A Hard Way to Heaven

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Chapter 8

London, England

Darroc or “Dac” Lewis stepped past Harriet Challum and into the well appointed office of his cousin, the head of the family, Duncan Macleod. He tugged at the tie at his throat, and loosened it a bit more. He hated playing dress-up, more attuned to cargo pants and a tee shirt. But this was not a social call. He spied Duncan standing at the floor to ceiling glass windows with his back to the room. Dac frowned, could see the wrinkles to the expensive fabric of his Armani suit, and wondered how long he had been in the office? Dac saw dark circles of exhaustion under Duncan’s eyes, and the tight downward frown of worry. They all knew of the attack on Roric, and that he still clung to life. William and his friend had done their best, and now it was just a matter of time. Time to see if Roric had the fight in him to survive.

Dac stopped, his jaw automatically clenching at the sight of the matriarch of the family. Anna Macleod was sitting all prim in proper in a black Chanel suit in a seat to the left of Duncan’s desk. His stomach churned with hatred, and he tempered his anger by taking several deep breaths. He didn’t smile, not afraid to demonstrate his dislike for her. If Anna churned his stomach, the sight of Stuart Lamont in the seat next to her, with his sweaty bald head, made his blood pressure notch up several points. He nodded at both of them, mumbling, “Good to see ye Anna, Stuart.”

Duncan had spoken a mere syllable, when Anna cut him off, “What good are you? You can’t even do a simple task. What the hell happened in Edinburgh?”

Dac's right eyebrow cocked, looking properly at Duncan. He was pretty sure he saw the head of the family's shoulders tighten, his jaw clench. He suppressed a chuckle when Duncan’s voice dropped, "What good are they? They keep your ass safe...and orders...They follow my orders or their superiors, and last time I checked ye weren’t in the loop."

Stuart snapped out, sitting forward and pressing the tip of his index finger into the wood of the desk, "There is a chain of command, and it stops right here."

"You Stuart," Dac snorted, "And what good are you? You know nothing about what I or any of the bràithrean do."

“I am Màthair here and you will do as I say.” Anna interrupted.

Incredulous. The bitch actually thought she was in charge. Dac’s stare turned icy, “Ye hae some nerve Anna.” He flipped her a two finger salute, “Are ye the one that called this meeting? I dinna think so.”

“Where is Akir?” Stuart interrupted.

Dac looked from Anna to Stuart to Duncan, "And just what the hell do ye care? Yur half the problem. Ye hinder us right and left...I'm pretty sure ye are the reason we lost Hamish and Ian in Budapest..."

Anna near enough shrieked at him, "It is your trigger happy actions that cost lives..."

Dac scoffed, “Trigger happy? Need I remind ye how many times we saved your respective arses?”

“Where is Akir?” Stuart asked again, a bit more forcefully.

“Taking care of business Stu. Nae that ye would understand any of that.” Wynne Cameron, growled. He had slipped quietly into the room, and listened the exchange between Dac and the others. He was getting made. He was Akir’s captain, and second in command. Dac almost laughed at the diamond look on his bràthair’s face. “As to Edinburgh, what do ye think happened Anna…”

Anna uncrossed, and crossed her long skinny legs, “Do not take that tone with me Wynne Cameron. It is I who has seen this family prosper when others have buckled under financial burden. ME!!! Remember with whom you are talking to…”

"So you won't mind if my man here does an audit of your accounts." Wynne challenged.

"You won't find anything." Anna sat back waving her hand dismissively.

Dac was chomping at the bit to get at Anna's accounts. She had no idea the true depth of his talents, not with the likes of Gordon Macdonald's analytical brain, and his technology behind them. He laughed, rubbing his hands together, and then threaded his fingers together, cracking them, "Are ye so sure? I'm sure Gordon and I could find a few ghosts in your closet."

"Gordon?" Anna asked, and then it dawned on her, "you've asked a Macdonald to help you?" She started to laugh, "See you are useless...."

Wynne straightened, crossed his arms, "Not so useless when he has the tech savvy to find the preverbal needle in a haystack. Ye hae always underestimated Gordon...and what he could do."

"Yes, Macdonald...the same man who could not even keep his marriage together because he had too many secrets of his own." Anna countered, gloating.

Wynne probed, wondering just what she knew, "Secrets...and just what secrets would they be Anna?"

"That is for you to find out."

Wynne leaned in, snarling, "Oh, I plan on it Anna. Akir and I will flesh out the mole in this family, and when I find out who has been selling us out, I am going to personally see them pay the price."

"Threats? You're all mouth and no action..." Anna crossed her arms, looked from Wynne to Duncan.

"If that is a challenge, then I accept..." Wynne grinned, actually looking forward to this.

