Authors: Steve Rollins
A Storm Donovan Thriller
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Books by Steve Rollins:
The Jade Dagger
Deal With the Devil
The Peaches of Wang Mu
The Quantico Connection
The Evil That Men Do
STORM DONOVAN THRILLERS
Published by Steve Rollins
Copyright © 2014 by Steve Rollins
All rights reserved.
Ebook Edition, License Notes
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Storm Donovan had just sat and ordered a Jack and Coke when Albert, his good friend and ex-partner, stepped into the restaurant. Albert spotted him and came over.
“You’re late,” Donovan said as Albert sat.
“What else is new? What did you order?”
“Jack and Coke.”
“Not even diet?” Albert waved to the waiter, who came right over. The restaurant, Morton’s, was busy, but the wait staff was always attentive. “Scotch on the rocks.” The waiter nodded and left.
“I don’t need to diet,” said Donovan.
“How old are you?”
“And you think you’re going to stay skinny forever?”
“I’m not skinny,” said Storm. “I’m trim. There’s a difference.”
“Yeah, well, you look skinny.”
Their drinks came. Both men took long pulls and sat back in their chairs. A group of beautiful women in short swing dresses came in. Both men admired them for a heartbeat or two.
“I need your help,” said Storm, as the ladies were shown to their table. Storm was certain one of them had caught his eye; a medium-sized, olive-skinned beauty.
“Figured you did,” said Albert. “It’s not often you say dinner’s on you over the phone.”
“It’s my way of softening you up.”
Their waiter came back to take their orders and Albert ordered the New York strip steak, without even looking. It was the most expensive thing on the menu, Donovan mused, but a promise was a promise.
“Consider me softened,” said Albert. Donovan himself kept looking at the menu quite indecisively. Eventually he ordered the veal with black truffle butter.
Albert was intrigued. “What do you need, Donovan?”
Albert Parker was an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Donovan had worked for the FBI, too, until he realized he hated taking orders from others. Ten years ago, he had opened his own law practice in New York and he liked being his own boss much better. He had five other attorneys on staff and, between his five juniors and himself, they had every legal niche covered. Donovan, himself, didn’t specialize. He’d become known in DUMBO (
Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass)
for taking any and every case that came to him. Parker, his ex-partner, was still his close friend, and Donovan used the man’s resources whenever he could.
“I need to know if the FBI has a file on someone,” said Donovan.
“We have files on lots of people. Tell me why I should give away government secrets to a private dick.”
“Because someone wants me dead.”
“I need more than that.”
“Because I’m buying you the best cut of steak on the East Coast.”
“You make a good argument, my friend. Do you see the hot chick looking at us?”
“She’s looking at me,” said Donovan. “So will you help me?”
“Why does he want you dead? Maybe it’s a valid reason. Maybe it’s something I can get on board for.”
Albert chuckled as their salads came. Both men put orders in for another round of drinks, and Donovan asked the waiter to deliver the attractive girl and her friends a couple of bottles of some good wine. “Good move,” said Albert. “You can kiss that hundred bucks goodbye.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” said Donovan. “Anyway, I helped put his brother in jail for a long time.”
“Who are we talking about here?”
“Twin brothers. Quinn and Denny Lang.”
“Which one’s in jail?”
“So Denny wants you dead. And you know this how?”
“Word on the streets,” said Donovan.
“Streets?” Albert snorted. “You live in DUMBO.”
“We have streets here, too.”
“Fine. I’ll see what I can dig up. Hey, looks like you got that girl’s attention.”
Donovan had been watching, too. The waiter had delivered the two bottles of wine and made a great show of opening them for the ladies. He then pointed to Donovan, who promptly nodded and waved. The girl nodded, too, then raised her left hand high. Even from where Donovan sat, he could see the brilliant sparkle on her ring finger.
Albert laughed and slapped the table hard. “Married. You know how to pick them.”
The girl and her friends laughed, too, and when she was done laughing, she blew him a big kiss. “Better than nothing,” said Donovan. “Besides, married just means I can't keep her.”
Albert was taken aback by that. “Jeesh...”
As they waited for their order, Donovan went over the wine menu; he had half a mind to ask the sommelier to come and give his advice on a bottle that would complement his veal order, but he knew Albert would resent such pretensions.
“So, just out of curiosity,” Albert began. “What did this Quinn Lang go into the clink for?”
Donovan looked down for a second. “You'll find out.”
“I'll find out from you, or I won't find out anything.”
Donovan's lips moved as he swore silently. Albert never bluffed. He did not want to tell the man, but he needed the FBI information. “I got him convicted of smuggling.” The answer was reluctant, and he knew instantly that Albert would recognize it as such too.
“But there's something you're not telling me.”
Donovan sighed. “They have a sister, Mara.”
Albert nodded. He understood instantly. “You screwed the bitch and when they confronted you, you got one of them locked up?”
“Something like that,” Donovan muttered. He quickly took a sip of his Jack and Coke and looked over at the married woman again. He smiled at her. She was a gorgeous creature and he could see her looking at their table. She smiled and he saw her brush her fingers through her hair. His eyes flickered down and he noticed she was angling her leg at him too.
Hook, line and sinker
, he thought.
Their orders arrived and Albert tucked into his order with relish. They had always gotten along, but there was a clear difference between the two men. Albert leaned over his plate and scarfed up his steak while Donovan sat up straight and carefully cut up his veal and transferred the food gracefully to his mouth.
Storm Donovan was from an old family that had first come to America to live in the Rensselaerswyck. He could count Abraham Van Salee as one of his ancestors and his whole family tree was essentially a who's who of the elite of North America.
