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©Ryan Michele 2019 Wicked Words Publishing, LLC
Connected in Code (Ravage MC Rebellion Series Book Four) A Motorcycle Club Romance of Wrong Way & Hayden
The panic and fear they showed in the movies was all a farce. On screen, the actor’s eyes always tended to not have that one little punch that sold the scene for me. That twinkle that said everything in their world was about to explode was vacant from their expression.
It was a hidden depth that could only be seen in someone who was experiencing the emotions as they unfolded around them, tearing at their gut and gripping them so hard they felt like crumbling under the scrutiny. It was that all-consuming panic. The kind that froze time.
Currently, this was me.
My world decided to collapse, sending me in a freefall. The kind where I knew I wouldn’t ever be able to catch myself in time.
Either way, I was going to die. The options all left me with the same outcome. It was my choice if it was messy or clean.
Their blood would be on my hands before my last breath left my body.
That was a vow.
The café was bustling with early morning traffic. All the locals coming in and out for their coffee of choice then rushing off to whatever day job they wasted their lives at. Only if they had smiles on their faces would I think differently. Most wore scowls, had the patience of a gnat, and their sour expressions only got worse when their coffee wasn’t just perfect.
Earlier, one patron dumped a full cup onto the counter, spilling the liquid concoction everywhere. Without a single second of hesitation, the asshole left, leaving the employees to deal with their temper tantrum. The workers got backed up because of cleaning up the mess but recovered quickly.
I liked my coffee too, but come on, people, this was no reason to be a dick! I had found in my time in this world, people thrived on being assholes, focusing on what was wrong instead of what they had going right.
Life had taught me the hard way early on that the little things mattered, and it could always be worse.
People came and went quickly, the workers behind the counter going at breakneck speed trying to feed the beast. Caffeine was the elixir of the gods, and these patrons needed their fix. It was far worse than meth or cocaine, except this one was legal. These days, no one thought about the shit they were putting in their bodies. Think about how much that simple drink was needed to start the day just right.
Yet, no one seemed to catch on to how truly tight the hold coffee had on their minds and bodies.
Everyone was in a hurry to get nowhere and everywhere at the same time. The vicious cycle of life that rolled and rolled, never stopping, never taking a breather. The space, while not overly large, wasn’t cramped, but the lines of twitching, anxious customers remained steady.
No one spared me a second glance, far too preoccupied to take notice of the change that was about to occur. The one that I had meticulously planned.
Staring at the computer screen, letters, numbers, and symbols filled it, rolling at an incredible speed. The café had shit security, and hacking into their system was so easy a child with no computer skills could do it. With my mastery of networking, this was a walk in the park. Making it secure and untraceable was too damn easy, and in my line of work, it was a necessity.
My guess, this place didn’t expect someone like me to come in and invade them, cracking into everything that ran on computers. People always underestimated others and their abilities. That was when bad things happened. Doubt everyone, trust nothing beyond what you could do for yourself.
The tinkling bell over the door rang again, and in walked my target: an average man appearing to blend in with the crowd, in dress slacks and a white button-down shirt. He didn’t stick out. Instead, he blended in with all the morning commuters.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing must always be watched.
Never judge a book by its cover was the old saying. Mine was never judge a person based on their smile. In my experience, the ones you thought you could trust were, in actuality, the wolves ready to eat you alive.
This man had come in every day this week, taking the same table by the window after getting his coffee.
I sat at the opposite end of the café, my laptop open and covering most of my face, latte at my side, and a blueberry muffin I’d only taken a few chunks out of on the table. With all the other computers, tablets, and phones attached to their humans, it was the perfect spot for me to blend in.
He ordered his drink, waited for it, then sat in the exact spot I pegged him for. The spot where no one could see his laptop screen. He wasn’t jittery or looking around him with any worry. Mr. Davidson was cool, calm, and collected as he sat there opening his laptop and beginning to ruin people’s lives.
He’d been doing it for a while now. The way he had gotten over time and again without a second glance from anyone gave him a sense of safety and security here. As if he could do anything in the world and nothing would touch him. A huge mistake for him.
