Read By Sea Online

Authors: Carly Fall

By Sea (3 page)

BOOK: By Sea
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Chapter 6

Rayna checked the photo she’d printed and compared it to the very agitated guy talking to the man in the wheelchair.

Without a doubt, it was Brody Teller. His hair was longer, but he still had the hard, Marine physique and despite his sunglasses, she recognized his sharp features.

With the information John had given her, tracking him down had been easy. When he wasn’t at his apartment, she went to the marina and noticed his boat was gone. She waited for it to return and observed all the subsequent events.

She wasn’t sure what to expect from a man who had been a military experiment. Perhaps a disfigurement of some kind? She certainly didn’t see anything wrong with him—all appendages seemed to be in place. Maybe he had been affected mentally. She’d have to assess his mental state when she talked to him. 

His black as night shaggy hair fell just below his ears, his chiseled body moved with grace. No, there definitely wasn’t any disfigurement.

As he pushed the sunglasses up his nose and turned to the boy, she noted the soft smile, indicating he cared about the kid.

She watched the three men talk as the boy walked down to the shoreline, and wished she could be a fly on the wheelchair, so to speak.

Based on Brody’s body language, his anger continued to grow, but yet, the waves beating against the sand was soothing. It was a contradiction for her senses.

When he snatched the card from the man in the wheelchair and watched him leave in the van, she noticed his body relaxed. When the boy approached him and they walked down the beach, she followed and noted that Brody seemed to be at peace as his shoulders loosened and he placed his hand protectively over the boy’s neck.

Rayna had no idea who the man in the wheelchair was, but she did know Brody lived a simple life and did nothing to draw attention to himself. His resided above a Mexican restaurant in a shithole apartment, and from what little she’d witnessed, his only friend was a kid.

As she followed them home, she made a mental note of where he dropped the boy, and then trailed him to his own apartment.

When Brody was tucked away inside, she climbed the steps and knocked on the door.

He opened a moment later, glaring at her. “What?”

“Brody Teller?”

Narrowing his gaze on her, he asked, “Who wants to know?”

She would have said the exact same thing to her inquiry, and she admired a man who valued his privacy. “I do. I’ve been sent to check up on you.”

His eyes raked her from head to toe as he scratched the stubble on his face. “They don’t usually send a woman, and you sure as shit don’t look like military.”

“Well, this time they did,” she said, standing at her full height, her hands on the waist of her gray slacks. “And I’m not military.”

“Then what are you?” Brody asked.

“Can I come in?”

“No.”

Rayna sighed. “Look, it’s apparent you don’t want me here, and frankly, I don’t want to be here. How about you let me in, we chat for a few moments, and then I leave?”

“I don’t even know your name,” Brody said. “Why would I let you in?”

“Rayna,” she answered. “Rayna Lopez is my name.”

“And who are you? Why are you here?”

Rayna could see she wasn’t going to get the answer she wanted to complete this silly job until she gave Brody a few facts he requested.

Pulling out her badge, she said, “I’m CIA, Brody. I was sent here with very little information to ‘check’ on you. My boss said this is routine for you, and it would be an easy job for me. Please, can you just let me in so we can get this over with?”

He studied her face a moment, and stepped back. “Come in,” he murmured.

She brushed by him, catching the faint scent of ocean with just a hint of aftershave.

The apartment was old and small, but clean. The kitchen was to the left, with a light blue refrigerator, white stove and a large window overlooking the beach and ocean. To the right was a small living room with a gray, cloth couch that had seen better days, a wooden coffee table, and by today’s standards, a small television. A narrow hallway lay straight ahead, and Rayna imagined he’d probably smashed one of those wide shoulders a time or two on the wall making his way to the bedroom.

“So, as you can see I’m living a very simple life, just on the verge of poverty. I’m not running some website to take down the government, and I haven’t told anyone what was done to me. I haven’t broken any of the goddamn rules. Now, can you please leave?”

Rayna stared into his dark-as-night eyes and heard the ocean crashing onto the beach. Her breath caught at the pain she saw in the dark pools.

“What did they do to you?” she whispered.

Brody crossed his arms over his chest, chuckled and shook his head. “What’s this? Some sort of test where you try to get me to tell the secrets you already know?”

Rayna shook her head. “No. It’s not some test. It’s me being curious. No one told me anything. It was sort of a last minute assignment.”

He stared at her a long while, and she wondered if he was some sort of mind reader. Had the accident given him psychic abilities or something of that nature?

Invading her space, his gaze never left her. She studied his strong jawline, chiseled cheekbones, and full mouth.

“They’ve never sent anyone as pretty as you,” he whispered into her ear.

