Threat Level:Red (The Disavowed Book 3)

By: David Leadbeater

Davic leaned in until their noses were almost touching.

“I want to rebuild my business. And you hold the key.”

“The key?”

“Yes, the key. Only you call it DR579. Such an innocuous name for the reviver of my domain. The new and improved deliverer of my evil.”

Curran looked to be thinking hard, then he said, “I know DR579, of course. But it’s just a trial drug.”

“No, Henners. No. It’s much more than that.” He opened his mouth to continue, but then saw Chloe returning from the kitchen. “Ah, the wife. How nice. And what do you have for us, dearest?”

“Cold cuts,” she managed through a rasping throat. The plates in her hand wobbled as she staggered a little but the nearby guards made no move to help her. Davic strolled over and took a thick slice of meat.

“Take her to the liquor cabinet,” he said around a mouthful of ham. “This party needs alcohol to really get it kicking. I mean, Henry—why so dour? And Chloe. Yvette. Shake it off, girls. Whaddya think? Some vodka would loosen everyone up? Am I right?”

Davic turned away, hiding his true face. No one really knew him, not anyone in this room, not one person in the entire world. His men—he laughed and joked and pretended to involve them in his malicious games, but every single one of them knew where they stood in the food chain. They were expendable. Replaceable. Mere grunts for the hiring. He would order their deaths or kill them himself in an instant if they failed him. So he stood alone, frozen of heart, and surrounded himself with the things that pleased him to help maintain the charade of contentment. And the battle would never end. There was no room in his life for weakness or true happiness—all that only bred complacency. His father—Davor—had been a hard man and had taught Blanka well. The only true victories in this life came from totally crushing your enemies.

He took a drink now: vodka—weak piss-water compared to what he was used to. “What is this? You have no Southern Cross?”

“Th . . . they stopped producing it,” Curran stammered. “When—”

“Yes, yes, I heard. Dmitry is no more. A sad loss but not a totally unproductive one.” Davic was barely listening. Almost unconsciously his gaze slipped down to the battered old watch adorning his wrist—a product of his past, a memory of the events that made him more than just Davor Davic’s son. Man-made events. American-made events. It was the only thing he’d kept. The single reminder that made him want to continue with his quest.

Especially this one.

“Henry,” he said, reverting to the more predictable type. “It’s almost time to pay the piper. ‘Fess up, as they say. But first, we have time and we have women. Pour a proper fucking measure of that piss in my glass, Mrs. Curran, and stick some Black Eyed Peas on the jukebox. You like Black Eyed Peas, Henry?”

The CEO stared blankly. The trauma of the night was already weighing on his mind, along with the certainty of what would surely happen.

“No? I bet young Yvette here knows all about them.” He grinned when she nodded and started singing, “I got a feeling . . .” He licked his lips. “Know what I mean?”

More of his men sniggered, but it was all for show. Not a single one of them lost focus. That was good. The men had prepared well for this. The three he had left outside reported in to his second-in-command and that man gave Davic a thumbs up. All was good. He watched as one of his men urged Chloe Curran over to the wall-mounted stereo, prodding at her spine with a gun.

Almost immediately a heavy beat filled the room. Davic motioned with his hands. “Turn it up. Up!” He drained the glass. “Now we have a party. You know something, Henry? It’s time. Now I want what we came here for. They call this place the city of dreams so this is mine. Here in the US they have all these fancy torture techniques, yes? Drugs. Truth serums. Sleep deprivation. Intimidation. Humiliation. But me? I prefer the old-fashioned methods. Give me a kitchen—your kitchen—and I’ll find you an effective torture technique in about ten seconds. You don’t believe me? Here—let me prove it to you.”

Davic strode past Curran, oblivious to his loud remonstrations. He passed through a swing door and found himself staring at a central breakfast bar. Above it hung a number of implements, all shiny and sharp. Perfect. But not for tonight. Tonight required something special. After all, it wasn’t every day of the week a lowly Serb started a terrorist campaign on American soil.

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