Overwatch, page 1part #1 of Reed Montgomery Series
Book 1 in the Reed Montgomery Series
Copyright © 2019 by Logan Ryles
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
OVERWATCH 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.
Published by Ryker Morgan Publishing, a Leonine Creative LLC imprint.
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-7323819-4-0
Cover design by German Creative
Author portrait by Anna King
For my darling Anna
Everything I ever wrote I wrote for you.
About the Author
Jersey was cold. The first breath of impending winter blew down off the North Atlantic, whistling softly between the pilings and over the coarse sand of Cape May’s south beach. Reed stood at the waterline, feeling every breath of wind as it cut through his wetsuit like a knife, but he didn’t shiver. He stood perfectly still, and with a pair of Swarovski binoculars, he traced the coastline and surveyed the mouth of the Delaware Bay.
Two-foot waves glimmered under the blaze of the full moon, and the water lapped against the barnacle-covered feet of pier pilings, washing back and forth across the rocky sand shore. Thirty miles to the northeast, the neon lights of Atlantic City glimmered on the horizon. In the opposite direction, the dark outline of Cape Henlopen State Park was barely visible, marked by half a dozen twinkling campfires. Red and green buoys guarded the entrance to the bay, and an occasional fish jumped into the moonlight, shining between the waves.
But it was the emptiness that hallmarked the night. It was an ideal condition for a kill.
Reed lowered the binoculars and breathed in the cold air. It stung his lungs like the prick of a million needles, but the salt breeze tasted fresh. He squinted toward the horizon, then raised the binoculars again and swept his gaze across the bay twice more. On the third pass, he paused over an irregularity in the water—a rolling wave that moved against the current, away from shore. Turning back to the left, he found the source of the disturbance—a thirty-foot yacht, running dark, without a hint of humanity on board.
He studied the boat, then crouched in the sand, depositing his binoculars into a backpack and withdrawing a small case. After snapping it open, he withdrew a Glock 27 subcompact pistol, loaded the weapon with a single magazine containing nine rounds of fragmenting hollow points, and racked the slide. Salt spray gleamed on the gun under the light of the moon. Every curve and edge of the weapon felt hard and cold, but familiar, like a favorite pair of shoes or a worn baseball cap.
With the gun tucked into the interior of his wetsuit, Reed pulled a pair of diver’s goggles over his face, and the air rushed from his lungs the moment he stepped into the chilled water. One breath, then another, both slow and measured against the chills that ripped up his spine. Then he waded out until the sandy bottom slipped from under his fins. The Jersey shoreline faded behind him as he cut through the waves, drawing occasional breaths between wide breaststrokes.
Ten minutes of powerful kicking brought Reed four hundred yards offshore, where he stopped to tread water and reposition on the yacht. As he anticipated, it now sat at anchor outside the mouth of the bay, bobbing in the rolling waves. The boat still ran dark, with no sign of humanity on board, but Reed wasn’t perturbed. He remained upright in the water, treading between deep breaths as he continued to regulate his breathing. His heart thumped like a snare drum, but he didn’t feel as cold. The water trapped between the wetsuit and his skin had warmed from the vigorous exercise and now served to insulate him from the frigid water. Five minutes passed before he detected the first sign of life on board the vessel. It came in the form of a muffled shout, followed by a dull thud.
One deep breath of damp air, then Reed slipped beneath the surface. Kicking out with both legs, he approached the boat underwater, clearing the last fifty yards in less than a minute. When he surfaced, he was bobbing feet from the yacht’s wide swim deck. He hoisted himself up and landed on the platform without a sound. Water drained off the wetsuit and back into the ocean as he sat, listening for any sign from inside the boat. Voices were barely audible, stifled by the thick fiberglass and teak trim of the expensive pleasure cruiser. Somewhere inside the cabin were at least two men. Both American. Both with Northeastern accents.
On the platform, he twisted and then unlatched his fins, depositing them and the mask onto the swim deck. He turned and flipped over the bulkhead, his bare feet landing on the deck without a sound.
The rear of the boat consisted of a row of luxury lounge chairs followed by a narrow stairwell to the cockpit and a door to the main salon. A visual sweep of the rear of the cockpit confirmed that all occupants of the boat were inside the salon.
He unzipped his wetsuit and withdrew the Glock, subconsciously performing a press check on the chamber. The glimmer of the brass casing in the dull moonlight assured him that the weapon was hot, and he proceeded to the door of the cabin. His heart continued to thump as a rush of adrenaline charged his blood with invisible lightning. His hands didn’t shake, but that was due to years of practice containing the anxiety and anticipation of an impending kill.
