Viking Bay, page 1
OTHER BOOKS BY M. A. LAWSON
(WRITING AS MIKE LAWSON)
The Inside Ring
The Second Perimeter
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Copyright © 2015 by M. A. Lawson
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Lawson, M. A.
Viking Bay : a Kay Hamilton novel / M. A. Lawson.
1. United States. Drug Enforcement Administration—Fiction. 2. Undercover operations—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3612.A95423V66 2015 2014017511
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
For the Sheppard sisters: Gail, Linda, and Joanne—but especially Arlyn, who once sent me an e-mail that said, “When will I get a book dedicated to MEEEE???” So here it is, Arlyn.
Other Books by M. A. Lawson
Author’s Note and Acknowledgments
About the Author
It began with a text message.
Alpha texted Bravo and the burner phone in Bravo’s pocket vibrated. Bravo looked at the message: Transfer complete.
Bravo punched numbers into the same phone, calling Charlie. He let the receiving phone ring twice, then disconnected the call. No words were necessary.
The man designated as Charlie removed his phone from a leg pocket in his cargo pants, punched in five digits, and hit CALL—and a transformer at a substation half a kilometer away disintegrated, sending bolts of white light a hundred feet into the sky. Witnesses later said that lightning—on a clear, cloudless night—had struck the transformer.
Delta didn’t need a text message or a call to tell him to perform his task: the power going out in the compound was his signal. He put on night vision goggles and slipped into the house. He caught the old man just as he was coming out of his bedroom to investigate the power outage, and Delta slit his throat as if the old man were a newborn lamb. He dragged the body into a closet and left the house.
Delta called Bravo’s phone and it vibrated twice. Again no words were needed to tell Bravo that Delta had completed his mission.
Bravo didn’t use the burner phone for his next call. He used his personal phone, because it didn’t matter if his next call could be traced. He dialed a number and spoke for less than ten seconds. Then he counted slowly to sixty—sixty seconds should be plenty of time. If he was wrong, a man Bravo needed to live was going to die. At the count of sixty, he reached into his pocket and, without looking, punched the # key five times.
The package erupted inside the house. Stainless-steel ball bearings and roofing nails spread outward faster than the speed of sound, and an odorless flammable gel inside the package ignited. The people in the room, some sitting no more than two feet from the bomb, were ripped asunder in an instant. Their flesh was burning seconds after that.
Bravo was confident that no one had survived; nothing made of flesh and bone could have survived.
Bravo was wrong.
1 | “We need a woman,” Callahan said.
As always, Callahan looked like an unmade bed: hair sticking up in tufts like small whitecaps on a gray ocean, a wrinkled blue suit, an unpressed white shirt. His ash-stained tie hung at half-mast, and his battered black loafers hadn’t seen polish since the day he bought them. He was also one of the unhealthiest-looking individuals that Anna Mercer had ever known: overweight, pale because he rarely ventured out into the sun, bloodshot eyes from the booze he’d consumed the night before. He had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, was probably diabetic, and should have been on a transplant list for a new liver. He was the only person Mercer knew with an IQ over one-forty who still smoked; she doubted that he’d last much beyond sixty-five, and he was sixty now.
She couldn’t believe they’d once been lovers.
“She needs to be close to Ara’s age,” Callahan said, “and she can’t come across as a corporate lackey. We need someone like what’s-her-name, Ara’s roommate at NYU.”
“Carolyn Harris,” Mercer said.
“Yeah, Harris. She needs to be like Harris. Aggressive, funny, physical. Sexually, ah . . .”
“Loose?” Mercer said.
“I was thinking adventurous, not loose. Ara wouldn’t find a slut attractive. And blond. Blond would be good. Harris was blond. I want her to make a subconscious connection.”
“I guess I could dye my hair,” Mercer said, primping her short, dark hair.
“Nah, you’re way too old.”
“Well, screw you, Thomas. That was a mean thing to say. I’m only forty-five. And I was joking.”
“Yeah, sorry. But she needs to be younger than you. Closer to
He wasn’t sorry; he was tactless.
