Two weeks ago, Shawn stared out at the empty wall frame of the recently erected high-rise building in his late wife’s name. The lower floors had already received walls, but this one – at the top level – had yet to be protected from the elements. He looked at his new building, yet everything now felt empty, dull, and boring without his wife. Catherine, how could he leave her there? left her alone and pregnant? She wanted to come, yet he was too stupid and selfish to leave her instead. Now, burdened by feelings of guilt, regret, and even dismay, he was drowning in his grief. How could everything change from the color rainbow and sunshine to a massive dark and sad downpour of unforgiving rain?
One minute, he had arranged a surprise dinner for them after his grandfather’s funeral; the next, he received a call that his vacation house was blown up to pieces and none of them survived, only some scattered pieces of his state and his men and Catherine’s corpses. He had never been in grief like that, even when his grandfather died, but losing her, it was a sort of grief that was so tremendous and dark, it was a kind of sorrow and regret that made him wish he had died with her and their unborn child. It was more than painful, and just like now, he had never been bothered by heights, and he wasn’t now, even though he knew he was about to die. 1
But how could he orchestrate his revenge if he was dead?
With a setback, he stepped behind as the wind plowed through the fifth-story building platform, blowing his hair around like leaves in a cyclone. He flinched as debris and dust bathed his face as he looked at the massive sight below. But Shawn remained firm, his inner self conjuring up some dark, evil plans for Elizabeth and her men… He had conducted his own investigation and found out that it was Elizabeth and Shawn’s cousin Javier who was behind the bombing that resulted in the killing of his wife and unborn child. Up until now, Elizabeth has remained missing and probably hidden. After all, he had made a hit on her head, one million pounds each for her and his cousin, and the waiting was beyond him. He wanted revenge. His hatred was so deep that he wanted nothing but to kill the two.
However, internally, his mind retreated to a reflective state, just as he’d learned to do so long ago when he was a teenager. He dismissed the external elements-the wind, the sounds and shitty odors of the city and stood tight-lipped against the wall. He wanted information about Javier and his mob. Shawn even let Eddie manage some of the espionage, knowing that his butler had spied all over the place. After all, he had been in the field before, and the old man had acquired information that was even confidential. The knowledge he had amassed about the whereabouts of his cousin Javier was so private that even his hired men weren’t able to earn it. And knowing that he was involved with criminal organizations, assassins, and data of his crimes, he would never assume his
cousin was capable of.
Just last week, Eddie’s men took Javier’s associate, John, from his home in the middle of the night. John’s house was torn apart in their search for something. Shawn knew they wouldn’t find him. The evidence of his cousin’s involvement in his vacation state bombing was not there, yet, anyway. Shawn thought Javier was cleverer than that, and he knew that the man standing behind Javier wanted his grandfather’s gold bars and the diamond. There was no way Shawn was going to let Javier possess it though, but knowing that death didn’t frighten him. And knowing that Javier’s only concern was for his lover, Elizabeth, who was now still missing, was hiding and Eddie believed she knew something about what, and to whom Javier was working on, they might go after her to know more.
Once she was apprehended, Javier could no longer protect her. “This is the last time I’m going to ask you, John. What do you know of Javier’s plan?” The voice came from behind Shawn. It was Eddies, though only by a decade or so. His name was Edmond, and his reputation was darker than most in Mexico’s sprawling criminal underworld. John smirked and allowed himself to laugh, “Do I look stupid?” which was rewarded with a swift chop to his stomach and a series of slaps. The laughter turned to coughs as he dropped to his knees, catching himself with his right hand on the dusty concrete floor. John winced but picked himself up quickly.
“Not so funny now, John?” The battered man nodded a few times, still coughing under his breath. “How do you know that, b***h? Y–you don’t even realize what I’m laughing at, huh! D -do you think I’ll be a-afraid of you? Javier was three times scarier than you all c combined.” John coughed again and smirked.
Shawn looked at them in the mirror and closed his eyes for a bit as if telling Eddie what to do.
“John, John… How stupid of you to even think that… Perhaps you could enlighten me and all of us.” Eddie waved his hand to encompass the other six men in the unfinished skyscraper zone. Shawn’s bodyguards all wore black button-up shirts. Of course, the top two or three buttons were undone to reveal the tops of their former gang’s signature tattoos. The ink was a common subject for anyone who vowed allegiance to Richmond. While there were variations in the designs, the overarching pattern remained similar. The only thing Eddie could correlate it too was a zip-up dark shirt that stayed unzipped at the top like a pair of open tattooed heads. It was one way people could identify them and stay out of their way. That, or do whatever they told besides they were under Richmond now.
And though Eddie was just an ordinary butler to Richmond, everyone knew he was behind all of the recruiting men for Shawn. After all, those who knew him had been under the impression that they should respect Eddie or die in vain. Eddie had risen to power quickly within the Richmond secret organization.
