The Reality Behind the Fiction. What were the bikers really after?
The Importance of Setting. Location, location, location
Sea of Destiny – Part 10. Kyle has been talking to his travel agent. He told her to find a family friendly cruise for his family and Carmelita, their housekeeper. Angie, the travel agent, calls him with details. They are going to Mexico. She suggests he may find love again, but teases that the name of the boat is not the Love Boat. Curious, Kyle decides to see what the name of the boat really is.
Several people have asked if I intend to write a sequel to The Ninja Tattoo. When I wrote it, I intended for it to be a stand alone book. Then someone demanded a sequel. So, I got to thinking about where Teague would go next. What would he do? How would he best put his talents to use? I came up with this idea and started writing on it today — 1/ 6/ 13.
I don’t know if it’s a novel, but it’s sure going to be a short story or possibly a novella. We’ll see! Here’s a taste.
Late summer sunshine streaked through the drapes over his bedroom windows. A white hot beam lanced his eyes, making him tear up and flinch away.
“No more tequila,” he groaned, rolling away from the assault on his retinas.
A soft, warm body next to him grunted slightly and one hand rose to shove him away. Teague laughed, kissing the blankets over her head, before getting up. He closed the blinds all the way and went to the bathroom. The bedroom clock told him he’d slept far longer than he intended.
“Time is it?” the muffled female voice grumbled.
“No, baby. Afternoon.”
“Shit!” A tousled brunette head emerged suddenly from under the blankets. “Shit, shit, shit! I have an appointment with the caterer!”
“That’s tomorrow, babe. It’s Sunday.”
Groaning, Vivica flopped on the bed, holding her head with both hands. “I hate sunlight. I hate Jose Cuervo….” She pulled a pillow over her face.
“You hate me too?” Teague crawled on the bed, straddling her.
Vivica put the pillow aside. “You’re the only thing I don’t hate.”
“Good, cause I’d sure hate for you to hate me.” He took her hands, stretching them above her head as he kissed her.
“Someone woke up happy,” she giggled.
“Nope, woke up with a hell of a headache, but you woke up – so now I’m happy.” He kissed her again, letting his lips drift to her shoulder.
“I can tell,” Vivica remarked as his lean, hard muscled body covered hers. “I need to pee.” She shoved at his chest, rolling from beneath him.
“Go pee and come back naked,” he said as he let her up.
Vivica winked provocatively at him before going in the bathroom. Teague divested himself of his pajama pants and threw back the covers. He was primed and ready when Vivica returned. She wore his old Army T-shirt and boy cut panties. He had those off her before she’d fully settled on the bed.
“Someone’s hungry,” she remarked as he stroke her breasts with both hands.
“I’m always hungry when you’re around.”
It was obvious Teague didn’t want to talk at the moment. Truth be told, neither did Vivica. The months they’d been together had been the best of her life.
Teague was a good man, thoughtful and kind. He was handsome and well built and knew what he was doing in bed. Considering the men she’d had in her life up until she met him, she counted herself lucky in every way possible.
His cellphone rang. Groaning, Teague reached for it. He knew who it was before he answered. He had a special ringtone for that particular caller. Trouble was, he knew she’d call back until he picked up. Better to get it over with.
“Don’t you even say hello?”
“Not when it’s you. What do you need?” He flopped on his back, excitement replaced by anger.
“This is important, Sergeant.”
“I gave that rank back, ma’am.”
“Don’t be obtuse, McMurtry. I need your help.”
“I’m a civilian now, Lieutenant. If you’ll excuse me, I’m in the middle of something.” He moved to hang up.
“Teague, wait! Please.” Her voice broke.
His hand hovered over the off button. Sighing, he put the phone back to his ear. “I can’t do this again, Rachel. Last time we talked wasn’t pretty.”
“Last time we talked, you walked out on me. This isn’t about me. It’s about Nadeya.” Her best friend.
Teague pulled the blanket over his naked body, holding the phone tightly in his left hand. Vivica lay down on her side, leaning on her elbow. She pulled the blankets to her chin, waiting. Teague rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger.
