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AVIA IV: Depravity and Detainment
The cousins are at odds when Brian leaves Texas with Avia and drives her home to Sarasota where a medical team is ready to help her kick her heroin habit for good. While he's there, he plans to convince Avia that he's a better choice than Benton.
Panicked that he's going to lose Avia, Benton tries to convince the rest of his family to check him out of the hospital and drive him to Sarasota so that he can woo Avia back. Unfortunately, he's been brought up on charges in Texas and may not get bail so that he can leave the hospital and illegally travel to Florida.
To complicate matters, Locke is now in Sarasota working with the FBI in order to take the Company down for good. All they have to do is convict them of murdering a boat captain.
The Sanchez? They're still in hot water, and it's just getting hotter. In order to avoid being killed by John, they've fled to a compound deep in the swampy woods, but in order to stay, they have to agree to work for the man who owns it.
Avia and Brian
Sunday in Sarasota
Brian snuck out of bed at five in the morning and quickly dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt. Not that he thought anyone would mind if he walked downstairs in his boxers. He was more comfortable dressed, even if it was just a version of his gym clothes.
He still felt hungover from the previous night, but he needed to get some work done before Avia woke up. After tucking her in and making sure she was warm enough without him, he walked down to the office he used when he was at her house. It always amazed him how much Avia’s house felt like his. Brian didn’t own a separate house apart from his room at the McAllen ranch. Occasionally, he went out to an empty cabin he had claimed years ago when he needed to escape L. He was glad Avia didn’t hold his lack of a house against him.
At 36 years old, he should have owned a house, but every time he thought about it, he couldn’t decide where he wanted it. For work purposes, he needed one in Texas, specifically between McAllen and LaPryor. For his personal happiness, he wanted a house close to Avia’s. Either way he sliced it, he was still undecided.
Brian booted his laptop and started looking through his emails. By the time he got to the fifth one, Charles brought in a large mug of coffee.
“Black coffee,” Charles said.
“Thanks.” Brian picked up the mug and took a drink. “Didn’t think you’d be up this early.”
“We’re awake when you’re awake,” Charles said.
“I’m the only one up. Avia is still asleep. I’m just trying to get a jump on today. Feel free to go back to bed.”
“The pot of coffee is in the kitchen,” Charles said.
“Appreciate it.” Brian turned his attention back to his emails. Not five minutes later, there was a knock on the door. “Come in.”
“Cops at the gate. They want our security footage for the cameras facing Avia’s pier,” Charles said.
“Do they have any legal documentation for it?” Brian asked.
“They do not,” Charles said.
“No,” Brian said. “We can’t turn that over.”
“What should I tell them?” Charles asked.
Brian took another drink of his coffee. “Tell them we cannot turn that footage over at this time. Once you do that, ask the security team to make sure I’m not on the footage for the overnight hours. Not me. Not my car.”
“It will be done,” Charles said.
Brian spent another hour working before he shut his laptop down and walked upstairs to the master bedroom. He was thankful Avia was still asleep. Brian took off his sweatpants and t-shirt and slid into the bed next to her. When she rolled onto him, he wrapped his arms around her.
Brian drifted into a light sleep. When Avia moved, Brian could have sworn he’d been in bed less than 30 minutes. He kept his eyes closed. He wanted to see if she was just changing positions or awake.
Avia inhaled and opened her eyes to view Brian's chest. She could feel his arms around her. She stretched and leaned over the bed to open the nightstand.
Brian tightened his grip around her. "What are you after?”
Avia turned her head. “My case. Were you awake?”
"Not really," Brian said. “And you don’t need your case.”
“Like hell, I don’t.” She reached into the drawer. When she felt nothing, she leaned further over the bed to view the inside. All she saw was the bottom. It was empty. “Shit. It’s not here.” She was not in the mood to tear apart the bedroom, trying to figure out where she left it.
Brian pulled her back onto the bed. “Avia, you’re still asleep. It’s not supposed to be there.”
“Where the hell is it?” Avia asked.
Brian could feel the tenseness in her muscles, and her expression was one he knew well. She wanted her heroin and couldn't find it. Unfortunately, he didn't have good news for her. “In a landfill somewhere. They went through the entire house and removed everything before the cops raided it last month.”
"Fuck!" She started to get up but felt Brian holding her in place. "We have to go. I have to..."
"Avy, stop." Brian kept a firm grip on her. "You're fine. We don't have to go anywhere." When she frowned, he continued. “You are on medication.” He turned his head to view the clock. “You get your next dose in about an hour.”
She groaned. “Seriously?”
Brian wrapped his arms around her. “You’re still asleep. Just relax for a minute. Does your head hurt?”
She shook her head.
“Does your stomach hurt?” Brian asked.
“I don’t think so,” Avia said.
“Your next dose of medication is in an hour,” Brian said as he silently hoped she’d wake up enough to understand what he was telling her.
Avia frowned and blinked. “Oh shit.” She sat up, straddling him. “I forgot.”
“It’s all right,” Brian said, relieved that he didn’t have to explain this to her six more times and thankful that he’d been here with her. “All it means is that it was part of your morning routine, but humor me and tell me what you were thinking.”
“I was thinking I needed to hurry up and get out to the pier. My plane is scheduled to arrive, and the sooner I got a hit, the sooner I could take a shower."
“It’s not going to be here for hours, but we do need to get your medicine and take a shower,” Brian said as he sat with his back against the headboard and pulled her against his body.
Avia inhaled and settled against him. "Too bad we don't have that shipment."
“I wish we had it too. That would have been some easy money.”
"What are we going to do about that?" Avia asked.
"I was thinking about taking it directly from the cops," Brian said. “They owe us four million.”
"That is too risky,” Avia said.
"I'll call our contact in the SPD. Get some information, and we’ll make a plan."
"They are not going to have four million dollars, not even between them," Avia said. "I don't think the risk is going to be worth the reward."
Brian pulled the blanket around her shoulders. "What do you want to do?"
"You're asking me?" Avia asked as she relaxed with her head on his shoulder. "You feel good."
Brian chuckled. "Are you starting to calm down?"
"I want your opinion because you seem extremely uncomfortable with the idea," Brian said. "Tell me your thoughts." He kissed the side of her face. He needed to call for her medicine. She was starting to tense, which was a sure sign that she was going into withdrawal.
"I want the stuff they stole from me," Avia said.
"What was that? Drugs? Guns?" Brian asked.
"Drugs, guns, equipment," Avia said.
Brian contemplated. "Are you sure they took it all out of your warehouse before they burned it?"
"None of it was there when I went into the site after the fire was out. Not even the damned ash," Avia said.
"I have to think about that. That's not going to be in the evidence locker downtown. I have to find whatever second or third storage facilities they have."
"Can you do it?" Avia asked.
"Maybe. I’m going to have to think about this and get a serious amount of information."
Avia kissed him.
Brian slid his hands through her hair. "Of course, if we can pull it off, it won't just be your stuff in that warehouse, and cleaning out the entire thing, means the hammer will come down on this entire precinct.”
Avia grinned. "That'll teach them."
“And I’ll fence it through the Vitalis,” Brian said. “Not that I’m happy with them right now.”
