that drove the remaining monitor in the room and plugged it in. “She said that if it was worth enough money to her, she’d give us the rest instead of the FBI. I emailed her back, telling her we would review it and get back to her.”
We sat back as he brought the video up. “As you know, we suspect the killer was Pack based on the silver on the shackles and use of a punishment pole. We didn’t know where.” The video started to roll; it was surveillance video of a hotel lobby, not very high quality and in black and white. The camera was behind the main desk, facing the door and the back of a woman at the desk. She was working on the computer, a big woman with bigger hair. The front door opened, and a man came in, we all recognized him as Beta John Pearson of the Highlands Pack. There was a time and date code on the bottom; it was the night before she was killed on camera.
“Is there audio?”
“No sir. He spends five minutes checking in, paying with cash. With your permission, Alpha?” I nodded, and he moved the slider bar over to the spot he had picked. The lobby was empty again, but when the door opened, John was carrying two bags and Jessie was following behind him. They crossed the lobby and exited to the left.
“Where was this taken?”
“That’s part of the information she wants the reward for. In exchange for a million dollars American, she will send us the rest of the video. She says the video shows them leaving in the company of four large men, and she will give the us the location of the hotel and the license plate of one of the vehicles the men who left with them drove.”
“What else did she say?”
“We leave the cash where she says, and we pick up the video and the information in another. In Duluth.”
“Pay her,” I said. “The Pack who killed her has gone dark, refusing to answer. You haven’t been able to trace the emails or the video feeds, and I’m running out of time. If I know who killed them, I can put pressure on them to produce her body, and with that, the bleeding stops.” I looked over at my Betas. “How many men do we still have in the United States?”
“Four, the rest have returned home,” Beta Shura said. “Not enough to take on a Pack.”
I nodded. “Pick a crew, I want this handled personally,” I said. “Make sure you fly into different airports, different times so you don’t raise suspicions. Deliver the money, find the Pack, and bust heads until you have our body for the cops.”
Shura stood to his feet, pointing to a few others. “It shall be done, Alpha.”
“It better be. I’m getting tired of losing money. I want Jessie declared dead, then I want that Court to give me my fucking money while we still have a place to live around here. Now get out of here.”
Beta Patrick’s POV
It was fun playing with Jessie’s money.
The information on the jump drive included the account information for her Swiss account containing almost five hundred million rubles at the current market rate. I had transferred most of it to a Moscow bank, the rest remaining for her use. The instructions with it were clear; I was to use the money to make Yuri suffer, but not his Pack. I was not to buy or mess with properties that supported Pack members, but I could go after Yuri’s personal wealth and Mob-owned properties.
We were going to make a hell of a lot of money when this was all done, I thought as I looked over the real estate that he was trying to unload this week. Two blocks of mixed residential and business properties near the center of St. Petersburg, and a block of undeveloped land along the Neva River about forty minutes to the southeast. The prices had been dropped twice already; although buyers were interested, the need for immediate cash payment was a holdup for most investors. For the rest, I worked with some humans in the press and business world to spread rumors that the holding company was under investigation as being a Mafia front and might be seized at any moment.
“We should buy now,” my staffer urged. “It’s selling for twenty percent of actual value if we act now. At this price, someone else will step in.”
I looked over at Alpha Javier, he nodded. “It’s a good investment.”
“Let’s pull the trigger on this one, then,” I told the man. “Contact our lawyers in St. Petersburg. Together, the properties are on the market for 42.4 million rubles. Offer thirty-five for all three, immediate cash payment.” The man got up and went back to his office.
“Is it wise to try for more,” Javier asked.
“The payment is due tomorrow, this gives him this week and a start on the next,” I said. “He’ll take it, just to have it out of the way.” I walked back to the small office we were working out of was not officially Pack business. It wasn’t Pack money, and we couldn’t openly go after another Alpha’s territory. I just wanted to see Yuri watch his empire dissolve before him while he chased an inheritance he’d never get.
Long term, we would have to sell the properties or let humans run it for us. We couldn’t have Moscow Pack wolves working in St. Petersburg Pack territory, and Jessie was now a werewolf. Either way, she would make a hell of a lot of money on the deals.
