She stood there, feeling empty and alone.

She felt as if her soul had been ripped out of her body viciously.

Cunningly and deceiving.

Her blonde strands fell on her face as her eyes stared at nothing. The brightness of her vibrant blue orbs had left, leaving a vacant feeling now.

Her lower lip quivered.

What would happen to her next? She wondered.

Chapter 9: Quixotic

I had no idea where I had awakened, but neither did I care. I simply stood there, remembering.

With a deep sigh, I shook my head to clear it. I needed to focus.

But how could I? I couldn't understand what had happened, much less assimilate it.

Denial: a common behavior in the grief process. I knew it, yet I could not avoid it.

Meanwhile I sat here, on my old Mercedes. It had been a gift from Adal— he had taken care of it and repaired it always. I don't think this is the best place to get over my grief, but I had no willpower to move away.

It was as if the car had a part of him. Although ridiculous, I needed the comfort of knowing he was somehow with me, that I wasn't alone in this cruel world.

After all he'd done for me, I felt a bit wary when I wasn't even able to give him a proper burial.

I wasn't even able to protect his body. I was forced to leave it behind against my will. This situation was tragic.

I bit my lip to contain the emotions welling up on me.

Just then the door to the garage was opened and I could hear soft footsteps now inside. I knew what he wanted, but I ignored him either way.

"Isadora," Dante whispered, approaching me from behind

I took a deep breath as I said monotonously. "I understand now."

His footsteps halted as he remained silent.

I turned to face him only to be faced by his mask of confusion.

A scowl deepened. "What do you mean?"

"I know why you want to crush the agency so badly," I chuckled a bit madly.

His scowl softened as he looked down.

"You don't give a damn about the rampage of ruined lives the agency has caused." I accused firmly.

Dante looked down at me with his brows knitted together. "That's not—"

"I understand now. " I repeated, interrupting his arguing. "I can't blame you, though. I feel the same way now."

He looked quizzically at me, expecting me to elaborate.

With a sigh, I did. "All the reasons you listed for Adal and I to join you on your quest— that was bullshit. They were meant to motivate us to join you, for convincing only, but you do not care about other people. You've said it yourself—we are cold-blooded murders, we do not care for the pain of other people.

"If it makes you feel any better," I continued softer, "now, after all that's occurred, now, I feel the same way. They took my family, now I want revenge."

"It does not help only wanting it. We need to strive for it."

"Then we'll do so." I said viciously. "I want blood, and I will not rest until Adal is avenged."

He was silent, contemplating my short speech, I guess. But I wanted to know something. And I expected an answer now, no beating around the bush.

"How did you find my car?" I asked.

He smiled as he opened the door and climbed in to the passenger's seat. "Adal told me yesterday, while you were asleep. He said that if anything were to happened, that you should dash in here while things 'cooled down' as he said. Perhaps he knew what was coming down."

"Then Adal brought it to London." I stated with a sigh.

"You know," Dante said eyeing me strangely and changing the subject completely. "When I reviewed your background the day after I'd met you on Central Park, I truly thought you were a model."

He chuckled, shaking his head slowly. "How naïve I must've been, but Adal knew you and your ways, thus tricking me completely to the point I saw no flaw in that lie. I did not take that lightly, by the way."

I smirked. "He said you would do a thorough background check and I had to be prepared. He was a partial idiot, always worrying about me."

Dante cleared his throat. "I can understand the sentiment with the one he did it. You two were deeply attached, so much that his well-being depended solely on your well-being."

"My recklessness was indeed his demise in the end. How ironic," I whispered.

Dante shrugged. "It tends to happen more often than you think."

Now I looked questioningly at him, waiting for him to elaborate.

"Euphemie knew they were after both of us. That is why she left me behind." He hissed. "She found a boy in the way with strong resemblance to me and dragged him along with her as a scapegoat. They were both murdered. If it weren't for the amount of time she distracted the assassins, I would've died in a blink of an eye."

"I guess you and I are destined to cause the deaths to people we care about." I grumbled. "I think we should just give up,"

"You shouldn't give up so easily." He replied sternly. "Since the day I met you, you seemed so determined and so empowering. Since that day I've seen this spark in you that radiates so immensely."

"You mean since the day we fucked?" I asked arching my eyebrow with a smirk.

