C A I N
“Can we go yet?” I growl for the second time, my hand looping around the metal door handle of the car. Harry shakes his head from beside me, pushing me to tug on the handle, regardless. Max must’ve been down that alleyway for at least ten minutes now, and Harry was expecting me to sit still like a fucking child.
“I can hear an engine,” I argue, my eyes wide. Harry frowns, allowing the car to creep down the street towards the alleyway with a frustrating speed. “Harry!”
A sleek black car slides out of the alleyway, and my foot instinctively presses against the floor of the footwell, despite me being a mere passenger. Harry doesn’t disappoint though, tailing the car with the expertise of a seasoned professional, weaving in and out of traffic without being too obvious. I glance down the alleyway to make sure Max isn’t on the floor or anything equally sickening, noticing nothing out of the ordinary.
“Why would Yan take her?” Harry mutters, checking his mirror before veering the car to the right. He speeds up, checking the coast is clear before pulling out into the main traffic. He glances in his rearview mirror, a smug smile on his lips. “Now he is following us.”
The shortcut gave us the position of being ahead of Yan’s car, but this didn’t soothe my nerves at all.
“Because he is an oxygen thief?”
I rub my palms against my jeans, cursing inwardly. My heart was pounding erratically in my chest, beads of sweat dripping down my forehead as I tried not to imagine the fear Max was feeling in the back of that car. Harry doesn’t respond, his eyes flickering repeatedly to the rearview mirror.
“He must have known she’d involved us,” Harry said matter-of-factly. “We will have to follow him and pray we don’t have a hostage situation on our hands.”
A numbness spreads through my chest, starting at the core and spiralling out of control as it reaches the edges. Each breath I took felt ragged and painful, and a wave of nausea swept through me.
“I’ll kill the bastard if he tries to hurt her.”
“You and me both, mate,” Harry snaps, taking a left and following the road for two miles. We were heading towards Yan’s neighbourhood, and sure enough the black car was still behind us. As we neared the area where Yan lived, Harry pulled over, allowing the car to pass us. Tinted windows prevented me from seeing anything, but my heart dropped all the same. I was so close, yet so far.
“We need evidence he has her,” Harry peers closer to the car as it pulls into a long, winding driveway. “Watch carefully.”
A man I recognise as Yan left the car from the driver’s side, opening the back passenger door to allow what appeared to be a woman out. She had a black hood pulled over her head, her hands held in front of her as though they were bound together.
“There’s your evidence,” I bark, almost snapping the door handle as I open it. I run as fast as I can, ceasing the distance between me and Max, hearing Harry curse from behind me. Yan whirls around, his dark eyes narrowing upon seeing me and Harry. I slam him against the bonnet of the car, twisting his arm up behind his back as he shouted out.
“Let me go man, I have done nothing wrong!”
“Oh, you haven’t?” I spit, pulling his arm further up his back.
I go to cuff him, turning first to check if Max is ok. Harry is staring at her with dismay as the woman slides her hood back. Instead of relief washing through my body, my stomach twists in knots, the sickening realisation sweeping through me.
“Can you let him go? Jeez, what is it with you guys?” The woman sneers, her eyes glinting with amusement. Harry pushes past her, searching the car as the man beneath me protests.
“You got a warrant to search my car, man?” Yan demands, wriggling beneath me. I release him, losing my footing slightly as I do.
“Yes,” lies Harry, opening up the boot of the car. Designer bags spill out onto the floor as the woman screeches at us, picking them up hastily. There is now sign of Max, and no sign of the money.
“Where is she?” I roar, lifting Yan from the floor by the neck of his thin t-shirt. He laughs then, revealing his ridiculous gold teeth. He lifts his eyebrows up, his eyes widening before he tilts his head to the right. He frowns and then speaks.
“I have no idea who you are talking about, Detective.”
“Don’t Yan, this is personal,” I want to punch him in his cocky little mouth, and watch his gold teeth roll into the gutter. “Where is Max?”
“Who?” Yan blinks innocently, and sniggers as the woman beside us giggles. “This is my girl, Hayley. I know nothing about no Max.”
“Cain, let him go.”
“He knows where she is, Harry,” my teeth are clenching so tightly together I’m wondering if I’m just going to bite the fucker.
Harry’s voice tells me what I already know- we have nothing. No evidence of Max being taken by Yan, and no money in the car or on either of these two bastards. We had involved no one official, and this meant that we were here as two fucking civilians.
I release Yan, and he straightens his t-shirt before dusting himself off.
“If you like her so much, why you out fucking more pussy?” he whispers, laughing manically as I launch myself at him. My fist connects with his jaw as I feel Harry’s arm’s grip me, holding me still.
Harry is glaring at Yan now, tugging me away towards the road. Yan rubs his hand over his face, his eyes meeting mine as Hayley helps him up.
“I’m pressing charges, detective,” Yan calls out in a singsong voice.
“Fuck, Cain,” Harry mutters, dragging me away from the residence. “Did you have to smack him one?”
“He knows where she is!”
My voice is hoarse, my chest tight with panic. I slam my fists against the roof of the car, staring up at the sky as I try to regain my composure. Harry says nothing, and this only makes me worse.
“She isn’t there. She isn’t with Yan, either. Maybe she went out of the other side of the alleyway-” Harry offers, his hand pushing through his hair with annoyance.
“Bullshit, and you know it.”
“Lets go back. Call her,” Harry instructs, sending one last sweeping glance over the building that Yan had disappeared into. “Before you get suspended for assaulting a civilian.”
I grunt in response, dialling Max’s number.
“Voicemail. What a fucking surprise,” I reluctantly slump into the passenger seat, shaking my head.
“You need to remove your personal connection to this,” Harry turns the car around, facing back in the town’s direction. “I need you with me on this. I love her too.”
“I promised her she wouldn’t get hurt,” I mutter, pain slicing through my heart at the thought of letting Max down. I should never have let her go down that alleyway alone. “You promised her she wouldn’t get hurt.”
Harry sends me a dark look, hightailing it back to the town. The journey was silent; the car filled with the inner turmoil of two men who had undoubtedly let a woman down that they cared deeply about. A woman who had trusted them both with her life, who was now missing. We searched the alleyway, finding no sign of a struggle or of Max.
“We need to visit Andy,” Harry declares, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
My head snaps up then, my eyes bulging at his words.
“Why? What has he done?”
“Nothing, Cain,” Harry sighs. “But he might tell us something, anything.”
“Plus he is a suspect,” I say darkly, my fists clenching again.
“Are you fucking deluded? He really cares about her, Cain.”
I exhale through my nose, closing my eyes. I didn’t want to hear about how another man had feelings for Max. I wanted him to be a bastard, so I could have her to myself. I hated myself for admitting it, but it was true. Andy had done nothing to warrant any suspicion, yet here I was marking his cards.
“Let’s go back to the station, see if we can say Yan smacked you first,” Harry suggests, rolling up his sleeve. I groan, knowing that Harry was right. As Harry’s fist blackened my eye, I hissed in pain, cursing at him.
“Listen, Harvey, you deserved that for your crimes against humanity,” Harry chuckles, wincing as he examines my eye. “But now it’s our word against theirs. He hit you first, I saw it.”
“You’re lucky I don’t give you a good hiding and say the same about you, dickhead,” I mumble, grimacing as my face swells up.