My phone rings shortly after we drive out of the garage in one of Sonny’s cars.
“I just had a call,” he says, sounding anxious. “There’s activity in an abandoned school building about an hour north of Naples. I’m sending the address. Dmitri Anders is supposedly there. Authorities are getting ready to pick him up.”
“Why would we care about Dmitri Anders?” I ask.
“Those photos you sent of the mystery man with Leah Russo? The tattoos identify him as being that man.”
“Vittoria’s mother was having an affair with Dmitri Anders? The same man we’re talking about having a financial link to Lucien Russo?” Bastian asks.
“One and the same.”
I look at Bastian, who appears as confused as me.
“On the school, Lucien Russo called in the tip,” Bruno adds. “Made some sort of arrangement is what my contact is telling me. So he’s likely there. He and Sonny may have been working together. They have before. And if he had those photos of Leah and Anders, he could be using Vittoria to save his own neck. Anders will want payment for the lost men.”
“And Vittoria will be that payment,” I say.
“That’s insane. The man had an affair with her mother. Using Vittoria is… sick.”
“He’s desperate,” I say.
“And we don’t know anything about Dmitri Anders or his relationship with Leah. Not to mention his morals or ethics.”
“Calling the authorities is his backup plan,” I say, understanding. It’s all that makes sense. “He’s hoping they’ll pick Anders up in case Anders doesn’t accept the payment.”
“Could be,” Bruno says.
“Could he be Emma’s father?” Bastian asks.
“Haven’t had a chance to do more than identify the tattoos,” Bruno says.
“How far are we from the school?” I ask as Bastian enters the address of the building into the GPS.
“You’re about an hour out. If you backtrack about four miles, I can get the chopper out there,” Bruno says, tracking our location. “It’ll be faster than driving. There’s a clearing where he can land. You’ll see it from the road.”
We’re on a long stretch of road, and although I see the headlights of a car coming toward us, I hit the brakes and jerk the steering wheel. Bastian curses, grabbing the handhold as the car skids, bouncing off the road before I right it and head back the way we came. Because this is our only big lead.
“On our way,” Bastian says. “If my brother doesn’t kill us first.”
“I’ll call you as I learn more,” Bruno says. “If the authorities are there, Amadeo, you can’t be, understand?”
“If Vittoria is there, I’m getting her out. Fuck the authorities. Get men out there. Men we trust.”
“It’ll take time.”
“Do it.” I disconnect the call and drive as fast as the car will go to the clearing. The chopper comes into view as we pull off the road. I stop the car, leaving the keys in the ignition when Bastian and I climb out. The chopper touches down, and we’re on board in record time and in the air in the next minute. Two of our men are already on board and one unzips the duffel bag to display an array of firepower. I have a feeling we won’t be getting even the smallest pistol into that building if Dmitri Anders is there. He and his men will be armed, and it's not like we can make a quiet entrance with the chopper.
Bastian points out the window to the road as, in the distance, the headlights of a row of black SUVs with official markings makes its way to our destination. They’ll be slower than us. We’ll have time to get Vittoria out, if she’s there.
I don’t like the desperation I feel at the word. The anxiety. And a glance at Bastian tells me he’s just as anxious as me.
We watch out the window, the lights of that procession disappearing into the night. What feels like an eternity later, a lone building comes into view. It looks like it’s been abandoned for a very long time. Outside, three SUVs are parked along with one sedan. Two men standing sentry look up at us, readying their weapons as the chopper lands some distance away.
“Wait here,” I tell the pilot. “If you see Vittoria, pick her up. Get her out of here and get in touch with Bruno for instructions. Do not wait for us, understand?”