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Torn (The Caregiver Book 2) – Chapter 3

Cover for Torn, The Caregiver Book 2Another sneak peek! This book is being edited by the lovely Stacia Rogan (check out her website, she rocks!). This isn’t the final version of the text but I know I’ve kept you waiting for too long, so here it is. Enjoy!

Read Chapter 1, Chapter 2.

Chapter 3

Come on, scumbag. Blow that motherfucker’s head off!” My grandfather’s voice was always grave, always loud.

The famous Adrian Lang couldn’t drop the attitude for nothing.

I pulled the machine gun’s trigger. Ratatatatatatatatatatatatatatatat. Clickclickclickclick.

I shot him a glance. He was standing close behind me, sucking on a cigar as he walked towards the card and studied it.

So?”

You know better than talking to me like that.”

Anger made my face go red. For a moment I thought he’d stride to my side and slap me across the face, like he usually did. This time he stood his ground.

You’re not quite there yet.”

The machine gun felt hot in my hand. I looked down, saw my distressed jeans, and realized I was no more than sixteen years old.

He shifted towards me on the balls of his feet, his hand making a fist. Here it comes, I thought. However, before I knew it, the machine gun went off again. I couldn’t stop it as it shot a whole round directly into his belly, cutting him in half. Blood splattered the card and the floor as both his halves slid to the ground.

Nice one.” A voice came from behind, one that made my knees wobble.

Ferdinand —my ex-boyfriend, coworker at the Interpol, and messenger of my guilty conscience— was standing behind me, his eyes fixed on me.

Ferdinand? You’re dead.”

You just can’t help hurting the ones who love you.”

He hated me. You knew that.”

He shook his head slowly. “Not at all, Scarlett. Not at all.”

Then the machine gun went on again and…

I woke up with a jolt, gasping for air. I frantically surveyed the place with my eyes. It had been a week already and I was out of the intensive care unit and in a private, more comfortable room.

What the fuck?!” I tried to sit but my left wrist was bound to the bed.

Whoa!” Johanna jumped to my side. “You’re all right.”

I am not! I’m tied to this…” I trailed off as another face came to view, one that made me frown.

You were pulling on your bandages in your sleep.” Jimmy stood at the feet of the bed, one hand on his hip, pulling his suit jacket back and giving me a clear view of the gun holstered inside.

How long have you been here?”

And hour maybe? You were already bound so don’t go thinking it was my idea.”

I was worried you’d actually rip it off.” Johanna hastened to release me.

Once my hand was free I rubbed my wrist. The bandage around my right shoulder didn’t lend me much mobility, but it didn’t hurt as bad anymore. My left arm, on the other hand, didn’t hurt at all. The bed was already in an almost sitting position, so I just pushed myself up with my left hand while keeping my right arm close to my torso.

What time is it?”

Almost noon.” Jimmy answered before Johanna could even look at her watch. “I don’t have much time.”

I’m starving.” I said under my breath as I tried to pull the blanket over my chest.

I’ll see what I can do about that.” Johanna grinned at me, but I could tell Jimmy’s presence was unsettling for her.

That would be very nice of you.” I smiled back, trying to ease her. “Mr. Gordon won’t be here too long. Right?”

Not at all.” He looked annoyed.

Johanna nodded at him and scurried away.

Jimmy waited until the door was completely shut to stand on the spot Johanna had vacated and speak. “Got yourself a lackey?”

They let you bring your toys in here, Jimmy?”

I’m an agent. Remember? Heard Armand made it out alive. Is that true?”

So they say. I bet you knew about Romulus’ plan.”

No. I didn’t. Never thought he’d try to get Armand killed.”

Some people don’t take blackmailing lightly.” I avoided his glance and proceeded. “Are you here to arrest me or something? Bet the hospital is surrounded.”

It is, but, no. I’m not here to arrest you. Still undercover. Desmond is alive and giving orders from jail.”

Is that so?”

We’ve already had to deal with a lot of fallen men. But you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”

Not a thing.”

He scoffed. “Armand’s forgotten about you so quickly? You’ve been here what? A week?”

He’s just waiting for the right moment to get me out of here.”

What makes you so sure?”

I twisted my head towards him and, even through the pain in my shoulder, held his stare. “What makes you think he won’t?”

Come on, Scarlett. You can’t possibly think he’s in love with you.”

Now that made me angry. “What the fuck, Jimmy? What did I ever do to you?”

I’m not here as a cop or as one of MacGowan’s henchmen.” His tone turned grave as he spoke through his clenched teeth. “I’m here as Ferdinand’s best friend. You hurt him, Scarlett; never forget that. He worried about you even when he knew you didn’t love him as much as he loved you. I’m here because he made me swear I’ll protect you if he was gone. He knew he’d die, he felt it coming. And even then, he only thought of you, of your safety. Is this how you repay him? Killing Romulus so you can run away with that bastard?”

