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Chapter Eleven

"I don't know where to look," Anisa said, nervously trying to adjust her dress so she wasn't showing so much skin.

"Anywhere but at the cars," Cottontail said easily. She clearly didn't care if her dress was riding up. Or down. She looked as if she was terribly bored and more than willing to just have the damned thing fall off. "If you look at the drivers they might stop. That would be good on one level; we'd look like we were actual working girls. But we'd have to turn down the offer. Unless you're planning on doing a trick while you're doing this and I don't suggest it."

"I'm not," Anisa snapped.

"Well, that's one problem off my mind," Cottontail said, smirking. "You might want to try it, though. You don't have a pimp to take all the money and cash is cash. Well, the Kildar might want a cut."

"I'm not going to ... do that with a man other than my husband," Anisa said.

"And probably the Kildar, right?" Cottontail said, snidely. "For your 'bride price,' right? What do you think that is but turning a trick? Maybe you could work up the bride price while you're here ..."

"Stop it," Anisa said angrily. "Just ... stop, okay? We're here to work."

"Well, it's work ..." Cottontail said, trailing off. "There's the car."

"I see it," Anisa said, nodding.

"Don't look directly at it." Cottontail looked around. "Look at the other girls, instead."

Anisa looked around and sighed.

"They are all dressed so ..."

"Sluttily," Cottontail said, laughing nastily. "Men like that. They like to have women that are fast, cheap and easy. They don't have to worry about whether we like it or not. Most of them like that we don't. They like to hurt us, to use us, to make us feel less than they are."

"Not the Kildar," Anisa pointed out.

"Even the Kildar," Katya replied sharply. "He likes that he owns us, that he can use us."

"He treats you well," Anisa protested.

"But he still owns us," Cottontail snapped, turning to look at the girl and waving at the whores along the street. "We're no better than these! We're owned by the Kildar and he uses us at his pleasure! The only difference is we don't walk the street! We just live in his brothel for the use of him and his friends."

"He said he offered to let you all go," Anisa argued unhappily.

"To where?" Katya snapped back. "What can we do but make our way on our backs? There are plenty of girls here who chose to be here, because even this is better than wherever they're running from! Because they don't have any other choice but to sell their bodies. They don't have a family to go back to ..." She stopped and turned away, her face hard.

"Is that what happened to you?" Anisa asked quietly as they continued walking.

"I don't talk about it," Cottontail said bitterly.

"Do you have a family?" Anisa asked, still quietly.

"Just shut the fuck up, okay?" Katya replied. "We're nearly there and we need to get our game face on."

"Okay," Anisa said nervously. She very carefully did not adjust the lower part of her dress.

The guard was a beefy guy in a sweat-stained shirt and trousers. He was leaning on the hood of the car, casually watching the girls on the street. In Anisa's opinion, if he was supposed to be guarding the car, he was looking at the wrong people. Or, maybe not, given what she was planning on doing.

"Hi, big guy," Katya said in Russian. "My friend and I were having an argument."

"I saw," the man said stolidly.

"I say that you can tell the length of a guy's parts by his hands," Katya said, slinking up to him. "And I notice you've got really big hands ..."

Anisa smiled in what she hoped was a winning way and leaned up against the hood, turning away slightly. Patrick had told her the easiest way to place the device would be in the wheel well. The device had a magnet and the adhesive so it should stay.

"What do you say?" Katya asked, leaning up against the guard. "How are you ... hung?"

"Well enough for you," the man said, less stolidly. "Care to find out?"

"Maybe," Katya said, coyly. "I've just had an hour session with a guy whose dick was smaller than my finger. And I could do more with my finger than he could with his dick. Do you think you could do better?"

Anisa reached up under her skirt and ripped off the tracer, trying not to whimper as she pulled out a fingerful of pubic hair. Katya was right; she should have shaved. She never had but she'd heard about it. It seemed terribly ... whorish. Okay, so she should have shaved.

She turned back towards the guard, slipping her hand under the wheel well and pressing the tracer into place.

"I'm busy now," the guard said, slid his hand up Katya's dress and fingering her. "I'll be off in about an hour."

"And I'll get you off in much less," Katya said, pouting. "But I'll see you then. You're going to be around here?"

"For sure," the guard said, running his hand over her breasts. "I'll look forward to it. Bring your friend."

"Sure will," Katya said, walking off. "She needs the attention of a real man, too."

"He stinks," Anisa said as they walked away.

"So do most of the Keldara," Katya replied. "So do most tricks, at least around here. It's like they've never heard of soap. Now let's get back to the hotel and maybe I can get some hot water to wash his stink off."

* * *

"He's moving," Tolenka said.

"Got it," Jov replied, putting the car in gear. The four-year-old gray Lad a had been purchased earlier in the day in a very informal transaction involving cash and a promise to get the tags transferred. It was less conspicuous for a stakeout than one of the vans. But a van was right around the corner, loaded with shooters. For that matter, there was an MP-5 at Tolenka's feet.

"The tracer's working fine," Endar said, looking at the screen on his lap.

