Eagle's Wolf  (sample)

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Rio de Janeiro

1996

 

His name wasn’t Jack, but that’s what everyone called him.  He’d gotten the nickname years ago when he’d been twenty and began working for a drug cartel operating out of New York City.  At first, he was only required to drop off packages at local merchants, and collect the payments owed on the delivery of whatever illegal substance he delivered to them.  After that, he was given a different job by The Family, as that’s what the mob organization was called, then another, and another until he became one of their most trusted employees.  He became known as a ‘Jack-of-all trades’ because he’d been willing to do anything The Family asked of him, and people began calling him Jack because of it.

That had been a couple of years ago, and somehow, the name just clung to him like cheese to macaroni regardless of the fact he didn’t work for those particular people anymore.  Now he spent time drifting from country to country; trying to stay hidden.  Trying to stay alive.  Too many people wanted him dead, and only because they thought he knew too much.  But after being on the run for two years, it was becoming tiresome, and he was sick to death of continually having to watch over his shoulder, looking for whomever the New York family might have sent to silence him.

That’s why he was here, in this crowded and smoke-filled bar, sitting across from the two United States agents.  He was making a deal with them.  They would give him protection, a full pardon for all crimes he committed in the States, a new identity, and in turn, he’d spill the beans on the Lewis family.

The two FBI agents weren’t saying anything at the moment.  They seemed to be more interested in the commotion which began seconds ago somewhere behind Jack than they were with the informant sitting across from them.  The disturbance was of no interest to Jack.  He’d spent enough time in these types of establishments to know; if you didn’t want trouble, you kept to yourself.  But when one of the two men across from him visibly paled, and the other one ducked his head and hissed, “Holy shit! What’s he doing here?!” Jack threw caution to the wind and turned around.

There was no way for Jack to know if the man making his way through the crowded bar was the he his companions were referring to, but that did not prevent Jack from praying the guy weaving his way through the maze of people toward this table wasn’t their subject matter.  Not that Jack knew the man with the face set in stone.  Truth be told, he’d never seen the six-foot three-inch man, and he did not have a clue as to who he was.  But it wasn’t the height, or powerful looking build that had Jack praying to a god he’d never believed in.  It was the simple fact the guy had a look about him that said, “Danger, give me a wide berth.”

It appeared everyone in the bar received the same message because they were doing exactly that.  Moving away from the man long before he neared them.

The man alone wasn’t the cause for the commotion going on as people moved out of his way as the guy continued to close the distance toward where Jack and the two agents sat.  It was the large dog following close to the man’s heals that was causing the bars clientele to press up against the walls or exit the building without haste.

Jack blinked several times, thinking his eyes were deceiving him.  The dog wasn’t a dog as in, house pet.  It was a… wolf?  A wolf?!  That just couldn’t be.

Suddenly there wasn’t any more time for Jack to ponder this revelation.  The dog’s- rather, wolf’s- owner stopped walking, and stood no more than a foot away from the bewildered Jack.

“You Jack?” the guy gritted out in a tone that clearly said Jack had better say yes and do it now.

Jack swallowed, thinking the family had found him after all these years, and that this was the man who was going to end his life.

One of the United States agents stood up and had the nerve to ask Mr. Danger, “What in the hell are you doing here, Wolf?”

That only managed to bring a dark look from Mr. Danger, and confuse Jack because, if Mr. Danger was Wolf, then what in the hell was that creature behind the man, looking at him, Jack, as though he were tonight’s dinner?

“You Jack?” Mr. Danger, or Wolf, or whomever the guy was, repeated and didn’t look non too pleased to have had to ask a second time and ignored the question directed at him by the United States agent.

The second negotiator stood up and said, “I don’t know what in the hell you’re doing here, Wolf, but this is our case; not yours.”

This time, Mr. Danger’s dark chocolate-colored eyes never left Jack’s face; though Jack wished they had because he had the misfortune of seeing those emotionless eyes turn blacker than sin, and somehow Jack just knew this was trouble with a capital T.

“Once more, then I’m through.  You Jack?”

Truth or lie?  Those were Jack’s options right then, but he wasn’t given time to consider what his response would be.  In the blink of an eye, he found his head slammed against the table, Mr. Danger’s one hand holding his head there, while his other pointed at the two pale faced agents and said, “Don’t.”

Even Jack winced at hearing that single spoken word.  There was enough malice in it to have frozen Satan’s balls.

“Goddamn it, Hunter!” Jack heard one of the agents bluster and wondered who in the hell the man was speaking to now.  “This man has information about the Lewis family, and Uncle Sam wants it!  We were just in the process of making a deal with him…”

“When I’m through, feel free.” That hand on the back of Jack’s head grew tighter, if that were possible.  It already felt as though a vice was attached to it and was squeezing his skull into the wood.

“What do you want, mister?!” Jack yelped, trying to break free, regardless of the fact it was a useless attempt.