Shawn Richmond governed a large gang portion of the city. And no one defied him. To do
so was to be at the wrong end of a horrible death. But John didn’t know all of that. In his mind, it didn’t change a thing. Shawn was just a businessman, a billionaire. Someone weak and predictable and when John spoke again, it was a word of insult that made Eddie kick him all over again. He did so with persistent intention. Yet John would never bend to this old man, no matter what the threat. He was afraid of Javier the most. “Even if you had the best interrogator or torturer, you wouldn’t be able to get something from me. Someone who spent their life trying to cheat, steal, and murder their way to success only looks for the easy path. It is not the way of mine and, therefore, will never be yours to walk.”
Eddie pursed his lips and nodded. “You’re not wrong, John, I’ve done all those things. I wasn’t born into a life of privilege. But I’ve built something for myself the best way I could. And I know just how to get into you.”
“And once you have something from me, then what? You’ll let me go?” John scoffed and spat on Eddie’s face. That made Shawn raise his brows, but Eddie remained calm..
“I don’t think so, John. But sure, you’ll either end up dead or you’ll be on our side… I need an inside man, you know.”
“Betray Javier? No, I have no intention of deceiving him. I have loftier goals. Once I have Shawn’s head, I will find the key to Richmond’s wealth. And when that happens, I will be the unquestioned authority of all London’s mobs. No one will stand in my way. I will be a king. And my reach will be limitless.” John grumbled his last word, not even convinced by his own words.
Shawn frowned at the man. So, Javier wanted his head as well? He thought that this Richmond wealth was indeed a curse as he cast a disapproving gaze like he would at a child trying to steal another cookie from the jar. “Do you really believe it will bring you such power?” He asked.
“Of course, it will. Wealth is everything. Money is everything. Why wouldn’t it? It is a symbol of power, leadership. It will lead to admiration from all.”
“No,” Shawn shook his head as Eddie said, “No, John, Mr. Richmond is right, it will make you a mark. And those who pursue wealth must possess respect. When I look at you, I see no respect. You are a weakling and a clown, bent on concrete gain and whatever happiness life can offer you. The glory will not be yours. It can only be found by a fighter, not a villain.”
Shawn nodded as Eddie listened to his captive’s rant, but he would hear no more. He held up a finger for silence. Looking down at the ground for a moment, Eddie sniffled and rubbed his nose with the back of his hand. When he looked up, the frustration was gone. His eyes were filled with a horrible determination.
“You’re really not going to tell us what we want to know, are you, John?”
The man diew in a long, deep breath and tilted his chin back. He said nothing, which was
all Eddie needed to hear.
“That’s fine. We’ll find more information about Javier’s whereabouts without you. Even if we have to kill your family lover’s home, I will know. I will dig into the brain of your lover, and when I’m done, I will have more information about who’s behind all of this mess. Understand? You have my word on that. Now, nod if you want to be on our side, or, well, should I remind you that I was known to have Europe’s sickest torture method? Shall I put you on the test?”
Shawn stared out across the bright lights of the big city. It cast a pale glimmer into the darkness above, drowning out all but the brightest stars. Eddie grabbed his captive by the back of the blond shirt and jabbed him over to the edge of the building next to Shawn. The wind picked up and blew across their faces. John’s fake blonde wavy black hair whipped around with each blast. Eddie held his upper body over the rim of unsmooth concrete, leaning him over so he could see the sidewalk and street below. A few cars rolled by, but most of the sidewalks were clear, save for the random late partygoers. John’s eyes widened. Even he wasn’t totally immune to fear.
“Last chance, John. Tell me, are you with us or not? I am not a patient man. Maybe Mr. Richmond here is, but I am not, and I will let you go without a doubt. You should know, Edmond the destroyer will never make a joke”
John couldn’t help but notice his murderer’s look as he trembled in fear and his choice of words that the old man used. Either way, he was a dead man. Whether he told them about
Javier’s plan or not, he was going to end up on the pavement below. There was no stopping that now. The only thing he could do was slow them down and hope. “Go to hell.”
Eddie’s right eye twitched. He took in a quick, nasty breath. “Fool… very well then. “His fingers let go of John’s shirt, and gravity did the rest, pulling him down, deliberately at first. By the time he’d passed the floor five stories down, he was speeding toward the
To Shawn’s surprise, John cried out, the piercing screech shortly consumed by the sounds of the city. He watched the man’s whole fall until it came to a quiet end on the asphalt fifty stories below. Eddie, on the other hand, smiled as his nostrils blazed. He glared at the body. He stepped back from the edge and addressed one of the men. “Ashton, take your men, and search his lover’s house again for anything.” Before the man in question could protest, Shawn raised his hand. “I know you searched thoroughly before. Perhaps there is something we missed the first time, a clue, something that could lead us to Elizabeth or to Javier… something important.”
They all nodded.