"I’m not perfect Sadie, in fact I’m far from it, but you don’t get to where I am in this business without being great,” I finished with a smirk playing across my lips because I knew it drove her crazy.
“Ray I actually thought for a second there that you were being modest, but I remembered who I was talking to,” Sadie replied, exasperation in her voice and annoyance on her face. No matter how annoyed she gets with me, she knows I’m right. You don’t get to be the leader of the largest criminal empire in the world by being good, you get there by being great. Sadie knew that and she knew I was never modest, only realistic and confident.
I watched her standing there in her black, thin, floor length dress, her brown hair down and curled. She looked stunning, which was a weapon she used as an advantage in her profession. Sadie is an assassin, although I don’t particularly have to worry about her killing me, well not yet. I smiled at the thought that this goddess was my girl.
“You keep staring like that and you might make me blush” she said snapping me out of thought. “Don’t you look dashing in your signature Stetson Asher fedora,” she said as I closed the gap between us.
“Yes, well every criminal needs a signature,” I replied as she traced the rim of my hat with her fingers.
“Raymond we have a problem, Carter was just found dead in his summer house,” Dembe said as he pushed through our hotel suite door.
I looked over at my friend, my expression changing in an instant. “Looks like our dear new money man got himself into some trouble” I replied ending in a half smile. “Do we know what happened to him, or what he got himself into?” I asked Dembe as I walked up to him.
“That’s the problem Raymond, Baz checked into it and found nothing. Carter has been at his summer house for the past three weeks” Dembe explained.
I nodded, licking my lips in annoyance “Has anyone made a move to disrupt our financials yet?”
Dembe shook his head slightly “No but if this is an attack against you it will only be a matter of time.”
I nodded once as I turned around to grab my jacket “Have Baz meet us at the plane, we’re going to go have a chat with Harvey and make sure that our financials are still well protected.”
I realized then that Sadie had already left to do a job and probably wouldn’t be back for quite a while. Pulling my jacket on I turned and walked on to the elevator connected to our suite. We had been staying in the Royal Penthouse Suite at the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva. It was a beautiful place with state of the art security and took up the entire top floor of the hotel. We stood in the elevator in silence, Dembe behind me. As the door opened and we stepped off into the lobby, I strided past the people standing around and through the hotel doors. Dembe opened the back door of my 2017 S-Class Mercedes as the valet pulled up and got out. I slid into the leather seat and stared out the window as Dembe climbed in the driver seat. I pulled out my burner phone, flipped it open, and dialed Baz’s number. “Baz!” I stated cheerfully “Is the plane prepped and ready for our visit to Harvey?” I asked getting to the point.
“Yes Raymond everything is ready for our flight to D.C.” Baz’s voice rasped through the phone.
“Wonderful we’ll meet you at the plane” I replied and flipped the phone shut, tucking it in my jacket.
Baz is Ex- U.S. Navy, and is fifty seven years old, the same age as myself. He is one of my oldest friends, we met while serving. Don’t let his age, or my own for that matter, fool you because we are both quite good at what we do. Of course we are also comfortable in our fifty seven year old bodies but not out of shape. Another thing is I had decided early on to go with a bald/ shaved look because it was easier to take care of on the run. Baz on the other hand keeped his hair long, which suits him. Dembe is my only other close friend and confidant, because in this business you can’t trust many people. He is forty five, the youngest of the three of us and an Ex- Freedom Fighter.
I sat back against the seat and stared out the window, watching as the world flew by. The entire ride to the plane was quiet, I was stuck deep in thought till we arrived. Baz quickly opened my door and I stepped out of the car immediately enveloping him in a hug. “Baz! How was your trip to Guam?!” I happily asked as I released him.
“It was just the vacation I needed my friend, thank you!” Baz expressed.
“I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m sorry to have to cut it short but this is obviously of the utmost importance” I told him, my face becoming serious as we got down to business. “When we arrive in D.C., Dembe I want you to tail Harvey. Baz and I will go check into The Jefferson hotel and get settled. Tomorrow we will be paying Mr. Harvey a visit and make sure our financial situation is secure,” I instructed them and then walked past to board the plane. Neither said a word, both followed with unquestionable loyalty.