You better not talk about Armand that way ever again.”

What are you to him, really? Any female agent we sent into that mission would’ve ended up in bed with him. Haven’t thought about that, have you?”

Fuck you, Jimmy. I don’t need this.” I tried to hit him with the back of my left fist but he caught my wrist midair.

No, Scarlett. You have to wake up. You’ve fucked yourself and I can help you.”

Fucked myself? More like saved myself.”

You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

We’re expendable, Jimmy. Never forget that. Romulus was a piece of shit.”

I tried to free my arm from his grip but before I could do anything the heel of his other hand connected with my right shoulder.

Aaaagh!” The pain made my eyes water as I jerked back, gasping for air. “Fuuuuuck!”

To this day I still ask myself what the hell it was Ferdinand saw in you.” He rummaged in his pocket for something, produced a photo, and held it to my face. “This is what he was saving you from. This is the reason MacGowan wanted to abduct you. And this is the reason you’ll be dead soon enough if you don’t accept my offer.”

I recognized Cisneros’ and MacGowan’s faces in the picture, yet it was the third one that made my insides churn, making me want to run for the bathroom and puke my guts out. Only that getting on my feet wouldn’t be an easy thing to do and I knew I wouldn’t make it on time if I tried. Measuring my options, I opted for swallowing hard.

That’s right.” Jimmy shoved the photo back into his pocket. “Xavi Pontevedra is in London and he’s here to kill you.”

This changed everything. Xavi Pontevedra, the man who had held me captive in a brothel during the Gibraltar mission, was out of jail, seeking revenge, while I was bound to a hospital bed.

There’s so much you don’t know, Scarlett.”

And you’re going to tell me?”

All in due time.”

Fuck off then!”

Jimmy left, leaving me huffing and puffing both from the pain and the desperation that overcame me.

At least he won’t get to me here with the police guarding this goddamn place, I thought as I pressed the nurse’s call button.

****

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Torn (The Caregiver Book 2) – Chapter 2 + Cover Reveal!

The sneak peek you’ve all been waiting for, now with cover reveal!

Cover for Torn, The Caregiver Book 2

This book is being edited by the lovely Stacia Rogan (check out her website, she rocks!). This isn’t the final version of the text but I know I’ve kept you waiting for too long, so here it is. Enjoy!

Read Chapter 1 here.

Chapter 2

I woke to the sensation of something stuck inside my throat. I wanted to pull it out but my right arm was bound and when I tried to break free, it felt as if a knife went through the upper right side of my chest.

Easy! Easy!” A woman’s voice came out of nowhere. “You’re all right.” She soothed me. “I’ll get that for you.”

I coughed out the feeling of the tube being pulled out through my mouth, trying hard not to puke. It felt as if there was an anvil resting on my forehead. Breathing was hard, and I had to blink a couple of times in order to focus my sight on the nurse looking over me. She was pretty, with dark hair and caramel eyes.

Be calm.” She interrupted me when I was about to speak. “Your throat may hurt. Do you want to sit?”

Yeah, shutting up was probably a better option. I nodded and she helped me get into a sitting position before securing a nasal cannula around my head and under my nose. She then rearranged the blanket around my chest.

There were tubes and monitors all around me. A nice-looking, disinfectant-smelling intensive care room if you asked me.

I’ll get Dr. Williams.” Her smiling brown eyes shone under the dark fringe.

I managed to peek through the door when she walked out of the room and saw a man standing outside, dressed in black. I figured it would be a Met officer. The whole place must been flooded with Met, Interpol, SOCA… the whole lot.

All of a sudden everything was coming back to me. Armand being handcuffed, shooting Romulus… I felt my face get hot and had to blink back the tears.

Good morning, Miss Lang.” A doctor strode into the room, clipboard in hand, followed by the nurse. He was tall, with auburn hair tied back into a ponytail. “How do you feel?”

I’ve been better.”

My name is Dr. Williams and this is Johanna. She’ll be your nurse all the way through your stay here.” He checked my drips. “Are you in pain right now?”

A bit, yes.” I tried to push myself up but my left arm protested. “How long have I been out?”

A little over forty-eight hours. You were shot on your left upper arm, your right leg and the right side of your chest, where the bullet went through, exiting through your back. Both your left arm and right leg wounds will heal promptly since the bullets tore little muscle. The one on your chest is another story.” He and the nurse stood on each side of the bed. “Thankfully, it was a small caliber, but it did fracture your clavicle and shoulder blade. You were lucky it didn’t hit an artery.”

