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Authors: Andrea Speed

Infected: Freefall

BOOK: Infected: Freefall
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Praise for Andrea Speed’s

Infected

 

Prey

 

“When I picked up Andrea Speed’s Infected, I definitely did not expect to completely fall in love with the writing, the characters, and the plot.”

—Blackraven’s Reviews

 

“…a masterful job…”

—Dark Divas Reviews

 

 “If you are looking for a fascinating mystery suspense story with shape-shifters that actually shift, pick up a copy of
Infected: Prey
.”

—Literary Nymphs

 

 

Bloodlines

 

“The deep emotion and love that Paris and Roan have for each other comes through from some very vibrant, strong, and powerful story telling.”

—Whipped Cream Erotic Romance Reviews

 

 

Life After Death

 

“This is a book that a reader should not read fast. Instead, sip it like a fine wine and draw it out to savor the experience for the full effect.”

  —Whipped Cream Erotic Romance Reviews

 

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

Copyright

Published by

Dreamspinner Press

4760 Preston Road

Suite 244-149

Frisco, TX 75034

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Infected: Freefall

Copyright © 2010 by Andrea Speed

 

Cover Art by Anne Cain    [email protected]

Cover Design by Mara McKennen

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 4760 Preston Road, Suite 244-149, Frisco, TX 75034

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/

 

ISBN: 978-1-61372-249-7

 

Printed in the United States of America

First Edition

November, 2011

 

eBook edition available

eBook ISBN: 978-1-61372-250-3

Dedication

 

 

 

 

Thanks to my mother, Charlie and Derek, the CXPulp crew, Ruth, Rachel, and everyone at Dreamspinner. I think I’ll thank Terry, Brandon, and James, too, just to blow their minds.

 

But this is really for my loyal readers. Thank you so much.

Book One

 

Freefall

 

 

1

What Would Wolves Do

 

T
HE
loneliest time in the world was 2:45 a.m.

It was long enough after the bars closed that everyone who had a place to go (or thought they did) and was physically able to leave was gone, so all that was left were the chronically homeless or the blind drunk, who had a tendency to drift into shadows or cars or parks, effectively disappearing. You could wander entire blocks and feel like the last man on earth.

Then you entered a convenience store, the last glowing beacon of humanity, and the feeling fled under florescent lights highlighting aisles and aisles of unnaturally colored snack food. It made you
want
to be the last man on earth.

Maybe it was that, or it was his latest case, which was just one fucking depressing surprise after another. He nodded at the Pakistani clerk, a sad-eyed man slumped at the counter, idly watching a portable TV that sounded like it was tuned to a
Law and Order
repeat (sure, why not? They could play that fucking show twenty-four hours a day for a month and never run out of different episodes), and then went to the back, where the cooler cases were. Roan had already decided this case was over, prematurely ended due to unexpected weirdness.

He had been hired by his client, one Holly Faraday, to tail her husband, Dallas Faraday. Over the past couple of months, Dallas had been working later and later, and she’d discovered, by finding a bill he’d thrown away, that he had maxed out his personal credit card—the one with the hundred-thousand-dollar limit. She confronted him about it, and he made up some phony story about outstanding student loans and a bad bet, but it made no sense to her. Then he drained their bank account, seemed to always have an excuse not to sleep with her, and one of her favorite coats—some ludicrously expensive Prada thing—disappeared. She figured he was having an affair (in spite of his denials), and that maybe he was being blackmailed, which would explain why his money was being spent so freely and mysteriously.

Roan doubted it was blackmail, as shows and mystery fiction had overstated its use. Dallas was in the higher echelon of the middle class—he was an upper management drone at Columbia Mutual—but he was hardly someone worthy of blackmail, unless it was a family member extorting him for money (when blackmail was involved, it was never complete strangers who had lucked into dirty secrets). So he’d started following him. Of course he wasn’t working late like he’d told her. Roan discovered he’d actually been fired from his job at the beginning of the week—and uncovered Dallas’s secret life.

First of all, he had herpes. Roan caught him buying Valtrex, and he also caught him taking some in the front seat of his Lexus, washing it down with his latte. He didn’t take pictures of that, although it did explain his lack of sexual interest in his wife. Why wouldn’t he tell his wife about it, though? He might have exposed her to it already; she might already have it. It wasn’t fair to keep that information from her.

