XX. Real Deal

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"Karlsson," Morrison said with voice filled of warning. "She's taunting you."

"I know," Richard gritted out, his hand steady on the gun.

"Actually," Monica said with an eerie smile, "I was trying to buy myself some time."

And at her word, everything changed.

Gunned men from all directions started to run toward them and suddenly both Morrison and Richard had not just one but two guns each pointed at their heads.

They were obviously outnumbered. The guns pointing at them were far better than the one he had pointing at Monica.

"Do you think my father would ever allow a mistake to happen twice?" Monica asked, walking toward Richard. "You can shoot me now, Richard, but then you and your dear friend will die with me here. Where would that leave your brother and Desiree then?" She stopped right in front of the tip of his gun, her eyes boring into his. She raised her hand and took the gun from him.

She drew a deep breath as she handed the gun to one of the men surrounding her.

Richard felt trapped. Even his fury felt restrained as he fought the urge to reach for her throat and strangle her. For a split second he thought he didn't care anymore and would rather die than let the bitch win.

Every muscle was twitching to move, but the men surrounding him were too eager to get him down. They pushed him to his knees before Monica Jiang. From the corner of his eyes he saw Morrison suffering the same fate.

There was no one to rescue them now. It had not been part of their plan to get caught.

Theo and Desiree were far away, expecting to hear from them anytime soon.

"I should have known you're still alive, Richard, my boy," the familiar voice of the man he once considered his father echoed from behind Monica.

His footsteps drew nearer until he was finally standing side by side with his daughter.

"Good job, Monica," he said to his daughter as he stared at Richard, his face filled with nothing but amusement.

Then he stepped in front of Richard and kicked him until he fell on his back. The men pulled him back on his knees and Hong gave him another blow right across his right cheek.

"I should have figured your brother would be too weak to kill you," he said with a shake of his head, caressing his right hand. And then he frowned. "But how did you do it? He showed me a video of him shooting you. There were photos of your head with a bullet wound—" then he stopped and he started to laugh.

Richard felt blood run down his nose.

Hong's face contorted with fury as his laughter died and he kicked Richard once again. This time, the men behind him prevented another fall. He did not dare let his eyes waver away from Hong's face, his nose flaring in immense fury.

"I can't believe it," Hong said between chuckles. "I should have known Kane did her magic trick."

He turned to Monica and explained, "Kane was a terrific make-up artist. She could turn anyone into anyone." And then he laughed some more. "Ah, I should have known!"

Richard kept silent, spitting out blood. He was kneeling before the two people he wanted dead and he could not do anything about it.

"If it was not for Monica, I would still be walking along the corridors ignorant of your plans with Theo," Hong said, stepping back to stand beside his daughter. He took her hand to hook in in the crook of his arm. "You've proven yourself worthy as a Liaison, my dear," he told her, deliberately ignoring Richard. "You've done more in lesser time than the two pathetic fools I raised for years."

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