Duncan had listened over the last few minutes to the exchange between his mother and Wynne. He was so tired of all this, so tired of losing the people he loved. He turned, his deep voice quiet, but there was no mistaking the conviction in his voice, "Every one will be feted by my Leuchd-crois, including you mother. I want this mole found."

Anna looked away, lips tight, "I am immune from such, or do you forget that?"

Duncan glared at his mother, "Not this time, everyone will be investigated, including my own family. Even myself. I want this man or woman found, and I want the killing to stop. I will not lose any more of my family to these maniacs. Or do you forget, Roric is fighting for his life."

“As you are so coolly to remind me.” Anna bit out.

Wynne played his hand, “Why don’t you tell me Anna? Akir was clean. Roric was clean, and under escort of two of our best men, and yet some how, someone was able to…”

“Did you ever think that it could be your own men?” Anna cut in, returning Wynne's stare.

Dac thought Wynne was going to bitch slap the Màthair of the Clan, for the lethal look he cast her, and the curl of his fists on the desk. He silently laughed, wishing he would. The old gal needed to be taken down a peg or two.

“Enough Màthair.” Duncan sighed, relaxing his posture, ready to end the meeting.

“No it isn’t Duncan. The operational efficiency of…” Stuart sputtered, trying to exert some authority.

Wynne snapped, “Shut up Stuart. If ye ken half of what ye think ye knew, it would be a goddamn miracle. Until ye hae looked down the barrel of a gun, just shut the fuck up.”

Anna snapped, “That is it…I swear, I want your lot disbanded…new blood brought in…”

Duncan cut off his màthair, "If you two will excuse us..."

"Duncan..."

"Enough Màthair, out!" Duncan scowled at his mother, exasperated that she wanted to continue arguing.

Anna Macleod started to protest by Duncan shot his mother a warning, “I am in no mood for your theatrics or your…high and mighty attitude. You have no bloody clue what this means do you?”

“You are head of this family, not that upstart.” Anna stood, pulled down her black Chanel suit jacket, “Roric will never be head of this family.”

Dac watched Wynne’s face, his Captain’s eyes fixed totally on Anna. Dac’s eyes shifted to Duncan and there was a repressed fury about his features. Anna and Stuart made a hasty retreat leaving them alone. As soon as the door was shut, Duncan waved them to follow. He led them over to a door, that led up to the helipad on top of the building. The early morning fog and rain of London had cleared to afternoon of beautiful blue skies, and sunshine. He led them up onto the platform, and took several deep breaths. The wind was not as fierce as Dac thought as they waited for Duncan to speak. When he finally turned, his soft brown eyes were hard, “Akir is right about there being a mole in our organization. I want you both to dig deep, and into everyone. Memorize these numbers.” He rattled off a seven-digit code, three times and then had Dac and Wynne repeat it. “Whatever funds you need; they will be in that account. Use it, and find out whoever tried to kill Roric. I want their head on a platter.”

Wynne exchange furtive glances with Dac, “Buy some clean computers, nothing that has been bought and paid for by the family.”

“Buy whatever you need, and I want Gordon brought into the loop. I know Archie has kept in touch, but I want him to use that techie brain of his to bring this house of cards down…” Duncan offered.

“And you, what about you?”

Duncan snarled, “If that means I lose my position, I don’t care. I am sick and tired of losing the people I love and care about.”

Dac had to say it, “And Màthair?”

Duncan closed his eyes, shook his head, “I said everyone. And if she gives you problems, I’ll handle her.”

“We need to put more security in place about you and the family. This is going to get nasty Duncan.”

“I don’t care Wynne.” Duncan half-shouted, then dropped his voice, “And there will be a host of people that aren’t going to like what happens. A host that will want my head. I don’t care.”

Wynne nodded, “We got your back, but you are going to listen to me, or Akir. Do you understand?”

“Whatever it takes, and I want Roric protected at all costs.” Duncan added. “We will need a safe place to talk…”

Dac grinned, “I’ll set it up. We should have full operational authority. If we go off grid like Akir wants, we need to have complete autonomy.”

“Granted.”

Wynne nodded, “And keep the bean counters out of our hair.”

“I’ll do my best, but you know Stuart and his lot…”

“Aye…” Wynne looked at Dac, “I think we can come up with a way to keep them at bay.”

“Keep me informed as much as possible…”

“We will…you need to get some rest.” Wynne offered, concerned for the exhaustion about Duncan’s face.

“I was thinking of going up to see Roric, see how he is doing, and stay in Glasgow for a bit with Jeannine and the lads.”

“Let us get a detail together, and scope out the house in Edinburgh, and Glasgow. Once we have that completed, I will escort you up there personally.”

“See it done.”

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