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Authors: Carly Fall

By Sea (4 page)

BOOK: By Sea
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Chapter 8

Rayna sat in her cubicle at the CIA staring out the window. The rain this afternoon was heavy, and the sky a darker grey than this morning. She was so tired of the weather and longed to see some sunshine.

Glancing back at the file on her desk, she sighed. John, her boss, had given her some research to do on a case, and the thought of spending another moment in front of the computer made her want to cry. Yes, people in the field were also responsible for paperwork, but they weren’t trapped behind a desk like she was. It was literally her ball and chain.

Her CIA cell phone vibrated on her desk, and she looked at the screen.
My office in ten
, the text from John read. He obviously wanted a report on her little assignment yesterday as he’d instructed her not to write up anything because of the secrecy of it.

She stood and stretched, went to the restroom, and then made her way to John’s office.

“You wanted to see me?” she asked, standing in the doorway.

“Yes. Come in and shut the door, Rayna. I just need to finish up this email.”

She did as she was told and looked around the room while she waited. His office wasn’t fancy: a run of the mill government-issued desk with a matching credenza, three tall filing cabinets lined the far wall and a black, faux leather-leather armchair matched her seat.

His desk was neat, small piles of papers stacked with precision. Pictures of his wife and kids lined the credenza, while his diplomas and awards hung on white walls. As he tapped the keyboard, she couldn’t help but notice it sounded like rain. She glanced out the window to see if it had finally stopped, but it only came down harder.

“There,” John muttered as he clicked his mouse. “Sorry about that. I had to put out a small fire between two agents.”

He sat back in his chair and laced his hands on top of his head. “So tell me about yesterday.”

Rayna shrugged. “There’s not a lot to tell. I saw him, we met, I looked around his apartment, and then I left.”

“What did he look like? Did he look normal?”

Rayna wasn’t sure what he expected and hesitated to answer.

“He doesn’t have a third arm or half his face missing, does he?”

She laughed. “No, John, he doesn’t. His face is intact, and no there weren’t any strange appendages. He looked very normal.”

And very good looking.

“What about his mental state?” John asked.

Rayna sighed, remembering what a bastard he’d been. “He was rude and obnoxious. Like I said, I didn’t stick around too long.”

John nodded. “Okay. I’ll put it in my report. Thanks,” he said, dismissing her.

As she walked back to her cubicle, she thought about her short conversation with Brody again. It had kept her up into the late night hours, and she couldn’t help but feel that beneath all his anger was a deep sadness, and maybe a little bit of fear. She pushed the thought aside. She didn’t have time to think about Brody, his situation, his feelings or fears. Instead, she had a stack of papers to get through and had to figure out a way to get into fieldwork and out from behind this desk.

Chapter 9

Two days later, Brody waved at Lara’s car as she pulled out of the parking lot on her way to North Dakota. Although Lara and he shared a bed every now and then, he didn’t harbor any deep feelings for her. He did, however, feel sadness at losing his shadow, Charlie. He was a good kid, and he promised Brody he would stay in touch, but Brody knew all too well that the phone calls and letters would fade until the communication died all together.

He hoped the kid had a good life.

Brody was now truly alone.

Glancing over at the ocean, the waves rumbled gently on the shore, while a pod of dolphins rolled gracefully in and out of the water. There were no theatrics, no squeals or huge jumps. They felt his sadness.

“Sorry, guys,” he muttered. “I’ll try to lighten the mood a little bit.”

As he walked back to his own apartment, his thoughts once again turned to the very hot and sexy CIA agent, and frankly, he’d thought of little else since she walked out his door.

Her appearance jacked him up in more ways than one. Yes, he hated the monthly visits, but at least this one was better than last months. He hadn’t lied when he told Rayna that his handlers had woken him in the middle of the night with a gun to his head, and that hadn’t been the first time.

He wished he hadn’t been such a bastard to her, but even though she was hot as hell, he had to remember she was the enemy.

