Contains bad words and sex-y scenarios. Mature (18+) audiences only.
“You brought the baby. Good.”
Mo looked up from the bundle she was rocking in her arms at the same redheaded intruder from the other night. “I just want this to stop,” she said, her voice soft.
The woman nodded. “I understand. My name is Anna. And, you are Moana. Our people met your parents.”
Mo released what, on the outside, looked like a shuddering sigh but inside, she was fuming. “Yes. I know. That’s why I came back here. I knew you’d be here. I’d like a compromise.”
“The baby.” Anna pointed at the bundle. “That’s the only compromise.”
“He’s my only child. Please, anything else.”
Anna stepped forward. “I won’t leave without that bundle you’ve swaddled in your arms, Moana.”
Mo puffed up her chest and then released another sigh. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” She drew back the blanket on the bundle in her arms to reveal a pump-action shotgun. “As you wish, Anna.”
Read Episode 5 here.
A blade appeared through the woman’s chest from behind. Her mouth gaped in horror as she stared at it before it was extracted, and she fell to the ground.
Giorgio wiped the blade on his pants.
“Thank God,” Mo said, peering over the raised nozzle. “I thought I’d have to fire this th—”
She pulled back on the trigger. Giorgio tipped his head to the side—she’d get on him about that later considering the bullet hadn’t come close to him—and a figure in the distance cried out before they went down.
The gun all but sprung from her arms onto the ground. The kickback left her shoulder and chest feeling like she’d been punched, her ears rang, and she smelled gunpowder, but her hubby was safe. All of it would fade in a moment.
He rushed toward her, pushed her aside, and swiped the machete across the chest of someone who’d been coming up behind her. Before that person had a chance to fall, he’d already removed a throwing knife from his belt and tossed it. It landed with a thud and a groan in the shadows.
Mo sat, cross-legged, in the middle of the fray of falling bodies emerging from the dark. When she heard a bullet ricochet off the beautiful brick walls they’d just had installed, she pulled a pistol from beneath her top, attached a silencer nozzle, and went searching for the coward trying to fire on Giorgio while it was clear the man was busy.
“Bez.” A strong hand gripped her shoulder. “Stay behind.”
She glanced down at Giorgio’s hand. “What are you doing?”
“Bez, is different now.”
She stepped around him and squeezed the trigger at someone who’d been trying to hide around the corner near the entryway. At least, there was no blood on the picture she’d hung there. She’d gotten it from a local author and the swirls and patterns created the perfect complement to the décor in their home.
“How is it different?” she asked, spinning to get a full 360° view of the room.
“Little fish,” he said. “I . . . did not realize.”
Footsteps sounded on the stairs. Giorgio regressed into the shadows like a black car turning off its lights on a dark street. Mo crept to the bottom of the stairs. They’d had storage put in there, and it was where they kept Aleksi’s jogging stroller. If these people, whoever they were, thought they were going to drive her out of the first home she’d created with her family, they had another think coming.
The footsteps landed on the bottom of the stairs. She lifted the nozzle of her gun. She and Giorgio had been together for a few years now, but she still didn’t see when he left his hiding spot. Or how he’d managed to get behind the intruder with the heavy feet. Or how he could go from sneaking to snatching to ending in a matter of moments. It was amazing what the human body could do, especially when it was essentially a slave to a singular focus for most of its life—killing and destroying.
“What about ‘little fish’?” she whispered, carefully making her way over to him.
“Is first time I see you fight.” Giorgio’s head ticked around the room, brows narrowed. “I do not like feeling.”
“Let me try to translate.” She turned around and pressed her back against his. “This is the first time you’ve seen me fight since I had the baby.”
“And, even though you were pretty protective before, now that you realize you have us both in your life, you’ll do anything to make sure we’re unharmed.”
“Not as many words—”
“But am I right, though?”
She sensed his grin. “Da.”
Movement flashed from the corner of her eye, but it was a breeze blowing one of the trees they’d had planted in the backyard. It was where she sat with Aleksi on the nicer, cooler evenings. Giorgio had spoken her thoughts out loud. It was the first time she’d fought since bringing her rybka into the world and all she could see was his face. His smile. All she wanted was to keep seeing that face and smile for the rest of her life, along with the face, occasional smile, long dark hair, and eyebrow scar of the man behind her.
“What’s the feeling like?” she asked.
“What is thing I tell you always?”
The tree moved again. Then, she remembered how still the night had been outside when they pulled up.
“That you love me.”
Heat pricked the back of her neck. One more person was in the house, and this person wasn’t a lackey. She felt when Giorgio flexed, felt his triceps press against her back to indicate he sensed it too.
“That I’m pretty.”
“Nyet. Beautiful, Bez. What else. Bestsennyy.”
“Oh, priceless. Is that how you feel? Like you might lose something priceless?”
“Like losing world,” he clarified.
Something that felt like acid and lava erupted against her skin. It wasn’t until after the knife landed that she registered the sound of bullets, and that Giorgio had gone from standing behind her to directly in front of her.
She raised her gun and expended the clip in the direction the shots were coming from and heard a woman cry out. When the woman’s face emerged in the stream of moonlight coming through the large windows in the main room, she paused. This woman looked too much like Giorgio to not be related to him in some way.
Vater, you bastard.
Heavy breathing filled the air. Her face felt suddenly affixed to a block of ice. Air became a precious, dwindling commodity. None of the shots had ricocheted off the walls. They’d sunken into flesh. Her husband, warrior, king, best friend, and lover’s flesh.
