A Necessary Sin, Page 2Georgia Cates
Harry trained me to be a chameleon. I can easily adapt to any situation—except the one happening right now. Julia, my adoptive mother, is gone. Cancer claimed her two years ago. Now Harry has it as well and the treatments aren’t working anymore.
I haven’t recovered from losing Julia and now I face the same prognosis with the only father I’ve ever known. Losing two parents to cancer only a few years apart isn’t fair. I’m bitter and angry but this is different from my mother’s death. I can’t avenge losing them because an intangible illness is the villain to take them from me.
Harry and I sit in my living room with the soft sound of Violin Concerto in D Major playing in the background as we comb through years of records. The final arrangements we’re making aren’t for Harry’s death. They’re for Thane Breckenridge’s. The files scattered before us concern him and his criminal organization known as The Fellowship.
We thought I’d get a few years of FBI undercover experience before I walked directly into the lion’s den but Harry’s illness is forcing my hand prematurely. We planned for four years of experience. Instead, I got seventeen months. We’re forced to finalize the plan because he insists I do this while he’s still alive—and lucid. He says he can’t die in peace unless he knows I’ve put all this behind me.
We’ve had eyes on them for years. I’ve memorized everything in these files about the Breckenridge gang and the people within his circle. It’s all in my mental vault, etched on my heart for good measure.
Lounging on my sofa with feet propped on the coffee table, I chew my pencil as I look through the worn file and mull over my options. I already know how I want to do this but my plan has Harry and me butting heads.
Thane’s son, Sinclair Breckenridge. He’s presently finishing his traineeship with the law firm, Hendry-Irvine, so he may be groomed to replace Rodrick Lester, the present attorney for the brotherhood. The older Breckenridge son is a twenty-six-year-old Caucasian male with dark brown hair and brown eyes. Height is six-two, weight approximately one hundred eighty-five pounds. He’s very attractive, highly intelligent, and studious—hence, Thane’s decision to make him the organization’s next criminal defender.
Harry doesn’t like the idea of me infiltrating the brotherhood through the son. He’s afraid Sinclair will have a strong attraction for me. In other words, he fears I’ll allow the lines to blur because he’s handsome and charming.
A snowball in hell has a better chance than me allowing myself to develop anything less than hatred for a Breckenridge.
The younger son, Mitch, is a no-go. At twenty-two, he’s too immature and not in an optimal position within The Fellowship. “I’ve looked at this from a lot of different angles and I still believe the older son is my best way in.”
Harry shakes his head while scouring a section of the file in his hand. “And the most dangerous,” he counters, never looking in my direction. “These aren’t the kind of people to welcome a stranger into their fold. You have to penetrate lower on the totem pole and gradually move your way up to not rouse suspicion. It’s far too dangerous to start at the top.”
Beginning at the bottom takes time, a luxury we don’t have. Harry’s cancer has already proven to be a hungry little bastard. “Going straight to Sinclair Breckenridge will save weeks, possibly months.”
“I shouldn’t have to remind you that the long road is safest with these people. The more they know you, the better they trust you. Shortcuts get you killed.”
Harry’s oncologist says he has six, maybe up to eight months left. After my experience with Julia, we can probably only expect three of those to be good.
There’s not a single minute to be wasted but I won’t argue or remind him why our timetable is short. I’ll concede for now and then do what I must when the time comes. “You’re right.” I thumb through the papers and find the profile for Sinclair’s friend, Leith Duncan. “What do you think of worming in through his friend, the bar owner?”
“Remind me again who he is.”
“One of Sinclair’s best friends, owner of the bar where they all drink. He’s the son of a somewhat insignificant—a grunt responsible for carrying out tribute.”
“You’re determined to get to Thane through his boy.” He’s reading me like a book. He knows I may start at Leith Duncan but it’ll be short-lived when I move on to the son. “That doesn’t have anything to do with his pretty face, does it?”
He knows I’ve never been a sucker for a pretty boy. “Don’t make me hit a sick, old man.”
He laughs while stretching to reach for the profile. “I know you won’t toy with this Leith for long but let me take another look at him.”
I give him a minute to review the file before making my suggestion. “With the exception of Thane and Abram, the brotherhood members frequent this bar on a regular basis. I’d be in contact with all of them at one point or another so that broadens my options. They all like pretty girls in short kilts to serve their drinks.” I hold up the surveillance photo of the bar. “I’d look pretty good in the Duncan Whisky Bar uniform.”
“I’m not crazy about ruthless men ogling you in that tiny skirt.”
“It’s a kilt.”
“It’s a nearly nonexistent scrap of plaid. I’d rather you didn’t walk around wearing it for all of The Fellowship members to see.” He sighs. “But I guess it’s a solid idea.” He peers at me over his reading glasses. “Although we both know I’m aware of what you’re going to do.” He means me skipping through the chain of command and going straight for Sinclair.
“You know I’m careful.” Being an undercover agent was the perfect job for me. I was very good at it. But I should’ve been. I’d been trained for it since I was twelve.
“I can’t help it. You’re my daughter. It’s my job to protect you.”
