There was something in Alexei’s eyes that worried Anna and she began to get a sick feeling in her gut. Something was very far off kilter here. It was just a matter of working out what.
Valentina Stephanovitz had obviously caught the same vibe, because she snapped out another order in her native tongue. This time the big Russian ignored her. Turning instead a wholly reptilian smile on Patsy and Anna.
“It’s such a pity you came here ladies,” he sneered. “Your murder of Gospazha Valentina will set the seal on the vendetta that will see every last member of your family die in the most painful way we can contrive. I look forward to hearing your sons’ screams as they are repeatedly raped.”
Valentina rapped out another order and he turned on her with his face full of hate.
“You should be glad my orders are to dispose of you quickly and quietly,” he spat.
Anna saw the whole plan and cursed herself for not foreseeing such an eventuality. Then it dawned on her that whoever was behind this Alexei would be going for a clean sweep. The fingers of her left hand flew. ‘Get out of the car. Suspect bomb.’ It was the biggest relief of her life to hear Rod’s grunted assent. Dragging her mind back to her own situation she could hear the gloating evil in Alexei’s voice as he carried on enumerating the various fates in store for the whole Cracksman clan.
Patsy seemed to be bearing up remarkably well, even when the Russian pushed his face right into hers and his spittle ran down her cheeks.
“You need us in there?” Rod’s voice in Anna’s ear jerked her back to a sense of her own peril just as Alexei turned his back on Patsy and put his hand inside his jacket.
He probably thought himself quick on the draw, but in defence of her cubs Pats had the speed of an enraged she-bear. A small, but serviceable, pistol appeared in her rock steady hand. She shot twice and Alexei fell to the ground making strange whinnying noises.
“If he was only going for his handkerchief, I’ll apologise nicely.” Patsy’s voice was as steady as her hand.
Anna found herself able to look down on the groaning man with unfeigned composure. “Both arms. Nice shooting Pats…”
She wasn’t sure what she was going to say or do next but it didn’t matter anyway, as all thought was blown away by a sound beyond sound as the whole building rocked, and the window next to Valentina blew in showering them all with shards of glass. Patsy was first to the broken window.
“It’s our car,” she cried with something like despair in her voice.
Anna made voice contact with Rod. “You lot all right?”
“Yeah. Picking bits of car out of our teeth. But fine. You okay in there?”
“Yeah. Pats has it in hand.”
“Right. We gotta go help the injured.”
Anna ran to Patsy’s side. “It’s okay. I got the willies. They were all out of the car.”
Patsy looked down at Alexei.
“You should be so grateful to whatever god you believe in. Because if any of ours had been hurt I’m fairly sure I would have been inspired to shoot bits off you. Starting with your dick. And if you don’t start talking now, I still might.”
The sweating man clenched his teeth together, and Valentina laughed harshly. She said something in a low vicious voice that had tears springing into the injured man’s eyes.
“If you are going to shoot him, I would recommend starting with some toes. Painful, but not sufficiently debilitating to stop him from answering questions.”
Patsy levelled her pistol at the frantically wriggling man.
“You sure I can’t do his dick?”
“Too much blood loss. If we want answers.”
“Oh yes. We want answers.”
Anna found herself deeply wishful of being anywhere but in that room. She felt as if the air was getting too thick to breathe and although she knew that Alexei was deserving of anything that came his way she lacked the appetite to watch. Although she hoped in her heart that Patsy wouldn’t shoot any more, she had a worm of doubt in her chest. This man had threatened Patsy’s sons…