End Game (The Game Series)

End Game


A.J. Carella




A.J. Carella

Copyright © 2013





She’d been there for what felt like weeks, but was only in fact a few days.
Stupid girl! What did you expect!
She’d had plenty of time to think about her decision to come back since she’d arrived. She still believed it had been the right one, though, despite being locked in a room with no way out. Even if she died trying, her heart wouldn’t have let her do anything other than try to find her daughter.


Chapter One


She’d expected a welcoming committee when she’d flown into Heathrow airport and she hadn’t been disappointed. As soon as she’d cleared customs and walked into the main terminal, she’d spotted Joey waiting for her by the barriers. She’d known that going back wasn’t going to be easy, but as soon as she saw his face, the reality of what she was doing hit home and her resolve had briefly deserted her. There had been no mistaking the look on his face which had brought to mind what she imagined a lion might look like before devouring its prey.

Taking a d
eep breath and reminding herself why she was there, she followed him out of the terminal and into the dark garage where he had parked the car. Getting into the back seat with her carry-on bag, she felt his eyes on her as they left the airport.

It felt strange to be back i
n London again. Looking out of the car window, the sights and sounds so familiar, she felt like a stranger, felt she had been away a lot longer than the six months she had actually been gone.

The person who had left, who had run away from it all, was not the same person
who’d flown back. That woman had appeared to be strong, to be able to cope with anything life had thrown at her. But the truth was she had built a protective wall around her core so that nothing could penetrate it. Deep within that core had been a woman who believed that she would never be loved, would never deserve more than she was getting out of life.

The woman s
itting here now, though, was strong on the inside. Being with Kyle had taught her that she could do anything, that she didn’t have to be a slave to her past. And she now knew that a life without love, without hope, was not one that was worth living. Whatever Sergei did to her, he would never be able to take that away.

As the car rolled into the parking lo
t and slowed to a stop, the sight of her old flat surprised her. She had expected to be taken to see Sergei immediately and couldn’t help but wonder if he was inside waiting for her.

Though she’d lived there for years, she felt like a stranger seeing it through new eyes as she walked up the steps and in through the front door.
She’d barely made it inside before Joey grabbed her and pushed her down the hall and into her old bedroom.

She slowly sat down on the bed, glancing around the room that now seemed so foreign to her. Her eyes strayed to the window, and she instinctively went over to it, her palm resting on the cool glass.

“Don’t even think you’re going anywhere, Tara,” Joey growled, grabbing the purse she was still clutching tightly.

Emptying the contents on the bed, he grabbed her cell phone and threw the empty bag on the floor.

“Make yourself comfortable,” he said over his shoulder, closing and locking the door behind him with a laugh.

She’d kicked and sc
reamed until she was hoarse to no avail for what seemed like hours. Eventually, she’d given up, she was left completely alone. Apart from when he’d brought her food, she had not seen another soul and had not left the room since she’d arrived.

She knew
he couldn’t keep her locked up here forever. It was only a matter of time before Sergei showed his face and she needed to be prepared, needed to be ready to plead and beg if that was what it was going to take to see her daughter. Remembering what Sergei had said, that her daughter wanted to see her, she believed he wouldn’t just kill her outright. She clung to this hope now, sustained by its comfort.

But i
t had been three days now and her imagination was driving her wild.
Where was Sergei? What was he waiting for?
She’d asked Joey, over and over. She’d shouted the question through the door hoping for an answer, but he never replied. His silence was driving her mad. She knew he was out there, she could hear him moving around and the television’s low murmur in the living room.

She had finally given up, left with nothing but her hope.
So, to pass the time, she slept. And dreamt. Dreamt that she was still back in L.A. with Kyle, but in her dreams her daughter was with them.

Chapter Two


“I’m fine!”
Kyle said, as Sandy asked again how he was feeling. His face flushed as he spoke. He was getting fed up. Sandy had insisted on staying with him at the apartment when they’d discovered that Tara had left. She’d said it was to make sure he took care of his wound but he didn’t believe that. He knew it was because she was worried about what he would do.

He had just been biding his time until he was able to make a move.
At least the wound was healing nicely. It was still incredibly painful and limited his arm movements, but it was not infected which had been their big worry.

wish we could have taken you to a doctor,” she said, handing him a glass of water and a pill.

He th
rew back the pill and the water with one swallow, still glaring at her. “At least I had some meds.”

