“Um, should Cherry be running like hell in the middle of the street?” Hector asked, pointing at the situation.

“Skata, no!” Pickle cursed and darted out of the truck.

Cherry was running towards them, with a remarkably quick wheeled drone chasing after her.

Pickle knelt, took a shooter’s position, carefully aimed and then fired once.

The land drone threw some sparks and flew back as if it was kicked around.

“Oh, thanks!” Cherry panted, coming close. “That thing would not let me go.”

Hector got out of the truck to meet her. Killie came out of the shadows, shaking her head in the classic, ‘What the fuck is happening, you guys?’ expression.

“Why did you come straight to us?” Pickle said, exasperated.

“I didn’t! It’s been chasing me for a full five minutes, I went in circles, couldn’t lose the tail,” Cherry complained, her chest heaving. “I’m a sprinter, not a marathoner…”

“Forget it, the op is blown,” Pickle said, holstering her pistol.

“Hold on,” Hector said, stepping forward. “I have an idea.”

“If you pat me for one second longer, I will break your clavicle,” Killie said through gritted teeth, holding her arms up.

“We’ve had an alarm go off, you understand.” The bouncer let her go and moved on to Pickle. He was definitely armed, something boxy and semi-automatic was strapped under his arm.

Hector just smiled with his usual friendliness and said, “I’m here on business, need to see the boss.”

The bouncer eyed him up and down and then spoke on a mic in his collar. It was a mix of Greek and Albanian, Pickle couldn’t make it out exactly.

After a bit of back and forth, he nodded and said, “Follow me, please.”

The Apollonides titty bar was a big place. There was an open area, the private booths at the back, VIP balconies, the show stage in the middle, three dancing poles which were occupied with ladies that swayed their bodies around, and a thick musk of patchouli permeated in the air.

They went in a corridor away from the red hues and the noise, and they found an office. It was kitschy, trying to prove too much, Pickle thought.

“Boss, this guy says he has business for you,” the bouncer said and stepped aside.

The boss stood up and shook Hector’s hand. He was a thug, with tats and bling, looking very out of place inside his expensive suit. “I’m Achilles. And you are?”

“Hector Troy. Heard you had a security issue just a minute ago?”

He waved it away, looking confident. “Pft. Just some kid trying to take a peek of some boobs or something. We’re a bank vault, in here.”

“So I see,” Hector nodded.

“Please, sit,” Achilles said and pointed at the single chair. He walked around the desk and sat down.

“Sorry girls, gotta play the part,” Hector whispered to Pickle and Killie and sat down. They took their spots in each side of him, making him look good.

Cherry sent a text in their encrypted chat which they all ignored. ‘Are you guys done? I’m in the car. I’m bored. Talk to me, someone. Are there titties? Keep Hector away from titties. Well, except yours, those are fine by me.’

See also  The Red Holidays

Pickle couldn’t let her come back in here again, she was painted by the security system. It would definitely recognise her the second time. Security systems had gait recognition and other systems that could identify individuals even if they weren’t in a database, in which Cherry was.

She simply took a pose which she hoped was sexy, just like back in the Pinup Girls and stood on Hector’s right, letting him do the talking.

“I’m guessing it’s not strippers you’re offering,” Achilles chuckled, eyeing both the women like a piece of meat.

“Well, Achilles, not really. What I wanted to talk to you about was armour, you know what I mean?” Hector swiped up and produced his discreet designs on the veil. Achilles looked interested. “These babies can withstand knives, bullets, tearing, pretty much anything your boys might encounter in a rough night. You know, when things get touch around here,” he said, letting it hang.

“Yeah, no, I see that,” Achilles said, repositioning his butt on his leather chair. “But why would you think I need an upgrade?”

Cherry kept sending texts. ‘Don’t drink the alcohol in there, no open drinks. Oh, gods, I’m turning into a mom.’

“Things are getting tough every year that passes, man. I mean, I used to live up in Syggrou, you know what I mean? Now I don’t dare walk the street without my two bodyguards, you know?”

“I know. It’s all going to Tartarus. It’s those fucking immigrants,” Achilles said.

“Oh, definitely. Those. Look,” Hector said, leaning forward. “Word on the street is that you have a crate of black diamond.”

Achilles grabbed his cigar box and offered one to Hector, who refused politely. “What about it?”

“Well, those armours can use the material. I make a few special things myself, patented stuff. But the ingredient is the black diamond. I know you can spare it, and I can offer, let’s say, 10% off from the final order.”

Achilles lit up his cigar. Pickle fought back a cough. You’re a pretty plant. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Shallow breaths. Thank the gods Cherry found something to occupy herself, she hadn’t texted for a while.

“So, I give you the black diamonds, and you give me a discount on something I didn’t ask for?”

“Pretty much.” Hector smiled wide.

The boss seemed to give it some thought, puffing smoke rings. He was actually good at it, the way you only get with lots and lots of practice. “You got some nerve, malaka,” Achilles said and waved his hand towards him. “Bring her in.”

They turned around and they all saw two armed thugs gripping Cherry’s arm.

“So, anybody called for a cute, bubbly stripper?” Cherry said, wincing.

Pickle was about to bite her head off, when another unexpected woman walked in the office, holding a gun. “I see you’ve met my boyfriend already.” She was wearing a strapless dress that made her dark skin look amazing, framed and squeezed up like that.

“Black Diamond,” Hector said, looking surprised. “I should have known.”

End of chapter

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