Everything happened just as Liam said it would. Liam finally got dressed, wearing a sleek black Armani suit, Gucci shoes and his favorite Gucci scarf. There was a knock at the door and Liam went to open it with me trailing behind him. Ryan stood there, his green eyes cold as he stared at Liam.
“Well, if it isn’t Liam Hawke,” he said sarcastically, eyeing him with distaste. Liam ignored him and looked at me.
“I’ve got to go to that meeting now,” he said, kissing me. He grabbed his briefcase and looked at Ryan reluctantly.
“Take care of her. If you don’t I’ll kill you.” And the weird thing was Liam sounded completely serious. He shoved past Ryan and was gone. And just like that Ryan’s attitude changed.
“Liam said if I came into the room with you he chop my head off, so I guess we’re going out.” I smiled and nodded. I went over to grab my coat and left with the guy who was my almost assassin.
After her confrontation with Liam, Gretchen took the next plane back home and called Kate immediately, telling her they needed to meet up ASAP. Kate finally arrived and Gretchen wasted no time. She got straight to business.
“She has to go. Now.” Kate looked at her, pressed her lips together.
“You and I are in utter agreement,” Kate said seethingly. “Simon called off the engagement this morning. He said he still loves Yvonne.” Gretchen shook her head. What did all these attractive, eligible white men see in this black girl? Daniel Grover, Simon, Ryan and the most important one Liam. What the hell did she have that was so fuckin important?
“I heard that Liam has gotten Yvonne her own car and driver,” Gretchen said. Kate looked at her, confused.
“So, we tamper with the brakes of the car.” Kate’s jaw dropped.
“Whoa, whoa,” she cried, mouth agape. “I don’t want to kill her. I mean, that’s crazy!”
“We’re not gonna kill her,” Gretchen snapped, rolling her eyes. “The guy driving the car will be experienced enough to protect her. Besides the car is bulletproof. Because only the best for Yvonne,” Gretchen spat. Kate frowned and nodded, assessing.
“Okay, so we’re gonna scare her?” Gretchen nodded.
“Exactly. Just get her roughed up a bit. And then our message will be sent.” Kate grinned.
“Let’s do it.”
“Liam told me about you and his…um…situation.” There. I said it. I let out the breath I hadn’t known I’d been holding. I’d finally put it out there. Finally let him know that I knew. Ryan rose an eyebrow while simultaneously cocking his head to the side.
“Our situation?” he asked.
“Yeah. He told me why you two hate each other,” I explained.
“Ah, yes,” Ryan nodded.
“He said you were best friend. You, Lucas and him.”
“We were.” A flash of trademark sadness on his face.
“And after Lana died, you became angry with him.” He flashed a look at me. Then he looked back at the sea of people. We were on top of a tall building, staring down at people who were like ants beneath us. I was pretty sure this was illegal, but I liked the view so I wasn’t complaining.
“Did Liam tell you how we became best friends?” Ryan asked, turning quickly to face me. I shook my head when I realized he hadn’t. Ryan snorted. “Figures,” he muttered. “Liam is always the gentleman.” Now my curiosity was strong and I wanted to know how they met. Liam rarely ever talked about his past.
“When Liam gave Simon a well deserved ass kicking, Lucas told you that Liam had been trained by some of the top assassins, didn’t he?” I nodded, my lips pressing firmly together.
“How did you know about that?” I asked. Ryan shrugged.
“I know a lot of things. It’s what I specialize in, Yvonne. All three of us—Liam, Lucas and I—we can do things that made us special to them.”
“The people who trained us,” he said simply.
“Okay, tell me everything from the beginning,” I ordered. Ryan’s lips twitched, trying to fight a smile.
“When we were very young, only ten years old, we were kidnapped. It was actually Liam’s fault, they wanted ransom money for Liam. They asked for twenty million dollars. It seems like a lot to people like you and me, but for the Hawke family, twenty million didn’t even make a dent in their pockets.
There was more than one person who kidnapped us. Three men and two women. They carried an air of power around them. It was Liam who called out who they were. Everyone was looking for them. They were so dangerous no prison cell could hold them, no amount of security could contain them. The state was offering half a million to anyone who could bring them in.” I leaned forward, imagining three little boys, kidnapped and scared. And I could see in my mind’s eye five badass assassins.
Lucas thought it would be fun to learn their ways, though he never said it.” Ryan chuckled. “Lucas was always…quiet. Anyway, Liam asked for them to teach us their ways. And they agreed. They soon realized we were naturals. And they took us off the grid, no one could find us. We lived under a different name in China and then Japan. We studied and mastered the arts of Kung-Fu, Jujitsu and many others.