He took a pen out of his pocket, scribbled something on a paper, detached it from the clipboard, and handed it to me.

What-?”

Let me take a look at your stitches.” He crossed me, eying the piece of paper in my hand.

Armand is alive and well. He asks for you to be patient.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I turned to the nurse and she smiled.

The heat came back to my face. He was alive.

The doctor had set his clipboard on the bed and was looking intently at me, awaiting my answer.

Yes. Sure. Okay.” I let him uncover my wounded shoulder.

I reread the note before Johanna took it and threw it in a rubbish bin.

He’s one of our top donors,” the doctor whispered to my ear. “Funded most of our pediatrics burns centre.”

Armand the philanthropist. I can’t say I was surprised.

The instinct to turn my head towards him spiked a sting-like pain that rode from my shoulder up to my neck.

Ow.” I breathed.

Try not to do that. And keep your arm in the sling at all times. It’ll take some time to heal completely.” He replaced my bandages and set the sling back in place. “Your leg and arm will take less time.”

I bent my right leg at the knee and, yes, it didn’t feel as bad.

He grabbed the clipboard. “You will be transferred to a private room. Johanna will take good care of you.” He scribbled something on his clipboard again, this time it wasn’t for me to see. “Get some rest now. I’ll see you again tomorrow.”

As soon as he walked out of the room, Johanna produced a syringe from one of her pockets.

This will make you feel better in no time.” She said as she injected its contents into my IV.

What about George?” I bet she knew.

He’s with Mr. Sayer.” She disposed of the syringe before getting back to me. “Now try and get some sleep.”

They were both alive. The thought of it made me feel so much better. Or was it the meds?

I closed my eyes and tried not to think about anything.

But dreams don’t take orders from anyone.

****

Torn (The Caregiver Book 2) – Chapter 1

The sneak peek you’ve all been waiting for! This book is being edited by the lovely Stacia Rogan (check out her website, she rocks!). This isn’t the final version of the text but I know I’ve kept you waiting for too long, so here it is. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

What the fuck have you done?!” I heard Sayer shout in the distance, then the shuffling of hands over me.

I guessed they were the paramedics because I didn’t want to open my eyes again. I had killed the beast, whom, to everyone’s surprise, wasn’t the drug lord that was now being held back by a Met officer, but my supervisor at the Interpol. I had shot him down in order to save the man I loved. I’d become an Interpol agent gone rogue and that would ensure chaos.

Scarlett,” someone whispered. “Scarlett! Open your eyes. Stay with me.”

I obliged and saw Patrick, the young man who’d become the drug lord’s apprentice, walking next to the stretcher I was being transferred in.

The first thing that came to my mind was to ask him where the fuck he had been while all hell broke loose. But the mix of blood and bile in my mouth didn’t let me speak–neither did the oxygen mask covering half my face.

I wanted to drift away into some fairyland filled with light, green grass, ponds, and birds chirping in the background. Or the fiery pits of hell, I didn’t really care which as the pain burnt my limbs.

Armand?” I managed to spit some of the blood that threatened to drown me and someone removed my oxygen mask for a moment. “Where’s Armand?”

He’s been taken in, but don’t worry, it’s all part of the plan.”

Oh, now he told me about the plan. He had refused to do so when I asked him, before it all went berserk and the rival drug dealer, Max MacGowan, and his men got into a shooting with Met and Interpol agents outside the church where the service for Sayer’s dead sister was taking place. All I knew about the plan was to let MacGowan’s men scoop me up and then duck when the bullets started flying. And yeah, that last part I made up myself.

However, I wasn’t expecting Romulus —my now dead supervisor— to want Armand dead. Or should I had come to that conclusion on my own given the fact that Armand had blackmailed him in order to keep me by his side?

It was all very confusing.

No, it can’t be.” My speech sounded more like mumbling, but he seemed to understand. “That officer arresting Armand wasn’t… Aaaaagh!”

One of the paramedics applied pressure to the wound in my leg and I felt as if the life was being taken away from my body. Coldness overcame me and everything went dark.

****

Armand wanted to stay with her. He knew she was in pain and all his instinct told him to do was free his hands so he could hold her and, by some miraculous way, transfer it to him. His mind boggled at the thought of what she must have been going through.

Nonetheless, there were other things to worry about. He knew she’d be taken to a hospital under heavy police guard. It was better that she was treated there rather than find some surgeon to do it god-knows-where and under unsanitary circumstances.

He walked towards the police vehicle feeling like the weight of the world had landed on his shoulders, sadness making his chest tight. George welcomed him into the backseat with a silent nod, his features dark while his mind fixated elsewhere. His cane sat between them as a mute witness of their mutual preoccupation.