Elli is the one he can coddle, not me. She’s the princess so she eats that shit up.
We’re parent and child by choice, not blood. Harry is the one who saved me that day. He was off duty and visiting family in my apartment building when he heard the gunshot. I was unresponsive without a heartbeat—or any sign of life—when he got to me. The doctor said the only reason I lived was because Harry performed CPR and kept oxygen circulating to my vital organs until the EMTs arrived and shocked my heart into beating again.
We also share a secret, forging a bond between us that my sister will never understand—and can never know about. She thinks Harry loves me more because we spend so much time together. She often feels excluded, but of course, he loves her equally. She isn’t able to see it and for that, I’m truly sorry. I regret making my sister feel less loved.
Harry views us in different light, as he should. Ellison and I are very different. I’m strong and resilient while my sister is soft and delicate. She’s the epitome of Daddy’s little princess.
They have a normal relationship. My sister is his and Julia’s biological child, and Julia was the only love he’s ever known, so of course he loves Elli with all his heart. I sometimes envy the ease of their relationship but that’s my own fault. I ruined any chance of father-daughter normalcy when I asked him to teach me how to kill.
“You’re getting your way. You’ll go in through Duncan’s Whisky Bar.” Yes! “But when this is said and done, I’m afraid you’ll not find the peace you think it’ll bring. Serenity is the last thing you’re going to experience. I fear you’ll find yourself in a new kind of hell.”
He’s still trying to convince me I shouldn’t go through with this. “I’ve killed before and slept soundly afterward.”
“You killed because it was your job and you were given no choice. You went for the arrest but it turned into kill or be killed. This is different. You’re going to exterminate an unsuspecting man.”
Thane Breckenridge is not a man. “He’s a monster. He deserves to die.”
“When the time comes, you’re going to feel differently about killing an unarmed person. You
shouldn’t be surprised if you’re not able to go through with it.”
“I’ll be able to do it.” I’ve never been more certain of anything in my life.
“Are you still hell-bent on not using an alias?”
I don’t have the help of the FBI on this one so I think it’s best to go in simple. They’ll have no reason to suspect I’m there for any reason other than the one I give—unless Thane believes I’m a ghost who’s risen from the grave.
“Thanks for coming, Sin. I really appreciate it.”
I’ve known Hewie since I was a bairn but I didn’t come to court to act as moral support. I was sitting in as Rodrick’s assistant so I could observe the way he bends the law to the brotherhood’s favor. He’s a master, well known by all for his ruthless measures, as I will be when I take his place as solicitor for The Fellowship. This means I’ll be Hewie’s defense attorney in the future, but not today.
“You were stupid and sloppy. Will you do us both a favor and make smarter moves when I step into Rodrick’s shoes?” And more importantly, when I take my father’s place as leader.
“This won’t happen again.”
“Good. See that it doesn’t.” I’m certain there won’t be a recurrence after Abram and my father are finished with him. “Atonement is scheduled for tomorrow.”
Hewie unknowingly brought an undercover agent into The Fellowship but we were lucky. Intent to sell heroin is the only charge they were able to bring against him. It could’ve gone much worse had the agent made it deeper but he was an anxious rookie, ready to jump on a bust.
“Whatever Thane and Abram choose as my punishment will be better than spending another night in that jail. The walls felt like they were closing in around me.”
Everyone knows Hewie has a thing about small spaces so I’m guessing he’ll get to spend the night in a tight, dark space after he takes a merciless beating. “I’ll come back for you at seven in the morning. Tell your wife you have a job and you’ll be gone a few days.” The last thing we need is her reporting him as missing.
Sterling brings the car to a stop in front of Hewie’s flat. “I’ll be ready when ye return.”
Dumb bastard. He’s never paid retribution so he has no idea what’s in store for him. I guess that’s a good thing.
* * *
I have Sterling drive to Duncan’s Whisky Bar so I can meet up with my two best mates, Leith and Jamie, for a drink. The three of us are as close as any three pals can be. We’ve known one another since we were bairns and share far more than our involvement in The Fellowship. Together, we’re the future of the coalition. But we aren’t equals. I’m the one who will step into the role of leader.
Leith snaps his fingers at his head server, Lorna. “Bring Sin his usual.”
“How’d it go with Hewie?” Jamie asks.
“In our favor, as always. The prosecution didn’t have shit, thanks to some dodgy police work. It should never have gone before the High Court but we all know how it made it through.” The authorities believe they can take The Fellowship down bit by bit, no matter how small the piece. “All the charges were dropped so Hewie’s legal problems are over, but he has atonement in the morning.”
“Who’s his enforcer?” Leith asks.
“Sangster.” He’s the meanest son of a bitch in The Fellowship. He finds entirely too much pleasure in carrying out punishment. I strongly suspect he’s a sadist.
“He can do some real damage. I don’t know why Thane and Dad keep him on as an enforcer. It seems more hurtful to have him damaging our men, rather than punishing them,” Jamie says.
I know why Abram and my father keep Sangster on. “They think the threat of being maimed will make the brothers more aware of their actions and careful to avoid mistakes.”
