Kathy’s contact was a man named Ace. That was the only name she had for him and the only name she could give. She seemed reluctant to share how exactly she met Ace but explained her involvement through stammered tears.
He would make contact and leave the package for her to collect.
The package would contain the phone and her money.
Nothing more, nothing less. Every single time. It was smart.
But Kathy did have a number for Ace. After once missing a delivery due to an unplanned weekend away, she was told to send a simple text informing him of her travel plans should she be going out of town in the future. Guillerme was ready with a tracker as Grace had Kathy send such a text. Then she had Kathy pack up some clothes and get her family away from Virginia.
It wasn’t the biggest surprise to have the phone trace to Connecticut. McCall would need to be near the city - any city, really. But wasn’t it always New York?
Grace told Kathy to take her family somewhere safe. She also told her to send another text in two days, telling Ace they had come home early because one of the kids had gotten sick. All Grace had to do was wait.
The Blake Hotel in New Haven was a perfect place for that. Why stay in some seedy motel when she had the money for more? She spent her time reading up on the death of Kane in Miami - some kind of inmate fight that spiraled out of control. The State’s Attorney was disappointed, to say the least. But it was another drug dealer off the streets. A win for Miami!
Ace had his phone off, and if he was smart, it would stay that way. He would turn it on sporadically to check his texts, but unless Grace was checking 24/7, she wasn’t likely to catch him. So she waited until the allocated date and time she asked Kathy to send her text, and then she sat at her computer. Three hours and a BLT later, she got a ping. Ace was in Shelton, Connecticut.
The phone stayed active for long enough that Grace was able to narrow down a location. Though with it being such a rural part of the state, it was hard to be precise. It was pretty safe to rule out areas where the houses were close together. No way McCall would want eyes on her so close. That meant she would need land, gates, and privacy. Grace spent three days checking maps and public records of land deals, driving out to look at various properties. Most looked empty and were probably vacation homes of the city dwellers. Others had families going about their daily lives.
One house, however, had a long driveway and big, thick, hard gates. It was on an oversized lot of land and had no neighbors within earshot. The house was big too: more than 10 bedrooms and a pool outback. This house also had a lot of security, including cameras covering the whole house and grounds and motion sensors on the ten-foot fence surrounding the entire property. There were six cars out front and men with poorly concealed weapons at the door. This house belonged to a man named Andrew. His wife of fifteen years was named Caroline McCall.
Grace assumed the arrest of Kane made McCall increase her security. She was smart, after all, and not willing to take any chances. Her home was a fortress and wouldn’t be an easy break. So, Grace needed to make a decision. The chances of catching McCall doing anything illegal were slim to none. She paid for too many layers of protection for that.
Should she try and frame her for something and have her sent to prison?
Or should she simply kill her? Though there probably wouldn’t be anything simple about it.
It’s not that Grace was against killing McCall. She wasn’t against killing in general, though she preferred it when she knew the person was deserving. Her only hesitation was the mess it would inevitably create. There was no such thing as a perfect crime, and no matter how careful, things could go wrong, which was why she was usually happy to walk away knowing the person would be suitably punished.
But sometimes, killing was the only acceptable option. Grace had been in this situation before and had always been equal parts prepared and lucky. The people she’d killed in the past caused waves but their murders’ were left unsolved. Before deciding anything, she needed to be sure she could take out McCall safely and quietly.
Back at her hotel, Grace weighed her options. She’d set up a small camera in the grass across from McCall’s driveway and had the feed live on her screen. Nobody came in or out the entire day. That wasn’t a huge problem - she knew McCall would leave eventually and just had to be patient.
The problem was the security around her. Would they follow her 24/7? McCall had set herself up over many years so that she wouldn’t need protection. All Grace could hope was for McCall to relax now that Kane was dealt with.
That happened after another week. McCall kept herself busy in the house and had her security team escort her and the kids to and from school. But after a week, she seemed to decide that Kane was just a dumbass who got himself caught and that she was safe. Her business in Florida and the South was still going strong, and nobody else had been arrested. So, life went on as usual. And life, as usual, meant a trip to Hartford to meet her boyfriend.
Grace followed McCall into the Marriott lobby and watched the front desk clerk stiffen when he spotted her. McCall said nothing, holding out her hand with a bored expression under her oversized sunglasses. The clerk handed her a key he took from the desk draw with a curt smile. She likely had a standing order at the hotel, which she paid for in cash.
The clerk watched McCall go, leaving Grace to clear her throat to get his attention. She got herself a room on the top floor - an educated guess - and made her way to the elevators. Her target had already made her way up.
Looking around, Grace decided that McCall’s lover wasn’t there yet. She was a control freak and probably liked to arrive early, letting him know when and where to meet her. So Grace went to the bar instead. She sat facing the entrance and front desk, surprised when she had to wait over two hours before he arrived.
A few single men had arrived in that time but were ruled out right away. They came in on the phone or went to the desk or right to the bar. These men didn’t come across as here to meet a lover.
