The Switch

The Switch by JC Emery Read Free Book Online

Book: The Switch by JC Emery Read Free Book Online
Authors: JC Emery
spattering of fancy stonework, the front of the warehouse is a small niche art gallery.
    The gallery is Victor ’s front business. He sells legitimate artwork from around the world. His niche is unheard-of artists who spend their non-artistic time serving the human race. Everything from clergymen to destitute panhandlers and young children have painted pieces and sold them to Victor.
    In some well-to-do art circles , Victor is known as a great humanitarian. All the best crooks are. He’s the man who travels the world and sells art for those who can barely feed themselves. He’s also known to pay a generous price for each piece, paying more for the ones he commissions. Because of his reputation, I think, his shipments fly through customs with little inspection. Nobody wants to hold up a man whose business focuses around helping those who can’t really help themselves.
    If only they knew that hidden in the frames , and sometimes even in the artwork themselves, is cocaine and methamphetamine. Something about the chemical compounds of the paint, or was it the finishing lacquer, throws off the hounds? I wasn’t really listening when he described it to me. At the time, all of Victor’s talk about his business served as merely an interruption of my time with him. He always wanted to talk business, never wanted to talk about anything personal. He just assumed that we were on the same page. Now, though, I wish I would have listened more.
    Common to buildings of this era are narrow alleyways that servants often used, so as not to disturb their masters. The alleyway between Victor’s gallery and the attorney’s office next door is only ever used by Victor’s business associates.
    I ’ve never been down the alley myself, as I’ve always opted to stay put on the sidewalk. Victor had wanted to show me what he does, but I wasn’t up for it. Dating a bad man and knowing about his business is one thing; getting actively involved in his business and knowing the details of it is another. Reason number 5,743 why I never should have made any runs for him. I am such an idiot.
    Chase removes the Glock from the back of his pants and undoes the safety. His lips twitch for a brief moment as he looks at me with his brows raised. Yeah, I pointed the gun at him and had forgotten to take off the safety. Joke’s on me. With Chase’s right hand on the gun pointed forward, his left hand is free. He reaches back, and I think he’s going to grab my upper arm. Instead he trails his hand down to grab mine.
    I shouldn ’t like this. I shouldn’t feel safe in his presence. It doesn’t matter how much I want to believe that he really is going to help or that he won’t turn my ass in, because the truth of it is I’m still the crook here. Even if I do save Becca, even if I had good intentions, I still stole an antique diamond.
    We make our way down the alley. Nerves fly between us, and neither of us is as confident as before. At the end of the alley is the thin wooden door, no window, no people. The door opens without another word, and I can feel Chase flinch. His movement is slight, not too noticeable to someone whose focus is elsewhere. I catch it, though, and I can only pray that the man who opens the door doesn’t.
    “ Miss Brignac, Mr. Victor has been expecting you. Only you,” the man, who I now see is Nikolai Gregor, says.
    Nikolai Gregor has a thick Russian accent , a kind though aging smile, and unnaturally white teeth. I know from the few times I was paying attention that Nikolai worked for Victor’s father before he died. Loyalty is everything to Nikolai. If he thinks I’ve betrayed Victor, he might consider putting a bullet in my skull himself. Chase doesn’t smile. He barely reacts to Nikolai’s presence, though the slight roll of his shoulders tells me he’s on edge. I don’t like it. The main reason is because I don’t know Chase well enough to know how dangerous “on edge” can be. For Victor, “on edge” could be

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