Killian (Hope City #8) - Kris Michaels

Chapter 1

“You made assurances.” The distinct accent of this caller sent a chill down his spine.

He glanced down the corridor. It was late and the building was nearly vacant, but still, he cupped his hand over the phone and whispered, “I can’t force them, you need to offer more.”

“We’ve paid very well.”

“Obviously, getting this done is going to cost more.” God, he hoped his voice wasn’t shaking. He gripped the burner phone in a death grip. He was stuck between an immovable object and a wrecking ball. Said wrecking ball was hurtling toward him now.

“Our mutual friends indicated you could be trusted to get the jobs done.”

“Our mutual friends are in jail or dead. Caution and discretion are needed because I do not intend to join our acquaintances and I don’t believe you want to do so, either.”

“Is that a threat?” Icy coldness blasted through the connection.

He glanced down the hallway again before he hissed, “I’m not making threats. I just relay the information I’m able to obtain.”

“No, your gambling debts in Atlantic City were paid in full to perform a specific function here in Hope City. You assured us your connections would be responsive and cooperate.”

“Two are cooperating. But we need more people to fall in line and that is going to take money or…” He couldn’t bring himself to say it.

“The ‘or’ is our specialty. I will need the names of those who are not willing to cooperate.”

“Perhaps I can try one more time…”

“Names. Now.”

He whispered the three names as he speed-walked down the hallway and out of the building. The solid door closed firmly behind him with a clunk.

“We will be in contact. You know what you need to do.”

He pushed the button on his key fob and opened the doors to his late-model maroon-colored sedan. “I’m well aware of what you require. I have ways of keeping my ear to the ground.”

“Make sure you do, or perhaps your ear will end up under the ground.” The line went dead.

He flopped into his car and stared at the building where he enjoyed respect and status. How had he fallen so? Where had it gone so wrong?

“Where are you hiding? Where is the connection? Is there a connection? Am I insane?” Bekki King leaned over her desk in her condo’s small office and mumbled the question to herself. There was corruption and then there were criminals. Her family hunted the criminals while her goal in life was to root out the corruption that slinked along the corridors of City Hall. Just starting this investigation, there were a lot of pieces that weren’t adding up. She had the suspected City Hall players on one side of the net, the people who profited from construction projects that appeared to be expedited through Hope City’s approval systems on the other side. Councilman Davis sat on one side of the net, yet there had to be more.

Where was the common thread? There had to be others, but who, and how were they benefiting? She’d been digging since long before Perkins Electrical Company reared its ugly head. Sandy and Rory had filled her in on the ties to the Russian Mafia. Her father’s voice rumbled through her head, “Let investigators uncover the crime, you do the reporting.”

Bekki talked back to herself, “Sorry, Pops. Perkins was stupid and got caught. There’s more here, I can feel it. There has to be.” She stared at her notes. Her primary focus had been on that asshole scumbag Councilman Davis. The man sat on the city council’s Planning and Land Use Management and Economic Development committees and several other boards that regulated businesses in Hope City. According to Brie, he’d wanted a bribe to put through her request to organize the restaurants in Hope City to donate food the establishments couldn’t use to local shelters. Well, she’d fix that in short order. She had an appointment with Davis next week to conduct a ‘public servant’ interview. Before that, she had meetings with several entities who’d been tabled by Davis, or at least that’s the way it appeared when she went through the meeting minutes. She wanted to place Davis’ feet against the fire and grill him until he was toasty. The jerk. She’d definitely use her job to shine a spotlight on the slimeball. The International Space Station would be able to see the man glow when she was done with him.

So, with a plan to put Davis in his place and let the population of Hope City