Her Russian Daddy by Bianca Cole

1

Yuri

The art of hunting always fascinated me, even when I was a little boy living in rural Russia. My father used to take me along on the hunts with the men of our village for deer. I loved the thrill of the chase as we crept toward our unsuspecting prey through the thick undergrowth of the forest. Maybe because it was the only time in my childhood that I had any power or control.

Many men believe power comes from your position in society, but until you’ve taken another’s life, you don’t know the true meaning of power. My target glances over his shoulder as he moves awkwardly through the crowd, glancing in the opposite direction. He is the unsuspecting deer today.

The adrenaline rushing through my veins makes me feel alert and invincible—a powerful weapon in the hands of someone who knows how to control it. Adrenaline can either make or break a person.

An older man pushing along a cart full of fruit gets in my way, but I move around him. My eyes never leave the man I’m stalking—my prey. I know Chinatown seems like one of the worst places to carry out a hit. The streets are busy and chaotic, but that’s what makes it perfect.

Again, Alessandro glances over his shoulder in my direction this time. I keep my eyes to the ground for a moment, making sure the baseball cap covers my face. My target isn’t stupid—he’s been Enzo’s Capo since his father died three years ago. Before his father died, he was a loyal and ruthless soldier held in high esteem by the mafia.

I’m not surprised he knows he’s being followed. The question is, does he know how much danger he is in right now? Ten years I’ve lived here in New York City, taking jobs for criminals—I’ve never failed.

Andrei wants him dead, so he will be before the day is through. There’s no question about it. Alessandro has messed with the wrong guy. Stealing a shipment of the Russian’s drugs is plain stupid, especially for someone like him.

Alessandro glances over his shoulder again as I keep my distance, tailing him through the crowd. He can sense someone is tracking him.

My target slips down a side street, but I know all the tricks in the book. If he thinks I’m going to follow him down there, then he is mistaken.

I hasten my steps and walk past the opening into the alleyway. My heart is racing as I break into a jog down the next alleyway to make it onto the next street over before Alessandro. I get a few odd looks.

Alessandro is trying to draw out his pursuer, but it’s impossible. I never reveal myself. I tilt the cap of my baseball cap slightly as I slip onto the busy street. Alessandro is tall, which makes my job easier. He towers over most of the people in the crowd. He continues with tense shoulders, probably because he’s in enemy territory right now. I’m not sure what the Italian Capo could want with the triad, but I get the feeling he is up to no good.

I watch him as he walks into a restaurant.

Fuck.

I can’t follow inside not only because it’s triad owned, but because I never get that close to a target—the restaurant is too small for me to remain inconspicuous. Alessandro is up to no good if he’s meeting with the triad. I wonder if Enzo knows what one of his Capo’s is getting up to behind his back, stealing from the Russians and doing deals with the Chinese.

Enzo isn’t stupid. He wouldn’t have ordered Alessandro to make a move on Andrei’s brotherhood. They have a truce and an agreement, which Alessandro has broken.

I contemplate whether or not to follow him inside. No one knows me, except people I want to, but even so, I don’t exactly blend in here. Instead, I slip down the alleyway next to the restaurant, searching for a window so I can watch my target. Losing him isn’t an option since Andrei pays me well to ensure a job is completed quickly and without a hitch. I promised it would be done by the end of the day.

There is a window that looks into the main restaurant, but it’s up high. I move the trash can over and climb on top, peering inside.

Alessandro is sitting at the table with a couple of members of the triad. He hands over a wedge of cash. If he’s dealing with the triad, then he is working behind Enzo’s back for sure. They are renowned for doing dirty deals, even in the eyes of the crime world. Enzo wouldn’t like Alessandro being here, which makes me wonder if he has any idea what his Capo is up to.

Not that it is any of my business. I’ve done a job for Enzo in the past, but he never came back to me—too prejudice when he found out I was Russian. I have to keep my head out of the politics, it’s part of being a reliable assassin. Judgment clouds your mind when you are taking people out.

I can detach myself from it and see people as nothing more or less than a target. It may mean I’m dead inside. It may mean I have no emotions, but it’s what has kept me alive this long. It’s the reason I’m good at doing what I do.