“You’re the only person I can trust with this, Teague. She’s gone missing.”
“Rach, that’s what the police are for.”
“No! No. The police won’t do anything. They said she’s an adult and she can do what she wants. Far be it for me to explain she’s not in her right mind. She’s a danger to herself. They seem to think a suicidal woman isn’t a big deal.” Her voice caught in her throat and she burst into tears.
Teague closed his eyes, knowing he was going to regret his next words. “What do you need from me, Rachel?”
“I need you to find her. Bring her home.”
“What makes you think I can find her. Wouldn’t the local police be better equipped?”
“But she’s not local! She’s in Florida to find the men – the ones….”
“The ones who assaulted her.”
“Yes.” She sobbed. “She was in therapy, making good progress. She was happy for the first time in years. Why would she leave like this?”
“Something triggered it. Any idea what?”
“No. None. I can’t get much from her shrink. I’m not her contact person. I want you to talk to her.”
“Why? If she won’t talk to you….”
“Because, she’ll talk to you. It’s Isobel,” she blurted.
“Just because I slept with the woman a few years ago doesn’t mean she’ll talk to me about Nadeya now, Rachel. If anything, she’s gonna be less inclined to talk to me.”
“Nadeya put you down as her emergency contact. I told her to use me, but she refused. Isobel will talk to you – for that reason, if nothing else.”
“I’m gonna regret this,” Teague said. “I know that before I start. How the hell am I gonna track down Nadeya or Isobel? I don’t even know where to start.”
“That’s where I come in.”
The smugness in her voice was like fingernails on slate. Teague shuddered.
“Both Isobel and Nadeya were in Florida as of yesterday. Isobel is at the Daytona VA and Nadeya has been seeing her for the past year.”
Exhaling slowly, Teague nodded. “Okay. I make no promises, but I’ll see what I can find out. Happy now?”
Rachel sobbed again. “I won’t be happy until Nadeya is home safely.”
“I hate you, Rachel.”
“I hate you more.”
“Good bye – and thank you.”
Teague hung up, dropping his Android on the bed. Vivica traced circles on his chest and abdomen, letting her fingers drift lower. Frowning, she bit her lip and lifted the covers.
“There must be something seriously wrong with you.” She licked and nipped his ear, letting her fingers do the walking.
There was still no reaction from Teague. Slapping his chest, Vivica sat up.
“Okay. What’s up, Sergeant? Cause that sure isn’t the way your little soldier behaves!”
Teague laughed, pulling her back down. “Sorry. Former Army buddy. Her best friend, another Army officer, has gone missing. Well, Nadeya quit about the same time I did. Her time there even tougher than mine. Her first tour, her CO forced her to have sex with him.”
“Gets worse. He and some of the other guys all took turns with her a couple other girls. They tried to get action, but it got brushed under the rug and hushed up. The CO has some powerful friends.”
“She was traumatized. How could no one listen to that?” Vivica screeched. She’d had some harsh treatment in her life, because of her older brother, Randy. Atrocities to women made her furious.
Worried she would take out the fury on him, Teague held her hands, gazing into her eyes. “I agree. I’d like to string the bastards up by their balls. But that won’t help find Nadeya.”
“Does she know who did it? Can she find them and bring them to justice?”
“She’s never been able to remember them all – at least not when I last saw her. She’d found one and they even managed to arrest him. He met with an accident in prison.”
“She had him killed?”
Teague became evasive. “Maybe.” He wouldn’t meet her gaze.
Vivica knew better than to ask anymore. He’d never tell her details, nor would he lie to her. Therefore, he’d stay quiet. It was one of the things she found most annoying, yet endearing, about him.
“So, what’s your first move?”
Teague looked at the clock before rolling toward her. “First, I make love to the most beautiful woman in the world. Then I see if I can figure out where Nadeya’s gone.”
We met Malcolm Brodie in Undercover Lover, which I actually wrote after I wrote this story. However, since Undercover Lover is chronologically before A Bride for Brodie, I shared it first.
Now, we look into the life of Brodie more deeply to find what makes him click. You will see a few familiar faces and meet some new ones. Enjoy!
