Bonus Chapter 2: Ezra POV
I should’ve been in my hotel room packing, better yet, spending my final hours in WoodVille screwing the bartender I’d met at the club, instead a new discovery had forced me to first talk this out with my brother before I drew up any conclusions. My gut feeling told me that what I’d witnessed and seen was wrong, but I knew in my heart that it could as well be true.
“Sir, I’ve been instructed not to let any visitors disturb Mr. Wolfe at this hour.” Lynn followed me, hot on his heels, dabbing a handkerchief on his forehead.
Poor Lynn and the other house staff. They’d thought I’d died during one of my missions, and I’d made sure to keep my existence from public knowledge. I was someone who worked from the shadows, and so, my agency had completely wiped out my remnants from this mansion. I had no reason to live here after I’d joined the FBI because unlike Jack, this place haunted me. I couldn’t look at the shed outside without thinking of our mother; I couldn’t even step towards the same floor as my father’s room because I often thought he’d still be there inside, sitting in his usual chair, smoking a cigar.
When I’d turned up at the mansion, months later, Lynn and the staff had nearly survived a coronary. They thought they’d seen a ghost, and I had to quickly explain what had happened. I’d claimed back my old room, the one on the same floor as Jack’s but my room consisted of less things and even lesser furniture.
I knocked on the door of Jack’s room, scratch that, I rapped on the door with angry thumps.
The Jackass better be awake.
“Lynn, please remind me who I am.” I told the butler.
He opened his palms as if to ask why I was even asking this question. “You are Ezra Wolfe, sir.”
“And what does that make me?” I asked.
“An important member of this house.” Lynn looked like a kid giving his best answers to win Who wants to be a Millionaire?
“Right. So, if the owner of this house, my brother wishes not to speak with me, he’d have to throw me out himself, which he can’t because it’s my house too. You’re not losing your job so...pretend like I’m not here and run back downstairs.”
Lynn huffed. The door of the room opened and a very sleepy Jack walked out of the room. I could see Riley sleeping on her side, the white comforter drawn up to cover the lower half of her body. It’s no wonder his phone was switched off.
“It’s four a.m, Ezra. What the fuck do you want at this hour?” Jack asked, barely opening his eyes. No shirt on, just a pair of jeans, unzipped and unbuttoned.
I had barely even slept, because my new partner had called me to discuss this new undercover case. I had a flight in two hours but this conversation needed to happen.
“Lynn, I need breakfast.” Jack said. “Eggs would be good.”
“It’s just four a.m, sir.”
“I can read time.” Jack replied, grumpily.
“Get me a strong coffee, black.” I told him and the butler was dismissed.
I turned my gaze towards Jack. He closed his bedroom door carefully behind him, like making the slightest sound would wake up the sleeping baby in his crib. Yeah, right.
“Jose Fisher.” I said.
The name was enough to remind him what had happened. Jack watched me, his demeanor as cool as a cucumber. Anyone else would have been fooled, not me.
“Who’s that?” He asked.
“You should try enrolling into a better acting school because you’re definitely not passing any auditions any time soon, brother.”
“Don’t talk in riddles.” He snapped. “Say it clearly.”
“Jose’s body was found in a ditch last night, butchered beyond recognition. Let me paraphrase that in a better way. His eyeballs are missing, Jackson and so was his penis. His organs laying in a pile beside him.” I told him. “The new FBI recruit puked his guts and almost called quits when he looked at the mess.”
“Who do you think did it?” Jack asked, watching me closely. “Certainly it’s not Aaron because he’s dead. Maybe it’s someone else?” He leaned against the doorframe. I knew that posture, he was trying to intimidate me, dominate me even.
“I won’t play your game, Jack. It probably charms the fuck out of Riley, it does nothing to me.”
“Get to the point, hermano. I need to get back to Riley. She’d probably start missing me.”
“I know you did it.” I said and watched as his expressions did not change.
Jack stared at me with the same darkness in his eyes. “What are you going to do about it?”
He hadn’t even tried to debunk the suspicion I’d planted.
“You killed a man for fuck’s sake! I’m an FBI Special agent, Jackson! You have no idea what I can do!”
Jack gritted his teeth and looked at his closed room door. “Lower your damn voice.”
“What were you thinking? Killing that man like that!”
“He tried to rape Riley that night when you locked her up under the suspicion of the murders.” Jack said coldly. “I’d checked his records, he’s been reported of sexual assault more times than you could count but the hospital authorities didn’t want to report it because they didn’t want to be involved in a scandal.”
“Jack, you could have told me about this. There’s a way we could have handled through the law.”
“If it had been at the hands of the law, Ezra, he would still be free raping other women. If the law is the right way to go then I wouldn’t have to hunt our mother’s killers down and kill each one of em. One of us needed to do the dirty work and heck, if I regret it.”
