Authors: Austin S. Camacho
Rave Reviews for the work of
THE PAYBACK ASSIGNMENT
“â¦an exiting and fast paced action thriller that will hold your interest as he takes you from the high society of Los Angeles, into the steaming jungles of Belize and back to the rich and famous in their high-rise apartments. It's not often I support the criminals, but I can relate to the anger and frustrations that both Stark and O'Brien must feel at being ripped off by their unscrupulous employer. I would recommend
to everybody who enjoys a good action story.”
- Scribblers Reviews
BLOOD AND BONE
“â¦is an action-packed, sensitively written thriller. Hannibal Jones is a hero whom anyone would want on their side. He and his girlfriend Cindy make one heck of an investigative team. Mr. Camacho creates so many twists and turns that the reader can only hang on until the exciting crescendo. The action spans continents; the characters are chameleons; and the plot is a real corkscrew. A great read from a talented story craftsman!!”
- Midwest Book Review
“Nicely worked plot, constant action and likable characters recommend this to larger collections.”
- Library Journal Magazine
“Austin Camacho, the author of this tale of derring-do, unfolds the story line at the pace of an action movie. He also uses cinematic tricks to establish characters quickly.”
The Easton Star Democrat
“â¦ is a fast-paced, thrilling novel that will keep readers frantically reading to the last page.”
Romance Readers Connection
Copyright October 2006 by Austin S. Camacho
All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, magnetic, photographic including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher. No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained herein. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Cover design by Gerry Brophy
Intrigue Publishing, LLC
Printed in the United States of America
Printed on Recycled Paper
The priest had just finished the benediction when a rumble like the wrath of God burst in his right ear.
The explosion kicked fist sized bits of his small stone church across the front pew. Screams of panic filled the room, and all but the clergyman ran in a blind panic toward the door. His eyes went first to the crumbling wall, then to old Mrs. O'Casey.
Mrs. O'Casey, who spoke fluent Gaelic and walked with a halting tread on spindly legs to sit right down front every Sunday morning without fail just to his right. The stone wall was shifting, its mortar shattered by the explosive blast. Ancient rock would fall in seconds, crushing Mrs. O'Casey's brittle bones, and she was too shocked to move out of the way.
Ears still ringing from the bomb burst, eyes stung by mortar dust, the barrel-chested priest leaped down to the bench and swept his parishioner up in his arms. Breathing through clenched teeth, he jogged up the center aisle. Cradling the old woman like a child, he burst out into the morning's dampness and sunlight. He managed to stand Mrs. O'Casey up in the arms of two younger women before he dropped to his knees, racked with violent coughs.
A soccer field's length away, the window of a gray Mercedes limousine slid down, letting a wisp of the fine Irish mist in. The well dressed passenger in the back seat had a thick shock of wavy red hair. He watched the cloud of smoke roll out of the side of the small church building. The left side of the pitiful structure sagged inward. He could just hear the churchgoers, still
screaming and running in circles.
A smile lit the red headed man's tan eyes as his window slid up. He tapped his driver's shoulder with his walking stick and the car moved off. His message had been delivered.
“Are ye all right, Sean?”
“No harm done,” the priest said, brushing himself off. “At least not to me.” His vestments were filthy, but he removed them with care, revealing a black suit underneath. “At least it looks like everyone got outside okay. But my poor churchâ¦”
A man in gray was pulling his hat down over his eyes as he stepped onto the stone path away from the church. Sean's congregation was small these days, and he knew every face in it. This man was a stranger, and strangers were rare in the Irish countryside.
Then Sean turned back to his little church, and walked around the side of the building as if afraid of what he might see. “It looked like it was a small explosion. But, dear Lord in heaven.” He stared into a hole wide enough for him to force his broad shoulder through if he wanted to. “What kind of a monster would do such a thing?”
“Ye know full well what kind of monster,” Mick Murphy replied. He was a portly man with a big chin and eyes like a ferret's. “You need help, Sean, and if you don't mind me saying so, we both know where you can get it. Go on and get the girl.”
“The Lord will provide,” the priest said. He watched his parishioners scrambling to the road, many of the women still wailing. His heart sank knowing he was helpless to comfort them or calm their fears.
“Remember the man in the flood, Sean?” Mick asked. “He's hanging on to the roof and a boat comes by. They call for him to jump in and he says `Begone. The Lord
will provide'. When he dies on that roof, he ends up facing the Lord in heaven. He says `Lord, I trusted you to provide and you let me die', and the Lord saysâ¦”
“Yes,” the priest said, “The Lord says `I sent you a boat, you fool.' I remember the story, Mick.”
“Well, the Lord has provided you a way if you'll take it, Sean.” Both men turned to watch the stained glass window above the hole slide to the ground and explode into shards. The priest's stomach clenched and he fought back tears of anguish or rage. He didn't know which.
“My friend, forget your pride. Go and get the girl. Bring Felicity home.”
It was the most glorious Easter ever. A brilliant sun was shining down through cotton ball clouds. The slightest breeze blew in from the lough, carrying the sweet smell of clover. Every person on the narrow street wore a smile of greeting. The little red haired girl stared around like Alice in Wonderland.
She was only six years old, and this was the high point of her young life. Her mother had made her a lovely new pastel blue dress. Father had bought her white shoes and gloves and a darling hat to wear to church. Her deep green eyes sparkled with delight when she looked in the mirror.
They were simple country folk, and the girl couldn't remember going to the city before. Belfast was a teeming metropolis in her eyes. The buildings fascinated her, huddled so close together that they rubbed shoulders. She marveled at the doors, each a different bright color with fan shaped transoms over them. The street was cobblestone, but it had a sidewalk. And it looked like a street lamp stood on every corner. And surely everyone here owned an automobile, there were so many.
The little girl was skipping along, clutching a parent's hand on each side. Every once in a while she tried to swing between them. Father told her she was much too old for that. He wore a new tweed suit and smelled of good wool. Mama smelled like wild flowers.
It was going to be a joyous day. She could imagine everything--the priest greeting them and telling her what a pretty girl she was, her own blushing, and Father telling the priest not to turn her head. It was all just a few minutes away. She could see the tall steeple ahead.
That was when it hit her for the first time. The fear that seemed to crawl out of the ground and up her spine to the nape of her neck. It was the horror she felt when she knew Father was on his way to give her a spanking, but worse. She had no idea what caused it, she only knew she was terrified.
Hair danced all over as she shook her head back and forth. She dragged her feet, trying to pull her parents back. Father asked, “What's gotten into you child?” but she could not answer. Mama said “Felicity Kathleen, you behave like a lady.” With a violent wrenching she pulled her hands free from the two holding them.