“Why can’t we sell it?” Avia asked. “The profit would be much higher.”
“We’ll keep some of it, but the vast majority of it can’t be in our hands.” He slid a hand down her back. “You’re really tense. Do you need your medicine?"
"Is it an injection day?"
"I think it's a pill day. Can you wait, or do you need it now?” He doubted she could wait, but he wanted to give her the choice.
“Now,” Avia said.
Brian picked up the phone and called the medical wing. "I need Avia's medicine up here." He put the phone back on the receiver. "They'll be up here in two minutes.”
"I'll be glad when this is over," Avia said.
"Give it a year. Mornings like this will be a thing of the past."
"I hope it’s sooner than a year," Avia said just as there was a knock on the bedroom door. “That was fast.”
"Come in," Brian said.
"I have Avia's pill," the nurse said.
Avia turned to grab it and the glass of water. She’d felt like shit since she’d opened her eyes. Now, it was really setting in, and Avia wasn’t sure this pill was going to help. However, she swallowed it with the water.
The nurse waited. "That should take about thirty minutes before it starts working."
"She hasn't eaten," Brian said.
"Twenty minutes," the nurse said. "If you don't feel any better after breakfast, let us know."
"Thanks," Avia said.
Brian didn't move until the nurse was out of the bedroom, and the door was shut. He helped Avia off his body and out of the bed. Then, he walked into the bathroom and turned on the hot water. "You’ll feel better after this shower."
"Because the shower takes twenty minutes," Avia said.
"I was trying to be positive. I know you're having a rough morning." He waited a few minutes before testing the water. "It's ready.”
Avia stepped behind Brian and wrapped her arms around him. “I appreciate it.”
Brian turned around and kissed her. "I bet there's coffee downstairs."
"I need a gallon," Avia said.
“If you want a gallon, they’ll make it for you.” Brian grabbed a washcloth and lathered it. He slowly washed her body as if he were giving her a massage. He wanted to take his time so that her medicine kicked in by the time they were finished. Brian tossed the washcloth on the shower floor and grabbed the shampoo. He washed her hair and massaged her scalp. Once he was finished, he nudged her under the water so he could wash his body and hair.
“I may squeak once I get out of here,” Avia said.
Brian laughed. “But how do you feel?”
“Better.” Avia stepped out of the shower and dried her body. She walked over to the sink and brushed her teeth.
By the time she finished rinsing her mouth, Brian was out of the shower.
He wrapped his arms around her and kissed the side of her neck. "We'll put some Bailey's in your coffee."
Avia turned around in his arms and kissed him. "We need to get to the pier."
Brian stepped over to the sink so he could brush his teeth. "We'll do that first thing after breakfast. How are the mechanics getting back to Texas?"
"I have no idea," Avia said as she walked into the bedroom. She threw her towels on the floor and walked into her closet.
"Are they staying here?" Brian walked into the bedroom and located a pair of boxers, undershirt and socks.
"They can," Avia said. "They may want a break from L, and there's nothing for them to do when the Seneca’s not there." She slid a dark green summer dress over her head.
"You're going to become the next Company headquarters." Brian put on his underclothes then searched his closet for a pair of jeans. Charles was notorious for ironing all the jeans and hanging them up.
Avia walked out of the closet. "That doesn't bother me."
Brian slid his jeans on and fastened them. "It doesn't bother me either, but you don't have a maintenance shop or much storage. If this goes on for any length of time, we’ll need to add both.”
"I can build a maintenance shop if I buy the block next to mine on the pier," Avia said. “And I had storage until they burned down my warehouse.”
"You’re gonna make me do math, aren’t you?" Brian located a long-sleeved button shirt and put it on.
"If you want those things, I need more property,” Avia said.
“I’ll run the numbers.” Brian finished dressing and walked downstairs to the kitchen with Avia. Their coffee mugs were already filled and on the table. Brian grabbed the Baileys out of the cabinet and poured a hefty amount into his and Avia’s cups.
Avia took a long drink before sitting down at the table across from Brian.
"Are they landing your Seneca on the water?" Brian asked.
"It has a pontoon conversion. That’s why I want to be there."
"Can you land it on the ground after they do that?" he asked.
"I can. The pontoons have wheels on the bottom. The increased drag is a bitch though."
"What about the landing gear?" Brian asked as the chef placed their plates on the table.
"Locked in the up position," Avia said. She picked up her fork and started eating the hashbrowns and scrambled eggs.
“How do they do that?”
“Steel bar over the controls, and I think they pull the fuse,” Avia said.
“I’m not sure I like that.” Brian drained his coffee while he watched Avia eat. It was obvious to him that she felt better. He sat his cup on the table so it could be refilled and started eating his pile of food. Brian easily had twice as much as her, but he was two and a half times her weight. As he glanced across the table, he realized Breck was missing. “Where’s Breck?”
“Haven’t seen him this morning,” the chef said.
“When he makes an appearance, tell him we’re going to the pier,” Brian said.
Brian speared a sausage link and waved it in front of Avia. “Sausage link.” When she started to tell him she didn’t like them, he stuck it in her mouth.
Avia chewed and swallowed it. “What are you doing?”
“Seeing if you’d eat that.” He speared another link and held it in front of her.
“There’s no ketchup,” Avia said.
Brian dunked it in ketchup.
Avia ate it. “I feel better than I did earlier.”
“Just making sure.” Brian leaned over and kissed the side of her face before he dove into the remaining food on his plate.
Avia laughed. “You act like you haven’t eaten for a week.”
“I love the food here,” Brian said. “It’s a thousand times better than the shit served at L’s ranch.”
“I don’t like the food there either.” Avia picked up her toast and took a bite.
Brian finished his food and coffee then stood. He turned his gaze toward Avia. "You ready to go?"
Avia glanced at her toast.
“Bring your toast. I want to get a jump on something while we’re at the pier.”
Avia looked him up and down and realized he had adjusted himself. She grinned, grabbed her toast and stood. “I’m ready.”
"Did you want to take my car or one of yours?" Brian asked.
"I don't want to drive," Avia said.
"I'll drive," Brian said.
Avia turned to see Charles walking into the kitchen. "Can you get the Mercedes out of the garage?"
"Of course." Charles grabbed the keys off the hook and walked outside.
Brian waited while Charles drove the dark red Mercedes out of the garage.
Avia slid in on the passenger's side and closed the door. By the time she finished her toast, Brian had the engine started.
He drove out of the estate. Instead of turning toward the pier, Brian drove straight.
Avia positioned herself fully onto the seat, turned and wrapped her arms around him. “Where are you going?”
"To get some security cameras," Brian said. "And a better motion detector. And a computer to run all of it." He cast a sideways glance at her when he reached a stoplight. “Did you want something?”
"The mechanics to hurry up with my plane," Avia said. “And to know where you hid it?”
Brian laughed. He knew exactly the ‘it’ she meant. “You can find ‘it’ later, and even if they took off an hour ago, we'll still be stuck there most of the day. I might as well get this done. Your security at the pier is non-existent.”
“It’s been non-existent since it was built. Why is it a problem now?”
