Authors: Becky McGraw
Deep Six Security, Book Three
I’d like to thank my friend and Troublemaker extraordinaire Pamela Reveal for helping me title this book, and for everything she does to help me with promotion. You’re a rockstar girl and I appreciate your support.
I’d also like to thank both Matt Zumwalt and Eric Battershell Fitography for the amazing photo for the cover. You guys brought Cade to life.
Finally, a message from me. Fact is closer to fiction than you think. In the case of the issues raised in Hell Bent, closer than I ever want to imagine the very real and horrific issue of human sex-trafficking being. It happens and it is real, many women are trapped in it and helpless. It needs to be stopped and the only way that can happen is if you notify your local police or the FBI if you suspect a human sex-trafficking ring is being operated in your area.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
HELL BENT, Copyright © January, 2016
by Becky McGraw.
All rights reserved under International and Pan American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse-engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the author.
Why’d he have to make this call today?
Cade Winters wondered as he tried to keep an eye on his mark and focus on what his sister was saying too. He made the call now, because he finally had time, and it gave him something to do to appear nonchalant while he waited for Jorge Tovar and his entourage to reappear out of the front door of the bodega.
Cade knew why—this would probably be his only chance for a few months and he knew if he didn’t make it now, Ronnie would try to track him down.
The last time he was late for his annual check-in with her, she called around until she worked her way up the food chain to Jolly and he freaked out. Cade wasn’t even supposed to have a family anymore, much less keep in contact with them. Cutting the rest of his dysfunctional family loose hadn’t been a problem, they’d been dead to him for a long time. But he just couldn’t let Ronnie go, even if it might be his last bad decision.
She was the only one on earth who gave a shit about him, or if he was alive.
Thank God, she was a tough, independent woman, a high-powered Texas attorney, now judge, who could keep herself safe. That played into his initial decision to keep in touch with her. He didn’t have to worry about someone taking out a vendetta against him by getting to her. No, if they found Veronica Winters, they’d quickly find out she wasn’t a woman to be messed with. She had friends at all levels of law enforcement, which was how she’d tracked him down the last time he was late. And now she had an ex-cop for a husband, something she’d told him a moment ago. That made him even more comfortable with their yearly catch-up call arrangement.
In his peripheral vision, Cade caught one of the two bums down the sidewalk in front of the smoke shop staring at him.
? He tried to keep an eye out for his mark and focus on what his sister was saying too while he fought the urge to scratch the thick beard on the lower half of his face where sweat streaked through to slide down his neck into the collar of his t-shirt. Taking his hand off the butt of the pistol at his lower back could be a fatal mistake.
It would be a huge pleasure to shave the shit from his face tonight, even if he had to do it in a creek with a dull knife. The light windbreaker he wore to conceal the weapon and long suppressor, which would buy him a few more minutes to make his getaway, trapped the heat against his body and he was soaked in sweat.
“I’m on my soapbox again, and have evidently riled the natives here,” Ronnie said with a nervous laugh. “I told you last year I was working pro-bono with that trafficked woman’s shelter, right? Well this year, I’m also lobbying to support a bill to better fund the shelter and give those women more time in the country before they are deported. Trace is pretty pissed I won’t give it up, but he knows I’m not going to change my mind.”
Her husband knew her well then, Cade thought. When Veronica Winters got a bone between her pearly white teeth, she didn’t let it go until it was well-chewed. He was sure her marriage hadn’t changed that.
That she was helping trafficked women, the same women who were being kidnapped and carried out of Columbia, the country where he was working at the moment, was ironic. Those women were used and abused by the cartels before they were smuggled into the United States and other countries to serve as prostitutes.
The sex-trafficking trade was not isolated to Columbia though—every underdeveloped county in the world had the problem. It was super big business for the drug cartels, a secondary income to fund their other activities. Mexico was the clearinghouse for trafficking activity, and the drug cartels the brokers.
He’d seen it with Tovar’s cartel, interacted with those women because he had to do that to fit into the group of men he was trying to bring down. It sickened and disgusted him, and he interacted, but he just pretended to use, and abuse them too, to maintain his cover. Once he had his woman for the night behind closed doors, though, he gave her a night away from the horror, made sure she had food and a good night’s sleep.
That was the only thing he could do for those poor souls. It looked like his sister was doing more, and that made him damned proud of her. As little as their parents cared about them or anyone other than themselves, that was a miracle.
Yeah, growing up he and Ronnie had everything children could want materially, including a silver spoon. What they didn’t have were parents who gave a shit about them, ones who showed them they were loved. Mr. and Mrs. Phil Winters let their hired nannies raise their children because they couldn’t be bothered. They were too busy trying to maintain their social status and lifestyle. Yeah, it was definitely a wonder that he and his sister turned out to be good people. Thank God he’d escaped letting his father turn him into a clone.
There were levels of goodness, though, and Ronnie was definitely a few rungs up the ladder from him. Cade was a trained killer who’d sold his soul long ago to rid the world of vile, disgusting men like Jorge Tovar. Jorge was one of the vilest degenerates he’d ever had the misfortune of meeting and he had no problem with doing the world a favor by putting a bullet in his brain as soon as he walked out of that bodega.
