I drove fast, I ran faster and ended up jumping over a wooden fence in order to follow Hector. Sweat was dripping down my spine like a leaking faucet. After a two-hour undercover pursuit I finally discovered where he was hiding all the times he went missing from the hotel.
He glanced backwards momentarily before entering the white beach house that separated him from the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. I don’t think he noticed me because I rushed behind a eucalyptus tree right on time. Damn it! Fear made my heart thump and my blood roast. The salty breeze settled onto my dry mouth and there were only a handful of things I wouldn’t do for a glass of cold water. As the wind blew stronger, the eucalyptus leaves dropped all around me while I still panted from running a marathon to get there, in the middle of summer. I sat on the pale dirt to catch my breath and waited for Hector to make his next move. I hadn’t waited too long before I heard a car engine from a distance. I fervently searched for a new hiding spot and, although I hesitated at first, I swiftly moved round the back of the house. I hid behind columns of junipers that were neatly pruned but tall enough to offer me cover. I couldn’t see the front door from this angle but I had a clear view of the driveway. Soon after, a blue E series Mercedes parked near the eucalyptus trees. Phew! That was close.
A tall blonde chick hurried out of the passenger seat followed by an even taller tattooed young man who took his time walking up to the house. He threw his cigarette bud onto the freshly cut grass, which I thought was a rather crass thing to do. I could only see them from the side, but there was something eerie about these two. They were clearly siblings. Twins, perhaps. Their faces were too far for me to tell for sure, but the way they carried themselves combined with their young age seemed to suggest a familial bond of some kind. The woman rushed inside the house as if in panic. I could hear them speak in Russian. I couldn’t tell exactly what they were on about. I understood the words, ‘danger’, ‘pain’, ‘car’ but the rest was spoken either too quickly or in a dialect I wasn’t familiar with. My cell buzzed. Dima was calling. I looked at my wrist-watch and it was already half past two in the afternoon. Shit, I had completely forgotten about our lunch date at the hotel! I had two options, one, to answer and try to explain where I had gone –which on second thought wasn’t really an option if I didn’t want to blow up my cover –or two, to text him briefly a plausible reason for disappearing. A simple dilemma. One, that under other circumstances wouldn’t trouble me much. But this time, I barely found time to consider it long enough My dilemma was interrupted by a gunshot; A single, gut-wrenching gunshot. Fuck!
I slid to the ground again instinctively, and memories of the bloodbath I’d survived in Minsk flooded my mind. I could feel my heart batter violently against my chest bones and my breath was coming to me in tranches. Fear enveloped me in completely, like an intoxicating addiction. I can’t tell if there was mayhem going on inside. I was too busy trying to calm myself but there was also an unnatural silence coming from the house. I made an effort to control my breathing and counted five minutes before seeing the young, tattooed man walk out. I watched his feet stomp across the lawny driveway in a hurry. His trainers were muddy, and I suspected the burgundy-coloured liquid embossed on his soles were blood stains. I stared at his arms thinking what a waste to have them dipped in ink but I soon concentrated on a mark I’d recognised from before. I hadn’t even finished my recollection of the Bratva mark which was proudly displayed at the back of his left arm and he was gone. He sped off in the Merc like a maniac. I crouched up mustering some courage, and observed the house from in between the branches, searching for further movement. I realised how dangerous it’d be for me to make a run for it now. My cell buzzed again. Dima must have been furious with me. I fished my phone out of my side pocket and pressed ‘dismiss’. ‘Honey, I’m soaring under the Cypriot sun’, my text message read. I was trying to buy time, but I should have known my insisting fiancée would take none of it. A second later he started calling me relentlessly. I had to turn off the phone to keep focused.
“Bella, what the fuck are you doing here?”