The Night Is A Harsh Mistress
Rachel froze. Viktor Khrushchev sat at her desk, a cigarette in his hand and a smirk on his long-nosed face. His clear blue eyes laughed at her even though he made no sound.
He sat back and his smirk widened into a grin. His teeth flashed whitely against his face, too white for a smoker – but then, Viktor had had his teeth whitened last year, to fool ‘the ladies.’ She wasn’t impressed.
“I told you, Rachel, you should have changed your locks. At least get a Medeco.”
“I can’t get a Medeco without the Landlord’s approval and he’s got to be there with me,” she snapped. “Besides, would it keep you out?”
“It would be better than that crap you’ve got now,” he shot back, smile falling off his face with what should have been an audible thud.
Her stomach clenched. She finally let go the door handle when her hand cramped. “What are you doing here?”
He studied her. “Put your bags down, Raych. I’m not here to hurt you or something.” His tone was faintly disgusted.
She knew better. Khrushchev was a soldier for the local Russian mob and she knew of at least three murders he’d committed. The police didn’t even know his name.
She turned and set her toiletry case on the file cabinet and hung her clothes in the closet. When she turned back, Viktor was watching her carefully and she felt a chill tickle her spine. She shivered.
He smiled, seeing it, leaving his eyes cold and predatory. “Sit. Let’s talk.”
“Sit, Rachel,” he ordered, crossing one leg over the other. “Please.”
It was the ‘please,’ more than the order, that did it. She sat on the couch, grateful she’d made up her bed before going to get her shower. “What do you want, Viktor?”
“You are looking for a boy, a David Greene, yes?”
Rachel gaped at him, keeping her expression blank by sheer luck. She couldn’t figure out why the Russian mob would care. Nothing she’d found so far led anywhere near any kind of organized crime with the parents, and the boy was a model student. Until this incident.
“Please,” Viktor growled, losing patience. “I already know you are. What I want to know is, why.”
“Why?” she echoed, surprised. “You want to know why?”
He glared at her, a shadow of what must be his more threatening persona. He didn’t unleash it on her often but she got the same sick feeling in her stomach upon seeing it. “The parents hired me to find their missing boy,” she told that predator, in an effort to make sure it didn’t decide she was something that interested it.
“Yes,” Rachel repeated impatiently, rummaging on her desk. “Doug and Constance Greene.”
He studied her without speaking for several moments. He’d shaved recently, his face was smooth and unblemished.
“Right here.” Rachel brandished the file over her desk.
Viktor leaned forward without warning and snatched the file from her hand before she even registered movement. She stared at him, unsettled. He ignored her, leafing through the file with a frown. He looked up and saw her staring at him.
“These people are not the boy’s parents.”