Behind the Lens (Behind the Lives)

BOOK: Behind the Lens (Behind the Lives)
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Behind
the Lens

By Marita A. Hansen

 

 

 

 

Copyright

Behind the Lens

(Behind the Lives #3)

Kindle Edition

Copyright 2013 © Marita A. Hansen

Edited by John Hudspith

Cover Art by Marita A. Hansen

Kindle Edition, License Notes

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means whatsoever without the written permission of the author, nor circulated
in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published. Thank
you for respecting the hard work of this author. For subsidiary rights
enquiries email: [email protected]

All characters, names, places, and incidents in this
book are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events, locales, or real persons,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

UK and Commonwealth English used due to the New
Zealand setting.

Any other variation in spelling is also due to where
the book is set.

A special note:
This book is set in 2010, prior to same-sex marriage being legalised in
New Zealand.

 

 

 

1

Kara

Friday

Kara pressed the gate’s
intercom buzzer once again, wondering whether Craven was purposely tormenting
her. She’d been sitting in her car for over ten minutes, waiting for the seven-foot
wrought-iron gate to open sesame, and going over all the possibilities why
she’d been ordered to come to her boss’s estate at such short notice.

1)
He wanted payment. She owed Craven thirty grand, a debt she’d accrued from
borrowing money to send back to her family in Croatia.

2)
He wanted sex, although he’d always gone to the studio for that, which he’d
stopped doing eight months ago, right before marrying.

3)
He had another video surveillance job, the type that required her becoming an
attractive man’s girlfriend, then secretly installing cameras in their bedroom,
the sex tapes becoming entertainment for wealthy clients who were members of an
exclusive porn club.

Her
hands shook as she pressed the buzzer again, praying it wasn’t number one,
although she had a feeling it was, the warning she’d received a few days ago
still colouring her ribs with a patchwork of bruises.

A
deep voice rumbled through the intercom, making her jump. “Sorry for keeping
you waiting,” the man said. “Please drive through.”

Kara
looked up as the gates opened soundlessly, assessing whether it was too late to
take off. She exhaled loudly, knowing she couldn’t run, because the bastard
would hurt her family, his connections stretching across the world to Croatia.

She
drove through the gates, steering her old sedan under a willow canopy, their
drooping leaves waving her by as though she was driving to her own funeral.
Beyond the trees, a tennis court, stables and an equestrian field broke up the
manicured lawns, while straight ahead a white two-storey mansion stood proud on
the horizon. She’d always felt like she was on a film set when she visited
Craven, because his home looked like a larger version of Scarlett O’Hara’s
house from
Gone with the Wind
, something that Kara had watched over and
over again as a teenager. It was just one of the many American films that had
helped her learn English, although her Croatian accent still remained strong,
her time in New Zealand having little or no affect on it.

Kara
turned right at the end of the driveway, and parked next to an old Rolls Royce.
She got out of her car and pulled down her leopard-print work dress, which had
ridden up to her backside. Once decent, or at least semi-decent, the tight
little number far from business attire, she headed for the entrance, her
stilettos click-clacking across the concrete, announcing her arrival. The front
door opened before she reached it, revealing Talia, an old workmate and the
boss’s wife. Dressed in a pale-yellow sundress and with a blonde halo of hair,
the woman looked the picture perfect housewife, her angelic face adding to the
illusion. But Kara knew better, her first memory of Talia still seared in her
mind. Naked and kneeling under a table, Talia had been blowing men for fifty
dollars a load as they played poker.

“The
Devil was once an angel,” Kara said, voicing her thoughts, something she had a
bad habit of doing.

“I
could never understand you, and I’m not referring to your accent,” Talia said,
tucking her hair behind her ears, which was probably to show off the sparkling
earrings adorning them, something that Talia would’ve stolen in the past to own,
her fingers always too free with things that didn’t belong to her—men included.

“Can’t
change a
prostitutka
no matter what she wears,” Kara added.

“Did
you just call me a prostitute?”

Kara
smiled. “No, it’s Croatian for
angel
.”