Elevators are trouble. I’m not talking about their mechanics, like they’re going to fall down the shaft at some inopportune time – though that’s always a possibility. I’m mean waiting for them to get me where I’m going. I hate being surrounded by a lot of smelly people early in the morning on the way to work.
I really resent having to wait for an elevator. I can stand in the middle of the foyer with banks of elevators on either side, eight in all and still wait continuously for a ride up. I’ve gotten in the habit of mashing the buttons on all of them and sprinting for an open one the moment it arrives. This isn’t always the best approach, but it works better than standing in front of one and waiting, waiting, waiting …. Adds a bit of excitement, some spice, if you will, to the situation. A guy’s got to find some amusement somewhere in life, right?
Of course, with other people waiting in by the elevator, I usually have to dodge someone to get in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve collided with morons who don’t look where I’m going. Sheesh. You’d think a man my size would be noticeable, but no. I’m six foot five, broad shouldered, muscular, jacked – unless my mirror lies to me. Some would call me conceited, and maybe I am a little, but I work hard for this body. I think that gives me bragging rights.
Anyway, getting back to the elevators. Cell phone use in and around the elevators should be against the law. Not only do those people not pay attention when the doors open, they keep talking while they’re on the elevator. They block the panels, nine times out of ten, and you can’t get their attention to push a button. I sometimes reach around them and mash, I don’t care anymore. I have enough trouble getting to work on time, I don’t need some idiot with exhibitionist tendencies making me later than I already am.
Today was no different. It’s Monday, I’m slightly hungover and I’m pissed. All the elevators are on the top floor and nothing is coming down. It’s too crowded to play my waiting game, so I’m stuck standing by this Diva on a cell phone listening to her talk dirty to some guy on the other end. At least I’m assuming she’s talking dirty. It’s a language I don’t understand. It sounds sweet, sultry and nasty and makes me think how damn long it’s been since I got laid.
My last girlfriend dumped me for someone else. The most embarrassing thing to admit is that it wasn’t a guy she left me for but some hardcore, biker chick named DayZ. So much for Amanda and my sex life.
“Yo, Brodie!” My friend Stan waved to me from the third elevator which had just arrived. His dark head popped back from the opening as someone else walked in.
Going behind Phone Princess, I sprinted toward the elevator as he held it open for me. Seventeen other people were also trying to get onto the same elevator, but I beat them to it, shoving men and women aside like bowling pins. I could care less. I’m a man on a mission.
Just as the door closed, Phone Princess, still talking dirty, slipped into the elevator right in front of the buttons. We all started telling her the floors we wanted and she didn’t respond. Meanwhile, the elevator was going exactly nowhere.
The time has come for truth and confrontation. Who will win?
“You can come out now, Don!” Scarlet’s voice sounded like artificial sweetener in Fiddlestix’ ears.
Varin came back in from the garage, surrounded by his bodyguards. Deacon was behind him with Stumpy and Loki, their hands behind their heads.
“Well, Scarlet,” Don Varin didn’t sound very happy to see his wife. “So the wheel comes full circle.”
“Save it for someone who gives a shit, Don. I came back for what’s mine. Jesus, can’t you even die properly? I thought I got all the clones.”
Don Varin smiled gently, taking another step toward her, his hands in the pockets of his suit coat. ” This isn’t a clone. The doctors figured out how to cure me.”
Scarlet’s mouth twisted into and ugly, contorted caricature of a smile. “Really? What a pity.”
“You can’t get out. You’d be dead before you left.”
“You underestimate me, Don. But then you always have, sweetheart.” She smiled her saccharin coated smile again.
“So it wasn’t Don’s decision to build substandard housing?” Fiddlestix could see the story coming clear now.
“Don wouldn’t have had the balls to do that.”
Scarlet was too busy gloating, she didn’t notice the slight movement of Fiddlestix’ body as she turned to aim her wrist mounted gun. Praying the damper was disabled, she held her breath and concentrated on her wrist mount. Her long, full sleeves concealed the weapon as it slid silently out of her forearm. All she had to do was concentrate on her target, the weapon did the rest.