“Nice to know you’re not deaf,” Danger said.

“For God’s sake, Hunter! Let the man go!”

“Neko, watch them.” Danger’s voice didn’t raise an octave, and Jack didn’t need to wonder for long who in the hell Neko was because suddenly, there was one big mass of fur, with four paws attached to it, standing on the table less than six inches from his face, and the two agents were uttering curses, but not moving a muscle otherwise.  “Sit down, kids,” Danger suggested, and the two sickly looking men across from him did just that.  “Now, I’ve been nice up ‘til now.  And I don’t usually repeat myself more than once.  But I’m going to give this one more try.  You Jack?”

Jack didn’t try to claim otherwise.  “Yes!” he screamed, and suddenly, the vice was gone, and he could move his head.

Danger sat down.  “Was that so hard?”

Jack slid off the table, holding his head and found his own chair.  “What in the hell do you want, mister?!”

“I’m looking for a man named Pierre Bellefeuille,” Danger’s voice was flat as he spoke.  “He also goes by the names Jon Du Bois, and Jon Du Pree.  You know him?”

Jack might have thought the two United States agents had looked pale, but it was nothing compared to the green coloring his face turned upon hearing those names.  “I’ve never heard of him!” he exclaimed, terror lacing his voice.

 

One of the agents was foolish enough to lean forward to protest, but the snarl directed his way by the huge wolf standing on the table sat him back in the chair real quick.  “Damn it, Hunter! Call off your dog!”

Hunter didn’t, but he did suggest the man not move again.  “Next time, he’ll bite.”

“This man is under our protection!” the other insisted, but he hadn’t been as stupid as his partner.  Not one part of him moved in any way that would send a snarl in his direction.

“Your protection?” Hunter scoffed and leaned back in the chair.  “And a fine dandy job the two of you are doing.”

Both men’s face’s turned beet red at that sarcastic remark.  If Hunter chose to, he could snap Jack’s neck before they understood his intent to do so.

Jack’s head was beginning to stop throbbing, but his anger was raising.  “I’m making a deal with these men, so I don’t have to talk to you!”

Hunter’s face expression didn’t change, but his eyes did.  Jack hadn’t known eyes could turn any darker, but what he saw in them now was a reflection of death.  His.  “I’ll give you a deal, Jack.  You tell me what I want to know, and I won’t kill you.  Take it or leave it.”

Jack swallowed hard and didn’t doubt for a minute the man meant what he said.  “I don’t know the person you asked me about!” he insisted, and suddenly his face was introduced to the table top once more.  If he wasn’t experiencing this firsthand, he would never have believed anyone could move with the lightning speed this demon from hell did.

“Try again,” the demon said.

“All right!  All right!” Jack screamed.  “Just let me go, and I’ll tell you!”

That promise got his face raised high enough to be propelled back into the table top once more.  “Tell me know, or you’re going to hurt.”

Going to?  If the guy didn’t think a broken nose was painful, obviously he’d never had one!

“The last I heard, the man you’re looking for was in El Salvador!” Jack exclaimed, and from there he sang like a bird, disclosing the general location of Pierre Bellefeuille’s last known stronghold, and wondered which of the two men were the most dangerous.  Bellefeuille, who was involved with terrorism, illegal drug trafficking or anything else outside of the law, or this man with the wolf named Neko, and death-filled promises.  “That’s all I know!  I swear it!”

Hunter raised the man’s head, then slammed it back into the table once more, just for good measure before letting go.  “Thanks, Jack.” He turned to leave.

He was halfway to the door before he called his wolf to his side, and completely gone before anyone in the bar felt safe enough to move around, and another five minutes after that before the three men who had been graced by his presence did anything at all.

“Who in the hell was that?!” Jack screeched, holding his nose and trying to stop the bleeding with some paper napkins.

The two agents shifted in their chairs.  “You don’t want to know,” one of them offered.  Neither one of them felt like explaining to Jack that the man was on their side.  Hell.  Most of the time, they didn’t believe it themselves.

*   *   *

Outside the bar, Hunter Sundance Fisher was hailing a cab, and feeling a surge of adrenalin.  For over ten years he’d been looking for Pierre and now, finely, he was closing in on the man he promised himself and his best, and only friend, Mason Lafayette, he would bring to justice, or kill.  Whichever option presented itself first, though Hunter preferred the latter alternative, and mainly because Pierre was the only man who managed to vanish from his grasp, continually.

Soon Mason, Hunter thought to himself as he opened the taxi door, allowing his wolf in first, then climbing in beside his companion of the last two years.  He told the driver to take him to the airport, then leaned back in the seat once the vehicle was on its way.  Soon I’ll have that man, and he’ll pay for what he did to your mother on the night you were conceived.