Jack said he didn’t regret killing those three men in the past, but he couldn’t deny how it had changed him. The way I see it, Jack was always surrounded by darkness, it was about time he let it consume him. After he’d killed the people, he hadn’t been the same man.
“You scooped his eyeballs out! How angry were you?”
Jack’s jaw muscle twitched. “If you truly loved a woman, and saw some dirtbag try to soil her, you’d do the same thing.”
“I wouldn’t. Don’t compare me with you.” I said frustratingly.
“I don’t understand why you’re being such a hypocrite. You’ve killed far more people than I have, don’t deny it.” Jack said, hitting the bullys-eye.
My hands were balled into tight fists. “That’s a different case. I killed because I was protecting some innocents—”
“I was protecting innocents too.” He chimed in.
“I take a shot, point-blank not butcher them like they are animals brought into a meat farm. There’s a difference.”
Jack didn’t even feign indifference. It’s when I realized there was no point in arguing with him. What was done was done.
“What do you plan to do? Pull this up in the police department? Put me back in the asylum or maybe prison this time. You know, my fiancé won’t be happy about it, probably won’t believe you about the murder story either.”
I stared at him, speechless. He’d asked Riley to marry him, and she’d said yes…
That changed a lot of things. I didn’t know for the better, or worse.
“What do you want Ezra? The company? We’ve talked about this a dozen times. I don’t want it. This entire fucking murder spree happened because of it, remember? I want to live with my happiness, with my Riley. And you can’t take her away from me.”
It was a warning that I should be taking, but damn him if I was even a bit scared.
“For the millionth time, I’m not interested in the company. I’m interested in my brother’s well-being and keeping his sanity in check, but seeing as the way things have taken a turn, I think it’s too late for that.”
“Let’s hope you’re wrong.” He said.
“I know you killed Mad-Dave, too.”
Jack’s brow twitched upward. “How do you figure?”
“My instincts never lie, especially if it concerns you. What was the reason behind it?”
“He pissed me off that day in the asylum, talking shit about me, about mom, I couldn’t handle it. I’d noticed Aaron’s pattern of killing before it started in WoodVille and then I…”
“You killed because it was fun.” I completed the sentence for him. “You tried to mess with Aaron’s head and got him. The actual killing spree in the asylum started after you.”
“Correct.” Jack said.
“I don’t even know what to say.” I confessed.
“You wouldn’t take Riley’s happiness away from her, would you?”
There it was the master manipulator doing his job.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” I said under my breath. “Neither Dave nor Jose were innocent, and what you did to them, while it was brutal, they had it coming.”
Jack’s lips formed into a knowing smile. “I knew you’d understand.”
He was lucky his brother was in the bureau. I was ashamed to admit this, but even a single clue trailing to Jack was going to be wiped completely out of existence. It wasn’t the first time that I hadn’t reported back what wasn’t needed. I’d seen some people kill other bad people, and kept quiet. This was my brother we were talking about.
“My eyes are on you, Jackson. You kill the mail man next for eye-fucking Riley, and I’ll have you go where you’re supposed to go. I can’t make it any clearer.”
“Warning heard loud and clear.” Jack said.
Jack’s bedroom door creaked open and we stared at Riley in disbelief, hoping she hadn’t heard any bits of the conversation. Her brown hair was messy, and she was wearing Jack’s t-shirt that reached her knees.
“Ezra, weren’t you leaving tonight?” She asked.
Riley wasn’t really someone you’d call pretty, or she wasn’t eye-catchy. She was just beautiful in a conventional way with her brown hair and dark eyes but she wasn’t like the women that I’d previously seen Jack with. Those women looked like models. And at first, I’d been a little confused, maybe taken aback that Jack had been so completely devoted to her, but as the time passed I saw what he saw. She was real, she was strong and that’s what made her so beautiful. Her pure soul. She was his light, something that he was a complete opposite.
I saw the ring in her hand. Jack placed a hand possessively around her waist and kissed the top of her head. It was new to me, to see Jack showing compassion towards one woman. She looked at him like he was her entire world. A twinge of jealously sparked inside me, wondering if I’d ever find someone like that in my life who would look like that towards me.
I’d kill myself before I hurt Riley.
Jack’s watched me, daring me to tell Riley what I’d learned. “Go back to sleep, Cotton-Candy.” He told her.
“I wanted to say goodbye to Ezra.” She turned to face me. “I don’t know when I’ll see you next.”
“Probably not for a while. This case is deep undercover as well, and I can only hope it’s not as bizarre as what I had to do here in WoodVille.” I said.
“I wish you success.” She pulled out of Jack’s arms and gave me a hug.