Dallas drove around for a bit, withdrawing money from two different ATMs, which was suspicious. Roan began to wonder if he was a sex addict, “addicted” to prostitutes (which would explain the venereal disease). He then drove down toward a formerly seedy but now gentrifying part of the city and visited a woman who lived in a ground-floor apartment. He got telephoto pictures of a not-so-subtle cocaine deal—he was buying himself some nose candy from a frizzy-haired blonde woman who looked like the perfect stereotype of a soccer mom, save for that tattoo (he wasn’t sure what it was but guessed it was probably a cactus). His new camera had such high resolution that he was able to see it was purely powdered stuff, not crack or crystal. Very old school. The woman didn’t look like Tony Montana. Her place wasn’t that posh, either. A very small-time dealer.

Dallas ended the night at a kegger taking place at an off-campus house outside the local college, where there was no way in hell he was invited (he was about fifteen years older than everyone else) but they were all too drunk to give a crap about the skeevy cokehead cruising the coeds. He abandoned his stakeout there, as there was no way to watch for long without being noticed.

But that explained the money and possibly the herpes. Dallas had a major drug habit. How he’d suddenly found nose candy about ten years after it became antiquated Roan had no idea, but it was still an addictive motherfucker. But none of this was part of the moral quandary that had haunted him the rest of the night. Should he turn the photos over to the cops?

If she had been a small-time pot dealer, it wouldn’t have even occurred to him. Hypocritical, but there it was. Most potheads were harmless, simply because doing harm would have meant getting off the couch. And dealers who did their business in dime bags were generally rank amateurs, usually high school or college kids, no one very hardcore. But once you vaulted into the harder stuff—be it the crack dealers or the pot-growing operations that took up an acre or two—things got exponentially more dangerous, mainly because the amount of money involved also increased. Money was the key. Not too many people got worked up over twenty dollars worth of pot. But make that twenty-five-thousand dollars worth of pot (or whatever), and yeah, people cared very much. That’s when guns and violence entered the equation.

Potheads generally didn’t do anything but act stupid and eat Twinkies. Cokeheads could go fucking nuts. Staying up twenty hours in a row and eating nothing but coke could do that to anyone. Amphetamines made you feel invincible and stupid enough to believe it. A small-time coke dealer still might be trouble.

At what point in his life had he decided he didn’t want to seem like a narc? It was too late—he’d already been a cop once. That stained you as a “narc” for life. He eyed all the sodas through the glass doors of the cold case and decided he wanted something else. He just didn’t know what. He was tired and thirsty and hungry, and it was a long drive home. He’d told Dylan he was on stakeout duty, but he may have showed up after work anyways, as he had his own key to Roan’s place. Sometimes Dylan made him dinner, and even though they were vegetarian things, they were usually pretty good. Dylan’s job made him a night owl by default, so at least they had that in common.

He’d know if Dylan was addicted to coke. Roan himself had to be really careful about when and how many pain pills he took, as Dylan was suspicious enough about his relationship with pills anyways. And they didn’t even live together. So how did Dallas get away with being a cokehead and Holly never suspecting a thing? That didn’t make sense. He’d be nervous and shaky, probably more high-strung than he was before, possibly losing weight or at least his appetite. And that’s not to mention the other side effects that could result, such as spontaneous nosebleeds. She’d noticed the changes in money and some behavior, but not all? Why not? Oh sure, some people seemed to miss a lot, but Holly had struck him as sharper than that. Perhaps he was wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.

He’d just decided on a bottled green tea when he heard the chime of the door’s bells, followed shortly after by a rough male voice shouting, “Empty the fucking cash register, now!”

Roan turned, and had to take a couple of steps back to the end of the candy aisle to see what was going on. A guy with a nine millimeter, black hoodie-wearer with the hood pulled tight around his face, so agitated that he seemed to be rocking back and forth even as he stood still. Speak of the devil—it was probably a methhead. They could become a serious case of twitches, tics, and shivers. Coke was bad enough, but meth was hell, a quick trip to the grave. He heard the high was spectacular, and it must have been for people to deteriorate so fast.

Roan had actually decided to let the robbery go, as it was too dangerous to the clerk to go after him here and now. He could follow him outside and confront him there. He knew the streets were fairly deserted, and the chance of collateral damage was almost zero. But the guy thought the clerk wasn’t moving fast enough and smashed him in the head with the gun. “Don’t fuckin’ try anythin’ with me, towelhead!” the guy snapped, reaching over the counter.

“Stupid shit,” Roan muttered under his breath. This could have gone smoothly. No one could have been hurt. But he decided to be even more of a fuckhead than he already was. Roan knew if he started running, the guy would hear him and turn, so he had to buy some time. He stepped into the candy aisle and tossed the bottle of tea.

It was a dead shot. It hit him square on the back of the skull, and even though the glass bottle didn’t break, Roan heard the terrible thunk of impact, and the guy pitched forward across the counter, although he didn’t drop the gun. “Fuck!” he roared. The bottle shattered when it hit the floor.

BOOK: Infected: Freefall
9.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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