After what seemed like ages, Annice and Ritsa returned. Khailani was drinking water with the youngest still accompanying her.
“Somebody caught the bastards. They’re tied up and ready for the police to haul their asses away,” the troop leader reported.
Annice shook her head. “That wasn’t him.”
Her voice cracked. “That wasn’t the White Rabbit. It was some random guy. You and Dean were right.” She combed back free-standing hairs. The braid she had this morning had long since loosened into a mess. “They were fucking—I’m sorry. They were frauds pretending to be him.”
While Ritsa led her daughter back to her room, Annice sat across from Khailani and touched her trembling hands.
“That doesn’t mean they were any less of a threat. I don’t know how they managed to find you. Only those at the office knew you were spending the night with me.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they followed us. They’ve been persistent this past week,” Khailani whispered, recalling the crumpled notes stuffed in her purse. They found her all those times. How would this be any different?
“You don’t think it’s an inside man?”
Khailani had considered that but dismissed the idea. “What’s the point of removing me from the picture? I’m not even the main lookout. You three ran these operations long before I joined. If they wanted us to fail, they’d be threatening you, Dean, and Talia or any other girl with more experience than me.
“Besides, you all swear by your own convictions too much to be swayed by whatever White Rabbit can offer you. I might not be as close to you guys as you are to each other, but even I could see that.”
Khailani shrugged defeatedly. She wanted to go to bed. Let this day finally end, so they can rob their targets tomorrow.
She finished the water and headed to the guest room. “You can do an internal search, Annice. It’s your team. I think this is all third party. Whether or not the real White Rabbit set them up, I don’t know. But it just doesn’t make sense for it to be someone within the KVG. I’m the one who had contact with White Rabbit. It must be him or someone he trusts with his secret.”
“Or someone willing to kill to stay alive,” Annice said. “I’m calling the operation off. There have been too many rabbits. I’d rather find the snitch than—”
Khailani covered Annice’s phone with her hand. “No! I’ll withdraw. If they want to use me to stop the whole operation, we won’t let them have the satisfaction.”
Annice stared back at her and set the phone down. “I’ll give you a portion of my cut. It isn’t fair that you contributed a lot of your time and get nothing.”
“Please. You have more mouths to feed,” Khailani said.
The women flinched when Annice’s phone went off.
“At this hour?”
“Ayo we’ve been hit!” Khaliani overheard. Annice rose, and together they retreated to the guest room. Annice placed the phone on speaker.
“Khaliani is with me. Talia, explain the situation.”
The woman gathered her breath and let out a soft “shit.”
“They’re eight…nine…seven of them? They skewered Bean, L, and E’Stere. I think we shot down most of them, but they robbed us, teach. They got our shit, killed the girls, and ran. Fuck. Where are you now?”
“Home. We’ll meet you at base. I’ll gather who I can.”
“Meet you in twenty.”
The call ended.
“The timing’s almost too perfect,” Khailani muttered.
“Right? We won’t mention what happened here. If someone does, we’ll know our rat. Now get your shoes on. Talia says twenty, but we know she’ll run through the lights and be there in three.”
“RITSA! I’m heading out. Something happened at the storehouse.”
Ritsa poked her head out of the children’s bedroom. “I need you to be careful.”
“You know I always am.” They exchanged a small kiss.
Grabbing her keys, Annice said, “Let’s go.”
© 2021: Operation: UGAWTS || The Cat in Rabbit's Fur || Short Story ||