It had confused him that she was CIA, and not military. He had wanted to know what that was about, why the switch in his keepers, but hadn’t bothered to ask. He figured the less interested he acted, the sooner she’d leave. Watching her hips sway in her grey slacks as she walked down the beach had been the most erotic thing he’d laid eyes on in a long time. He wasn’t sure what that said about him, though. Obviously, he wasn’t getting enough action if his enemy strutting down a sidewalk in a pair of business pants turned him on.

Deciding he’d go check on his boat, he strolled past his apartment and on to the marina.

Yesterday he helped Lara pack up, and today, he loaded her car and the small moving trailer she had rented. In the end, she pretty much left everything except the vital necessities. He sincerely hoped she found a decent place for her to make a home for Charlie, a place where the work was stable.

It wasn’t easy living in a tourist town, a place where some months the money seemed never ending, but in others, there weren’t two dimes to be found to rub together. The so-called winter months were as dry as a box of bones.

As he approached the marina, he noticed the slip where
Clara
was kept now stood empty. He looked about, not really surprised, but devastated nonetheless. His source of income was now gone, and within a month or two, he would be destitute. He could probably get a job on another fishing boat, but none of the other captains would need help until the summer months. He couldn’t hold out that long.

He had nothing but his military skills to fall back on, and the military didn’t want him anymore. There wasn’t a job that he could think of that required him to shoot a bulls-eye at two hundred feet, run a six minute mile, or carry a hundred pounds on his back for hours on end. His skills were purely physical. Yes, he considered himself intelligent, but not in the ways of the real world. If you dropped him in the middle of the jungle with nothing but a knife, he was the guy who would get out alive while dining on berries, snakes, and bugs. As he stared at the slip where
Clara
used to be, he decided he wasn’t the guy who could survive in the real world, as a quiet, play-by-the-rules citizen.

He proved that after he’d been dropped off at his apartment with the instructions to not contact anyone in his platoon, and not to venture very far away from the ocean.

He didn’t listen to either piece of advice.

After a few belts of Captain Morgan, the anger within him raged. How dare his government take away everything he had worked so hard to obtain? How could they cast him aside, treating him like a sack of shit? Fueled by the booze, he had no intention of following the orders, and he would do as he damn well pleased.

An hour later, he scoured social media sites looking for other members of his platoon. He would find them with the hope they had the answers that no one seemed to be able to provide for him.

He found no one—not one of his fellow soldiers. Had they all died, or were they stuck in some strange government bullshit like he was?

The apartment door clicked as it closed, and he stood up and spun, surprised he hadn’t heard it open. The rum dulled his senses, and a man was on top of him just as Brody realized someone was in his apartment.

There was a brief struggle, and the man jammed a needle into Brody’s arm, rendering him unconscious within seconds.

Brody woke tied to a chair, some sort of sack over his head that smelled like rotting vegetables. He struggled to breathe, but he knew it wasn’t from the bag or the smell. Something was physically wrong.

“Now that you’re all awake, let me make something clear,” a man’s voice boomed, echoing off the walls. “We spared your lives after the accident in Guatemala, and asked for little in return. We wanted you to not contact each other, we wanted you to live simple, unassuming lives, and we wanted you to keep your secrets to yourself.”

Brody inhaled deeply, feeling panicked, but wondering if he was really in the same space as his platoon. He moved his head trying to find a way to see.

“You aren’t doing what we asked,” the man yelled. “So we’re going to make it really clear what happens.”

Brody heard a scuffle and then the man said, “James Freeman and Brody Teller: you were both caught on social media looking for the other members of your platoon, is that not correct?”

Brody swallowed, trying to get enough breath in his lungs so he could answer.

“Answer me!” the man screamed.

Brody simply nodded, but then he heard James’s distinct southern drawl. “Yes. I was looking for the others. I wanted to know—”

A loud shot cut James off, and the coppery smell of blood filled the room. Oh, Christ. Had the guy shot James? Was Brody next? He swallowed hard as his chest constricted further.

“I don’t care what you want to know or what you think you know. If you don’t play by my rules, you will die, just as James just did. It’s not hard, people.”

Brody felt someone next to him, and fully expected to die. He wondered if he would hear the shot and if there would be any pain as the bullet massacred his brain. He always thought he’d go out in the actual theater of war, not by the hand of his own government.