I had the perfect view of him. While his front was to the window, his back was to a small alcove in the wall. Perfect for being inconspicuous, but still appearing to be one with the crowds.
Giving him a few moments to get booted up and begin typing, I hit the send button on my laptop. Head down toward the screen, my eyes were focused on the man to gauge his reaction. The glasses covering my eyes were merely so should he look up and try to make eye contact, he would instead find a glare. They cost a mint, but it kept a target from being able to truly zero in on what I may or may not be looking at. Tools for my trade and every detail in my line of work mattered. The fake earbuds in my ears gave the illusion I wasn’t listening to everything around me.
One would think I couldn’t hear anything with the hustle and bustle of the place, but it was one thing I was blessed with—fantastic hearing. I could hear a worker in the back complaining about their job and then one talking about an upcoming wedding. It wasn’t some supernatural bullshit. No hocus pocus. Just me being able to hear well. One thing that kept me alive.
The moment Mr. Davidson opened the file his head shot up as he looked around the café in haste, checking around him for the culprit that invaded his space. It was the only time he let on that he was doing anything bad or wrong. It was like a nervous twitch with him because as soon as it came, it went out like a flash of lightning.
Grabbing my skinny vanilla latte, I took a deep pull letting the warmth wrap around me. Damn this place made good shit, no wonder they were crushed. Even after this job was over, I’d come back. That said a lot for the café.
Gazing at the screen, the HTML code started flashing rapidly, my computer saving every little scrap of code from Mr. Davidson’s hard drive, downloading it to a private server for safekeeping. Here’s a tip: You get an email from someone you don’t know, don’t click on the links inside said email. It was a bona fide recipe for you to get hacked. You may as well give the man or woman every password you’d ever had in your life because in no time at all they would be someone else’s knowledge.
I had a plan B in place should the man be smart enough not to open the link. Frankly, I was rather surprised he allowed my task to be so easy.
While I already had enough information on this asshole, it was a hackers craving to have all of it, every last scrap of detail. One never knew when it would come in handy. I never let the opportunity go to waste. Ever.
Not that he’d have anything after the shit hit the fan.
While the code flashed, I sent the second message from the same email address as the first. This one took almost a full minute for Mr. Davidson to click on. Peeking up, his face was white as a sheet, and a bead of sweat danced on his brow. Good. Not so cool and calm now, are you, asshole?
He finally clicked the message, and that was when I saw the man tremble, full out and unabashed, like he’d seen his life flashing before his eyes. Inwardly, I smiled to myself knowing photo after photo was opening in rapid succession over and over, plaguing him with his dirty deeds. There were four hundred and thirty-five images to be exact. Each and every one showing that I’d been watching him for the past two weeks. Knowing what he’d been doing and digging as deep as possible into his life. He didn’t know me, but I sure as fuck knew him. Too well, unfortunately.
When the photos transitioned, I could see the change immediately because his body jolted, his hands clenched, but his eyes were riveted to the screen. They were all photos he had on a supposedly secure cloud in the digital sky. It wasn’t secure, and he was a lowlife piece of shit who I really wouldn’t mind seeing taken from this earth.
Knowing the pictures that were flashing, my stomach twisted, never being able to get the images out of my head. Some things could never be unseen. Some cases left scars behind, and this one would leave them for a long time. I vomited several times while doing this case, luckily able to get to the bathroom in time. Those images would be seared in my head forever, but I was doing something about it. If I had to look at disgusting, graphic photos to fix this and make this asshole pay for his crimes, then so be it.
Mr. Davidson had an online porn site where viewers could watch very grotesque things while paying a steep fee. They could even request the activities for an even greater fee. Most of the women didn’t appear to be willing in them, and Mr. Davidson wasn’t opposed to any specific age range of girls. He liked them all.
The case started off clean cut at first. My client thought one of his employees was using the company’s computers for something not company related. Their tech person couldn’t isolate it, so he called me. Two weeks ago I found out exactly what this guy was doing, and five days ago he started coming here, the café, instead of going in early to work to do his dirty deeds on company time.