“It’s always been a problem. I meant to do it last time I was here, but shit got in the way. Now, with the potential for snooping cops, I need to get it done,” Brian said.
"Shit.” Avia flopped back in the seat. “What about that guy last night? Is my pier going to be a crime scene?"
“Yes, it is.” Brian stepped on the gas when the light changed. "They wanted the security camera footage from our house last night. Specifically, the cameras that face the pier.”
“I don’t think they see that far. That’s three blocks down the road,” Avia said.
“They were probably looking for any cameras in the area,” Brian said. “That road would be an escape route.”
“Did you give it to them?” Avia asked.
“Hell no,” Brian said. “If they want it, they can get a warrant. I’m not in the business of helping the police.”
“Is that why we took my car?” Avia asked.
"The rifle I used is in my trunk. It’s rather expensive, so I’d prefer it not confiscated.”
"I don't know what's in this car," Avia said.
"You're going to look while I get the new security system," Brian said. "You need to throw away any drugs."
"What about guns?" Avia asked.
"Put those away," Brian said.
"I don't know if this car has been modified," Avia said.
"I'm sure it has. I wouldn't be surprised if I did this one myself," Brian said as he turned into the parking lot of a large electronics' store. He turned off the engine and triggered the button to open the trunk.
Avia stepped out of the car and walked around to the trunk.
Brian triggered a button on the underside of the latching bar. A panel in the back of the trunk popped out. "That's your hole. It pushes back into place. You'll feel it latch." When Avia looked at him, he kissed her. "I need to get this crap."
Avia grabbed his shirt and pulled him closer. “Now I remember. You drove off with this car and called me later.”
“Don’t even insinuate that I stole it with as many times as you’ve driven off with my car.” Brian kissed up her neck to her ear. "We will continue this after I install the security cameras."
Avia let go of his shirt. “Oh yeah?"
"If your airplane doesn't arrive by then." Brian turned and walked toward the retail store’s electronic doors.
Avia dug through the glove box, side pockets, backseat and under the seats for any drugs or guns that might have been left in the car from the last time she used it. She found two medicine bottles and a revolver. She tossed the revolver in the trunk compartment and closed it. Then, she closed all the doors and the trunk before walking up to the nearest trash can and throwing the pill bottles away. She hated doing it. There were several grams of heroin in those bottles, but even she had to admit that she wouldn't use heroin that was more than a year old, especially when it was stored in a car.
Avia turned to walk back to the Mercedes when she felt a hand on her arm. She jerked around to view Locke. "What the fuck!"
"You were about to walk in front of a car," Locke said and motioned as a sedan drove past them.
Avia glared at him. "Can you let go of me now?"
Locke released her arm.
"What's going on?" Brian asked as he walked out of the store with a shopping cart full of electronics.
Locke turned to view Brian. "Saving your girlfriend from getting hit by a car." He held up a bag with two two-liters. "Aside from that, I was getting Cokes."
"Thank you," Brian said. He looked at Locke. "And what the hell are you doing here? You’re a little far from home."
"Visiting Josephine," Locke said. "By now, you've probably heard I've been fired."
"I heard you're off our case. I didn’t ask why,” Brian said.
"Fired, pending the conclusion of an investigation," Locke said as he looked at them both.
“Don’t look at me. I don’t have time to make your life a living hell. As you just saw, I have my hands full.” Brian motioned to Avia before guiding her toward the Mercedes.
He put the packages in the trunk then opened Avia’s door. Once she was inside, he closed her door, walked around the car and stepped in on the driver's side. He started the engine and backed out of the parking space.
Avia nudged him with her elbow.
"I know this is your escape city, but he’s not staying at your house. He’s probably staying with Josephine," Brian said.
"I still think he's planning something," Avia said.
"I wouldn’t put it past him." Brian kept his eyes out the windshield as they approached Avia's pier. “But he’s probably here to get fucked, and we have bigger things to tackle.”
“Shit,” Avia said as she counted ten cops and six cop cars on and around her pier. “It’s a crime scene.”
"Hang tight. Let me see if they’ll let us through," Brian said.
“Should we just turn around?” Avia asked.
“Nope. They’ve already seen us.” He turned into the small lot in front of Avia's warehouse and stepped on the brakes when two cops started running for the car. Brian grabbed Avia’s arm when she reached for the door handle. “Don’t. Let me handle this.”
"What are you doing here?" an officer asked as he approached their car.
"This is our warehouse," Brian said.
"That building?" He motioned.
"Yes," Brian said.
"Can you prove that?" the officer asked.
"The deed is in the building," Avia said.
"Is there something going on here?" another officer asked as he approached the car.
"He says he owns that warehouse," the first officer said.
"And the pier you're standing on. What the fuck happened?" Avia asked.
"Someone was shot on that boat last night," the second officer said. "Have you ever seen that boat, and were you expecting a boat at your pier?"
"I've never seen that boat, and it did not have permission to dock here," Avia said. "That's where my airplane docks, and it's due here later today."
"The seaplane may have to wait. We’ll be done when we’re done," the second officer said. "The warehouse is fine. We've already checked around it, but don't go near the pier."
“We have to search them,” the first officer said.
“Let me see your IDs,” the second officer said.
Brian pulled out his ID and Avia’s and handed them to the officer.
“Brian Colcort and Avia Bays,” the second officer said.
“Avia is listed on the deed,” the first officer said.
The second officer handed the IDs back. “Go on. Stay around the building. Don’t go out to the pier.”
"Thank you." He pulled forward in front of the overhead door. “Wait a minute.” Brian checked all the mirrors and around the car. The cops were walking away. “Now open it.”
Avia stepped out of the car and closed the door. She walked up to the overhead door and input the code before pressing the button to open it. She walked inside ahead of the Mercedes and turned on the lights. Once Brian had parked and turned off the engine, she hit the button to close the overhead door.
"That was interesting," Brian said. He was a little miffed that Avia interjected, but since it had worked out well, he decided to let it go.
“That shit makes me nervous,” Avia said.
“They’re just trying to do a job. They don’t want any bullshit. The worst they would have done was tell us to turn around and come back tomorrow.”
"They don't have a clue what happened last night," Avia said.
"They know what happened. Some dumbfuck got shot, but they’ll never put it together enough to arrest anyone.” Brian grabbed the equipment out of the trunk.
“Why do you not dispose of the bodies?” Avia asked.
“Like in the movies?” Brian asked as he waited for Avia to open the door between the garage and living area.
“Yes.” She held the door open for Brian.
“You don’t want to do that these days.” He walked into the kitchen.
Avia closed the door. “Why?”
Brian unboxed the pieces while he talked. “Because the minute you step into a crime scene, you’re going to leave something behind. It could be a fingerprint, a bootprint, hair. Even blood if you happen to get injured while committing the crime. Rich police departments will even look for clothing fibers, like say if my shirt rubbed up against the guy’s jeans and left the equivalent of dryer lint behind. This is why I’ll cut brake lines. I’ll shoot through a window. I don’t want to be in the area if I don’t have to be there.”
Avia grabbed two beers out of the fridge and set both on the kitchen counter. She pushed one toward Brian and opened the other one.
Brian picked a box up off the counter and handed it to her. "Before you get excited, it’s just your new phone.”
