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Songs of Bliss


"Okay, what have you got for me?"
"Pretty much as we agreed. There'll be a driver waiting for you at St. Pancras. He'll
bring you down to Pjeter's place. I've got a car ready and some equipment. Glocks,
silencers, the works, just as you ordered. And I've got some information."
The doctor. Pray to God, Alex thinks, pray to God that Xhev has found him.
"Go on".
Xhev hesitates, reading hastily scrawled notes from Bideford's shipping information
web site. "Val…Valentin docked nine days ago. She's moved on to Finland, now, but our
guess is that our man put ashore. Can?t see much scope for him way up there in Finland.
It?s nice and quiet down there in Devon, just the place to lay low for a while. Pjeter has put
the word out here in London, but there's nothing to report up here. My guess is he's still
down there. He's got no papers, so he'll struggle to turn the dollars he stole from us into
sterling, at least legitimately, so I don't know. He can't have gone too far yet."
"He won't. He knows we're following. He knows he has to lie low. He'll probably
try to do a little dealing, something to earn enough local cash so that he can survive. He'll
watch and wait, try to let the trail go cold."
A long inward breath. Xhev sighs. "It won't go cold, will it? You won't let the
bastard go, will you Alex?"
Alex is feeding on scraps. There is no certainty in the chase. All that he has is his
family name and the spur of revenge and hot blood in his veins, blood shared with his
beautiful little sister, Rezarta, who is destined to spend whatever life she has left being
spoon fed and dribbling onto her blouse. Alex is the eldest, is the captain.
"We'll find him, brother, to the ends of the earth if we have to. This story has one
ending. You know it. Keep the faith."
Xhev's voice is quieter, less certain than before, the bravado of the moment and the
mission shattered. "I know it, Alex."
Alex has to put steel into his voice. Like his brother, he too feels the despair that
comes from looking into his sister's black and vacant eyes. It is a mill stone, a yoke.
"Xhev, concentrate. Remember, I need you in London. Double check everything.
Get me maps and directions, as much as you can find. Check the pieces, whatever you can
do. I'll be with you and Pjeter for Quofte and Raki tonight."
A pause. Xhev's voice comes back stronger. "Yeah. God speed. See you tonight,
brother."
"Tonight".
Alex waits for the line to drop and shuts his eyes, but the smell of the doctor is with
him again. The miles are closing down and there will be no sleep now. He puts his mobile
phone back into his jacket pocket and rises from his seat. He needs another hit of that good
old caffeinated wire in his blood.
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