It was time to kick this investigation into overdrive to get it over with. In the six months he’d been here, Cade had seen all he needed to see, now he needed some distraction to get the evidence he needed to finish it. Killing the kingpin should do that. While the lieutenants in the organization scattered like roaches as they fought for power over the cartel, he’d be gathering that evidence so he could call the team in for a takedown.
The secondary benefit of killing Tovar was the bastard wouldn’t have the opportunity to pay off government officials to stay out of jail like often happened here. He would face the ultimate judgment today, and would hopefully meet the devil in hell tonight.
“That’s really great, Red,” Cade mumbled, alternating his gaze between the heavily armed guards posted at the front door of the bodega, and the two bums sitting on the sidewalk outside the smoke shop down the street.
He probably should go inside the brothel masquerading as a seedy bar where he stood for a few minutes before he started to draw attention. But he didn’t want to miss his window. Six months of hard work was finally paying off today. The guards outside the front door of the bodega didn’t know who he was, but they had been well paid by another agency operative to disappear when Tovar came out.
“Yeah, I think it’s great and so do a lot of others, even Senator Allison Rooks is behind it, but the Sovereign Soldiers don’t think so much of the idea.”
The whackjob white supremacist vigilante group
That dangerous bunch had ties to the even more dangerous Freemen, who held out against the FBI in Waco for eighty-one days. They also had ties to the radicals associated with Timothy McVey, who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City. Because they’d declared Texas a sovereign nation and renounced the US government and all its laws and officials, they believed it was their right to dole out their own brand of vigilante justice, which often amounted to homegrown terrorism.
“They’re against what you’re trying to do?” Cade asked, his shoulders tensing.
“Well, if the death threats after the preliminary hearing on the bill are any indication, yes.
“Allison has gotten one too,” Ronnie replied with a huffed breath.
“What do you mean death threats?” he rasped, wanting to yell, but trying to keep his voice down as he backed into the alcove surrounding the front door of the brothel.
If those two were lookouts as he suspected, speaking English could get him a bullet between the eyes. With the hair dye, brown contacts, and thick beard, those men were convinced he was Domingo Blanco, as Columbian as they were. He was one of them, had even come here today with Jorge Tovar. But even though Ronnie was fluent in Spanish, he chose English because it felt good after so many months of Spanish immersion with his cover. He needed to remember who he was and where he came from for a minute.
He was probably dead anyway.
Escaping after he’d done the deed here was going to take some stealthy doing. He had a plan, but that didn’t mean those men who’d taken the money to let him put a bullet in their boss would let him get away with it.
“I have a rope with my name on it for treason if I don’t withdraw my support of the bill,” Ronnie replied matter-of-factly. “We’ve had a bomb threat at the courthouse, and Allison has had one at the statehouse.”
Cade saw the front door of the bodega open and cursed. “I’ve got to go Ronnie. Talk to Dave and see if he can get you a bodyguard.” When she didn’t reply, and the two guards stepped away from the porch, he grated, “Promise
“I’ll be fine. Those nutjobs are just trying to scare me, and you know I don’t scare easily. These women need my help, and they’re going to get it.” Ronnie laughed. “Besides, Trace is on me like a shadow since I told him I’m pregnant.”
?!?” Cade shouted, his hand tightening more on the pistol grip.
Ronnie laughed again, and her voice softened. “I’m due in six months or so and I had a high-def sonogram yesterday. My obstetrician couldn’t be sure, it’s a tad bit early, but she thinks it’s a girl, so the world better watch out.”
Holy fucking shit, Cade thought, his legs trembling as he staggered back against the wall beside the door of the brothel. His sister was going to be a mother, which was surreal. Besides him, Ronnie was the last person on earth he ever expected to want children. Their example of parenting growing up should have put her off of having kids just like it had him.
But she was
“How’d that happen? I thought you didn’t want kids?” Cade asked roughly, his focus totally blown now as he lifted a shaking hand to push it through his hair.
“If you don’t know, I’m not telling you brother mine.” Ronnie laughed, a soft laugh, a happy laugh. Things had sure changed with his hardass, hard-edged older sibling since she’d gotten married. That new softness in her tone scared the hell out of him. “Trace and I are very happy about it, and you should be too. You’re going to be an uncle, so it’s time you thought about coming home.”
? Cade hadn’t considered Texas his home in a helluva long time. But the tiny apartment he kept in New Jersey wasn’t a home either. It was no more than a place to store his things, and catch a nap in between assignments.
“You don’t have to run anymore, Cade…things have changed. I hardly ever see Mom and Dad anymore. They’re mostly in California now.”
Yes, things certainly had changed. His sister was pregnant, and she and her unborn daughter were fucking being threatened. Fierce protectiveness warred with confusion to consume him as the urge to turn and run for the nearest airport hit him hard.
There was not a man on earth he’d trust more to keep them safe than himself. Not even Dave Logan, who was not only a badass his boss had considered recruiting, he was a man Cade considered a brother.
“I’ll be there in a month.” Cade hung up the phone before she could argue.
It looked like he was going to need a job too, because if he took himself out of the game and resumed his civilian life he would never be able to get back in without a helluva lot of effort. That was something his former friend
help him with. Considering his background and experience, half of which he couldn’t state on a resume due to OPSEC clearance, he knew Logan would hire him.
But right now, he had a drug lord to assassinate without getting himself killed.