“So, it’s not a present.” Avia opened the box and pulled it out.
“It was the nicest one they had in the store. It should be ready to go. That's your regular number. I cleared your messages. It was nothing important." Brian picked up his beer and took a long drink.
"How do you know they weren't important?" Avia asked.
"It was six messages of Benton begging you to answer the phone, and ten from your dealers, or people asking about product that you don’t have.”
"Let me get these cameras setup. Then, hopefully, your plane will be here." Brian said as he resumed pulling out several cameras, wires, a DVD recorder and a few other pieces of equipment. He skimmed the directions for the CCTV system. Once he was certain he knew how to install it, he picked up a camera. "I have eight of these. Where do you want them?"
"Around the doors and focused on the pier," Avia said.
"What about the road?" Brian asked.
"One on the road to see who comes in." Avia took a drink of her beer. "There is a bedroom here, and a full bathroom.”
Brian dug through the drawers for a power drill. He eventually found one under the sink. “Why is there an apartment in here, and are the rest of the tools in the warehouse?"
"They should be," Avia said. “And it’s here in case the delivery is extremely late at night. I’ll hear the buzzer on the back door from the bedroom.”
“Did you want to stay here tonight?” Brian asked then motioned to a door at the far side of the room. "That door?"
"I’d really like a distraction-free night," Avia said. "The light switch is next to the door on the other side."
“Then, that’s what we’ll do.” Brian walked through the door and turned on the light to the warehouse. "Damn. This is empty."
"The giant toolbox thing is along the far wall," Avia said. "I haven't had any shipments here in a long time."
Brian walked back into the living area and grabbed the boxes of equipment. “This may take a while. Stay inside.” He carried the equipment outside.
Avia finished her beer and grabbed another one out of the fridge before making herself comfortable on the couch. She flipped through her new phone for the better part of an hour. It was similar to her old phone, but the screen was bigger. Eventually, she set it on the coffee table and turned the TV to a random movie.
It took Brian two hours to setup the camera system outside. Then, he walked inside and setup the computer system in the large bedroom closet. By the time he finished, it was almost one. “It’s done and operating.”
Avia finished her fourth beer just as Brian walked out of the bedroom. “Does it record?”
"I thought you'd be laying naked on the bed when I walked out of the closet," Brian said. “It does record. There are two drives in the computer. One of them is entirely for video storage.”
"I thought about laying on the bed naked, but my plane radioed. They're an hour out." Avia walked over to the fridge and grabbed another beer.
"How many are in there?" Brian asked.
Avia pulled one out and handed it to him. "Plenty and several cases in the garage. The bar is also fully stocked."
Brian opened his beer and took a drink. "How many people are on that plane?"
"I think it’s just Joe," Avia said.
"Who's that other one you like?"
"Mike, and I don't like him," Avia said.
"I thought you fucked him.”
"He has a cock.”
Avia grabbed her beer and walked over to the couch and sprawled across it. "Are you going to call that cop?"
"Eventually,” Brian said before taking another drink of his beer. "What made you redo the warehouse? This seems like overkill since your house is three blocks away."
"In case they raid the house again," Avia said.
"Is this in your name?" Brian asked.
"That's not going to help you for very long," Brian said. "They could search both."
"Damn," Avia said.
Brian walked into the living area. “It’s still beneficial. It’ll hold excess cargo. The garage helps ensure people don't realize you're here, and you were complaining about all the people you've been around for the last eight months." He leaned down and kissed her. "You have a view of the water, and you can get some private time without your staff if you really need it."
- Hits: 679
AVIA III: Cons and Cops
Kidnapped by the Sanchez, thrown into the backseat of a black Cadillac and hit in the head, Avia is on her own when it comes to escaping her captors and returning to her uncle’s La Pryor ranch. However, she is determined to escape from the blood-covered backseat and disgusting garage where Xavier and Jamie Sanchez have decided to hide after realizing their car’s radiator is leaking.
In the meantime, Benton has been rushed to the hospital suffering from a deep bullet wound to the shoulder. Upon waking from surgery, he is dismayed to learn that Avia is still missing. He demands to be released in order to find her but is refuted by Brian, who tells him that he must stay in the hospital until he’s healed enough to go home. In an effort to calm Benton and to alleviate his own fears about where Avia is and what might be happening to her, he tells Benton that he will go look for her.
Unbeknownst to Benton, Brian has ulterior motives for finding Avia. Her kidnapping has brought to the forefront a barrage of emotions that the Company hitman has yet to deal with, but one this is certain, he can’t stand the thought of losing Avia.
Chapter 1 – Locke
Locke and Josephine Looking for Avia and Benton in Texas - Sunday Evening
Locke looked down at the tires on his rental car as if he expected them to patch themselves and re-inflate. The truth was that they were full of bullets, and the occupants of a black sedan were responsible. He scanned the road in both directions. It was nothing but weeds, dust and scraps of grass or what passed for grass in this area. “This is a desolate stretch of road.”
“I hear sirens,” Archer said.
“I hear them. I don't see them,” Locke said. “You didn't see much of that black car either, did you?”
“It was a black sedan. I caught the tail end of it. Reminded me of a Cadillac, but I can't be sure.”
“Fucking figures,” Locke said as he glanced both ways down the road. “Where are they?”
“Give them a minute. I bet they're coming around that curve,” Archer said as she walked around the car to look at the tires. “Not a scratch on the paint. Tires are done though.”
“I’ve got to give them credit. Whoever that was, was a damned good shot,” Locke said.
“The bad news is that we're not going anywhere any time soon,” she said. “Which, I'm sure was the point.”
“I'm on the same page as you. That was the Company sending a message.”
“If we can prove it, you have your life sentences,” Archer said just as she saw the police cruisers come into view. “There they are.” She motioned.
“It's about time,” Locke said as the first black and white cruiser pulled onto the shoulder of the road and stopped behind them.
“Wow, those tires are flat,” the officer said.
“Shot out. Black sedan,” Locke said.
“They're going to look,” the officer said. “They can't be too far down the road, and we didn't pass any black sedans on the way here.”
“I bet they’re halfway to San Antonio by now,” Locke said.
“We sent units up that way,” the officer said.
“You better call the SAPD too,” Locke said. He glanced at Josephine as they started preparing the rental to be transported on a flat bed tow truck. “We need a new car.”
“That's a rental?” the officer asked.
“It is,” Archer said.
“Call them. They should be willing to bring you another one,” the officer said.
Locke pulled out his cell phone and dialed the rental car company. Once they answered with their standard scripted greeting, he spoke. “I need another car brought to me.” He listened to the pre-fabricated, paragraph of reasons as to why they would not send another car, unless Locke met a variety of conditions that were untenable. “Because this one is now a crime scene.” Locke listened again while the agent had a mini-heart attack. “Look, it's not my damned fault we were involved in a drive-by shooting. I can let you talk to the police officer here if that makes any difference.” Locke rolled his eyes and handed the phone to the officer.
“This is Sargent Frank of the Uvalde police department.” He paused. “That's right. That rental is now a crime scene. They're on a case, and they need another car. The sooner, the better,” He paused. “There's an Enterprise in Uvalde. Look it up.” He handed the phone back to Locke after giving the agent directions to their location on the highway. “They're sending another car.”