Inside the jet I sat in the leather chair, on the left, facing forward. I looked around admiring the jet and waiting for Baz and Dembe to sit down. When you first walk on and turn right past the cockpit, there are four leather chairs on either side facing each other with a table between them, past the chairs there is a comfortable leather couch on the left, in the back is the bar, and just past that is the lavatory. All the seats and walls are white, and there are five windows on either side of the isle.
Baz walked up and set a glass of scotch in front of me, before sitting down in the chair adjacent to myself. “Thank you” I replied. He inclined his head in acknowledgment but said nothing as he sipped his own scotch. I looked back towards the couches to see Dembe passed out, half hanging off the side. I laughed at the sight before me, not loud enough to wake him up though, and smiled in amusement.
“He is quite exhausted it seems. Were things that busy after I left?” Baz asked his expression changing from one of amusement to one of concern.
“My friend, things are always busy and they won’t slow down just because we’re getting old!” I smirked.
“You may be getting old but I still consider myself in my prime Raymond,” he jokingly shot back.
“I remember playing chess with this older man, he was in maybe his eighties. I had been waiting at a chess table for an associate to show for a meeting about our shipping deals and the older man sat down. After trying and failing to convince him to leave, I finally and reluctantly agreed to a game of chess. We played for what felt like five minutes but was actually hours. I lost miserably, but before the old man left he looked at me and said “life’s like a chess game son, you always have to plan ten moves ahead, but it doesn’t mean it’ll work out.” I later realized he was right in that sense and wrong in another. What he said in one aspect was wrong. Unlike a chess game, in life there are no sides, only players.” I recounted, smiling at the memory.
“We will find out who killed Carter, Raymond, and take this player out” Baz uttered as a fact and a promise.
“I know my friend, but first we must secure our sails before this wind picks up and our ship goes down.”
We arrived in Washington on Saturday, August 22nd, and glancing down at my watch it was half past one. Dembe immediately took off to begin tailing Harvey, making sure he wasn’t going anywhere. Baz and I jumped in the car and headed straight to the hotel. I stared out the car window at what used to be a second home to me. When I was in the Navy I spent most of my time in D.C, and if I wasn’t here I was traveling. “Must be nice to be home Raymond” Baz observed with a hint of question in his voice.
I was silent for a long moment as the car came to a stop outside the hotel. With my face like a mask hiding how I felt, I opened the door and simply stated as I began to climb out “We’ll see.”
The following day as planned we arrived at Harvey’s house. He wouldn’t be home for another ten minutes, and because I love a good dramatic entrance, I picked his lock, walked into the house, and sat in his living room chair. I smirked, this is my favorite part of this business. I crossed my legs, sat back in the chair without slouching, and placed my Colt- .45 on my leg in clear view. Baz stood, gun in full view, just behind me on my left, and Dembe did the same on my right. I sat in my three piece suit with my trench coat, prescription sunglasses, and fedora on. I looked down at the wood floors, so as to obscure my face when he entered. God I love a good dramatic entrance, it gives you a feeling of power over your suprised target.
There was a click as the door was being unlocked, opened, and eventually shut. A clatter of keys being thrown on a table by the door, and footsteps which grew louder as they neared. I smirked, a tinge of excitement running through my veins. The footsteps stopped abruptly “What the hell, Reddington how did you get in my house?!” Harvey said as I looked up at him. Panic, alarm, hostility all playing across his face within seconds, and the use of my last name obviously bitter on his tongue.
“Harvey how delightful to see you!” I replied, sarcasm and joy thick in my words. Completely ignoring his previous question, I said a little more seriously and a small smile still playing across my face “please do sit we have a lot to talk about.” I motioned to the couch next to the chair I was in and he sat down rather warily.
“What is this about Reddington?” Harvey demanded.
“Oh I’m so glad you asked! You see our dear friend Carter has been murdered, and we believe that it was because someone is on the prowl. Now obviously you can see how this is a problem. If this mystery enemy is able to get to our financials, they could cause serious damage to our empire. I want you to make sure that doesn’t happen Harvey.” I explained, never once breaking eye contact.
“Reddington I don’t know what I can do. I don’t know how you haven’t figured it out, I mean the only person I know who would even have the capability to do that would be Leonard Covington. The man is your biggest enemy” Harvey stated plainly.
