Winter become vaguely aware that he was lying on something soft before the memories of driving flooded back into his mind and he quickly sat bolt upright. A sharp pain shot through his chest and he wrapped his arms around his ribs and groaned. He sat dead still waiting for the pain to clear so he could work out where he was. A confident voice cut through the fog and almost stung his ears.
“Careful, you’ve got some very bruised ribs, some might even be cracked.”
Winter turned his head and opened one pale furious eye to look at Key Jr. sitting behind his desk looking smug.
“And from what this doctors report says, you’re a very sick man Winter, what have you been doing to yourself?”
Winter scowled at Keys,
“Don’t looks so confused, I found you on the side of the road in a wrecked, stolen car. Obviously I had you checked out by a doctor, what kind of man do you think I am?”
Winter swallowed the pain and stood up,
“The kind of man who hire psychopaths to kill his niece so that he can keep his dirty hands on money and power that doesn’t belong to him.”
Winter moved to start walking towards Keys, who quickly raised a hand with a gun in it,
“No you can stay there for now. I have a business proposal for you, which I’d like you to hear out, before you did something stupid and made me shoot you.”
Keys pressed a button on the side of the gun and a little red dot appeared on Winters chest. Winter looked at the dot and smiled to himself,
“What’s the matter Junior, afraid you’ll miss?”
Keys lost his smile at being called ‘Junior’, but quickly composed himself,
“Just sit down, shut up, and listen to what I have to say, if it’s unsatisfactory well then I’ll put you out of everyone’s misery and be done with it all.”
Winter sat down and stared at Keys, trying to work out how fast he would be able to get across the office, how likely he’d be able to get the gun away from him without being shot, when the best time to attack would be and how long he’d have to get out before his security arrived.
Keys walked around his desk and sat on it, all the while still pointing the gun at Winter. Keys then smiled and threw a pill bottle at him. Winter caught it and all other thoughts evaporated out of his mind, save for a desperate longing for these pills to be his pills. He turned the bottle over in his hands quickly to see the label and a cold prang of reality pulsed out from his spine as he read the words ‘pain killers’. Winter took a long controlled breath, took two of the pills and pocketing the bottle. He then looked up at Keys who was far to self involved to notice Winter’s desperation.
“What do you want from me now?”
Winter force himself to be calm, but he could still feel the flicker of violence in the back of his mind, still searched for the gap to rush Keys and deal with the consequences afterwards. Visions of just diving onto Keys and ripping at him with his bear hands started flooding into Winter’s mind. Another cold shiver ran along his skin and he realised he had missed everything Keys was saying,
“What did you say?”
“I said that I know where Princess is, and I know who has her, and I know what they’re doing to her.”
Keys sent a grossly over confident smile at Winter, trying to pretend like this was all part of his master plan, and for all Winter knew it was. Winter locked eyes with him for a moment until Keys closed his eyes and shrugged,
“And I’m willing to giv…”
Having seen the gap he needed while Keys eyes were closed Winter charged like a man possed across the office and seized Key’s gun with one hand and throat with the other. With a ferocious shove he threw him back over his desk and against the windows. Without out a moment’s hesitation Winter leapt over the desk onto Keys, grabbed him by the hair banged his head against to the window so hard that the reinforced glassed cracked. Key’s eye’s misted over slightly with pain and the shear force of the impact, but his still managed to put his hands up and cower.
“N-n-no please… Please stop.”
Winter snarled at Keys, but held himself back.
“You don’t deserve mercy, or pity, or any of the things you have. You are nothing!”
Keys pushed himself against the window in a feeble attempt to try put distance between him and Winter,
“I know, God, I know, I’m sorry please don’t kill me.”
Keys eyes filled with tears and he started visibly shaking with fear,
“I…if you do, you won’t find Emily in time.”
