Authors: Sean Costello
Bush pilot and family man Tom Stokes is about to face the worst day of his life. On a clear winter morning he sets out in his Cessna 180 to do some repairs on a remote hunt camp, leaving his five year old son and very pregnant wife snug in their beds.
On the return trip, a squall forces him into an emergency landing and he winds up—quite literally—in the lap of petty criminal Dale Knight. Dale, now a fugitive from the law—and worse, from a merciless drug lord who just happens to be his brother—draws Tom into a web of mayhem and treachery that puts not only his life at risk, but the lives of his wife, son…and unborn child.
Red Tower Publications
Copyright © 2015 by
Cover art Copyright @2014 Your Scrivener Press
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior written permission.
Red Tower Publications
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
Book Layout © 2014 BookDesignTemplates.com
Squall / Sean Costello
Print ISBN 9781896350547 (October 2014 – Your Scrivener Press)
Friday, January 18, 1:35AM
“Fucking brother of yours,” Ronnie Saxon said, the coke revving her up, making her aggressive. “Treats you like his errand boy.”
Dale Knight drove the big Dodge Ram without looking at her, knowing the eye contact would only make her worse. He flicked the wipers on, fat snowflakes melting as they struck the windshield. Outside, Asian district neon reflected off the accumulated snow, drifts of it smothering the city.
Ronnie said, “You should be partners by now. Look at him, king shit in that big house in Rosedale. Where are we? Cabbagetown. Half a duplex with a plugged toilet, those fucking rappers upstairs playing that street shit half the night.”
She paused to do another hit off her coke mirror and Dale said, “It’ll come, Ronnie. Ed’s just showing me the ropes. He came up this way himself, doing runs for Copeland. It’s how it works.”
“The ropes,” Ronnie said. “Listen to yourself.” She hefted the gym bag out of the footwell in front of her, 250K worth of Randall Copeland’s heroin. “I was you? I’d take this shit and start up on my own. Someplace fresh. Miami, maybe.”
Dale took the bag from her and tossed it on the back seat. “You’re talking shit now, Ronnie. This is Copeland’s dope. Randall Copeland? Remember him?”
A long-established independent in the Toronto Area drug trade, Randall ‘Randy’ Copeland had managed through sheer force of will to maintain a healthy percentage from almost all of the rival factions that had sprung up over the past few decades—the Jamaican posses, the Eastern European
, the Asian triads, even the American biker and youth gangs—mostly by providing safe and reliable distribution, his vast clientele far more terrified of Copeland than they were of his competitors.
Dale said, “My brother told me he watched the man split a guy’s tongue with a pair of tin shears for lying about putting a ding in his Beemer. He’s the last son of a bitch we want to fuck with. Why don’t you just mellow out.”
Ronnie only stared at him, that hard shine in her eyes that made Dale nervous, giving him no idea what was going on inside her head. It made him realize how little he knew about the girl. He’d met her through his brother—one of Ed’s discards, a hand-me-down, like a sweater—and six months later they’re engaged. True, she was fine: that black leather coat flared open to show a little cleavage above a tight red top; legs that went all the way up; all that thick dark hair. But she never talked about her past, only hinted at its flavor, almost like a threat when she got pissed at him and wanted him to know it:
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Dale, so I suggest you just back off.”
He said, “Listen, we’re almost there. I’m gonna go inside and do the deal, you’re gonna wait in the truck. Ten minutes tops. We’re late, so I’ll probably have to put up with some shit about that.” Late because Ronnie’s ‘quick’ stop for blow wound up costing them an hour.
“You saying it’s my fault?”
“We could have picked up your blow
the drop, like I suggested.”
“The day I had, you expect me to wait?”
Letting it go, Dale said, “When I come out we’re gonna take the money to Ed, collect our two grand and that’s the end of it. Fucking coke, makes you hyper.”
Ronnie said, “At least I’m awake,” but the edge was gone from her tone, something else on her mind now. She slipped the smeared coke mirror into her bag, her trim body moving to the
tune on the radio.
Dale slowed the Ram and turned left, then left again into an alley behind a closed Korean take-out joint. He parked beside a black BMW and killed the engine, pocketing the keys. He reached over the seatback for the gym bag and Ronnie leaned into him, manicured fingers squeezing his thigh.
“I’m sorry I bitched you out,” she said, close, minty breath warm in his ear. “I just wanna see us get ahead. We deserve more.”
“It’ll come,” Dale said, suspicious as he always was when she turned on that lovey-dovey shit. But man, she knew how to play him. “Couple more years, maybe we’ll move into the top half of the duplex.”