What had attracted her to Callahan in the first place was his mind; he hadn’t really looked all that much different fifteen years ago when they’d been lovers. His cynicism, his quickness, his insights, his wit—and the fact that he’d been going places and could take her with him—is what had made him attractive. The funny thing was, other women had always found him attractive, too. He’d been married four times, wife number four dropped abruptly by the wayside a few years ago. Mercer couldn’t remember if he’d been married to wife two or three at the time they were sleeping together.
“If Harris was available, I’d actually try to recruit her,” Callahan said. “But since she’s not, we need someone like her, somebody Ara will instantly relate to.”
As Carolyn Harris had died in a car accident a year before, Mercer saw no point in reminding Callahan that Harris had been a protest-marching liberal who would never have gone along with Callahan’s plan.
“So, you got anybody in mind?” Callahan asked. “We need to get moving on this. Ara will be in New York in less than a month.”
The original plan had not been to approach Ara Khan in New York, but when Callahan found out she was coming to the United States he decided to change the plan.
“Actually, I do,” Mercer said. “And I suspect you know who it is and you’ve already decided she’s the one, even though she hasn’t completed her training. Why are we even having this conversation?”
“Maybe I just enjoy your company,” Callahan said.
He was such a bullshitter—but it was almost impossible not to like him.
2 | Bowman struck faster than a rattlesnake and his right hand darted out and grabbed Kay’s sweatshirt, his big hand clutching the material between her breasts. As he jerked her off balance, she slashed downward with her right hand to break his grip, but all that did was hurt her hand; hitting Bowman’s forearm was like hitting a baseball bat.
Bowman quickly shifted his grip and started to turn to his left—the move a precursor to his tossing her over his shoulder—again—and as she began to counter the move, she realized, too late, the move was a feint. Bowman’s right leg snaked behind her left calf and he simply smacked his hand into her chest, knocking her down, and then he belly-flopped onto her, knocking the wind out of her. His forearm—the baseball bat—slammed across her throat and started to crush her larynx.
“Stop!” Simmons said.
Simmons was a tough little nut in his fifties, about five-foot-six, built like a pint-sized version of Superman. He was an ex–Marine master sergeant and in charge of the hand-to-hand combat course. For some reason, he’d matched Kay up with Bowman, who was six-foot-four—eight inches taller than she was—and weighed two hundred thirty pounds—almost exactly a hundred pounds more than she did. On top of that, Kay sensed that Bowman liked to knock women around—his way of demonstrating that they shouldn’t be on the same playing field with the boys—and he was just beating the shit out of her. She already had a mouse developing under her left eye when he “accidentally” hit her with his elbow, and she knew tomorrow there would be a bruise the size of Bowman’s big paw in the center of her chest.
“Hamilton,” Simmons said, “how many times do I have to tell you? You can’t let him get ahold of you first. You gotta be quicker than him.”
Kay just shook her head; she didn’t bother to say that she wasn’t intentionally letting Bowman maul her.
“Okay, let’s try it again. This time, Hamilton, circle to his left. He’s right-handed. And when he reaches for you—”
“Yeah, I got it,” Kay said, but she was thinking that this whole thing was total bullshit. It was only in movies that women beat up men who outweighed them by a hundred pounds. For that matter, that was why they had weight divisions in boxing, because, in general, big guys beat little guys. If a monster like Bowman had attacked her on the street—out in the real world—she would have pulled out a gun and shot him or hit him with anything that would dent his thick skull. Or she’d kick him in the nuts—a move not permitted in this particular course.
Bowman came toward her again, and Kay circled to his left as Simmons had told her. Then, when Bowman’s back was to Simmons so Simmons couldn’t see his face, Bowman made a smooching gesture with his lips.
And Kay kicked him in the nuts. As hard as she could.
Bowman fell to the mat, grasping his crotch, and Simmons started screaming at her. Well, fuck them both.
“Are you okay, Bowman?” Simmons asked.
“I think she crushed my testicle,” Bowman said. At least that’s what Kay thought he said. It was hard to understand him with his teeth all clenched.
Simmons turned to one of the other students—there were only four people in the class, and Kay was the only woman—and said, “Connors, go get the medic. And Hamilton, you get your ass to my office and wait for me there.”
