Make them pay, p.1
Make Them Pay, page 1
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I dedicate the twelfth Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan book to you—my readers.
My readers have been asking for Liam and Eden Rogan’s story for a long time, and if it wasn’t for these requests, I doubt I would have written this book. I didn’t really know who Liam and Eden were—why they lived in Europe, why they never visited, why Kane cut them out of RCK. It wasn’t until I started writing The Lost Girls that I had an idea about why the family had split … but it didn’t fully develop until I read a (mostly) disproven theory about a possible treasure at or near the Alamo. Everything clicked and Make Them Pay was born.
Thanking Deborah Coonts has become a regular occurrence for me, because she has continually helped me understand flying and small aircraft. I make a lot of stuff up, but I want it to not only make sense but be plausible. If I messed anything up—and I’m sure I did!—it was solely my fault. Ditto for the medical details—my cousin Dee Gifford helped once again, but mistakes are on me. Thank you both!
As always, special thanks to my agent, Dan Conaway, who keeps me (mostly) sane, and my editor, Kelley Ragland, who sees the diamond in the rough draft and helps me make the story shine. I appreciate the entire Minotaur/St. Martin’s team—I consider myself to be blessed to be on your list!
I can never forget my family. This time, my husband Dan really helped me with researching the Alamo by finding me articles about every theory, even those disproven, of missing treasures during that time. I didn’t use even a fraction of what he dug up, but it all helped make the story plausible. And thanks to my kids, who are finally learning to cook for themselves … because someone has to do it when Mom is on deadline! I love you all.
Seventeen Years Ago
Liam Rogan didn’t want to cry. Dammit, he was nineteen years old, he wasn’t going to cry because his damn feelings were hurt.
“Hey,” his twin sister, Eden, said.
“I didn’t invite you in.”
She shut the door behind her and sat on the edge of his bed. They hadn’t lived here at home in a year and a half. Last summer they’d stayed in Europe and worked at a museum. Their parents had promised to visit, but work got in the way. Always. And still nothing had changed. Their parents were obsessed with their work, their older brothers were both in the military—though Kane was starting something else now—and nothing had changed. Not really.
“I know how you feel, Liam. But it’s not that bad. Mom and Dad just … I don’t know, they love what they do. Love it. And they love us. They just don’t know how to show it because they get so focused on their inventions.”
“They love some of us more than others.”
“That’s not fair.”
“Isn’t it?” Liam walked over to his closet and pulled out his heavy winter coat. He hated carrying anything onto the plane, but it was snowing in London.
“You don’t know. You’re a girl.”
“Can’t you take anything seriously?” Eden the lighthearted, Eden the angel. She was the only girl—well, had been since Molly died of a drug overdose—and could do no wrong.
“Liam, I take you seriously. I’ve always been here for you. Always. But you have this competition with Kane and Duke and sometimes I think even Sean. He’s a little kid.”
“Boy genius,” Liam muttered. “And fourteen isn’t little.”
“I like him. He’s fun.”
Liam rubbed his eyes, feeling like a kid himself. “Look, I like him, too, but— Oh, I don’t know. Just everything is Kane this, Kane that, oh look, Kane has this great new business.”
“Kane followed in Dad’s footsteps—he joined the Marines, became a war hero, and now is starting his own protection business.”
“With JT, Dad’s other favorite.”
“Now you’re really being ridiculous.”
“Hardly. JT spent more time here than his own house throughout high school, and Mom and Dad brought him with us on every family vacation.”
Maybe that wasn’t fair. Kane’s best friend had a difficult life, and Liam didn’t lack compassion. It just seemed that sometimes his parents took care of the wounded in the world, ignoring those right in front of them.
But he couldn’t stop now. “Duke was the perfect son, obedient, always doing the right thing, went to college, is serving his two years in the Army, being so damn perfect and noble and self-righteous. If we were Catholic, he would have become a priest. I can practically see the halo over his head.”
“And then there’s Sean. I was always the smart one, Edie—but Sean did everything sooner, faster, better.”
“Oh, stop it.”
Being jealous—envious—of his own brothers was petty, but the feelings had been percolating for years. And then when he and Eden went to college in Europe it was like they didn’t even exist anymore.
“What’s really bothering you, Liam?”
Eden got up and hugged her brother. “No matter what, Liam, you have me. Two peas in a pod, remember?”
“Until you find some guy and get married.”
She laughed. “Not anytime soon. Do you think I’d let anyone get between us? You’re my twin. We think the same, we have fun together, there hasn’t been a time in our entire lives that you weren’t there for me when I needed you. I can’t say the same for anyone else in the family. Whoever I fall in love with has to love you, too.”
“You could marry Dante.”
She hit him. Hard.
“Ouch! That’s going to bruise.”
“You could marry Gabriella.”
“Gross. She’s like my sister.”
“Exactly. Ditto for Dante. It’s just … yuck. Besides, we turned nineteen last month, don’t marry me off now.”
