Ransom (Dead Man's Ink Series Book 3)

BOOK: Ransom (Dead Man's Ink Series Book 3)
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Contents

copyright

PROLOGUE

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

SIXTEEN

SEVENTEEN

EIGHTEEN

NINETEEN

Callie's Newsletter

About The Author

TELL ME YOUR FAVORITE BITS

RANSOM

Callie Hart

Copyright © 2015 Callie Hart

Smashwords Edition

copyright © 2015 Callie Hart

All rights reserved.

 
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at
[email protected]

632212

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to peoples either living or deceased is purely coincidental. Names, places and characters are figments of the author’s imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously. The author recognises the trademarks and copyrights of all registered products and works mentioned within this work.
 

PROLOGUE

CADE

“Don’t even think about it. Don’t you dare even think about it, motherfucker.”

The weight of my rifle sits heavy in the crook of my shoulder. Both of my hands are on the brink of going numb. My skin feels damp and clammy from lying out in the tall grass for so long, but I can’t move. Nope. No way. Hector and his men disappeared five days ago and haven’t been seen since. Ever since then, Rebel’s had people watching the farmhouse, waiting for them to return, and it just so happens I’m on duty when the black sedans roll down the long, winding driveway toward the two story building. I wasn’t on watch when the bastards left, so I have no idea how many people departed or how many will be returning, but my math is pretty good. Three cars just rolled up, tires crunching on the gravel driveway, headlights spearing the darkness, casting long, narrow columns of light over the field I’m currently laid low in, over the two story building in front of me. Over the three-walled barn that crouches low to the right of the building.
Three
sedans. So potentially fifteen people all in. Can’t imagine Ramirez cramming three grown ass dudes into the back seats of his vehicles—that would be far too undignified—so realistically we’re looking at twelve men, maximum. I’m definitely outnumbered, regardless of how many passengers the cars carry.
 

I don’t worry about being seen. I spent years perfecting the art of camouflage in the military. I can just as easily make myself invisible here in the middle of bum fuck nowhere, New Mexico, as I can in a forest or a city. No, I won’t be seen.

Ramirez obviously has ideas about remaining invisible, as one by one the cars switch off their headlights, coasting the last fifty feet down toward the house with silenced engines and a cloak of darkness to conceal what’s going on inside the vehicles.
 

I mutter under my breath again, willing my eyes to adjust to darkness. “Sneaky fucker. You can’t hide from me.” I close one eye, shifting the rifle across an inch so I can switch from my left to my right while I get used to the shadows. When I open my left eye again, I can see pretty well. Well enough to make out the shapes of bodies moving in front of the house.
 

 
Ramirez knows we’ve been watching him. He has to. That’s the only reason he’d be taking such precautions. He hasn’t counted on the fact that I have better than average night vision, though. Or the fact that the huge DSLR camera I’ve brought with me is state of the art and can discern images in the dark without the need for a flash. I place the rifle in the grass next to me and power up the camera, holding it up so I can look through the lens. God, this thing’s fucking good. Three men go inside the house. Another figure climbs the stairs up to the porch and then turns, looking back over his shoulder. My itchy trigger finger comes in handy when I make out the man’s face. I react quickly, shooting off a picture of Hector Ramirez, and a large part of me is pissed at the fact that I switched over from the rifle to the Canon. It would have been a clean shot. I could have put a bullet between his eyes and no one would have noticed a thing until the bastard’s body hit the deck. I would have been long gone.
 

Ramirez disappears inside. My night’s work here is done now. I’ve laid hidden for long enough. I’ve seen the devil himself return back to Freemantle, and now I need to get my ass back to the compound to let Rebel know. Slowly I begin to pack up the camera. I work silently, not making a sound—don’t want to attract any attention to myself as I sneak back to the road where I hid my bike. That would be a big mistake. I nearly have everything secured when I hear the commotion up by the farmhouse. It sounds like feet kicking at dirt, scrambling, and the dull sound of someone’s shouts being cut off.
 

 
“He—HELP!”

 
I have the camera unpacked in a heartbeat. Another shout echoes across the fields, and a flock of birds explode from the tree line of the forest on the right. Tiny black silhouettes cartwheel across the sky, zigzagging this way and that.
 

 

Shut the fuck up, old man
,” someone hisses up by the house. I hold the camera up and look through the lens—takes me a second to figure out what I’m seeing. There are too many arms and legs in play. It looks like there’s a fight taking place, more than two people involved. I see a flash of white hair through the camera lens, and then the terrified face of a guy I don’t recognize. He’s being restrained in a headlock as three other men attempt to pin his arms to his sides.
 

 
God knows what the hell Ramirez’s men are doing with this guy, but it doesn’t look like the grey-haired man is a willing participant. “Let me down. The police are going—”

 
Looks like the police aren’t going to do anything. Ramirez’s flunky, the one who was holding the old man in the headlock, apparently grows tired of trying to choke him out and instead raises the butt of his gun, bringing it crashing down on the top of the guy’s head. I take a picture just before the gun magazine makes contact. The old man falls limp in the arms of Ramirez’s thugs, and they drag him into the building, up the stairs and across the huge porch way. From inside the building a light is turned on somewhere, sending a warm pool of yellow light spilling out into the inky blackness. I should leave. This situation could blow up very quickly. I could find myself in some serious shit. I don’t move, though.
 

