Authors: Kathryn Thomas
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.
Kade copyright @ 2016 by Kathryn Thomas. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
“Ms. Kelly will see you now,” the suit said as she peered down her nose and peeked over her stylish glasses. The woman behind the desk was the stereotypical uptight assistant. Young and pretty in a severe sort of way, she had her hair pulled tightly back into a bun, and was wearing a suit of either dark blue or black, he couldn’t tell, with a skirt that stopped just above her knee, and a white blouse. She was the type of woman who looked like she’d give a guy frostbite on his dick if he were to try to fuck her, but was probably actually a wildcat in bed.
Kade nodded and rose, smiling slightly and giving her a wink just to goad her into reacting. She smiled back, but it was a professional smile that never touched her eyes.
He’d spent the last ten minutes cooling his heels in the richly appointed office, waiting to see Gail Kelly, the Vice-President and Head of Operations for Kelly Oil. He’d passed the time watching the suit go about her business as she studiously ignored him, building a mental picture of her as he watched.
He had no
idea why he’d been summoned all the way from Rio Bonita to Houston, other than Ms. Kelly had a business proposition for him and promised to make it worth his time. He’d ridden up this morning, leaving at five a.m. for the five-hour ride. He’d changed out of his colors in the parking lot, donning a sport coat, but that was the extent of his dressing up. Jeans, riding boots and no tie would have to do, and if Ms. Kelly didn’t like it, that was her problem.
The suit opened the door to a large office, decorated in oak and leather with pictures of derricks and pumpjacks sporting the Kelly Oil Logo on the walls, then closed the door behind him.
Gail Kelly couldn’t have been more different than he expected. “Mr. Goddard, thank you for coming on such short notice,” the stunningly attractive woman said as she stepped around her desk, smiling warmly as she extended her hand. She was late-forties to perhaps middle-fifties, one of those women who took care of herself and hid her age well. Dressed in a grey pantsuit that fit her perfectly, it showed off her figure to devastating effect.
He yanked his attention back to the matter at hand. “Nice to meet you, Ms. Kelly,” he said as he took the woman’s hand. She had a firm handshake, friendly smile, and he liked her immediately.
“Call me Gail, please.”
“Won’t you please sit down,” she said motioning to a chair. As he settled into the indicated chair, she joined him in a matching one. “I’ll come straight to the point. I’ve got a problem and I think you can help me.”
“Help you how?”
“We’re having some security problems on our wells in the area near you. Kelly Oil, along with the other drillers in the area, is dealing with a rise in vandalism. Lots of cut fences, damage to the pumps, that sort of thing. The normal sort of stuff. We’re dealing with that as best we can, but we, Kelly Oil I mean, have an additional concern.”
He blinked, trying to keep up. “Your niece?”
“That’s right. She’s our lead geologist and she’s in the field in your area. I want you to keep an eye on her for me.”
“Why me? And why does she need someone to keep an eye on her?”
“Let me answer the second part first. We are opening a field that is the last of the undeveloped Eagle Ford Group in southern Maverick and northern Webb Counties. We believe the drilling activity all around has pushed all the drug smugglers and Coyotes into the band we are now exploring. We have no proof, but, frankly, I think the bad guys are starting to push back.”
He nodded. “Okay, but that doesn’t answer the question of why me.”
She smiled. “First off, you know the area. We were asking around, looking for someone who knew the area who could consult with our security firm, and your name came up several times. You’re a member of the Santanás Cuervo, right?”
“Yes,” he said slowly.
“I want to hire you to watch her.”
“But why? Can’t your normal security group do that?”
“The why is easy. Someone took a shot at her a few days ago. Scared the crap out of her dad, me, and Winter all. We don’t—”
“Winter?” he interrupted.
“Winter Kelly. It’s actually Elizabeth Winter Kelly, but she goes by Winter. Anyway, we don’t know if she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or if the shot was actually meant for her. Either way, we need someone to keep an eye on her.”
“And the second part of the question? Why us instead of your normal security group?”
“We contract out well security. We, along with the other producers in the area, have a contractor who patrols the wellheads for us. They do a pretty good job of that, but they aren’t setup to watch one person. Winter moves around a lot. WSS is set up for static security, like on pumps. But, in addition to watching Winter, we’d also like you to consult with WSS and help them know where they need to focus their attention, that sort of thing, to try to get a handle on this vandalism and theft problem, as well.”
“How’d you get our name again?”
She grinned. “Does it matter?”
“Yeah, a little.”
“The Maverick County Sherriff’s department.”
“Oh,” he grunted.
“Obviously with your history we were a little hesitant, but everyone in the area agrees the Santanás Cuervo have, shall we say, turned over a new leaf.”
He kept his face carefully neutral. “We’ve put our past behind us, yes.”
“They also said you know the area as well as, or better than, anyone. That’s what we need. A local outfit who knows the area and has the resources to protect Winter. You’re our only option. We could hire an outside firm for protection, but they won’t know what to watch for, what will seem out of place, and you’re the only local group that’s big enough, and organized enough, to do the job.”
