“I’ve done the research, and found no trace of Sophie after a trip to Egypt in *his* company,” Ethan pointed at Kane glaring. “I also found that the last time she was seen, you were carrying her.” He glared at me. “It’s suspicious that you’re keeping company.”
“Let Tania go and I’ll tell you everything,” I said.
“I’m not getting near that hellcat,” he replied. He pointed at a set of scratches on his face, “She’s dangerous. She stays exactly where she is until we’re done.”
“Tania?” I said softly.
“It’s fine, Shrimp. I won’t leave without you.” I tried to think of a way to warn her that might not be an option.
“What do you know about your sister’s profession?” I asked.
Ethan puffed with pride. “She’d worked her way up to international sales rep, she’d been all over the world. She usually sends us a postcard from each place. The one from Egypt was her last.”
“When you met Mr Kane here, does he look like a sales rep?”
Ivy looked up at Kane, “Sophie told us the company usually sent along a bodyguard because some places could be rough for a woman. He’s obviously a failure.”
I sighed. I was going tell them truth but would they believe? “Sophie lied to you from first to last. She worked for a criminal organisation called The Family. She worked as an enforcer, an assassin.”
“I worked for a rival group, The Company. Sophie’s nickname there was “The Eliminator” as she was suspected of killing a number of members.”
Kane cleared his throat. “She told me your death would make it an even dozen.” Ivy’s eyes grew wide as she processed that.
“I’d been sent to Egypt to sort out a problem for The Company. I contacted a few people and went back to camp. Accepted a drink made by Sophie and woke up trapped in the Great Pyramid. I was meant to die there. I managed to escape, and found out more about who set me up.”
“So, you and that traitor over there killed Sophie?”
“God no, Kane was Sophie’s muscle. I removed him before I went after Sophie.”
“Why is he alive?”
“I got him sent to prison. He wasn’t dangerous to me. When he got out, he’d have a new assignment. Sophie was the dangerous one. If she found out I survived her first attempt, she’d try again. As long as Sophie lived, I was in danger.” I paused to see if Ethan had anything to say.
“What was Sophie like to work with?” he asked Kane.
“Do you want an honest answer?” Kane replied.
“Of course,” said Ivy. I’d nearly forgotten she was there.
“Frankly, Sophie was a bitch. She was verbally abusive to all of her partners and no one worked with her twice. I hadn’t worked with her and that’s why I was sent to Egypt. I’d already told my superior that I was never working with her again. Getting called shit-for-brains all the time gets old. The prison was vile but it was almost worth it to be away from her.”
“Sophie had drugged a drink and given it to me. Once Kane was gone, I drugged her lunch before giving it to her. I took her back to the river near camp, put her on a wood raft and pushed it out into the water.”
“She might be alive in wilderness?” asked Ivy.
“The river is infested with large crocodiles and one of them flipped over the raft. She’s dead.” I stopped and looked directly at Ethan then at Ivy. “I am responsible for what happened. My wife only found out a few days ago and Kane was on his way to prison. Let them leave and you can do what you like to me.”
“Our sister killed 11 people?” asked Ivy. Kane nodded.
“How many have you killed, Mr Shrimpton?” asked Ethan.
I held up a single finger. “Just Sophie and only after she’d tried to kill me.”
“Ivy?” Ethan asked his sister.
“I’m still puzzled. Why is Mr Kane with you if he works for a different organisation?”
Kane replied. “I was kicked out of The Family after Sophie disappeared. I moved here, asked the local boss for a job. He told me to guard Mr Shrimpton.”
“The boss has a current manpower shortage and a terrible sense of humour. He’d think it was funny to give me a bodyguard who had once helped try kill me,” I said.
“You know,” said Kane to me, “I’m not going to leave. If I fail, I’ll never get another job. I’d be better off dead.”
“I won’t leave either. We leave here together Shrimp, or not at all,” declared Tania. It wasn’t what I expected but I could tell that Tania was determined.
I looked at Ethan. “So, here we are. You’ve heard my side of the story, you’ve also heard that my wife and my bodyguard aren’t leaving. This ends today. What’s it to be?”
“You’re not what we expected,” started Ivy. “You’re not pure evil.”
“Oh, I am evil. I’d happily cheat, steal or blackmail to get what I want or need. Murder is a last resort, though obviously…”
Ethan nodded at Tania, “You do inspire love.” He looked at Kane, “And loyalty, would you stayed for Sophie?”
