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Authors: Bernard Lee DeLeo

Tags: #thriller

Cold Blooded

BOOK: Cold Blooded
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Annotation
Rachel Hunter thinks she and her daughter Jean are safe in the Witness Protection program, when she meets a cold eyed man with an easy smile at the restaurant where she works. In the days following, Rachel discovers that Nick McCarty, is much more than just an author.
Nick McCarty, assassin and bestselling author, contemplates a change in life styles after receiving an order to kill a woman who reminds him of someone from long ago. Six days later, Nick puts a fifty caliber bullet through the head of Hayden Tanus, the man who'd ordered her death, launching himself down the path of protecting a mother and daughter he barely knows, for reasons he isn't fully prepared to admit.
Rachel realizes the unstoppable killer protecting them lives by only one code – whatever it takes until the danger is past. With their lives forfeit if she makes the wrong decision, will Rachel choose life by Nick's side, regardless the costs?
Bernard Lee DeLeo
Cold Blooded
Chapter One
Nick and Rachel

 

“Hello, Mr. Robinson.” A seated man’s shadowed face appeared on the screen.
“You have an urgent matter?”
“We found someone -”
“You’re running my location. The price just doubled.” The man referred to as Mr. Robinson closed his notebook computer with satellite uplink and packed it away. He left the empty Pacific Grove beach after taking a last look at the surging waves. The overcast dawn gave the ocean surface a grayish hue.
It took him only minutes to travel the road which ran along the coastline. With his gear safely stowed in the trunk, the man mentioned as Mr. Robinson drove his nondescript gray Chevrolet Malibu away from the beach to Lighthouse Avenue, where he parked near Monte Café. With a different laptop, the man walked into the nearly empty restaurant and sat down. He smiled and nodded at the middle-aged couple having breakfast a few tables over.
“You’re up early, Nick.”
Nick grinned over at the balding man with deeply lined, tanned face. “It’s not that early, Dan.”
“Working on a new novel?” Dan’s wife asked.
“Always, Carol,” Nick answered. “What are you and Dan doing up? I thought you retirees hated getting up before noon.”
“Yeah, right. We haven’t been in a bed past seven in fifty years, you slacker. Carol and I actually accomplish things in reality. We can’t all make a fortune writing about killers.”
“Dan!” Carol admonished, slapping her husband’s shoulder.
“I asked for it.” Nick chuckled as a harried man in his forties, wearing white cook’s garb rushed toward Nick’s table. “Uh oh, you short again, Joe?”
“Nancy’s still out with the flu. What can I get you, Nick, the usual?”
“Yep, and I’ll get my own coffee. Don’t hurry my order. I’ll fool around on the computer for a while,” Nick replied, standing up.
“Thanks,” Joe said, on his way to the back again. “I’ll bring you your rye toast in a few minutes, big spender.”
Dan and Carol laughed at Nick’s stricken look as he trudged to the coffee pot. Nick brought the coffee over to the couple. He refilled their cups before retrieving a cup and saucer from the coffee station for himself. Nick returned to his table, ignoring Dan’s remarks about slow help. He opened his notebook computer and accessed the internet. An anonymous bulletin board carried the message with the identifying code he was looking for. The post contained only one word: agreed. Nick typed in a new time for one hour later and closed his notebook.
“Wow! That was a quick entry.” Dan helped Carol get stiffly to her feet.
“I’m outlining today, nothing serious.”
“That killer of yours is scary, Nick,” Carol said. “How do you come up with those awful plots?”
“I do the job and then I write it out like a diary.”
Dan chuckled appreciatively. Carol clucked her disapproval at Nick’s ad lib.
“Why don’t you write a nice romance for your next one,” Carol urged, as the couple walked toward the door. “I’ll bet – ”
“Oh, yawn,” Dan cut in, glancing at Nick. “Don’t you dare, Nick. I want to read all about a new Diego assassination gig. Have him blow up congress like Tom Clancy did in his book.”
Nick laughed. “I’ll think about it. Hey, Carol, Diego had a romantic interlude in the last one. Didn’t you -?”
“Nick, that was so nice.” Carol turned around excitedly, leaving Dan holding the door open for her. “You should give him a steady girlfriend.”
“Might as well give him gardening and quilting hobbies, too, while you’re making him into a sissy.” Dan scowled at Carol as she took another shot at his shoulder, and the two shuffled out the door, still arguing.
“You set off Dan and Carol again. I can’t believe those two both read your pulp. Here’s your rye toast, Hemingway.” Joe set the plate down in front of Nick with an exaggerated flourish. “Thanks for getting your own coffee. Give yourself a big tip.”
“How about I find a new restaurant to get insulted in?”
“Oh no, Nick.” Joe played along, wringing his hands on the way to the kitchen. “There goes my vacation in the Bahamas.”
“You’ll be sorry when you don’t have Nick McCarty to kick around, Joe,” Nick called out after him, before digging into his rye toast breakfast.
Within the allotted time, Nick again sat out on the Pacific Grove beach. Although a few joggers and walkers passed by along the stone divider separating the road from the sand, no one had descended to the chilly beach.
“We were taking precautions,” the man on Nick’s screen explained.
Nick rearranged his ear piece. He projected only a blank screen, his words in text form, with a computer generated voice. When Nick was satisfied his contact had no tracking gear on him, he spoke.
“Send the package, and I’ll be in touch.” After the transmission was completed, Nick acknowledged reception.
“This is a small window of opportunity.”
“I’ll let you know,” Nick ended the conversation and packed up his portable satellite uplink once again.
Nick drove to Lighthouse Avenue again; but turned right on 12
th
Street, stopping two blocks down in front of a two story home with a white picket fence, porch, and balcony. It was one of his few excesses. He loved the sprawling four-bedroom place more than anything else in his life.
Inside, tan walls highlighted the dark oak woodwork throughout. Oil paintings of seascapes dominated the wall space. With the satellite gear stored in his downstairs safe room, Nick took a cup of coffee with him to the balcony. He opened his notebook computer at the table. After scanning and opening the burst transmission, the attached picture gripped him as nothing had in decades.
A young woman with sandy hair and shining blue eyes peered out at him, her smile accenting the sprinkle of freckles across the bridge of her nose. She looked so much like a woman he had known in high school that Nick’s sense of reality slipped momentarily. He swallowed and searched the data in her file. At thirty-three, she was five years younger and in no way the girl he had known. The file revealed her name to be Rachel Hunter. Nick’s prospective employer wanted her dead by week’s end. Rachel was under federal witness protection in Pleasanton, California, just north of Nick’s Pacific Grove place.
Nick locked up his house. It took him under two hours to reach the Applebee’s restaurant where Rachel worked. He followed the greeter in and was seated at a window table with a menu. Rachel’s tables were in an area further down on Nick’s right, where he could see her movements without obstruction. She had to pass by his table to reach the kitchen. Nick ordered the soup and salad special with iced tea. He noticed Rachel glance his way as she walked by. Nick smiled at her, and Rachel blushed as if embarrassed he had noticed her looking at him.