He contemplated what was worse: living as he was, or dying. Frankly, he couldn’t decide, but the compression in his chest let him know death wasn’t too far off.

A second later, a needle pierced his neck, and his world went black.

He woke back in his apartment with a raging headache. He wondered if his abduction and the murder of James had been a dream, but as he sat up with a groan, he detected another presence in the room.

“You don’t fully understand your ability.”

Brody looked around and noticed a shadow in the bedroom doorway. He couldn’t see a face, just a form, and nausea rolled in his gut from the throbbing in his head. He lay back down on the pillows, completely incapacitated.

“Let me make it clear for you, then you’re going to get another chance at life. You are deeply connected to the ocean, Brody. It senses your moods, and reacts to them. When I showed up the day before yesterday, you were upset, and we almost had a tidal wave outside. You apparently were too drunk to notice. Take note of these things, Brody. This is your last chance.”

Brody listened as the front door closed, and then rolled over and vomited on the floor.

Since that day, he’d followed the rules and never strayed from them, except for showing Charlie glimpses of his ability.

Sighing, he headed back to his apartment and fingered the card in his pocket. He shut the door and leaned against it, taking in the depressing space. He pulled the card from his pocket, and read it over again. Simple black print on a white card read,
Joe Smith, 555-939-0090
.

Deciding between a beer and some pushups, he hit the rug and banged out fifty. Joe had said he could give Brody his life back, but Brody hadn’t hung around long enough to hear exactly what that meant.

Who knew? Maybe it was a trap of some kind from the government? Maybe they were trying to bait him into giving up his secrets? If so, they would certainly put him to death. Yes, he’d said sometimes it would be better than his current existence, and often he thought that. However, at his core, he wanted to live, but he wanted a life worth living. And he didn’t have that now.

Maybe it was time to break the rules once again and see what happened.

Maybe this Joe dude could give him a life, and he wondered what Mr. Smith wanted in return.

He stood and went to the fridge for a beer. As he stared out the window at the ocean, the waves hit the shore at a slow, easy pace, matching his melancholy mood. It seemed his two companions since the accident had been anger and sadness, and frankly, he was getting tired of both of them.

Chapter 10

Brody waited in the marina parking lot, standing in the exact spot where he first met Joe Smith. He’d placed the call last night, and Joe seemed very happy to hear from him.

Running his fingers through his hair, he tried to calm his nerves. He’d simply listen to what the guy had to say. It wasn’t necessary to make any decisions today.

The black van rolled up and the back door slid open.

“Mr. Teller!” Joe Smith called from the back. “Please, come join me!”

Brody walked over to the van as Joe Smith backed up his wheelchair, allowing Brody room to enter. Brody hesitated for a second, looking around the parking lot for the hot CIA chic. He hadn’t seen her around for three days now, but he also knew that those in charge of the accident kept tabs on him. He wouldn’t doubt for a second if someone watched him full-time, but there weren’t any internal alarm bells going off letting him know was being observed.

“It’s fine, Mr. Teller. I’ve been watching the parking lot for the past hour. There is no one here tailing you.”

Brody nodded, sliding in to the van and sitting on the bench facing Joe. 

Joe looked around the parking lot through the dark, tinted windows, and nodded to himself as if he was satisfied by what he saw. “Let’s go, Thomas.”

The van lurched forward, and Brody kept his gaze on Joe.

“Thank you for calling, Mr. Teller. I was about to give up hope that I’d hear from you.”

“My situation changed, and I thought I’d listen to what you had to say.”

Joe nodded. “Yes, I heard about the boat repossession and Charlie and Lara leaving.”

Brody narrowed his gaze at the man. How did he know about all that? Maybe he was the one behind the whole mess that had become his day-to-day existence? “And how did you get all the information on my life?”

“Mr. Teller, I can assure you that I know everything about you, absolutely everything. It’s my job to know all about you.”

