Copyright© 2016 by Jay Cantrell
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 60 - Travis Blakely had a comfortable existence. He had a decent job and good friends. He was comfortable with what the future held for him. Then he ran into a girl he remembered from high school. His life got a lot more interesting - and infinitely more complicated
I sat back so hard I almost broke the armrest in the luxury airliner in which I rode. I failed in my first attempt to speak. All I could do was stare across the aisle at a woman I thought I knew.
“Wh ... what did you just say?” I managed to squeak.
“We had to get out from under those guys,” Liz said plaintively.
“So you put a hit out on them?” I asked. I had kept my voice soft but it still came out as a hiss.
“No!” Liz said instantly. She tilted her head slightly. “In a way, I guess.”
“In a way, you guess?” I repeated as I pressed my index fingers to the bridge of my nose.
“Let me explain how things happened,” Liz said, shifting around until she could face me. I caught motion out of the corner of my eye and saw one of the stewards coming back. I held up a hand to stop Liz from speaking – and she actually stopped.
“The pilot says we’re approaching some rough weather,” she said. “I’ll need you to resume your seats and buckle in.”
“Can we buckle in back here?” I asked. It came out harsher than I intended.
“That will be fine,” the young woman replied.
Liz shifted to the window seat again and I slid across to sit beside her. She reached for my hand. I didn’t pull away but I didn’t turn my palm upward to interlock our fingers as I normally did.
“Just hear what I have to tell you before you ... whatever,” she said. “Can you let me give my side before you make up your mind?”
I nodded – but I suspected I was probably lying about it.
“We were in deep,” Liz said, “all of us. It wasn’t just me. Emelda was controlled by the Colombians. They were taking most of her earnings and...”
Liz sighed heavily.
“The Colombians were trying to get a foothold in Central Europe,” she continued. “The change to the Eurozone cut out a lot of problems for them. It was no harder to go from Germany to Austria than it was to go from Kentucky to Tennessee. The problem was getting things through customs. Emelda was already world famous so she solved that for them. No one at any airport gave her luggage a look when she would come off the plane in a short skirt with nothing underneath. So she carried a lot of weight for them.”
“Jesus Christ,” I muttered. “Tell me that you weren’t a part of that!”
“No!” Liz insisted. “I wouldn’t even permit her to fly with me anywhere. I wanted nothing to do with that shit!”
I gave a mirthless chuckle. Murder and money laundering were OK but narcotics smuggling was not. It was good to see where the lines were drawn.
“I was stupid,” Liz said when she saw my face. “I got roped into things without paying attention to what was going on. I was using a lot of coke and I owed them some serious coin – money I didn’t really have at the time because I’d spent it. They offered to forgive my debt if I would sign on to do promotions for one of their legitimate businesses. I agreed; the debt went away; and they never asked me to do any appearances. It seemed ... legit at the time. When I finally understood, it was too late. I was in as deeply as the others.”
I let out a long breath and nodded.
“So, Emelda and I were caught up by the Colombians,” Liz said. “She was carrying for them. I was helping them launder their money. Anastasia and another girl, her name was Nadia, were hooked up with the Ukrainians. It was the same deal. Instead of coke it was heroin. That had a supplier in Afghanistan. Caley ... Caley is lucky to be alive. She was playing both sides of the fence. She was getting product from both of them; carrying weight for both of them. If either found out ... they would have killed her. But she couldn’t break loose. You don’t just walk away from these types of people, Travis. We had to do something!”
“Yeah,” I said. “But it didn’t have to involve their deaths.”
“Yes, it did,” Liz said.
“No,” I said. “You could have gone to Interpol or the FBI and taken your lumps for being dumb enough to get involved in the first place. What you did was so you could walk away unscathed. You can hide behind it with anybody else but don’t you dare try that shit with me!”
Liz closed her eyes for a moment. I don’t know if it was to calm her temper or to regain her composure.
“OK,” she said when they opened. “I see your point. But the lumps we’d have to take wouldn’t stop at going to jail. They would have found a way to kill us. Those drug cartels and the mobsters run the prison system. You don’t survive going to the cops. If they don’t get you before you testify they get you afterward.”
I sighed again and nodded, conceding the point.
“So you murdered them,” I said.
“I ... the others set them up,” Liz said. “But, since we’re not mincing words, yes. The only way any of us could think of to break free was for them to die. It was us or them. I wasn’t really involved in the planning but I was involved just the same.”
I nodded again.