"Don't pull out, yet," Killjoy said from the backseat. He was one of the American trainers who had accompanied the mission. The Keldara were getting pretty damned good as shooters, but they still didn't know diddly about moving around in the world. Killjoy wasn't exactly a world traveller but he had more experience than the Keldara and could think on his feet. He also was somewhat smaller than Russell, which was why he was crammed in the back of the small car.

"He had a couple of girls with him," Tolenka added.

"Could mean anything," Killjoy noted.

"Speaking of girls," Jov replied. "I couldn't believe it when I saw Anisa!"

"Watch your mouth," Endar snapped. Not only was Anisa his cousin, he'd worked with her in the intel section and respected her.

"I'm not saying anything wrong," Jov said, smiling. "But ... All Father! I never realized what legs she had!"

"Jov ..." Endar said, angrily.

"Can it," Killjoy said. "Jov, pull out. Endar, where'd he go?"

"He turned. Right. I think about three blocks away."

"Turn right at the next street," Killjoy said, looking at the map. "He's headed across the river. We'll parallel, then fall in behind at the Soseua or whatever that damned road is called."

* * *

"He's gone to a townhouse across the river," Vanner said, looking at his screens. "Confirm it's him by intercept. He called someone named Vass and asked him if he had any girls meeting your requirements. Also if he'd ever heard of you. No indication that he's worried about Americans coming down on him."

"Odd, that," Mike said musingly. He was ensconsed on the bed with his fingers interlaced behind his head, looking at the ceiling. "She had to have told them that she was an American, right? She's at the very least a legal resident. And she would have told them her father would pay money to get her back. I mean, getting back a kidnap victim over here is no big deal. You pay off the police, they don't try to arrest the kidnappers."

"So what's really going on?" Vanner asked.

"That's what I'm going to find out," Mike said, sitting up. "Somewhere along the way. But right now, I need to know more about this guy. I'm heading for bed and so should you. By morning I want full intel on him."

"Got it," Vanner said.

"But put one of the girls on duty and you rack out," Mike added. "I'll be right next door."

* * *

"He went back to the townhouse last night at eleven," Vanner said, rubbing his eyes and sipping coffee. "He took two girls with him and no guards. Over the next six hours, girls came trickling in in ones and twos. Looks like about a dozen. There was at least one male present when he arrived and when he left he brought a different girl with him. The townhouse is two story, but it appears it may have a basement. I've got Sawn down at the building records office looking for blueprints. He returned to the coffee shop and has not left. Neither has the male at the townhouse and there appear to be at least three females still in the house. The surveillance team was relieved at seven am. Overnight they put up three surveillance cameras and laid in two window microphones on the townhouse, one of them by his apparent office and another by his bedroom. You want the take?"

"Is it what I'd expect?" Mike asked, biting on an already stale roll.

"Pretty much," Vanner said. "The girls in the house are apparently not fully trained. They're in the process of being prepared, so to speak. This is the analysis from my section and I've audited enough of the take to agree. I'm a little reluctant to have the Keldara girls doing point on this. It's pretty brutal."

"They'll find out what it's all about when they get married," Mike said, shrugging. "Have a talk with them as a guy, though. I don't want them getting so emotionally scarred they're put off of sex for life. And who else is going to do it? The shooters?"

"Point," Vanner admitted. "We also placed two mikes in the coffee shop, near his usual table, and I've, of course, got his cell phone wired."

"If Adams ever shakes a leg, get him up to speed," Mike said. "I'm going to go shopping."

* * *

"Mr. Duncan," Ahmed Pasha said, sitting down next to him. "A little early for Johnny Walker is it not?"

"The sun's over the yardarm somewhere," Mike said, swirling his drink. "Do you live here?"

"No," Pasha said, lifting his chin and clicking in negation. "But it is a good place to conduct business. Many traders come in here. How are your girls?"

"Almost recovered from the rigors of the trip thus far," Mike said. "We're definitely leaving tomorrow morning."

"I have found one girl that would possibly meet your requirements," Pasha said, leaning over conspiratorily. "A young Ukrainian girl. Very nice, very pretty. Blonde. Not much in the breast department but unspoiled and very pretty. And they may yet grow; she is quite young."

"Works," Mike said, nodding. "Yours?"

"A friend's," Pasha said. "I can introduce you, if you wish."

"Pasha, you don't have any friends," Mike said. "What's your cut?"

"Ten percent," Pasha said. "Minimum of one hundred euros, cash."

"You really think this girl's worth a thousand euros?" Mike said with a laugh. "Right. Pull the other one."

"Pull the other what?" Pasha asked, confused.

"Sorry, doesn't translate," Mike replied. "I was saying that you were not being truthful with me. Girls here go for less than five hundred euros, even the best."

"This one is unspoiled," Pasha said, sternly. "She will get you much money where you are going. Enough that you will pay."

"We'll see," Mike said. "Here?"

"I have a room here," Pasha said. "Two eleven. That is neutral ground, yes?"

"Okay," Mike said with a sigh. "When?"

"I will call my friend," Pasha replied. "Perhaps soon after noon."

"Okay," Mike said. "I'll give you my cell number."

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