The following morning I sat at my kitchen table, idly rubbing Aria's belly while I finished my coffee. It had taken all of the last twelve hours to transport and board my personal collection of weaponry. I had two SMGs, a mini Uzi, a sawn-off shotgun, two silenced 9mm pistols, ammunition, and my back up knives waiting for me on the jet.
I had less than a half hour before we were scheduled to leave the house and head for the airport. Less than a half hour to wait for Hayden. I looked down at Aria, half asleep on his back, and smiled weakly. "He will come," I told Aria, trying to convince myself as much as the little dog. Just then I heard a crash and muffled curses.
"Damn it, Sasha, I told you to be more careful of the crates!"I yelled out as I stood and hurried towards the garage.
"It wasn't Sasha, your friend is here. We thought it was an intruder and Sasha got...well, your friend is quite impressive," Demetri told me. I looked at him hard, watching the laughter in his sky blue eyes. He and Sasha were my bodyguards, mercenaries hired to back me up on jobs, and see to mine and Aria's safety.
The two Russians couldn't be any different. Demetri with his pale blonde ponytail and soft blue eyes was the complete opposite of dark and intimidating Sasha.
I followed Demetri out to the garage to find Hayden calmly dusting himself off. Sasha sulked near the baggage, flexing his muscles and glaring at Hayden. I couldn't help but laugh at the image of slender and aristocratic Hayden taking down the larger, more brawny of my two men. Sasha certainly did not appreciate the thought as much of the rest of us.
"Well, Raja, I came. I wasn't sure what to pack, so I brought a bit of everything." I sighed, and looked at the small stack of leather luggage by Hayden's feet.
"What exactly is 'everything'?"I asked him, sure it didn't mean toiletries.
"Oh, just a couple of .357 magnums, a rocket launcher, and a crate of grenades." Hayden's smile never looked so boyish as when he was talking about his toys. I stared in disbelief at the suitcases.
"Surely not even you can fit a rocket launcher into those suitcases."
"The rocket launcher, and the grenades, are safely stowed away on your jet. I didn't want to take the chance of one of these clutzes dropping a suitcase and blowing all of us to hell." Sasha's eyes nearly bulged from their sockets, but Demetri just laughed, a soft friendly sound. I knew better than to question how.
"Demetri, please help Hayden load his cases into the car, Sasha, come with me to get Aria and Layla." Layla was Aria's nanny, a young Egyptian girl that I had taken from the harem of a now deceased politician in Cairo. "Layla, have you given Aria his nerve pill yet?" Aria is not a fan of planes, and shows his dislike quite strongly. The girl nodded and gently placed the dog in his travel carrier.
Hayden and I rode in my bright yellow BMW z4, an impulse buy, and the boys followed with Layla and Aria in the gun metal gray Mercedes CLS. We hit the airport in 10 minutes flat.
Hayden made an emergency visit to the bathroom, and we all loaded the jet. It was a gift from a former client who had been very glad to see the end of our business together.
We all settled in for a seven hour flight into London. From there we would change planes and continue on to the Republic of Congo. We had a very, very long trip ahead of us.