Locke put the phone back to his ear. “You better send two cars and bring all your paperwork if you need me to fill anything else out.” He ended the call a minute later. “New car will be here in a few minutes.”
“With any luck, those bullets will match something on file,” the officer said.
“I hope,” Locke said. “That sedan is getting close to San Antonio by now.”
“Thirty to forty-five minutes out, I'd say,” the officer said. “We'll alert the SAPD, but there's only about ten-thousand black sedans up there.”
“We should check to see what kinds of cars are in the Company's name,” Locke said.
“We can do that when we get to town,” Archer said.
“What were you doing before the drive-by?” the officer asked.
“Looking for Grant Bays' ranch,” Archer said.
“It's right up the road.” He motioned. “But blink, and you'll miss it. The dirt road leading up to that house is hard to see.”
“What does it look like?” Archer asked.
“A gap in the cactuses,” the officer said.
“Are you kidding?” Locke asked.
“Not even a little bit,” the officer said.
“There's no sign?” Archer asked.
“No sign. No gate. No fence,” the officer said. “At least, not on the front. I don't know what they have around back, but they do have people patrolling that property twenty-four hours a day.”
“I'm not worried about who's patrolling it. I just want to find it,” Locke said.
“Five miles that way,” He motioned. “Don't blink.”
Locke nodded. He looked at Archer as the officer walked away to help load the rental on the flatbed.
“You know that's on purpose,” Archer said.
“They don't want it found, so the entrance looks like everything else,” Locke said.
“You know it,” Archer said.
“I see the new rental,” Locke said.
“They're slowing down. I bet that's it,” Archer said.
An hour later, Locke and Archer entered the outskirts of La Pryor. It was a nondescript area. Locke could see a few houses and fewer businesses.
“Turn here,” Archer said.
“Left or right?” Locke asked.
Locke made the turn. “I think we passed that ranch and made a wrong turn.”
“I'm sure we did. Let's see if these MapQuest directions get us any closer.” She paused. “Now right,” Josie said. “Then an immediate left.”
“This looks like a residential neighborhood. Are those directions right?” Locke asked.
“MapQuest. Probably not,” Archer said. “I can’t tell you how many times it’s told me to turn right when I really needed to turn left.”
“I think we need to find our way back to the main road before we get lost in these neighborhoods,” Locke said. “This is nowhere near where that officer pointed.”
“Let me try again. Look for a house number,” Archer said. “I already know the street name.”
“I’m looking,” Locke said. “Most of these houses are missing numbers.”
“Turn down this next street. It looks like a main road,” Archer said.
“Which way?” Locke asked.
Locke turned right. “I think we may be entering the retail district or what passes for the retail district.”
“Stop at that gas station. Maybe we can get better directions to that ranch,” Archer said.
“Maybe they've seen Avia,” Locke said. He parked the car and opened his door after removing his keys from the ignition.
Archer closed the passenger's side door. She walked into the gas station and up to the counter. “Excuse me, sir?”
“Yes, ma'am,” the clerk said as he walked up to the counter. “How can I help you?”
“Have you seen this woman?” Archer asked and handed him the printout of Avia's picture.
“Can't say I have. Who is she?” he asked.
“We think she's currently going by the name Avia Bays, but she could also be using Tasha Bays,” Locke said as he stepped next to Chief Archer.
“Never heard of her,” the clerk said.
“What about her uncle? He has a ranch just down the road,” Archer said.
The clerk shook his head. “Lots of ranches around here.”
“If you see her...” Locke handed the man his business card. “I'm Detective Locke. We're looking for her in connection to a case we're working on.”
“I'll give you a call if I see her,” the clerk said.
“Appreciate it,” Locke said.
“Not a problem. Have a good evening,” the clerk said.
Locked walked out of the gas station. “You think he was lying?”
“Hard to tell,” Archer said. “I don't think he was telling us the whole truth.”
“He could be working for them,” Locke said.
“I doubt it,” Archer said. “But he may have other reasons for keeping his mouth shut.” She opened the passenger's side door of their second rental car of the day and stepped inside. She closed her door just as Locke got in on the driver's side.
“I think we should head on to San Antonio and University Hospital. We know Benton is there,” Locke said.
“I agree, but let's get a hotel tonight and get to the hospital early tomorrow morning,” Archer said.
“And get some food,” Locke said as he set the cruise control.
Locke and Archer at the Shimmering Pools Hotel Sunday Night
The drive to San Antonio was an hour and a half.
Locke parked the rental in the lot of the Shimmering Pools hotel and spa. Check-in was quick, and Locke paid with his credit card. He still owed Archer for the flight, and after he subtracted the cost of the room, he still needed to give her eight-hundred-dollars.
Their room was on the top floor. Locke opened the door. He tossed his bag on the first queen bed. The career officer in him didn’t like stopping for the night. He wanted to question Benton, but he could see Josie’s point. They were exhausted after the early morning flight, briefing in McAllen and the drive here. Not to mention, there was a possibility that Benton may not even be conscious yet. The most recent information they had was that Benton was in surgery.
Locke unzipped his bag. The first thing he needed was a shower. “What about your flight tonight?”
“I haven't booked it yet,” Archer said. “They're not going to miss me for another day, but if it takes longer than tomorrow, I need to email or call my deputy.”
“That'll work. I'd like you with me at the hospital tomorrow morning,” Locke said.
“I thought you might,” Archer said as she put her bag on the other side of the bed and opened it. “Did you want first shower?”
Locke dug out a pair of sweatpants, a t-shirt and a pair of boxers from his suitcase. “Go ahead. I can wait.”
It took Archer 15 minutes to shower, and soon Locke was scrubbing the travel-grime from his body, hoping the room’s hot water didn’t run out. Just because it was a luxury spa hotel didn’t mean it had unlimited hot water. Though, for the price of the room, if he did run out of hot water, he’d be on the phone to the front desk.
Locke rinsed and stepped out of the shower. He dried and wrapped the towel around his waist. After stepping over to the sink, he applied toothpaste to his toothbrush and brushed his teeth for the recommended three minutes, which amounted to 180 mental Mississippis. Once he finished, he realized he forgot to bring his clothes into the bathroom with him.
Locke exited the bathroom hesitantly. “I left my clothes on the bed.”
Josie turned her head and grinned. Locke was wrapped in nothing but a towel. “It’s fine. You’re not the only one.”
He turned to view her sitting in the hotel chair, watching TV still wrapped in her towel. “I guess not.” He chuckled. “What’s the occasion?”
“I’ve never been a fan of putting on clothes when my skin is damp,” Josephine said with a slight grin.
“As long as you’re comfortable,” Locke said as he walked over to the bed. He pulled out a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt from his suitcase.
“I have something you should put on,” Josie said.
Locke looked up then smirked. She was holding a condom. “Well, I was thinking we could use a night cap. Of course, that wasn’t the type of cap I envisioned.”
Josie couldn’t help laughing. “What do you think about doing both?”
“I am not opposed, but there’s not much to put your cap on at the moment,” Locke said as he moved to stand in front of her.