“Ms. Kelly, I don’t believe we can help you,” he said softly.
“Why’s that? I can make it worth your time.”
“We don’t know anything about personal security and I don’t want to be responsible for your niece getting hurt. Out there in the desert there is no place to hide. A man with a rifle can take a shot from three hundred, maybe four hundred yards. There’s no way to protect against that.”
She was more than a little surprised at his reluctance to accept the job. She thought the Santanás Cuervo would jump at the offer, and his hesitation and quick assessment of the risks only confirmed in her mind the Cuervo’s were the best of her limited options. The three personal security firms she’d contacted before reaching out to Kade wouldn’t touch the job either, for the same reason.
“Which is why I need
. You know the area and you know the locals. You’ll know if something seems out of place where an outside firm won’t. Kelly Oil will support you any way we can. Please, Kade. I need you. I know your club has fallen on some tough times, and this could be the break you’ve been looking for.”
He stared at the Houston skyline a moment, thinking.
She’s right. This could be the thing we need to get the club back on its feet, and we would be doing something positive instead of something destructive. God knows the club needs the money, and maybe, just maybe, this can become our new niche.
“What are you offering?”
Gail smiled. “A thousand dollars a day for around-the-clock security.”
“For how long?”
“For as long as it takes.”
He frowned. “Are we talking days, weeks, or years?”
She laughed. “Maybe a couple of months. Not years. This is just for while she’s in the field, and until we can get a handle on the overall security problem. I would figure on no more than three months, tops. Probably less. By then Winter should have her soundings complete and will be back in Houston. After that, we won’t need you anymore.”
He knew he was going to take the job, but he didn’t want to seem to eager. “We’ll need payment up front.”
She nodded. “I’ll have accounting cut you a check for eighteen thousand dollars before you leave. That’ll cover the rest of this month. After that, you can bill us.”
He smiled. “I think we have a deal.”
She grinned as she rose and extended her hand. “Before you leave, I’ll find out where Winter is set up. I’m not going to try to tell you how to do your business. Work with her. If she gives you any problems, you have her call me or Hayden.”
He shook her hand. “Should I expect problems?”
Her grin grew wider. “Winter’s a good girl, but she can be headstrong, just like her father.”
He nodded. “We’ll work something out.”
“Good enough. I’m depending on you to keep her safe, Kade.”
“We’ll take good care of her,” he replied as she escorted him to the door and opened it.
“Please do. Melissa! Have accounting cut a check to Mr. Goddard for eighteen thousand dollars and have it brought up right away. Tell them book it to the security account. Also, find out where Winter is sounding and let Mr. Goddard know.”
“Yes, ma’am,” the suit replied.
“When Randy gets here, send him in.”
Gail closed her door and grinned widely. “Mmm, mmm, mmm. Winter, you can thank me later!” she murmured to herself as she walked back to her desk.
Kade was a serious honey. An interesting blend of cowboy and bad boy, he was young, tall, well built and sun-kissed, just the way she liked them. She smiled as she settled behind her desk, thinking how it was too bad she was married; otherwise she might need a little personal protection herself.
He returned to his chair while Melissa worked the phone. “Let me take you to lunch for all your help,” he said as she hung up.
She looked over her glasses at him again. “I have to stay with Ms. Kelly. But thank you for asking.”
He didn’t care if she went to lunch with him or not, but he was enjoying needling her. “Fine, I’ll take you both to lunch.”
“Ms. Kelly has a lunch meeting.”
He grinned as he looked away.
he chuckled to himself as he settled down to wait for his check and directions to find Winter.
Winter Kelly sat in the recording truck, a Ford F750 with a large climate-controlled box where the recording crew could work, watching the data flow in from the geophones. She’d spent the last six months rewriting her density subroutines to process the data at a more granular level for improved delineation between the various densities, and she’d added color to make the data easier to read and understand.
She’d been working on this project for most of her adult life. She’d gone to school to be a geologist, following in the footsteps of her father, but then taught herself programming in order to write the software she was field testing. She’d written the original software as part of her PhD work, and it had worked as a proof of concept, but that original version had more bugs than the Amazonian rainforest. For the last two years she had been systematically refining the software, making it more accurate and robust.
This was the first field test after the subroutine rewrites and she was mentally keeping her fingers crossed
would be the final test of the density calculation routines. The software was still clunky, and ugly, but that was something she could clean up later. The important part of the software was the algorithms that calculated density. Once she had that working properly, everything else was easy.
She listened to the chatter over the radio as the thumper trucks inched their way along, stopping every two meters to lower their heavy steel plates and vibrate the ground. The shockwaves they generated traveled through the earth, reflected off of the strata underneath, and were picked up by the ultra-sensitive geophones her team had deployed. It was slow, tedious work, but it saved millions by giving people like her a chance to see what was under their feet before they sunk a well.