Alessandro takes a bag from the men in return for the cash and then stands. I watch as he shakes their hands. It’s my cue to get down and head back onto the street. I jump down and move quickly but carefully.

It’s almost time for me to strike.

I walk slowly past the entrance to the restaurant, just as Alessandro leaves. We’re so close that my sleeve brushes against his. It sends my adrenaline higher. My thirst for killing is sick, and I know it, but there’s nothing quite as exciting as being a hunter after his prey in a place like this.

He is behind me now as I walk a few steps ahead, sensing his presence. My HK45 is snug against my rib cage, and I grip the handle, ready to strike like a viper. If you think you need to be watching your target before you strike, then you are wrong. He’s only a couple of steps behind, which means an innocent change of direction on my part will put me right in front of him.

I take a deep breath before turning around and slamming into his chest. “Shit, sorry,” I say as I pull out the HK45 with the suppressor fitted and press it over his heart before he can even respond to my apology.

I pull the trigger, and the jostling, noisy crowd drowns out the silenced shot.

Alessandro’s eyes go wide. There’s not enough time for fear to enter them as I see the pain register in his irises. I know I’m not right in the head as I enjoy watching for a short moment the life drain out of his eyes.

I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember, although I know my father’s beatings moulded me into this monster. As an assassin, you have to enjoy the power trip of taking a life. I twist away from my target and stow the gun back in my jacket in one move. My steps away from the man I killed are slow and natural as I blend into the crowd.

The thud of my target collapsing to the floor, followed by a few people gasping, tells me I’ve not got long to slip away. I hear a woman ask if he is okay. I walk as though I didn’t just shoot a guy in the heart in the middle of a busy street.

Once I’m three yards away, someone screams. The sick and twisted part of me feels satisfaction at hearing that sound—the fear and shock of someone finding my prey once I’m gone. My job here is complete, and no one witnessed it that I’m one-hundred percent certain about.

Years of practice mean I’m one of the best in the industry. My golden rule is to take out my targets somewhere crowded and busy. A target killed in a quiet alleyway risks someone stumbling past and becoming a witness. A target killed in a chaotic street means there are too many possible culprits and no witnesses. I hide in the chaos and strike when the time is right, leaving quickly and naturally. It’s never failed me in my fifteen years as an assassin.

I move off the busy street and head down an alleyway toward where I parked my car. There are a few people around, but not many. I never linger too long in the place I’ve carried out a hit. The quicker I can be somewhere else, the better.

Andrei wants me to meet him at his home once the job is done. He will be happy at my record time for this hit. I’ve considered joining his ranks a few times before, but it doesn’t suit me. He promises a handsome wage and security, but I’m used to being on my own. Being a part of a brotherhood isn’t my style.

Lately, I haven’t carried out jobs for any other criminal gangs. When I first got to New York, I took jobs for anyone that would pay. It became clear that it’s dangerous not to have an allegiance of some kind, so Andrei was my natural choice. We’re both Russian for a start, and I understand the Bratva’s ways, having worked for them in my home city of Moscow before moving to America.

I unlock my chevy, which I parked illegally. Luckily, there’s no ticket on it this time, not that it would matter. My plates are fake. I slip inside, turning over the key. The purr of the powerful engine soothes my firing nerves. After a moment, the adrenaline starts to wear off, and I start to feel normal again.

The glove compartment houses my knife. I grab it and roll up the sleeve of my shirt, slicing my skin deep enough to scar. I keep the tally of my hits on my arms in scars—three hundred and twenty-five and counting. I like to have the number somewhere visible and permanent.

I make quick work of bandaging the cut, pulling the sleeve of my shirt back down. The pain is welcome as I pull out of the space and head out of Chinatown.

Sirens blare in the distance, but I will be long gone by the time the cops get here. Another target dead and gone, and still, I feel nothing. I’ve often questioned whether I’m dead inside but come up blank. It’s possible after my dark upbringing it hardened me to anything.

Emotion is a weakness and it clouds people’s judgement. Money on the other hand is king, and it’s time for me to get paid.