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Pen Your Pride

Chapter 26

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THE GUARD’S HOLLOW EYES stared at K as she pushed him off her body. Breathing hard, she leaned over his body and vomited. She’d never killed anyone or even dreamed it would ever be something she’d have to do.

Samantha came around the corner. “Mommy?” She looked at the dead man lying on the floor. K tried to cover her innocent child’s eyes, but Sam pointed at the body. “Bad man.”

K sighed and reached for her daughter. “Yeah, honey, he’s a bad man. But he won’t hurt us anymore.”

Holding Sam close, she tried to think. It would be dark in a few hours. They could make a run for the gate or maybe try to get on one of the delivery trucks that came in through the gates in the evenings.

“I’m hungry.”

“I know, hon. I’m hungry, too.” She couldn’t remember the last time they’d had anything to eat.

They both jumped when the radio on the dead guard’s belt squawked. The language was German or Russian. K couldn’t tell. But the voice sounded urgent, and she had a feeling what that could mean.

They would be coming to find their missing guard.

* * *

MARK OPENED HIS EYES and tried to see the broken landscape out the window, but all he saw was K’s face. They’d made it to Puerto Rico early that morning. After a long ride in a beat-up, old Jeep Cherokee, then a switch to a station wagon for the final trip through the interior of the island, they were almost to their checkpoint. They would arrive before dark.

The Taxi had put them on a part of the island farthest from where they wanted to be, but it was still faster than taking a plane and a lot less headache. Guns were frowned upon on airplanes, anyway.

Isis punched him on the arm and smiled. “How you holding up?”

“Okay, considering. Any news?”

“No, just that our FBI informant cracked and told us who else he had working for him.”

“That’s good news. Anyone I know?”

“Nope, just a CSI agent. He ended up dead along with his wife. That Geoff character is a hired hit man connected with the Russian Mafia as well as the FBI.”

Mark remembered the picture of the man. He must have been good to have been able to fool Detective Weston. Judging from his file, Weston was a sharp guy and had solved more cases in the DPD than any other detective on the force. No one cared about his success rate though, due to his nonconformist personality.

“One thing I don’t get,” Mark said. “Why did they take my family? I’m not connected with them in any way. Do you think they know about my involvement in the WJA?”

“Not sure. That confuses me, too.” Isis looked up from her tablet. “We just need to get Sam and K out of there. We’ll sort through the whys later.”

Mark nodded and watched as they passed run-down houses and fields filled with workers picking what he assumed were coffee beans. It looked like a tedious job, and from the looks on the natives’ faces, he was right.

An hour later, they reached a small building made from old lumber and tin roofing material. A big, dark-skinned Puerto Rican man smiled and waved as they drove up. He looked like he could be Big B’s brother.

“Welcome to the island, my friends. You have a good ride, yes?”

They all nodded as they stretched, trying to work out their cramped muscles before they stepped inside.

The interior of the shack wasn’t much better than the outside. The floor was dirt, and Mark could see through the holes in the walls. A large wooden crate sat on the floor in the center of the room. He walked over to it and read the label on the top. Bananas.

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