SIMMONS’S OFFICE, just down the hall from the gymnasium, looked like a high school coach’s office and not a coach who taught at one of the better schools. There was a battered metal desk, a wooden chair behind the desk that swiveled and could be tilted back, and a couple of straight-backed chairs in front of the desk. On the walls were charts showing photos of men in various judo and karate positions. In one corner was a set of weights for doing curls, which explained Simmons’s hard little arms. Kay shut the door and noticed a small mirror on the back of the door.
She looked into the mirror and touched the blooming mouse under her eye. It wasn’t too bad and could be covered with makeup. She was lucky her eye wasn’t swollen shut. She was also lucky Bowman hadn’t broken her nose. She’d had her nose broken once before and it had really hurt.
She didn’t know what she was going to say to Simmons. She knew he was going to chew her out, but she also knew that’s all he was going to do. They weren’t going to fire her for kicking Bowman; she was more valuable than Bowman to the Group.
Bowman was muscle, pure and simple. He was good with his fists, okay with a pistol—although he wasn’t any better than Kay with a pistol—but he was exceptional with a rifle. She wondered if Callahan was grooming Bowman to be his designated sniper. Bowman, however, didn’t have her language skills; in fact, he had an accent like the guys who hawked the beer at Fenway and was barely understandable in English. Kay could speak Spanish like a native, and in a few months would be passable in Farsi. Bowman was also slow when it came to the technical stuff—alarms, computers, listening devices, GPS systems—anything with a microchip—and Kay outscored him in those classes.
The door opened and Simmons stepped into the room and slammed the door shut behind him. “Hamilton,” he said, “I don’t know what I’m gonna do with you.”
Kay almost smiled. She remembered her last boss saying the same thing to her—right before she was fired.
THREE AND A HALF MONTHS EARLIER, Kay had been an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. She’d enjoyed the work and had been a good agent; she made a name for herself in Miami after she killed a major player there named Marco Alvarez and three of his men. Marco was the one who broke her nose when he tried to beat her to death after he found out she was an undercover cop who’d penetrated his organization.
After Miami, she was transferred to San Diego, placed in a vacant supervisor’s spot, and put in charge of her own team—and she immediately set her sights on the brother of Caesar Olivera. Caesar was the leader of the most powerful drug cartel in Mexico, and his little brother, a moron named Tito, ran his North American operations. Kay eventually arrested Tito for murdering another San Diego drug dealer—a murder she could have prevented had she chosen to. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there.
Caesar Olivera kidnapped Kay’s daughter, Jessica, and forced Kay to break his brother out of jail in return for her daughter. By the time it was all over, Tito Olivera
Kay could have been prosecuted for breaking Tito Olivera out of jail, but the DEA wanted to keep what she had done in Mexico under wraps as much as possible and didn’t want the publicity that would accompany a trial. On the other hand, the DEA at that point didn’t want Kay Hamilton anymore, either.
Kay had made the mistake of not informing anyone in her chain of command that Caesar had kidnapped her daughter, and she didn’t get permission to go into Mexico on her own to save her. She’d already had a reputation for being insubordinate and playing loose with the rules before she killed Caesar, and killing Caesar the way she did was the last straw: The DEA fired her.
Ironically, the person who fired her was the best friend she had in the DEA, a woman named Barb Reynolds, who was a deputy director back in D.C. and who had been Kay’s mentor. After Barb fired her, she took Kay out for a drink. While Kay was sulking, wondering what she was going to do for a living and how she was going to support her daughter, Barb told her that she might be able to get Kay into a certain organization in Washington who valued her talents.
“Do they know what I did in Mexico?” Kay had asked, and Barb had responded by smiling and saying, “As far as this particular organization is concerned, Mexico was your job interview. Believe me, they want you.”
When Kay had asked if the unnamed organization was the CIA, Barb had said, “Not exactly.”
Not exactly turned out to be one hell of an understatement.
SIMMONS CHEWED HER OUT as expected, essentially giving her a lecture on fair play and sportsmanship as if she and Bowman were a couple of five-year-olds on a T-ball team. Kay pretended to be contrite and Simmons pretended to believe her. After Simmons finished, Kay showered and had just exited the gym when her phone rang. It was Anna Mercer, Callahan’s deputy.