“Sangster crippled Potinger while carrying out his atonement last month.” I’m sure Jamie knows firsthand the damage that enforcer can cause since he was the one to initially treat him. “I had to send him to a therapist but it isn’t helping. I think it’s permanent nerve damage.”
“It’s a damn shame. Potinger will be useless if he never walks right again.” Leith quickly turns to look at me. “You know I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.”
“Of course not.” I shrug it off. I don’t want this conversation to turn into one about my injury so I steer it back toward Hewie. “I think he’ll go easier this time since he knows the elders are watching.”
“I hope so—for Hewie’s sake,” Jamie says.
“Geneen came in last night with McLain,” Leith informs me. “You gonna do something about that?”
They know I don’t give two shits about Geneen but they find it disrespectful for her to come into the bar with another brother. We had a few fucks over a couple of weeks. He’s welcome to my leftovers. “She’ll tire of this game once she realizes I don’t care.”
Leith waves his hand toward the back of the club where the barmaids pick up drinks. “Lorna’s working late tonight. You should take her into the storage room if Geneen comes back. That would show her you’re not concerned with her anymore.”
I stopped tasting Lorna’s nectar years ago. Since then, she’s been passed around by almost every brother in this place, so I have no interest in ever having her again. I prefer a woman who hasn’t had every dick in the room inside her.
I admit it. I’m a selfish bastard. Even if I’m not interested in a woman for the purpose of a relationship, I don’t want any of the brothers to have had her before me. What she does afterward is not my concern. “I’m looking for something a little fresher.”
“Leith has something fresh—an American lass.” Jamie laughs. “She definitely hasn’t been touched by any of the brothers.”
Leith slams his hand on the table. “No one puts a finger on her. If anyone gets a piece of that fit arse, it’s going to be me.”
“Good Lord, Leith! An American?” This isn’t good. Dad and Abram won’t be pleased. “You can be such a dobber sometimes.”
Leith knows he’s to only hire local girls within our circle. Taking in a stranger we know nothing about is a foolish move since members of the brotherhood frequent this bar. “I can’t believe you’ve brought in an outsider. The elders won’t approve.”
“Don’t worry. The lass is in Edinburgh on a temporary basis. Her employment won’t be long-standing.” And her life may not be either, thanks to him.
“You have to get rid of her,” I argue.
“She can be very persuasive.”
“Persuasive, as in she had sex with you?”
“Did she promise you sex?”
Damn fool. “Tell me you were steamin’ when you hired her.”
“She needed some quick cash. I can pay her under the table and she’ll move on in a few weeks. No worries.”
No worries, my arse. “There’s a reason you only hire a lass with a connection to The Fellowship. This one could become a problem for the brotherhood. If that happens, she’ll be sleeping with the fish. You’ve done her no favor by employing her. She’s been placed in the middle of a dangerous situation and has no idea.”
“You’ll understand why he hired her when you see her sweet arse,” Jamie says.
“I don’t care how fit the American is.” Leith should know better than to think with his dick.
“There she is,” he says. I look over at the barmaid’s station and see her from behind. Her chestnut brown hair is pulled into a messy pile on top of her head. She’s wearing the typical Duncan uniform—a short plaid kilt and tight white blouse tied above her waist.
She spins around while holding a tray of whiskies over one shoulder and smiles at Leith. She doesn’t give me so much as a glance when she walks by to deliver drinks to the table behind us. “Good-looking, eh?”
She’s definitely bonny. I can’t debate that. �
��No woman is fit enough to put yourself on Dad’s and Abram’s shit lists.”
He looks at the American as she bends over to pick up a napkin that blew off her serving tray. “I don’t know about that, buddy. Her bum is nice.”
I watch her skirt ride almost up to the cheeks of her arse and then back down again when she stands. “She’s easy on the eyes, mate. I won’t argue that point but I can say with confidence that you’ve made a problem for yourself with the elders.”
“If I get between those legs, it’ll be worth the fallout with Thane and Abram.”
“Whatever.” Leith can’t be trusted to make the wisest decisions when it comes to The Fellowship. It’s a good thing he’s in charge of this bar and not within the inner circle where the big decisions are made. I’m certain Dad and Abram wouldn’t put up with his bullshit.
The American lass passes by our table on the way back to her pouring station. Leith reaches out to catch her around the waist. “Come here. I want you to meet my other best mate.” He snakes his arm around her and grasps her hip, pulling her close. He’s being a wanker. “Meet the infamous Sinclair Breckenridge.”
“The infamous, huh?” She smiles and holds out her hand. “Hi. Bleu MacAllister.”
Bleu MacAllister. I repeat her name in my head five times as I look at her face so she’ll be etched in my memory. It’s probably unnecessary. I highly doubt I could forget her unusual name or bonny face. “It’s a pleasure, Miss MacAllister. May I ask what brings you to Edinburgh?”
“My Aunt Edy, who was really my grandmother’s best friend, fell ill. Cancer. I was quite fond of her. She was like family so I came over to care for her during her last days.”