, Sandy had had some antibiotics left over from an old prescription at home and she’d brought them from her own place and given them to him at the appointed times, making sure he took them. The problem was, she hadn’t left. She was fussing around him like a mother hen and it was driving him nuts. He needed some time to himself. He needed to decide what he was going to do.

That he was going to
do something was not in doubt. He couldn’t just let Tara walk away. If, once she was safe, she wanted to walk away from him he would have to accept it, but he loved her too much to just let her walk straight back into that monster’s arms on her own.

“Let me look at that shoulder
, will you?” She was hovering again.

“I told you, I’m fine!”

“I’d really like to check it before I go, Kyle. Things like that can change quickly.”

“Please, just leave it alone,” he said, rubbing his eyes.

She sighed and shrugged her shoulders. “Okay,” she said over her shoulder, heading for the door. “Well I’m going to have to get going. I need to get to work.” She grabbed her coat off the rack, shrugging it over her shoulders. “If you hear anything you’ll let me know?”

“You know I will
,” he shouted, as she closed the door behind her.

They were both on
their last nerve at the moment. If anyone found out what they had done, Sandy would not only lose her job but they would both do jail time. So far, though, Deshaun’s death was being treated as a robbery gone south and there was no indication that this was going change. As far as Kyle was concerned it was over.

he door closed and Kyle let out a deep sigh, realizing he’d been holding his breath. Peace at last. He knew that she was only looking out for him but her constant efforts to keep him upbeat were starting to grate. He didn’t want to “think positive” or try to be “rational”. The only thing he wanted to do was to get on the next plane to the UK, hunt down that bastard Sergei, and finish it once and for all.




As Sandy turned the key in the ignition, she rested her head on the steering wheel. She was worried. Since they’d returned that night a few days ago and found the note from Tara, Kyle had been like a tightly coiled spring, ready to pop at any minute. She’d been around for the fall-out too many times now with Kyle not to know what was coming next.
Why do I do it?
she asked herself as she headed into work.

As her thoughts played on the tragedies he’d suffered since she’d known him, she realized that they had developed a bond that had continued b
ecause she cared about him, pure and simple. Not in any romantic way, but because they’d worked together and because she’d seen what he’d been through, the rotten cards life had handed him.

Beyond that, h
e’d been the best partner she’d ever had. She’d always known he had her back, be it on the street, or up against the brass. She’d trusted him completely and she still did. It had hurt when, after Lori had died, he’d shut her out, but she understood his reasons. Even though what they had done couldn’t be described as an affair, it was still wrong and they’d both regretted it.

Her heart heavy, she replayed the event in her mind, the single time it had happened.
It had been during the very early days of his relationship with Lori, not long after the two of them had met. They’d been dealing with a particularly horrible, case involving a mother and child which had affected them both deeply.

That night they’d finally got
ten the evidence to arrest the husband for their murders and, needing to release some of their pain, they’d gone to his flat for drinks. They both knew that the gruesome details of the murders were too much. It was not something you could share with others, not something you wanted to take home to your family.

talked long into the night, sharing their grief, one drink following another. Throwing caution to the wind, they’d ended up finding comfort in each other’s arms that night. It had been purely physical, a release, and they’d both regretted it ever since.

When the opportunity to get back in touch over Luccio had presented itself
, she’d jumped at the chance. What she hadn’t expected, though, was to get drawn in to covering up a dead body for him. But she had done it without question, and she would do it again if necessary.

He deserved to be happy now after everything he’d been through and, after meeting Tara, she’d known that
she could be the woman for him. She’d been as surprised as he was when they’d come home that night to find the note. Kyle had explained then, sharing the whole story

Kyle had told
her all about Tara’s past, about Sergei and about her daughter. Her heart ached for Tara, and she’d known, without a doubt, that she would have done exactly the same thing. She wasn’t a mother, but she was an aunt and she would do anything for her niece. Tina was twenty one now and due to get married next summer, and the thought of her going through something like Tara had made her physically ill.

She completely understood Kyle’s need to find Tara, to keep her safe.
What worried her now, though, was what he was going to do next. She’d taken a couple of days leave after the shooting, citing personal reasons, but now she had to get back to work and today was the first time she was leaving him alone for any length of time. As she pulled her car into the lot behind the police department, she hoped to God he wouldn’t do anything stupid.

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