Chapter Twenty Three
Our next stop had to be predictable, I mean, none of people like Daryl wants to get unwanted attention. They want to hide so no one could find them, only people they have business with, but he’s about to get an unpleasant surprise.
It’s an old building, made of masonry, all of the places where windows are supposed to be, now are hiding from the world with wooden boards on it, which seem to be rotting already. The broken fence around it reminds me of life that probably existed here, but left the place a very long time ago. The garbage around the lawn, if we could call that a place that has about one feet long grass surrounding it, shows that this place was welcoming the local drug addicts for many years.
Until, probably, criminals kicked them out.
My mind tries to give the house a beautiful history of its owners, who abandoned it and left it all alone like a ghost, sentencing for long years without any people bringing it back to life. It probably was a farmstead, with all those fields surrounding it and giving a beautiful view that you could enjoy at any time, but unfortunately, it’s about to become a witness of a bloody deal.
“Is this really the place, Avery?”
“I’m sure of it, I definitely saw that lawn in my vision.”
We all stop a few feet away from the house, getting ready for the things that are going to happen; that are not going to be nice. It’s going to be nasty. And someone might get hurt, once again.
But that’s the way we chose to live our life, and there’s no way out of it anymore.
“Avery... I really want you to stay out of this.”
Brent’s words, so soft and quiet, make me quietly chuckle, so no one could notice. I remember telling the same thing to Beverly; yet she never did what I asked her to do. And after a lot of those conversations, asking her to stay out of things that are dangerous, I realized that women need to feel like they can take care of themselves, even if they can’t.
They need to feel strong, brave, because the only thing every person is afraid of is to be weak.
“There’s no way I’m staying out of this, Brent. We are all here because of me, and I won’t be hiding somewhere else while you risk your lives for me.”
I hear him sigh but he doesn’t bother to argue; after all, neighter he would win, nor we have time for this.
“Surround the house. We have to sneak in before Daryl notices any of us, maybe we’ll hear something that will be useful.”
“Get your weapons ready, I don’t think we’re getting the script without a fight.”
I glance at Beverly, who stands next to me as confident as she ever was. I can’t stop adoring the way she changed, the way she finds the part of her that knows how to lead the group, just like I do. She gets stronger with every day, she learns how to become a leader and chooses to fight, rather than stay away from the danger.
And God, with every day I fall in love with her even more.
“I can’t wait to spill that motherfucker’s brains out.”
Aaron’s face is lighted up with a creepy smile, showing how much he actually missed action. And not wasting another moment, we start walking.
Hiding behind the trees. Separating and surrounding the house.
I feel my blood starting to boil as I touch my knife, holding a gun in my other hand. And reality is, that I need those fights from time to time. I need the adrenaline. I need blood. I don’t care if it makes me look like a beast; that’s who I am. And my people accept me the way I am.
As I start walking down the place that’s supposed to be a lawn, a sound of a masculine voice reaches my ears. I quickly hide next to the stairs by the front porch, dragging Beverly to the ground with me.
I quickly pulled her so she ended up falling on me, pressing her whole body to mine. I wrap my arm around her waist and look directly in her big blue eyes; as she opens her mouth to say something, I place my finger on her lips that completely distract me from the reason why I came here.
“That’s not what I was talking about. He had my word, and I’m not doing anything that’s not a part of our deal.”
I recognize Daryl’s voice, coming from the inside of the house, but it doesn’t reach the outdoors. And no matter how hard I try to focus on it... the only thing I can focus on is Beverly, being so close to me. Feeling her warm skin on mine. Feeling just how I felt when I first met her; intoxicated, hungry, and obsessed with her.
But I have to focus on our task, to make sure that she and everyone else is safe.
I raise my head up when no one comes out of the house, to make sure we can enter it without being noticed. As I haven’t seen that before, the house has no door, or it was ripped out. I can notice the rotten, wooden stairs inside the house, with thick layers of dust on it. The ground is also wooden, with some holes in the spaces between the boards that got separated over the years.
I turn back to Beverly and nod to her, giving her a sign that we can safely enter the house. The others went to look for the back entrance, so we could surround Daryl, and there would be no way for him to run away. And I secretly hope, that for the first time, everything will go as planned.
The front porch isn’t too high, so I grab Beverly by her waist and we both jump on it at the same time, so there wouldn’t be any unnecessary steps. But unfortunately, the front porch is also made out of wood. It squeaks.