Winter recoiled as if he’d been kicked, at the mentioned of her real name and a blurred vision of his Beloved being slapped around by Thomas flashed through his mind. Winter opened his eyes and he was engulfed in a white hot rage, he grabbed Keys collar with one hand and without another word started slamming his fist into Keys face as hard as he could. Keys wanted to scream but didn’t have time, the first blow dazed him and the second made him feel like his brain was swimming away. By the time Winter let him go Keys was a broken gurgling mess on the floor, unable to speak or think and only barely breathing. Winter stood up and looked down at him with disgust. To his surprise Keys lifted a trembling hand towards him, but Winter just spat on him and kicked him in the jaw, filling the room with a crunch as Keys remaining teeth broke against each other. Winter watched the convulsing mess on the floor for a few more moments while his anger subsided and his ability to think clearer returned. Then he started going through Keys pockets looking for clues. Keys’ pockets turned up a cell phone, a wallet and a few business cards of high class rent girls, which Winter tossed at Keys then he tried the phone but found it locked so pocketed it, and then he searching the wallet. The usual aside he found an elevator key and a photograph of Keys Sr. and the family. Looking at Princess Winter guessed it couldn’t have been taken long before he died. On the back was written “Look after them for me.” Winter looked up at the mess of Keys Jr and thought about how things might have been different if he was still working for the family when Senior died, how he might have been able to shield Princess from some of her uncles slime. Winter pocketed the wallet and started searching though Keys desk for anything else useful, but was becoming aware that time was passing and he still needed to get out of the office before anyone discovered Keys. Winter quickly rummaged through the drawers to find nothing of any particular interest, then picked up Keys gun and headed for the elevator. The key he found would either let him take it to the private parking level or let him get to the lobby without interruption, either way he’d still have to deal with some security once he got there. He walked into the elevator, put in the key and turned it, the doors closed and against Winter’s expectations he found himself going up a floor. The doors opened and he looked out into the Penthouse suit and Princess’s mother staring back at him. The look of confusion on her face changed to fear when she realised the red dots on his face were drops of blood and that his right hand was covered in it.
“Hello Mrs. Keys.”
Slower Winter stepped out towards her,
“How did you get up here? And, and who’s blood is that?”
Winter looked down at his hands then back up,
Her face turned paler and she started stepping back away from him,
“Oh my God… Why are you here?”
“Junior brought me here, he’s the one who organised Princess’s disappearance, I’ve been looking after her the last few days but he hired some men who get her away from me.”
Mrs. Keys put her head in her hands and swore under her breath a few times. Winter pulled the phone out of his pocket,
“Is there any chance you know how to unlock this?”
She looked at the phone then up at Winter,
“Why should I help you? Why should I trust you?”
“Because your late husband did once, and because I’m trying to save your daughter. Please Mrs. Keys I don’t have much time and I’m not sure I can do this without the information on this phone.”
Mrs. Keys allowed the words to fill up her mind and thought about her daughter who she’d never really understood, and her late husband who she’d understood even less. She wasn’t a bad woman, but it hadn’t been love on her part that had brought her and Senior together. He was for the most a good man, and incredibly wealthy, she was beautiful smart and he adored her. Even after the birth of their daughter who he loved even more, he still kept up his end of the deal and continued to love his wife until he died. She took a deep breath and locked eyes with Winter,
“Oh my God, is, is he dead?”
“Possibly still dying, he’s in his office I don’t recommend you go look yourself.”
“And if I scream for help, what are you going to do to me?”
A strange melancholy drifted into Winter’s mind,
The look on his face made her think back to the last time she’d seen him, the day his wife was berried, he had the same defeated look. She took another long breath in and slowly reached for the phone and started tapping away at it.
“Alright that’s it, the password is rustytrombone … disgusting man. If you turn the key the other way in the lift it will take you down to the garages.”
She stuck her hand into her purse and pulled out a set of keys that she threw at Winter, who caught them.
“Those are for the Mercedes, please save my daughter.”
She stopped for a moment and considered her words before saying,
“I will not speak for you if the police catch up with you, I won’t have this family so openly linked to a murderer.”
The blood had returned to her face and she spoke directly and with confidence, which Winter respected, and he finally understood what Senior might have seen in her.
“I’ll be dead anyway, so it doesn’t matter.”
Winter stepped back into the elevator and turned the key the other direction.