Author: A.W. Lambert
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1
Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
After six years behind bars Chet Bennett is once again a free man. But it doesn't end here. Chet has to find and deal with the people who set him up as the fall guy. Festering for six long years, it has become a bitter obsession; he has to find them and mete out his own justice before he can move on. But six years is a long time and the forty million, still missing from the heist, could have taken the perpetrators a very long way. They could be anywhere in the world. No matter, Chet is prepared to sacrifice everything to find them and he has good reason: all the evidence points to the culprits being his lifelong friends and, worse, his only brother.
Earlier, when I'd arrived, I had parked the car under a street lamp, the theory being should anyone decide to have a go at it they'd be less likely to do so when illuminated under street lamp. Now, though, as I approached I felt my heart rate increase a touch because somehow the street light didn't seem to be bothering the two men lounging nonchalantly against the side of the Nissan.
I stopped, giving myself maybe ten feet between myself and the men, but said nothing. The larger of the two dropped a cigarette he'd been smoking to the pavement and straightened, facing me. The second man, smaller and rangy, followed suit. Couldn't help noticing this guy kept one hand in his pocket.
"Nice car," the big man said.
I glanced at the car and back to him. "It's a heap of shit," I said. "But if you want it, take it." I held out the keys already in my hand. Somehow something told me the last thing they wanted was the car, but right now I had other things on my mind. I could do without any aggravation. It was worth a try.
The big man glanced briefly back at the car and shook his head. "Nah, I don't think so. What d'you think, Wally?"
His little mate gave a snicker. "I agree with; 'im; it's 'eap of shit."
Okay, now I knew, this wasn't going to be easy. The two to one situation didn't bother me over much. I'd been there before, learned the hard way, in the nick, only a couple of weeks into my stay at Her Majesty's pleasure. I was young, good looking and had a great body. The gay faction homed in on me in no time flat. I made it clear from the start where they should go but they hadn't appreciated the rebuff and sent a couple of hardnosed characters to persuade me otherwise. It was in the shower and I knew instantly it was one of those times when the outcome of an event would dictate proceedings for some time to come; in my case probably for the rest of my sentence. What made it worse was one had a shank; a makeshift knife made from no more than a sharpened toothbrush handle, not actually a knife, but equally as lethal. Instinct told me to back off would be disastrous so I chose the man with the shank first. He got me once; in the arm, but the damage was minor. It was the only damage either of them did. And I never stopped until one was unconscious on the shower room floor and the other had retreated pumping blood; the face does not take kindly to being rammed very hard against a tiled surface. I was never bothered again. So, no, two to one was not a problem. The hand held in the pocket was, though. Was it a knife or could it be a gun? Still I didn't want trouble if I could avoid it. I tried again. "If you think I'm loaded, just look at the car."
Big man shook his head again. "Nah we don't want your heap or your cash. I'm just here to give you a message."
"And who's this message from?"
I stood my ground, prepared, something telling me the message wasn't going to be all verbal. "Okay, so why don't you give me your friend's message and we'll say our goodbyes. It's late and I've got a home to go to."
He came in fast, real quick for a big guy. I was prepared; at least I thought I was. I stepped back and away from his right hand. Makes sense; most people are right handed so stepping away usually results in the first swing missing completely or at least resulting in just a glancing blow. Would have worked, too. If he'd been right handed. The short left jab I stepped into caught me full on the side of the head. I staggered back in a haze of flashing lights and stinging pain. Instinctively I swung wildly, but I was off balance and although I connected with something and heard a grunt, it was as good as it got. He'd obviously moved to one side because the next shot came low straight into my kidneys. Pain lanced through the whole of my lower half and the breath whooshed out of me. I buckled forward making the perfect target for a roundhouse on the back of my neck. As I went down, scrabbling on all fours, I thought this was not how it had happened in the shower room. I tried to lift myself, but he was on me in a flash, forcing me face down against the pavement. For a second time the breath was knocked from me and I knew I'd lost this one. Curling his arm around my throat he yanked my head back and I felt his face come close to my ear, smelled his nicotine soaked breath.
"Now, my friend wants me to remind you of a certain deal made a while back," he rasped. "He thinks you had something to do with things not going as they should've. Are you getting my drift?"
Feeling my airways constricting under the pressure around my throat I tried to twist my head to one side. "I don't know what you're on..."
His other elbow rammed into the back of my neck and my head jolted down, my face colliding painfully with the pavement. Now I knew how the guy in the shower felt.
"I said do you get my drift?"
I tasted the blood running from my grazed cheekbone into the corner of my mouth. No point in further argument. "Okay, okay," I grunted.
"And my friend is convinced you know where his merchandise is. Now, my friend is a patient man, but he's asked me to make sure you understand there's a limit to his patience. He's waited all this time, but now you're here and he wants this thing settled. He wants what he's owed." The grip around my throat tightened and I felt the other hand fumbling in my jacket pocket. "Now my friend would much rather he settled things amicably. He's prepared to give you a little time to think things over and do what's right. All you have to do is ring this number and it can all be settled friendly like." More painful pressure. "Mind you, if you don't co-operate." He gave a hoarse chuckle. "Well, the outcome will be the same, it might just take a bit longer. But as far as you're concerned it will be much more painful. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yeah, I..." Even as I started to speak I caught a movement from the corner of my eye. Little runt was approaching, his hand now out of his pocket, wielding something he was slapping into the palm of his other hand. What was it? It looked like a leather pouch of some kind. A leather pouch filled with...Oh shit. I jerked violently in an attempt to dislodge the big guy from my back, but he was big and very heavy. The last thing I remember was the little runt's rotten teeth as he leered over me his hand raised.