He laughed. "Well, then you actually showed your spark, but previously I'd just predicted it."

"So, how was it, huh?" I asked, trying to lighten the mood a bit. "I've never let any man out of bed alive, so I've never gotten any feedback as to what I'm doing."

He snickered, shifting uncomfortably away from me. "Well, I am in no position of critiquing, but your performance over all was acceptable. Now let's stop, for this is getting very awkward."

I laughed loudly, my whole body shaking because of his uncomfortable stance. He blushed lightly as he looked away shaking his head in disapproval.

"Well, as amusing as this conversation is," Dante replied sarcastically. "I actually came here to tell you we must leave the country immediately."

"I know," I replied dryly. "The question is how, when we are wanted men."

Dante rolled his eyes. "What do you think Adal and I were doing before the agency caught up with us? Playing chess?"

I shrugged. "I know Adal loved playing chess. I don't know about you, but I doubt it. You don't seem focused enough."

"Pardon me, but look who's talking: the seductress." He snarled.

"Well, you were imbecile enough to fall for such petty distractions."

He shrugged. "I only took advantage of the situation. You were offering it, why would I deny it?"

"Don't you dare," I snarled as I pulled my pocket knife in a blink of an eye and pressed it softly against his neck.

He looked back at me with a bored expression. "Please, such a silly weapon for defense is ridiculous. Put it back."

"Not until you take back what you said. Else I'll slice your throat with the flick of a wrist." I said through clenched teeth.

"You either put your blade away and we discuss this as civilized individuals or I make you put it down and you can handle leaving the country on you own." He threatened with blazing eyes, glaring daggers.

I knew he was stronger than I, so he could easily empower me, but my pride stood first so I did not move an inch.

"Look," Dante growled exasperated. "We need to work together now whether that pleases you or not, so let's not start with the wrong foot."

He grasped the hand that held my knife and gingerly moved it away as I glared. He did it cautiously, analyzing my expressions for any sudden attacks, but I let him lowered my hand without a fight.

He knew I was unstable, yet he wished to converse like civilized being. How courteous he must deem himself right now.

"I know what I said was uncalled for and I apologize, it was not appropriate." He whispered as he looked down.

"You're damn right about that," I grunted as I shoved back into my pocket my knife.

He glared back, his pride surfacing like a wild fire in his gray eyes. Still, he gulped it down for peace sakes, shaking his head and murmuring, "Holy cosmos, you are one tough cookie,"

I would not it admit out loud, but I was glad he did not argue any further. Whether he was acting as an annoying pest right now or not, he was my only allied now. Even to my dismay.

"Where are we anyway?" I asked, looking around.

It was raining outside, fitting my gloomy mood, so nothing could be seen beyond the window pane. Yet, the smell of humidity filtered my lungs giving a pleasant feeling to the dreary house.

"Honestly, I have no idea, but I know we are somewhere in the deep Scotland country." Dante smirked. "Adal was, without a doubt, a precarious being with great intellect to have planned so far ahead."

"I guess that's mainly the reason why I always kept out of harm's ways: his intellect always going through every damn scenario." I bit my lip.

Dante frowned deeply. "Don't start again with your overdramatic depression. You need to move on, Isadora."

I started getting out of my car and walking away. This conversation was getting old. Dante followed suit, walking behind me into the heart of the abandoned living room, where a fireplace warmed the chilly evening.

He sat at the wooden chair next to the make-shift table while I sat on the old gray loveseat. I grabbed a much-abused book from the sofa and skimmed through it haphazardly while Dante opened several envelops and analyzed them.

"Isadora, you know we are at a disadvantage in our current situation, do you?" Dante asked idly without looking up from his papers as he spread them across the table.

I grunted in acknowledgement as I too continued focused on the book.

"So you do realize we are in dire need of a researcher, am I correct?" He prompted.

I nodded. "I also know that both you and I would suck if we attempted to take that role."

"Adal and I had a plan to get out of the country if the situation became dire, but we never contemplated him missing, thus forcing me to think of an alternative." He explained.

I put my book down and stared straight at him. "And that would be?"

He cleared his throat as he placed papers down. "I have a contact, someone off of the agency who has gained my trust completely throughout the years. And luckily for us, his forte is anything involving technology such as hacking, researching, forging, you name it."

