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Infiltrate retribution, p.1

Infiltrate_Retribution, page 1

 part  #2 of  Exposed Series

 

Infiltrate_Retribution
 


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Infiltrate_Retribution


  retributi Judith Graves

  on

  RAVEN MAY BE IN OVER HER HEAD.

  Infiltrate

  retribution

  WHEN A GIRL SHE JUST MET

  commits suicide, Raven starts snooping around.

  infiltrate

  She learns there have been a number of similar

  deaths recently, and the deceased all had one

  thing in common: issues with anxiety. With help

  from Team Retribution, Raven links the deaths

  to an unauthorized drug trial. She soon realizes

  that she needs to get on the inside. Before long

  things get out of control, and Raven’s not sure if

  she’s undercover or under the influence.

  grav

  e

  012+

  s

  $9.95

  retributi Judith Graves

  on

  RAVEN MAY BE IN OVER HER HEAD.

  Infiltrate

  retribution

  WHEN A GIRL SHE JUST MET

  commits suicide, Raven starts snooping around.

  infiltrate

  She learns there have been a number of similar

  deaths recently, and the deceased all had one

  thing in common: issues with anxiety. With help

  from Team Retribution, Raven links the deaths

  to an unauthorized drug trial. She soon realizes

  that she needs to get on the inside. Before long

  things get out of control, and Raven’s not sure if

  she’s undercover or under the influence.

  grav

  e

  012+

  s

  $9.95

  infiltrate

  retribution

  infiltrate

  retribution

  Judith graves

  Copyright © 2017 Judith Graves

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.

  Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

  Graves, Judith, author

  Infiltrate / Judith Graves.

  (Retribution)

  Issued in print and electronic formats.

  isbn 978-1-4598-0723-5 (softcover).—isbn 978-1-4598-1488-2 (pdf).—

  isbn 978-1-4598-1489-9 (epub)

  I. Title. II. Series: Retribution (Victoria, B.C.)

  ps8613.r3827i54 2017 jc813'.6 c2017-900844-7

  c2017-900845-5

  First published in the United States, 2017

  Library of Congress Control Number: 2017933014

  Summary: In this installment of the high-interest Retribution series, Raven goes undercover to find the link between a pharmaceutical company and a wave of teen suicides.

  FPO

  Orca Book Publishers is dedicated to preserving the environment and has printed this book on Forest Stewardship Council ® certified paper.

  Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.

  Edited by Tanya Trafford

  Cover image by iStock.com

  Author photo by Curtis Comeau

  orca book publishers

  www.orcabook.com

  Printed and bound in Canada.

  20 19 18 17 • 4 3 2 1

  To Brenda—my sister,

  cheerleader and best friend.

  in·fil·trate (in-ˈfil-ˌtrāt)

  verb

  to enter or become established in

  gradually or unobtrusively, usually for

  subversive purposes

  ONE

  The monsters are back.

  I run for the hall closet. I almost don’t

  fit, but I push and shove and squish myself

  inside. I lean on stinking clothes and junk

  piled nearly as tall as I am. My breathing is

  nothing but harsh pants. Too loud. They’ll

  hear me. Find me. I cup a hand over my

  face to muffle the sounds.

  This wasn’t my smartest move. Our

  apartment is only on the second floor.

  I should have climbed out my bedroom

  window and jumped the few feet to the

  ground. Waited until it was safe to return.

  I’ve done it before.

  1

  j u d i t h g r a v e s

  But I’d thought the monsters were gone for

  good. They’d promised. Now I’m pretty much

  trapped, and they know my hiding places.

  Footsteps pound down the hallway.

  “Where’d you get to, little bird?” one low

  voice asks. It sounds like my father, but I

  know better.

  My whole body trembles.

  “Don’t you want to see what we’ve got

  for you?” This voice sounds so much like my

  mother’s. But it’s rougher. Desperate.

  I don’t want to see what they have for me.

  Nothing good ever comes from the monsters.

  Heavy thuds. Close. Loud.

  My heart knocks hard in my ears. I

  burrow deep into the mounds of dirty clothes

  and drag what I can over my head. If I’m

  small enough, quiet enough, just maybe…

  The door jerks open and light floods the

  closet, seeping through the gaps between

  sweaters and ripped jeans to edge my skin

  in a golden glow. They’ll see me for sure.

  A scream sticks in my throat. I stay absolutely

  still. I hold my breath. I hold on to nothing

  2

  i n f i l t r a t e

  and pretend I’m not here—I’m somewhere

  else. I’m some one else. A queen in a castle.