The latch lifted without resistance, and the door swung inward. Lights shone from somewhere beyond the hallway. Something heavy scraped against the hardwood flooring, and the air reeked of cigarette smoke.
Stepping across the threshold, Reed raised his weapon and then rounded the corner into the lounge, where two men sat at a card table. One man was dark and slim and wore an expensive evening suit and designer eyeglasses. He sat against the far wall, leaning over the table and growling at his companion between clenched teeth.
The second man was short and broad, stuffed into a polo shirt that constricted around each layer of fat, making him look like a caterpillar fighting to break free of an undersized cocoon. He puffed on a cigarette as sweat streamed down his bold, Italian-American features.
The men looked up when the stranger burst into the lounge. The short man with the cigarette choked and pushed himself away from the table, crashing to the floor, and gurgling something unintelligible. The man in the suit glared up at the intruder with wide, panicked eyes, and reached under his coat.
Reed didn’t hesitate. The muscles in his arms tensed, and his vision tunneled around the man in the suit. He raised the Glock, and his lungs froze around a half-breath. The silenced pistol twitched twice, and scarlet oozed from the folds of the man’s suit as he fell limp against the wall, his hand still caught beneath the jacket. His mouth flopped open, and a trail of blood ran
The man on the floor screamed and wriggled his way backward, holding one hand out toward Reed.
“Hey! What do you want? Just chill, all right? I’ve got nothin’ to do wid him!”
The boat swayed over another wave as Reed stepped across the salon and trained the pistol on the chubby man. As he stared down at his victim, every part of him was alive with tension. He could feel it in his bones. In the thunder of blood rushing through his brain. In the weight of the gun clenched between his fingers.
But instead of pulling the trigger, he spoke in a calm, monotone voice.
“Where is the money?”
The chubby man frowned, swallowed, and blinked all at once. “What? The money? Look, man. I don’t know nothin’ about no money! I’m just his valet, okay? I don’t even know why I’m here tonight!”
Reed squatted on the floor and leaned toward his cornered prey. He reached between the man’s legs and gripped the crotch of his khakis. Without a sound, Reed tightened his hold around the wadded pants, digging his fingers into the folds of the cloth, while keeping the pistol trained on the man’s face.
The stout man’s eyes grew wide, and his gut jiggled as he restrained a scream of pain. Tears streamed down his face.
“Man, please . . . let me go!”
Reed pressed the barrel of the gun against his victim’s left eye socket and laid his finger against the trigger. At the same moment, he clenched with his left hand and twisted.
“Last chance. Where’s the money?”
The chubby man screamed and fell against the wall, choking on his saliva as he attempted to pull away from the gun.
“All right! All right! It’s in the trunk of a taxi. New York. Medallion 7J59.”
Something in his eyes—maybe it was the fear, or the shadow of truth passing through those wide windows and into his terrified soul—whatever it was, Reed believed him. He released his hold around the pants and took half a step back.
The chubby man gasped and covered his crotch with both hands, sobbing as he leaned against the mahogany paneling. “I swear, it’s the truth. It’s all there!”
Reed rose to his feet and walked across the cabin to an emergency locker mounted midway up the wall. From an orange case, he withdrew a twelve-gauge flare gun and loaded a single waterproof cartridge into the chamber. He tucked the gun into his wetsuit, then zipped it back up.
Turning back to the man on the floor, he unscrewed the silencer from the end of the Glock.
“I believe you. It’s your lucky day.”
The man on the floor panted, his face still flooded with pain as he shielded his crotch.
“I swear to God, man. I wouldn’t lie.”
Why now? Why did the double-dipping swindlers always wait until their backs are against the wall before they tell the truth?
He walked to one of the salon’s big bay windows, pushed it open, and sucked in a fresh breath of air. With a quick flip of his hand, Reed tossed the silencer through the open window and into the depths of the water outside, then turned toward the liquor cabinet. He withdrew a pint of Kentucky bourbon, twisted the cap off, and handed it to the man on the floor.
“Huh?” Confusion flooded his wide eyes, and terror dug its way into his soul.
Reed pushed the pint into his hand and then raised the Glock again. “Drink,” he repeated.
The man on the floor raised the bottle and took a swig of the harsh liquor. He choked and tried to lower the bourbon, but he was stopped by the pressure of the Glock jammed into his ribcage.
“Keep going. All of it. Now.”
He spluttered and gulped the alcohol in unbridled panic as more of it streamed down his chin and over his shirt. Every time he tried to lower the bottle, Reed shoved the gun deeper into his skin, twisting and biting him through his dirty polo shirt.