“You’re
a liar,” Talia snapped. “And unlike
you
, I don’t sell my body anymore.”

“Craven
is more of a client to you than a husband,” Kara indicated to Talia’s earrings,
then to the Rolls Royce parked next to a black Maserati, “and those are part of
your payment.”

Talia
glared at Kara. “Jealousy fits you tighter than that slip of a dress, which
tells me that you’re still shopping at
Whores ’R’ Us
.”

Kara
tugged the hem down.

Talia
crossed her arms over her chest. “You better not be here to fuck my husband or
Saul. You can do the others, but those two are off limits.”

Kara
let go of her dress. “You have a thing for Saul?”

Talia
spun around and walked inside, confirming what Kara had asked. Kara followed
the woman, impressed as usual as she stepped into the grand entrance. The
interior had been upgraded since she’d last been here, the new chandelier above
her head grander, along with the plush red carpet on the staircase, reminding
her of something from a 1930s stage set, polished and primped to perfection.

Talia
indicated for Kara to follow her down a passageway, their heels clacking across
the marble floor like castanets. “If you value your life,” Talia said, stopping
in front of the last room, “keep your acid tongue to yourself, and do whatever
Nigel asks without answering back.” She then left like she couldn’t get away
fast enough, Kara wishing that she could do the same.

Sending
a quick prayer up to God, Kara kissed the rosary tattoo wrapped around her
right forearm and hand, then pushed open the door to Nigel Craven’s sanctum.
The room was elegant: white walls, red curtains and carpets, along with an old
painting of hounds and their gun-wielding owners. Behind a large mahogany desk,
Talia’s husband was sitting staring at a computer, his fingers doing a tap
dance across its keyboard. Kara said hello, but Craven continued typing without
lifting his head. She stood there awkwardly, waiting for him to finish whatever
he was doing. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally looked up.
Fifty-something with a bald spot and spectacles, Talia’s husband gave the
appearance of a mild-mannered accountant. He got to his feet, his wicked smile
saying he was anything but. He walked around the desk and hugged Kara like she
was a long lost daughter, someone he cared for and wouldn’t hurt, but she knew
better, the man always reminding her of the saying:
A wolf in sheep’s
clothing.

“How
are you today, my dear?” Craven said, pulling back to give her a good peruse.

“I’m
fine th-thank you, Nigel,” Kara answered, fear making her trip over her tongue.

Craven
indicated for Kara to take a seat, then returned to his own. “You’re probably
wondering why you’re here?” he said, loosening his tie. He was impeccably
dressed, his crisp white button-down shirt and tailored pants perfectly fitting
his slim physique. She knew he was all wiry muscle underneath, much stronger
than he looked, a body that didn’t match his ordinary face, his smile the only
thing betraying his sinister nature.

Painting
on a smile, she unzipped the front of her dress, getting the required reaction,
Craven’s eyes instantly going to her greatest assets and giving her hope that
she could pull through this meeting without bodily harm. “I know why you would
call someone like me in,” she said, unclipping her bra at the front.

His
smile widened, like he could eat her whole. “I didn’t bring you here for my
entertainment, although I must say, you’re looking quite tempting today, my
dear.”

“Tempting
is good,
da?
” she replied, the Croatian word for
yes
slipping
out, or what many people had called Serbo-Croatian before the war had split Yugoslavia
apart, making her childhood a living hell, her old home in Bosnia long
destroyed. Kara refrained from going to that place in her mind, where she’d
watched her father and older sister herded into a line and shot down.

“Yes,
tempting is very good,” Craven said, ogling her naked breasts, “which is why my
men haven’t taken away your looks, because you have proven a very useful
woman—up until now, that is.”

She
pushed her breasts together. “But I’m still useful, and will do anything to pay
back the money I owe you.”

He
looked up at her face. “DDs are not the currency I’m after, so put your clothes
back on.”

“Are
you sure about that?” she said, easing back in the chair and parting her legs,
her crotchless panties showing him everything on offer.

“Yes!”
he shouted, making her jolt. “And don’t make me say it again.”