  A wizard working a spell. A girl safe in her

  own home.

  The comforting weight of the clothes is

  suddenly gone. I gasp at the painful grip on

  my arm. It’s all too real. And so am I.

  No getting away this time.

  “There she is, there’s our little Raven.”

  The monsters close in. They rip me apart.

  I let the scream out then. And another.

  And another.

  I jolted awake and slid out of bed,

  disoriented. The dream lingered, the

  terror sticking close like an old frenemy. I

  pulled on some clothes and decided it was

  time to climb. The fact that it was 4:30 am

  didn’t matter.

  Climbing kept the monsters where

  they belonged.

  In my nightmares.

  3

  TWO

  I scaled the steel underbelly of the

  Burrard Street Bridge. A foggy haze

  blanketed the churning water below.

  I planted my feet on the rusted beam I’d

  been navigating for the last ten minutes

  and caught my breath. I released my

  hold on the taut suspension cable to take

  a quick swipe at the moisture collecting

  on my top lip.

  It hadn’t been raining when I set

  out for a bit of soloing, but hey, this was

  Vancouver. In the fall. It rained at least


  once a day, no ifs, ands or buts.

  4

  i n f i l t r a t e

  Most people just weren’t climbing

  bridges during the downpour, trying to

  forget what should have been forgotten

  long ago.

  A thrum of wings in my ear had me

  ducking out of range as a pigeon swooped

  by my head to perch on an opposing

  beam. Beady black eyes fixed on mine.

  “Waiting to see if I fall?” I made my

  way forward, careful to avoid the pools

  of water building in the beam’s ruts

  and cavities. Last thing I needed was an

  unwanted dip in False Creek. “You never

  know. I might surprise you, Beady Eyes,

  and just fly on out of here. My name is

  Raven, after all.”

  The pigeon tilted its head, puffed its

  feathers and cooed smugly. I could almost

  hear its thoughts. A girl who can fly. Riiight.

  Yeah, that scenario wasn’t too likely.

  I was no superhero with the ability to fly

  or melt things with my mind. But I was

  still about 98 percent certain I’d make it

  5

  j u d i t h g r a v e s

  up the support tower. I’d plotted my route

  carefully, and the only tricky stretch left

  was straight ahead. I had random patches

  of scaffolding to contend with, thanks to

  certain sections of the bridge being under

  construction.

  I reached for a pipe overhead and

  swung through a gap in the crisscross of

  steel pipes, releasing my grip just as my

  feet made contact with the waterlogged

  wooden platform. My trail-running shoes

  hydroplaned across the surface, and I

  dropped to my knees. They took a beating

  at the heavy impact, but if I hadn’t, my

  momentum would have propelled me

  over the edge.

  I sucked in a breath. That had been

  way, waaay too close for comfort.

  At my back, Beady Eyes cooed,

  sounding vaguely disappointed.

  I began to climb the tower. It was

  easier on this side without all the

  scaffolding and work-tool clutter. Funny—

  the construction workers were tied in

  6

  i n f i l t r a t e

  when they worked at this height, and here

  I was, moving past all their various rigging

  without a care. “Bye-bye, birdy.”

  I never did like pigeons much. I’d had

  far too many run-ins with them during

  my climbs. You knew those birds were

  aiming for you when they had to do their

  business. They were strategic poopers,

  precise aerial bombers, almost always

  hitting their targets with goopy, stinking

  payloads.

  Finally I reached the top, without a

  single misstep or bird-dropping situation.

  Success. Of course, the rain started to slow

  the second I was out of danger. I sat on

  the concrete railing, legs dangling over

  the edge, and watched the morning sun

  begin to burn through the cloud cover. The

  bridge, built sometime in the 1930s, stood

  about eighty feet above the waterline,

  with impressive art-deco towers. It was

  one of my favorite structures to climb,

  even if the recent construction took away

  some of the true climb. I loved that the

  7

  j u d i t h g r a v e s

  city wasn’t giving up on the old bridge and

  was doing the required upkeep.

  Just because something was old school

  didn’t mean it wasn’t worthy of respect.

  I thought of my houseboat, a clunker

  from the ’80s, but still my safe haven, my

  home and my escape plan. Big Daddy had

  been moored for the last few years, but

  I kept it seaworthy in case I needed to

  make a clean break. So far I’d been lucky.

  But I knew, better than most, that your

  life could get swept up in a squall when

  you least expected it.

