Say It Isn't So

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Chapter 27

M A X

I'm a mess.

I'm sitting in a cafe with Charlotte, an untouched espresso in front of me. My tan leather satchel sits at my feet, packed with fifty pound notes.

"I feel like I'm carrying a bomb."

Charlotte leaned forward, lifting her own coffee to her lips.

"I know. But you're doing this for Alex."

Silence falls between us again, and I find myself gazing into the wet street. The rain was heavy now, and I watched with fascination as rain drops splattered against the glass, blurring the outside world from the warmth of the cafe.

Alex.

My heart ached at the thought of my sister. Four days she had been missing now, and there had been no sign of Yan. As instructed by Harry and Cain, I'd been carrying the stack of money with me all day, just in case Yan showed.

"How the hell does Alex owe a dealer twenty grand?" Charlotte sits back, shaking her head in disbelief. "If she had taken twenty grands worth of coke I'm sure she would be dead."

My fingers tighten around the cup before me, and I try not to cry. Charlotte's hand flies to her mouth as she reaches out for me with the other.

"Shit, I'm sorry-"

"I don't know what she has done to have accumulated that amount of debt," I admit, turning my head to glance around the cafe. "I just want her back."

"Me too, bub," Charlotte says, lacing her fingers with mine. "Harry said to keep leaving you alone, so I'll just nip to the ladies. They are right outside, okay?"

I nod, my head turning to face the parked cars on the opposite side of the road. I knew Cain would be staring back at me, and it reassured me somewhat.

Where are you, Yan?

Charlotte slid back into the chair shortly after, glancing at me hopefully. I shook my head and her features seemed to sag with sadness.

"I'll go. Maybe then he will show. It's been over twenty four hours, babe. He will show."

I forced a smile, tilting my head back so I could meet Charlotte's gaze.

"They're right outside," Charlotte repeats, her lips on my cheek. "Love you."

With that, Charlotte is gone. All that is left is a coffee cup stained with her cherry lipstick, the faint aroma of her perfume fading in the air around me.

I'm alone.

I remember that I'm not alone; not really. Cain and Harry are here, and I trust them with my life.

But there's still no sign of Yan.

I spend another half an hour in the cafe, the odd clatter of plates and cups the only sound I hear. There's no other customers here now; Cain said this was the best place to try to lure Yan out. It was a relatively cheap cafe, but they tried their best to be upmarket. Chalkboards with various coffees adorned the walls, and soft lanterns lined the floors. The tables and chairs were cheap plastic, the kind that tore your skin apart if you found a jagged edge.

I slipped the satchel over my head, leaving a tip for the waitress who seemed to jump up when she saw me leaving.

She must be waiting to close up, I thought, heading out of the cafe. I walked down the street, tugging my hood up to protect myself from the relentless rain, the drops blurring my vision. I turn the corner, the sight of my parked car making me feel like a failure all over again.

I should never have told Cain. Yan must know, and that's why he has gone dark.

"Keep walking."

The hairs on my neck prickle when I hear the command from behind me.

"Turn left down the next alley, and get into the car."

My heart is thumping in my chest, and instinctively I turn around to see a dark figure walking behind me. I'm not even sure if it is Yan, but regardless, I do as they say. The alleyway in question sits between two old pubs, both of which have closed down. There's no streetlights to speak of, and under any normal circumstances I would avoid this place like the plague.

A sleek black car turns on its lights as I walk forward, and I freeze in the headlights, temporarily dazzled. A hand presses on my back, pushing me towards the car. I'm dizzy with fear, but I hold my own as I walk to the car, opening the door and climbing in. The figure behind me remains outside, and I swallow hard when I see Yan sitting across from me.

He cracks his knuckles, his lips set in a firm line. His eyes are so dark I'm starting to wonder if he is even human. Maybe he is the Devil.

"Twenty thousand."

I nod, tugging the satchel over my head before handing it to him. He doesn’t even bother to check it, instead he tosses it into the front passenger seat.

"Check it," he grunts to the driver, his eyes not leaving mine for a second. "You broke our agreement, Max."

My heart drops then, and the car door opens beside me. The dark figure leans in, and I'm surprised to see it is a woman. She has a thin face, and beady eyes.

"Release Alex George," Yan commands, leaning back into his seat. The woman nods, pulling out her phone and sending a text.

I'm perplexed, my eyes darting between the two people on either side of me.

"You've got the money. Where is Alex?" I hiss, my fists clenching at my sides.

"You broke our agreement. You involved the pigs," snapped Yan, leaning forward to grip my hair in his hand. Pain shot through my scalp, and I tried to drag his hand away from my hair.

"Please," I beg, trying not to cry despite the intense pain in my head.

"If you think I'm stupid enough to drive outta here with twenty grand that they've marked, you're mistaken. I've released your sister, which was what I agreed to."

"Where is she?" I demand, as he tightens his grip on my hair.

"That information wasn't part of our agreement," Yan drawls, his eyes meeting the drivers in the rear view mirror.

"It's all there."

Yan releases his grip on my hair, causing me to almost cry with relief. I make a move towards the car door, when the woman pushes me back, her bony fingers digging into my flesh as she does. Yan catches me in his arms, his hand wrapping around my waist.

"Like I said. I can't drive out of here with that money, so you're going to come for a sleepover at mine."

My mouth falls open with horror, but this only makes Yan smile wider.

"It's not that bad, angel. I've got a fuck off TV, super king sized bed, tonnes of snacks and entertainment. You'll be fine."

"Let me go," I grit my teeth, glaring at the woman who grins back at me with a sadistic smile.

"No," Yan says, nodding to the woman who climbs in beside me, closing the door with a soft click. "I need that money, and I don't much fancy being locked up. So it looks like you and me are gonna have to be friends for a while."

"You can't kidnap me!" I yell, lunging for the door once again. This time my head is hit by something hard, and my movements turn slow and woozy. I fall against the woman's legs, and the last sound I hear is her laughter.

I failed.

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