Josie removed his towel as she looked up at him. “I think that can be changed.”
- Hits: 702
AVIA ii: Bullets and Betrayal
Greg Locke is the detective who thinks he can put away both Avia and Benton in the next book in the series Avia II Bullets and Betrayal. These two are very close to going to jail or going on vacation to Hawaii when their heist goes bad. They are stuck in a life of crime, and they cannot seem to get out. Thriller author Stacey Carroll tugs you through all the twists and turns of these two and their lives while showing you that crime can pay in the worst ways.
CHAPTER 1--AVIA AND BENTON
Avia coughed, choked and gagged before hanging her head over the hotel toilet and vomiting. Once her stomach was empty, she laid with her back across the stone tiles and looked up at the ceiling while she tried to catch her breath.
In the other room, she could hear her cell phone screaming, alerting her to the fact that she needed to shower, dress and get the hell out of the door so that she could fly to Texas. She groaned. The noise did nothing for her heroin and alcohol-induced headache.
Avia crawled out of the bathroom and grabbed her cell phone off the bedside table before pressing every button to get it to shut up. She then yanked open the bedside drawer and fumbled for her pack of cigarettes.
After pulling one out, she checked the end. Avia barely remembered turning half of them into coco puffs before shooting-up and drinking far too much whiskey. She fumbled the lighter, nearly dropping it before she finally lit the damned thing and inhaled deeply.
Her lethargy and mental fogginess dissipated immediately, having been replaced with the chemical alertness offered by cocaine.
Avia picked herself up off the floor and looked around the hotel room. She was alone. For half a second, Avia couldn't remember why. Then, she remembered the argument. Benton had stormed off to get a separate room under the guise of sleeping.
“Fuck my life,” she muttered before turning and exiting the bedroom for the bathroom.
She needed to shower, dress, pack and get to the airport. She doubted Benton would show. Knowing him, he'd book a commercial flight and arrive in Texas hours after her just to avoid traveling with her.
As she stepped into the shower, Avia decided it was fine. She'd fly by herself. It'd make things easier since she wouldn't have to explain the condition of the Seneca or why it wasn't fixed.
Going down to Texas meant dealing with L, and Avia was not in the mood. Being ordered to travel down there today put her in even less of a good mood. There was a vacation in her immediate future, and she was tempted to take it by herself.
Avia finished showering. She wrapped a towel around her hair and one around her body before walking into the bedroom. Her suitcases were on the floor. She lifted the largest one onto the bed and opened it. Jeans. T-shirts. Socks. Underwear. Avia opted for a light summer dress and sandals. She tied her hair back in a sloppy ponytail and called it good enough. She wasn’t going to a party. She was flying a beater Seneca for 13 hours.
After dressing, she packed her clothes and took one last look around the room for anything she had forgotten. Her black zippered case was inside the bedside table drawer next to the hotel-issued Bible. Forgetting it was not an option.
She reached for it. Avia was 90 percent certain Benton would take a commercial flight. However, the 10 percent chance that Benton would join her stopped her from opening it. Instead, she slid the black zippered case into her bag. If he didn't show, she'd shoot-up in the air after setting the autopilot.
Avia grabbed her bag and walked out of the hotel room. There was no line at the front desk. Avia slid her card. Normally, Benton would have paid, but Avia didn't see him in the lobby and when the elevator doors opened, two elderly couples exited, embroiled in a debate over the best pain relieving muscle cream.
“The gentleman in the room with you?” the desk clerk asked.
“He rented a different room last night,” Avia said as she signed the credit card slip with the name that appeared on the card – Tasha Quade.
She crumpled and trashed the receipt on her way out the lobby doors. The weather looked good. It was still slightly chilly but nothing intolerable. By the time she arrived in Texas, it’d be 80 degrees.
Standing under the carport, Avia scanned the lot for the car before it occurred to her that she'd arrived with Benton. The car in the lot was Benton's, and if she stole his $80,000 Corvette, he’d kill her the next time he saw her.
Avia rolled her eyes. It occurred to her to call a cab to drive to the Dodge Stratus she'd left on the side of the highway, but that was weeks ago. If no one had bothered to steal it, it was impounded somewhere, which was fine with Avia. If it was impounded, no one would find it for years, and it was guaranteed the tow yard would eventually auction it to recoup their storage fees.
Avia walked out of view of the hotel cameras. Most of the cars in the lot were new, which meant automatic, preinstalled, car alarms. None of those would help her this morning.
She started to set her bag on the ground when a 1991 Chevy caught her attention. It was located at the back of the lot but closer to the street than she would have liked. At least, it was dark.
Avia stepped off the curb and walked across the lot, paying attention to any footfalls that might be behind her and sounds of the lobby doors opening. She didn’t hear anything as she approached the car.
She tested the door handle, betting the car was so old the door locks no longer worked. Avia grinned when it opened and tossed her bag into the passenger's seat.
Now, she needed a screwdriver. There was one in her airplane, but it didn't help her here. Avia opened the glove box. Car registration. Pen. Miscellaneous paperwork and a metal nail file. The file would work in a pinch, but she preferred to have the durability of a screwdriver, especially if she had to crack open the underside of the steering column. The nail file was more likely to break in the ignition than start the car.
Avia slid the switch on the dash for the trunk and heard it pop open. She stepped out of the car and walked around to the back. Opening the trunk farther, she noticed it contained a set of jumper cables, an emergency flashlight that plugged into the cigarette lighter, oil, antifreeze, windshield washer fluid and no immediate sign of a toolbox or a screwdriver.
In a car this old, there had to be a screwdriver. Even a rusty one would work. Avia dug a little deeper in the trunk and found a small box. When she reached to grab it, her hand was immediately assaulted by grease, spider webs and God knew what else. Avia gagged as she moved the box to the front of the trunk. She flipped the lid and immediately found the screwdriver she desired.
Avia closed the trunk and walked back to the driver's side of the car. She slid in and closed the door. She had two choices. She could jam the screwdriver into the ignition or break apart the underside of the console. She decided jamming the flathead into the ignition was the better option. Avia turned the screwdriver and listened. The car cranked once. Twice. Three times before the engine roared to life.
Someone was going to miss this later today. She wiped her nasty hand on the passenger’s seat, put the car in gear and backed out of the parking space.
The airport was a 30-minute drive, and soon she was walking around her Seneca with a flashlight, performing a needless preflight. These checks and tests were designed to ensure the plane was safe to fly. Avia already knew it wasn't. They were going to crash in the middle of a tumbleweed and cactus field. There would be an FAA investigation to determine the causes of the bullet holes and other suspicious damage. Technically, Avia needed a ferry permit for this mess, but she didn't want to deal with the paperwork or the fucking A&P who would sign off on it.
Avia walked back to the car. She pulled out a roll of duct tape out of her bag and started retaping the holes in the sheet metal. They didn't call it 500 mile an hour tape for nothing. When she was finished, she checked her watch. It was 4:30AM with no sign of Benton.
She pulled out her pack of Pall Malls and lit one, taking a deep drag. When she felt the rush of cocaine, she dropped the cigarette onto the tarmac and crushed it. She wanted to calm down not amp up. Avia made sure the second one was plain before lighting it and inhaling deeply.