  Actually, the last few weeks had been

  all about changing course. Adjusting and

  figuring out how to live this new life I had

  going. My old boss, Diesel, was no longer

  calling the shots. He’d led the car-theft

  ring I’d worked for. A criminal. And yet

  he was the man who’d kept me off the

  streets, given me a specific skill set—a

  purpose. But then he’d betrayed my trust.

  He’d been better than family, or so I’d

  thought, but when I’d learned the truth,

  8

  i n f i l t r a t e

  what he was capable of, I’d exposed him

  for the monster he was. Life as I’d known

  it had changed, forever. No more stealing

  cars, no more high pressure or constant

  threats. Just infinite possibilities.

  I’d learned that that could be scarier

  than having no possibilities at all. Having

  options meant more ways to screw up.

  With only myself to blame if things went

  south. Without the distractions of living

  at the warehouse with the other chop-

  shop kids, I had to focus on my future.

  Decide what I wanted out of my life.

  Who I was willing to trust and who now

  trusted me, like the kids who contacted

  Team Retribution for help. The team—Jo,

  Jace, Bentley and me—was the only thing

  keeping me going right now, although it

  caused a new kind of stress.

  With new kinds of complications.

  Like Emmett, the guy I was seriously

  crushing on. He was a cop’s kid, and in

  his case—it was cliché but oh so true—

  the apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree.

  9

  j u d i t h g r a v e s

  He wanted to know more about me—

  where I lived, for example, or where my

  parents were, or why I took such risks

  with the team. The more I deflected, the

  more he dug in his heels. He’d figured a

  few things out, but still had questions I

  couldn’t answer. Not yet.

  The nightmare flashed through my

  mind. Maybe not ever. How could someone

  like him understand the way I’d lived?

  What I’d done? What I continued to do?

  All his life Emmett had been surrounded

  by good. Protected. He still believed in the

  system while I bucked it at every turn.

  I squinted down at the street below.

  The fog had thickened, surrounding the

  city in a heavy mist. With visibility this

  bad, I decided to stay on the up side of the

  bridge and make my way home. Swinging

  a leg over the railing, I hopped down onto

  one of the narrow walkways.

  A scuffling sound drew my attention.

  I spun to see a girl about my age on the

  10

  i n f i l t r a t e

  opposite side of the bridge. She was

  standing on the railing, one arm wrapped

  tightly around the section’s support beam.

  With her back to me, she was unaware of

  my presence. Her arms were trembling,<
br />
  and no wonder—she was wearing just a

  tank top and shorts.

  Must have been freezing up there,

  exposed to the wind.

  I fought the urge to call out. I didn’t

  want to startle her. My feet moved swift

  and silent on the damp concrete. I had

  to get closer and see what was going on.

  A few steps in, my heart began to

  jackhammer behind my ribs. No way

  was this a fellow climber out for an

  early-morning challenge. The girl was

  off balance, in more ways than one.

  She stared down into the fog like it had all

  the answers.

  What if she was planning to…

  “Hey, what are you doing up there?”

  The words tumbled from my mouth.

  11

  j u d i t h g r a v e s

  The girl shot me a quick look, then

  stepped farther from the support beam.

  Wobbled on the railing.

  “Don’t! Please don’t,” I pleaded as I

  charged down the bridge at full speed.

  But instead of leaping off the bridge

  to certain death, the girl crouched, placed

  her hands on the railing and hopped back

  down to the bridge’s concrete surface.

  She turned and sprinted into the fog.

  “Wait! Are you okay? I just want to

  make sure you’re all right.” I slowed to a

  stop when the fog swallowed her form

  completely.

  12

  THREE

  I kicked off my shoes and tugged my

  hoodie over my head. Went to drape it

  over a chair to dry, but it fell with a lifeless

  thud to the wood floor.

  I let out a sigh.

  Adapt and Overcome was a great

  motto to have when I was in the zone,

  scaling buildings and vaulting into space,

  but on Big Daddy I liked things in order.

  Consistent. So I was mighty mad when,

  as I tried to slip quietly into the cabin,

  my shin met the hard corner of the heavy

  wood chair that had no business being in

  the middle of the room.

  13

  j u d i t h g r a v e s

  “What the…” I grumbled under my

  breath and sidestepped around the chair.

  That’s the thing about living on a small

  boat. Its cave-like darkness. Maybe I

  needed to invest in some string lights to

  provide a bit of a glow. I crept closer to

  the wall, searching for the light switch,

  and stubbed my toe on another piece of

  furniture not where it should be.

  I swore, hopping on one foot as the

  pain traveled up my leg and straight to

  my stomach. Ugh. A broken toe was

  all I needed. And after my nightmare

 
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