“Don’t push it, Dale.”
Grinning, he got the gym bag and opened the door. “Ten minutes.”
“Let me come in with you, baby.”
“The mood you’re in? I don’t think so.”
“I’m fine now, honest. Come on, they won’t mind.”
Dale got out of the truck, sinking to his ankles in wet snow. “Forget it, Ronnie. These guys are wrapped way too tight. I go in alone.”
“Lock the doors. It’s a bad neighborhood.”
He closed the door on her protest, thinking,
Stick with the plan.
He’d fucked up more than once already, Ed bringing him into his office to ream him out, like Ed was his father instead of his brother. But Dale never took it personally. He
a fuck-up a lot of the time, the dope getting him into shit he sometimes couldn’t even remember. He’d been clean a few months now, though, even caught a few twelve-step meetings when the itch got nasty enough. Truth was, Ed’s last talk had shaken him.
“Keep it up, Dale, you’re going to find yourself in a bind I can’t pry you out of. In this world, blood only runs so thick.”
Jesus, Ed could be spooky sometimes.
But he was right. Brothers or not, Ed had put his own ass on the line to get him this job, and if he screwed it up, it was Ed who’d have to answer for it. The job itself was easy—drop off the shit, pick up the cash, bring it to Ed and get paid on the spot. Two weeks’ pay at minimum wage in a couple hours. All he had to do was follow the rules.
He banged on the restaurant’s steel service door, then glanced back at the Ram—shit, Ronnie smoking in his brother’s truck, like he needed more trouble with Ed. He turned to say something to her about it and the service door opened on its chain. An Asian guy the size of an outhouse stuck his face in the gap, shark eyes sizing Dale up, then got the chain off and let him inside.
Dale followed him into a storage area where the boss, Trang, and another guy—all three of these dudes in the same sky blue leisure suits—were shooting darts and drinking beers.
Dale stumbled over something on his way in, making a racket, and Trang missed his shot, looking none-too-pleased about it as he turned to face Dale. “You’re late,” he said and let his jacket fall open, giving Dale a clear view of the big semi-auto tucked into the front of his trousers.
“Yeah, Mister Trang,” Dale said, “I’m sorry. I was...unavoidably detained. But I got your product right here.”
“It makes your brother look bad,” Trang said, not letting it go, “showing up late for a quarter million deal.” He touched the black leather briefcase that lay on its side on a service table next to him. A caress. “I should tell him.”
“Sorry, Mister Trang. It won’t happen again.”
Trang’s gaze ticked over Dale’s shoulder now, registering mild surprise. He turned to look at his pals and when he faced Dale again he was smiling, showing small yellow teeth. “But I see you brought us a peace offering,” he said, the smile widening. “Blowjobs all around, eh boys?”
The other two joined Trang in a good laugh and Dale turned to see Ronnie right behind him, strolling past him now, cool as ice, going straight to Trang as the other two flanked him to wait their turn.
Dale said, “Ronnie?” but the girl wasn’t listening.
She sidled up to Trang with lidded eyes, giving him her smokiest smile, one hand going to his thin chest, the fingers of the other loosening his belt.
Ronnie said, “I’ll blow you...”
And Dale saw her hand close around the pistol grip, saw her shoot Trang in the balls and draw the gun from his pants as he fell, tugging once as it snagged, then watched her drop to one knee to gut-shoot the big one, capping the third in the throat as he reached for his piece. The reports slammed Dale’s ears, flat claps of thunder in the cement-walled room. For a moment from the look on her face Dale thought she might turn the gun on him, too.
Then she was moving, sweeping the briefcase off the table, turning to hand it to Dale. He took it and watched her collect the men’s wallets and guns, calling Trang an asshole when his bloodied hand came up to clutch her calf, cursing him again for staining her jeans. She stuffed the swag into a plastic bag she found somewhere and it was all Dale could do not to faint dead away.
Then, with the cool detachment of a farm woman snapping the neck of a hen, Ronnie put a single round into the top of Trang’s head, stifling his frantic screams. She stood over each of the others in turn, but both were already dead.
“See?” she said, looking at Dale now. “That’s how easy it is. Now come on.”
She started for the exit but Dale stood frozen, gaping at the scene, gun smoke smarting his eyes.
Ronnie’s voice: “Dale.”
“Look at me, Dale.”
“It’s like I’ve told you before,” she said, green eyes wildly alive, “there’s a lot you don’t know about me. Now
Head spinning, Dale broke for the exit, running full out now, briefcase in one hand, gym bag in other.