Puck by Wilder Jasinda

  Puck: Alpha One Security Book 4

  Jasinda Wilder


  1: 99 Problems

  2: Sparkin'

  3: Danger Hackles

  4: Story Swap

  5: Shitshow

  6: No Foolin'

  7: Teasing

  8: Sex, Guns, And Gangsta Rap

  9: Kiss With A Capital K

  10: Give Him The Crazy

  11: Don't Say It


  Also by Jasinda Wilder

  Copyright (c) 2016 by Jasinda Wilder


  All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  Cover art by Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations. Cover art copyright (c) 2016 Sarah Hansen.

  ISBN: 978-1-941098-73-8

  Created with Vellum

  1: 99 Problems

  Ninety-nine problems, but a bitch ain't one--the Jay-Z line went through my head. Despite everything it was kinda funny because one bitch wasn't my problem; there were two of them. And don't get your panties in a knot. I meant "bitch" as a term of endearment--I liked those two girls, Lola and Temple, which was why I was here in the first fucking place.

  Significantly higher up the problem list was the fact that I was in the mostly empty baggage compartment of a privately owned 727, and we were way, way up there, meaning it was cold as fuck in here--pressurized and liveable, but fucking freezing.

  Another problem was I had no weapons and, furthermore, I had no plan for what to do when we got wherever the hell we were going--that lack of knowledge was yet another problem on the list.

  Additionally, Harris and the gang, as far as I knew, had no idea what was going on, although I knew they would find out eventually. Which meant, for the moment, I was on my own . . .

  In the cargo hold of an airliner flying at cruising altitude.

  Without a weapon.

  Responsible for the lives of two beautiful women, who happened to be the girlfriends of my two closest brothers-in-arms.

  Between the injury and my lame attempt to cauterize the wound with my cigar, my finger hurt like a bitch.

  On top of it all, literally, were the twenty-some armed men a few feet above me in the passenger cabin.

  Good times.

  Going in my favor, though, were two facts: I was a stone-cold, hard-ass motherfucker, and I was really pissed off.

  Also going in my favor was my background in both the military and FBI--I was patient, I was used to long periods of hurry up and wait. I could hunker down in the most uncomfortable situations and stay in a state of readiness for hours. Which was what I had in front of me at the moment . . . I was cold, I was in pain, I was pissed off, I had female friends needing rescue, and I had no clue where we were going or how long it would take to get there, and I had no idea what I was going to do once we arrived.

  So I did what any self-respecting grunt and cop would: I snoozed.

  A snooze was a specific thing for cops and Army grunts: you ain't sleeping, but you were also not quite awake. You were in-between, relaxing, resting, eyes closed, brain off, muscles loose, but not quite unconscious; you were ready to spring into action at the sound of a CO's bark or the crackle of the radio. Personally, I have perfected the snooze. I could let myself sink into a state that was just this side of totally asleep and then the instant my senses told me it was go-time, I was in motion without so much as a yawn. It was a great way to juice up your batteries between firefights and also great for passing long periods of boredom on a stakeout. Or, in this particular case, both.

  As I snoozed I thought back over the past couple of days. What a shitshow. That bastard Cain and his men ambushed us and, long story short, his goons swooped in and captured the women and me and put us on this plane. What a jackass--and a pussy, too: hurting women and kids was pathetic. He would live to regret it if I had anything to do with it. Not to mention the fact that my chest still hurt like hell from taking bullets in my vest during the firefight. As I mentioned, one of the bullets ripped off the top of the middle finger on my left hand and that really pissed me off. That was my "fuck you" finger. I'd managed to cauterize it a bit with the end of a cigar, but the wound would not close completely. When I finally got my hands on Cain, the bastard was going to pay.

  I needed to rest more than I needed to lose my shit over my finger, so I closed my eyes and the next thing I knew my snooze had lasted what felt like six hours or so, which meant we were most likely headed to Europe. The runway had been north-south oriented, and the aircraft had taken off into the north and then banked wide and slow to the right. Hard to tell without visual cues, but the angle and duration of the turn made me feel like we'd turned east or northeast, and from then on travel had been straight as an arrow. Six hours or so from Arkansas in a northeasterly direction in a 727 traveling at cruising speed . . . the UK maybe, or Spain or France.

  My estimation of the time I'd been snoozing was just that--an estimation. I didn't wear a watch because there was no point, I'd lost my burner phone at some point during the chase, and I didn't own a day-to-day personal cell. If we were on a mission, I just bought a burner to use for the duration of the mission, but if we are between ops, I didn't carry a cell. Time was a construct, and I didn't like being accessible all the damn time. I liked my personal time and personal space way too much to let any ol' dick call me and gab at me all fucking day.

  Point was, I didn't know the exact time, or how long we'd been flying. It was just that we weren't in Kansas anymore, Toto.

  What kicked me out of my snooze was a sharp banking turn, signaling the pilot was orienting himself with a runway. That was followed by the thunk-cachunk-grrrrrrrr-thunk of the landing gear being lowered. A moment later, my stomach lurched as we descended, and then the bark and bump and skid of touchdown. Then I began to feel a bit of panic. Just because I was a stone-cold, hard-ass motherfucker didn't mean I was devoid of emotions. I got squirrelly before a big op, and if folks were shootin' at me I got pissy like anybody else. And when I was facing shit like I was facing then, I got a bit panicky.

  I could take on plenty of assholes with fists and feet and forehead--I'd been a barroom brawler and bare-knuckled boxer from the time I was knee-high to a tadpole--but twenty assholes with guns . . . I didn't like those odds.

  So . . . now what?

  Play it by ear, I guess.

  But fuck, fuck, and double motherfuck, I wished to hell I at least had my Beretta.

  I felt the aircraft brake and pivot as we taxied, and I took stock again of the small amount of baggage in the hold. A dozen suitcases, all containing nothing but clothes and clothes and clothes and more clothes--all female and of widely varying sizes, but all scanty and skimpy, hooker getups and runway shit. Another suitcase with shoes, another with all kinds of makeup. A cooler full of food, which I raided when I first snuck in here. There were no weapons, and nothing I could even use as a weapon.

  And the presence of all the girl gear had my wheels turning. Why would a bunch of mercs and thugs have brought evening gowns and booty shorts and mascara? Well . . . seeing as they kidnapped two fine-ass women, I guessed we were headed to a people market, wherein Cain sold women like sides of beef.

  Now here's something to know about Puck Lawson: I did not take kindly to the sale of human flesh. People were people, and people ain't for sale. If a woman made the choice to sell her bod
y, that was her choice, and I got no issue with that--better not, since my mama was a hooker. But that was different. She was doing that herself, to survive, to make ends meet, because she liked sex, whatever the case might be. But if she hadn't chosen to pursue that occupation, then that shit was slavery, and as far as I knew slavery was ended in this country awhile back. So if Lola and Temple were en route to being sold into the sex trade, then some folks were about to get their shit wrecked.

  You wanna see the really ugly side of an already ugly motherfucker? Try to sell someone when I was around.

  The 727 came to a halt, and I positioned myself to the side of the cargo door. I heard the rattling rumble of a diesel engine, and the whining of the aircraft jets spooling down, another soft thunk--the stair lift was being positioned outside. Voices, male, gruff, speaking . . . Czech? Ukrainian? Not sure, exactly, since I didn't have Thresh or Anselm's polyglot skills. Then female voices, several of them, all frightened, angry, speaking English and Russian and some Asian dialect and half a dozen other languages. All the female voices were abruptly silenced when a handgun went off and a male voice shouted, "SHUT UP!"

  Yeah, that dude was gonna be first to die if I had anything to say about it.

  I knew orders were being given--I could only tell from the tone of voice since the orders were in whatever language those dickknobs spoke. Silence for a moment, and then I heard the clatter and thunk of the cargo door opening.

  A male head popped in, followed by the rest of the body--average height, average build, brown hair, kinda ugly, and carrying an AK on his back by a strap. He passed right by me without seeing me, somehow, and made straight for the pile of luggage strapped down in the middle of the hold. He was about two hundred feet away and was busy trying to sort the luggage; it was black as hell in there and I could barely see him.