As we consolidated the affairs of the Pack, we came across a few problems from where the Pack and Mafia operations overlapped. One was Mrs. Olga Nikolaev, whose mate was caught up in the sweep by the Moscow Police. He was killed in prison because he knew too much. He was in logistics, and when you are moving contraband, it’s all about logistics.
The Mafia dealings of Yevgheny’s crew were well known. Gambling, smuggling, protection rackets, these didn’t bother Javier and I that much. Buying young women from slave dealers and forcing them to work in your brothels and clubs, THAT bothered us a lot. And it wasn’t just us. It bothered Olga when she found the secret files her mate had kept, an insurance policy against his own Alpha.
An insurance policy with no payout if the Alpha was killed first.
The information in the files she turned over detailed years of dealings of the Moscow Mafia. Javier and I talked it over and decided to lead with the slave trade. The media was all over it, the Russians were under international pressure to crack down, and the investigation would tie back to Yuri as well. The files were complete with details on the sex slaves Yevgheny had purchased and shipped overseas.
I was shocked at the reach of the Russian mafia into the United States; both Alphas had significant investments in casinos, brothels and escort services back home. The file I had in my briefcase had far more than photos, names and locations of the hundreds of women he had sent. It also included their prices, the dealers they had purchased them from, and the names and payoffs to government officials to make it happen. The list included members of the Russian and United States governments.
“Alpha, I have to go,” I said as I excused myself. My security men were waiting outside, and it was a short drive to the United States embassy. After showing my passport, I was escorted to the office of the Legal Attache. It had only taken a brief outline of what I wanted to talk about to arrange this meeting.
“Mr. Clarke, I’m Agent in Charge Donald Thompson, FBI Moscow Branch,” a tall, distinguished looking man in a grey suit said as I was escorted into the small conference room. “With me is Deputy Ambassador Franklin Pierce, and my counterpart in the State Interior Ministry, Sashenka Pirotova.” I shook hands with the two men and the middle-aged woman. “I understand you came across some information that may be of interest to us?”
“That’s correct,” I said. “My firm is working to untangle the mess left behind when Yevgheny Zubkov died. My group was removing files from an abandoned office when we came across these.” I opened my briefcase and took out an envelope; inside were a dozen Russian passports for beautiful young women. Then I handed over a CD in a case. “The passports are genuine, but the names are fake. The women in them were sex slaves, kidnapped and sold to the Moscow Mob. They were being prepared for shipment when his operation folded.” They looked at each other, leaning forward towards me. “The information in the files details how Yevgheny’s men bribed American officials for work visas that would allow them to enter the United States. Once there, their passports would be held captive while they were forced to work in brothels, casinos and escort services run by their men in the United States. The records are detailed, listing the properties, who was leasing them, and the payments expected.”
“Holy shit,” Franklin said. “They leased them?”
“That was my reaction. My read on it is that they move the women around, retaining ownership and taking a cut of the earnings. They may start in Mafia properties, but they don’t have to remain there. The office was being used by the Mafia to organize the purchase, sale and transport of these slaves. This file,” I handed a thick envelope to Sashenka, “contains the Russian side of the operation. The slave dealers, payments, accounts, personnel involved.”
“Why are you doing this? Why not just call the police?”
“You’ll understand when you get into the files. The level of corruption is staggering, in both countries. The Mafia owns police, prosecutors, they run the jails. Handing this over to the Moscow Police would end up with both me and the evidence being buried.” I looked at the FBI man. “This stuff sickens me. I can’t get involved, and I don’t want the Moscow Police crawling all over while we are cleaning things up. I need high-level help here, people who can shut this down on both ends.”
“You are not involved? You aren’t asking for immunity or anything?”
“No sir. Hell, I’ve only been in the country a month or so. Finding this was unexpected, and I would appreciate it if my involvement in this was kept private. I don’t need the Mob retaliating against me or my coworkers, nor the interests of my company.” I closed my briefcase and set it down. “There is enough here to keep you busy for weeks. Shut these fuckers down,” I said. I handed the Agent a note with my phone number. “Text me if you need to talk, but we need to keep things quiet. I don’t want to be seen or talked about.”
“I understand,” Sashenka said. “Your name will not be part of any report, I’ll say I received this information from my colleagues in the FBI.”
“I appreciate that,” I said. Franklin walked me to the door, and as I walked away and the door closed, I smiled. Yuri was about to have a bunch of new headaches.