She
quickly clipped her bra back together. “Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to
offend, and the only reason I couldn’t pay on time was b-because I had to send
money to my mother.”

“I
don’t care why you couldn’t pay, just that you haven’t.”

“But
I will pay, I promise, all I need is a little more time.”

“You
shouldn’t have interrupted me, I wasn’t finished speaking.”

“I’m
sorry.”

“I’m
not interested in your apologies, nor the money you owe me; instead I brought
you here to say that I’m quite happy to wipe your debt.”

Kara
stopped zipping up her dress, his words taking her by surprise. “Truly?”

“Yes,
but I want one little thing in return.”

Kara’s
hopes came crashing down. She was stupid for believing the wolf for even a
second, because Craven never did anything for free and nothing was ever
‘little’ with him.

“What
do you want me to do?” she asked, willing herself to look at this as a
reprieve, not her funeral.

He
smiled wickedly, his eyes amused. “I want you to
do
Dante Rata.”

Kara
stared at him, the name stunning her. Although it had reached her ears, she
couldn’t process that it had been uttered. “Did you say
Dante
?” she
finally asked, rolling the name around on her tongue, tasting it like she
wanted to taste the man himself. Dante had been the only man she’d ever fallen
in love with, but he belonged to her past, someone she never thought she would
be allowed to see again.

“Yes,”
Craven answered, looking pleased with himself. “I’m finally granting your wish:
I’m allowing you to go back to him.”

“But
why? You’ve never allowed me to return to past surveillance jobs before, and
you said you’d kill my family if I went anywhere near him.”

“No
harm will come to your family, and you’re the only person who can do this job.”

“Then
what do you want me to do with him?”
or
to
him
, because, God, she
would do so much.

“I
want you to become his girlfriend again.”

“I
would love to,”
intensely,
“but I highly doubt he’d take me back after
what I said to him.”

“Yes,
I saw that video,” he said, his smile widening. “From memory you called him a
prostitute and said some other rather nasty things. His reaction was most
entertaining. He destroyed his room right after you left, tore it apart to the
point that his brothers and cousin had to restrain him. He totally broke down,
sobbed like a baby.”

Kara
stared at him in shock, his words slashing her heart to threads. She hadn’t considered
what Dante might have gone through after she’d walked out, was too caught up
with her own sorrow at being ordered to leave him. And she’d been told by
Craven’s whores that he’d moved on from her like she’d meant nothing, taking
another woman into his bed within days, then another and another, his exploits
now legendary.

“Are
you crying?” Craven asked.

She
scrubbed at her eyes. “How do you expect me to be his girlfriend again after
what I said to him?”
You heartless bastard!
She wanted to slit his
throat, to shoot him in the head, to kick him in the nuts, to totally and
utterly destroy him like he’d done to her.

“You’re
a talented woman, Kara,” Craven said, “so I’m sure you’ll win him back.”

“But
for how long? Because I can’t face it if you make me leave him again.”

“If
you achieve what I want, you can have him for however long you want.”

“Which
is forever.”

Craven
laughed. “Okay, forever it is. So, will you accept?”


Da.
But why do you want me back with him?”

“The
Ratas are leaving my employ and moving away, which will lose me considerable
revenue, their monetary offer to cut ties a pittance in comparison. I found out
today that their cousin lied to them about why they are tied to me: That he
owes me three-hundred thousand dollars—”

“He
doesn’t?” Kara said, remembering the reason Dante had given her for why the
Ratas sold drugs: that they were paying off their cousin’s debt, something that
never seemed to diminish, Dante’s gambling habit exacerbating the problem.

“Oh,
Hunter does owe me, but only fifty grand, which he could pay back easily if he
sold his house, but I’m not interested in obtaining that money, if anything, I
wrote it off a long time ago, Hunter’s loyalty to me more than enough payment,
especially since he did time on my behalf.”

“Did
you tell Ash and Dante this?”

“No.
I allowed then to believe Hunter’s exaggeration.”

BOOK: Behind the Lens (Behind the Lives)
9.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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