I shuddered. “American girl?”
“Half. Her father was from here. She was visiting her dad, but was caught by Bain when she came near this property. She was on the compound, trying to steal. She was born there, though. Yes.”
“What about the last girl?”
She thinks on it. “She just stopped showing up. Haven’t seen her in years.”
She’s lying. I can tell. She’s avoiding my eyes now, which means she knows something and probably isn’t supposed to tell me. “Patanza,” I murmur when she backs away. “Where are we, exactly?”
She swallows thickly, looking around the room. She snatches the map down from the pin board in the corner and then walks back my way.
She points at a name, but says nothing.
“Lantía?” I read out loud. Never have I heard of it.
She jerks her hand away and hurries for the door, not looking back once.
I stare down at the map again.
Lantía. It’s a small city on the Gulf of Mexico. And by small, I mean you could easily miss it if it wasn’t pointed out.
The population here can’t be too big.
I place the map down on the bed and tiptoe toward the door. I hear someone walking, and I think it’s her. But I’m mistaken. She’s still there, talking to someone. Whispering.
“What in the hell is he doing here, anyway?” she hisses.
A deep voice speaks. “Jefe said he’s going to use him as leverage.” I think it’s the other guard that was downstairs.
“Leverage for what?”
“Jefe heard Hernandez is building up the cartel and wants the boss completely out of the territory. He thinks Thiago is handing over the ‘stolen’ goods to Hernandez’s cartel.”
“But why would Hernandez want that? That cartel is supposed to be working for him!” I can hear in Patanza’s voice that she’s pissed that this Hernandez person has gone against Draco.
“It’s the way of the world, P. We can’t control that shit. We just do what the fuck we can to make sure Thiago doesn’t get back to them. He acts innocent, but I don’t trust him. He always comes back empty-handed, and Jefe always accepts it and never does anything to him about it. I don’t trust him . . . don’t give a fuck if he’s family.”
“Draco won’t kill Thiago. They grew up together. Despite their differences, he has too much history with Thiago to just kill him like that. They committed some of their first crimes together.”
“Maybe before,” the other guard sighs, “but I don’t know about it this time. We’ve been hearing Hernandez is trying to make hits on Jefe.”
“Talk around the city. We’re also trying to get No-Arms to talk. He has to know something after being around them before.”
“The guy in the cells?” she asks.
Ronaldo? I gasp, backing away from the door, but I can still hear them talking.
“Once we get him to talk,” the guard continues, “he wants to send his fucking head to Hernandez to show we aren’t fucking around.”
“Well, good. Fucking traitor,” Patanza spits.
I continue my retreat, looking all around the room, trying to find another way out.
Of course there is only one way, and that is through that door, where two of Draco’s best guards are standing. Waiting.
I hurry for the window and open it. Though all I can see is the ocean, I move myself to the far right to see if I can catch a glimpse of the shed. I can’t.
I promised Ronaldo I would get him out of there. It can’t be true, what they’re saying. The way Ronaldo made it seem, someone turned on him. He got caught because of someone he trusted.
It could have been by someone that works for Hernandez. If that’s the case, he doesn’t deserve to die. I step away from the window and look at the door.
I need to talk to Draco about this. This can’t be right. Ronaldo . . . he helped me. He’s a good person. I could see the goodness in him.
It would be unfair for him to die, when all he wants is to be set free and to forget about this mess.
When it’s time for dinner, there’s a knock on the door. Patanza comes in and looks at me, bobbing her head in the direction of the door. I nod back, following her out and down the hallway.
When we’ve made it down the staircase, I catch up to her. “Hey, do you think you can take me to the cells tomorrow?”
She glances over. “By yourself? Hell, no.” Her head shakes rapidly. “Jefe would chop my head off, too.”
“I just . . . I need to see them. For myself. I need to know they’re suffering much worse than I did when I was in there. Worse than when Pico . . . did that to me in the cellar.”
She looks me over, her mouth twitching before she speaks. “Why can’t you go down there with him? He’ll be glad to show you what he’s done.” As she says that last sentence, a smirk plays on her lips.