The BulletProof Ghost: In Spades Preview
These are excerpts from the next book in The BulletProof Ghost novel series. The book releases on August 19, 2017. There is a release event at Barnes and Noble on Green River Road in Evansville, Indiana. Enjoy!
Five years earlier
Dan Grimes was absolutely terrified. It was hard enough for him to breathe without this heavy bag over his head. The van he was in hit a big bump in the road. The man to his right grabbed his arm to keep him from falling out of his seat. As the van came to a gradual stop, Dan knew he was going to die tonight.
Dan felt his arm being jerked hard. He got to his feet and moved where the tugging directed him. Dan was forced to his knees. He could tell that they were near the waterfront just from the smell. Dan closed his eyes and tried to slow his breathing. Slow his heart. He needed to be able to think clearly if he was going to have a chance of getting out of this alive. As slim of a chance as that was.
The sack came off of Dan's head. His eyes started to adjust to the increased light. Lights were dancing off of the water in the distance. Dan could make out four men standing in front of him. Another was bound and on his knees to his right.
Dan heard a voice from his left, “Dan? Danny? They got you, too?” Dan turned his head to see Bryan Hutch, also on his knees. Dan immediately knew who to blame for this situation.
Dan angled his head forward again. Bryan was starting to panic. Dan couldn't lose it as well. He needed to keep as much control of the situation as possible. “Let me talk. Don't say anything.”
One of the men stepped forward. Dan recognized him. Anyone doing 'business' around Indianapolis knew this man. “Do you know who I am, Danny?”
Dan looked at the muscular, balding middle aged man. “You're Aldo Unicro.”
Aldo threw a sandwich bag full of clear crystals at Dan. The bag hit him in the face. His hands were zip-tied, so he couldn't block the bag of crystal meth as it smacked him. Aldo threw it pretty hard and it hurt, like getting slapped with fish-tank rocks. Dan made sure to keep a straight face through the pain. Aldo bent down to get in Dan's face. “My boy over here got this from you. He was going to keep all of the profit to himself.”
Dan looked over at the desperate man on his right. He was sweating bullets and nearly hyperventilating. Whereas Dan has only heard stories about crossing Aldo, this poor son of a bitch has seen his handy work in person. Dan needed to lie. The lie was more than likely going to kill this man he barely knew, “I did sell the glass to him. It was better quality that the shit you peddle.”
Bryan started to sweat even more than he had been. “Um…Dan? Could you not...”
Dan whipped his head in Bryan's direction. “Shut your fucking mouth, Bry.” Bryan did just that. Dan looked back over at Aldo. “Sorry. What was his name over there? Oh, yeah. Bobby?”
The man spoke up, “Bobby Drak, you mutherfucker!”
Dan kept talking to Aldo without acknowledging Bobby, “Anyway, Bobby said this was an official deal, with your permission. I didn't know he was cutting you out. You have my apologies for not doing the proper research.”
Bobby screamed, “You're a fucking liar! I told you that this was between you and me...” Bobby realized what he had said. Up until this point, he swore that he hadn't been cutting Unicro out. Bobby started to panic, “No, wait. I meant...”
Aldo pulled his 9 mil out of his holster. He pointed right at Bobby's forehead and pulled the trigger as his victim begged for his life. Bobby's brains and bits of his skull scattered all over the riverfront. Aldo rushed back over to Dan. He was practically spitting on Dan as he screamed, “I knew that man for six years! I drank with him. I did coke with him. I considered him a friend, but he fucked with my money.” He pointed at Bobby's body on the ground. “That is what happens when you fuck with my money.” He straightened out and adjusted his jacket. “Now, why shouldn't I do the same to you?”
Dan was caught off guard a little. Once Bobby was dead, he fully expected to be next. He closed his eyes to think, “Um...I..”
Aldo put the gun to Dan's nose, “You are boring me.”
Dan opened his eyes. “It's not just drugs.” He looked into Aldo's eyes. “You handle whores and the underground gambling. Dog fights, high stakes card games...”
Aldo thumbed the gun's hammer back to its original position. Bryan sighed a breath of relief. Dan knew they weren't out of the woods yet. Aldo swung the gun to a neutral position. “Okay, I'm listening.”
“I heard that if you had to give all of it up, except one thing, you would keep the gambling. Cards and dice are in your blood. You love the thrill of chance,” Dan smiled a little.
“How is this going to save you, Danny?” Aldo chided.
“You have a pack of cards on you,” Dan exclaimed.
“That was a statement, not a question,” Aldo smiled a little himself.
“I do my research,” the sweating Dan said.
Aldo pulled a deck from his jacket, “That you do. So you want to play a game?”
Dan nodded. “I would like very much for you to grace me with a game.”
Aldo started pacing around. “What to play? I'm not going to deal you a hand.”
“A guessing game,” Bryan squeaked out.
Dan smiled at his friend, “Yes, what Bry said, a guessing game. Your choice of what to guess.”
