Friday, September 27, 2013

Excerpt: Bad Traffick by DV Berkom

Chapter Four

Yuri dreaded the imminent meeting with his boss. Beads of sweat lined his face as he huffed his way up the six flights of stairs. He viewed elevators as death traps and refused to put himself in a compromising position. Besides, no one ever took the stairs. He could come and go like a ghost.

He reached the last step, pushed open the metal fire door and stepped into the plush hallway. Expensive artwork lined the walls. A large mirror and Louis XIV side table stood at the end of the corridor. Yuri retrieved a handkerchief from his pants pocket and wiped his forehead as he made his way along the hall, careful to avoid the bruise by his right eye. He paused at the door, unsure of his reception. With a deep sigh, he pressed the buzzer.

"It's Yuri," he announced into the speaker next to the door.

The mechanism clicked and the door opened. His footsteps fell silently on the deep carpet as he walked into the suite of offices.

"Yuri. Great to see you. Come in, come in." The voice called to him from the interior of a large conference room. Yuri stuck his head inside. His boss, Greg, sat at the head of the long table, his smile fading when he saw his employee. "What the fuck happened to your face?"

"Nothing. Walked into a door. What you got there?"

Greg turned the computer tablet so Yuri could see the digital photo.

"Meet Amy—our latest acquisition."

"Very nice. She looks familiar. A little young. What is she, ten?"

"Nine, actually. Her sister works for us. You remember Selena? She was one of yours, I believe. We snapped this little hottie up as soon as we knew she was available."

Available. Interesting way to justify drugging and kidnapping the girl and forcing her to work. To Yuri, it didn't matter. He knew the way things were, and took the money his boss offered as a finder's fee. He still wasn't sure how to tell him about what happened at the hotel.

"Something wrong?" Greg asked. His light brown hair had been gelled to spike every which way—a hairstyle Yuri loathed. It made him look like some pretty boy reality show host. Still, he couldn't argue with the man's entrepreneurial abilities. Greg Kirchner had taken a fledgling career as a small time street hustler and parlayed himself into a global player on the astonishingly lucrative human trafficking market.

Yuri cleared his throat. Fuck it. "You know I have always been up front with you, right?"

Greg nodded, wariness crossing his features. Yuri pinched himself in the leg to give him some balls.

"We lost Mara." There. He'd said it. He watched Greg's expression, unsure how he was going to take this news. Not well, if Yuri was a betting man. The buyer was a big fish. Huge.

Greg's look morphed from shock to panic to anger in a matter of seconds. He was on his feet and across the room before Yuri knew what was happening. There was no time to protect himself as Greg's arm came down behind his head and smashed his face into the table.

"You. What?" The words exited his mouth like the crack of a rifle.

Blood trickled down Yuri's face from his broken nose, making it hard to talk. When he didn't answer, Greg let up on the pressure and Yuri slowly raised his head, leaning back to stem the flow of blood.

"We were bringing her to Mr. X's suite at the Palms when this asshole actor and his entourage entered the lobby." Yuri sneered when he said the word. Stupid actors in Hollywood couldn't take a shit without their entourage.

"And?" Greg prompted, his jaw clenched so hard Yuri swore he heard the man's teeth crack.

"She slipped free and ran toward the guy, screaming his name. We started after her, but one of the actor's guys covered him, like we were going for him, not the girl. The other guy gave me this." He pointed to his black eye. "We couldn't use the guns, would have drawn too much attention. In the confusion, she got away." Yuri's tone was earnest. "We tried, boss. I followed her, but lost her in the crowd. "

Greg took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He cracked his neck first to one side, then the other. Opening his eyes, he stared directly at Yuri. Yuri wasn't fooled by his sudden calm. Vicious eruptions were frequent with his younger boss. He didn't dare wipe the blood from his face, afraid anything he did would incite the savagery that roiled just below the surface.

"You're going to find her, Yuri. I'm holding you responsible."

"Where do you want me to start?" Yuri knew better than to argue.

"How the fuck do I know? She's twelve, for chrissakes. She's in a strange city and doesn't have any family back in Nevada she can call. I know for a fact she doesn't trust cops, thanks to her last foster family. Put yourself in her shoes. Starting near the hotel is probably a safe bet."

"L.A. is big city. She could be anywhere."

Greg narrowed his eyes and grabbed Yuri by the throat.

"If she's not back in forty-eight hours, dickhead, consider yourself and anyone you love dead."

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Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG13

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