War (Romanian Mob Chronicles Book 5)(4)

By: Kaye Blue



I didn’t mind, though. Moving helped the time go faster, and I had a nice little payday to look forward to.

I hadn’t paid much attention during the event, and usually didn’t. At this point, they had all started to run together and with so few hands to help, I had had to focus. But from what I had seen, it had been an interesting crowd.

Had I not seen the way they looked at each other with deep love and affection, I would never have thought the bride and groom were a couple. And not because they were different races. That difference didn’t even really strike me. The bride, she seemed so…normal.

The man she had married did not.

In fact, as I thought back on it, the whole event had been a little odd…interesting. If I was being honest, there were lots of menacing guys and more tattoos than I’d ever seen. Lots of elaborately dressed, heavily made-up women. Then, here and there, people that wouldn’t have stood out elsewhere but only did because they were so normal when compared with the others there.

Weird, weird group. The guests had been boisterous, loud, but no one had done anything remotely out of line, even as the drinking had begun. Odd because there was usually at least one who got out of hand at every wedding, but even the drunkest guests had been well-behaved. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was, but there had been an undercurrent of tension at the event.

The bride and groom had been joyful, clearly in love, but there had been something in the air that hadn’t quite sat right with me and had kept some distant part of me on edge.

I walked outside, brushing aside thoughts of the event. Whoever they were, they were paying double, and the day had been a success. I’d have to thank Tiffany for twisting my arm when I saw her, as she probably knew I would.

Today’s payday would make a lovely addition to the dream fund, so aching feet aside, all was good.

“Bye, Al,” I said as I waved at a coworker.

“See you at the next one, Milan,” he replied as he waved back and walked in the opposite direction.

I continued toward the parking lot where the staff had parked, the late-evening air warm, the sky dusky orange as the sun continued to set. A pretty early end for one of these events, though I suspected the party would continue elsewhere. I was happy to get home before dark and looked forward to taking off my long-sleeved shirt.

As I walked, I worked the top two buttons open and sighed with relief at the first brush of cool air against my skin. I thought about pulling out the pins that held my hair in its tight ponytail. I waited, though, and instead reached into my pocket and got my car key.

I stuck the key into the lock, opened the door, and then sat in the driver’s seat.

Pop.

I froze, my hand still on the door handle, and looked toward the sound.

Pop. Pop, pop, pop.

What the fuck?

I glanced around wildly, trying to pinpoint the source of the noise. The sounds were quiet, muffled; they reminded me of firecrackers. The air suddenly felt different, charged.

Pop. Pop.

No. My stomach dropped and my blood turned to sludge in my veins, everything seeming to slow to a crawl. Then, after that moment’s beat, a shot of adrenaline bolted through me like an electric shock. Where before had been slowness, the world began to move at lightning speed, my heart thundering, my lungs tight, the wild swing of emotion making me dizzy.

That wasn’t firecrackers.

Someone was shooting.





Three





Priest



I’d stayed far longer than I’d intended. As I had anticipated, everyone who mattered, and those who wanted to, had been in attendance at the wedding because the event provided a chance to talk and, more importantly, observe, an opportunity far too valuable to pass up.

And the wedding itself had been interesting.

Vasile had believed the words of love and forever that he had spoken, and if I had been capable, I might have believed them too.

The festivities were winding down now, and I made my way to the front of the church to watch Vasile leave. He had a protective arm wrapped around his wife’s shoulders, held his daughter in the other as they moved toward the waiting SUV.

Well-wishers cheered them as they moved, and I noticed the way he tightened his grip on his bride’s shoulders. An attempt to calm her, no doubt. She’d been the picture of a woman in love, but I hadn’t missed the tension around her eyes, the wariness that had shone through when she hadn’t thought anyone was watching.

Wise of her.

This group, so happy and congratulatory now, would turn on Vasile, on her, in a heartbeat, so she was wise to be wary.

One of Vasile’s men opened the SUV’s door, and as the bride prepared to get in, I turned to exit.

I hadn’t made it one step before I heard the sound.

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