“Thanks.” I said. I was going to miss her a lot.
“If Jack causes trouble, you call my phone. My assistant will answer. Code word: Cotton-Candy. I’ll leave whatever mission I’m on and run back here.”
“I hope that situation doesn’t rise.” Riley giggled. “Jack proposed me! You have to come for our wedding.”
“Wouldn’t miss it.” I assured her.
“Take care of her.” I told Jack, giving him a last warning look. He knew what that meant.
I gave Riley one last kiss on her cheek and turned to leave. “I’ll see you around, guys.”
My flight was delayed to Virginia, and in turn it had landed me late in the assistant director of Criminal Investigation division’s office. When I’d walked the hallways of the center, all the FBI trainees had stared at me, some smiled and waved, others had wanted to talk in person. It was nice to come back to the place and be idolized by the newbies.
I was clean shaven, and dressed in a formal gray suit. Assistant Director, Edward Rudolph smiled at me warmly. “Welcome back, Agent Wolfe.”
“Thanks for having me, sir.” I said.
“Coffee, tea, anything to drink?” He asked.
“Coffee would be good, black please.”
I was having coffee and an assortment of biscuits. Rudolph cleared his throat, “You might have heard of this case.”
“The president of the Graham Holdings, Simon Graham died tragically in a Charted plane crash. It seemed like the plane had crashed due to a storm, and the case was closed but a few months later the investigation started back up because someone believes that Simon’s death wasn’t an accident but a murder. I don’t know why sir, but I believe the new president could be the one who’d conspired to kill poor Simon.”
Rudolph assessed me with curious eyes. “Do you know who the new president of the company is?”
“His brother, Charlie?” I asked, unsure of myself.
The director was clearly amused. “Simon had four brothers, Dallas, Seth, Walter and Lance. Dallas, being the oldest brother. Technically, after the current president of the company dies, the position could directly fall into the older brother’s lap by default, considering the fact that Dallas worked closely with Simon.”
“So…why didn’t the company go to Dallas? Who is this Charlie?”
Was there a second in command who worked closely with Simon and maybe this second in command had gotten really greedy.
The old man smiled. “It gets interesting. Charlie Graham, also known as Charlotte. She is the new president of the company, Simon’s widow. Can you believe this, Ezra? A woman taking charge of a multi-million dollar company after her husband’s death, and shouldering the burden of thousands of her employees, it sounds insane, doesn’t it?”
I sat cross-legged. A high profile murder case. A powerful man was dead, and his widow was taking charge of the company when his brothers were still in line. I loved where this case was going. “What part am I playing in this?”
“Your new partner, Beatrice did some digging. She’s already placed there and doing a wonderful job so far. She’s a housekeeper.”
I laughed. Beatrice is one of the best FBI agents of this agency, and she’d agreed to work as a household staff for this investigation, that means these guys were probably paying a lot. It’s no wonder poor Bea was scrubbing floors while keeping tabs.
Did I even want to know what was in store for me?
“What part am I playing?”
“Graham’s old butler died in the plane crash with Simon. They’ve spent the past few months going through a dozen. It seems none of them seem to be able to work under the pressure that Charlie Graham puts them through. You will take the position, Ezra, and keep it whether you like it or not. It’s an order. I’m giving you three months’ time to investigate this case. Find out why, when and who and report back to me.”
“Let me get this straight. You want me work as an undercover agent pretending to be the family’s butler?!” I asked.
“Mr. Rudolf, I do not possess any skills of a butler.”
“You weren’t even half as mad as your twin yet you played his part well and lived in an asylum for days. This should be relatively easier.”
“What about my identity? Wouldn’t they do a background check?” I asked.
“Got that covered as well. You came here from Puerto Rico looking for a job, and Bea’s already made recommendations. No one, I daresay, no one can turn down a handsome Latino man standing at their doorstep looking for a job.”
There was a fake birth certificate, social security number and things that did not link to my current life. He passed me a forged driver’s license. There was my picture on it and my name. I felt my heart stop beating.
My given name and my pa’s last name. The name that I’d wanted the world to know.
Mr. Rudolf probably noticed me getting a little emotional there. “Your father Antonio Ruiz was a great detective. You’re walking in his footsteps, Ezra, you would have made him proud.”
Emotions began to well up, tears were stinging my eyes. I nodded. “I’ll do this.”
Rudolf shook hands with me. “Good Luck Alejandro, god knows you probably need it a lot.”
I’d just shook hands with the director to complicate my life even further. A double identity, a murder case and a window. I didn’t feel nervous at all.
A spark of excitement burned inside me.
This is going to be fun.
This book is officially COMPLETE! Ezra will have his own standalone novel revolving around another thrilling case :) I won't give a fixed date for the book because I still need time to work around the plot.
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