I s.h.i.+vered, and not just because of the chill in the air. The place reminded me so much of the warehouse where my father had forced me to kill my mom, and the thought of stepping inside made me nauseated.
My eyes took a moment to adjust, but then I could make out stacks of large wooden crates, most likely containing whatever kind of contraband Tony the Hound was moving at the moment.
"Plenty of places to stay hidden," X said in a whisper right behind my ear, and I knew he was talking about himself.
At the back of the warehouse, there was a set of stairs and a platform which led up to offices, and then further offices housed below. I a.s.sumed that was where the men had gone, and so would also be where Nickie was being held.
X leaned in and kissed the spot on my neck between my ear and shoulder, sending s.h.i.+vers through me for a whole new reason. I knew why he'd kissed me. He was leaving me now, but I hoped that was his way of saying 'later' rather than 'goodbye.'
Like a ghost, he suddenly vanished, disappearing somewhere between the stacks of crates, I a.s.sumed. It was just me now, so I took a deep breath and stepped forward.
"Hey!" came a male voice from the direction of the offices. "Who's there?"
I put my hands in the air to show I wasn't armed. I hoped no one would shoot me in the meantime. "I'm here to see Tony."
"Tony's busy," he called back. "He ain't having no visitors."
"Tell him Verity is here to see him. Verity Guerra."
"Mickey Five Fingers' daughter?"
I nodded, though he couldn't see me. "That's right. He'll want to speak with me."
The man squinted at me in the gloom, but nodded. "Stay right there, and don't touch anything."
I wondered what he thought I was going to touch. It wasn't like I was a five-year-old in a pottery shop. I held myself still, my ears straining, trying to get a sense of where X might be. I felt like I should be able to pick up on something, some kind of vibes from him, as though we were psychically connected, but there was nothing.
I did, however, hear voices coming from the offices.
Tony appeared from up top, to look down on me, while the door opened and Nickie stepped out, flanked by two of Tony's men, including the one who had first questioned me. I saw they were all armed, and I felt weak and defenseless for not having a gun of my own.
I caught Nickie's eye and smiled, but she didn't return the expression. I shouldn't be surprised. I guessed this new experience hadn't warmed her to me at all.
"I'm here to talk, Tony," I called, keeping my hands in
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