It was bittersweet for Hunter, knowing Mason would not exist if Pierre hadn’t kidnapped and raped Rosalinda all those years ago and impregnated her with the man who’d been his best friend from the cradle.  But it did not change the fact Pierre was a twisted monster who needed to be put down like the rabbit animal he was.

There were plenty of women and young girls, starting from the age of twelve, throughout the world who had fallen victim to Pierre’s perversion of mutilating, torcher and rape who would dance upon his grave once he was dead, and Hunter aimed to put him there if it was the last thing he did in this lifetime.

 Hunter admired Rosalinda for having had the courage to give birth to the child conceived through violence, and to her husband, Charles, for loving Mason as though he were his own.  And in truth, he was glad Mason had been birthed because he Hunter doubted he would have anyone in this world to call friend.

Not that he was looking for friendships.  In his line of work, he could not afford to have people in his life.  They could become targets for his enemies if they were to discover anyone they could use as leverage against him.  But Mason was the only person he knew who could put up with his temper and laugh about it.

However, Hunter had not seen, or contacted, Mason for over four years because of that fear he had that someone might use him as a pawn.  And it was why he broke all ties with his family and had his boss erase as many records of his existence as humanly possible.

To keep them safe he had walked away.

Hunter’s own parents had been hiding from Pierre for thirty-three years and Hunter was not about to lead the man to them if he were to discover Hunter’s identity.

Hunter wondered what Pierre’s reaction would be if, just before Hunter took his life, he was to tell him who’s son he was.  As far as Pierre knew, the hitman he hired to kill them long ago failed at his job and it would be their son who sent him to his grave.

The twist was that Pierre had been his mother’s stepbrother, although when Pierre’s father passed away that unfortunate situation ceased to be a reality.  Grandma Annette had not adopted Pierre when she’d married his father because he’d been a full-grown adult at the time and there was no need to provide for him.  Even then, good ol’ Uncle Pierre was neck deep in illegal activities and hiding from authorities.

It was how Hunter’s parents met.  His father had been a secret service agent and assigned to protect Jacqueline, Hunter’s mother, and Rosalinda’s best friend, from Pierre.

All ancient history now, and it was no longer about Pierre’s vengeance against his parents that drove Hunter to track the man down.  Nor was it because of what he had done to Mason’s mother.  Hunter had met and spoken to enough survivors of the man’s heinous acts over the years to keep the desire to see Pierre dead at the forefront of his mind.

  

It saddened Hunter that he had not seen his family in four years, although he was kept appraised of his parents’ health and his siblings lives through the man he worked for.  A man who had been a surrogate uncle to the Fisher and Lafayette children over the years.  Missing everyone was one of the reasons he broke his resolve not to contact any of them when Cadman informed him of his sister Melissa’s marriage.  He’d called her from Somalia while on a mission to congratulate her.  The connection had been horrible, but the few times he’d been able to hear Melissa’s voice helped fill the longing to see her and the rest of his family for a time.

Melissa created popular computer graphic games.  One of her best sellers was based on him and Task Force Ghost, although she changed the name of the special ops team to something fictitious.  However, she based the commander of the team on Cadman and gave him a starring roll in it as a cartoon graphic.  And although there were choices as to which team member the player wanted to control, he, Hunter, was the major attraction for most of the gamers wanting to complete the mission in the make believe world.

Hell.  Melissa even blatantly named the game Commando Hunter, and if that telephone connection would have been better, he would have told her it had touched him, her honoring him like that.

But the weather in Somalia interfered with the signal, and it was a long way from there to North Dakota.

He knew that distancing himself from his parents and siblings was by his own choice.  But four years ago, when he’d gone home to North Dakota to visit his folks and take part in the annual Fisher/Lafayette reunion gave him the realization that one of his enemies might try to get to him through them.  It frightened him enough to walk away from everyone he loved.

During that time, a man from the area had tracked him to where everyone was staying at the lake cabin located along the shores of Sacajawea, seeking revenge against him.

Fortunately, the man hadn’t reached Hunter’s family, but he had gotten a hold of Mason’s kid sister and…

Christ!  This was definitely not the memory Hunter wanted right now.  Not that Danny Sharp managed to harm Mason’s sister, who had been sixteen back then.  Hunter had arrived before harm came to the girl.  But reminiscing about his friend Mason reminded him of Daniela.  Remembering Daniela, Mason’s sister, prompted him to recall the twirp followed him around during the entire reunion, declaring she was going to marry him when she turned nineteen.

Hunter had done nothing throughout the reunion to encourage her.  In fact, he had been down right mean to her in the attempt to change her infatuation into contempt so she would leave him the hell alone.

Sadly, once he achieved his goal it was far too late when he realized he hadn’t wanted Daniela’s hate, after all.

Well, hell.  It was past that time when she’d told him she was going to marry him, and in all honesty, he still hated the little twirp for having caused him to feel concern for her wellbeing when the last thing he could afford doing was to care, about anyone.

He hoped she was having a miserable life.  God knew he was.