I nodded licking my lips in contempt at the name. “Yes, I know. Which is why I am asking you to check our defences. I will be calling a meeting with Covington so we can discuss this little attack on our business. Harvey... just be ready for a war” I finished while beginning to stand from the chair. My face was grave but calm, and calm was one thing I did not feel in that minute but I wouldn’t let Harvey know that.
As we walked out Dembe’s burner went off, and his faced turned grave as he handed me the phone. I placed the phone to ear “I heard about Carter, Raymond, and the only reason I called is to tell you my organization had nothing to do with it” the voice rasped.
“Well if you didn’t Leonard, then, you won’t mind a face to face meeting” I replied, completely unconvinced by his innocence.
“Fine Raymond. Meet me at The Lincoln memorial in an hour.”
“I’ll be there” I replied.
My phone beeped signaling a text as I hung up. Raymond, Alexander was just found dead in his hotel room. As the only person left alive that works the organization’s financials, you need to protect Harvey. The text from my Bolivian friend Erick read, which concerned me. I pulled my gun, Baz, and Dembe following suite as we went back in the house.
“Reddington what are you doing back, and what’s with the drawn guns?!” Harvey complained and questioned.
“Alexander was just found dead in his hotel room. It looks like someone is killing my money men. We need to keep you safe Harvey. You’ll need to come back to the hotel with us” I stated matter of factly. “Dembe I want you with him at all times.Baz, how do you feel about being on my personal detail again?”
“When did I stop being on your personal detail Raymond?” Baz asked sarcasm dripping from his voice.
I laughed a deep and full laugh at the remark “very true my friend.” I turned to Harvey “we need to leave now if we are to make it to the hotel and I to my meeting.” I walked out with Baz in front of myself and Dembe in front of Harvey.
An hour, later I was sitting on the steps of the Lincoln memorial awaiting Leonard’s arrival. “Leonard Covington is dead” a familiar female voice stated flatly. A shiver ran down my back, a cold sweat started to develope on the back of my neck, and my face paled. That voice, I know that voice, god I would know that voice anywhere, I thought to myself. She sat down next to me, and I tense up, not allowing myself to look to confirm my fear and hope at the same time. “Ray? Look at me will you?” She said as I could feel her staring at me. I turned my head painfully slow, to see everything I already knew the moment I heard her voice confirmed. It wasn’t possible though, she was supposed to be dead. I held her lifeless body in my hands four years ago, yet here she was as beautiful as I remembered her.
“How?” I asked unable to say more.
“Murdered but we both know that’s not what your asking and the answer is I don't know how. All I know is that by the time I had found you, you had moved on and got together with Sadie” she explained.
“If I had known…” I trailed off, as she wiped a tear from my cheek. I hadn’t realized that I had started crying, because I don’t cry. Unable to take the distance I pulled her into a hug and held her close “oh Elizabeth, my sweet Elizabeth, I do wish you had approached me, had told me” I said as I buried my nose in her brown hair, breathing in her sweet smell.
I pulled away slightly, looking lovingly into her eyes and then my heart started racing as a thought occurred “What about Agnes? What about our daughter?” I asked concern written all over my face.
She smiled and softly touched it with her fingertips, I covered her hand with mine and smiled. “She’s at our hotel waiting. I heard you were coming to America and someone had been attacking your empire. I just couldn’t stay away from you any longer Ray” she said looking down, a tear flowing down her cheek. I carefully wiped it away, leaned in close, and kissed her softly.
It was wonderful and felt so right but I quickly withdrew, realizing once again where we were. “May I see her? I missed you both so much” I said as emotion pricked in my voice. A thought hit me like a freight train “who killed Leonard and how did you know I was meeting him?!” I asked as I pulled away from her questioning everything.
“Ray it’s ok. We ran into Baz in Guam last week, and he’s been keeping me informed on how you're doing and what’s been going on” she reassured before quickly adding “please don’t be mad at him, he was just doing what I asked. I didn’t want him to say anything to you.” I nodded and hugged her before we stood and headed to see my daughter.