When a young blond strutted through the lobby and straight to the elevator, Grace took a chance and followed him. She laughed coyly as they both reached for the same button. He smiled at her as they ascended, and she looked away, feigning a blush. Luckily, the red wig had thick bangs that hid most of her face. Neither this guy nor the camera in the corner would be able to identify her in a line-up.
The blonde brushed by and smirked as Grace made it to her door. She turned and smiled at him, watching while he made his way to a door near the end of the hallway. She took a mental note of the room and went inside. Killing McCall might be easier than she thought. There was a camera in the elevator, but none in the hallway, and taking her out after a little rendezvous made the most sense. She just needed some more surveillance, to be absolutely sure.
Over the next couple of weeks, McCall met her paramour four more times, and it was always the same. She came early, and Grace found out, had a massage in her room. The blond was then called upon and came running, no matter the time of day. McCall always had a room on the top floor, though it wasn’t always the same. After the blond left, McCall spent roughly an hour further in the room before going home.
The hotel would be the place. Though her client was up her ass about getting the job done, she told him they needed to be patient. It needed to be right. It wasn’t his ass on the line if she got caught. So she watched and made sure her timings were all correct. Never a deviation.
Grace moved hotels every few days, not wanting to draw any attention her way, and made the dry run twice until she was satisfied with her plan. After almost three weeks of watching, it was time.
When McCall’s vehicle left her driveway, Grace was on her bike and at the hotel more than a half-hour before the boss. She got herself a room and changed into work-out gear. She then left the room and made her way down to the gym, ensuring she passed slowly by any cameras.
The gym was across the hall from the spa, and Grace took note of the massage therapist leaving. Right on time. She would be up there an hour, and then it would be another hour before Lover Boy showed up.
After a mild work-out, Grace returned to her room, nodding at the well-tipped masseuse who had left her client - whose room was two down on the left - relaxed and calm.
She ordered room service, showered, and found something benign on TV. She tipped well and gave the service boy a flirtatious wink before changing into a bright red dress that gave the cameras a great show.
On her way out, Grace had to stop at the desk to ask if anyone had turned in a necklace.
No? She must have lost it in the gym. Silly.
Checking the time as she pretended to search for the necklace that didn’t exist, Grace knew McCall would be mid-passionate embrace. They were usually at it for around an hour and a half, which gave her almost forty-five minutes to be in place. As she stepped out of the gym and the camera’s line of sight, Grace was confident any cops looking at her movements would have moved on from her before now. She was free to pass the elevators and enter the stairwell.
Carrying the heels made her ascent to the twenty-second-floor silent. At the top, she sat on the top step and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. Should anyone decide to use the stairs, she had an excuse to be there. Luckily she was left alone and sat in silence, her breath even.
A giggling couple checked in to their room near the elevator.
A businessman yelled at someone on his phone as he slammed his door closed.
And then…is that the laughter of a sated woman?
The low hum of a young man exhausted from vigorous lovemaking?
Grace waited. She just about heard the sound of the door close and counted in her head the blond’s steps as he walked to the elevator. She took a peek and confirmed it was him before quietly closing the door and waiting for the ping. She waited for his descent and for him to cross the lobby. She waited until she was sure he was in his car and on his way, and then she waited some more. She had an hour after all. Why risk it?
When she was absolutely sure they wouldn’t be interrupted, Grace left the stairwell. She made it to the door quickly, not wanting the elevator to open and the camera to catch a glimpse of her. Her soft knock on the door belied her intent, and McCall answered with a smile. Grace pushed her hard before she had the chance to realize it wasn’t her lover. The boss fell back to the floor, the plush carpet absorbing the sound.
Before McCall could speak any further, Grace was on her, a hand tightly secured over her mouth. Grace used her knees to hold down her arms to avoid any defensive strikes.
“Don’t. Just don’t.”
Grace clamped the gloved hand down over McCall’s mouth and nose and watched as the life drained from the woman underneath, who died, not knowing who or why. Grace wasn’t one for the big villainous reveal. There was no reason to talk.
Confirming there was no pulse, she scanned the room for a briefcase. Luckily the laptop was already out, and Grace copied the hard drive with a tiny thumb drive she stored in her bra. She left the room within six minutes.
At the hotel bar, she drank club soda with lime, laughed with a couple of businessmen, and ate some appetizers before stumbling back to her room. She slept peacefully, checking out four hours before McCall’s body was found. By then, Grace was disembarking the ferry on her way to Montauk. Her client had been informed, and she’d been paid for her services.
The thumb drive would be a nice bonus for Nico. No doubt, her boss would find something useful.
Before she left Connecticut, she sent the rest of the file to the State’s Attorney in Miami. Kane was dead, but his operation wasn’t. Hopefully, it would help.
The ferry was docked as they were waiting for the signal to disembark, and her phone rang as she was getting on her bike.
“Always,” she said, pulling her gloves on. “What do you need? I sent you the file.”
“I just got another client, and I need you here, now.”
To be continued…
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