Authors: Jenika Snow
Evernight Publishing ®
Copyright© 2016 Jenika Snow
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer
Editor: Karyn White
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Contract Killers, 1
Copyright © 2016
There was this feeling on the back of her neck, this sensation that moved along her arms, her legs, encompassing her. Neeka McCarthy stopped, looked around the seemingly empty parking lot, and a chill wracked her body.
Why in the hell are you stopping?
She adjusted the bags hanging from her arms and quickly made her way toward the car just a few feet away. Her heels clicked against the pavement, becoming louder the faster she moved. Getting her keys out when she was suddenly scared shitless was harder than she’d thought. When she finally grabbed the keys she dropped them. Cursing, she grabbed them off the asphalt, unlocked her door, and climbed in.
The wind picked up, whipping strands of hair across her face right before she slammed the door shut and locked it. With her heart beating fast, sweat started to line her forehead, and she couldn’t understand this sudden fear that assaulted her, this instant worry, nagging in the back of her mind that something wasn’t right.
Start the car. Get the fuck out of here.
It was barely seven at night, but with winter already setting in, the sun set quicker than she liked. Before she could put her keys in the ignition, a wet cloth was pressed to her face from behind. She struggled and tried to scream, but as soon as she felt a sharp, cold blade pressed against her neck, she stilled.
“Shhh. Just relax,” a deep and sinister male voice whispered from behind her.
She felt her eyes widen and her pulse increase. She couldn’t help but inhale the sickening sweet scent that saturated the cloth. Neeka tried to hold her breath, but it was no use, not when panic was seizing her.
“Don’t fight it,” the deep male voice said again, the blade pressing against her neck even more, although not breaking the skin.
Everything around her started to grow fuzzy. Her head felt like it was becoming detached, and her eyes became too heavy to keep open. And then the blackness took over her, and she was helpless to stop it.
Neeka slowly opened her eyes and was assaulted with excruciating pain in her head. She blinked a couple of times, bright lights all around her intensifying the affliction. She put her hands to her head and groaned, trying to sit up and instantly becoming nauseated. As everything came into focus, she realized she was in a strange room. The events from earlier came back in a flood of memories. She looked around carefully, mindful that every time she moved, her head pounded and her stomach recoiled.
She forced herself to sit up, and realized she was on a small one-person sized bed situated in the corner of an almost barren room. Breathing in and out and trying to calm her stomach, she blinked past the pain still radiating in her head.
The four walls surrounding her were made up of cinderblocks, and there were no windows. A toilet, sink, and coffin-sized shower were across from her in the other corner, nothing covering them to offer privacy. A table and single chair were across from the toilet against the wall, and a three-drawer dresser stood next to that. Her gaze landed on the thick steel door standing ominously in front of her, and beside that a black screen.
She noticed a small latched opening at the base of the door, something that she assumed was for shoving trays of food or other items through.
Neeka gingerly stood, her nausea spiking as she was vertical now. Heart racing and palms sweating, she made her way over to the door. Looking at the intercom device on the wall next to the door, she moved her hand in front of it. There were no buttons to activate it, and right now she was too scared to actually touch it to see if something happened. Reaching out and running her hands over the cold, hard metal of the door, she pounded on it a couple of times, but the thing was solid.
“Hey,” she said loudly, “anyone out there?”
Maybe not drawing attention to yourself is best, smartest?
She turned in a half circle, looking at the room again, trying to take everything in. That was when she saw the small dark camera placed in the top corner of the room, the tiny red light on it letting her know that she was being watched. She moved toward the table and looked down at the glass and pitcher of water. She was thirsty, enough that it felt like she’d swallowed sand, but she wasn’t about to drink anything here. Instead, she moved back to the bed and sat down again, trying to think of what in the hell she was going to do.
Why would someone do this to me? Am I even still in Shyloh?
The small rectangular opening at the bottom of the door suddenly slid open, and she pressed herself against the wall, curling her knees to her chest, her pulse rising. Holding her breath and waiting for whatever was about to be slid through, all she could think about was how she really wanted to go home right now and be with her father. He had to be so worried about her.
How long have I even been here?
A tray was pushed through the opening, and Neeka briefly saw a pair of large, dark boots before the opening in the door slid shut again. The tray had an array of food on it, but as the scents wafted toward her, it was nausea that came forward. She rushed to the toilet just as she emptied the contents of her stomach. Sitting on the floor when she was finished, she leaned against the wall and looked at the tray. The memories of what happened assaulted her.
She’d been drugged, kidnapped, and who knew where in the hell she was, or what they planned on doing with her.
The cold, hard ground beneath her was unforgiving, and she started to shake uncontrollably. Although everything seemed clean and untouched, a feeling of dirtiness coursed through her. Looking at the camera again, she stared into the small lens, wondering if the person behind it right now liked watching her break. The tears finally broke through, and she didn’t stop them. Neeka just covered her face with her hands and cried.
Gage Mack leaned back in his chair, and he stared at the man in front of him. Edward McCarthy was one of the wealthiest men in America, even his company being in Forbes. He was nearing sixty, but he appeared much older than that as he lay in bed, his face an ashen color and his eyes sunken in. Edward coughed between sentences.
“Thank you for coming, Mr. Mack.” He held his handkerchief to his mouth, and he coughed again, splatters of blood covering the white fabric. “You have no idea how grateful I am that you took my offer and will help me in finding my daughter.”
