Home > The Predator(4)

The Predator(4)
Author: RuNyx

Morana inhaled deeply, taking the knives from him. "Please."

For the first time, Morana saw something else flicker in his eyes. He just crossed his arms over his chest, tilting his head to look at her.

"Take the door."

Sighing, she knew she was beaten. There was nothing else she could do. And going back home meant telling her father. Which meant either death or exile. Fuck.

Nodding, accepting the sour taste in her mouth, she turned on her heel, hand going to the knob on the door, feeling his eyes on her back.

"Miss Vitalio?"

She turned her neck to look back at him, to see his eyes glittering with something that made her heart skip and stomach flutter. He pinned her with the look for a long moment, before speaking.

"You owe me."

Morana blinked in surprise, not understanding. “Excuse me?”

His gaze got even more intense, his blue eyes searing her. “You owe me,” he repeated.

Her lips twisted. "What the hell for?"

“For your life,” he stated. "Anyone but me and you would not have been breathing."

Morana frowned in confusion and saw his lips twitch at that, even as his eyes stared at her with that look she couldn’t explain.

"I'm no gentleman to give you a free pass," he spoke quietly. "You are in my debt."

And then, he closed the space between them. Morana swallowed, her hand tightening on the doorknob even as her heart pounded, and she tilted her head back to keep their eyes locked. He stared down at her for long moments, before leaning in, their gazes never moving, and whispered, his breath ghosting over her face, his musky scent acute in her nose.

"And I will collect it one day."

Morana felt her breath hitch.

And then she ran out of the room.

 

 

God, she was seriously not supposed to be here.

It could be the title of her autobiography, given how she kept finding herself in these situations. If she ever were to write one, she was pretty sure a lot of people would be interested in reading it. After all, how many genius mob daughters lay their lives out in print for mass public consumption? It could even be a bestseller if she actually lived long enough to write it. With the way things were going through, she doubted she was even going to make it back home safely.

Dread was settling in the pit of her stomach like a heavy weight, threatening to buckle her knees as she walked on shaky legs towards the abandoned building. She was a genius but god, she was an idiot. A world-class, stupid idiot. An idiot who didn't block her cheating ex-boyfriend's number from her phone. An idiot who had let the said jackass ex-boyfriend leave a message for her. An idiot who, for some stupid reason, had listened to it.

She had been sitting in her room, working on her laptop, trying to undo the disastrous effects of her code when Jackson had left a message for her.

She could still hear the panic in his voice, as he'd whispered the words out in a rush. She could still feel the whispered words making her skin claw. She could still recall the entire message, word for word because she had listened to it ten times. No, not out of any lost love whatsoever, but because she had been debating her course of action.

She was an idiot.

His frantic voice was stamped on her brain.

"Morana! Morana, please you have to listen to me. I need your help. It's life or death. The codes... the codes are... I'm so sorry. Please meet me at Huntington and the 8th. There is a construction site there. 6 PM. I'll be hiding in the building, waiting for you. I promise I'll explain everything, just come alone. Please. I swear they’ll kill me. Please, I beg you. The codes are..."

And the message had gone blank.

Morana had sat for an hour, staring at her phone, debating the possibilities. The possibilities being very simple.

Possibility One - It was a trap.

Possibility Two - It wasn't a trap.

Simple, yet utterly confounding. Jackson was a snake of the highest order, she knew. There was a possibility that he had been paid to make the call, just as he had been paid to spy on her. He had faked his affection for her for weeks. What was a panicked phone call of mere seconds in the light of that? He had fooled her once. But was he trying to fool her again? Could this be a trap?

But that was what trumped her. Who would lay a trap for her? The Outfit? She had just been in their lair last week. She had gone into the den of the lion, had a face-to-face with the notorious Predator, and come out unscathed. She knew they didn't want to start a mob war at all, or Tristan Caine would have exposed her little stunt that night itself. But he hadn't. He'd let her go. It didn't make sense for them to lay any trap for her.

But if not the Outfit, then who would want to have Jackson fake a frantic phone call to her? Was it even a trap? Could it be possible that she was being overcautious? Was he really scared or faking it?

Morana, unfortunately, didn't have the luxury of not taking a chance. Because if he was scared, and if he really knew something about the codes, then she had to meet him. She had to let him talk. She had to get the codes back, by hook or by crook.

Not that the last time she'd taken that approach had worked out so well.

It still stunned her that she had been at Tristan Caine's mercy. The Tristan Caine. The man notorious for his ruthlessness. He'd had her pinned against the wall with her own knives at her throat. And he had let her go. In fact, he had directed her to the door to her freedom, her undiscovered escape from the beast of the Maroni house, smack in the middle of a party.

She remembered the disbelief she had felt hitching a ride back to the hotel. Disbelief at her own guts. Disbelief at her failed attempt. Disbelief at how close she'd come. Disbelief at Tristan Caine.

The meeting, though fleeting, had been pulsating with something that had left Tenebrae with her. It had been a week since her return home, a week since she'd infiltrated the Maroni premises, a week since her failure of retrieving the drive. A week of keeping the truth from her father. If he found out, when he found out, there'd be hell to pay...

Shaking off the distracting thoughts, Morana squared her shoulders, feeling the reassuring cool of the metal against her waistband where she'd tucked in her small Beretta and covered it with a simple yellow top. Besides the keys to her red convertible Mustang, she carried nothing, keeping her hands free and her phone in the pocket of her loose black trousers.

After the last week, she’d dyed her previously blonde hair to chestnut, trying to shake off the grim remnants of the meeting. She did that often – change her hair color. With so much in her life she couldn’t seem to control, she liked calling the shots when it came to her appearance. Her new dark locks were bound in a high ponytail and her glasses were perched on her nose. She’d even worn ballet flats in case she needed to run.

Having told her father she was going to the city to shop, she’d left before her father's goons could catch up with her. She'd done it enough times in the past to garner nothing but admonishing looks from him.

With her father, it was less about her safety and more about his control. His control of his men, of her movements, of controlling the enemy's bargaining chip. They both had stopped pretending like they didn't know the truth a long time ago. She'd stopped feeling the disappointment a long time ago. It had left her somewhere between fearless and reckless.

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