Scarlet didn’t make a sound as she fell. A look of surprise on her face, a gasp as the slug hit her chest and it was over. Scarlet’s body slumped in a heap.
Don Varin’s mouth dropped open and he gaped at the growing red stain on his shirt just below his heart. Scarlet’s weapon had found its mark even as she died. Fiddlestix watched him die with a blank expression.
Deacon and Loki, using the distraction, disarmed the bodyguards nearest them.
“Get Tully back to the boat,” Fiddlestix ordered. She turned to the bodyguards. “Call off your dogs. We have no argument with you. Cooperate, and everybody lives.”
“Attention,” one spoke into his headset. “Stand down.” He didn’t bother to explain. His men didn’t need it.
“Thanks,” Fiddlestix’ smile wasn’t as friendly, but it was full of appreciation. “We need to get our friend some medical attention.”
“He’ll be okay,” the bodyguard said. “I hit him with a tranquilizer slug. He’ll wake up with a hell of a buzz. Mr. Varin didn’t want nobody hurt but her,” he pointed at Scarlet.
Loki picked up Tully, slinging him casually over one broad shoulder. They walked quickly back to the boat.
“I’m confused,” Stumpy said grumpily. “Who really was the bad guy?”
“Both of them,” Fiddlestix replied absently. “Don was pulling shit over on her and the same time, Scarlet was working him.”
“So,” Stumpy continued. “What happened in there?”
“Justice,” Deacon said quietly.
Fiddlestix didn’t want to talk. Instead, she went on deck, glad to feel the wind and salt spray in her face. Deacon came over, standing beside her with his arm around her waist.
“I thought I’d lost you,” she whispered. “When I saw Tully go down, I panicked. Did Varin fall for our setup at all?”
“At first, yes, but then he took my prints off the arm of the chair, ran them through a very sophisticated search and blew my cover to hell.”
“Why didn’t he kill you?”
“He only wanted Scarlet.”
“I feel terrible that I got you into this mess.”
“But if you hadn’t, think what Varin would have done to the Harlichs. You did the best thing, Hannah.”
He put his arms around her, holding her close. For the first time in her life, Hannah Braun looked at the horizon and didn’t see an end, but a beginning. She cuddled next to Deacon and smiled.
It’s getting near the finish and things are about to get crazy! Can Fiddlestix protect her friends or is it all going to explode in her face?
“What kind of hardware do they have over there, Buzzard?” Fiddlestix went into command mode immediately.
Buzzard did a scan of the compound, whistling low and long. He pointed to a line of heavy artillery that lined the roof.
“Gear up,” Fiddlestix prepared to storm the compound. She donned a bullet proof vest as Scarlet entered the cabin.
“What are you planning?” It wasn’t so much a question as a
demand to know.
“Deacon’s safety is my responsibility.”
“If you go running in there with guns blazing, you’ll blow the whole deal.”
Fiddlestix checked her weapon and chambered a round. “I’m willing to risk it to keep Deacon safe.”
She and the others gathered around the monitor. It was a quiet standoff that could go down hard any second.
“Don, I’m sensing something’s changed around here. Mind filling me in?”
“Changed? Not at all.”
“Shall we get going? I’m anxious to see the property so we can get the ball rolling.”
Deacon started to rise, but the nearest bodyguard clamped a hand down on his shoulder, pushing him gently but firmly back into the chair.
“Not until you tell me what you really want, General Scott.”
Deacon frowned. “I beg your pardon? Did you call me Scott? Don, what the hell goes on?”
“Enough pretense! You’re not Preston Keith! Your name is Deacon Scott and you’re no more a business man than I am a hired gun.”
Loki tried to fire, only to find his cyber ware didn’t work. There must be a cyber-damper in effect. The bodyguard nearest Tully drew and fired at him before the skinny man had a chance to react. Tully fell, clutching his chest.
“NO!” Fiddlestix screamed as all hell broke loose. “We’re going in! Take out that damper!”
Buzzard and Blacksmith flanked her with Deacon’s men directly behind them. Scarlet brought up the rear, gun ready.
