Read Cold Hearted: A Yancy Lazarus Novel (Episode Two) Online

Authors: James Hunter

Tags: #Men&apos, #s Adventure Fiction, #Fantasy Action and Adventure, #Dark Fantasy, #Paranormal and Urban Fantasy, #Thrillers and Suspense Supernatural Witches and Wizards, #Mystery Supernatural Witches and Wizards, #Mage, #Warlock

Cold Hearted: A Yancy Lazarus Novel (Episode Two) (40 page)

At last I pushed the plate away, wiped my mouth and fingers down with an already dirty napkin, and then settle back into my seat.

“So what’s the word on Shelton?” Ferraro asked wasting little time—she was tense, more tense than I’d remember seeing her since she’d first interrogated me back in Wyoming. Maybe a more permanent vacation from the Bureau would do her good. “What was James able to get out of him?”

“Not as much as I’d like. James dug deep, but whoever gave Shelton that trinket also gave him a super-grade compulsion—a type of mind magic—that made him more compliant to orders while simultaneously wiping any relevant information about who supplied him with the ring. We know it’s someone highly placed in the Guild—Elder’s Council probably, which narrows the suspect pool down to twelve, though it could be someone in the Judges Office—but outside of that, not much. My guess is that the Lich was the one in the driver’s seat, but James can’t exactly grill Koschei, so it’s all dead-end leads on that front.”

“Was he able to ascertain what was going on down there, with all the computer equipment?”

I bobbed my head yes. “That’s the only solid thing James came up with. It seems like whoever is running the carnival has some major plans—no big shocker there. He’s supporting rebels and upstarts in the five fae courts, and he’s also reaching out to uber-bad shitheels from just about every part of Outworld. If I didn’t know any better I’d say we have a gen-u-ine Lex Luthor, Legion of Doom thing going on. He also managed to drag out one, super-unhelpful, cryptic comment. Shelton said, ‘The White Seal is in play.’ What the hell that’s supposed to mean is anyone’s guess, but there it is.”

“And what happened with Shelton?”

“Still alive. Looks like he’s actually gonna stand trial before the Elder Council, which is a stupid idea, considering one of those assbuckets is probably our baddy.”

“Then why is it going to trial? Shelton’s a murderer. And not just a murderer—I remember what he did to Kozlov—the man is twisted. And he’s dangerous.”

I looked away, trying to figure out how best to phrase it. “Look, it was James’s call. I think Shelton being dead is the safer option, the easier option for us. But because of the level of compulsion involved, James just isn’t convinced that Randy is wholly to blame. I mean the kid made a bad choice, a lot of bad choices, but he was also the victim. Someone used him up. Probably the council will push for his execution anyways. Might not even make it that far—I’d bet that whoever arranged for Randy to get the ring will also arrange a little accident for him before the trial ever starts. Safer that way. But until then, Shelton gets to keep breathing.”

We were quiet for a while, I took several long pulls from a dark Guinness stout, while Ferraro nursed a Jack and Coke on the rocks.

“So what’ll you do now?” she asked after a time. “Now that Shelton’s been dealt with?”

I shrugged, not really sure what to say, how to answer. “I dunno. Probably pretty much what I’m doing right now. Hit the road, eat some good food, play some music, mostly keep my head down … and I guess I’ll also keep an eye out for any more evil shenanigans coming down the pipeline. Maybe I’ll ask around, see if there’re any leads to follow up on, see if I can figure out what the White Seal is. Nothing official.”

She reached across the table and took my hand in hers. “Maybe you could hang around here for a while. I’ll be busy with work—always have a full caseload—but it’d be nice to see you some more. I could also help with your unofficial investigation.”

I looked at her and though it broke me inside, I gently pulled my hands away from her. “Look, Nicole, you’re a helluva woman. Seriously. And I’d love to do this”—I waved a hand vaguely at the restaurant—“again. But settling down in one place? No, that’s not for me. I traded in my chance at regular life a long time ago—that ship has sailed and I have no intention of trying to shimmy my ass back on board. But …” I offered her an apologetic shrug. “I’ll be around, there’s work to be done, and right now you’re one of the few people that I can trust.”

She smiled, but it was a rueful grin, one that seemed to say,
Yeah, I know how it is
. She slid out of the booth and grabbed me by the hand, giving a tug as though to say,
Let’s get moving
.

I looked at her, unsure.

“My place isn’t far,” she said. “We”—she waved a hand between us—“don’t have to be official. My life is complicated, busy, hectic. Not conducive to lasting relationships, so I understand. But I also understand that life is short—this whole thing has reminded me of just how short it might be—so you have to enjoy what you can get when you can get it.”

I let her pull me from the booth and lead me from the bar by the hand, only too happy to follow. I had a feeling that my life was gonna get more complicated and much more dangerous in the very near future. But Ferraro was right, you do need to take your victories where you can get ‘em.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

 

Hey all, my name is James Hunter and I’m a writer, among other things. So just a little about me: I’m a former Marine Corps Sergeant, combat veteran, and pirate hunter (seriously). I’m also a member of The Royal Order of the Shellback—‘cause that’s a real thing. And, a space-ship captain, can’t forget that.

Okay  … the last one is only in my imagination.

Currently, I work as a missionary and international aid worker with my wife and young daughter in Bangkok, Thailand. When I’m not working, writing, or spending time with family, I occasionally eat and sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedication

 

For the special ladies in my life: Jeanette, Lucy, Mom—I love you all so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Thanks

 

I’d like to thank my wife, Jeanette, and daughter, Lucy. A special thanks to my parents, Greg and Lori. A quick shout out to my brother Aron and his whole brood—Eve, Brook, Grace, and Collin. Brit, probably you’ll never read this book either, but I love you too. Here’s to the folks of
Team Lazarus
, my awesome Alpha and Beta readers who helped make this book both possible and good: Brenna, Owen Wilkie, Andy Shapiro, Megan Meyers (aka Teal.Canary), Bob “Gunslinger” Singer, Suzanne Driggs, Dan “Danh” Goodale, Marty Snodgrass, Dawn Cornish, Joan Carmouche-Hairston, Nell Justice, Jen “Ivana” Wadsworth, Sean McIntosh, Rhonda Almodovar, Robert Olsen, Brett Farris, and Renee Robertazzi. They read the messy, early drafts so that no one else had to; thanks guys and gals this book wouldn’t be what it is without you all. And of course a big thanks to my editor, Ashley Davis who rocked this book.

—James A. Hunter, June 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright

 

Cold Hearted 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 persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 by James A. Hunter

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, email the publisher, subject line “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the email address below.

[email protected]

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