True Conviction
updated,” he says before hanging up.
    “Is everything alright?” asks Manhattan as I put my phone back in my pocket.
    I’m not sure how much information I should give him at this stage. I always try to keep my cards close to my chest, but under the circumstances, I don’t have much more information than they do. But I still have too many questions to mess around being discreet. I decide to tell him what I’ve found out.
    “Depends on your point of view,” I say. “I’m starting to think you’ve stumbled across something bigger than just the land you wanted to buy.”
    “What do you mean?” he asks, sounding for the first time like he wasn’t in complete control of something, which he clearly doesn’t like.
    “Jackson’s unknown bodyguard appears to have been under surveillance by the U.S. government in the last six months.”
    “So what does that have to do with Mr. Pellaggio?”
    “It means Jackson's being protected by another party that isn’t his employer. I don’t know why, but this is further evidence that this whole thing is bigger than just Jackson screwing you over. I would suggest approaching this with more caution than simply sending me in to kill him.”
    It doesn’t take long for Manhattan to see I’m making sense. He glances over his shoulder to his hired muscle and mutters something to him I can’t quite hear. The big guy nods once intently, then walks off and disappears behind the red curtain in the corner.
    He turns his attention back to me.
    “Adrian, it would seem we have underestimated Ted Jackson and his resources. It also appears we have underestimated you. I want to thank you for your vigilance and commitment to this situation, and to your job. In light of this development, I would like to extend your contract with us beyond simply disposing of Ted Jackson. I want you to work with us to see this situation through to its conclusion.”
    I’m a freelance contract killer. I don’t work exclusively with anyone, not even on a temporary basis. I know some people that do and they prefer it that way—it does provide a steady income and a certain amount of security. It’s also good if you’re just starting out, as it helps establish a reputation for yourself. But it won’t benefit me in any way whatsoever, and I have no desire to associate myself with the mafia any longer than necessary.
    “I’m flattered, but I have no interest in doing any more of your dirty work than I already am. I’ll kill Ted Jackson for you and retrieve whatever money or paperwork or whatever he has on his person at the time. But once that’s done, I’m gone.”
    Manhattan nods in a way that suggests he heard what I'd said, but doesn’t accept it. “Fine. I’ll get a couple of guys on this and leave you to take out Jackson. We’ll be in touch.”
    With that, he turns and walks away, disappearing behind the red curtain and leaving me alone in the empty nightclub.
    “I’ll see myself out then?” I say to nobody but myself.
    As I open the front door and step back out to the street, I squint while my eyes adjust from dark nightclub to bright sunshine. I look up and down the street absently, but a motorcycle parked across from me, facing the club's entrance, draws my gaze. It looks like the driver is staring in my direction, but it’s hard to tell when the visor is down on their helmet. The motorcycle is lightning blue with a white trim… a really sweet-looking ride. The driver’s wearing black leathers from head to toe. I hold their gaze for a moment. They rev their engine loudly and speed off out of sight.
    How odd…

    AFTER MEETING WITH Jimmy Manhattan, I’d headed back to my motel room to change my clothes before heading out for a nice walk around the city to clear my head and assess the current, and increasingly complex, situation. I’m convinced there’s more at stake than just Pellaggio’s potential earnings. After more deliberation than I usually afford my jobs, I think the

Similar Books


Patricia McLinn

Bull Rider

Suzanne Morgan Williams

Otis Spofford

Beverly Cleary

The Rosie Effect

Graeme Simsion

I Know You Love Me

Aline de Chevigny

Garrett Investigates

Elizabeth Bear


Howard Schultz, Joanne Lesley Gordon