“What the fuck was that?”
I hear footsteps inside the house, so I quickly press myself to the wall, together with Beverly by my side, covering her mouth with my palm. She stops breathing. And so do I.
But the only thing I can see is a stomach of a fat man, popping out of the doorway, but no one comes out of the house. I watch how he rubs his belly with a palm, which shows how rough and dirty his skin actually is; like he was a peon.
“It must be some fucking stray cat again.”
I hear a man growl and he walks back deeper inside the house with his loud footsteps; which gives me a perfect moment to sneak inside. I carefully take a look inside, watching the man’s back slowly, getting further away from us.
I share a glance with Beverly, and we both slowly sneak inside, with careful footsteps, so it even starts too feel that we weigh not more than air does. We hide behind a wall that’s blocking the view of the front door; pressing our backs to the teared wallpaper, and listen so closely that it feels like I can even hear my own heartbeat.
“I have nothing else to say to you. A deal is a deal, and I’m not changing my terms.”
“I suggest you to reconsider that, Daryl. Or you’re getting nothing at all.”
The voice of a man that talks to Daryl is unfamiliar to me, but I catch how Beverly’s eyes widen. She lifts her head to look at me; though her lips move, but she doesn’t let out a single sound, I can understand exactly what she’s saying.
The man that hurt her. The man that tried to kidnap her. The man that’s going to die in this house.
“You’re not the one that makes the rules in here, Alexander.”
“Give me the fucking script. I’m not kidding.”
I feel how the corners of my lips start to lift up as I realize that Avery’s vision was actually true. Probably, somewhere inside me, I had a doubt, I haven’t believed in her completely. But now, Avery deserves my apology.
“$240,000 or you get nothing.”
I feel how the tension starts to grow between the men and I know that my time is coming. Only seconds are left before the action starts.
“As you wish, Daryl. I’m getting the script, together with taking away your life.”
I don’t need a proof if someone has my back when I leave the place where I was hiding, going straight to the room where the men are. I know others are inside the house, too. I know Brent is here.
As I step into the light I notice more men that I thought are in here; about six of them, three against three. Six pairs of eyes look at me, widened, and I see how all of them pull their guns out.
“It’s you. Diabolus.”
Daryl widens his eyes at me, and I catch a glimpse of fear flashing in them, he takes a step back and lifts his hands a little forward; that’s when I notice a wooden tube in his right hand. The script.
“You know me. What a surprise.”
Daryl frowns, but not at me. He turns to Alexander with such rage in his face that it feels like a vein on his forehead is going to pop out. But Alexander’s eyes keep locked at me as I see him slowly pulling his gun out, as I grab harder on my knife.
“You didn’t say he’s involved in this.”
“Shut the fuck up, Daryl.”
“The deal is over. I’m out of here.”
“Wait a second, Daryl. I believe you have something that I want.”
Daryl freezes in his spot, looking at me as I keep looking at Alexander. The tension starts to grow, and I can already feel the taste of blood. But who’s blood will it be?
“You came in the wrong place, Diabolus. But I am glad to be able to kill you.”
Suddenly, he pulls his gun out and everything happens just so fast; I see the gun, pointed at me and ready to end my life, but I quickly pull my knife out. In moments, I start to regret that it wasn’t pointed at his head, it was pointed at his gun.
With a quick move, I throw my knife at it and in a nanosecond it knocks the gun out of his palm, as I watch it falling onto the ground. Into someone’s hand, that suddenly comes out of the other room.
“Good evening, ladies.”
Brent rotates the gun between his fingers and starts shooting; the silence was suddenly replaced with a sound of loud gunshots, destroying the old house completely. Alexander kneels down and grabs another gun out of his pocket, but my mind is distracted by Daryl.
Who’s running away.
He quickly jumped on the stairs and started running upstairs, still, with a script in his hand. I waste no more time, running after him, pushing the men that try to chase me aside. That’s the only thing I came here for. And I’m not leaving without it.
I hear Brent’s, Beverly’s voices shouting mine, but I can’t focus on them. I can only focus on finding the script, and killing Daryl.
The sounds of gunshots still keep coming downstairs, but the second floor is as silent as no soul was in here. All the doors to the rooms are closed, except one. I see an old couch, who is covered in dust as much as the rug in that room is. Curtains that lost their color in the bright sun. And foot traces, that are clearly visible on the dust.
