The cost to hire those cleaners totaled one hundred thousand dollars. Money wasn’t a problem. The problem was Mom’s discovery of such a big withdrawal. A thousand dollars, he might be able to get away with after some explanation, but definitely not a hundred thousand dollars.
There was a type of people in this world who seemed totally ignorant and clueless but were experts when it came to certain subjects. Misty was indeed one of them. She seemed to be an expert when it came to anything crime-related.
She knew a Russian hacker. This guy was a genius and had even been hired to assist some undisclosed politicians in order to help them win their elections. He could hack just about everything. And easily hack into an online banking system to withdraw a chunk of money, leaving no trace whatsoever.
Dad’s head hurt. He felt like an overheated computer.
“But how does it work exactly? If money was withdrawn, it would just look like the people who have access to the account withdrew it, wouldn’t it?” Dad looked at Misty, who sat on the couch with her legs crossed. Thank goodness, she’d finally cleaned off her blood-splattered face.
“If he was that stupid or predictable, why would anyone hire him?” She made a face as in Uh-h-h, hello? “He’ll make it look like your identity and personal information were stolen of course.” She uncrossed her legs and recrossed them with the other leg on top. “He can do crazy stuff. He can transfer money from your account into a dummy account which is, of course, completely untraceable. The IP address of the computer will belong to a random location in a foreign country, and it doesn’t require for anyone to physically be there. Then he can withdraw whatever amounts he chooses. Long story short, when you call the cops and they investigate the case, they’ll totally assume you’re the victim of a crime.”
Dad could only stare at her, utterly mystified. “How’s something like that even possible?”
“Honey, if he was an average, normal human being like you and me, he wouldn’t be driving five different Lamborghinis at age twenty-something.”
“But the bank will notify my wife of any suspicious activities! Things like, I don’t know… logins from different computers, or large amounts being transferred. So she’ll know right away before I can get on it.”
“He hacks into the bank’s security system and does his little magic, so they don’t catch any suspicious logins or transactions until the victim logs in themselves. So you got some time.”
“But with the IP address located in Russia, wouldn’t they search the user there and eventually bust him and make him confess that we hired him?”
“Who said the IP was coming from Russia first of all?” She put her hands on her hips. “He’s capable of anything. He sets up dummy IPs everywhere. I know for a fact, he’s never been caught.”
“How’s he going to deliver the money if he’s in Russia?”
“He’s got guys stationed everywhere.”
“What if he steals all my money and disappears?”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because he owes me.”
“Yeah. One of Frank’s associates tried to dispose of him after he did a job. I happened to overhear it. I told Frank about it. Frank needed him for too many deals so he couldn’t have him killed. So Frank killed the associate guy instead, and saved his life. If I didn’t say anything, he would have been offed. And he knows the whole story. Also, he knows he can’t mess with me anyway. Because messing with me means messing with Frank.”
“But Frank’s dead! And you killed him!”
“What makes you think we need to tell him he’s dead?” She got up and came face-to-face with Dad. “And for the record, I didn’t kill him. We did.”
He was as immobilized as a frog poisoned by the venom of a king cobra.
She tapped his nose with her index finger like he was a little child. “No more thinking. Just trust me.”
Just trust her.
That was very convincing. Trusting her was like trusting a drunk sorority girl to drive you home. However, the sad truth was, he didn’t seem to have too many other choices. As crazy as it sounded, trusting her seemed like his best bet at that moment.
As soon as he agreed to her plan, she didn’t waste a single second to make the arrangement with her hacker. Once the hacker finished stealing the money electronically, he’d schedule one of his associates to meet them and give them the cash, minus his fee of course. Then the cleaners would come in and make the suite look just like it did before Misty and Dad ever set foot in it.
It was already five in the morning. Most likely, he’d have to spend another night at the hotel until all that was accomplished, which meant, he wouldn’t be able to get on the road until… God only knew when. Traffic caused by any accidents wouldn’t have delayed him a whole extra day behind. What would he tell his boss?
At any rate, that seemed like the least of his worries right then.
“Done and done. We’re meeting with Mr. Hacker’s associate here at ten in the morning tomorrow,” Misty said gaily as if she just made an appointment with a popular hairstylist who couldn’t book anymore appointments until next year. “Then the cleaners are due to appear at eleven. They might take a while to clean it though. But that’s okay. We’ve got time.”
Who’s got time?? Dad was on the verge of losing his rational mind.
Misty slipped out of her dress, exposing her attractive body. “Now I’m going to take a much-needed warm shower. You can join me if you like.” She raised her eyebrows and looked at him in a promiscuous way.
Who is this person? He wondered.
She didn’t seem to be affected at all after she’d just killed someone. Not even a little bit.
While he heard her singing in the shower, he took a moment to think about his situation.
What could have been her motive to seduce him to begin with? Why did she lie to him?
So she was a mobster’s girlfriend, not an ex. She fought with him the previous night. She was upset but still planned on meeting him at the bar in the casino. So why on earth did she ditch him and run away with Dad? Didn’t she know that would infuriate Frank? Did she plan this all along, knowing Frank would come find her? Did she plan to murder him? Was Dad basically no more than a convenient tool to help her accomplish her nefarious scheme? Was Dad just in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Yes and no.