They rode in silence for a few minutes, and Brody contemplated exactly what that meant. Surely, Joe couldn’t know absolutely
everything
about him. From what Brody had been told, what happened in Guatemala was top-secret Intel. If he couldn’t talk about it, he assumed there was no way Joe could have gotten the information, but apparently he had.

The van came to a stop, and Brody looked around, only to see warehouses. The driver got out of the car as the back door slid open, and Brody stepped out.

The ramp slid down to the asphalt, and Joe wheeled himself down to street-level and proceeded to one of the warehouses. “Please, come with me, Mr. Teller,” he called over his shoulder.

Brody followed, keeping his eye on Joe’s driver, who walked behind him and a little to his left. While in the military, he had learned to trust his instincts. If only he’d listened to them the night of the accident, he wouldn’t be in this position. Right now, he felt pretty good about the situation, and he hoped his usual ability to sense when something was out of place was still in working order.

“Thomas, could you please open the door?” Joe said, and Thomas hustled to move in front of Joe, fishing in his pockets, and then producing some keys.

He opened the door, and Joe wheeled himself inside. It was pitch black, and Brody hesitated before entering. The lights went on, and Brody could see the large space was empty, except for a table with one chair.

Walking across the cement floor, his steps echoed off the concrete walls and floor. Puffs of dust rose with each step, and he could also see particles floating in the sunlight, streaming through the small windows above him. Joe wheeled himself over to the table, and motioned for Brody to sit in the chair.

“Thomas, could you please grab the file?” Joe asked as Brody sat down across from him.

Thomas walked back outside to the van.

“I rented this warehouse so that if you and I got the chance to talk, we wouldn’t be disturbed. I know the consequences of you discussing your gift. I can assure you, it is only us here.”

Brody nodded and sat back in his chair. “So, what’s the deal? You said you could give me my life back. How does that work? What does it look like?”

Joe smiled, and Brody turned his head at the sound of Thomas’s footsteps. He set a tan folder down on the table and Joe said, “Thank you, Thomas. Could you please wait outside and shut the door behind you? I won’t be any longer than ten minutes.”

Thomas bowed his head and left the warehouse, the click of the door echoing through the space.

“I trust him explicitly, but I know I need to gain your trust. So, now, it’s just you and me, no other ears to hear what either of us has to say,” Joe murmured, opening the folder.

“Just over seven months ago, you and your unit were sent on a fairly routine assignment to simply gather intelligence regarding one of the drug Cartels in the jungles of Guatemala. According to my research, the mission was to observe a possible drug manufacturing and distribution plant. How am I doing so far?”

Joe glanced at Brody over his glasses, and Brody remained silent, curious to see what else Joe knew.

“An unexpected explosion of sorts took down your unit. The details of the explosion are sketchy, but from what I’ve been able to gather, there was a blinding light and some odor that rendered you unconscious. I’m not sure where you went from there, but you ended up in the Corpus Christi Hospital. Instead of a hero’s welcome, you were immediately discharged from the military without being given a reason.”

Brody swallowed, wishing he had a glass of water. There was no way Joe could know any of this except if he was in on it. Brody had been told his records were sealed, almost as if he never existed.

“Your life was spared on one condition: that you kept the accident and the after-effects to yourself. Every month they send someone to check up on you and make sure you are living a quiet, humble life, which you have certainly done,” Joe said, setting down the file and taking off his glasses.

“Mr. Teller, I’m here to tell you that what happened to you was no accident. It was the government performing some experiments on their soldiers.”

“It’s hard to believe,” Brody murmured, although he’d thought the same thing once or twice. He’d always believed that the flash of light had caused something in his brain to short-circuit, giving him his strange ability, but frankly, Joe’s explanation made more sense.

Joe shrugged. “Yes, it is, but I can assure you that the government you served are nothing but a bunch of rat-bastards, and not just because they experiment on their own military, but for numerous other reasons that I won’t go into now.”

“So, what’s this about?” Brody asked, wondering if Joe was recruiting for some secret army or something foolish like that.

“I’ll explain in a moment. First, as I have told you, I know of your ability and your connection to the ocean.”

The words were like a fist to his gut. Someone else knew, and it brought him a bit of relief, but also scared him.