The officer that arrested George rode on the passenger seat while the one who handcuffed Armand drove them away, waving to his colleagues as they moved aside to let the car through. Once they were away from the scene, Armand stared out the window, his mind still on Scarlett.

Mr. Sayer?” The driver interrupted his thoughts.

Yes?” Armand watched him through the rearview mirror as he took off his cap and ran his fingers through his hair. He was probably around Scarlett’s age.

That was Adrian Lang’s granddaughter, wasn’t she? Scarlett?”

The officer on the passenger side turned to his partner, confused.

Armand exchanged a glance with George before answering, “Yes.”

I knew she recognized me as soon as she saw me.”

The other officer gaped at his companion. “What the f-?” Was all he managed to say before the driver shot him in the head.

The bullet shattered the window, blood covering everything around the man that now sat with his chin pressed against his chest, a hole in the back of his head.

You’re not a cop.” Armand looked away.

No, sir.” The officer-turned-killer rummaged for something, then handed George the keys to their handcuffs. “I’m a contract killer, trained by Adrian Lang himself.”

The sudden revelation was unsettling, but Armand had to keep his cool. “Who sent you?”

Let’s say my employer was just murdered by your… wife?”

Not yet.” He drawled. “So, the paying party in your contract is dead.”

George took off Sayer’s handcuffs and his employer did likewise for him.

Is he?” The officer-that-wasn’t grinned through the mirror. “Where to, sir?”

My house isn’t far from here, you can drop us wherever you find convenient.”

Very well, sir.” He grinned, then added, “He never told us who our target was associated with.”

Armand shot another glance at the man that would’ve been his murderer, but this time the latter was focused on the road.

Scarlett, he thought, you’re just full of surprises.

I’ll see that you are well compensated for this.”

The man parked a couple of houses down from Armand’s. George stepped out first.

Armand hesitated for a second before getting out. “Do you know where I can find Mr. Lang? He should know what happened.”

He’s retired. Living in the Caribbean, I believe. I can help you with that if you’d like.”

Retirement. That was a word he might not hear again after this.

I would be very grateful for that.” He was about to step out when he paused again. “I didn’t catch your name.”

Miguel, but they call me Michael around these parts.”

Thank you, Michael.”

Anytime, sir.”

Both men went into the house without uttering a word. George set to packing everything he could while Armand took out his mobile and started making calls on the way to his bedroom.

He rang Patrick first and was glad to learn Scarlett was taken to a hospital he knew well.

What’s her status?” he asked as he took off his bloodstained jacket.

She went into shock during the ride to the hospital. They thought they lost her, but she came back. She’s lost a lot of blood. She’s in the operating theatre and they’re trying to get the bullets out.”

Armand felt as if the ground was being removed from under him, so he held onto the dresser and took a deep breath before asking, “How many cops?”

Loads. Met, Interpol, Scotland Yard… They’ve been asking a lot of questions.”

Don’t worry if they take you in, I’m sending a lawyer to get you out.”

Will do, sir.”

He hung up. A sense of despair overwhelmed him. He was the one who was supposed to be there. His was the first face she should see when she woke up instead of some doctor’s. But, alas, that wasn’t possible, so he had to make sure she was safe.

Searching through his mobile’s contacts he found the perfect person to call.

Sayer?” George peeked through the door.

The call could wait. They had to get out of there before the police realized they never made it to the station. He handed George his mobile, took off his shirt, and searched in his wardrobe for a clean one. “I need you to contact Bradley and Ollie and tell them to head to the hospital to check on her. Make arrangements with the rest for when we can retrieve her.”

He trusted Bradley and Ollie because they were two of the most serious and clever henchmen he’d ever employed. They worked as realtors for his firm as a cover-up and they had surprised him with how good they were at it. Bradley, an Australian guy that didn’t talk much and whose specialty was hand-in-hand combat, and Ollie, a London native that, whenever he wasn’t making use of his IT and forgery skills, was cracking jokes left and right, were exactly who he needed at the moment to take care of Scarlett’s situation.

George went on to make the calls while Armand changed into a fresh suit. It had been a long time since he’d found himself in a situation like this. He’d never considered himself a gangster and the fact of calling out his men and getting them together didn’t suit him. But it had to be done or not one of them would make it out alive. He’d do anything for her, and if that meant becoming a fugitive and turning into one of those blood-shedding gangsters, so be it.

He pulled a bag from under the bed and filled it with clothes and some of his guns. Once he made it down, he turned on the fireplace and threw the bloodstained suit in it to burn.

I packed her clothes too.” George brought some of the heavier firepower with him. “They are in the car.”

