You know what blows? I mean really blows? When your job involves you having to go undercover as the very person you almost just killed because you loathe him to the pits of hell. Oh, and of course, being bossed around by your superior who prevents you from seeing the girl you're falling in love with just after she has a panic attack. I think the only ray of sunshine in my day was the cool ride I'd gotten to borrow. Not that that was saying much.
The moment my call with Briony ended, I had spent a good five minutes contemplating on what to do before I jumped back into Boss's Ford and started to drive to the hospital. Of course, I received a text from the man himself within the next couple seconds on the road, notifying me to 'get my ass back on the case'. This man knew me too well. Muttering an apology to Briony under my breath, I swerved the car back around, heading back to the den. I was a combination of fury and impatience by the time I arrived back at the warehouse.
"Just get this shit done with Max," I muttered under my breath and without further ado, kicked the door open. It slammed hard against the inner wall, shaking on its hinges and creating enough noise to obtain the attention of every delinquent in the room - every one of Joe's delinquents. I recognized almost all of them from the last time I'd met up with them, pretending to be from another gang. I couldn't place only a few of them - not that I should worry about such a trivial matter. I would be in charge of each of these buffoons soon enough.
"The fuck d'you think you're doing?" a voice boomed from my right. It was none other than the guy that had caused trouble for me and Briony at the café - the one whose guts I despised. He glared down at me, crossing his beefy arms over his chest. "This is a gang-only meeting. We didn't invite you."
Taking a deep breath, I plastered an expression of utter impassiveness on my face and turned to face him.
"I hardly think an invitation be necessary for my being here."
He blinked, confusion flickering across his face.
Though the guy was big and bulky, he was easy to push past. Roughly shoving my shoulder against his, I walked past him and toward the steps that led up to a heightened platform, almost like a stage, of the warehouse. When I turned to face them all, I realized that some of them weren't as dumb as they looked. A couple of them had started to reach for their weapons, no doubt to use against the intruder they believed me to be.
"You really wouldn't want to shoot down your own boss now, will you?"
That slowed them down. I watched as the wave of emotions washed over each of their faces - varying from confusion to suspicion, from awe to absolute shock.
"Martin!" one of them called out to me by the name I'd chosen to use as an alias. I recognized him to be the one I'd met at the pub. His face was flushed, more out of fear than anything else. "Y-y-you can't be."
"Oh, that's right," I purred, recalling his words. "I remember you, Tom, calling me a lowly coward."
I had a feeling he'd soiled himself right then and there. Seeing this interaction, the others put back their guns and looked up at me, seeking answers.
"H-how can you be our Boss? How can we believe you?"
"Are you asking me to prove myself to you vermin?" I snarled.
They all visibly flinched at my tone. This was working. They knew their real leader's personality well enough to know that questioning him could get them killed. I, though a fake, was in no mood to play around with Joe's puppets. Although Boss had always instructed me to be careful and not take it too far when going undercover, the idea of testing my gun on these people was real tempting. They didn't know it, but in the end, they'd end up dead or in prison either way so what difference would it make.
"Very well. I'll prove it to you. Travis, get over here."
Travis, the bulky piece of man who no longer looked as confident as he always did hurried over to me, his footsteps sounding loudly on the stairs. "Y-yes?"
Putting a hand on his quivering back, I faced the crowd and said, "Travis here is the man of the hour. I've been communicating with all of you but he's become somewhat of a...second-hand." I knew what I was saying wasn't a lie, seeing as Joe had his phone on him when we took him back to the hospital. I'd gone through all his messages and chains of communication, learning the names and faces of each and every one of the members. I knew everything I needed to, and Travis was they guy Joe had entrusted the most. Consulting plans on the bank heists and robberies, he had been the one. Although I'd started to doubt how intelligent Joe was in the first place to have such a dunderhead work for him.
Even now, Travis smiled at me. Like I'd just given him a pot of gold with that compliment. What a fool.
His smile wavered.
"All of you failed me. You see, when I showed up at the café with my girl, I was merely testing you to see how efficient you were in covering your own asses." I tutted loudly, shaking my head in disapproval. "But you all let me down. Do you have any idea how fuckin' obvious you all looked? Anyone could have seen that you were all up to something."
"You were testing us?"
"We didn't mean to-"
"We were just discussing the-"
Voices broke out among the crowd, all directed at me. All of them were pleas to see through and believe whatever shitty excuses these guys had for their poor work. But one voice, among all, cut through the air like steel. It wasn't a plea of forgiveness - it was an accusation.
"Don't believe him!"
My eyes zoned in on the source, widening when I recognized her. Tiffany. Shit.
Her trembling hand was raised, pointed directly at me in an act of defiance. Eyes filled with sinful determination, she shouted, "He's an imposter! He works for the SIS!"