I slowly start to walk to the room, preparing myself for anything. Holding my other, smaller knife in my hand. Hoping that this won’t be my last fight.
I carefully enter the room and see... nothing. I look around the place, still slowly walking, watching every corner, seeing an open window in front of me.
Fuck. Somehow, he got away.
But suddenly, an arm is wrapped around my neck and I feel how my body is pressed to someone else’s. Daryl’s. He quickly kicks the knife out of my hand and it falls down on the floor, sliding to the other side of the room. For the first time, I feel how all of my life rushes through my mind. Everything I went through. Everything I won’t achieve. I try to fight him, but he keeps holding me tightly, when suddenly, his hand lifts up mine.
“What the fu-”
“Shut the fuck up.”
In my surprise, Daryl places a light, wooden tube onto my hand. I grab it tightly, suddenly forgotten what’s going around me. I have the script. He just gave me the script.
“I will find you.”
He releases me and pushes me on the ground, so I fall down like a leaf on a late autumn. In an instant, he runs downstairs, and probably sneaks out of the house unnoticed. I don’t hear the gunshots anymore. All I can think about, and see, is the script. I have it.
And fuck, it was too easy.
I stand up and slowly head back downstairs, not sure what I will see in there, not sure which side just won the fight; but hoping that everyone is alive and safe. I can’t draw my eyes away from the tube, carefully examining ornaments on it, thinking about all the things that could be written in that script.
But as I reach the first floor, a wide smile creeps on my face as I see Alexander, on his knees and his hands behind his back, holding tightly by Brent. I see the blood, dripping from Lexi’s arm and a bruise on Aaron’s face, but everyone is safe. Everyone is alive.
“You got it!?”
Beverly runs to me and carefully touches the tube, smiling, feeling happy that one more time, we made it. But there’s one more thing we have to do.
“So, old man. How would you like to die?”
“You won’t find it. I know you won’t fucking find it.”
“What? Are you talking about the treasure?”
I take the knife that’s laying on the ground, admiring its sharp blade. Finally, the day has come. The day I will kill one of the people that don’t deserve to walk on this planet.
“I don’t care about that fucking treasure.”
“Then why do you need the script?”
“To fucking end this madness.”
I give the tube to Beverly, and slide my finger down the blade before giving Alexander the last smile he will ever see.
“That’s what you get when you dare to touch my wife.”
Only one move, only one wave and the tip of the knife reaches his throat, cutting a perfect horizontal line through it. Warm blood gushes out of the exposed wound and Brent releases Alexander’s hands. He presses his palm, snugly against his opened wound to stop the free flowing surge of sticky blood, looking miserably; a person that tries to save his life when death is already here.
He falls down on the floor, shaking, trying to take the last gulps of air and lastly, looking at me. And I watch him. Watch him until he lets his last breath out, and his muscles loosen. Watch his blood flowing under my feet. And deep inside me, laughing.
“Now, we can go.”
“What about the script?”
I feel how everyone is watching me. Beverly, Brent, and especially, Avery.
“How did you get it?”
“That’s the weird part... Daryl just gave it to me.”
I gently take the tube out of Beverly’s hands, slowly opening it and looking inside. There it is. An old, yellow paper that so many people fight for. This kind of power shouldn’t exist; it drives people crazy, and makes so many men lose their lives for it.
“Time to find out the truth.”
My two fingers slowly slide inside the tube, catching a thick piece of paper and taking it out. It’s curled, a little wrinkled, and really, really old. I feel how everyone takes a step closer to me, and Beverly, glancing at the paper over my shoulder. And everyone stops breathing when I unroll it, to look at almost disappeared words.
“It’s... It’s in Latin.”
Beverly’s voice sounds confused, anxious, but for a moment I thank Camille that she taught me how to read in Latin.
But the shock that takes my brain in with every word that I read makes me even feel that my face turned as white as chalk. My eyes and my mouth suddenly are frozen, widely open in an expression of stunned shock, and although I am staring at the words, it feels like I don’t understand any of them.
It can’t be the truth.
"What? What does it say?"
Arne, Phoenix magni est clypeus celare aurum nostrum de manu inimicorum vestrorum et avaritiam eos. Non est existentium.
"Arne, The Great Phoenix is just a shield to hide our gold from our enemies and trick them. It is not existing."
"It. Doesn’t. Fùcking. Exist."