Albert was nothing of the sort. He had come from a farming town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. His mother had been a hippie who had tried to bring her commune into the town. When the commune had to face the reality of the U.S. society and broke up, his mother had not lost her liking for free love and found it the perfect way to supplement her income. Albert had never known which of the hundred or so men in the town had been his father. They moved around the country like gypsies and had “settled” in New York State when Albert was 6, 11 and 15.
Albert did not speak until he finished his meal, so Donovan entertained himself by casually flirting with the olive beauty in the swing dress. She really was a rare sight. He smiled as he recalled something from a British comedy about a nudity buffer. How it took time to figure out how a woman looked naked, especially trying to figure out her nipple type. It was something that kept him entertained though. Certainly more entertaining than watching Albert belch over his steak.
It took Albert a quarter of an hour to make the steak disappear and by that time, Donovan had drawn out his cigar case and his lighter. He only just finished his own food, but he knew already that he wanted a cigar. “You want one too?” he asked Albert the moment he sat back and rubbed his hands over his belly.
“Nah, I'm laying off them.”
“Wife and me are trying to get pregnant. Seems they are bad for sperm production.”
“Fuck that.” Donovan picked up the cigars and his lighter and got up. “By the way, your wife is trying to get pregnant, or you're trying to get her pregnant. Though looking at that gut of yours, she might have knocked you up already.”
Donovan grinned and walked out onto the small balcony which was the only place they were now allowed to smoke.
The balcony was empty, but at least there were some comfortable seats. He cursed the smoking ban in New York. People had seemed to stop smoking altogether now. Maybe some smoked good cigars at home, but in public there was nothing of the sort any more.
He mused on it as he pulled out one of his Cohibas and smelled it. They were the proper Cohibas, from the plantations and factories founded by Fidel Castro, not the US/Dominican fakes. Not that those were bad cigars, but they simply were not the same thing.
With a sigh, he cut the cigar and flicked open his lighter. The large flame burned bright blue and he put it to the cigar's end. He sucked on it and rolled it around once or twice, making sure it was lit properly and then, clicking his lighter closed again, he sank back into the chair, puffing out a large cloud of smoke.
There was a noise behind him coming from the stairs and he looked up. He half expected to see Albert appear there, having changed his mind about his offer of a cigar, but instead it was the olive-toned woman. She brandished a slim cigarillo and smiled at him. “Got a light for me?”
Donovan frowned. There were not many women in NYC these days who smoked, let alone women who smoked high quality tobacco. “Sure,” he said and flicked open his lighter again. “It's a rare thing.”
The woman lit the cigarillo and puffed out a large cloud of smoke, then sat down on the edge of the seat next to Donovan. She crossed her legs and leaned her elbow on her knee, holding her smoke aloft. Donovan smelled the smoke and thought for a moment. “Sweet Java tobacco?”
The woman nodded, a smile on her face. “Dutch stuff, Mehari Sweet Orient. There are a few stores around here who sell them, but I mainly rely on friends to bring them over from Europe.”
Donovan smiled brightly and leaned forward, taking care not to breathe the smoke straight into the woman's face. That would be rude. But she smelled the smoke and her face lit up even more. “Cohiba?” she placed her hand on his knee and looked seriously at him. “You do know Cuban cigars are illegal, right?”
Donovan nodded, equally serious. “Quite illegal, but I won't tell the cops about your smuggled Dutch cigarillos if you don't tell them about my Cubans.” He broke out in a smile again then. The woman also laughed and she extended her hand to Donovan. “Naomh Walsh,” she introduced herself.
“Storm Donovan.” Donovan took her hand, turned it and placed a gentle kiss on her knuckles, much to Ms. Walsh's delight. “Pleased to meet you.” He wanted to withdraw his hand, but she held on to it and looked into his eyes. Her eyes were twinkling. Her fingers stroked the palm of his hand.
She sucked another cloud of smoke out of the thin cigarillo and then lay it down in the ashtray. She uncrossed her legs, careful not to have a Sharon Stone moment, and stood up. Donovan was momentarily at a loss of what to do or say. His face was inches from her crotch and his hand was still in hers, very close to her hip. He saw her toned legs, the shapely thighs and the calves that were accentuated by her high heels, but he dared not look down or up too obviously. Then she stepped away.
Naomh Walsh walked to the stairs again and then looked back at him, offering him a flirty wink and a wave of her hand. Sure Donovan was looking as she went down the stairs; she gave a tiny wiggle of her pert behind as well.
Donovan was reeling. He was used to his expensive gifts to women being wasted, and he had resigned himself to the fact that this woman was spoken for, but obviously she had decided she was not spoken for after all. He looked at the ashtray and smiled even brighter. She had not stubbed the cigarillo out. Many cigar lovers, including Donovan himself, considered that a grave sin. A sin she had not committed. He also noticed now there was no filter. So she was less concerned about the health effects than about the taste.
He sank back in the chair, cigar in hand, as he thought about that. He could completely fall for a woman like that, he mused. Then he saw a bit of white poking from beneath the ashtray and he sat up again to grab it. It was a business card. “Naomh Walsh, O'Hourihane & Walsh PR” it said on the front, together with a logo. On the back there were two phone numbers and an address. “Call me,” she had written next to one of the numbers in a loopy handwriting, using a thin pencil.
Half an hour later, there was only a few fingers of his cigar left and the smoke that he drew into his mouth was becoming hot. He laid down the cigar and walked back down to the table where he had left Albert. As he sat down he looked over at the table where Naomh Walsh and her friends were seated. The bottles of wine were empty and as he watched them the waiter brought another bottle.
“They're well-oiled by now,” Albert said.
“Getting quite drunk; probably the right time for some bastard to put on a move.”
“So?” Albert frowned at him. “Either entertain me by making a move on one of them or pay the bill and let me get home.”