  As the second dude walked past me, I tiptoed up behind him, wrapped my arm around his throat and gripped my wrist in a chokehold. Fucker didn't know self-defense, apparently, because all he did was gurgle and thrash, surprised and, well, choked to death. When I was sure he wasn't going to pull out some Judo shit, I loosened my hold so he could answer a question.

  "English?" I growled in his ear over the noise outside and the sound of the engine slowing down.

  "Da! Da!"

  "Where are the girls being taken?"

  He wiggled, and I squeezed until he quit.

  "Market," he rasped.

  "Which market? Where?"

  "Don't--don't know!"

  I squeezed again, hard enough to impress upon him the understanding that I could end him with a flex and a twist. "Talk, bitch, or you're dead."

  "I don't know!" He gurgled this a little too loudly, and I clamped down until he thrashed and struggled. "Promise, promise--I only load baggage and guard door."

  "The assholes in charge--they know everyone by name and face?"

  "Nyet. But they only speak Russian or . . . Ukrainets. From Ukraine, da?"

  "How many?"

  "How many where?"

  I heard a diesel engine cough into life, and assumed that meant time was short.

  "Doesn't really matter how many, does it?" I asked, but the question was meant rhetorically.

  And besides, I didn't give him a chance to answer. I squeezed until he thrashed, and kept squeezing until his kicking slowed, and then I set him down, stripped him of his AK, and checked him for useful shit. He had a cheap plastic lighter, some shitty Russian cigarettes, a spare mag for the AK, a beaten, old, and scuffed-to-hell Makarov 9mm with a mag for that. A decent handful of cash in American dollars, euros and rubles, a passport, and a small black folding knife.

  Enough to get me started.

  I hauled the body to the very back of the cargo hold and hoped to hell nobody looked in there, or knew who had been sent in to get the bags.

  I heard a voice shouting something, in what sounded like Russian, getting closer, so I stuffed the cigarettes, cash, lighter, magazines, and knife in my BDU pockets, slung the AK around my back, and shoved the pistol behind my waistband at the small of my back. And then started slinging suitcases toward the cargo door.

  My plan was stupid, but it was all I could think of: pretend to be one of them for as long as I could and then start shooting, or whichever course of action seemed best at that particular moment. Right now, though, I threw suitcases. A pair of hands grabbed them as they reached the door; he didn't glance in, thankfully. If he had, he'd have seen the dead guy, which probably would have ended the game before it started.

  I started to wish I could speak more than just English. Thresh and some of the other A1S guys spoke more than one language, but that just wasn't my skill set. I could ping a nail with a 9mm round from damn near a hundred yards, I could read blood splatter as easily as "Run, Spot, Run," I could hold my own in a firefight, fistfight, or knifefight, and I could analyze ballistics and trajectories like a road map. I just couldn't speak anything except plain old English, and even that I often mangled. Fine. Whatever. Wasn't usually a problem. Right now, though? I had a feeling it was going to be a major fuckin' problem.

  I tossed the last suitcase at the opening and followed it over, hopping out of the baggage hold after it. A monster tub of lard with platinum blond hair, wearing a maroon tracksuit with three white stripes down the sleeves and pant legs, was waiting by the back end of an aging Mercedes party bus, the kind of thing that was bigger than a van but shorter than a tour bus, usually used for bachelorette parties and winery tours. He tossed in two suitcases, and then glanced at me as I hopped down.

  "Gde Anton?" he said, peering at the cargo hold doorway.

  I shrugged, grabbed a suitcase and tossed it in the back. My heart was hammering, but I kept up the pretense, helping the big fat bruiser load the luggage into the van. He was easily six six, and probably weighed three hundred or three fifty, but it was all flab; he was gasping and sweating just from tossing a few suitcases.

  My plan was just to bluff my way through, shrug and grunt and act dumb, and hope an opportunity presented itself. When the luggage was loaded, Tubby McTracksuit climbed up and behind the wheel. I climbed up into the van after him, and the guy shot me a quizzical look but didn't object, so I took the nearest seat, shifting the AK around front as I sat down. I scanned the van, and my heart sank. I saw not only Lola and Temple, but Layla and Kyrie too, plus another eighteen or twenty other girls. What the fuck? How did the A1S girls end up here?