I cocked my eyebrow. "But there is obviously a catch to this, right?"

He grinned as he rolled his eyes. "Obviously,"

I sighed. I was getting tired of so many roadblocks on our path. But mostly I was getting sick of this cold weather that caused an ache in my bones.

Damn old injuries; stupid cold weather.

"Well, what is it?"

He cleared his throat. "How well do you speak Portuguese?"

I grimaced. "Not my best, but I have pretty good knowledge in Latin, so it can't be that difficult to grasp ones I practice it often. Why the question? Does the situation involve us to go to Portugal?"

He smiled. "On the contrary, actually,"

My scowl deepened. "Contrary? Stop blabbing and get to the point Dante, please."

He glared as he let a gush of air out, exasperated. "Have you ever been to Latin America?"

My eyes shot upwards as realization hit me and I finally understood what he meant. "Brazil, then," I whispered.

He nodded. "We need to leave immediately. Our escape route is through air from Ireland. British ground is not safe for us any longer."

I stood up and walked to where he sat and began analyzing all of his paper as they covered the table in its entirety.

There were mainly various escape routes from either London to Dublin, Dublin to Hong Kong, London to Scotland country, etcetera, all written in Adal's sloppy, yet logical handwriting.

There was notebook scrap of paper on the side with pencil writing, much more intricately written, that explained several scenarios such as a boat ride to Dublin from Scotland seashore and a plane ride from Dublin to Rio de Janeiro.

"What's the hurry?" I asked calmly. "I thought you liked natural landscapes. At least that's what you said when we first met."

He snorted. "Please, as if you were all honesty from the start, Miss Jazz Rowan."

I scoffed. "Excuse me, Destry, for trying to keep up an act. An act that, might I remind you, I shoved down your throat."

He grimaced at the mental image, shying away from my informal language. He shook his head. "I was actually unsure of whether you were acting or not, that's why I decided to keep you close.

"Later when I was sure that you were indeed from the agency, I decided to leave, primarily for your safety since the other agents they've sent after me were killed beforehand. But you and your lousy timing, arriving the precise moment I'm leaving,"

He sighed as he shook his head fervently. "I believe that if I had been faster, we could've avoided the death of Adal."

I glared at him, not blaming him, but thinking of what he'd said. And here I thought I was the only one feeling guilty.

"Actually, that was my fault." I grumbled as glanced at me. "I was the foolish one to act reckless in the middle of a confrontation. He died trying to protect me."

He winced. "Let's stop there and not think of it any further. The object of importance is to get out of here now."

I started gathering his papers neatly and placed them in a stalk as I pursed my lips. "Let's hurry, then. I need to get my car to safety."

He exhaled tiredly. "Woman, you are so materialistic."

"I thought you'd said Dublin." I complained as we boarded our plane.

I was once again Jazz Rowan, to my dismay and Dante was back to being Destry.

Dante blinked. "We couldn't waste any more time. Belfast was closer and had a better deal."

I scowled. "I'm sorry, I had no idea they would freeze all of my accounts. Trust me, I don't like to depend economically on you. I barely know you."

He shrugged as we both took our seats. He pushed me to the window seat as he took the one close to the hallway.

Eleven hours afterwards we arrived at the Galeão International Airport, finally.

By then my butt was sore from all the sitting around and I was driven almost insane from being on a plane for so long. My anxiety had soared to a level that I had never witnessed myself.

I think I pushed some people out of the way as we walked to the front entrance of the airport, our luggage on each of our hands.

I took a deep breath as Dante chuckled behind.

I glared daggers at him as he pulled out a cigarette and flicked his lighter to lit it. He graciously inhaled it.

He pulled the cigarette away from his lips and, as he looked upwards at the radiating sunlight, released the smoke.

"Well," he murmured. "You're the one who knows the language. Would you be so courteous as to ask for a cab, please?"

I grimaced. I had never said I spoke it, I said I'd understand it to a certain extent.

I shook my head and with a sigh I thought of how tired I truly am of working with jerks.

"This is it?" I asked in disbelief. "I always thought Rio was a glamorous city. Thanks for ruining my perspective of it."

Dante shook his head as we unloaded our baggage from the cab. We stood there, unsure of where to go. There was no more street for the cab to drive, our only choice was to walk, to my dismay.