It wasn’t as if Gage had any choice in the matter. This was his job, being hired to not only find people, but to take them out if need be, as well. It wasn’t something he saw himself doing when growing up, but he was good at what he did, stealthy, silent, and when someone needed to be killed he was called.
But this was more of a search and rescue mission—that was, until he found the person or people responsible for kidnapping Neeka. Once they were found his real talents would be put to use.
Gage knew everything about Edward McCarthy and his only child, Neeka. He had to know the ins and outs of how Edward’s family and business ran if he had any hope of finding out who took her, who might have a vendetta for the older man.
“Your gratitude isn’t necessary, Mr. McCarthy.”
“Please, call me Edward.” He coughed again, awkwardly trying to adjust his position on the bed, but making it look like it was very painful. “I didn’t know what to do. After the police came up with nothing in terms of finding my daughter, I knew I had to go to more drastic measures.”
Gage’s organization wasn’t widely known. In fact, unless the person needing their help had underground contacts, it was impossible to get a hold of them. Gage let his gaze travel to an unidentified man sitting in the corner, the shadows partially concealing him, but his presence still apparent.
“For nearly two weeks the search has been going on for her, with no sign of where she’s been taken or if … she’s still alive.” Edward choked up on the last word. “It doesn’t matter how much money I have or who I know, nobody seems to have any information on her whereabouts. I’m at a loss. I’ve tried everything, bribed, pleaded, and even threatened people for information on where she is.” He tried to pull himself up even more, but grimaced from the act. “I’m a weak and frail man, sick and won’t live as long as I’d like, Mr. Mack. If my cancer wasn’t this advanced, I would be out there myself searching for her.”
Gage was unmoving, listening to what Edward said, and aware that this man was desperate. Desperation created recklessness, but Gage and the men that were contract killers and trackers were anything but that. They made sure to be calm, collected, and act when needed.
“You and your men are the best of the best, and I will pay you anything to find my Neeka.” He coughed again, his breath wheezing in and out of his lungs. “I want my daughter’s abductor’s head.” There was anger and conviction in McCarthy’s voice, his words laced with strength.
Edward had already paid a fortune to Gage’s organization, and he was here because he’d already accepted the job. “Mr. McCarthy, this is what I do. I track and hunt, and if I need to take someone out I don’t hesitate.” Gage had been one of the first men to be recruited into the elite and highly illegal organization. But then again his organization had a lot of police, congressmen, hell, even men in the white house, on their client list.
After training with the Special Forces, he’d been working as a civilian. But then he’d been anonymously contacted, and it had all started after that. Now he was a hired hitman, and although he’d served others while on active duty, saved lives, and had others’ backs, he’d always felt this darkness in him. It was this rage, this violence that made him brutal to his enemies. That wasn’t exactly a good thing where his ranking and station was concerned, but being a contracted killer meant he didn’t have to hold back. Gage didn’t have to ignore and suppress the beast inside of him. When he found the “bad guy” he fucked them up, and it gave him a rush of life.
“No other fee is necessary, Mr. McCarthy. I’ll make sure to find your daughter and bring down the person that took her.” Gage stood and took a step toward the frail man. He noticed the way the man sitting in the corner tensed when Gage approached. “You want her captor’s head? I’ll bring it.”
The old man nodded, seeming satisfied.
“Thank you, Mr. Mack.”
Gage looked over at the man in the corner once more. He stood as well, his height comparable to Gage’s own six foot five, but he lacked any kind of solid muscle mass, unlike Gage. The man didn’t show any emotions, his expression hard, almost unreadable. Almost. Gage could read people just by the way they moved and by their body language.
“Something on your mind?” Gage asked since the man kept watching him.
“This is my personal advisor, Theo Millian,” Edward said. I apologize for not introducing him sooner.”
“We can’t tell you enough how grateful we are that you are going to find Neeka.” Theo took a step forward, extending his hand out in greeting. “I’m sorry if I came across as offensive. I am just in knots about the fact Neeka is gone.” Emotion now crossed Theo’s face. “To know you’ll find the person that has done this gives me great pleasure and hope.”
Gage tensed, noticing how Theo’s eyes became hard and determined. Gage could also hear longing in Theo’s voice when he spoke of Neeka. He wondered if this was Neeka’s boyfrien
that it mattered, or that Gage gave a fuck. This was just a job, and Gage would succeed in it. He took the other man’s hand and shook it.
“She’ll be brought home safely.”
“I’ll see you out, Mr. Mack,” Theo responded.
Gage nodded at Theo and then at Edward, and left the room. Theo showed him out, and before Gage exited the front door, Theo started speaking.
“I am just as devastated about Neeka as Mr. McCarthy is. I’ve watched her grow into the lovely woman she is today. We know you’ll bring her home safely. I just hope it’s before Edward’s health deteriorates even more.”
Gage felt his skin tighten and his heart rate increase. There was something about Theo Millian that set Gage’s instincts on high.
“She’ll be found,” was all Gage said. He let himself out and walked over to his car. Starting now, he was on a mission. He needed to find Neeka McCarthy and destroy anyone who stood in his way. Adrenaline started to rush through his veins as he felt the thrill of the hunt wash through him, felt that darkness start to rise. He curled his hands around the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white. He was going to let his beast out, and fuck did it feel good.