She stepped back and cleared her throat, surprised at the goose bumps crawling over her skin and the way her heart skipped at his closeness.

“Well, thank you for the compliment,” she said, feeling heat in her cheeks. “Can we get back to the task at hand?”

“Sure,” he murmured. “You want to make sure I’m following the rules and keeping shit to myself. Yes, I am. My life is pathetic, which should make your bosses very happy.”

He strode into the kitchen and opened the fridge. Pulling out a beer, he asked if she wanted one.

She declined, the questions she wanted to ask piling up. What had been done to him? What would happen to him if he came out and told others what happened?

However, she had the feeling he wouldn’t be very forthcoming in his answers. The anger danced on his face as he popped the top of the beer, his gaze never leaving her.

“I’m supposed to check your computer and phone as well,” she said.

Brody reached behind him and tossed something across the room to her. “Go ahead. You’ll see that the only person I’ve talked to today was the bank about the repo order on my boat. Without the income, I should be homeless pretty soon, and I’m sure that will also make the brass happy.”

Rayna looked down at the iPhone and sighed. Whatever this was, whatever had been done to him, whoever was responsible, had Brody on a tight leash. It was as if they were trying to control him.

“What happens if you break the promises you made and tell someone what exactly was done to you?” she asked.

He finished the beer and slowly walked toward her, his gaze raking her over from head to foot, and then back up again. Once again, he stood too close, and she felt the heat from his body.

“You really don’t know?” he asked.

She shook her head, determined not to back away from him, regardless of how uncomfortable his near proximity made her.

Leaning down, he whispered, “I die. They kill me.”

Their eyes locked for a moment, and her cheeks burned again as she smelled the tint of beer on his breath. It was as if she couldn’t look away, as if he held her in some trance. Was this the aftermath of the accident?

He gave her an unfriendly grin, and turned away. “If we’re done, I’d like you to leave,” he muttered, and she could barely make out his words.

She looked him over. His broad shoulders tapered into a tight waist, his long thick legs carried him with the lethal grace she had seen in other military men.

Thinking of the objective of this visit, she decided she had really accomplished nothing except a list of questions she wished he would answer. It was apparent Brody wasn’t going to be very forthcoming. She glanced around the small apartment again, and almost felt sorry for him.

“Can you get the hell out of here now?” he yelled.

Startled and surprised by his loud voice, her irritation grew at his rude demeanor. “I’m simply here doing my job,” she muttered. “There’s no need to be such an asshole.”

Brody turned around, a small smile playing on his lips. “Do you always stick your pretty little nose in other people’s business? In places it doesn’t belong?”

“Are you always this impolite?” she shot back. “And besides, I didn’t ask for this assignment. It was given to me. I’m just doing my job.”

“Listen, sweetheart,” he said, “last month when they came to check up on me, they announced their arrival with a gun to my forehead in the middle of the night.”

He opened the refrigerator and pulled out another beer leaning his elbows on the door. “Now, this month is much more pleasant, you being the fucking hot CIA babe and all, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Nothing has changed since the last time your people checked in on me. So unless your going to tell me the government is handing me money for my pain and suffering, or if you want to hang around and hit the sheets with me, get out. Now.”

Rayna stared at him a moment, offended by his comments, but she didn’t want to get into a pissing contest to see who could throw around the most insults. She had a feeling she wouldn’t win. “Fine. I’m leaving, Brody.”

As she walked toward the door, he said, “Good. And tell your bosses they can all go fuck themselves.”

Her hand rested on the knob, and she looked at him. “I’m sorry you are such an angry asshole, Brody. But consider this: the life you’re living is a lot better than the alternative.”

“And what’s the alternative?”

Rayna smiled. “You could be dead.”

Brody threw his head back and laughed. “Sometimes death would be a welcome alternative, sweetheart,” he growled. “I don’t see a life in the suburbs with a wife and three kids anywhere in my future, because I’d actually have to get to know someone for that to happen, and your fucking bosses have made sure that’s impossible for me to do!”

Staring at him, she could practically see the anger rolling off him, and despite him being rude, she found herself intrigued by the rage. She glanced over him. What in the world was his supernatural ability?

“Don’t let the door hit you in that pretty, little ass.”

“Fuck you,” she murmured, and stepped out into the hallway, unable to believe what a miserable, angry bastard Brody was. As she shut the door, she heard glass shattering from inside. Her instinct was to head back in, but instead, she walked down the hallway and out onto the sidewalk lining the beach. As she headed to the parking lot, she glanced up at the building. Brody stood in the window, watching her. He didn’t flinch as she met his gaze.

As the sound of the waves crashing against the beach registered, she turned to look at the ocean.