At her hotel she opened the door and walked in but I hesitated at the entrance. I heard “Mommy!” and little feet running inside. I took a step in and saw my four year old daughter and my heart raced as she saw me and came running “Daddy!!” she yelled. I scooped her into my arms and held her tight against my chest. Elizabeth moved to us and I pulled her into my embrace. I had missed my girls so much, my job had almost got them killed, and I wouldn’t let that happen again. I will find this person attacking my business, kill them, and protect my family, Dembe and Baz. The only problem with this was what I would tell Sadie.
My phone rang then and I let go of Elizabeth but held my little girl as I answered. “Raymond, are you ok? Leonard is dead and I can’t find you” Baz's very concerned voice came over the phone.
“Yes Baz, I’m fine. I’m with my girls, but you probably already know that” I said a tinge of anger in my voice.
“I’m sorry Raymond. I don’t know what else to say” he replied solemnly. Elizabeth touched my arm pleadingly and I sighed in resignation
“It’s fine Baz, I would have done the same thing but don’t let it happen again. Bring everything you have on the three deaths to the hotel room, so we can try to crack this” I stated slightly exasperated.
“Right away Raymond” he said and hung up.
I smiled at my girl in my arms “hi baby girl” said as I kissed her head.
“Hi daddy. Where have you been?” she asked as she tucked her head into nape of my neck. I squeezed her tight against my chest as my heart swelled. I wondered how it was she recognized me but quickly dismissed it not really caring. The moment was interrupted by the sharp wrapping of a fist on the door. I cautiously opened the door my hand ready to grab my gun, only to find Baz on the other side looking panicked.
“What is it Baz?” I asked as I held my daughter unconsciously tighter.
“Raymond, the signature left at the scene of each murder is the same as what Sadie leaves after a job...a red rose petal” he said growing softer. So she already knew about Elizabeth and probably killed Carter a few day before we had met up in Geneva. How she knew about Elizabeth before I did is something I will have to ask, right before I shoot the something-I-shall-not-say-or-think-with-my-daughter-in-the-room right between the eyes.
“If it is Sadie, then we need to be prepared that she may already know we’re here” I said turning to Elizabeth. “I need you to pack your things, while Baz and I contact Dembe to warn him” I commanded, flipping into the survival mode I’m in when on the run. I turn back to Baz, who is still in the doorway, my face very serious. “Baz call Dembe. I want him to keep both eyes on Harvey at all times.”
A shot rang out from the hallway, Baz fell to the ground in the doorway shot in the side. He moaned in pain as I dragged his body in the room, shut and locked the door, and ordered my wife and child into the hotel bedroom. “Baz are you alright?!” I asked as I handed him a gun.
He chuckled and then winched in pain, instantly regretting that decision “Yea Raymond I’m fine. I think I’ll survive” he replied with fake exasperation in his voice. The assailant shot three rounds through the door, one barely missing me. Baz and I each unloaded two rounds in the door, which were eagerly returned. By now there were enough holes for me to see Sadie, anger and rage filled, on the other side.
I did not hesitate as I unloaded the last eleven rounds into her chest and watched as her body crumpled to the ground. Reloading, I cautiously walked though the giant hole in the door and looked down at her asking one simple question “Why?”
Sputtering as blood dripped from her mouth and from the eleven holes I put in her to pool on the floor in a hot sticky mess she said “Because I knew the minute you realized she was alive you would want her back and if I can’t have you then no one can.” Her eyes were filled with menace and hate as she took one more gargled breath, having drown in her own blood.
I nodded knowingly at her lifeless body before heading back in the hotel suite. “Baz are you sure you’re alright?” I questioned, seeing him applying gauss to the wound.
“Yes Raymond I’m fine, just a flesh wound. By the way I meant to tell you Harvey and Dembe are fine and at the other hotel still.” he stated all nonchalant.
“Alright tell Dembe to take Harvey home and then get his ass over here. I have a bad feeling this is just the beginning.” I said as I turned to check on my girls in the bedroom.
“I will but what about you Raymond? What will you do?” Baz asked concern and curiosity etched in his voice.
“We are all going to the flat and staying there.” I said opening the door to both my girls smashing into me crying and hugging me tight. I held them a bit tighter and kissed Agnes’ head before giving Elizabeth, my beautiful and amazing girl, a shearing one on the lips. I love them both so much and don’t think I can let them go again. The hotel door opened and closed as Baz left me with my girls to stand guard outside. This is the start of something big.