There was a knock on the door. Liam said, “Come in.”
Their dad, Paul Rogan, stood in the doorway. “Do you have a minute, Liam?”
Eden gave their dad a hug. “I gotta finish packing. Dante and Gabriella are going to be here in an hour, then it’s back to England.”
Her dad grinned. “England? Don’t you mean you’re spending the weekend in New York?”
“What? Really?” Eden laughed and winked. “You weren’t supposed to know about that, Daddy.”
He tugged her hair. “There’s not much I don’t know.”
He was looking at Liam when he spoke. Eden raised her eyebrow and Liam waved her off. She blew him a kiss, then closed the door.
Liam stuffed a book in his carry-on. “Are you mad that we’re going to see a Broadway show?”
“I have to finish packing.”
“You’re packed.” Paul sat on Liam’s desk chair. The room was functional, not personalized. Everything he valued he had taken with him to England. Liam didn’t value a lot.
Liam sat on his bed. “What?”
“You mother told me I’m a fool. She’s right.”
“Mom would never call you a fool.”
“True. She called me an ass.” He tried to smile, failed. “Liam, I’m not good at expressing myself.”
“No, it’s not fine. You are my son. Sheila and I never expected to have a large family. Even Molly was a surprise.”
He tried to keep his voice light, but the sorrow crept in. Molly was the oldest of the six Rogan children and had died of a drug overdose ten years ago, when she was twenty. It had devastated all of the Rogans.
“Sheila and I get so wrapped up in our work that we often don’t see what’s right in front of us. I want to tell you that we’ll change, that we’ll be better, more attentive parents … but that would be a lie. Because I get so preoccupied in my work, I don’t think I’ve conveyed to you, your sister, your brothers … we love all of you. We are so proud of you. There’s not a week that goes by that I’m not bragging about you to someone.”
“I know you love us. You’re brilliant and the world needs you. You and Mom have invented some of the coolest things.” Liam truly believed that. He kept up-to-date with his parents’ work because he was interested. “I just wish, I don’t know, I could have been involved. Like Sean.”
“You always talk to him about your gadgets. Those night-vision goggles? You and Sean stayed up all night working through the bugs on them.”
“I guess, but—”
“And Kane came over the other day and you talked about how great it’ll be to have a family business, that Duke is going to run the IT unit when he gets out of the Army. What about me?”
“If Sean works with you and Mom, and Duke works with Kane, where does that leave me?” Dammit, he sounded pathetic and needy. “What if I want to invent things with you?”
Liam shook his head. “But I have ideas.”
“Liam—you have the best of Sheila and me.”
Liam shrugged. He didn’t want to be placated.
“Kane is all military, strategy, tactician. Duke is the organizer, a leader. Sean is just fucking brilliant, sometimes he scares me. There’s nothing he can’t fix, and he’s what? Fifteen?”
“Fourteen,” Liam corrected.
Paul looked confused for a minute, then nodded. “Right. But you and Eden are the visionaries. You see all the possibilities. Your mom and I see what can be, and we invent gadgets, as you say, to fill a need. We love it. But if we had a solid lead on the Alamo Treasure, we’d drop everything to find it. The history alone … No one believes it exists, thinking that it’s just a myth. But we know it’s there.”
Liam had of course heard about the treasure from his dad and Uncle Carlo. What would now be tens of millions of dollars of gold and silver, lost in Mexico en route to Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett at the Alamo while the fort was under siege by General Santa Anna. Liam’s parents had searched for other treasures over the years—they always had stories to tell about what they found and didn’t find—but the invention business took over.
Liam loved history, but mostly he loved adventure. He wanted to find a treasure that other people valued; he would donate it to a museum and be recognized by historians and explorers. He wanted the same kind of stories his parents had, about the risks and rewards of searching for pieces of history. His father had often told him that the hunt for treasure was a timeless romance that attracted true believers with heart and soul.
“So?” Liam said. He was cautiously optimistic. Did his dad want him to go on a hunt with them? “What does the treasure have to do with anything?”
“Because we’re close,” Paul said. “And do you think Kane would be interested in searching for something that may or may not be in a specific location? Treasure hunting takes love, patience, perseverance. Or practical, frugal Duke spending money looking for gold? Or Sean, who would say, ‘Why search for buried treasure when I can make my own money?’ He doesn’t grasp the value of history, not like you and Eden.”
Liam had never heard Sean say that, but it sounded like him. Sean had been designing video games since he was ten and sold one last year. The money was in his college fund. Now he was working on another.
“I want you and Eden to join me on the expedition. When we put together the funding, I want you there with me.”
Liam didn’t know what to say, but his excitement grew.
“We’re close, Liam. Very close. Your mom is frustrated with me because I’ve been a bit obsessed ever since Sean decoded a section of the journal—a journal we’ve had for years but couldn’t figure how it connected to the region. I know how to fund the expedition, it’s just going to take some finesse. And we’re just waiting on one more piece to the puzzle—Father Gregorio’s map.”