“Yulia was the first pin to drop,” Liz continued. “They used her death to put the Colombians on the Ukrainians’ radar. Then they made arrangements for a couple of Colombian couriers to be arrested in Central Europe. Emelda told her sponsors that the Ukrainians had a mole inside the operation and they were the ones going to the cops. That brought the two groups to a tipping point. Milan ... are you sure you want to hear this?”
“No,” I said. “I’m sure I don’t want to hear this. But I need to. Liz, you have to understand, this is what Sarah was talking about. This is the major news that will not only screw your career; it will screw your life. So I need to hear this.”
Liz blew out air from her lungs.
“The ... kingpin ... of the Colombians was ... interested in me,” Liz said. “He was constantly inviting me to visit him for ... sex. I always told him no. My excuse was that I wasn’t going to Colombia for any reason. He ... he was reluctant to leave Colombia. He had most of the police force on his payroll so he was protected in his district. We’re not talking Cali or Medellin. It wasn’t a major cartel for U.S. distribution. It was mostly the Caribbean and some of the other South American cities – Le Paz and Santiago in Chile. He didn’t want to cross swords with the big boys. Trying to get inroads in the U.S. would cause them to put him in a world of hurt. So he wanted to move into unclaimed territory. The entertainment business gave him the network to do it. But he was putting more and more pressure on me to come to Colombia. Emelda invited him to Milan and disguised him as part of her entourage.”
“OK,” I said.
“He agreed to visit me there,” Liz said. “I didn’t really know what was going on. They kept me in the dark. I was trying to get clean and ... that screws with you. Emelda and Caley promised ... to keep the rest of the group entertained while he and I were partying together. That got almost his entire network in one place at one time. We knew it would. So, we used one of their holding companies to rent a villa just outside the Swiss border. At the same time, Nadia and Anastasia told the Ukrainian boss that I was really anxious to meet him ... for the same reason. That got a lot of their organization over. We ... when the Ukrainians arrived, we told them that the Colombians had shown up and ... dragged Caley away. They thought she belonged to them so ... we told them we’d help them get her back.”
“You set them up,” I said, filling in the blanks.
“Yeah,” Liz said. “They also had told the police ... through unofficial channels ... that the Ukrainians might show up and where they were planning to stay. I didn’t know what was going on until the Ukrainians showed up. Then ... I had no choice but to go along with things. I snuck out of my hotel. Ryan was watching me like a hawk and that put him in danger. They ... it doesn’t matter. He was watching me.
“I’d been clean for a couple of weeks but ... I needed it and I agreed to do my part. I know I was jittery. I was completely clean for the first time in a long time. We ... we rode out to the house with the Ukrainians. It was the middle of the night. It was me, Nadia and Anastasia in a van with five guys. Four more followed behind us. The Colombians had 11. The main guy, his three top lieutenants and some muscle. Fucking Caley screwed up everything. She got blitzed and was fucking two of the guys when the shit went down. She and Emelda were supposed to be clear. I texted them so they could go hide.”
She shook her head.
“We got there and the Ukrainians just started blasting away,” Liz said. “It was the most fucked up thing I’d ever seen. It looked like something from Hollywood. They had automatic pistols and shit that I’d never even seen before. I tried to run ... to call the police like I was supposed to but one of the Ukrainians caught me. He heard me telling the police what was happening. He slapped the phone out of my hand and punched me in the face. Then he started to kick me. I ... I rolled over and found a tree branch and nailed him between the legs. Then I ran and hid while he was down.”
She shook her head and looked ill. I didn’t think it had anything to do with the turbulence.
“The gunfire just kept going and going,” she said. “The Colombians returned fire. The fucking bitches left me! They just drove off and left me there. I was ... I was bleeding and I couldn’t breathe but I knew I had to get away. So I started to walk through the woods. It was daylight before I found a road.”
I had pulled out my phone and connected to the plane’s Wi-Fi signal. I typed “Italian gang killings” and the year into the search engine. Only a couple of news stories popped up. I scanned them as Liz continued talking.
“An old woman found me,” Liz said. “I said my boyfriend had hit me and dropped me beside the road. She tried to get me to go to the police station but I convinced her I needed to get to the hotel before he threw away my plane ticket home. I mean, my face was swollen and even my mother wouldn’t recognize me. So she drove me back to Milan.”
I looked up as I read the article. Seven Italian police officers had been wounded, three fatally, in a shootout with what the newspaper called Russian gangsters.
“God damn you,” I said in a tight voice.
“I know,” Liz said. “I ... I heard it on the radio. It made me sick. It still makes me sick when I think about it! That was never part of the plan!”
“So you thought a major crime syndicate would just surrender to the police?” I asked incredulously.
“We thought they’d have to!” Liz said. “I ... I didn’t think they could even get guns in across the border. If they did, I thought it would be pistols and shotguns. We thought the police would have more men, more weapons. We ... we told them it was a major meeting between two drug syndicates. We had no idea they’d come with 12 guys. We thought they would bring in a hundred.”
I lowered my chin to my chest and put my hands on my head. Liz was crying in the seat beside me.
“But you five assholes got away unscathed so what’s the fucking difference,” I hissed in an angry voice.
“I did not get away unscathed!” Liz yelled.
“It sure as fuck looks like it,” I said.
“I still have nightmares about that night!” Liz said after gesturing for Dom and Brian to turn back around. “I still think about the police officers that were hurt or died. I know every one of their names. I know their children’s names. I know their parents’ names. I think about them all the damned time. It almost killed me, too. I ... I went into a spiral after we got back. I wasn’t using drugs anymore but I got even more reckless. I wanted to die because of what I’d done. Nadia quit. She stopped modeling, moved to the U.S. and became a minister. The rest of them just fucking laughed it off. To them, the death of three men just doing their jobs meant nothing if they could keep their jet-set lifestyle.
“I got clean but I couldn’t get over what I’d done. I knew my life was done if I went to the cops. I’d either go to prison for the rest of my life or get killed and dumped alongside the road. I ... I started to try to return to the girl you remember. I stopped doing a lot of things I used to do. I stopped spending my money on stupid things and started charities and scholarships. It didn’t help.”
“No,” I said.
“Then the label hooked me up with them again and I went back to drinking pretty hard,” Liz said, ignoring my tone. “We decided we were going to head off to Monaco and go crazy. I got almost to the airport before I saw the faces of the guys I got killed. That’s what I told you about at your house.”
“Ryan gave me the details,” I said tersely.
Liz only offered a vague nod.
“Since then, I’ve been done with that shit,” Liz said. “I got cleaned up again. I’ve dedicated my life to doing things better. I started scholarships for the children; I look after the widows anonymously; I pay for the only set of living parents to stay in a nice senior living facility. I ... I decided that giving up my life isn’t going to bring back their sons or husbands or fathers so I needed to keep going to make sure they have a good life.”
“This is fucked up beyond belief,” I said.
“I know,” Liz answered. “No one knows about this, Travis.”
“Somebody does,” I said. “Maybe the preacher decided to confess her sins. Maybe one of the others is looking for a payday. But somebody knows about this. I have to get the others started on ways to downplay your role.”
“No!” Liz said sharply. “I told you about it because ... because I love you. I don’t want anyone else to know. We all promised that we would never say a word to anybody. You can’t tell anyone!”
“Liz, let me explain the situation to you,” I said in clipped tones. “You’ve admitted to money laundering. That’s a long prison term but it’s nothing compared to what you just told me! There won’t be marriage and babies in your future. You won’t die in a nice house surrounded by your children and grandchildren. You’ll die in an eight-by-ten cell in the nastiest prison in Italy if there is even a shred of evidence out there. Do you understand this? We’re talking about conspiracy to commit murder. We’re talking about the deaths of three police officers. You very likely will spend every day of the rest of your life in prison very, very soon if we can’t come up with a way to discredit whoever is planning to reveal this!”
“I don’t want you bringing the others in on this!” Liz insisted.
I glared at her but she glared right back.
“Then you need to get the fuck out of my way and let me do what needs to be done,” I said. “Otherwise, when we land in Nashville, I’m heading right back to San Diego and you can sink or swim on your own.”
Brian and Jill drove us back to Liz’s home without much conversation.
Liz was staring out the window of the SUV and I was silently seething beside her.
“Are you two OK?” Jill asked from the passenger seat.
“Yeah,” Liz said, offering a tired smile. “We just have a few things to work out.”
“It sounded pretty heated back there,” Jill said.
“That’s because it was heated,” I said sharply. “And if we wanted you to know what it was about, we’d have invited you back to join us. So stay the fuck out of it, Jill.”
“Yeah, cool,” Jill said. “I just ... you two are really great and I don’t want anything to come between you.”
“It’s a problem we need to work out for ourselves,” I said in a more even tone. “I didn’t mean to jump your shit over it.”
“Is it about the prenup?” Jill asked.
“What?” I asked.