“They’re all dead!”
“What the hell are you talking about, Charles?” I asked as I took in his disheveled state. His cheap ill-fitting suit was torn at the shoulder and covered in what looked like motor oil. There was an unmistakable splatter of blood across his shirt and jaw.
“They’re dead! Christ. They’re all dead!” Charles raged, as he paced the large hotel suite while pulling on the tight confines of his ruined tie.
Brought forth, no doubt, by Charles’ screams, Robert entered the room. “Do you require my assistance, Sir?”
Despite the circumstances, I had to admire the butler’s calm expression.
Leave it to a Brit not to bat an eye at a man covered in blood ranting about murder. If I wasn’t mistaken, he was probably more concerned about the expensive, cream-colored Persian rug under Charles’ feet than the subject matter of the scene he had just interrupted.
We were in the Sterling Suite of the Langham Hotel in London, which came with the assistance of a professional butler during the length of your stay. The strange irony was Robert had probably seen as much if not more than me in his illustrious career. This was made all the more startling considering I had personally been responsible for toppling several governments as well as arming and starting countless insurrections during my own illustrious career.
Still, I wasn’t so sure a small civil war in a remote portion of Southeast Asia over control of the cocaine trade compared to the debauchery Robert witnessed on a daily basis in the most elite penthouse suite in London, while at the service of the average celebrity or politician as their temporary butler.
At least what I had witnessed and orchestrated had a moral if not ethical purpose.
Well it did if your moral code involved survival at all costs and money.
Turning to the stone-faced gentleman, impeccably dressed in a traditional tweet suit in a muted blue, I waved him off. “No, Robert. My guest is just agitated. I will ring when I need you,” I instructed before turning my attention back to Charles.
And his fucking mess.
I wasn’t even in London by choice. If Charles hadn’t blackmailed Devon, I would be back on my compound in Wisconsin. Since it was evening there now, there was not a doubt in mind I would be deep inside her tight body as I had her bent over the edge of the bed, with my crimson hand mark on her pert ass.
Damn you, Charles.
“You’re not making sense. Who’s dead? The guards?” I demanded, swiftly losing patience, especially as I felt a surge of arousal at just the thought of my beautiful babygirl. I needed this mess with Charles to be over and done, so I could get back to what was really important, my Devon.
Ignoring my question, Charles approached the sideboard.
Grabbing the stopper off the crystal decanter, he dumped half the amber contents into a glass, carelessly spilling the expensive Michter’s 20-year Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey the hotel had provided at my request. Tipping his head back, he took a large swallow before choking. No doubt unused to the fiery bite of the strong liquor.
I watched as his already agitated face turned a blueish purple. He continued to choke and gasp for breath as spittle sprayed the mirror over the sideboard. Using his sleeve, he wiped his mouth, smearing the blood splatter across his cheek.
I shook my head, everything about this man repulsed me.
It took all my years of military and espionage training to remain calm and focused, while I waited for Charles to answer my question.
“No. I mean, yes… some of the guards are dead but… everyone else too. He came in and just shot them. He shot them all!” Charles turned back to the grab the decanter a second time.
I stepped forward and ripped it from his hand. Tossing the decanter back onto the sterling silver tray with a clatter, I fisted a handful of Charles’ ruined shirt and shoved him. Several heavy gold-framed portraits of long dead British nobility rattled as his body connected with the wall.
Twisting the fabric tighter, I forced his head back as I pressed my fist under his jaw. “Enough of this bullshit, Charles. Tell me now. Who exactly is dead?”
“The whole team. Your whole team,” he sputtered.
“Devon?” I challenged.
Charles just nodded.
“Devon is dead?” I had a sick need to hear him say it plainly.
Reeking of whiskey, his fetid breath left his body in a burst as he began to sob. “Yes! She’s dead. Devon is dead. They’re all dead. Lyla, Roman… everyone. He just came in and shot them.”
“Who? Who shot them?
“Vasili Rostov,” sniveled Charles. “He killed them all. He killed your precious Devon.”