Home > The Cleaner (Chicago Bratva #7)

The Cleaner (Chicago Bratva #7)
Author: Renee Rose






Come on out, dietka. I’m waiting.

I prop a shoulder against a brick wall, watching the entrance to the flat across the street where my mark, Kateryna Poval, lives. The incessant Liverpool rain has paused for the moment, but fog nestles close to the sidewalks, occasionally obscuring my view.

A girl who fits her description emerges from the flat, but it can’t be her. This one appears too young. Her long dark hair is in two braids, and she’s wearing a school uniform: knee-high socks with a short, pleated skirt and white blouse…

Huh. Hold up. Maybe she’s not as young as I thought.

The blouse is tied up under her breasts to bare her flat belly, and the throat is open way too low for a school uniform, giving view to a rather impressive rack. And she’s not wearing a jacket or necktie. Plus the skirt is far too short.

Besides, it’s ten at night.

So that’s not a student in a uniform, it’s my mark in some kind of costume. She has a tiny backpack strapped to her back to complete the schoolgirl look although it’s more purse-sized than anything that would hold books or folders.

Why isn’t she wearing a fucking jacket? It’s not frigid like Chicago or Russia, but England is still cold in January, for Christ’s sake. I don’t know why I give a fuck, but it bothers me.

I stay in the shadows, following the young woman on the opposite side of the street.

It was nearly impossible to get any photos of Kateryna–she has zero social media presence, which is unheard of for a young woman of twenty–but our hacker got into her secondary school records to retrieve an older photo.

Leon Poval’s daughter went to a private prep school where she was enrolled under the last name Kovalenko, but she completed her secondary studies two years ago. Now she attends a small art school here, which seems strange. Surely, they have those back in Ukraine. Maybe Poval thinks she’s safer hidden here.

I don’t give a fuck, so long as she has a pulse and can be used as leverage against him.

I trail her to the bus stop where she perches on the backrest of a cement bench, her feet–which are in platform heels–on the seat. She flicks one of her dark braids off her shoulder and blows a bubble with her gum. I can’t quite figure out if she really is an insolent overgrown teen or if she has some kind of school-girl fetish. I think there’s a Japanese fashion trend that is sexy school uniforms–maybe that’s her jam. Or could she be a stripper? I seem to recall Pavel telling me the school-girl thing was a popular stripper outfit. Or was it in the BDSM dungeons he went to? Fuck if I know. I don’t go out much. Not with my sister’s fragile state.

I pull out my phone and study the photo Dima sent me, comparing it to the young woman at the bus stop.

The girl in the photo is a perfect match. She’s a few years younger in the picture, wearing a more conservative uniform with the jacket and necktie, and she appears as innocent and young as this version seems saucy.

The bus approaches, and I cross the street, hanging back until she boards, then climbing on and sliding into a seat in the front. I pull the knit cap I’m wearing down low over my forehead. She’s behind me, but I can watch her reflection in the windshield.

She wears a slender gold hoop nose ring, and she puts earbuds in her ears and scrolls through something on her phone. She hasn’t noticed me, which is good because I don’t plan on grabbing her tonight.

The cargo ship I’ve arranged to transport her to the U.S. won’t dock for a few days. I’m just keeping an eye on her for now. It’s probably not my smartest move, since I have no practice in subtlety when it comes to stalking. I don’t want to alert her to my presence. But I also don’t want to lose her. I’ve been looking for her father for over a year now. Ever since he gave me the slip after I burned down his sex slave den masquerading as a sofa factory.

When Dima, my bratva brother and Russia’s finest hacker, told me he discovered Poval had a daughter, I had to seize my chance.

I won’t hurt her. Not like Poval hurt Nadia.

But I sure as hell will make him think I have. I want him to suffer, believing I’m going to enact every last indignity and trauma he inflicted on my sister.

The bus stops a few times, and Kateryna hops off. I wait a few beats until the doors close then surge toward the front door, making the bus driver curse and throw the door open again.

I slip out without her seeing me and follow at a distance. She’s in a sketchy, industrial part of town, but there are cars parked everywhere. Something is definitely happening. A warehouse party. Or maybe they still do raves in Liverpool. Either way, I’m going to have to go in if I don’t want to lose track of her. It looks like the place is packed.

I watch her knock on the door. When it swings open, music blares from the place and a big guy who appears to be some kind of bouncer lets her in. I wait sixty seconds then follow.

“Password?” the door guy demands.

I pull a fifty pound note out of my pocket and tuck it in the guy’s palm. “Appreciate it,” I say, wishing my Russian accent wasn’t so damn strong. At least the tattoos on my knuckles don’t work against me with a guy like this.

He gives me a once over. “You gotta friend in here?”


“Yeah,” I say, my brain scrambling. “I’m friends with Kateryna. Ukrainian girl? Rocks a schoolgirl outfit?” Maybe if I’m lucky, this guy will think my accent is Ukrainian, too.

It works. He pushes the door open. “Kat just got here.” He jerks his head inside.

I hope giving her name doesn’t come back to bite me in the ass. I would’ve been better off making something else up. Oh well, too late now.

I enter the darkened warehouse. It’s lit with colored lights like a nightclub and music blasts from big speakers. There’s a DJ playing in the corner, and nice lounge furniture around the edges of the room. The place is packed with bodies bouncing and undulating to the beat. It’s definitely a rave. Kateryna–or I guess it’s Kat here–is nowhere to be seen, but she fits right in with the other scantily-clad girls.

The good news is that I can blend in. The bad news is that I have no idea where my mark has disappeared to. I shove my hands in the pockets of my jacket and make my way casually through the crowd, bobbing my head to the music like I’m just here for the beats.

Turns out, it’s not hard to find Kateryna at all because she climbed on top of a large wooden crate and is swaying her hips in half-time to the music, inviting every mudak below her to look up that short fucking skirt of hers.

Which isn’t my problem, obviously. Still, my fingers close into fists in my pockets thinking about the bad things that could happen to her here. She came alone–which is pretty fucking strange. Girls always run in packs. And now she’s inviting all kinds of male attention.

Oh shit. I look away when we make brief eye contact. Stepping back, I move along the wall and pull out my phone, pretending to text someone.

“Hi.” A female voice pulls my attention at the same time the speaker tugs my sleeve.

You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.

I’ve been made.

Kat stands in front of me, a wide, saucy smile showing off the straightest, whitest set of teeth I’ve ever seen. She looks up at me from under a curtain of dark bangs, and I discover her eyes are a surprising shade of electric blue. She’s not wearing any color on her lids, but the thick black eyeliner that extends beyond the outer corners of her eyes only accentuates the light color of her irises.

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