She still needed to fill the hydraulic lines with a bottle of water. She had a second bottle for the landing. While gravity was great for getting the main gear down, it almost never locked the nose wheel into place, and Avia wasn't in the mood to wait for new propellers when she spun hers into the ground.
Avia crushed the half-smoked cigarette under her sandal and picked her bag up off the tarmac. She threw it in the aft cargo hold and put the bottles of water on the front seat. She was ready to climb in when she saw headlights coming towards her from across the tarmac. Avia hoped to hell it wasn't a cop or airport security. Though, she was confident she could talk her way out of both situations by showing her pilot's license or offering a blow job. She didn't care which. Whatever got them off her back and onto someone else's.
As the car approached, Avia realized it wasn't a cop. It looked like Benton’s new Corvette, but under the haze of the airport lighting, she wasn’t certain. Avia stepped down off the wing and walked around to meet the individual in the car. She was alone out here. There was no way they were here for anyone else.
When the man stepped from the car, she realized it was Benton. He hadn't opted for a commercial flight after all. Avia couldn't decide if she was happy or angry.
“Where'd you get that?” Benton asked as he stepped out of the car and motioned towards the 1991 Caprice.
“I wasn’t going to walk here,” Avia said. “And since you decided to leave last night, I didn’t expect you to be here.”
Benton sensed a continuation of last night’s argument and decided to avoid it. If she pushed the point, they could stand here and argue, but arriving in Texas at midnight was not preferable. “Is the plane ready?”
“Yeah,” she said. “If we want to land in Texas at some point today, we need to take off now.”
Benton nodded and walked around to the copilot's side door, which was misleading. It was the only door that led directly into the cabin. “Up and in, Captain.”
Avia stepped onto the wing with a butt-boost from Benton. She slid into the pilot's seat and started her preflight checks as Benton made himself comfortable.
Once the door was closed, Avia started the engines and taxied towards the runway. Since it was an uncontrolled runway, all she needed to do was make sure no one was landing behind her or at the other end of the runway. She also needed to stay below 1,500 feet, or she'd have to talk to ATC at the controlled airport.
Avia saw nothing ahead of her or behind her in the night sky or on the runway, so she pushed both throttles forward along with the propellers and stood on the breaks until the engines reached full speed.
She released the brakes. They were in the air and climbing 20 seconds later. Avia set the autopilot and leaned back in the seat. “Get comfortable. It's a long flight.”
“Shorter than a commercial flight,” Benton said.
“Just because there are no layovers,” Avia said. “The flight time is longer.”
Flying was notoriously boring at night. There was nothing to look at but lights. Small lights in straight lines and predictable curves indicated highways. Large batches of lights were towns and cities, and over the years, they had simply grown larger. Avia remembered when Indianapolis and Plainfield were two different sets of lights. Now, they were continuous, and the map indicated it.
Like most pilots, Avia found flying to be a serious exercise in not falling asleep interjected with moments of mortal terror, and given the status of her plane, she expected terror at some point along this flight. She hoped it wasn't until they crossed into Texas.
As they traversed across the early morning night sky, she could see Benton glancing at her periodically, but he wasn't saying anything. Avia didn't want to talk. What she wanted to do was keep an eye on the gauges, listen to the engine and pump crap through her veins until she passed out, but Benton's presence made the latter impossible.
To her surprise, the Seneca flew well enough. It wasn't perfect, but the autopilot seemed to be able to compensate for the increased drag and other factors that kept their airspeed low and the engines revved high, but Avia couldn't complain. They weren't crashing, and they were almost to L's ranch.
Landing at L’s didn't fill Avia with exuberance either, but staying in the air was not a possibility. They had flown the entire flight without refueling, and the extended tanks were almost empty. She'd get one, maybe two attempts to land before the engines shuddered and choked from lack of fuel.
Avia lined up her black and maroon Seneca for the straight approach into L’s private runway – airspeed 70 knots, flaps 10 degrees, gear down.
Forty-five seconds until touchdown.
She flipped the landing light switch. It flickered. Something was sizzling in the dash. Under ordinary circumstances, she would have turned off the lights, but L’s runway contained zero runway lights, and after a 13-hour flight, the sun was setting.
“The minute this plane lands, L is dead,” Avia said.
“You can’t kill him,” Benton said.
“There’s a 45 under your seat,” Avia said. One headshot was all it would take.
“No,” Benton said.
“Then you kill him,” Avia said as she compensated for the crosswind and added a second notch of flaps while checking the hydraulics’ gauge. Zero pressure. She had the water bottles, but it was too late to fill the reservoir.
“We’re not talking about this right now,” Benton said as he watched her. She was staring at one of the gauges. He couldn’t determine which from his angle.
“We are,” Avia said.
“Land the damned plane,” Benton said as he looked out the windscreen. The runway was approaching too fast and too crooked for his liking.
“It's a crosswind,” Avia said. “Be glad it isn't covered in tumbleweeds.”
She trimmed the plane for 60 knots, pulled the throttle back and watched as the airspeed decreased to 55kts. She pushed the throttle forward. Pulled it back. Fucking wind. Fucking short runway. Ground effect was not her friend this evening, and Avia watched as half the runway disappeared behind them.
Finally, the left wheel touched down followed by the right. Avia pulled the throttle all the way back and pulled the yoke to her chest in an effort to keep the nose wheel off the ground for as long as possible. She suspected it was down but had no way to determine if it was locked.
The short runway had her slamming on the brakes much sooner than she would have liked. The nose of the plane dropped. Avia cringed, waiting for the nose down angle and grinding and shuddering that indicated her propellers were being destroyed by asphalt.
When it didn't happen, she breathed a sigh of relief. Avia kicked the right rudder peddle and revved the engines, spinning the plane around and back-taxiing to the hangar. She turned the engines off for the last 10 feet.
They rolled to a silent stop in front of the closed hangar doors. The mechanics had long since gone to their cabins for the night. Avia was tempted to take a Jeep out to see if any of them were still awake. It wasn't that late – not yet.
Avia turned her head when she heard the door open. Benton was getting out. Avia was tempted to grab the 45 under the seat but knew Benton would confiscate it.
She moved over to the copilot's seat and waited for Benton to get off the wing-step. Avia was halfway out of the plane when she felt his hands around her waist, lowering her onto the dull-gray asphalt tarmac.
“They need to repave this,” Avia said.
Benton slid an arm around her petite waist as they walked toward the Jeep. “Money he doesn't want to spend.” He cast his gaze to the Jeep near the hangar. No driver. That was typical. The keys were under the floor mat. He’d drive.
Avia glanced at the hangar. “I need to talk to the mechanics.”
“Yes. Tonight,” Avia said. “It needs parts. They have to order them.”
“We need to talk to L and get settled. Do it tomorrow morning.” Benton tightened the arm around her waist and guided her towards the waiting Jeep.
Avia broke away from Benton’s grip. “It'll take days to get the damned parts if they don't order them tonight.”
“And just how are they going to do that?” Benton asked. “It's almost 8:30PM. None of our suppliers are open.”
“They can order them online, and the supplier will see the order in the morning,” Avia said.