The waves rolled in and out violently, and Rayna couldn’t help but think the sea seemed almost as angry as Brody.

Chapter 7

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Brody whispered to Lucas Tate as he gazed up at the starlit sky. “Something doesn’t feel right.”

“Relax, man,” Tate said. “It’s the same shit we do all the time.”

Brody nodded, sweat trickling down his back. Yes, the temperature hovered at ninety degrees, and he wore full combat gear, but as he wiped his forehead, he couldn’t help but think the sweat was from nerves and not weather related.

It was a routine operation for his platoon—their job was to gather intelligence, and they had received notification about the makeshift building in the middle of the jungle Brody eyed through his night vision goggles. Their source had said the building was used as storage for raw heroin, and possibly a stopover for human traffickers as well.

At 2 a.m. the jungle around them was alive with the sounds of the nocturnal hunters and their prey, and Brody listened making sure the hunters were animal, not human.

The air hung thick with humidity and the smell of rotting foliage, and another drop of sweat trickled down his back as he wiped his forehead with his sleeve. In another few minutes, his undershirt would be soaked through.

“Teller, you and Tate move in for a closer look.” The command came from the team leader, Sargent Garrett “Honey” Bloom, through Brody’s headset. He stood and moved with Tate in unison as they approached the warehouse.

Brody studied the metal structure, and couldn’t help but be impressed. It stood about fifteen feet high and hundreds of feet long. There were no windows; and so far they had located only one door. How the Cartel had erected the building out in the middle of nowhere was beyond him, and he had to admire the ingenuity it would have taken to complete. It seemed the biggest flaw was that the structure was metal, and in the jungle, it would rust pretty damn quickly. He doubted the Cartel cared, as they had to stay a step ahead of those who hunted them, those like Brody.

Every muscle in his body tensed as he crept closer to the building, every fiber of his being screaming at him that his nine man platoon needed to get the hell out of there. He’d felt uncomfortable walking into different situations while on deployment before—especially in the Middle East— but nothing like this. The Taliban had been crafty and determined in their fight, making sure that Brody and his platoon were always alert and aware of everything around them during patrols. However, this felt wrong down to the core of his very being. Suddenly, the jungle around them fell dead silent, as if its inhabitants held their collective breath in anticipation of what would happen next.

Just as Brody was about to radio they should abort, a bright light flashed from the building, blinding him in his night vision goggles. He heard the others scream, and through his earpiece Garrett yelled, “Abort! Abort!”

Brody stumbled away from the debilitating light, still completely blind. As he pulled off his night vision glasses, a large explosion boomed behind him. With nothing but blackness before him, the earth beneath him shook and trembled, forcing his feet off the ground.

As he spun in the air, his body completely weightless, time seemed to stop. He looked around trying to get his bearings. He couldn’t see the ground beneath him, the starlit sky above him. There was nothing to be found except darkness, complete blindness. He lost his hearing, and a searing, hot pain ripped through his skull.

Traveling through time and space, he was in his own sensory-deprived hell. He relied heavily on his senses, and not having any scared the ever-loving shit out of him.

Upon impact with the jungle floor, every muscle in his body screamed in pain. He rolled over trying to see the fellow members of his unit, but the darkness continued to engulf him. The agony in his head ripped and tore at his frontal lobe, and he screamed, unable to hear his own voice.

He got to his knees, determined to find the rest of his platoon and get the hell out. Another explosion rumbled from the building, and Brody was thrown face-first to the soft, damp earth again, an acrid smell of rotten eggs and chemicals coating his throat.

Rolling to his back, the pain in his head overwhelmed him. Gagging from the scent in the air, the smoke clogged his lungs as he gasped for breath, his chest burning in torturous pain to match the magnificent ache in his head. After one last gasp, mercifully, he passed out.

Brody sat up in bed, covered in sweat. He glanced around the room as relief washed over him. His dresser stood across the room, the top drawer open. He had his vision. The ocean lapped at the sand through the open window. Breathing in the ocean air loosened the imaginary grip on his chest. And most importantly, he was in his shithole apartment, not in the middle of the wild jungles of Guatemala.

He flopped back on his pillow and tried to calm his breathing as he ran his fingers over the sheet beneath him, assuring himself with the touch that he was in his bed, not on a bed of damp underbrush thrashing around for his life. He was safe.

The dream never seemed like a dream, but it was as if he relived that accident over again, every vivid detail coming to life. Oddly, when he thought back to it, the most terrifying part hadn’t been the accident itself, but the silence of the jungle right before the explosion. Again, he wondered if he would have been better off having the blast take his life instead of trying to deal with his current reality.

BOOK: By Sea
7.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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