“I can’t imagine Sophie rescuing anyone but Sophie. She’d never give the option like he has.” He looked toward me, “I’d work as his muscle again, if asked.”
“So, what was the point of all of this?” I asked.
“We wanted to know what happened to Sophie,” said Ethan slowly.
Ivy said, “We wanted to know why something happened to Sophie.”
“Our monster hunt led to you. You threaten us after we had threaten your family. You offer yourself to save others.”
Ivy points at Kane, “You tell us that Sophie was horrible to work with and killed eleven people. She really was a monster.”
“So what’s the next part of the plan?” I asked.
Ethan just shook his head.
“Amateurs,” said Kane.
Ethan looked a little annoyed by that. “I’m a professional accountant.”
“He has a point. You’re not a professional in our terms. They would have come, done the business and left,” I said.
“Assassination, Ethan. Our organisations don’t fuck around. Are you prepared to kill me?” I spread my arms and stood still. “Then make it quick.”
Ethan picked up a large knife and started toward me. Kane also moved, ready to block him. “Travis, no,” I said softly. “Trust me.” Kane’s eyes narrowed for a moment, then he nodded and stepped back.
I stood very still and waited. When the blade was nearly touching my throat, I said, “My daughter’s name is Lana. She is four and a half. She looks just like her mother. If I die today, she may have some vague memories of her daddy when she’s older. Toby is my son and he’s only two. He thinks anything his big sister can do, he can do. He can’t but he tries. He’s too young, he’ll never remember me. There are pictures and stories but he won’t remember his daddy.” I stared straight at Ethan. “If you do kill me, then you have to choose if you will kill both my wife and Kane. If you don’t, they are witnesses to your crime. If you do, you have the blood of three people on your hands. It’s difficult, which will you do?”
It took a very long minute before Ethan looked at Ivy and they both shook their heads. Ethan backed away, knife still in hand. “I thought I could for Sophie’s sake. But I can’t. You deserve it, he may deserve it but I just can’t.” He put the knife down.
“Not many people can,” I said.
“Will you kill us?” asked Ivy.
I picked up the knife and walked over to cut the ropes off my lovely wife still tied in a chair. “Tania, you have the biggest grievance. Should they die?”
Tania shook her head as she stood up. “They’ve done no real damage and I don’t approve of murder. Let them go.”
“You heard her. Go home, don’t come back. The next time our paths cross, you might not be this lucky.” They nodded and began packing their gear.
“Let’s go talk to Ted. I owe him a long explanation. And by now, he’ll need to be rescued from Lana,” I said.
“Rescued? From a four year old?” asked Kane as he started the car.
“Ginger adores Lana and she takes advantage of it,” I explained. Tania happily nestled against me. “Sweetheart, are you really all right?”
“Yes, just fine. Thank you for letting them go.”
I kissed her. “You said to.”
We arrived home and went next door. Tania collected the kids while I had a long chat with Ted.
“What the fucking hell was that shit?” he complained. “Dumping your children off and bolting without any explanation.”
“Our amateurs were Pesce’s siblings. They had Tania and had arranged a meet. They wanted revenge for Sophie but we convinced them to just leave town.”
“Too soft, Shrimp, you should have killed them.”
“Tania said not to. I’m sure they won’t try again.” I pointed at Kane standing to one side. “I was right about him after all.”
“You’d recommend him?”
I nodded. “Definitely. If I need muscle, I’d work with him again.”
Ginger walked up to Kane. “Good job on the first assignment. You can go home, tomorrow you’ll get your pay. You’ll be up for the next job, though I don’t know when that will be.” They shook hands and Kane left.
“I better go. Thanks for looking after the kids.”
“You know I’ll look after my godchildren when you ask,” replied Ted.
I nodded and headed for home. Where my family was safe and sound, at least for now.
“Tania,” I said. “There is no way I can promise this will never happen again unless…”
“Unless, Shrimp?” Tania stroked my cheek.
“If we move away, change our family name, never contact anyone in Twinbrook again. We would have to start over.”
“Do you think that would really work?”
“It should, if we live quietly. Be like everyone else,” I replied. “If we stay here, this might happen again.”
“We’d have to leave behind everything?” Tania asked. I nodded. “You’d be good for the rest of your days? No schemes, no plots?”
“I’d have to, for you, for the kids.”
“Where would we go?”
“I dunno. Open a map and point? If we end up in Sunset Valley, you could met my family, become part of the family clan. Remember though, no contacts with anyone from here.”
“I have to think…”