Stefano Esposito rubbed at his shoulder and shifted a bit. The seat of his older rental car creaked and groaned. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he blinked a few times to clear his vision, then focused back across the street. The house had been alive with activity over the past few days, but he’d seen nothing more of the kid. They had kept Reboot Hell sequestered constantly.
The only time he’d seen the kid leave the house, he’d been surrounded by three other men. Really, though, he couldn’t blame them, Reboot Hell was a genius of epic proportion. Wanted by several agencies, they didn’t know who the kid really was. He knew, and he couldn’t fucking believe it. He took a quick swallow from his thermos of coffee and made a face at the cold brew.
After two years of searching, he’d finally found the boy. He gave himself a mental shake, took a deep breath, and snagged the cell phone from the passenger seat.
“What the hell, Stef? I left you five fucking messages,” Giovanni Rossi’s deep voice growled into the phone, making him smile. His friend, ex-special forces, ex-military major general, currently a liaison for governmental bullshit, sounded ready to explode.
“I know. I’m sorry. I was tracking someone,” he said softly, knowing it wouldn’t take the wind out of the oncoming rampage.
“I don’t care! You call me or send me a text so I don’t send out a fucking convoy to find you when you turn off your GPS,” Rossi thundered.
Stefano knew without a doubt, Rossi had enough power to assign a convoy to locate him. He gripped the phone tightly and stayed silent. A moment later, a short, sharp sigh traveled through the phone.
“Who were you tailing?” Rossi finally asked.
“I found him.” His pulse thundered in his ears, almost making it hard to hear over the roar. A deep, stunned silence followed his words.
“What? Where the fuck is he?”
“In a hacker group call Tech Suppress. Run by some low-life named Eddie Johnson.”
“I’m on my way.”
“You shouldn’t. It’s late.” He knew Rossi wouldn’t listen, and sure enough, the response was explosive.
“Don’t tell me what I shouldn’t do. Now turn your damned GPS back on!”
The phone went dead and he smiled as he reactivated his GPS via the settings on his phone. Once he drove from the house to the hotel, he headed through the lobby. Reaching his room, he tossed his top coat down on one of the chairs.
Rossi arrived in record time. The man was a force. He banged on the door, then stormed into the room and right to the minibar before snatching up a drink. Broad shoulders tense, arms braced on the counter, Rossi took another swallow of his drink before turning around. Piercing, golden-colored eyes locked with his.
“Where’s my nephew?” Rossi’s deep voice rumbled between them.
“Here.” Tugging his phone out, he moved closer to show Rossi the pictures. The photo clearly showed that while not heavily guarded, a constant state of activity filled the house. He filled Rossi in on what he’d found.
“They never let him out of the house unattended. I think we have a better chance if we go in at night.”
Rossi grunted, grabbed his glass, and headed towards the couch. “Go on.”
“That’s it, I want to call in help, but nobody is available.” He followed Rossi, but chose to stand for the moment.
“Why?” Rossi took a seat.
“Storm and Lash are in Pakistan. That mission is going to take at least six more days. Frost is in Cuba, too long of a wait for him to come in.” He finally settled in one of the chairs that sat across from the couch.
Rossi grunted. “Fuck,” the man ran a hand over his ruggedly attractive face and sighed. “Okay, then it’s you and me.” Rossi nodded decisively.
“Just like old times,” he agreed, excitement warming his stomach.
Rossi’s quirked his lips, and he found himself smiling back.
Darkness clung to the house when they entered. It had been easy to wait for one of the men who came in and out to come through the door.
Rossi grabbed the guy by the nape of the neck, pointed a gun to the guy’s head, and walked him backwards into the low-lit house.
“Show me where the kid is,” Rossi quietly snarled.
Stefano stepped in close, covering Rossi’s flank. They were only there for the kid. They didn’t have the manpower to take out all of Tech Suppress.
“Which one?” The guy gulped audibly. A sudden strong odor of urine filled the air as the guy shook in Rossi’s large grip.
“Reboot Hell,” Stefano said quickly.
The guy pointed to a small, dark-haired boy curled up on a torn and filthy couch. Stefano grimaced at the filthy conditions of the place.
Rossi knocked the perp out with the butt of his gun, and then crouched next to the boy.
“Seth?” Rossi whispered.
The boy jerked upright, knees curled in tight to his chest, and looked at Rossi through a mop of curly, dark hair with a set of large, frightened eyes.
Seth had turned eighteen two weeks prior. Caught somewhere between boyhood and manhood, the boy was all arms and legs and sharp angles, too skinny for his height, but not too tall. It was his face, though, which held Stefano’s attention. Seth looked so much like a younger Rossi. Large eyes with incredibly long lashes, a delicate but firm jaw and chin with full lips, a dark-haired angel living in a shithole.
He rubbed at the ache in his chest before lifting his gun and training it on the hallway door about ten feet away from them. Someone coughed, the sound muffled, and he tightened his finger on the trigger. Hearing movement from the couch, he glanced back quickly. The boy had scooted further up on the cushions, as if to get away.
“Who are you?” Seth tugged a dirty T-shirt down over thin legs and stared fearfully at him and then Rossi.
“My name is Giovanni Rossi. I’m your uncle.”