After all, it was his own decision in the end. His desires and choices were for him to control, no matter how skilled she might have been with her little act.
Should I just get out of here, and leave all of this behind? Dad debated with himself.
But he was certain she would call the police and tell them Dad killed Frank. Dad’s DNA was all over the place and the front desk clerk could also identify him. He would get arrested and Mom would hear all about his traitorous affair.
The brief moment of having time alone was abruptly at an end when he heard Misty getting out of the shower.
“I feel so much better!” She came out and shook her towel-dried hair like a shampoo model on a TV commercial.
“Why didn’t you join me?” She made a pouty face, then switched back to a happy one almost instantaneously. “I know. This was a bit shocking to you. I get it. I understand.”
“Why did you lie to me?” asked Dad.
Her happy smile vanished instantly. “You’ve never lied to anyone?”
How did she do that? Turning the conversation around to manipulate one’s mind? If there were a contest for that particular skill, she surely would have won it, hands down.
Dad opened his mouth to say no, but it just hung open without him saying anything. He realized the answer was yes. He most definitely lied—and not just a small lie, but a real whopper. He lied about being a successful stock broker from New York when his flatbed truck was parked in the casino’s parking lot. And worst of all, he lied to his wife. He cheated on her, and now he was stealing money from her.
What had he become? What happened to the kind, conservative, loyal husband and responsible father who attended church with his family every Sunday?
What could have changed him overnight?
“Did you plan this all along…?” he asked, feeling powerless.
Misty furrowed her brow. “What do you mean?”
“Did you plan on killing Frank from the beginning?”
“What? How could you say that? You know he tracked me down here!” she barked defensively. “I was trying to break up with him. I wanted to. For a long time. He wasn’t nice at all when we fought. I couldn’t stand it any longer…” Tears began to form in her eyes. “He hit me so hard. It was terrible…” The tears flooded her eyes, streaming down her cheeks.
“Hey…” Being the nice guy that he was, he couldn’t handle seeing tears under any circumstances. His hand extended and stopped midair, like he didn’t know what to do with it.
“I know you have the right to ask me these questions. I know it,” she sobbed as she wiped her tears. “He called and said he had some business to take care of and he couldn’t be there until later. Then I saw you and wanted to talk to you. I was bored. You were really nice, and…” Her voice faded. She wiped her genuine or not tears again before she exhaled slowly. “I liked you…”
Dad just looked at her, unsure of what to say.
“I didn’t think about the consequences. I just wanted to be with you. Spend some time with you. Love is spontaneous, isn’t it?” She smiled between her bouts of tears.
“Uh…” He shifted his eyes to think for a moment. He could have reminded her he had a wife again, but he realized she already knew that.
In any case, there were more issues to deal with at that moment. Higher priority issues, such as, dealing with the bloodied body still lying right next to them.
“There’s a chance his guys knew he was coming here, right?”
“Then it isn’t safe for us to stay here. I won’t feel comfortable at all leaving the body unattended, but we might have to. We’ll put on the Do Not Disturb sign, then we’ll go quietly. Nobody’s supposed to enter. They shouldn’t. But what if they did?” He paced faster, his paranoia rapidly overtaking him.
“Hmm,” she twisted her lips in thought, and all of the tears abruptly ceased. “Well, here’s the thing. Even though he told his guys he was coming here to see me, all he could have said was that I was in this hotel. No room number. I’ve seen the device. Actually it was also programmed on his phone I just threw out. It works like the GPS map. The dot shows you the location, but it won’t have any details like room numbers and stuff. So I’m sure he couldn’t tell anybody our room number even if he wanted to. And that’s assuming he told the guys where he was going. He might not have said anything.”
“In any case, when they can’t find him, they will naturally come looking for you. Right?” He looked at her, feeling frightened. Frightened, because of that realization? Or the inhumanly calm attitude she had after squashing her boyfriend’s head into the consistency of a rotten tomato? Unsure. Most likely, for both reasons.
“I think you’re right.” She raised her eyebrows as if they were discussing what paint color to choose for the kitchen walls.
“Then why are you still holding your phone?” he asked, flustered.
“I know, but how can I get rid of my phone? There are too many pictures and personal stuff, you know,” she argued, her mouth forming into a well-practiced pout.
It took a moment before Dad could react. “Are you kidding me? Do you—do you really understand the gravity of the situation here? I actually think you clearly do, so I don’t understand. We’re talking about life or death situation here! There’s a dead man lying right here, and his guys might be coming for us right now. A-A-And you’re worried about your pictures?” He stammered.
“Ooh,” she raised one eyebrow. “I like that. Little, aggressive you. That’s another side of you I hadn’t seen until now,” she teased.
“I’m serious. If you don’t get rid of it, I—”
“I’m just kidding,” she cupped his face. “You’re so cute when you lose it like that. I’m getting rid of it right now.”
She grabbed her purse and took out a memory card, which she plugged into her phone. “I have some important numbers on here.” After she finished backing up the phone, she took the battery out and threw it over the balcony along with the phone like she’d done with Frank’s.
She returned and put her arms around him. “Done. Now can you forgive me?” She looked up, biting her lower lip with a Sorry daddy look.
“Here, let’s sit. You look super tired.”
He was tired. No, more like exhausted without a doubt.
Misty led him down onto the couch and his eyes closed immediately.