I. Catalyst

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*****

He held the binocular with his steady, tattooed hand. It moved to the right as he followed his subject's movement as she briskly walked out of the building, her black hair blown by the strong wind behind her.

And then she stopped.

She stood facing the street, her hands deep inside her coat pockets as she craned her neck down the street.

She didn't see him. In fact, she had no idea she was being followed for nearly a week now.

Her arm suddenly went up in the air to hail a cab coming her way.

Richard dropped the binocular on his lap, his face frowning as he watched her cab pull out from the side of the street.

He had told his brother he had stumbled upon something interesting. What he failed to correct Theo was that it was someone important.

Setting the binocular aside, he picked up his disposable phone. The tattoos on his hand seemed to have a life of their own as he decided to make the call or not.

This might be our best chance, he convinced himself.

But he had to admit that it was a stupid plan, if not crazy.

He dialed his brother's secret number anyway.

Theo answered after three rings. "What's up?"

"Everything's going fine from my end," Richard answered, his eyes hovering on the empty spot his subject was standing on earlier. "I have a favor though."

"What is it? Are you in trouble?"

Not yet, he silently answered but said, "No, but I may need to crash your lake house," instead.

"What?"

"It's still a secret from everyone, right? I mean the location."

"Yes?" His brother answered suspiciously.

"Good. I'll need it. Just for a couple of weeks."

"What are you on, Richard?"

"I'll tell you about it soon," he promised.

"Des will not appreciate having you crashing into that fucking lake house."

"I don't fucking care what your wife thinks. Is that a yes?"

"If you don't break anything, she doesn't have to know. Yet." His brother added the last word with warning.

"I swear on my life."

"I still think it is a bad idea. You can be followed there."

"I've been in the same city as the old man for a week last month. No one knew."

"Fine. But tell me why you're crashing at my wife's dream house."

Richard looked at Monica Jiang's large stolen photo lying on the passenger seat. "I found a catalyst to our plans."



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