Liam’s heart skipped a beat. “Uncle Carlo found it?”
“He knows where it is. He can get it, but it’ll take a little time. Carlo and I talked about this. When we find all the pieces, and put together the financing, we’re giving everything to you and Dante and your sisters. If this takes longer than we think it will, you and Dante need to take over the search. I have the utmost confidence that you’ll find it. You have the heart, you have the knowledge, and most important, you have the spirit. I’m sure your sister and others will join you in the quest, but in the end, it’s going to be because of you, Liam, that the world will finally have this lost piece of history.”
A treasure hunt.
It wasn’t about the gold and jewels or even the history or adventure. Yes, all that was important, but most important? His father had faith in him—faith he didn’t have in anyone else. He believed that Liam could find a treasure that few people believed in and those who did could never find. Because none of those expeditions had the Romero journal, a journal that had been in Dante’s family since their ancestors helped Father Gregorio hide the gold and silver.
“When?” Liam asked, almost unable to speak.
“It’s going to take a few years. But the gold has been buried for two centuries, it’s not going anywhere. Go back to college, enjoy yourself, learn everything you can about the history of Mexico, Texas, and their relationship to Spain. Remember that what I love about you isn’t the same as what I love about Kane, which isn’t the same as what I love about Sean. I love you because you are the most like me. If I were twenty years younger, I would go with you. But by the time we put this all together, I’ll be in my sixties. I’m happy to live vicariously through you.”
“I—I don’t know what to say. I won’t let you down.” His voice cracked.
“Liam!” Dante Romero’s voice shouted from downstairs. “Get your ass down here, we’re going to miss our flight!”
Liam zipped up his suitcase. His dad came over and hugged him tightly. “Thank you for keeping my dream alive,” Paul said.
“It’s my dream, too.”
When Paul and Sheila Rogan died in a plane crash six months later, Paul’s dream became Liam’s obsession.
Friday Night, Present Day
Kane Rogan had been a Marine and a mercenary and had devoted his life to Rogan-Caruso-Kincaid Protective Services. He was ruthless when necessary but preferred clandestine operations to violent encounters. He wasn’t a soft man, but he wasn’t cruel.
Still, he had a deep-seated anger for those who hurt innocent people. And a violent rage against those who bought and sold human beings like property.
If Kane had known that the FBI had that bastard Angelo Zapelli in custody, then let him go, Kane would have taken him out before he crossed the border. Kane didn’t care about any rights Zapelli claimed to have or a supposed illegal search and seizure—which resulted in saving dozens of lives. He didn’t care that Zapelli was a Mexican citizen or that he had been detained without probable cause or any of that other legal bullshit that separated Kane from some of
Angelo Zapelli had sold his pregnant girlfriend and her sister into the sex trade, where they suffered at the hands of brutal men and women all for sick thrills and profit. Zapelli didn’t deserve to live; he didn’t deserve to breathe the same air as the women he betrayed.
For the two weeks Kane Rogan watched him, Zapelli clearly felt no remorse for his actions. But it wasn’t until Zapelli started talking up a young and obviously underage girl that Kane knew the bastard hadn’t changed. That he would once again sell girls into the sex trade or abuse them himself.
Neither of which was acceptable.
Which was why Angelo Zapelli now sat tied to a wooden chair in the middle of a decrepit barn outside Monterrey, Mexico. His face bled—from his mouth and a cut across his cheek and a gash on his forehead that would scar if Kane didn’t kill him. A tooth that must have already been loose lay in a ring of bloody saliva on the ground in front of Zapelli. Kane hadn’t tortured him, not yet, but Zapelli had put up a fight and Kane enjoyed taking him to the ground. Kane planned on killing him and he wouldn’t bring his team or his family into it.
Not this action. Not this time.
Zapelli tried to put up a tough front, but he was soft. Strong and powerful around young women he could manipulate, use, and bully, he was weak inside, with clean hands and manicured nails. At first he fought, but now he cried. He’d lost his rage because he wanted to live.
Zapelli knew exactly who Kane Rogan was and what he could do.
“I swear,” Zapelli pleaded, “I didn’t do anything!”
Kane remained silent. He sat on a chair in front of Zapelli, gun in hand. Silence drew confessions from the weak better than torture.
Kane rubbed his jaw. Zapelli had gotten in one left cross, but that was it. Sore, a little bruised, but the punch hadn’t even broken his skin. Kane stared at Zapelli. Sweat dripped down his face, mingling with the drying blood. He pontificated, lied, begged. Then lost it.
“Fuck you!” Zapelli screamed. “If I die, everyone in your fucking family will die. You think I don’t know who you are? Do you think I don’t know that fed is almost your fucking sister-in-law? Do you think she’s unreachable?”
by Allison Brennan / Suspense / Mystery / Romance have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes