P.S. Remember this is only the first half...more to come. ♥♥
YES MASTER 15.1 (FIRST HALF)
The hallway was closing in on both sides of me or they seemed like they were as we walked to the suite to make ‘the call’. Nervous and sweaty yet collected for appearances sake, I strode through the open double doors like I owned the place. Being the driving force behind a fortune five hundred company for a few years had taught me a thing or two about poker faces, but looking around me at the dozen or so vampires in the room, I knew they could read me better than any mask I could ever wear. My tell was the beat of my heart and the way it raced when I eyed the computer set up on the table. It was the way I stopped in my tracks and held out my hand for him to come to me. It was the fear they smelled rolling off me as Tate bypassed my outstretched fingers and buried his face in between the open flaps of my suit coat—his arms spreading warmth like a halo around my waist.
Immediately I felt better, with Tate I could do this. “Where do you want me?” I looked to Yuri who pulled out a chair in between two gentlemen around the computer. Richard took his place in a chair beside our table and Yuri glared at him until he was seated. Apparently the two of them hadn’t gotten along while we were…busy.
“Yuri, are you sure about this? It feels all wrong,” Tate said to the giant Russian who narrowed his eyes.
“For the last time Tate, yes! I am sure that there are no villainous vampires roaming the city. If someone we didn’t like was in town, we’d fucking know about it. Now sit down and be quiet.” Yuri’s nostrils flared and I pushed Tate behind me.
“I don’t fucking care if you have ice picks coming out of your gums, if you talk to him like that one more damn time, I’ll rip your dick off and feed it to you,” I stated clearly so that we had no misunderstandings between us. The guards in the room gave a few muffled laughs and Yuri smiled wide.
“Because you asked so nicely, I’ll use my inside voice with your mate but if he questions my authority one more time, I’ll have him escorted back down the hall. Got it?”
“It’s okay Olly. Let’s just get this over with,” Tate said from behind me and tugged on my hand. I faced off with the fanged up asshole a few seconds longer and then grunted my way to the open chair. Sitting down, I pulled Tate into my lap. The two computer gurus looked from me to Tate and I waited for an argument but nothing came. Good for them because I was suddenly feeling amped and not in a productive sense.
“I’m Arthur and this is Leo, we’re going to help you through the conference call as best we can.” Arthur put his hand over a touch pad and brought up a black screen with green lines running across it. It looked like something familiar but I wasn’t sure where I’d seen it before. “Now we need to do a check and make sure the voice modification program is active. Leo tried it this morning but I want to make sure it’s good for you.”
“Voice what?” Tate leaned forward but I pulled him back to my chest.
“Go on.” I nodded and Tate rolled his eyes.
Leo unfolded his hands and pointed to the screen. “These lines here signify the fluctuation in the sound that the microphone receives. Right now the receiver is off so it’s kind of like a flat line but when we turn it on and you talk into it, the lines will bounce with the sound of your voice. Got it?”
My grandmother’s hospital room, that’s where I had seen those green lines before. Only this time the lines weren’t to monitor the beat of her heart but my voice. The connection made me sick and I slipped my arms around Tate and sighed. “Yeah, I just don’t understand why we need this.”
“How about to disguise your voice?” Arthur snorted like that was the dumbest question he’d ever been asked. Tate squinted at him and crossed his arms.
“Are you done being a jerk?” My boyfriend cocked his head and Leo turned away to hide the laugh.
“Yes, he’s done now,” Yuri boomed and I felt Tate startle. “Get on with it Arthur. We go live in twenty.”
“Fine.” Arthur proceeded to open up a settings menu and pulled a small mike up to the edge of the table. “The reason for the Sixty Minutes routine is because any one of these guys on the other side of this call could be running your voice through any number of databases. These guys don’t fuck around Caldwell, I’ll be honest with you. Before I was turned, I worked with NYPD and the technology these guys have can be overwhelming. I’ve seen some crazy shit. This is just to keep you safe.”
“So I’m going to sound like some gorilla lumber jack to Rutovsky? Don’t you think he’ll find that suspicious?”
“No. The fact that you’ll be disguised will tell him that you mean business. I’ll lay money down that they’re voices are tampered too. Oliver, we know what we’re doing.” Leo smiled to reassure me but I was still forcing my breathing. “There is no way they will know it’s you. Yuri and his team have led the investigators that Alexander hired on a wild goose chase for the past two days.”
“How could that be? We’ve been here the past two days…” I looked up at Yuri who grinned.
“I told you not to question me. I’ve been at this game for a long time Caldwell. The answer is simple really, doubles. Vampire doubles. Currently you are sitting at home in your sweatpants with Tate, having your photo taken by your hidden Rutovsky paparazzi. He has no idea the two of you are here Oliver.”
“Whoa,” Tate whispered in awe and I swallowed. This was some serious shit we were in now. If they had put this much thought into just a conference call, we would be safe at that face to face later on. Right?
“Okay. What’s next?” I exhaled and Yuri squeezed my shoulder quickly. I had no idea what that really meant from him but I think it was a sign of acknowledgement. I wasn’t ready to dive into their world quite yet but there had to be some kind of trust for this to work. Trusting Yuri was asking a lot but looking at Tate, I knew the Russian was my only hope at this point.
“Isaac, Melaina, and Jacob were followed by a few of Rutovsky’s people so I should mention that contacting them at this point is prohibited. I don’t want a word of this getting out, do you understand?” Yuri peered down.
“Yeah, gotcha.” I was suddenly plagued with this sinking feeling that the Hightower’s and my own father could be in trouble had Tate and I been right. Monitoring our people was one thing but I wouldn’t put it past Alex to be in league with bigger fishes. He was a sneaky bastard after all and truthfully so was I but in this case he had just played me better. Score one for Rutovsky.
“Okay good. Arthur? Show him the ad. Get him familiar with what’s going to happen. I have to make a few calls to the compound. Nina’s texted me a billion times but I’ll be right back.” He glanced down at his phone and walked out into the hall.
“I thought his wife’s name was Katrina?” Tate asked Arthur who shook his head.
“Yeah, Katrina is his mate…but Nina is his queen.”
“Queen?” I spun around and Tate grabbed my arms to keep his balance.
“We’ll get to that later. Right now we’re in a time crunch. The queen is a big deal but not so big that she takes precedence to this. Let’s just say that it’s a big deal for her to give up her personal body guard and the head of the New York security team to help a human. She’s rooting for you. So let’s not disappoint her.” Arthur shrugged and pulled up a very private online ad for a property with pending merchandise.
“Queen…” I murmured and sat back. Yeah, this went way deeper than blood sucking super models. There was another world out there…my father was right. Everything suddenly felt double sided and I glanced at Arthur and Leo.
Leo sighed at Arthur. “This is why he said not to say anything. God you’re a dumbass.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake Leo, get over yourself.” Arthur rolled his eyes. “He was going to keep asking. Now can we stop wasting time?” The guards that had stayed behind shifted around with a few smiles.
“Fine.” Leo made a face and grabbed the touch pad like a five year old. “This is the ad that Rutovsky put up for the waterfront warehouse.
“How do you know it’s actually him and not some other asshole?” I leaned forward and Tate clung to me.
“The wording is meant for anyone that knows what they’re looking for. We’ve been waiting for him to get rid of that place so Isaac couldn’t have it for a while. What we don’t know is what this merchandise coding means. See here it says…
River front view, lots of storage, very tight, fully stocked, and between two towers. Enclosed property will sell at auction for best price. Quality ensured, brand new imports.”
“Oh my God,” Tate whispered. “I wrote that. Two months ago…I wrote that ad for him.”
“What?” Arthur and Leo asked simultaneously.
“Alex said he was selling his boats and his spaces at the marina. He wanted a new one and the only space that would take that size yacht was up the coast, so he told me to get rid of the whole lot. He fed me what he wanted it to say and made me password the ad because he said he would personally take care of the sale. He didn’t want a bunch of strangers looking at it he said.” Tate covered his mouth in shock and I hugged him close.
“Then do you know what this is? We’ve been trying to break it all week but no luck. It’s definitely a picture file but it’s huge. Did he have you upload pictures of the boat or even the warehouse perhaps?” Leo got an excited look in his eyes.
“Yeah he had me upload about twenty pictures of the boat and then password them again. If you guys received the password invite for this, didn’t you get the other passwords?” Tate looked between Leo and Arthur. Arthur opened up his bag and pulled out a dossier file—inside was a messenger style envelope with a printed address sticker on it. A Heinrich Glossmer had received the invite in Germany.
“Can I see that please?” Tate put out his hand and Arthur handed it over. Tate smiled and nodded the minute he saw it. “He always uses number passwords so most people won’t remember them. He writes them all down and keeps them somewhere. You got the password to open the ad off this phone number inside didn’t you?” Tate smoothed the letter out and Arthur and Leo nodded. “See here though, at the bottom of the envelope? This is a feed marking from what looks like post office processing. But the federal stamp isn’t on the top because there isn’t an address or a stamp—there’s only a name. This marking was printed from Rutovsky’s office. I know because it’s the same mail tracking stamp he made me use for all his personal mail. Normally he uses it for his corporate account with the post, but I think I know what he did here.”
Holy mother of God, my boy was a genius. I rubbed his shoulders while he grabbed a pen from the table and began to write out a series of tiny numbers from the marking in three lines of ten. “That should get you in.”
“Good lookin out kid. You ever need a job, you call us.” Leo beamed and Tate settled back into me with a satisfied smile.
“I’m alright where I am but thanks,” Tate replied and I kissed his neck quickly.
“Good job baby,” I whispered so quietly I’m not even sure the vampires could hear me. That of course made him blush but he didn’t squirm away.
Arthur was covering the screen with his torso as he leaned over and plugged in the new passwords. “Holy shit,” he breathed and Leo’s eyes went wide. “Someone get Yuri back in here. Now!”
“Why what’s wrong?” I clutched Tate close.
“This is what’s wrong,” Arthur said flatly as he moved away to reveal the screen. A slideshow was playing and dozens of girls flashed across the screen. Some were Asian, some were cinnamon flavored, but all of them were chained up or tied up and crying. “Rutovsky isn’t just selling that warehouse Caldwell. He’s trafficking slaves. This is the merchandise.”
“No,” Tate cried as the image of a light skinned Hispanic girl looked back—her wrists chained to a metal pole and tears streamed down her face. “I helped him do this?”
“You didn’t know kid. It’s not your fault.” Arthur reassured but Tate was traumatized. He buried his face in my neck and sobbed.
Leo stood as one of the guards rushed back into the room with Yuri. He took one look at the screen and started making phone calls. Bad to worse was becoming my new tagline and I didn’t like it one bit. “Now how the fuck do you expect me to go in on that? Are you crazy? I won’t be held responsible for those girls and whatever fucked up mess they come with!”
“Caldwell, if you purchase those girls? They’re free and we can nab Alex and whatever horse he’s riding in on. This is bigger than we thought and I’m glad Yuri brought you all here. You aren’t safe now Oliver, I don’t know that you’ll ever be safe again.” Leo laid a hand on mine and Tate shot him a look of rage.
“Don’t even answer that half pint. It looks like we’re not the only ones watching Alex. I just got word from one of ours that NYPD has a plant in the whole Rutovsky operation. Tonight was the first time he’d phoned his people in over two weeks. The sale is happening tonight and Oliver, you’re buying. No if’s, ands, or butts. Whatever price he names, you up him. One of those girls is the daughter of the head of the Cartel. If we nab Alex, give the girls over to the PD, and make friendly with the Cartel, we’re golden. Got it?” Yuri pointed a finger.
“Why the fuck would I want to make nice with a bunch of murderers?” I shot back and Yuri rubbed the spot between his eyes.
“Because you can’t run a city without the cooperation of all the key players, that’s why.”
“What do you think?” I looked down without another thought to Tate and he looked up at me.
“Me?” Tate wiped his eyes and sat up.
“Yes you. What do you think we should do?” I held his face and he took a deep breath.
“Those girls Olly, think of them above anything else. That’s someone’s daughter or sister or mother. Fuck Alex, let’s kill him and get them out of there. It’s just a damn phone call right? Let’s do it.”
Putting our foreheads together, I shut my eyes and breathed in his smell. “Okay. Let’s do this.”
“Good. Leo, link us in. We have a warehouse to buy,” Yuri boomed and pulled up a chair next to a completely stunned Richard. The guy had said nothing since we came into this suite and I wondered what the hell Yuri had done to scare him so badly. “Oh will you stop acting like I ate your baby? She’s my mate and it’s not my fault you don’t know where your own damn room is. Get over it and stop picturing my Katrina naked!” Ah, so that’s what it was huh? I smirked and Richard flushed crimson before staring at his shoes.
“Sorry,” he whispered and wiggled into the far side of his chair.
“Got it boss. We have a five minute countdown until the sale opens and they’ve just confirmed our account overseas to be active. Mr. Glossmer has been approved for the auction. Heinrich?” Leo waved his hand at the mike for me and Tate crawled out of my lap and into a chair Arthur pulled up. He put his hand on my thigh as I leaned forward and blew into the mike.
“Hello?” I said and my voice was deep and unrecognizable as it fed through the computer. “Hello…” I listened again with a smile as I sounded like the ruler of hell coming out of the speakers. Cool.
“Very good, now we sync this with the conference call settings and we’re set. You ready?” Arthur looked at me.
“Alright everyone, it’s show time. No noise, turn off your phones, and for fuck’s sake get that quivering idiot out of here.” Leo waved at Richard who was half crawling out of seat to get away from Yuri. It was almost comical watching a large ass man act like a tiny kitten perching on the arm of his chair.
Five minutes later and an email notification sprang up on the computer. Silently, Leo clicked it open and reentered the password when prompted. I could feel my heartbeat in my temples when he looked at me and pressed connect. With a nod, the voice program popped up as a feed across the bottom of the screen and I scooted close to the mike.
“Mr. Glossmer. How nice of you to join us. May I have your account number and password for security purposes please?” A booming alien like voice greeted me and Arthur slid the numbers across the table. Reading them off to who I knew to be Rutovsky made my hands shake with anger. How could he be so calm? When did he get into this business and why? Thousands of questions warred in my mind but I had to keep it together. There were more important things at stake than me collapsing like a baby to lick my wounds.
“Thank you Mr. Glossmer. Now that everyone is here, I’d like to remind you that after the winner has…paid the bill, they will be emailed the address for tonight’s get together. Now gentlemen, let the bidding begin. For the entire package, bidding will start at fifty million dollars. Remember gentlemen, some of the merchandise is untouched…never used.” Even through the deep, computerized voice, I could hear the smug quality of Alex’s rat bastard tone.
“Fifty five,” a voice said and on the screen the bid was noted in what looked like a live chat. Each bidder was assigned a code and all together there were five. Four people who had in mind a harem of virgins that would probably circulate and further their drug careers. I wanted to vomit.
“Sixty,” another voice came and this one had a slight accent to it. There was no denying it.
Tate nudged me and I leaned over the mike. “Seventy.”
A few grunts and murmurs could be heard and then Alex came on. “Upping so quickly Mr. Glossmer?”
“Is there a problem?” I replied and narrowed my eyes at the screen when my bid showed up. I wished he could see the murderous intent on my face and itch in my fingers to ring his sorry neck.
“None at all. We have seventy, any takers?”
“Eighty five!” A growl sounded over the line and Alex cleared his throat.
“Eighty five, ninety anyone?”
“Yes, make it ninety-five,” I countered and it was on. For the next fifteen minutes, I battled it out with Mr. Accent. His tone was growing desperate—bids spitting off his tongue like second nature. It was then that I started to realize who this guy might be. It was no longer an issue of money, it was whether or not he could have his daughter back. The leader of the Cartel was my last opponent and as morally wrecked as this situation was, I couldn’t let this bid slip away from me. He could have his daughter when I was done with Alex.
“One hundred and fifty million dollars,” I said slowly. That was a large amount of money. Too large but I knew I had this in the bag. That warehouse, those girls, and Alex’s head in a bag was mine.
With a gut wrenching sound, the other man exhaled. “I’m…I’m out. But Heinrich?”
“You’re dead.” His code expired on the feed and his line ended.
“Well Mr. Heinrich, all threats aside, it appears as though you are our winner. Congratulations to you and my apologies to our other players. Have a good evening gentlemen and be sure to contact the email sent to you for a list of other upcoming auction information.” As Alex ended, the other three players logged off. They had just stuck around to hear who the new owner was. Maybe I wasn’t as big of an ass as I thought I was…they were.