“Is okay, Bez,” Giorgio said, staring down at her.
Mo slipped her hand over Giorgio’s watch, pressed her thumb against the watch face for a few seconds, and then slipped her fingers between his.
“You okay, big man?” She didn’t want to cry, but tears were in her voice. They weren’t on her face but sorrow was raining inside her body, squeezing and constricting every vein, artery, and pore.
He squeezed her hand. “Da.”
“Can you hold on for me, baby?”
She swiped two daggers from his body.
“Yes, my love?”
“You are wife of beast. Do not forget.”
The woman let the gun slide to the floor. Mo cleared her throat, rolled her neck, and blinked back her tears. It was one of the things Giorgio told her had endeared her to him, the fact that she was tough but allowed herself to be vulnerable. The very first night they met, she’d cried for him when she realized there was more to him than the monster everyone had thought him to be.
The woman rushed forward, a machete in hand. Each swing was precise and targeted, but as Mo blocked each one, she realized this woman probably was one of Vater’s numerous illegal and illegitimate offspring, but she didn’t grow up with Giorgio. She hadn’t been trained by Giorgio. She was only the sister of a weapon, not a weapon herself.
The woman sliced toward her neck and Mo stepped just out of the reach of the blade, but then she brought the dagger up toward the woman’s wrist. The sharp blade sliced tanned, Mediterranean skin before the woman pulled back.
Behind her, Giorgio’s breathing grew labored.
“Hold on for me, my love,” Mo said. “Please.”
She advanced this time, toward the woman. They didn’t have time to waste even with the distress signal she’d sent out. The woman, caught off-guard, stumbled backward, her wrist squirting blood. Mo quickly scanned the injury. She’d gotten the ulnar artery. If she could get the woman to open up her hand, she’d nick the radial artery as well. Maybe she’d just say, “fuck it” and jam the dagger into the woman’s neck. It wasn’t like they needed her for anything.
“He’s dying!” the woman screamed, pointing at Giorgio, her German accent just as strong as the redhead’s had been. “Those were not regular bullets. Vater’s precious Auserwahlte doesn’t have fifteen minutes left.”
Mo stopped dead in her tracks. “What?”
“They are laced with a special toxin.”
“Fix it or I’ll kill you.”
The woman glanced back at Giorgio. “We need the baby.”
“I said cure him.”
Several masked intruders came pouring in through the entryway, guns raised, but they weren’t there for her and Giorgio. A feminine voice bellowed from one, in German, and Mo didn’t have to understand the language to know the bleeding woman had messed something up.
“I can cure him,” the bleeding woman offered. “But we need the baby. We need Aleksi.”
Mo raised a dagger. “Don’t let my son’s name come from your filthy fucking mouth again.”
The woman tried a smile but it was unsteady. She wavered on her feet. “Then you will come with us,” she said. “If you don’t, they’ll kill you, and we’ll get Aleksi either way.”
“Bez . . . ” Giorgio’s deep voice rumbled in the darkness. Even for a man who was on the verge of death, Mo still saw a few of the masked intruders cringe. He switched from English to Māori. “Go with them. I’ll come for you. You know I’ll come for you. What I can’t do, is lose you. Please, Mo.”
“Fine.” Mo dropped the daggers to the floor. She didn’t have time to think or fight or lament. The quicker a decision was made, the quicker Giorgio could get some help.
Four of the masked intruders came over to her, three to hold and one to, she realized, sedate her. She let them, but not before she verified that they’d gone over to help Giorgio. Aleksi was with Gage. There was no way in hell they would get him. Gage had protected her like some sort of big brother, Secret Service bodyguard when they were children. She could only imagine how that protection would extend to her son.
What looked like an old woman came shuffling into the room. She knelt over Giorgio and moved his hair away from his face, tucking one side behind his ear. Before she zoned out completely, Mo made a vow to kill the old woman, shove her the rest of the way into the grave where one of her feet already dangled. Nobody tucked her man’s hair but her.
“Do we take her?” a voice asked, muffled.
Mo felt her lids lift and lower, heavy like she was trying to blink underwater.
“Take her to the lab,” another voice said. “Then go get the baby.”
* * *
Julien Hunter stared at the screen in front of him, watching as a group of people wearing dark clothes and masks—with the exception of two—lifted Giorgio onto a gurney in the middle of the home he shared with Mo.
“Giorgio, your vitals are stabilizing,” he announced, the message resounding through four additional comm links—Dez’s, Huang’s, Gage’s, and Joel’s. Two faces popped up on the monitor screen behind him. “The old woman is Helmine Wagner, the ninety-something year old widow of Otto Wagner, who we now know was your biological father. The younger one, she goes by Sophia Bayeux. Not much information on her but she did spend some time on the circuit. Give me two fingers for, ‘I’m going to fuck them up right here,’ or one for, ‘I’m going to fuck them up when we get to their destination.’”
Giorgio lifted two fingers.
#7 – THE CHOSEN ONE
When Mo opened her eyes, she felt something cold against her back. Her legs were numb and propped up in stirrups. Her arms were strapped along her sides. An oxygen mask covered her face and someone was visible down between her parted legs, pulling a long cotton swab from a plastic pouch.
“Are you familiar with the 1936 Olympics, Moana Grace Pozza?”
Mo and Giorgio are from the book, “Angels and Assassins: The Dark Knight.”