There’s something so familiar about the old man. I’ve seen him before, I swear I have. Ramirez’s men drag him backwards up the porch steps and I see his face once more, this time in profile. A memory itches at the back of my mind, teasing me, almost rising to the forefront of my recollection before scattering and vanishing into smoke.
 


¡Apagar la luz!”
an angry voice commands. “What the fuck are you doing out there?” Ramirez himself appears in the doorway, expression twisted with fury. He slams his hand against the light switch on the wall and all is blackness again. I can still hear the man fighting as he’s half dragged, half carried inside the building, and I can still hear Ramirez’s men swearing as they try to subdue him. The sounds are cut off with the loud slamming of the heavy front door.

My ears buzz as silence falls over the field. A dull thudding noise comes from the house, just once, and then there’s nothing.
 

Who the fuck
was
that? I can’t think of a single reason why Ramirez would kidnap an old man and bring him way out here, but then again who knows what’s going on in the crazy fucker’s mind. The old guy could be a part of his operation somehow. He could have fucked up and done something bad enough to warrant a visit from the Los Oscuros cartel head himself. Seems unlikely—Hector would surely just send someone else to deal with such trivial things?—but it’s possible. Anything is possible when you’re dealing with a megalomaniac like Ramirez.
 

Rebel’s going to want to know about this immediately. I pack up the camera and the rifle, and I hunch down low, skirting the perimeter of the field as I head in the direction of my motorcycle. It takes five long minutes to negotiate the terrain back toward the road. The narrow dirt track bends back on itself about a hundred meters from the farm house, the remaining mile long stretch of unpaved driveway obscured from view by a tall bank of trees. I hop out from the undergrowth and jog quickly along the track, still keeping low, my mind racing. If Jamie thinks this guy is somehow an innocent party, he won’t rest until he’s made sure the guy is safe. If he even suspects for a second that the man being forcefully taken inside the farmhouse was an official like his uncle Ryan was, he’ll tear the place apart brick by brick looking for him. He still feels responsible for his uncle’s death. The past six months have done nothing to ease the burden of his guilt; it still troubles him every time someone mentions the name Hector Ramirez. Or Raphael Dela Vega for that matter, though Raphael won’t be causing us problems anymore. Not unless he digs himself up from the shallow grave he earned himself and starts telling tales, which is highly unlikely.
 

My bike is only a few hundred meters up ahead. In the distance, across the sweeping, open swathes of land that stretch between here and Freemantle, tiny lights flicker like lightning bugs, orange and white. I nearly jump out of my skin when a pair of lights much brighter and much closer suddenly flare up in the dark, directly in front of me.
 

“Fuck!” I duck down, swearing again under my breath, taking cover in the head high brush and bushes next to the road. My heart is hammering, racing away at an unstoppable pace. What the fuck? Another car? The headlights in the road were close—too close not to have noticed me headed toward them. The metallic clunking of a car door opening and then quickly closing reaches me where I’m hunkered down in the ditch beside the road. Footsteps on the dirt. The sound of a lighter being struck.
 

“Come out, come out, Mr. Preston. We’d like to have a chat with you,” a male voice says.
Mr. Preston
. So they know exactly who I am.
Fuck
. How many of them are there? I can’t see anything from my vantage point, so it’s impossible to assess how bad this situation really is. I’m guessing it’s really fucking bad. The footsteps grow closer, and I smell the faint burn of cigarette smoke on the air. “We just want to talk to you,” the voice says again; it’s thick with a Spanish accent, though the English is next to perfect. I’m guessing whoever this guy is, he was born in the states, but Spanish is his first language. “If you make us come looking for you, we might change our minds,” he says.
 

I’m hardly likely to hand myself over to them. That would be suicide; I’d put money on it. I stay very still in the brush, holding my breath, trying to calculate if I have time to rip the rifle from its bag and assemble it in time to shoot this motherfucker in the face.
 

“You’re being very foolish,” the voice advises me. “Mr. Ramirez is a reasonable man. Sitting down and having a conversation with him might actually be beneficial to you and your friends. You surely can see the wisdom in this?”
 

But I can’t. Ramirez is a psycho with zero morals. If I let this guy take me back to the farmhouse to ‘talk’, I can guarantee there won’t be any talking. There will only be torturing. Torturing and bleeding.
 

The sound of footsteps draws even closer. Jesus Christ. No, I definitely don’t have time to assemble the rifle. I’m such an idiot. I should never have taken it apart—or at least not until I was well clear of Ramirez’s land. I’m going to have to use my bare hands to get myself out of this. Good job I’ve been trained extensively in how to murder an opponent that way.
 

“All right. Have it your way,” Ramirez’s man says. “Don’t say I didn’t give you an alternative.”

The brush next to me explodes as a loud cracking sound fills the night air. He must have shot into the ditch by the side of the road, hoping to hit me. Anger bubbles in my veins—that’s such a shitty way to kill someone. Such a cowardly way to take care of business. There’s no honor in blindly shooting into the dark, hoping you hit your mark. You’re supposed to look a man in the eye when you kill him. You’re supposed to be present, so you can face him, own what you’re doing. Take responsibility for it. Take pleasure in it sometimes.
 

BOOK: Ransom (Dead Man's Ink Series Book 3)
4.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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