"Where are we anyway?" I asked, dragging my luggage behind Dante as he approached an uneven cement staircase.

Dante smiled faintly as he looked up. "We are starting from the bottom of the food chain. This, my klutzy friend, is a favela: Rocinha."

I grimaced as we walked upwards in the infinite damn steps. Dante was gentleman enough to pick one of my suitcases as he led the way. He looked around carefully, carrying two suitcases over his left shoulder and dragging a third one as I tugged with one over the steps.

The conditions, to say in the least, were almost inhumane compared to the life I am used to.

For starters, the lack of transportation up this damned hill was driving me mad, not because I was lazy to not walk, but I felt to be in a hurry. Imagine people who live here and have to walk this same path over and over on their daily basis? What if they have an emergency? Or what if they are just tired and want to get home?

I shook my head. Since when did I worry about other people?

With a sigh, I dismissed the thought and continued inspecting my surroundings. The walls were dull, with no color what-so-ever but the grayish of untouched cement walls with scrapes and holes, even bullet holes. A few windows in some buildings were broken; others were just stained, with no shine.

Some walls had writings of different color schemes expressing the personas of the inhabitants of the favela. I preferred the graffiti rather than the dull walls. At least I could relate to the feeling of rebelliousness that had driven many into painting these walls.

After what seemed like a lifetime, Dante stopped in front of tattered blue wooden door that was right next to a wooden utility pole. The frightening part was that the fucking post was overly attached with electrical cables and two transformers.

I shook my head to ignore the small detail that if that shit were to explode, I would be royally fucked.

Dante knocked rhythmically at the door and we waited for a while.

At last a soft whisper was heard behind the door. "Who's this?" They asked.

Dante cleared his throat. "Arens," he said in a tone that allowed no argument.

There was another moment of silence and then the sound of multiple locks being unlocked.

The door opened to reveal a stoic face of a boy. He was a short man with tan skin, very skinny, compared to Dante's built. He analyzed us with his brown eyes very keenly and, I'm guessing, after his approval he led us down a small hallway and into a dark room.

I nudged Dante on his ribs.

He looked down upon me questioningly. I just cocked my eyebrow.

He shrugged back with a smirk at seeing my doubt. I gulped, not trusting Dante one bit, as much as I tried.

We came to a halt once inside the room and the boy started to walk away, out of the room.

"Thanks Rejinaldo," Dante said with a smile.

The boy stopped cold on his tracks and stared back at Dante, looking closely at him.

Dante sighed. "Maybe if I told you I was Noel you'd recognize me."

The boy's eyes almost popped out of his sockets as he sucked air through his teeth. "Sir Noel, I'm sorry, I did not recognize you!" he spoke with a strong accent.

Dante smiled softly. "Don't worry boy, now lead us out of your booby trap if you may, please."

The boy nodded rapidly. He grabbed me from my wrist and pulled me out of the room, back into the hallway and towards the backdoor of the house with Dante following suit.

I had no idea what the hell was going on until the boy stopped tugging me and I felt Dante stand to my right, his posture changing dramatically.

His stance reminded me of empowerment and brute force. His facial expression softened to a relaxed grin rather than his overbearing sight.

We stood in a slightly dark room, only lightened by a lamp on the far right corner and the light from the computer screen we faced. A man sat on an office chair right in front of the computer, giving his back to us.

Rejinaldo, who stood to my left, cleared his throat, announcing his presence.

"Yes Naldo," the man said monotonously. "Please guide them to the sofa."

Without further ado, we scurried to the crimson red sofa and sat patiently as Rejinaldo exited the room.

I nudged Dante again, to ask him what the heck was going on, but he simply placed his index finger over his lips, hushing me silently.

I scowled. How dare he?

But my thoughts were suddenly interrupted when the man on front of the screen spoke up.

"I see you have, once again, managed to place your foot on your mouth, huh, Dante?"

Dante gave a grunt, but kept a stoic expression.

"And I also see," the man continued, "That once again, you have recklessly shifted out of control your path. Isn't that right, Isadora?"

I couldn't help the gasp that escaped my lips. What the hell?

I grounded my teeth. "Just who the fuck are you?"

"I," he said slowly as he spun his chair to face us, smiling evilly. "Am the one who knows your life. Upside down, inside out."