Aldo shuffled his cards, one over the other. “I could be a huge dick and make you guess the number and suit. That's no fun though. One in fifty two chance and you'll lose. I could ask you to guess the number or face, but again the odds are grotesquely against you. One in thirteen, not counting jokers, no jokers in my decks.” Aldo bent down to look Dan in the eye. “The suit. One in four. You're still at a disadvantage, but you have a fighting chance. Those are the games I love. I'll pull out a card.” Aldo did just that and kept the patterned side toward Dan. “And you tell me the suit.”
Dan held his breath. His life was either going to end right here, right now or he would live. Dan exhaled one word, “Spades.”
Aldo flipped the card around to show Dan a five of spades. “Good guess,” he motioned for his guys to let them go. “Now get the fuck out of my city.”
"Kyle?!" Irene was shaking Kyle's shoulder.
Kyle grabbed her hand. "Stop, you're making me sick."
"You don't have a stomach." Irene couldn't see Kyle, she was reaching into his masking field. Kyle didn't want to take the chance that someone would see him sitting in the Sentra's passenger seat. Irene kept her eyes on the road. "You weren't answering me. Did you hear anything I said?"
Kyle shook his head even though Irene couldn't see it. "You had the radio up. I was doing something on the internet."
"Like the internet-internet?" Irene asked. "Were you using cell phone telepathy?" she laughed a little.
"My brain-node network has a lot of uses," Kyle explained.
"What were you doing?"
Kyle saw they were approaching Johnson City's limits. "Nothing important...just a group thing."
Irene looked over. "Was it a therapy group?" There was an awkward silence. "Kyle...you can talk to me. I'm glad you're talking to someone."
Kyle touched Irene's hand, part of it went invisible. "We are talking. These people are dealing with similar situations to mine. You haven't done anything horrible, so as much as you're helping me, this helps me in a different way."
"You couldn't help killing Nick and the others. You almost died stopping yourself from killing me. None of it is your fault," Irene said sternly, but with concern in her voice.
"I still remember all of it. It's hard pushing it out of my mind." Kyle closed his eyes only to see Nick's dismembered body falling to the ground in a bloody gushing pile. "This helps. I promise to do it on my own time."
Irene smiled slightly as they were driving through Johnson City. "Do what you need to; just keep me in the loop."
"You're always in my loop. Wait...let me rephrase that," Kyle joked.
"Too late, I'm in your loop. Didn't think we were that close," Irene chuckled. Irene stopped at the light. "I hope my dad and Four are okay."
"They're not even near Vegas yet, so I think they're fine," Kyle smirked. "Four can control his motor functions with pinpoint precision. He throws some dice and we can get the funds to create our base of operations."
"You're sure you two can forge records to keep interested parties from tracing you?" Irene asked. "It's not like this is a tiny bit of cash you'll be throwing around."
"Four and I can manipulate computer code with no problem. He thinks making a shell internet business could take care of..." Kyle stopped talking.
Irene looked confused. She looked over to her passenger seat. "Kyle? What's wrong? Are you still here?"
"Your door didn't open, I can't phase through your car," Kyle answered. "Pull over somewhere. There's an alley up here. Pull into it."
Irene did just that. "Why am I pulling into an alley? I um...not sure what to think about this. I mean you haven't even bought me dinner," Irene started joking. "Besides you have all of that armor..."
"Stop." Kyle didn't mean to be mean, but he didn't have time to crack jokes about what people generally do in dark alleys. "Sorry, I need you to stay here. There's something going down on police scanner frequencies." Irene's door opened by itself.
"Police frequencies? Oh, no. Where are you going? Hey!" Kyle was gone, though he could still hear her. He didn't have time to alleviate her understandable confusion.
Irene pulled out her phone. She started to click around on TweetBook. She answered a few comments on her feed. Clicked on some links. Then it started. Her main feed blew up with stories. Irene updated her page over and over again. There was nothing other than this one single story. Over and over.
"Oh shit!" Irene said as her door opened on its own. It had been less than fifteen minutes. Irene looked over to her invisible passenger. "Kyle, what is this? What did you do? The internet is blowing up with stories about... about..."
"Me," Kyle looked around. "You need to move. The police are going to start sweeping this area soon. This looks a bit conspicuous."
Irene obeyed and drove into traffic. She looked panicked. "You and Four were supposed to be keeping a low profile. You were..."
"Irene," Kyle looked at his friend. She couldn't see him, but she knew he was staring into her eyes as they hit the next stop light. "People were going to die. I stopped it. I had to help them. I needed to." Kyle looked forward as she started accelerating. "It's done."
Irene pulled into the parking lot of the bulk store her dad shopped at. She sighed as she slid the lever into park. She slid the lock screen off of her phone and flipped through more stories. "There are videos? There are videos, Kyle." Kyle could hear the disapproval in her voice. She pressed play on one. "Wow, you're pretty awesome in this, I mean, couldn't you hack their phones with your internetelapathy?"
"Is that what we’re calling it?" Kyle shook his head. "I did for like two of the phones. A lot of them were live streaming and saving at the same time. Plus, I was a little distracted."
"I can see that." Irene put her phone back into her pocket. "Four's going to be pissed."