Christy Reece
 
Friday, September 9, 2016

Excerpt of Running Wild


Chapter One

The bar was both sleazy and filthy. Smoke swirled through the big room like an industrialized bug fogger belching out its last toxic dregs. From the sticky fake wood floor that hadn’t seen soap and water in decades to the light fixtures with grimy coats of dirt and dead bugs, the ambiance of Claudio’s Cantina bellowed ‘Enter at your own risk’.
Aidan Thorne figured it’d take at least a half dozen showers before the stink left him.
Slouched in the corner, his back to the wall, he gave the appearance of being half wasted and all the way bored. He was neither. His informant was fifteen minutes late. Punctuality had never been a priority for Manuel Diaz. Aidan had no illusions about the man. Though less corrupt than most in his business, if Diaz got a better offer, he’d sell out without a thought. Which was why Aidan was only going to give the vermin five more minutes to show. The back of his neck was getting that twitchy feeling which usually meant trouble was brewing. Ignoring that twitch had once gotten him shot. He hadn’t ignored it since.
He shifted in his chair, noting and appreciating the lack of pain. Three months ago, he’d been laid up with a broken leg. Weeks of doing almost nothing but waiting for it to heal had made him antsy and out of sorts. The minute he’d returned to full LCR duty, he’d jumped into the action as if all hell’s demons were on his ass. Too much time to think and remember. Too much time to regret. Nothing like staying on the edge of danger to help focus a man’s thoughts.
In fact, he’d been so focused, that when he’d gotten the call from Diaz, he’d almost delayed the meet. After all this time with no viable intel, what was the point of rushing just to find out there was nothing new? After that thought, the inevitable guilt had followed. How dare he not follow up? Had he not made a promise? Had he not sworn that he would follow every lead, no matter how minuscule or far-fetched until he found the murdering bastard?
So, despite the fact that Diaz was about as reliable as a politician and most likely had nothing new to tell him, Aidan had taken the bait.
His family thought he was certifiable. Not that they’d come right out and say it. His mother and father, ever supportive, just gave him that sympathetic, helpless look that basically said ‘We’re here for you but we’re completely lost on why you’re not living up to your potential’.
His sister was a little more blunt. Last time he’d talked to her, they’d had a shouting match. She thought he was wasting his life and didn’t mind saying so. He thought she was a nosy, opinionated, buttinski that needed to stay out of his business. A day later, he had sent her flowers to apologize. She had sent him a bottle of his favorite wine. Both of them knew, all was forgiven.
To his family, it probably did look as though he was wasting his life. Or at least not living up to his potential. They had a vague idea of what his job with LCR entailed but he did his best to shield them from the more hair-raising details. Rescuing kidnapped victims from the most dangerous places in the world was a far cry from the safe, secure world he’d left behind.
But that world stopped being safe and secure a decade ago. His family could stay in denial as long as they wanted. Aidan knew the truth. The monster was still out there. Watching. Waiting. Looking for his next chance to strike. Too many had paid the price for Aidan’s carelessness. He would never let his guard down ever again.
Without moving a muscle, every inch of Aidan’s body went on high alert. His eyes searched the reason for his unease. Detected nothing. Still, the hair on the back of his neck was screaming a warning. What the hell was going down?
“Let me go, you big gorilla! I don’t want to go in here.”
What the hell?
A woman was shoved into the middle of the room. All eyes were on her and almost every damn one of them had the salacious look of a predator about to pounce. This was not going to be pretty.
The room was too smoky to tell much about her but that wouldn’t matter to a bunch of drunk, horny, soulless men. Fresh meat had arrived in their vicinity, requiring no effort to obtain. The woman was in a boatload of trouble.
With a casualness in direct contrast to the circumstances, Aidan stood and eased himself over to the bar. Calling attention to his movements wouldn’t be good for either him or the woman. He was her best chance to get out of here unscathed. If he was taken down, she was toast.
There were five men at the bar. Another eight were at various tables. Four men had been playing pool. Two had been throwing darts. Of course all activity had ceased. No one was doing anything now but staring at the woman and salivating.
Already trying to figure out which man he could pit against the other, Aidan leaned against the barstool and pretended to eye the woman just like everyone else. Acting as if he wasn’t interested would call attention to himself, but in truth, he didn’t bother to look at her. All other eyes were on their single target. Aidan’s attention was on the safest way to get this woman out the door.
The music on the ancient jukebox ended. Since no one had bothered to pay for another song, silence filled the room.
“Look,” the woman stated in a firm, no-nonsense way, “I’m just looking for my friend. If you’ve not seen her, that’s fine. But I’m not going to stand here anymore. I’m leaving.”
Aidan’s involuntary gasp took in a giant gulp of smoky air and he almost choked on the fumes. Probably would have if he weren’t in shock. His eyes finally settled on the woman and even though his mind screamed a denial, he couldn’t avoid the truth. Holy, holy hell. That was no girl, no mere woman. And definitely no stranger. That was the one, the only, Anna Bradford.
What was she doing here? Most importantly, how was he going to get her out alive?


4 Comments:
Blogger Lisa Reigel said...

I'm going to be up all night reading this aren't I?

September 9, 2016 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Christy Reece said...

LOL I hope so!

September 9, 2016 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Alima Kanumilli said...

Oh my!!!! Release it already Christy!!!!!!!! :)

September 9, 2016 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Christy Reece said...

Won't be long now, Ailma! :)

September 10, 2016 at 8:01 AM  

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