Twisted love by ANA HUANG ,chapter 33,ALEX

I PAID AND LEFT THE RESTAURANT IMMEDIATELY AFTER AVA. SHE HADN’T gotten far, and I followed discreetly to make sure she got home safe before I drove back to D.C. I hated seeing her upset, especially on a night when we should’ve been celebrating instead of fighting. I wanted to run after her and apologize for being an ass, but the clock was ticking, and I needed to finish what I’d started. Only then could I put the past behind me, once and for all. I stared at my computer screen, watching the minutes tick by. 11:55 p.m. I’d given the man a midnight deadline. 11:56 p.m. I hadn’t told Ava the truth…about many things. I didn’t have urgent business to take care of before dinner, at least none relevant to Archer Group. Instead, I’d been talking to my family’s killers’ killer. The police had ruled my parents’ and sister’s murders as a home invasion gone wrong, but I knew better. The men had said it was a job and mentioned a “he,” someone who knew I was supposed to be at camp that summer, though that was something anyone with internet access and a bare modicum of computer skills could figure out—the camp posted a list of its attendees online every year. I’d kept the knowledge of their true motives to myself though. I’d been young, but old enough to know the criminal justice system wouldn’t deliver the type of justice I craved: total annihilation. So I’d waited. 11:57 p.m.
My uncle was the only person I’d told. He, too, hadn’t believed it was a simple invasion. But the police caught the culprits a few days later thanks to street security footage that ID’ed their license plate, and they’d confirmed it was a home invasion. The “burglars” said they hadn’t wanted to leave witnesses, so they’d killed everyone. They also hadn’t made it to trial before they “mysteriously” died in jail. My uncle did some digging and found the man who’d hired the killers’ killer. Apparently, he was one of my father’s business rivals and had a history of shady dealings and ruthless practices. By logic, he had to have been the one who’d ordered the hit on my family too. I’d spent every second of my life since plotting his downfall. 11:58 p.m. I’d been a kid, and I’d trusted my uncle, but what I’d read in the library threw everything I knew about him out the window. Ava was right—I’d been distracted this past week, busy with my chess game. Not the unfinished one with my uncle in the library, but the one playing out in real life. I’d had my tech guy hack into Ivan’s financial records dating back to my family’s deaths and paid him a hefty sum to work day and night until he found what I’d expected to find all along. A large sum of money had been wired from one of my uncle’s secret offshore accounts to an anonymous account two days before my family’s death, and another equal sum had been sent the day after. An even larger amount had been sent to a second anonymous account the day after the “burglars” died. I’d paid the hacker another eye-watering sum to track down the second killer. He’d contacted me when I was on my way to meet Ava, saying he’d located the person, a notorious killer for hire who went by the name of Falcon. They’d apparently retired, but I didn’t need their “skills.” I only needed a name. As a gesture of goodwill, I’d wired Falcon twenty-five percent of the fifty grand I’d promised them if they would confirm who hired them to kill the burglars. Now, I waited. 11:59 p.m. I stared at the blank black screen of Vortex, a fully encrypted messaging site popular amongst those in the criminal underworld. Unhackable and
untraceable, it was where most of the world’s seediest transactions took place. A chill whipped around me. I hadn’t bothered to turn the heater on. I’d bought this house in D.C. under a shell company name because I wanted a place where I could carry out my more illicit activities without anyone knowing, not even my uncle. It boasted a security system the Pentagon would be jealous of, including a hidden jammer that disabled all electronic devices inside the house unless you had the code, which only I knew. 12:00 a.m. A new message flashed onscreen. Midnight on the dot. Gotta appreciate a punctual killer. I read the message calmly, my blood colder than the chill creeping along the floorboards and bare walls. No greeting, no questions. Just a name, like I’d requested. I wired the rest of the money to the Falcon and sat there in the dark, mulling over the news. I knew. Of course I knew. All the evidence had pointed to it, but now I had my confirmation. The man responsible for my family’s death wasn’t Michael Chen, Ava’s father. It was Ivan Volkov, my uncle.

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