He had a general knowledge of computers and probably got suspicious of being looked into at his job. Mr. Davidson couldn’t have that. His business was too lucrative. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars every few months.
So much so, his day job was just so the tax man and authorities would see money coming in for him to pay his rent, live, and not get suspicious of all the ‘extra’ he had in a lock box at his bank.
What do you want? he responded, now looking around the café with frantic eyes trying to search out the one who dared threaten him. Funny.
For you to go to jail where a man named Spike will fuck you in the ass every … single … night. My response was catty, but I didn’t give a fuck because it was true, and, in actuality, that was being nice.
Please. I’ll do anything, he pleaded.
Awe. Wasn’t that cute? He thought he had a say-so in this matter. He thought wrong. Nothing he could do right now would appease me. Nothing.
The case took on a brand new light for me once I found out what he was doing. It was this urge to see him fall to the depths of Hell and never to resurface. He needed to pay and suffer for what he’d done. No penance was too great. I wanted him to feel the scars on his soul the way those women would forever be changed by his greed.
I had everything. The locations of where he did his disgusting deeds, the clients, the money transactions, even some of the girls’ names. With this last upload, I was hoping to find anything that could’ve been missed and get them. Not only was he going down, but his clients were too.
Five million dollars. Wired to this account. 8675309 in five minutes.
His eyes turned crazed as he read the message, and I had the tune of the song playing in my head. The panic was almost laughable. His crime, however, was not. Obviously, he wasn’t prepared to get caught.
I can’t get you that kind of money that fast!
That was the whole point, asshole. I had no intention of him paying me. That shit needed to go to the girls—the ones he hurt—but I knew where he had the money stashed, and I knew how to get it. He stole from them, and now I would steal from him.
Put the key to the safe deposit box on the table.
It took everything I had inside of me not to smile wide when his hands started to tremble, then his arms and legs wouldn’t stop bouncing. It was almost as if he was having a seizure.
Gotcha, asshole. Welcome to Hayden’s world where Hayden always takes down her prey.
I knew he had that key on him. It was too important not to.
A text came through on my phone saying dispatched out. The timing had to be perfect. Like everything in life, timing was everything. Too early, fuck everything up. Too late, still fuck everything up. It was a balancing act and one I’d become pretty damn good at.
Just then a tall, very handsome man walked up to Mr. Davidson’s table. He had on a white button-down shirt, black pants, and a dark green apron tied around his waist. The man held out his hand to Mr. Davidson and said a few words. Mr. Davidson looked up at him with wide eyes, no doubt trying to figure out who the man was. If he were smart, which Mr. Davidson had yet to show me he was intelligent, he would be memorizing the features of the man. Like the way his nose had this flat spot indicating it once, or maybe even twice, had been broken but not reset. Or the way he had these crystal blue eyes, deep in color, rich like the ocean of the Caribbean. Those were important details when seeking retaliation.
Mr. Davidson, though, right now his mind wasn’t on vengeance or even a way out. He was so consumed in his panic, he simply gave in.
Mr. Davidson slipped the key off the table and put it in the man’s hand. The man walked away, disappearing through the door to the kitchen and was gone.
Just then the sounds of sirens in the distance could be heard as I watched the final bit of code come through on my computer.
I clicked send on the email I had waiting for my client with an attached zip file of all the shit I had on Mr. Davidson. This case was officially done, but I needed to see one more thing out.
The police lights flashed as they came to an abrupt halt by the front door. Mr. Davison got spooked, jumped up from the table, and barreled toward the back exit. He was coming at full speed as I stuck my foot out just enough to trip him up. He went flying down, hitting his face as the cops ran in. I fought to stifle the laugh brewing inside me.
Karma was a bitch, and so was I.
The cops were on him in a flash, and while Mr. Davidson tried to turn his head to see me, I was packed up, in a fake panic about the situation happening, and out the door. I didn’t think he saw me, but he’d be none the wiser if he did.
Only when I got in my Camaro did I smile wide. He was going down, and I’d deleted his entire site. Everything was gone in a puff of smoke.
Tossing my glasses in my purse, I took a deep breath.
