Running Wild

By: Christy Reece

An LCR Elite Novel


Cali, Colombia

Ernesto Diaz chewed nervously at his lip as he checked his watch once again. He cursed beneath his breath. The two men he’d hired to help him with this job were late. He’d had no choice but to go with local talent, which usually wasn’t an issue. There were more than enough available men to do this kind of work. The problem wasn’t the lack of assistance, the nature of the job, or even the money. The problem with this job was the target.

Ernesto was fifty years old. Forty of those years he’d been running various cons and scams. Made a good living. For the past five years, he’d turned to information gathering. Being a short, squat man with average looks had its advantages. Few people noticed him or saw him as a threat. Being a snitch and informant was a much more lucrative endeavor.

It was because of his past association with the target that he’d been chosen for this job. Ernesto wasn’t above taking the occasional kidnapping assignment. When finances were low, there wasn’t much he wouldn’t try his hand at. So when he had been offered this opportunity, he had eagerly accepted. The money was excellent, and the setup was minimal. All in all, it should’ve been an easy way to make a nice profit. The issue, once again, narrowed down to one specific problem—the target.

He had known Aidan Thorne for several years. The man had paid him handsomely for various bits of intel Ernesto had collected. Ernesto didn’t know the reason Thorne needed the information he asked for…didn’t want to know. Sometimes, the more you knew, the better your chances of getting dead. Ernesto made sure he knew just enough to make a living and not enough to cause his death.

If he’d had a conscience, he might feel guilty for betraying a man who’d always been kind of decent to him. But Thorne understood the way of the world they both inhabited. In a battle between money and loyalty, money always won.

Ernesto peeked around the corner. This time of day there were few people on the streets. And in this neighborhood, the ones who were on the streets were the people you wanted to avoid.

Maybe once this job was over, he’d go somewhere else. Get out of town, at least for a little while. Did Thorne have people who might come looking for him? If that was the case, then Ernesto knew he wouldn’t want to be around.

He didn’t know what the people who hired him wanted with Aidan Thorne. He didn’t want to know. Whatever it was, he doubted Thorne would survive the outcome.

A shiver that had nothing to do with the temperature zipped up Ernesto’s spine. If Thorne somehow got away, he’d come looking for Ernesto. The thought made his gut twist. He’d seen dead men with more warmth in their eyes than Aidan Thorne. Without a doubt Ernesto would not survive any kind of skirmish with the man. That was the reason he’d hired two men to help him. Thorne would be a ruthless, formidable enemy.

If the men he’d hired didn’t arrive soon, he would have to do this on his own.

Ernesto unconsciously shook his head. No way would he take on Aidan Thorne by himself. Only one man would survive such a confrontation.

Ernesto knew to his soul it wouldn’t be him.

Chapter One

The bar was both sleazy and filthy. Smoke swirled through the big room like an industrialized bug fogger belching out its last toxic dregs. From the sticky fake-wood floor that hadn’t seen soap and water in decades to the light fixtures with grimy coats of dirt and dead bugs, the ambience of Claudio’s Cantina bellowed, Enter at your own risk.

Aidan figured it’d take at least a half-dozen showers before the stink left him.

Slouched in the corner, his back to the wall, he gave the appearance of being half wasted and all the way bored. He was neither. His informant was fifteen minutes late. Punctuality had never been a priority for Ernesto Diaz. Aidan had no illusions about the man. Though less corrupt than most in his business, if Diaz got a better offer, he’d sell out without a thought. Which was why Aidan was going to give the vermin only five more minutes to show. The back of his neck was getting that twitchy feeling, which usually meant trouble was brewing. Ignoring that twitch had once gotten him shot. He hadn’t ignored it since.

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