At last, the bottle was empty, and it clattered to the floor amid a puddle of whiskey. The chubby man coughed and leaned back, wheezing and struggling to catch his breath as saliva dripped from his lips.
“Dammit, man. I swear I’m telling the truth.”
Too little too late—like Judas apologizing to a bloody cross. Reed cocked his left fist and drove a snapping punch to the backside of the man’s skull. His victim slumped over in instant unconsciousness.
Reed picked up a towel from the galley counter, wiped down the grip of the Glock, and then placed it in the hand of the man on the floor, pushing the chubby finger through the trigger guard. As he stood up and surveyed the brutal scene, his heart pounded but gradually calmed as he took slow, deliberate breaths.
Satisfied that the job was done, Reed retreated to the rear deck and surveyed the horizon for any sign of other boats. As before, the bay was dark and empty.
After affixing the fins back onto his feet and pulling the mask back over his face, he slipped into the cold water and kicked toward shore. When he was fifty yards away from the yacht, he drew the waterlogged flare gun from his wetsuit then aligned the sights with the main salon. He squeezed the plastic trigger. The gun popped, and the flare shot across the water, arcing perfectly through the open window and crashing into the lounge. A moment later, smoke and flames rose from the window.
Reed watched the scene, imagining that he could feel the heat of the fire on his icy face.
A few powerful kicks propelled his muscular frame through the water and back toward shore. He dropped the flare gun, allowing it to fade into the darkness as he closed his eyes. He pictured the flames of the yacht and imagined it sinking, slipping between the waves and carrying the bodies to the bottom of the bay and the watery grave it promised.
The foothills and ravines of north Georgia rose and fell much like the waves of the night before. They rose until almost touching the morning sun, then fell again into a shadow-filled valley, carrying the road with them. Orange and brown leaves drifted down from overhanging hardwoods, bouncing across the pavement before being washed into the ditch. The last remnants of a dying summer. Everything felt crisp and clean.
The stillness of the mountain road was shattered by the roar of the black car, low-slung, with tinted windows and exhaust that shook the mountains to their roots. It blasted around a hillcrest and hurtled into a valley, every curve of the road shoving the car toward the edge, sending wide tires screaming over scarred asphalt, and threatening to break free and roll into a ditch at any moment. After another bark of exhaust and a thunderous roar of the oversized engine, the car pulled out of the turn and rocketed forward again. It was unstoppable.
Reed didn’t know the road. He’d never traveled that way before. Each turn was unknown, filled with hidden danger and intoxicating peril. He slammed the Camaro into third gear and dumped the clutch. The leather-wrapped steering wheel was damp in his hands, slipping between his fingers as he allowed the car to self-correct out of another turn. Wind ripped through the open windows, flooding the car with the mixed scents of autumn flowers and burning gasoline. It was the kind of smell dreams were made of.
Downshift back to fourth. Ride the brake and turn to the left. Pull out, half-throttle, just in time to break a slide and prevent the car from spinning into a ravine. The mountains clapped and shook as the exhaust backfired, a sound like a gunshot ripping through the trees. Reed sucked in a lungful of crisp air and relaxed off the throttle, allowing the car to glide to a natural halt at a stop sign. He closed his eyes and listened to the rumble of the V-8. The way the exhaust snarled, even at idle. It was like music, but better than any orchestra the world had ever heard. It was a voice that awoke the deepest parts of his soul, whispering to his heart sweeter than any lover ever could.
Freedom captured in an engine block.
Reed leaned back in his tight racing seat and slid on his sunglasses, then turned to the left and merged onto a four-lane highway. A green sign towered next to the roadway, painted with white, reflective letters: ATLANTA, 127 MILES. The roar of the motor re
A dull buzz rang from the console. Reed hit the accept button on the dash, and the call switched to the speaker system.
“It’s done,” he said.
The voice that answered sounded sleepy, or maybe drunk. With Brent, there was no way to tell. It could’ve been both.
“Sweet, dude. Nice work. I saw the news. It looks like you implemented a little arson. Good stuff.”
“Did they salvage the boat?”
“Nah, man, it sank. A few locals took pictures, but there’s nothing to worry about. Looks like you cleaned up real nice.” The blend of spunk and dismissal in Brent’s voice was the sort of casual enthusiasm only a stoned cheerleader could master.
“Good. They won’t find much when they raise it.”
“Well, it’s sitting in fifty feet of water, so it’ll take time. They’ll probably lift the bodies today.”
“Won’t be much left,” Reed said. “He’s got enough alcohol in his stomach to knock out a linebacker.”
“Right, right. And the goods?”
“Money is in the trunk of a taxi. New York City. I emailed you the medallion number.”
“You checked it out?”