There was no time to waste. Sooner rather than later the police would start searching for them. They took the Bentley down the M4 and into the Financial District, parking inside the underground of a building near Paternoster Square. He had bought the two upper floors from a stockbroker firm that went bankrupt and had converted them into a luxurious flat as part of his retirement plan. Thinking of a near future that was now slowly drifting away from him.

A future where he had pictured himself happily married to a woman whose fate was now a mystery to him. And he couldn’t help feeling guilty about this turn of events.

****

On how Scarlett met some of Armand’s most trusted men (Meet characters from Book 2!)

In my first novella, The Caregiver, we follow Interpol agent Scarlett Lang through what would be the most important mission in her career so far: pose as caregiver for London’s biggest drug-lord, Armand Sayer.

This vignette is a BONUS! In this one she meets characters that will make their appearance in Book 2: Ollie, Bradley and Cat.

Enjoy!

Read Vignette #1 , Vignette #2 , and Vignette #3.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Heaven was pissing down at us. The Bentley’s wipers weren’t enough as George drove us both to where we were heading: to meet with three of Armand’s most trusted men.

I must confess I was nervous about it. These guys weren’t known for their gentle ways. That, and the fact that George wasn’t exactly the nicest of people when it came to interacting with me, made of this endeavor one that threatened to leave the palms of my hands bleeding, with my nails dug into them.

Yeah, yeah, I’m a hitwoman, and a fucking undercover agent, but that doesn’t mean I won’t feel nervous every now and then. We’re all human after all.

All the tension vanished, however, when we met with them on a street corner in Vauxhall. Standing under two matching black umbrellas were three men in equally black coats.

“Cat. Bradley. Ollie.” George said dryly. “This is Scarlett.” He wasn’t happy I was there. We were both out when Armand called us. He’d tried to convince him it wasn’t a good idea to take me with him, to no avail.

“About time we met you!” Ollie, with his longish curls and matching bright eyes, shook my hand eagerly. He wasn’t as tall as the other two, which made me like him instantly. “We’ve heard so much about you.”

“Hope it was good.”

George cleared his throat. Heh.

The one in the middle was the tallest, Bradley. He just smiled, and, oh god, what a smile… And then there was Cat, with his dark brown skin and green eyes. He waved at me and we made our way into the hotel.

Cat led us to the lifts, while Ollie and Bradley had an animated conversation that eased all my uneasiness.

“So, I waited and waited for the couple to show up.” Ollie’s raspy voice echoed through the hotel’s lobby, “it’s a two-million-pounds property and it’s exactly what they’re asking for. Armand would murder me if I let a client like that down.”

The lift’s doors slid open and we got in. George’s facade was as stern as always, yet the other three were grinning all the way.

Nobody would’ve guessed what they were really there for.

“Did they show up?” Cat asked when Ollie paused.

“They did, yeah… with a fucking dog.”

“A dog? There’s nothing wrong with that.” Bradley’s Australian accent clashed with the Brits’, as he leaned on the back wall, his umbrella dripping on the carpet.

“Not just any dog, you muppet. A Great Dane. The thing was the size of a horse.” They all laughed, even George. “No,” he proceeded, “but that’s not it. They bring it into the house, and it has wooden floors. The thing is scuffing the wood as it sniffs around. I tell the client and he just cocks an eyebrow at me and keeps walking.”

“Armand would’ve given him a piece of his mind.” Cat commented as he held the doors open for us. “Last time I had a client with a pet in an open house I shut the door on them.”

The corridor was dimly lit and the carpet had already been stained by wet shoes.

“You guys work for Armand’s real estate firm?” I had to know.

They turned their heads slowly to me, their longer strides leaving Ollie and me a few steps behind.

“Yeah, we all do.” Ollie stayed with me once we reached the room they were looking for. “It’s our day job. Except for George, of course.”

George merely looked up, then back towards the closed door in front of us.

“Open up, Geoffrey.” Bradley knocked and received no answer. “We know you’re in there.”

“So, what happened with the dog?” I brought Ollie’s attention back to me.

“Open the door, Geoffrey. Or else,” Cat warned.

“Not only did it scuff the floor. It pissed on one of the bedroom’s carpets!”

“Liar!” Bradley swiveled towards us.

“It bloody did! And, well, you know, the buyer didn’t want no stains on it.”

“Geoffrey!” George was knocking now. “Open the fucking door.”

“I had to pay to get the carpet cleaned and the floor restored before Armand learnt about it. With me own money!”

“Bradley,” George stepped back from the door, “do your thing.”

Ollie pulled me to safety as we watched Bradley kick down the door.

Forget stealth. These men got in and rummaged through the room like rabid dogs, except no pissing on the carpet.

“Geoffrey… come out, come out and play,” Cat crooned sarcastically.

It was a small room with only a dresser with a TV on it, a bed, a wardrobe, and an equally small bathroom.

George signaled me to stay by the door by raising an open hand at me.

Bradley opened the wardrobe to find a thin man no older than thirty-five hiding behind a large coat. “There you are!” He caught him by the collar of his shirt, pulled him out with a swift movement and threw him face up on the bed. “You think you can hide from us?”

Ollie cocked his head for me join him while he thrashed the dresser, throwing its contents all over the floor. I glanced at George.

“Oh, don’t mind ‘im.” Ollie nudged me, then whispered, “he’s a bit of a stuck up, ain’t ‘e?”

“You don’t have to say that twice.” I dug my hands into the drawer and felt my way around it until my fingers hit something cold and solid.

A folding knife.

“Where’s the money?” Bradley was shaking the poor man against the mattress. “Where the fuck is it?”

“I…” He could barely answer over the manhandling he was being subjected to. “I don’t…”

One rough push threw him, face down, on the floor and Cat was on him, punching his face mercilessly.

I gave Ollie the knife and he scoffed at the sight of it.

George knelt down next to the now broken-nosed man. “The money, Geoffrey. This is your last chance. We’ve given you one too many already.”

“Look what he had hiding in a drawer.” Ollie handed the knife to George.

“I did’uh mean to use it.” Geoffrey cried, his knuckles white from his tight grip on Cat’s wrists, who was holding him down by the neck. “I don’t have the money, but I will. I swear.”

“MacGowan said he lent it to you,” George said in a nonchalant tone while holding the knife to his face. “He didn’t want to get on Armand’s bad side, since he was the one who recommended you.”

George stood, giving the man no time to retort before Bradley and Cat went back to beating the crap out of him.

A gesture from Ollie cued me to follow him to the wardrobe where the bloke had been hiding and resume our search. There was nothing there either.

“Stop! Please!” Geoffrey’s screams were muffled by Cat’s fist.

“Not until you tell us what you did with that money!” Bradley’s shitkickers landed on his ribs, getting a loud crack in response.

“He did’uh give me nofing!” He rolled to his side, his arms wrapped around his torso. “MacGowan’s a fucking liar.”

Ollie glanced at me and I had to peel my eyes from the scene unfolding in front of our eyes to meet his glance. I hadn’t realized how mesmerized I was by it.

Bradley’s leg was travelling backwards when Ollie called him out, “Oi, give her a chance.”

“No,” George snapped at him. “She shouldn’t even be here.” Then he turned his eyes to me. “Get Armand on the phone.”

The built-up momentum of Bradley’s kick wasn’t put to waste as the force of it made contact with Geoffrey’s torso once more, making him squeal.

I rang Armand’s mobile and he was quick to answer. I told him what was happening and he asked me to put him on speaker so Geoffrey could hear him.

“You’ve messed up enough times, Geoffrey.” Armand’s deep tones made everyone perk up. “Your pathetic excuses are reason enough to kill you.”

“MacGowan lied to you!”

“I have no reason to believe that.”

“It’s true! He did’uh lend me nofing. Said he did’uh care.”

Armand went silent for a moment. I kept the phone pointed towards the beat up man even when my arm was starting to shake.

“Kill him.”

All of a sudden, George had yanked the mobile from my hand, turned off the speaker and started talking into it in a low voice.

Ollie took the opportunity to push me towards the man lying on the floor. “Come on, just a couple of kicks,” he said, with an ear-to-ear smile.

Geoffrey’s eyes bulged as I approached him, my stare blank on his bleeding face. He muttered something I couldn’t comprehend.

“Excuse me?” I leaned forward, holding my hair away from my ear.

“Don’t let them kill me.”

What?

Oh, he was begging to the only source of estrogen in the room.

A rush of adrenaline ran through my system. It made me straighten my back and kick his already aching body twice before answering:

“Sorry, pal. Boss’s orders.”

Another kick and George’s grip was on my elbow. “Enough.” He handed me my mobile before turning to Bradley and Cat. “Take him to bathtub.” He then unfolded the same knife I had retrieved from the drawer, “It’ll make it easier to clean.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Liked this vignette? Then you’ll love the book!

Check out Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Or buy it, it’s only 99¢ (£0.77, €0.89)!

The Caregiver book cover

Available here: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.es, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel

On how Scarlett learnt about her mission (The Caregiver Series vignette #1):

In my first novella, The Caregiver, we follow Interpol agent Scarlett Lang through what would be the most important mission in her career so far: pose as caregiver for London’s biggest drug-lord, Armand Sayer. This vignette is about the day she was assigned the mission, days before the story on the book starts. Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was morning. A cold, gray London morning to be precise. I was crossing Lambeth Bridge to meet Ferdinand at the Albert Embankment. I remember how I had studied every possible map before coming here, anxious to start working in the field again…

Then I was sent to an office, filling forms and filing papers.

Fuck yeah, the Interpol agent life!

I pushed my gloved hands further into the pockets of my leather jacket, feeling the gun concealed inside, praying it wouldn’t turn into an ice cube. Thing is, I grew up in Miami, spent summers in the Caribbean or Southern Spain. Nothing as cold as this. Nothing.

I got off the bridge and turned right on Albert Embankment, down the steps, and soon enough Ferdinand’s smile came to sight. Always bright, always inviting. I often found myself dodging it as if it were throwing daggers at me.

“Scarlett.” He kissed my cheek and offered his arm to me.

“Fer.” I nodded. “I’m freezing.”

“Oh come on! You’ve been living here for how long?”

“The two most boring years of my fucking life.”

He sighed. “Let’s walk.”

So we did. I walked on his left, thinking that maybe, if things got funny, I could just push him into the water and make a run for it.

“Did anyone follow you here?” He was eyeing me out of the corner of his eye.

“Nope. Nobody.”

“Good.”

“You said you needed to talk to me. I don’t have all day. I have papers to file.”

“Moretti asked me to call you.”

“Moretti? He sees me every day at the office. Barking orders and making me brew his coffee.”

“Have you been in contact with Cisneros lately?”

I waited until a man jogged past us to answer that, taking my time.

“Maybe.”

They often tell you not to stay friends with your ex-boyfriends. But Ferdinand was my colleague and his ranking was higher than mine so, yeah, I was stuck with this one.

“Every time they use a sniper to kill some drug dealer I pray it wasn’t you. Then I dig up the details and see your name all over it.”

He didn’t mean that literally, of course. I knew how to do my job. In and out, quick, nothing that could be traced back to me. Then I was back to kicking the copy machine and dragging my boots on the rug, just so I could give someone a nice jolt.

“You gonna turn me in?”

“You know I won’t.”

“Then?”

“Are you hungry?”

“Starving.”

“Let’s go grab a bite.” There it was again, the smile under those gleaming brown eyes. Ugh.

He liked the pub on the corner of Tinworth Street, so we went there and, to my dismay, sat at one of the tables outside.

“Tell me when my nose falls off because I won’t be able to.”

“I don’t want anyone eavesdropping on us.”

A waiter gave us the menus and I asked for a cup of coffee. Really hot coffee.

“It’ll ruin your appetite.” Ferdinand said, matter-of-factly.

“Better for me, maybe I’ll lose some weight. I should, really, I can’t carry a gun between my thighs since they rub together. There are some agents that have this huge thigh gap. One could stick an Uzi between their legs.”

He chuckled. He knew it was true. Fer never bullshitted me. I was no femme fatale, no eye candy. That’s how I liked it, though. I was a Plain Jane. I’d blend in without any difficulty.

And I wasn’t asked to fuck anyone either.

The waiter brought me a steaming cup of coffee. I took off my gloves and held it as if it was a baby chick, feeling the relief of warmth in my hands, at last. I inhaled its aroma and forgot where I was while Ferdinand ordered food for both.

“I was talking to Romulus,” he brought me back as soon as the waiter was out of sight, “we’re giving you another chance.”

“That’s very kind of you.”

“I’m being serious, Scarlett. We’ve decided to give you the Sayer mission.”

Oh. My. Fucking. God.

I had to set the cup back on the table gently. “You’re not kidding?”

“I’m not kidding. He was attacked, a single gunman surprised him as he was leaving a restaurant with his wife. Two shots to his left leg, another one to his right arm. He’s house-bound, recovering, and his sister is looking for a caregiver. It’s not just because you actually went to nursing school. She’s looking for someone that can act as a bodyguard in case anything unusual happens.”

“Aaaaand?” Something in the way he drawled on the last sentence made me think there was more to it.

“She wants someone that wouldn’t cause too much of a stir, if you know what I mean.”

Ha ha! Being the Plain Jane does pay.

“When do I start?”

“You’ll meet with his sister, Helga, tomorrow at Cisneros’s place. He’s recommending you. They’re friends.”

I picked up the coffee cup again even though I didn’t think I needed it anymore. I was going to the field again, and with no one else but Armand Sayer, London’s number-one drug lord.

“Oh,” I breathed, trying to suppress the giddy smile from my face.

“Now, Scarlett, I must warn you–”

“Here we go.” I rolled my eyes. Fer was always lecturing me. “That I better not fuck it up this time?”

“Yes.”

“I haven’t fucked anything up. The Gibraltar mission was a fail because Cisneros couldn’t stand his ground. That deal went sour the moment we stepped out of that plane.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Neither do I.” I sipped the hot liquid, wishing now it was whiskey or something set aflame.

“What about the wife?”

“Rumor is she left. He’s alone.” He was looking at me from under his eyebrows.

“Who do you take me for?”

“You keep yourself safe, you hear me?”

His bare hand reached out for mine over the table. I set mine in his and let him squeeze it.

“I will.” I grinned, letting some of my excitement out.

Then the waiter brought our food and I tried to indulge on the flood of emotions going through my system. It had been too long since my last mission and, truth be told, there was no other place I felt more like myself than out there with my gun or my rifle aiming at a nice head, and then watching it blow up.

We wrestled for the bill and I let him win, or he’d never let it go.

“I’ll send you the details later.” He waited for me to put on my gloves, “please, be careful.”

“I always am.” His sly smile told how little he believed that. Really, who did he take me for? “Love turns people so bloody soft.”

He hugged me tight. I wrapped my arms around him, not too tight, and held still until he released me.

“Don’t fuck it.” He pointed a finger at me and gave me a peck on the lips before turning to cross the street.

Bastard.

How could I fuck what could be the most important mission in my entire career?, I thought as I threaded my way in opposite direction, towards Spring Gardens.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Liked this vignette? Then you’ll love the book!

Check out Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Or buy it, it’s only 99¢ (£0.77, €0.89)!

The Caregiver book cover

Available here: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.es, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel

 

On Inspiration… Books and Movies Edition

First, some words of wisdom from someone I admire and take inspiration from:

“I think anything involved in telling stories is not just worthy, it’s crucial. Otherwise, how the hell do we find out who we are unless we explain ourselves to each other via books, or cinema, or theatre, or journalism, or documentary, or whatever? If we’re just parading egos around, or acquiring stuff, and we measure ourselves by that, then we’re lost.”

– Alan Rickman in an anterview aired 1/21/12 on NY1 network

Ah, soak on that for a bit.

I’ve been writing all my life, blah blah yadda yadda, stories archived somewhere in my parents’ house, why the hell would you like the smell of gasoline?, papers with fragments of stories scattered all over my room, put the knife down, missy!, never enough notebooks and pens, more blah blah, fast forward to now.

I wrote a book about a young woman named Scarlett who is an Interpol agent and then she gets hired as a caregiver for London’s biggest drug lord and she’s like tough and handy with guns and knives and all that awesome stuff you don’t want to miss.

However, this post isn’t to talk about what goes on in the book, but about what inspired me to write it.

I use a lot of movies for inspiration (bad writer! I blame @mikecane for most of the recommendations) because I come from an audiovisual background and believe they help a lot with rhythm when it comes to action scenes. So, here’s a little list I made for y’all:

Layer Cake, book by J. J. Connolly:

(Click on the image to go to Amazon’s Kindle Store)

I must say I really liked this book even though it took me some time to read it. The cockney accents, the action, the twists. There wasn’t a moment I didn’t like.

How did I get my hands on the book? I saw the movie, got the book, read it, and I don’t regret doing it (they work well as standalones). I recommend them both, separately.

Layer Cake movie

The trailer:

It’s a great movie, and these scenes deserve a special mention:

The opening monologue (NSFW):

The audio isn’t very good, but it’s worth it if you haven’t seen it.

And the awesome song + action mashup scene:

London Boulevard, book by Ken Bruen

(Click on the image to go to Amazon’s Kindle Store)

Ah, this book. I also read it after watching the movie and was pleasantly surprised because it has almost nothing to do with the film. They have so little resemblance, but not in a bad way. They both have their merits.

I loved Ken Bruen’s style, got sucked into the story and came out another person. Yeah, I did. My head was so full of ideas I had to sit down and write or I’d die of an idea stroke.

Check out the movie trailer:

Gangster No. 1 movie

I have lost count of how many times I’ve seen this movie, it’s that good.

And, oh yes, the Mr. Nice movie

Goodness gracious that movie! I was loving every minute of it, then it got all dark and scary, then it went back to being likable. A must see.

I think the vids speak by themselves. They can also give you an idea on what to expect of Book 1 and what will come in Book 2. *wink wink*

Also, that’s a triple dose of David Thewlis for you right there!

A Girl Cut in Two movie

This is one of my favorite movies. It gets into the more psychological stuff. The theme of a May December romance takes a dark twist in it, which I like, even though I wouldn’t go there in my own stories (or would I?). If you’ve seen this movie and read my book, you’ll know where the reference is.

And last, but not least, a song that was on repeat all the effing time (with an excellent mash-up to Casino Royale’s opening credits). I’ll make a post about my playlist later on, but I’ll leave you with this one for now: