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BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
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I keep things connected,”
she said. “I run the lines of communication between the mayor and
certain other men in Boston. I make sure everyone understands their
proper place.”

Who’s your
boss?” Monroe demanded. “Is it the mayor or is it Cyril Benson? Or
is it somebody else?”

Benson mostly,” Winter
admitted. “He’s the one who really runs the show. The mayor thinks
I’m his, but Benson pays better and gets more from me than that
gullible twit in City Hall.”

And who does Benson work

He works for himself. He
takes orders from nobody.”

Bullshit!” Monroe roared.
“I don’t have to kill you, Winter. I know where to put the bullet
to cripple you or disfigure you without death. Don’t tempt me.
Benson might be the local boss, but somebody else pulls his strings
from the shadows, somebody who knows who I really am. Otherwise, I
didn’t do anything that would come close to giving Benson a reason
for telling you to come here tonight and poison me. Last chance,
Winter! Give me a name.”

Khan,” she finally said.
“Garrett Khan. Who’d you think it was? That man has his hands on
every city to one extent or another. But he doesn’t control Benson;
he just skims a little off the profits in exchange for not taking a
more active role here.”

Have you ever met Khan? Do
you know where he is now?”

No,” Winter said, “and I
swear, Richard, that I’m telling you the truth. I don’t deal with
him directly.”

Who does?”

Only Benson ever talks to
him as far as I know.”

I do believe you,” Monroe
said. “Now stay right there. I’m going to step into the bedroom for
a second and grab my shirt and shoes. If you move, I’ll be back
around the corner firing before you can make it out that door.
Don’t bet your life that I can’t move that fast.”

Winter did not make that
foolish bet. She stayed put and Monroe returned, dressed, in well
under a minute, in the process of pulling on a jacket. All with the
Glock never leaving his person.

Get up,” Monroe said. “And
stop trembling. For one thing, it doesn’t suit you, and for
another, you’ll need steady hands to drive. We’re taking your car,
just in case they rigged mine with explosives as a back-up plan.
Let’s go…and don’t even think about screaming.”

Where are we

To make a deal with your
boss,” Monroe said as he concealed the gun in his jacket pocket,
finger still on the trigger.




Winter drove a black Jaguar.
As they road along the streets of Boston, Monroe assured her more
than once that the gun was still aimed at her even if it was hidden
from her view. He had also taken her handbag and had it on the
floor between his feet so she could not get at her phone or
whatever else she had in there.

They arrived at one of
Boston’s most exclusive residential areas and navigated their way
to the property of Cyril Benson. The construction emperor had a
big, impressive mansion with a little guard shack on the narrow
private road that led up to the house. Winter rolled down the
window just enough to smile at the guard and the gate let up

Having her along worked like
a charm for Monroe. They parked, got out, and were easily let into
the mansion by two armed men at the front door. Inside, there was
even a butler.

Tell your master,” Winter
said with authority, “that Mr. Monroe and I need to speak with him

The butler went away and
returned a minute later with a polite, “In Mr. Benson’s study, Ms.
Willows. You know the way.”

It was a big office, full of
books and an assortment of awards and trophies given to Benson by
the mayor, the governor, and various unions and organizations.
Cyril Benson sat behind a desk with a scowl on his face as Monroe
and Winter entered.

The door closed behind the
visitors and Monroe wasted no time showing the Glock now that they
were out of sight of any guards or servants.

I want you out from behind
that desk, Benson,” Monroe commanded. “Over there, to that couch!
You too, Winter; sit next to him! And don’t even think about
tripping any alarms; you’d be dead before the guards got here in
any case.”

Monroe had them seated in
seconds. He grabbed a wheeled swivel chair and rolled it to a
position six feet in front of them, where he could sit and keep the
gun handy but be well out of their reach should they decide to do
anything stupid.

You sent Ms. Willows to
kill me tonight, Benson. I should put a bullet between your eyes
right now…but I don’t think the hit was your idea. I think you’re
just a puppet this time, so I’m going to do this a little
differently. I’m going to show my hand, lay all my cards on the
table, and give you a choice. In fact, you just might be happy with
the result. Are you willing to listen?”

I don’t think I have any
other options at the moment, do I, Mr. Monroe?” Benson asked with
gravel and slime in his voice.

Only the option of death,”
Monroe said coldly.

Then say what’s on your
mind, you arrogant bastard!” Cyril Benson shouted.

You’ve got quite a nice
operation going here in Boston, Benson,” Monroe said, “but don’t
you wish you had a bit more independence? You might be king here,
but it seems you still have to pay taxes to the emperor, isn’t that

Benson made a grumbling
noise and Monroe kept talking.

I’m sure you know something
about me by now, Benson, like the fact that I used to be CIA. Well
I’m no longer with that agency. The fact is, I’ve been promoted and
I’ve got ties to a lot of things now. In short, Mr. Benson, if I
suddenly disappear, if you kill me or otherwise keep me from
reporting to my superiors, certain movements will take place. The
IRS will freeze all your legitimate assets. The FBI will come
marching into town with a wad of warrants as thick as the phone
book and take apart everything you own until all your
not-so-legitimate businesses are just ashes scattered to the wind.
Caesar the Car King will move into your territory and so will the
heads of the Russian and Colombian drug cartels. Even if you manage
to wiggle your way out of all the trouble my sudden disappearance
puts you in, any room for you to breathe in this town will be
quickly usurped by those others with similar interests since
nature, after all, abhors a vacuum. Are we speaking the same
language now?”

Benson nodded.

Good,” Monroe said. “Now on
the other hand, I want you to know that I really don’t give a damn
what you do here in Boston or how you run your little businesses.
In fact, I’d be content to let you keep things just as they are,
but with one slight improvement. How would you like to never have
to worry about paying your master his share of your profits again?
I bet you’d just love that! It’s not you I’m after at all, but
Garrett Khan. If you can point me in his direction, this silly
little game between you and I will be at an end. Now what do you
think of that?”

Benson stared back at
Monroe. His thick lips had begun to quiver in a mix of fear and

You have my permission to
speak now, Cyril,” Monroe said, tapping the barrel of the Glock on
the arm of the swivel chair.

He’ll have me killed,”
Benson said.

Not if I kill him first,”
Monroe shot back. “Give me the information I’m asking for. Tell me
everything you know about Khan’s current activities and
whereabouts, and then you can slip out of Boston and go hide
wherever you want like a scared kitten until I’ve done what I need
to do. Give me my answers and let me borrow Ms. Willows for a while
and you’re free to run for your life if you’re that afraid of
Khan’s vengeance.”

Me?” Winter squealed. “Why
do you want me?”

Because,” Monroe said with
a frozen glare, “I’ve come to enjoy your company, even if you did
try to kill me. At least you had the courtesy to try to do it in
the best possible way. Now, Cyril, just nod if we’re in

Cyril Benson did nod. “Can I
get up and go to my computer?” he asked.

Stand up slowly,” Monroe
said, “keep those hands visible and don’t do anything that might
tempt me to call off our deal and finish you. Sit down at the desk
and I’ll stand behind you and watch over your shoulder. Winter,
stay on that couch.”

Monroe stood three feet
behind Benson as the computer flashed into operation. It was not as
much room between him and his target as Monroe would normally have
given himself, but the desk was quite close to the rear wall of the
room. Monroe was not worried, for he did not think Benson had the
speed or the guts to try anything.

Benson brought some
information up on the screen as Monroe peered over his shoulder.
There were numbers, email addresses.

I hope what I give you will
be enough to keep that trigger from squeezing,” Benson said. “I
swear I don’t know exactly where Khan is located now!”

Just give me what you
have,” Monroe demanded.

Benson punched a few more
keys and the printer beside the desk came to life. It whirred and
hummed for a moment and spat out a single sheet of paper. Monroe
reached over with his free hand and grabbed it, looked it

Email addresses and bank
account numbers: is that all?”

I’m sorry,” Benson said,
“but men like Garrett Khan don’t just call you up and chat when
they want something. The email is how I contact him if I really
need to tell him something or if he really needs to get in touch
with me. Otherwise, I just have the money he takes from me sent to
that account on the fifteenth of each month. I’ve only met him in
person a few times and it’s been years since the last time. I swear
that’s all I know!”

Fine,” Monroe said. “If I
were you, I’d pack and take a few of your most trusted lieutenants
and leave Boston as soon as you can. And remember, if this
backfires or if this information is false, you’ll have more to
worry about than just Garrett Khan putting out a contract on you.

Benson said nothing, just
slumped in his chair, pale and weary.

Monroe made it to the door,
began to open it, slipped his gun into his jacket to avoid alarming
the butler or the guards, and called out, “Let’s go, Winter! I need
a lift!”


Chapter 12:
Shades of White and Black



Monroe took Winter back to
his apartment, locked the door behind them after they entered, and
motioned for her to sit down on his couch. He stood over her and
spoke seriously and coldly.

You are not to leave this
apartment unless I’m with you. You are not to try to call or
otherwise contact anyone. If you try to injure me in any way, I
kill you. We can do this one of two ways, Winter: you
can be my guest here or you can be my prisoner. The choice is
yours, but I need you to stick around because I intend for you to
help me go after Garrett Khan once I find out where he is. Now stay
there while I make a phone call.”




It’s late, Monroe,” Mr.
Nine said as he answered. “Even ancient mariners and elderly
soldiers need sleep.”

It’s not that late and
you’re not that old, sir,” Monroe said. “I need some information. I
have leads but no trails.”

What’ve you got for

Email addresses and bank
accounts. Should I text them to you?”

Go ahead,” Mr. Nine said.
“We’re secure enough. I’ll get back to you when I get back to





So, Winter,” Monroe said,
“what shall we do with the rest of our evening? Are we going to be
friends, or bitter enemies?”

I’ll try to act civilized,”
Winter answered, “if you don’t slap me again.” She glanced around
the apartment from her seat. “I suppose we could watch TV, but sit
on the opposite end of the couch and don’t touch me.”

Fine.” Monroe sat down
after hanging his jacket on the back of a chair. He put the Glock
down on the table. He picked up the remote, turned the television
on, flipped through a dozen or so channels and then stopped. “Do
you know what this is, Winter?”

That’s Cary Grant,” she

This, my dear,” Monroe
said, “is
To Catch a Thief
, one of my absolute favorite
movies. You know, when I first began to do what I do, years ago, I
modeled my field persona, probably unconsciously at the time, on
the character Grant plays in this film. Relax, this is a good

Neither spoke during the
film. When it was over, as the credits rolled down the



I really did enjoy our
night together at the Crown. When I did what I did earlier this
evening, I was only doing what I was told to do…and there may have
been some regret had I succeeded.”

BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
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