  All the women were between sixteen-ish and forty-ish, ranging from the plain side of pretty to drop-dead gorgeous, and they were of all builds and ethnicities. And they all looked terrified. Most of them had tear tracks dried on their cheeks, and a few looked dazed and numb. Fuckers had all four of our women? They had Kyrie? Motherfuckers weren't smart, then. Taking Kyrie meant they'd pissed off Valentine Roth, and that was not a good move. They had Layla, which meant Harris was pissed off, and they had Lola and Temple, which meant Thresh and Duke were pissed off. Four of the deadliest men on the planet, with nearly endless resources at their disposal--and you snatched their women? Pretty fuckin' stupid.

  It would have been comical, except that even for those guys, time was of the essence. I only hoped they knew where we were, and they got here in time.

  All four of the women saw me and recognized me, but I shot them a hard stare and shook my head as subtly as I could. None of them visibly reacted.

  Tubby McTracksuit twisted in his seat and whacked me on the arm. "Gde Anton?"

  I shrugged again and tried to look like I couldn't give any less of a shit.

  He honked the horn, waited a moment, and then honked again. "Yebat yego," he muttered and shoved the vehicle into gear.

  It couldn't be this easy, could it? Nah. Probably not. Something was going to go wrong. It was just a matter of what, how bad, and when.

  To review: I wished to fuck I had a cell phone, and I wished to fuck I spoke Russian. But as Grandpappy Lawson used to say, if wishes were fishes, I'd stink like fucking fish.
br />   I stuffed one of the dead Russian's cigarettes into my mouth and lit it with his lighter, and puffed a cloud of smoke at the ceiling, letting my eyes wander idly over the other passengers. I kept my expression neutral as I skipped over the women I knew. There was quite a broad spectrum represented here: Asians, blacks, Indians, Caucasians . . . and all of them were mighty fine looking women.

  My gaze stopped, pretty much of its own accord, on a woman sitting two rows away from me across the aisle. She wasn't the type of girl I hit on at a bar, let's just start there. For one thing, she was probably taller than me, which normally didn't work out too well. For another, she seemed . . . prim. Sweet. Aristocratic. She was sitting all upright and proper like we were at a black-tie dinner or some shit, her shoulders straight, her head high, knees together, hands on her lap, and her expression was closed, tight, and cold. I respected that, the fact that she could retain her decorum under these circumstances, probably knowing what her fate would be. Plus, she was just . . . delicate looking. Gorgeous as hell, but delicate. I didn't mean frail, just . . . shit. I didn't fucking know what I meant.

  Maybe five ten or five eleven, tall for a woman, and an inch or two taller than my five nine. Long, thick, wavy, shimmery locks of glossy mahogany-brown hair--a shade that wasn't quite auburn, but still had hints of red. It hung loosely around her slender face and thin shoulders, so thick, so much hair . . . I want to wrap that gorgeous hair around my fist and fuck her brains out from behind--that was the thought running through my head, and my dick responded in kind, stirring in my pants just thinking about it. Made me an asshole, but hey, I never claimed to be anything else.

  Her face, though . . . she was truly, stunningly, classically beautiful. High, sharp cheekbones, cute as a button little nose, a wide mouth with plump lips--she could rival Julia Roberts in terms of mouth hotness. She was sitting across the aisle from me and on the outside, so I could see she had legs for goddamn days, sheathed in a sensible black knee-length skirt, power suit style. She had on a long-sleeved forest-green blouse, buttoned to a hot but still modest second button, enough to show a hint of cleavage but not enough to make mouths water. The skirt and blouse were rumpled, the worse for wear, yet she still looked put-together, in control, and hot as fuck. Her knees were pressed together, her feet tucked on an angle underneath her seat, and I could see a hint of sensible black heels. Her skin was creamy smooth and naturally golden tanned and was everything sweet and luscious.

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