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Authors: Sean Black

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Ryan Lock 04.5: Lock & Load

BOOK: Ryan Lock 04.5: Lock & Load
8.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Table of Contents

About This Story




















About the Author

Also by Sean Black

Lock & Load


A Ryan Lock Mystery




Sean Black

About This Story

Fresh from an undercover mission inside Pelican Bay Supermax prison in Northern California, close protection operative Ryan Lock and his business partner, Ty Johnson, are in Los Angeles, tasked with protecting a young Hollywood actress from an abusive movie star boyfriend who refuses to accept that their relationship is over. But as Lock knows only too well, and Ty is about to learn, keeping someone safe from harm can be harder than it looks, and damage can come in unexpected forms.

This short story can be read separately from the rest of the Ryan Lock series, as can each full-length novel. For readers following the books in order, the events described here take place between the second book in the series,
, and the third,

Lock & Load
is a little over 15,000 words, or approximately 68 pages in print.

Praise for Sean Black


“Readers, meet Ryan Lock – a tough-guy hero for a new age. But hang on tight, this one burns like a lit fuse.”

Gregg Hurwitz, Sunday Times Bestselling Author of You're Next


“Excellent ... Black’s style is supremely slick.”

The Daily Telegraph


“This series is ace. There are deservedly strong Lee Child comparisons as the author is also a Brit (Scottish), his novels US-based, his character appealing, and his publisher the same.”

The Bookseller


"Sean Black writes with the pace of Lee Child, and the heart of Harlan Coben.”

Joseph Finder, New York Times Bestselling Author of Buried Secrets


"This is a writer, and a hero, to watch.”

The Daily Mail







tightening around her neck, choking off her air supply and leaving black shapes clouding her vision, Summer Clements was too damn scared to think about the irony of being strangled to death by her boyfriend. After all, this was precisely how their relationship had started. The difference was that the first time they had been acting.

   She had met Jason Durham on the set of a movie called
Killing Dawn
. Their first scene had called for their characters to have a blazing row. At the end of it, he strangled her to death. Although the scene would appear at the end of the movie, for scheduling reasons it had been their first time together on the set. The indie movie's low-budget hadn't allowed for any rehearsal time and Jason had only become available when a studio film he was due to shoot had fallen through at the last second due to his drinking and substance abuse problems. Now, six months later, with no crew standing around, or cameras rolling to capture the moment for posterity and no director to call cut, it was happening for real.

   The fingernails of Jason's right hand dug deep into her neck. He squeezed harder, pinning her against the wall. She felt a breeze tumbling in through the sliding glass doors of the beach house's lower deck but she was no longer sure whether the roar she heard in her ears came from the Pacific Ocean or the surge of her own blood.

   Jason stared at her, his pupils pin prick black against the widescreen backdrop of the Queen's necklace, the curve of coast that ran from Point Dume in the north, through Malibu and all way down to Rancho Palos Verdes in the south. Through the glass she saw the blinking red dots of airplanes taking off from LAX. She wished that she had been smart enough to listen to her friends' advice and jump on one of them. Instead, she had taken his word that he'd never lay a finger on her again, a promise that he'd broken twice.


This time had started like the others, with a dumb argument about nothing. They had been out at a nightclub on the Sunset Strip – Jason trying his best to convince the town that he could still roll with young Hollywood, even though he was pushing fifty up a hill. Her saying hello to a young producer she had worked with a few years back had led to Jason punching the guy. They had been asked to leave.

   On the ride back to Malibu, he had fallen into a sullen silence. As she took the ramp onto the 10 freeway, his temper flared.

   "You wanted to screw him, right?"

   "Will you get a grip? I said 'hello' to the guy."

   He lapsed back into silence, which should have been warning enough. Back at the house, she had gone to get a drink from the wet bar.

   "Do you want one?" she asked him.

   "I'm still waiting for you to answer my question, Summer. Did you want to screw him?"

   She knew what was coming next. Her hand shook as she pulled a long-stemmed wine glass from one of the frosted glass bar cabinets and poured herself some Pinot Noir. That was one of the other habits she had picked up since hooking up with Jason – a bottle of wine a night habit to chase down the Ambien she took to get herself to sleep.

   "I'm not answering it because it's stupid. Okay, Jason? It's stupid. Too stupid to give you an answer." She took a slug of wine, thinking this was it. She had finally had enough. No amount of bended-knee apologies or flowers or heartfelt love letters would change it. "How many times, Jason?" she went on. "I'm with you, but I'm not going to be if you keep behaving like a jealous asshole."

   She could see him in the reflection of the bar cabinets as his eyebrows furrowed. "If
behave like this? We're not talking about me here. We're talking about

   He was off on a tear now, his voice bouncing off the walls with that Australian accent she had thought was so cute when they had met and that now had the same effect on her as someone drawing their nails down a chalk board.

   "Do you know how many women I have throwing themselves at me every single time we go out?"

   She rolled her eyes. "I said 'hello' to the guy."

   "Sure you said 'hello', but that wasn't what you meant."

   Maybe he would sleep it off. She picked up her wine glass. "I'm going to bed."