“Yes?” I replied gritting my teeth.
“Will you require pick up?”
“No. Send me the address and I’ll meet you there.” I read off a notebook that Leo held up. He began jotting again and held it up. “And don’t fuck me over Rutovsky. I’ll have your pretty little face if you mess with me. No cops or it’s your head.”
“I never told you my name.”
Leo held up the notebook. “You aren’t as smart as you think you are. I want my warehouse and I want my girls. One hour. Send me an address.”
“Who…who are you Heinrich? Really?”
“An address Rutovsky…”
“It’s been sent to your email. One hour.” The line went dead but I didn’t miss that last bit of fear in his voice that couldn’t have been disguised, even by some computer. I had him, now I just had to get to him.
“Good job Caldwell. He bought it.” Arthur slapped my back and Tate’s fingers finally relaxed on my thigh. “Now comes the nitty gritty I’m afraid.”
“Hey guys,” another voice called from the door and we all turned to see Micah Derenger dressed casually in jeans and a hoodie.
“Hi Micah.” Tate raised a hand and Micah smiled. “Come to babysit us?”
“Nope. I’m escorting you to your vehicle and then I’ll be riding behind you in another car with Yuri. Oh and your driver is human so please…don’t say anything.”
“What? I thought you said you had a vam…” Tate was silenced by Yuri.
“It’s just a precaution, in case you were right. Which I’m not saying you are but if you are…you won’t be suspected right away with a human driver. No vampire drives humans around period. Got it?”
“Oh so now we might be right?” My eyes went wide. “Holy shit can I have a weapon at least?”
“No weapon is going to do you any good if you aren’t trained. A hand gun won’t get you anywhere with us and walking in with an assault rifle is kind of out of the question. You’ll be wearing a state of the art mike the entire time. We’ll hear every word from a distance and you will never go in that building. It will go quickly trust me.”
“Trust you Yuri? Are you kidding me with that shit? One minute I think I can get through this and then the next it’s like oh shit back to square one. Do you have a plan? Or are you just assuming things?” I hopped to my feet and Tate pulled me back as best he could. “I am not putting him out there to be slaughtered.”
“Don’t be so dramatic Caldwell. I am not going to let them touch a hair on Tate’s head. You are the one who assumes he’s getting out of the vehicle in the first place,” Yuri replied and flicked his eyes down to me.
“Oh…” I hadn’t even thought of that. In my panic for some reason, I’d assumed he would be with me. He could stay safe and sound in the vehicle the entire time. My body sighed. “Okay then.”
“Glad we could work out the obvious. Micah, take them downstairs and to the SUV. Give them the run down while I check in with Nina. Any word from Hightower?” Yuri turned to Micah.
“Still at the Gala with Jacob and the ladies. Everything is going smoothly.”
“Good. Grab them and go. We don’t have much time.” Yuri slid his phone to life and walked back down the hall without another word.
“Yes, he is always like that.” Micah grinned and held his arm out for us to step into the hall. “Thanks boys.” He nodded to Leo and Arthur.
“Uh yeah, thanks for everything.” I held out my hand and the guys each shook it enthusiastically.
“I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of each other soon.” Arthur smiled and Leo held up a hand to Tate in good bye.
“Soon?” I raised a brow. Arthur shot a look to Micah and then back to me.
“Yeah, soon. Better get going before your ride leaves without you.” Leo laughed .
“Bye guys,” Tate said and then grabbed my hand. “Ready?”
“Yeah.” I smiled down at him and flicked a still curious look to Leo and Arthur. What weren’t they saying?”
After an awkward good bye, Micah turned to Richard who was following like a puppy. “You’re supposed to stay with 0Arthur and Leo. Yuri’s orders.”
“C’mon Micah. That guy just freaks me out!” Richard wrapped his arms around himself. Leo came out of the suite and tapped Richard on the shoulder. The lumber jack blonde shivered from head to toe when his eyes met Leo’s.
“Come with me Richard. I think you said you were tired and wanted to lie down.” Leo’s voice was smooth like honey as it hit our ears and I found myself leaning forward with desire to hear more. “Come Richard. Come to me.” Leo took a step back and Richard reached for him. “That’s it, come to me,” Leo whispered. We watched Richard take a few awkward steps then twine his fingers with Leo’s as their hands connected. “Bye.” Leo shot over his shoulder and then led Richard back into the suite.
Micah slapped me in the back of the head and I shook out the feeling of pure eroticism running through my body. Tate slithered against me until I shook his shoulders a little. He looked around and then at Micah in confusion. “I thought Richard was…”
“Nope,” Micah cut him off. “Follow me.” He began to walk down the hall. Tate and I shared a look before following. “It’s going to be simple. We have the address and your driver will pull up to the side entrance as instructed. The money was already transferred a few minutes ago, so that won’t be a topic for discussion. If you are asked to go inside, you are to say no. If further action is needed, we’ll be there within seconds. You are to grab the keys and sign the papers. That’s it. Once you’ve stepped away from Alex, a sniper will take him out point blank.” Micah kept walking but glanced over his shoulder. “You with me?”
“Yes.” I sighed and kept Tate pressed into my side as we power walked to the elevator. A guard held it open and we stepped inside—three guards with weapons at the ready stepping in after us and pressing the sublevel button. Glancing up, I noticed there were no cameras in here…or they had been removed.
“As I was saying, this is really simple. These…” Micah pulled a slim case out of his hoodie and opened it. “…are your microphones.” They looked like small clear gel stickers about the size of a quarter—a tiny dot of black underneath was what I assumed to be the microphone portion.
“Are you sure those work? They’re so small.” Tate leaned over the case to touch one.
“That’s the point.” Micah rolled his eyes then smirked. “Pretty cool huh? I helped pick them out with Isaac.” He peeled one away from the metal casing and looked at Tate. “Hold your hair back.”
Tate pulled his hair away from his neck and Micah pressed the device to the skin behind his ear. Immediately the material fused to his neck and Tate let his hair go. “That’s it? You can hear us from there?”
“Yep. Yuri has the monitor with him. Your turn Caldwell.”
“I don’t have hair to hide mine.” I laughed. Seriously talk dark and charming? Ain’t no way that thing is going on me.
“It’s clear Oliver. At most it will look like a mole or a freckle. That’s the point.” Micah held my face to the side while he pressed the mic to my skin. I felt the area tighten up—the heat of my skin reacting to the gel, making it sticky. “Got it and I can’t even see it now. No worries Oliver. You got this. Tate will stay in the car and keep us informed of what he sees while we also get a live feed from you on the outside. Both dynamics will help us judge the situation. The driver won’t think anything of it. He’s done this before.”
“So you’ve got a thug in the driver’s seat?” I grinned.
“Basically.” Micah shrugged and the doors to the elevator dinged open after a mild jostle. “Here we are boys.”
“You have all our numbers programmed into these. Don’t be afraid to use them if the situation gets tight. Your driver has been instructed to take you immediately to the airport the moment you get back in the car. I’ll be waiting on a private tarmac for you both. Good luck guys. See you soon.” Micah waved as we were led to a parked SUV with our new cells. Micah climbed into the second SUV and Yuri poked his head out the window.
We stared at each other, he tapped his ear telling me he could hear me, and that was it. We were going to kill Alex Rutovsky and save a few dozen female sex slaves. Oh and one of them was the daughter of the Cartel king. What could possibly go wrong tonight? Tate slid inside the SUV and I followed—the door slamming tight behind me. The engine was going and by the time I recognized the eyes in the rearview mirror, we had already begun taking the upward spiral toward ground level.
“I’m sorry about this Oliver…or should I say Heinrich…but it seems I’ve got my loyalties crossed this time.” J.J. stared back at me in the rearview mirror and Tate gasped as the barrel of a silencer was slowly pushed into the back of his head. “I don’t believe you’ve been introduced to my colleague there. Oliver Caldwell, meet Ghost…the Cartel’s head enforcer.” A pair of hazel eyes flashed from my peripheral vision and my hand found Tate’s on the seat—with a squeeze, I reminded him that the four of us weren’t alone in this car. Thank God for modern technology…
TO BE CONTINUED…..