“I’m fascinated by the way the ocean responds to your mood. When I approached you the first time in the marina parking lot, the ocean had been rolling in lazily, almost as if it were content. As you and I talked, it became very clear how upset you were with me. I was beginning to think we were going to have a tsunami.”

Brody stared at the man for a beat, and then asked, “How did you find out?”

Joe slipped on his glasses and picked up the file again. “That’s not your concern, Mr. Teller. Now, would you like to hear my proposition?”

Brody slammed his fist on the table. Joe didn’t flinch, but simply looked at Brody over his glasses. “What I want is some fucking answers as to how you found all this out, and who else knows,” he hissed. “All of this was supposed to be sealed, like I never fucking existed, and here you are talking to me like you’ve just read my biography. I’m tired of people telling me I don’t need to know shit when this is my life—and only my life—that’s being affected.”

Joe studied him a moment, and then said, “Mr. Teller, how I came about your information is not exactly legal. I would prefer to keep that information to myself so I don’t set myself up for a fall I’m not willing to take if you were to decide to tell someone about our conversation. Do you understand me?”

Brody sat back in his chair, light sweat breaking out on his brow. Joe wasn’t playing for the other side; he wasn’t even on the same field. Brody hadn’t given him any information on his current situation – Joe already knew it all. That revelation eased Brody’s worries that the government was trying to catch him divulging his secrets, and also gave him a slight twinge of hope that maybe, just maybe, there was a better life waiting for him.

Besides that, Joe was being truthful about how he got the information and not trying to sugarcoat or lie about the means. Joe may not be able to tell him the small details, but he had the broad picture painted perfectly, and Brody respected his honesty. “I get it,” Brody said. “I understand.”

“Good,” Joe said with a smile. “Now, I’d like to get to my offer. Would you like to hear it?”

“Sure,” Brody said with a shrug. Really, what did he have to lose hearing the guy out?

“Excellent. First and foremost, if you decline my offer, you will never see or hear from me again. That is my promise to you, okay?”

Brody nodded.

“Second, you need to take a minimum of twelve hours to consider what I have to say, but a maximum of twenty-four hours. That’s it. After that, let me reiterate to you that you will never see or hear from me again.”

Brody hesitated for a moment, and then said, “Okay,” feeling like his was about to jump down the proverbial rabbit hole.

“Good. I run a very exclusive business, Mr. Teller, and I am in need of people like you.”

“What type of business?” Brody asked.

“I run what you could call a protection agency. People pay me very high sums of money for security while their . . . issues are worked out. Once their problems go away and they no longer require my services, they go back to their lives.”

Intrigued, Brody sat forward in his chair, placing his arms on the table. “And what would you expect me to do?”

“I would expect you to be one of my trusted employees and take on the role of protector for my clients. I’ve vetted you, and you are a moral man who was shafted. With your military background, your physical prowess, and your ability to handle weapons, and handle them well, you would be a perfect fit for my company.”

Brody looked around the warehouse, feeling deflated. “There’s only one problem you didn’t consider,” he said. “I can’t be too far from the ocean for very long. It has to do with the connection. If I’m away for too long, I get really sick.”

“I know. Respiratory issues, I believe, is that correct?”

“Yeah.”

“Interesting. Almost like a fish out of water.”

“Exactly. Just call me Poseidon.”

Joe chuckled. “Well, Mr. Teller, I don’t know if I’d go that far, but what if I told you I did take that into account before offering your this position? Would you still be interested?”

Brody studied the man. His intelligent gaze held Brody’s, a small smile playing on his lips. Brody had the feeling that if he said yes, his whole life would change. He thought of his present circumstances: his boat was gone and in a few months he’d be homeless. He had no one to care about, nothing to look forward to, and certainly no job prospects in sight. His life was simply at a standstill, and it looked as though it would be going nowhere but down the toilet.

Joe was offering him a chance to use his skills, to be in action, just as he’d been in the military. He had no idea what type of work-around Joe had thought of, but decided he was in this far, so he might as well take the plunge and see what Joe had to offer.

“Sure. Let’s hear it.”

BOOK: By Sea
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