   She walked around the bar and towards the set of stairs on the far side of the house, which led to the master bedroom. As she passed him, he grabbed her wrist. She tried to shake him off, but his grip was too strong.

   "I mean it, Jason. I'm done talking about this."

   "Well, maybe I'm not," he said.

   His lips thinned, his eyes opened, and she knew he had lost it. He let go of her wrist and grabbed her neck. She clawed and scratched at him as he grabbed her with one hand around the throat, and pushed her towards the wall. The more she tried to fight him off, the harder his grip became, until she couldn't breathe. The black spots in her vision grew bigger and merged into a giant mass.


When she came round, she was lying on the floor. He was sitting on the couch on the opposite side of the room. His head was bowed. He was sobbing, fingers kneading his scalp.

"I'm so sorry. I get jealous. I can't help it. You're so beautiful. I see guys looking at you and I can't handle it."

He got up and started towards her. He reached down and helped her to her feet. She was still too weak to do anything so she let him, but inside she knew that she had to get away from him, for good this time.



 word bodyguard, Ryan Lock's least favorite description for his profession had to be bullet catcher. Although sacrificing your life to save the person you were protecting was the ultimate price you might have to pay, close protection work was more a matter of intellect than muscle. In a world that mostly attracted what his former colleagues in the British Royal Military Police's elite close protection unit dubbed 'thick-necked twats', Lock saw himself as more of a problem solver than hired muscle. Right now he was headed to Los Angeles to deal with a rather obstinate Antipodean problem who went by the name of Jason Durham.

   "Man, I could get used to this," said Ty Johnson.

   Lock glanced over at his six foot four black business partner as Ty stretched out his long legs and waved over a member of the private jet's crew to freshen up his drink. Next to Lock, his fiancee, Carrie, was busy tapping away at her Mac Air, their yellow Labrador, Angel, asleep at her feet. She looked over at him and he smiled.

   "You okay, cowboy?"

   He leaned in for a kiss. "Better than okay."

   Across from them, Ty rolled his eyes. "You two are disgusting."

   "Not jealous are you, Tyrone?" Carrie teased.

   "Hey, don't even go there, sister."

   "I dunno, prison together? I've heard the stories about how that goes. And it's not like I'm saying there's anything wrong with it," she teased.

   Ty tutted his disapproval, put his headphones back on and went back to reading his magazine. For his part, Lock was glad that Carrie could find some humor in what had been a terrifying experience for both men when they had recently gone undercover in Pelican Bay Supermax in Northern California.

   "You're bad," Lock said, feigning seriousness.

   "I know," she said brightly, returning to her work, a story she was fleshing out for her job as a TV reporter back in New York.

   Lock dug out a folder of papers outlining his and Ty's latest job and began to review them for the third time. It all looked pretty straightforward – an easy, well paid gig that would tide the business over and pay for his and Carrie's wedding.

   The principal – the term used in close protection circles for the person you were actually protecting – was a young actress called Summer Clements. The threat was a highly unpredictable movie star boyfriend called Jason Durham. Durham had grown up in Australia and built his career on a carefully cultivated tough guy image. From what Lock had gathered, the bar for tough guy status in Hollywood wasn't that high. He also suspected the relationship was partly one of convenience. While Summer's career was in the ascendancy, Jason's was a little rocky. He'd had two recent stints in rehab, several arrests, and obviously had, what in modern parlance had come to be known as anger management issues. Lock thought of them more as asshole management issues.

   Summer's representatives had contacted Lock directly, making him a substantial offer for what amounted to a week's work. Not only did they want their young client protected, he also suspected they wanted him to offer a longer term solution by explaining to her ex, by whatever means he felt most appropriate, that the relationship had indeed ended. Saying yes had been a no-brainer.

   Lock and Ty could be highly persuasive in such situations, and they both could use the injection of cash. Plus, free first class travel and a pretty heavy stipend that included hotel accommodation and a separate place for Lock and Carrie (a beach house in Malibu owned by the actress) hadn't sounded too shabby either. More than that, if there was one thing that Lock didn't have any time for it was guys like Jason Durham. Over the years he had seen the havoc wreaked by men who abused their partners, and while he wasn't sure what the long term solution was, he was happy to make the world a little better one asshole at a time.


As Ty went to collect their rental car, Lock waited with Carrie. She had a get-together planned with a former colleague who had relocated from New York to Los Angeles a few years ago to work for a rival TV network. That would leave Lock free to go meet Summer and get a better feel for what he was dealing with.

   He slipped a hand around his fiancee's waist. Their relationship hadn't been without its bumpy patches, most of which were related to his work, but he still felt like the luckiest man alive. Carrie was beautiful inside and out, a strong woman who knew her own mind, yet hadn't allowed her career to render her cynical about the rest of the human race. He couldn't wait to begin their life together. They already had the dog, who was busy trying to eat the end of the lead and now they could go for the rest of the package; the house with a white picket fence and, hopefully, kids. They'd both had a life spent on the move. Now they craved some quiet domesticity.

BOOK: Ryan Lock 04.5: Lock & Load
8.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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