For five years we trained, became even better than the ones that taught us.” I tried to imagine it. I thought about Liam’s speed, his grace, his strength, I realized I could imagine Liam being trained by kickass assassins.
“When we finally did return home, we were fifteen. The arts had changed us. Had made us men at such a young age. And that banded us together forever. And that’s how we became best friends. It was so weird to believe that Liam had been kidnapped. Had been taken away from his family for five years to study how to be a kickass assassin. I couldn’t even tell. His parents never even let on that he’d been gone for so long.
“Well, you said you both picked up different skills. Skills like what?”
“I learned to heighten my senses. Lucas gained the ability to move almost invisibly. And Liam is the best fighter. I hate to admit it, but the guy can kick ass.” Ryan shook his head, something like awe on his face. I could believe that. I nodded again.
“Liam said you hated him after he told you Lana and Hathaway were engaged,” I said softly. Ryan turned to look at me, his expression unfathomable.
“That’s part of the reason,” he said slowly.
“There’s more to the story?”
“I hate Liam because of what happened the day before Lana died,” Ryan said, his voice so quiet I could barely hear him. “I asked if Liam could have someone protect her. His father owned the company at that time and Liam had no say in anything. His father didn’t have the resources at that time, no one was able to protect her. William was willing to try to pull strings however and he had men scheduled to stay with her that next week.” He looks down at the New Yorkers walking, busy with their lives. “But then she died. And when Liam showed up at the door, saying he found out Lana was engaged to the man who killed her, I lost it on him.” I felt sad for him. I mean, I felt really bad for him. And then I show up looking like her doppelganger, I thought sullenly.
“I think you should set things right with Liam,” I told him. He glanced at me, then the people below us and back.
“Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t even know how to begin,” he replied.
“I always find it’s easy to begin with explaining why you were angry,” I said helpfully, looking at him seriously. He smiled.
“I’ll think about it.” And that was enough for me. All I really wanted was to see two old friends unite again. Just because my friendship was lost didn’t mean Liam’s friendship had to be lost too.
It was late that night when they arrived at the Hawke manor. It was quiet except for the soft clacking of Gretchen’s high heeled shoes and Kate’s labored, nervous breath. In Gretchen’s hand were pliers. She walked to the Audi, the car that Liam had gotten for Yvonne. She opened the car door and proceeded to cut out the brake. The brake was in her hand and the job was almost done. Just one more touch. She handed Kate the pliers. And Kate, the little fool, took them. How easy she was to manipulate. After Gretchen was sure Kate’s fingerprints were all over the pliers, she took them.
“Do we have everything we need?” Kate asked. Gretchen opened her mouth to say, yes, she had everything she needed, when she heard a slight shuffling. Her head snapped and she met the eyes of a man. The man Yvonne had brought to Liam’s office. With research she gathered that his name was Levi. Levi’s eyes were wide as he looked at the gloves Gretchen was wearing and the pliers in her hand and the newly cut out brake. He backed away, ready to leave. But, no, Gretchen couldn’t have that. She pulled out a gun, it gleamed brightly even in the limited light, and she pulled the trigger. Levi fell immediately and Kate gasped in horror.
“Why did you do that?” Kate cried out, looking like she was gonna be sick.
“Because he was gonna ruin my plans. You see, cutting out the brakes on Yvonne’s car is not what I have planned for her.” Gretchen smiled. “I have something far more gruesome in mind.” Kate stared at her in disbelief.
“You’re crazy,” she gasped, shaking her head.
“And you’re useless,” Gretchen responded, shooting Kate in the head. Kate’s body jerked, her eyes wide as she fell to the ground limply. Gretchen placed the pliers and the gun in Kate’s hands, sitting the brakes nearby. She looked into Kate’s lifeless eyes and wished they were Yvonne’s. Soon, she thought. She stood up and exited quickly. Undoubtedly Chauncey had heard the shots and was on his way down there. She stepped over Levi and left the Hawke manor quickly.
Liam was shaking me, trying to wake me up. I groaned and opened my eyes. He was frowning. I sat up, my eyes focusing. I could see now that Liam was looking at me pityingly. My heart dropped.
“What happened?” I gasped, my voice thick with sleep.
“Yvonne,” Liam said my name softly, looking like he was at a loss for words.
“Liam, tell me,” I said, my voice hard. He took a deep breath and said,
“Chauncey found Levi and Kate’s bodies in my garage. Levi is in a coma and Kate…” he just looked at me. My mouth dropped in shock. Levi was in a coma. Kate was dead.