Focus (Le Corbeau, #1) ✓

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15. Truth

I knocked lightly, stealing Mikey’s attention from the television hung up on the wall. He grinned, inviting me with a nod and struggled to sit upright in bed. Panicked, I rushed to him.

“No, no, please, lay down,”

“Nah, gotta look presentable when a pretty lady walks in,” He said hoarsely, winking and my cheeks reddened at his compliment. “It’s nice for you to visit. What’s up?”

He patted a clear space next to him and hesitantly, I lowered myself on the bed. Dropping my unimpressive bag to the ground, I angled my body in his direction. A few days in the hospital left his overgrowing scruff unkempt and wild. I suspected Salice did his dreadlocks into a single, long braid which tumbled down his back.

Thankfully, he made it out alive in the end and he was one tough guy.

“I’m gonna go straight to the point,” Glancing at him apologetically, I hoped I wasn’t being insensitive. He slanted his head, waiting for a response. “Do you remember who attacked you?”

He stared at me distantly, recalling the night of his attack. “It was so sudden, I didn’t catch any faces but only Tony’s,”

“Tony?” I straightened, intrigued.

“Yeah, he helped me to the hospital. Don’t really like the guy but I’m grateful he was there.”

“Mm,” I hummed, biting my bottom lip.

“Although, it was strange how he was there at the right moment. I mean, I was at the gym during closing hours. The place was so secluded, you’d never expect someone to walk by and help,”

I laughed but it wasn’t welcoming. It was bland, detached from any emotions and judging from Mikey’s worried look, it was a little frightening. What human being laughed at someone who just got shot? Jittery, I stood away from the bed, having an epiphany.

“Motherfucker,” I growled. He was cunning. I’d give him that. There was no doubt he orchestrated Mikey’s attack whilst playing the Good Samaritan. His intentions were all clear – he tried to scare me out of town. Shooting Mikey didn’t work so he tried to lie about Bruce, using my insecurities as a weapon for his own selfish benefit.

Son of a bitch!

“That guy ain’t right. I feel it but he helped me, regardless. Bruce won’t be happy if you start hanging around him,” He warned.

“I won’t be seeing him,” It was a partial lie as I intended to confront him. I wasn’t going anywhere with him. Not after this. Reaching into my back pocket, furiously, I sent him a text.

Where are you?

“Hey!” I snapped my gaze to Mikey’s. “Am I supposed to be worried?”

“No,” I smiled tightly, returning to my position on the bed. “I felt the same way when I first met him,”

He chuckled lightly. “He gives off a strange vibe. Sherriff Melbourne took him in for questioning,”

My eyes nearly bulged out of the sockets. “I didn’t think he’d take it seriously,”

“Yeah, well, no hard evidence was found against him. I think Bruce is finding a reason to get rid of him but what do I know?”

My phone dinged and I skimmed the message. He sent an address, one I was familiar with. Hastily, I gathered my belongings, sending Mikey one last look. “I’ve gotta go. I do hope you’ll get well.”

The address led to the roughest parts of Le Corbeau, mostly common for delinquent teenagers to hang around, smoke joints, as drugs as well as underage drinking. I knew from first-hand experience. Cans and cartons littered some parts of the streets and old houses, some burned, stood by for years without any compassion of a remodel. Not many people lived there but it was a useful location. I parked in front of a worn down warehouse, not quite abandoned as men filled the area. The engine died as I switched off the ignition and observed the men loitering around. They all stared at the car, suspicious of their visitor.

Tattoos marred their skin and a few gold teeth flashed in my direction. Some were big and at first glance, they were intimidating.From experience, their muscles were balloons that’ll pop with a single scratch. There were so many. I understood why Bruce was on edge.

I kicked the door shut and with the noise echoing throughout the air, more men paid attention to me. I sashayed through them with my head held high, shaking off their corrosive eyes peeling my skin. The unwanted attention was unnerving but I had no intention to give them any satisfaction. Instead, I plastered a cool, ‘don’t fuck with me’ exterior and thankfully, it discouraged them.

Of course, there were immature men elbowing each other, jerking their chins at me, smirking as their eyes dropped down my body. The closer I was, the stronger the stench of sweat, booze and marijuana. It was suffocating. I found Tony at the centre of the warehouse, his back turned to me with his head down. Two men were with him, reading whatever was in front of them.

“Bruce doesn’t like you!” I yelled and he tossed a glance at me.

He blinked as if I said something stupid. “Really? No shit,”

We met halfway, him sticking his hands in his front pockets whilst mine were on my hips. I craned my neck a little to get a better view of his face. One I refrained from decking. The corner of his lips twitched as he fought off a smile and it irked me.

“What were you doing at the Atlas gym during closing hours? You have no reason to unless…” I gave a look of wonder, sardonically, my index finger patting my jaw. “You tried to have someone killed!”

He held his chest as if he was wounded. “I’m hurt. But I told you, I didn’t shoot Mikey,”

Both guys moved away, giving us enough privacy, but they were in earshot. “I’m not that blonde, Tony, don’t take me for a fool,”

“I’m telling the truth, I didn’t shoot your friend,” He eyed me knowingly. “But… I won’t lie. You needed a little push,”

I lunged at him but hands pulled my arms back before I could punch him. Instincts kicked in and I threw my head back, some sick part of me satisfied with the sound of bones cracking. The man stumbled back and swiftly, I pivoted and aimed for his balls. He collapsed to the floor, groaning painfully and the whole warehouse went deadly silent, even the music stopped playing. Inconspicuously, I adjusted the recorder and faced Tony. He scratched his jaw thoughtfully, grinning like an idiot. I frowned at him.

“Impressive,” His applause echoed his compliment. “I think I see what McGregor saw in you,”

“You lied to me. You’re insane!” I screeched, my voice rising a few decibels.

“I didn’t lie to you, I pointed the reality you refused to see,” He closed the distance by an inch. “He had many girls, what makes you think you’re the last?”

“I’m out!”

There, I dropped the fucking bomb. Fleetingly, panic crossed his hooded eyes. “You don’t mean that,”

“This doesn’t mean anything to me,” I waved at the cars, the drugs and the pile of money standing on the table. “I’m not the only person who can do the job,”

“But you’re good at it. You were born to be a thief! You go in and out without being detected.”

“I’m flattered. Find someone else,” I marched away, passing the inspecting men to the car. I wasn’t going to bend to his will. Tony didn’t understand the concept of refusal. I could tell by his outburst of profanities spat my way. I rolled my eyes despite him not seeing them.

“You’re going to regret this!” He bellowed irately but his threat went through one ear and out the other. “In the end, you’ll be begging to leave this fucking shithole!”

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