 

* * * *

 

Six days later, an immaculately dressed man entered his plush office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He walked to the huge window behind the desk, where it seemed the world lay at his feet. Gazing out at what he thought of as his world, he wondered if the detestably arrogant Mr. Robinson had brought the little blue-eyed canary to room temperature yet.
The fifty-caliber slug went in dead center between his eyes, opening after impact to leave little of his head intact. The man was never to be disturbed during these morning hours. His secretary would not discover the body until nearly noontime. By then, Nick was off the island and on his way west.

 

* * * *

 

“Hey, look there, Carol, it’s Mister Pulp Fiction.”
“Shush, Dan, quit repeating Joe’s insults! Hi, Nick.”
Nick sat on a camping chair in the sand of Otter’s Point Beach. The ocean vista fronting the small beach calmed considerably as it flowed into the narrow cove. A steep rocky cliff poked out to blunt the ocean’s force on the left, while waves crashed rhythmically against the craggy rock barriers jutting out of the water on the right. Although the nearness to the path and road made satellite uplinks a bad idea, Nick loved to visit Otter’s Point in the early morning hours. He liked the cold and salty-tasting air.
Nick looked behind him to the stone wall separating the beach from the road above. It snaked along unevenly to a roughly hewn beach access stairway. He waved at the old couple picking their way carefully down the rock steps to the sand and stood up to greet them.
“Joe told us you stopped in for coffee and insults again this morning,” Dan said, shaking hands with Nick. “He mentioned you were headed here. Where’d you take off to these past couple weeks?”
“Don’t be so nosy, you old goat.” Carol rebuked her husband, but looked at Nick expectantly anyway.
“Field work for Diego’s new adventure,” Nick answered with a smile. “I journeyed to the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Las Vegas for research on romance.”
“Oh…you…bugger,” Carol gasped, shaking her finger at Nick as Dan laughed.
“You suggested I needed more romance in my creepy novels, Carol,” Nick replied, while innocent confusion beamed expertly from his features. “I aim to please.”
“I never…oh, I see…it’s ‘poke fun at the old lady’ day.” Carol tried to look at Nick with stern reserve but started giggling as if she were eighteen instead. “You never give Diego a sense of humor either, by the way. You’re funny, Nick. Diego could be funny.”
“A funny assassin?” Dan snorted. “Oh please…”
“Between you and me, Carol, I can’t give Diego too much of my personality.” Nick looked both ways for witnesses before leaning toward Carol conspiratorially. “It would give away my secret identity.”
This drew laughter from both Dan and Carol. Dan held out the thermal cup he had in his hand to Nick.
“Here, Hemingway, we bought you a cup of coffee for the beach.”
“God bless you, sir.” Nick took the cup in both hands, imitating a street urchin in a Dickens’ novel. “You do the Lord’s work this gray morning.”
“Notice how we’ve been talking for ten minutes, and he still hasn’t told us anything,” Dan said. “The least we could get is a straight answer to one simple question in payment for hauling that heavy coffee all this way for you.”
BOOK: Cold Blooded
9.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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