Thank you for taking the time to read my Thursday post. First off, I want to thank everyone who commented on the post for Shadow’s birthday giveaway last week. It was a great response, and I’m pleased to tell you that Harmony Kent won the Amazon gift card and Beem Weeks won the signed paperback copy of Shadow of the Drill. Thank you both for participating, and for being so welcoming when I joined #RRBC.
I thought that for today, I’d give you a peek into Winter of the Drill. Please feel free to give feedback, as there’s still some fine tuning to be done. This book picks up a few months after Shadow, and brings back the character of Hunter Grae. I hope that you enjoy it.
Winter of the Drill
A slight rain misted the December afternoon and moistened the face of the young man who raced through the alley, frantically seeking refuge. A graffiti covered doorway caught his eye as he flew past and he spun on his heel, running back and rattling the doorknob in a vain attempt to gain entry. Frantic intensity strengthened his hands and he pounded on the door with both fists, even though he knew that there would be no help on the other side. For even if there was someone there to open the door, they would betray him in a heartbeat once they learned who was chasing him. Once they knew that he ran from the Drill.
And they would find out; though Tommy had never met the man, he had heard enough to know that the Drill would tear the city apart until he flushed his prey out into the open. He was a man who took great pride in his work, and made it a point not to fail those who purchased his expensive services. He was also a man whose vicious reputation was legend among the hookers and the hustlers who called those dark and dreary streets their home. They would never risk his anger by sheltering one such as Thomas Gaylord Jenkins III; two-bit dealer, pimp, and all around loser in spite of his pretentious name. They knew better, as surely as Tommy Jenkins had not. But he was learning fast.
Abandoning his attempts to gain entrance to the building, Tommy sprinted for the far end of the alley. Heart pounding, he prayed desperately for enough time to reach the cross street and make his escape before his pursuer closed enough of the gap between them to see where he went. He knew that the odds were against him, for the hellhound on his tail had been hand picked by the Drill and was as much at home on the dingy streets as Tommy himself. Perhaps even more so. Every turn, every shortcut would be known to him, and the possibility of escape faded with each passing second. But knowing that his options were quickly dwindling did not destroy Tommy’s hopes completely. There was still a chance, and it was almost close enough to touch.
The bus station! Hang a right ,then two blocks up. I can do this! The thought of watching his neighborhood shrink into the distance through the tinted windows of a Greyhound caused his heart to thump with anticipation. Just a ticket away from a brand-new life!
But that life was not to be. Tommy was only a dozen or so steps from the mouth of the alley when a lean figure stepped out of the shadows and held up a hand in greeting.
Tommy skidded to a stop, his stomach clenching when he recognized the man who stood before him – another of the young thugs in the employ of the Drill. Tommy knew that the man could not be reasoned with, so he wasted no time with arguments or bargains. Turning quickly, he raced back the way that he had come, cursing loudly when he stumbled over a small pile of debris. His shoes pounded against the damp pavement and his breath burned in his throat as he pushed his exhausted body forward. He knew that retracing his steps gave him a miniscule chance of escape at best, but to stay where he was and face the consequences of his actions required more bravery than he had ever possessed, under any circumstances.
And so he ran.
There was a cab parked across from the alley entrance and he felt a sudden rush of exhilaration. Just a few more steps to the street and
A fist struck him in the diaphragm, lifting him to his toes and forcing the air from his lungs. He fell to his knees, retching, unable to prevent the flow of urine that darkened the front of his pants.
Idiot! He screamed silently at himself, disgusted with his own stupidity. He should have known that there would be sentries stationed at both ends of the alley and he should never have gone in, should never have looked at the narrow, rat infested passage as a route to salvation. But he was tired, and the machinery that governed his rational thought was no longer operating at top efficiency. The only thing he knew for certain was that he had gotten himself into the middle of some incredibly deep shit.
The “businessmen” that he had so gleefully cheated wanted him. Wanted him badly enough to pay the Drill and his team to hunt him down, and the Drill was not the kind to let his quarry slip through his fingers. Therefore, Tommy knew that he would most likely be dead by morning.
Idiot, he berated himself again when a strong hand gripped his hair, pulling his head back and forcing him to look up into the face of the one who held him.
To his surprise, the man who had chased him into the alley was not the man who stood before him. His pursuer had been young, of average height and build, with light blonde hair poking out from beneath a blue stocking cap.
This man was older, darker, and completely unknown to Tommy Jenkins. He was also very tall, and would have towered over Tommy even if the boy had not been kneeling. But his height was not the only thing that caught Tommy’s eye. Massively built, his broad shoulders and muscular arms left no question as to the raw power that lurked beneath the surface of his skin.
Tommy began to whimper uncontrollably when the man lifted his hand, pulling him to his feet by his hair. Standing, he dared another quick look at the stranger’s face and saw with astonishment that it bore a pleasantly amused expression instead of the scowl he had expected. And when the big man spoke, his voice was easy on the ears with a tone that was almost friendly.
“Look at you,” he said as he released Tommy’s hair and rested a firm hand on the boy’s shoulder. “What a mess you are. Hard to believe you’re man enough to get yourself into the kind of trouble you’re in. But…stranger things have happened.” He paused briefly, eyeing Tommy without any change of expression. “So…what do you have to say for yourself?”
The ringing of a cell phone spared the boy from having to answer and his mind raced, trying to think of the best way to extract himself from the situation while his captor answered his phone one-handedly.
“Hunt,” he said into the mouthpiece, laughing with genuine delight. “Damn, it’s good to hear your voice. How was the flight? Are you all settled in?”
Tommy found himself hoping that the conversation would take a while, but it proved to be a brief exchange. “Hunt” was not a man of excess words, and only a few sentences passed between him and the giant whose fingers still gripped Tommy’s shoulder like talons of steel.
“You’re sure you’re up for this? From what I’ve been told they’re just a bunch of kids but…well, let’s be real, bud. You’re not as young as you used to be.” There was a burst of indignant chatter from the cell and the man laughed again. “Okay, okay. Don’t blow a gasket. Grab a nap and we’ll see you tonight.”
The stranger disconnected the call and turned his full attention back to Tommy, his ruggedly handsome face still wearing the same bemused expression.
His smile gave Tommy the faintest stirrings of hope that this man, unlike the others who had been chasing him, might be of a more sympathetic nature. Taking a deep breath, he met the man’s gaze and prepared to plead for his life.
But before the first words were spoken he realized that he was mistaken, that there would be no chance of gaining his freedom.
The smile was still gentle, but from under a shock of raven-black hair, crystal blue eyes that glittered like shards of the purest ice bored directly into his. Devoid of both mercy and soul, they were the eyes of a jungle cat, of a bird of prey. Cold as the grave, they were the eyes of the Drill.