A knock on my window had my head whipping around. Rocco, my best friend, was leaning down, the key to the safe deposit box hanging from his finger. He rounded the car as I unlocked the doors. His bulk sat, shifting with him. “That was too easy,” he complained. Rocco liked action, chasing people down and beating the shit out of them.
This kind of work, he found boring.
“Shut up and take that shit off your face,” I ordered, grabbing the key he picked up from Davidson and inspecting it. Just an ordinary key with the number seven-o-seven.
“Fuck no. I’m goin’ with ya to the bank to see how much this shit has.” He had on a latex nose to disguise himself, contacts in, a mole drawn on, hair slicked back and quite honestly, he looked ridiculous.
I let out a sigh knowing he was going to say this. The man had been by my side since I was fourteen-years-old, when he found me behind a dumpster hiding from some asshole who tried to take more than my clothes.
Tears streamed out of my eyes, over my cheeks, and down to my chin. My entire body was shaking, and I couldn’t pull myself together. The knife in my hand was covered in blood, his blood. The man who tried to hurt me.
His blows were nothing like my father’s. His were halfhearted at best, and I knew from experience I could take a lot when it came to getting hit and kicked.
The knife was the only weapon I had. It was only by chance I came upon it, finding it laying in the drainage ditch.
I shoved that knife as hard as I could up the man’s gut, then ran. Ran like I’d never ran before—through the streets, down the side woods, and into the center part of the city.
Stopping because no breath was left in my body, I ended up here behind a dumpster, heaving and crying.
“Hey, you okay?” A male voice came from beside me, and I jumped, holding the knife out in front of me. He held up his hands in surrender.
“Leave me alone,” I tried to growl, but I couldn’t disguise the hitch in my voice. Fear snaked down my skin, and the trembling got worse.
“Hey, I’m not gonna hurt you.”
Yeah, right. Like I’d believe him. “Go away!”
“Are you hurt?” he asked, and something about it made me pause. Was I hurt. No. I wasn’t because I defended myself.
I shook my head.
“I’m Rocco. Been out here long?” He took a drag off of a cigarette.
“I’m fine. You need to go,” I ordered.
“Hey, Fine,” he said. Slowly, the corner of my lip lifted, and I had no idea why. I mean, he was funny in a way, but he was a stranger.
“What do you want?”
“Nothin’, Fine. Just saw you huddled up here and wanted to see if you’re okay.”
My head shook, not believing him. No one I’d met out here on the streets have given a care about me. No one. He’d be no different.
It was his turn to shake his head. He pointed his finger beyond the dumpster. “I’m over there if you need help.”
I took him in from top to toe. Dark hair and eyes. Dirt covered his jeans and T, looking similarly to my clothes.
It was when he turned and left me that I rose from my crouch, eyes wild as I looked for him. “Hey! Wait!”
That was the beginning of our friendship which grew into him being the only person I could trust for a long time. I’d do anything for Rocco. Anything.
“It’s best if I go alone.” I fired up the car and got the hell out of there, only to pull into a Target and park.
There was prep work to do for the next part of my plan. Reaching in the back, I grabbed a blonde wig that when I put it on appeared like real hair. It cost a fortune, but was well worth it. So was the red and the light brown and the five others I had at home.
It was best to keep a low profile with the things I did.
“You always get to do the fun shit,” he grumbled as he pulled off the latex nose and chin we worked on to disguise him. YouTube was such a vat of information. Just type in how to disguise yourself and bam, instant results.
“You wanted in on this. Not me,” I argued, positioning the wig correctly, looking into my rearview mirror. Blonde wasn’t a bad color on me, but I loved my long brown locks.
Rocco turned in his seat. “You needed me. Admit it.”
“I admit nothing.”
“Ass,” he muttered.
“Hole,” I finished.
We both started chuckling. “Let’s do this.”
I needed to get into the bank and get the money out before the cops figured that part of the puzzle out. Not saying Mr. Davidson would freely give that information to them, but it was always possible. Especially if he thought it could stop anyone else from getting it. The information sent to the cops and my client didn’t lead them to the box. If the cops got their hands on it, they’d seize it and put it through the court systems. From there it would sit in an evidence room to collect dust. Fuck that. The women in those pictures needed it.
“Fine, you got your ID?” Rocco asked like this was my first rodeo.
My head shook slightly. “Yes, Dad. I have my ID and paperwork showing Mr. Davidson gave me access to the box. I am his wife, after all.”
He hadn’t really. It was all forged, and since it came from the bank’s system, they should be none the wiser. That didn’t mean I couldn’t get caught. That was actually a very high probability, especially if the banker dealing with the boxes knew Mr. Davidson personally. From what I could find he didn’t, but some banker’s paid close attention to the people coming in and out of their banks.
The thoughts of getting caught thrilled me. What could I say, I was a twisted bitch. Not that I wanted to be found out. If it weren’t for the girls, I wouldn’t give two shits about the money, but they would need it to heal. If that was even possible.
At least it would be something. I’d learned the hard way, something was better than nothing because nothing was horrible.
I reached back and grabbed my laptop, pulling it open, and setting it on Rocco’s lap. “Once I’m in for ten minutes, hit this button.” I pointed to the F3 key. “It will shut down the cameras in the walkway and in the deposit box room. Set your timer.”
Rocco forgot shit all the time. This he couldn’t forget, or my ass would be toast. Another layer of shit that could go wrong and fast. While forgetful, he was one of the few people I trusted on this earth.
Rocco pulled out his phone and set the timer. “Got it.”
“Mean it. You don’t cut those feeds I’m fucked, Rocco.”
He waved his hand. “Know I’m not always on time, but with this I will be.”
“Right.” I sure as hell hoped he was. Depending on someone else was hard for me even if Rocco was like a brother to me.
I pulled the car out of the parking lot and headed to the bank. That information wasn’t hard to get at all either. They needed to up their security as well. One would think a bank would have top of the line shit, but not this one.
Pulling into the lot, Rocco looked at me like I had a screw loose. “Don’t worry. They’re fake plates.”
“A deep purple Camaro is not inconspicuous.”
“Oh look at you using those big words.”
“Shut the fuck up. Seriously though…” His voice trailed off while I reached over and grabbed his leg, giving it a squeeze.
“It’s all good. I’ve already disabled the outside cameras. They’ve been done since before we went to the café.” While he brought up a good point in the color choice of my car, I loved it. I could have rented a vehicle for the day, but I love any chance to be in my car.
“You sure about this?”
My face turned hard. I could feel it tightening. Hell, my body went with it. The women he hurt needed justice. While what I was doing was illegal as fuck, they would have something tangible to help them survive. “Yeah, I’m fuckin’ sure. Those girls will get this damn money.”
“Ten minutes,” I ordered once again, grabbing a large bag from the backseat and gliding out of the beautiful machine. Damn, I loved this car. One of the many things that I now owned outright. All mine.
“Got it,” he said as I slammed the door and watched him hit the go button on his phone.
Let’s get this shit done.
My stupid heels clicked on the concrete. Hated wearing the fuckers, but I needed to look like a match to Mr. Davidson in case anyone recognized his name. Even though they were designer, I could feel the damn blisters forming. The shit I did…
Entering, I took stock in all the exits. Having already looked everything up online, I was just double checking. A woman should always know her options of escape, no matter the situation. The best defense was a good offense, another one of life’s lessons.
Everything was as it seemed, and I made my way up to the front desk. Smiling widely, I asked, “Hello. I’m here to access my safe deposit box.”
The woman’s glasses sat on the very tip of her nose, and when she looked up it felt as if she was scolding me. Like she was some snotty librarian who would smack you with a ruler for talking. I instantly didn’t like her, but I wasn’t much for people in the first place.
I dug out the ID and handed it to the woman while giving her my name. “Mrs. Constance Davidson.”
She didn’t take the ID. Hell, didn’t even glance at it. Instead, she ordered, “Go sit over there”—she pointed her bony finger in the direction of a bunch of chairs where several others were sitting—“and someone will be with you shortly.”
I read her name plate. Gladys Brems. She just got scratched on my to do list. She surely had some skeletons in her closet that needed rattling.
People really just needed to be nice to one another. Cordial at the very least. One never knew who they’d spread their joy to. It could be someone who could fuck up their lives with the click of a mouse. I considered this a public service, teaching assholes life lessons.
“Thank you,” I responded politely, biting back a smartass retort for her. If I weren’t here to steal a shit load of money, I would’ve snapped at the woman for being a bitch and told her she was a crone with a cob up her ass. Keeping that in check was difficult but doable because there was a bigger picture here.
Making my way over to an area of chairs, I nodded to the other people waiting, sat, and crossed my ankles. The pencil skirt was tight as hell, and my knife holster bit into the skin between my thighs. After readjusting, I looked down to see my blouse was unbuttoned down to my cleavage, giving a very good display for the banker guy I’d come in contact with. At least if my searches were right, I’d have to meet with the head of the bank or the man below him. Both men.
“Mrs. Davidson.” A male voice came from beside me as I rose graciously from the chair, happy to hear the baritone, and hoping like hell the man wasn’t gay. That would for sure put another wrench in my plan.
Heels may not be my thing, but I knew how to work them. Hell, I knew how to work my body. Men were fickle creatures. Money, power, and sex were all they truly cared about. To hell with everything else. Three things I could work with.
He held out his hand which I took, smiling wide for him. “I’m Mr. Finch, please come this way.” He released me and held out his hand for me to proceed him.
Mr. Finch entered an office, where he motioned me to take a seat while he closed the door. The office was bland, all stark white, dark wood furniture, and nothing on the walls. No pictures lined the shelves, just what appeared to be old books. This guy was super exciting, catch my sarcasm. “I understand you’d like to get into a safe deposit box,” he asked, coming around his desk and sitting in the high-backed chair. If nothing else in the room looked comfortable, that at least did.
“Yes,” I answered, taking a seat. One thing I’d learned in my many years was never to give information freely. If someone wanted to know something, you made them work for it and still only gave them what they asked for, never overindulging. Straight and to the point was the only way to go.
Therefore, you were never putting yourself out there. Instead, using honey to lure them.
“May I see your ID?”
Without speaking, I dug into the bag and pulled out the wallet, opening it and sliding the plastic out, then handing it to him.
He looked it over closely as he typed some keys into his computer. This was taking too long, and I could feel the tension creeping up my spine. He didn’t believe me. He was going to find out I was a fake. Something in my bones was telling me this. Keeping my breathing calm, I waited.
“Well, Mrs. Davidson. Mark never said he had a wife.”
My face turned puzzled playing the game I started. “Well that’s strange. We’ve been married for three years.”
Mr. Finch shook his head. “He was just in here a couple of weeks ago and never said a word.”
I shrugged in nonchalance. “I don’t know what to tell you. Mark usually handles this kind of thing, but he’s unavailable at the moment. Are you sure it’s not on your computer, my name or emergency contact or something?”
The man’s scrutiny was pissing me off, but he was the key to getting what I needed. They say you get more flies with honey than vinegar—too bad I was more acidic.
“There has to be some mistake, Mr. Finch. My husband had me sign documents when he first opened it after our wedding. He said it was for a rainy day.”
“And is there a rainy day?” He raised an eyebrow at me.
I sighed deeply coming up with a story on the fly. “Yes. The dishwasher leaked all over my hardwood kitchen floors. There was so much water it made the wood bow. It all needs to be ripped out and replaced. Then I have to get a new dishwasher.”
His eyes focused on mine, and I kept my expression exasperated as I continued.
“Not only that, the water got under some of the cabinets and mold is starting to grow. We were away for a long weekend, and came back to this … mess. Who would think mold grew so fast? Mark told me to come down and handle the box so I was prepared when the contractors came. He’s trying to get it handled, but you know he has work too.”
My hands flew out like he knew what the fuck I was talking about and could understand my exasperation. What I did know was water warped wood and it would cost some cake to fix. End of story.
“I see. That’s very unfortunate.” He paused. “Do you happen to have another form of ID on you?” My pulse picked up …..
The story continues in Connected in Code! Releases 4.30.