Heedless of resistance, Fiddlestix ran recklessly to the backdoor of Varin’s house. It was open, saving her the trouble of breaking it. Holding up her fist, she made the men halt outside. No one was in the room except Tully’s limp form.
“Where did they go?”
“To the garage,” someone told her from the boat. “Be careful. It could be a trap.”
“Ya think?” She wished she could talk to Deacon and the others.
“Get Tully out of here,” Fiddlestix told the medic.
“I don’t think so,” Scarlet said, her gun leveled at the young corpsman as he rose with Tully on his shoulders.
The kid froze, eyes riveted on her weapon that was leveled at his forehead. He set Tully down slowly, raising his hands.
Things are getting pretty tricky. The situation is escalating rapidly. It’s up to Deacon and Fiddlestix to contain it before someone gets killed.
Around 2:00 in the morning the perimeter alarm sounded. Search lights lit the compound, tacking back and forth slowly. There was a large armored vehicle at the gate.
“I’m not about to let that in,” Karl told them. “I want a team all over it like flies on shit.”
Dirk and his team tested the vehicle with everything they owned.
“Either the bugger’s not rigged or it’s so cleverly concealed we can’t see it,” Dirk told them after their search was complete.
“Leave it outside,” Karl told them. “It’s not an accident that it’s here.”
A feeling of disquietude was creeping up Fiddlestix’ spine making her shiver. “We’ve got to get it out of here!”
“What’s wrong?” Deacon was worried, he’d never seen her so afraid.
“It’s evil, Deacon! We have to get it out of here!”
“Should I tell Tully to blow it up?”
“NO! We have to take it away.”
They chained the Hummer to the rear of the car and towed it away from the compound. Loki took the car to the abandoned quarters of the Château Noir and ran like hell back to the Harlich compound. Hearing an ominous sound behind him, he turned and saw the woods alight with a sick blue glow.
Putting on a turn of speed, he ran as quickly as he could back to the Harlich compound. Thankful for two cyber legs, he leaped over the fence without waiting for them to open it. The light was visible above the trees.
Loki’s eyes were wide with horror. “What is that thing?”
“Sweet Jesus,” Tully gasped. “Where the bloody hell would he get one of them?”
“It’s a sanitizer!” Tully whispered, horror stricken.
“A what?” Loki was scared and that made him angry.
“It’s a bloody bomb, in’t it? That kills every living thing in its radius and then dissipates. Course the building’s left, a’ight? But the people are gone in a flash.” He snapped his fingers under Loki’s nose.
“We’re awfully goddam lucky you played that hunch, Hannah,” Karl said quietly.
“What do you think Varin will do now that he thinks we’re dead?” Blacksmith put into words what they were all thinking.
“I think he’ll be giving Preston a call in the morning,” Deacon said calmly. “Telling him that the owner’s reconsidered and taken him up on his latest offer.”
The call from Donnan Varin came around 9:30. Deacon did his best acting job ever, sounding pleased that Don had given him such good news. Fiddlestix could see the tightness at the corners of his mouth.
“That was by far the most difficult conversation I’ve ever had in my life,” he admitted sadly.
“It’ll be okay, Deacon. We’ll win this,” Fiddlestix assured him.
Fiddlestix and Deacon went upstairs dressing quickly and met the others on the boat. An aura of disquietude fell over them as they headed up the coast to Donnan Varin’s house. Varin didn’t come to the dock this time, but had sent a small contingent to greet them.
Varin met them at the door, inviting them in with an insincere smile. “Preston! Good of you to come by! Please, come in.”
“So, Don, did your deal go through as planned?”
“Couldn’t be better,” Varin told him with a grin. “The fellow who owns the land turned very cooperative when I upped the ante.” His smile didn’t reach his eyes.
Scarlet Varin gazed at the computer screen, watching Don. “He knows something,” she said flatly.
“You think Deacon’s cover is blown?” Fiddlestix was starting to worry.
“I think it’s very possible.”
Having set up a good persona, Deacon and the others decide to try to beat Donnan Varin at his own game. They set about conning the con artist.
“Your friends are welcome to have a seat,” Varin said with false good humor.