“There's no online order form. They have to call. The guys have to pull the parts, and we have to pick them up,” Benton said. “There's no UPS in our line of business.”
“That is bullshit.” Avia opened her own door and stepped into the Jeep, making herself as comfortable as possible on the barely padded seat. Both doors slammed in unison. “Then, what are we doing here?”
“Probably that damned run L keeps talking about,” Benton said. “But seriously, whatever the fuck he wants.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” Avia said.
“Not kidding. The sooner we get this shit done, the faster we can leave.”
Avia grumbled and leaned back in the seat. “Fine.”
Benton resisted the urge to roll his eyes. It was a damned argument every time they came down here. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Let's just get to the damned house,” Avia said.
Benton watched her cross her arms and shook his head. She was mad because he didn't want to fuck, left and got his own room. “Sometimes, people need to sleep. Your overactive sex drive can wait.”
“Then, we can wait the entirety of this trip,” Avia said. “I'm sure that would make L happy.”
“You're impossible.” Benton downshifted and turned the Jeep off the dirt road. If they were going to have this discussion, they were doing outside the view of the cameras and any patrols.
“What are you doing?” Avia asked.
Benton gave no answer as he parked the Jeep behind a line of trees. He grabbed the emergency brake and yanked. This was far enough from the mansion to avoid the cameras. It was outside of the patrol areas, and L seldom ventured out back.
Benton slid his seat back with one hand and unfastened his pants with the other. “Come here.” He grabbed her waist and spun her into his lap. His level of frustration was enough to give him a raging erection.
“Benton!” Her right leg slid between the door and the seat. The other settled somewhere near the emergency brake.
- Hits: 2512
Thunderstorms and .45s: 2018 Avia Version
Avia might be able to con a rich woman out of 50 million dollars before her vacation to Hawaii, but she's going to need some help to do it. She has to call in people she terms her "cousins," and she has to deal with the fact that she is still an alcoholic and heroin addict. With the help of Benton, can Avia actually pull off this heist and get out of town before it is too late?
Audio Retail Sample
CHAPTER 1 – THE PICK-UP
It was after midnight when Avia and Victor reached the side of the road about a half mile from the Grand Rapids airport and 500 feet from their Dodge Stratus. Rain pounded the pavement, leaving the visibility of the roads almost nonexistent. The howling wind overpowered the sounds of the creaking signs as they shifted and rattled under the pressure of the fierce storm.
“If this was the east coast, I’d swear we were having a hurricane,” Avia said just as a large boom of thunder drowned out the sounds of the rain and wind. She glanced down at her watch. Her black duster was no longer collecting beads of water. It felt more like a steady stream flowing down her back, starting at her black Fedora. Sighing, she removed her hat for the tenth time, draining the water from the brim before placing it back on her dampening head.
"Are you ready?” Victor asked as he cast a sideways glance at his wet cat of a partner. It wasn’t his idea to do this tonight, but Avia had left him little choice. Ten phone calls and a 13 hour Seneca ride later, he found himself standing on the side of the road in a torrential downpour in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
"Yeah,” Avia said, shaking more water from her head as her heels both crunched and sloshed in the black gravel. She was standing in the middle of a growing mud puddle that hadn’t been there when they had arrived. “Whose idea was this again?” She asked, glancing over at Victor. He had always had good taste in clothing, and tonight was no exception. He would have been better placed at the grand opening of an art gallery than standing on the side of the road.
“This was all you,” he said as he cast a sideways glance at her. At least she had dressed appropriately. Victor had been half-worried that she’d be sporting her usual attire of jeans, tunic, and boots. Instead, his red-headed partner had actually chosen well; black slacks, a white blouse, black stiletto shoes, and a matching overcoat. "Okay, let’s get this show on the road." He checked his watch before sticking his black gloved thumb out to the passing cars. “They should be here in two minutes, if Brian did his damned job.”
“If he didn’t, I am kicking his ass,” she said as she rubbed her aching wrists. This cold weather was not conducive to good circulation, and her ankles were quickly becoming as painful as her wrists.
“You are ninety-five pounds. You’re not kicking anyone’s ass,” Victor said. “What’d you weigh when you got out of rehab?”
“Hundred and five,” Avia said.
“And I saw you right after you got out. You’ve lost weight over the last six months,” he said as a white Camero slowed beside them.
“I have not. I eat,” Avia said as she turned to watch the white car. “What is she driving?”
“Not a Stealth,” Victor said. “I think it’s a white Camero.”
Avia shifted her stance. “They need to hurry. My toes are going numb.” She turned her gaze when a red Jeep started to slow down. “Any chance it’s a red Jeep?”
“No. That wasn’t a car that was listed when Brian sent the report,” Victor said.
“Hang tight. I think I see it,” Victor said.
“If I have to walk to that damned hotel…” Avia said.
“You won’t have to shoot anyone. I see it,” Victor said.
Avia watched as a white Camero slowed down and then pulled over about 20 feet ahead of them. “Finally,” Avia said as she turned to face the rapidly reversing car. She could see the water and gravel spraying up behind the tires. When the car came to a stop, Avia saw the man’s window slide down and his arm beckoning them over.
“Need a ride?" the man asked from the passenger’s side after they had walked within shouting distance.
"Yeah,” Victor said. “We would appreciate it.”
"Get in." The man opened the door and moved his seat forward, allowing Avia and Victor into the tiny back seat.
"Thanks a lot,” Victor said, closing the door.
"Where are you headed?" the woman driving asked as she pulled off the curb and sped down the waterlogged highway.
"The nearest hotel,” Avia said. She gripped the arm rest as the car hydroplaned into the lane. "We came here for a business trip, but it was canceled due to bad weather, and of course, they didn’t send a car.”
“I’ve had that happen more times than I can count,” the woman said.
“Who were you meeting?" the man asked.
"Some investors,” Avia said. “We’re trying to break into the biofuel market.” She paused as if in thought. “We found a few restaurants willing to pay us to take their used cooking oil, but we need some venture capitalists in order to buy the 500 acre farm that we’ll need for storage and processing.”
"Brilliant idea," the man said. “With the fuel prices getting to be the way they are, we certainly need an alternative fuel.”
"You’re telling me," Victor said. “Who would have thought that a barrel of oil would reach past sixty dollars?”
"Sure as hell, not me,” the man said. “And the name’s Brian." He extended his hand backwards and shook Victor’s briefly.
"Tell you what; we’re staying at a hotel, so I guess I could get you a room for a couple of nights,” the woman said. “At least that would give you time to organize another flight.”
"We would be grateful,” Victor said. “But you certainly don’t have to do that. Just getting us to the hotel is enough.” He paused. “And the name’s Victor.”
“Nice to meet you, Victor,” Brian said. “This is Stephanie.”
"Oh, don’t worry about it,” Stephanie said. “It’s the least I could do. You’re both soaked as it is.”
"We really appreciate it," Avia said. "When we get back home, I’d certainly be willing to reimburse you for the room."
"That won’t be necessary," Stephanie said.
“I can’t thank you enough," Victor said as he glanced out the window. With all the rain, he barely recognized the area, but it looked like they were headed downtown.