“Thank you, they don’t sit, Mr. Varin. I don’t think the boys’ knees bend.” He chuckled, smiling in his most disarming way. “Say, let’s stop all this formal stuff. I’d be proud if you’d call me Pres. May I call you Don?”
“Certainly!” Varin’s smile was forced and he kept looking at the three bodyguards. “May I offer you some refreshment? I’ve got a fine selection.”
“Thanks, no, Don. I’m not a drinking man.” He smiled as
Don was served a drink and leaned back in his uncomfortable chair.
“Mr. Keith,” Varin began.
Deacon held up a well manicured hand, his gold and diamond pinky ring glittering richly in the light. “Now, Don, we agreed. Call me Pres.”
“Pres,” Varin corrected himself with a forced smile. “When your people contacted me, they said you have a business proposal for me?”
Deacon’s five star smile flashed across the room nearly blinding in its sincerity. “I do indeed, Don. As my assistant told you, I’m looking to expand into the Florida real estate market.”
Don leaned back, crossing his legs and grasping his left knee in his interlocked hands. “As a matter of fact, I have a piece of property in mind that would be ideal….”
“I’d sure like to see it,” Deacon grinned, preparing to stand.
“Oh, it’s not quite ready for settlement yet, Preston.” Varin nearly jumped from his seat. “We’re still negotiating with the current owner.”
“I see.” Deacon frowned. “Don, I thought we were clicking here. Maybe I need to be talking to the land owner one on one, not going through you.”
He stood, preparing to leave. Varin leapt to his feet, face registering his alarm.
“Now, Preston, let’s not be hasty! As a matter of fact, the owner is seriously considering my offer. I expect to hear from him tomorrow.”
Allowing himself to be placated, Deacon sat again on the edge of his uncomfortable chair.
“Well, Don, that’s got a nice ring to it. I reckon I can wait another day before I go elsewhere.”
Deacon signaled that it was time to go. Don accompanied him to the dock and saw him off.
“Well,” Deacon said once the shore was out of sight. “Y’all heard. So what do you think?” He kicked off his shoes and loosened his tie.
“You were very convincing,” Scarlet said.
“He’s such a greedy bastard,” Deacon said angrily. “How could you marry a man like that, Scarlet?”
Scarlet’s eyes lost their gleeful glitter. “Don wasn’t always so bad,” she told him. “He changed after awhile.”
“Money and power change a man,” Deacon said undoing his
jacket and slipping it off. He shook his head sadly. “Kind of have to pity a man living like that.”He lay down, putting his head in Fiddlestix’ lap.
“Don’t make the mistake of pitying Donnan Varin.” Scarlet said scathingly. “He’s made a fortune off other people’s misfortune and he’ll keep doing it.”
“What would you do with the company, Scarlet?” Fiddlestix was playing with Deacon’s hair.
Scarlet’s expression changed from anger to nostalgic. “I want to complete what Don started, making affordable housing for the poor. That was our noble purpose. It sounds foolish now, like naive children.”
“No,” Deacon answered sleepily. “It sounds like you had a dream in common. Kinda sad to see a dream die.” His voice got soft as he drifted to sleep.
Fiddlestix heard Scarlet sniffle and looked up at the other woman with concern. “You okay?”
Scarlet nodded, then shook her head adamantly. “I don’t know. Part of me hates his guts and the other part still loves him so much it hurts!”
“I understand, Scarlet. Except for Deacon, every man I’ve ever loved has made me feel that way.”
“I don’t want to kill Don, I just want him to be himself again.” She wept uncontrollably.
Fiddlestix rose carefully, putting Deacon’s head on a cushion. She went over and sat by Scarlet, hugging her tightly, she let her cry.
“Love sucks,” Scarlet sniffled.
Fiddlestix glanced over at Deacon’s profile, so handsome and peaceful. “Just when you love the wrong person. When it’s right, there’s nothing better.”
They sailed to the Harlich compound quickly. Deacon woke shortly before they docked. He and Fiddlestix went immediately to Karl’s office.
After another conference to discuss what had transpired at Varin’s they ate a quiet supper and went to bed early.