Monday, February 8, 2016

THE GREED FACTOR: A NICK BRACCO THRILLER


                                                                        The Greed Factor

                                                                    Chapter 1            

 

                Every time the bomb rattled in Dane Kanter’s trunk, icy neurons fired through his bloodstream.  With each sharp turn his heart stuttered with anticipation.  It was pure greed that put him in this situation, driving up the Pacific Coast Highway at five in the morning, heading toward Los Angeles.  A college dorm prank that turned into the scariest driving experience of his life. 

                Traffic was light on this portion of the winding road, but his brain throbbed with every creak that came from the back of his Honda Accord.  The ocean waves were just peaking out of the morning fog to his left as the sun seeped between the tree line to his right.  He’d been gripping the steering wheel so tight that his arms were getting fatigued.  How did he ever consider taking the envelope from that stranger in Tijuana?


                A fine mist was spitting on his windshield as he manually engaged his wipers every thirty or forty seconds.  The road glistened with moisture and he felt his tires hydroplane on the sharpest turns.  Everything seemed to conspire against him.  Even the city planning wouldn’t cooperate.  His gas gauge had been on empty for twenty miles, but this stretch of road was quiet and lacking a gas station.  Just trees and asphalt and the continual threat of an explosion to keep him company.

                Dane kept imagining ways to rectify the situation.  He couldn’t abandon the car, the Mexican had made sure of that.  The detonation device was strapped to his chest and the bomb would explode should he move even three feet from the driver’s seat.  A code-locked keypad secured the chest strap and only one person knew the proper code to detach the strap.  One wrong sequence of numbers and Dane’s worries would disintegrate.  Along with Dane.

                The ‘low gas’ warning light blinked on and Dane almost puked at the sight.  He was being monitored with a GPS device and a miniature camera attached to the windshield so even a slight disruption to his movement would be considered suspicious.  A gas stop might be tolerated, but a prolonged stoppage like running out of gas on the side of the road could only expedite the explosion.

                Plus there was the deadline.  He’d been given eight hours to get to his destination.  At eight hours and one minute he became extinct.  There had to be a way of getting rid of this device without exploring the next world, but nerves and rain and wet roads kept him focused on just one thing.  Get to the drop and have the detonator removed safely. 

                He wiped a patch of sweat from his forehead, then squinted as he turned around a sharp bend and saw flashing lights swirl against the trees to his right.

                “Shit,” Dame muttered.  Less than a mile ahead was a road block with white and green SUV’s parked on each side of the single lane bottleneck of cars.  He thought about turning, but saw that it was Border Patrol vehicles.  It was rare to see a road block this far north, but Dane was a pasty white teenager with blonde surfer hair.  He should be of no interest to them.  Unless he acted suspicious. 

                Dane tried to control his breathing as he approached the line of cars waiting for the inspection.  Even in the morning chill, Dane’s hands were clammy around the steering wheel.   There were three cars ahead of him, the first car was waved through by the green-uniformed Border Patrol Officer as he bent over to inspect the contents of the small sedan.  The line crept forward as each car received a quick glance and a wave of an arm. 

                Finally it was Dane’s turn.  With his window open, he rolled the car forward expecting the officer to wave him through without stopping, but the guy held up a hand and Dane nearly dropped a load in his pants.  That’s when he looked at his side view mirror and spotted the German Shepherd sniffing at the back of his car.  Another officer was pulling on the leash to restrain the dog.

                “Are you carrying any weapons with you?” the officer asked.

                The question surprised Dane and he stammered.  “N-no, of course not.”

                The dog was sniffing so hard Dane could hear him snorting  at the base of his car.  The two guards glanced at each other.

                “Would you please pull the car over to the side of the road?” the officer asked.

                That was it.  There was no chance he could survive a car inspection.  And the Mexican was hearing everything.  Seeing everything.  He could detonate the bomb remotely at any moment.  Dane’s heart pounded the inside of his chest like a jackhammer. 

                There was no choice.

                Dane slammed on the accelerator.                 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

WELCOME TO THE BRAND NEW NICKBRACCO.COM BLOG





I am constantly getting emails from my readers asking when the next Nick Bracco thriller is being released.  This is both a flattering and yet stressful experience.  I want my readers to receive new content as much as possible but it does take time to create the quality of work they deserve. So, as I continue to write the next Nick Bracco thriller, I want my readers to enjoy Nick Bracco stories each week to keep them entertained.


Readers of this blog will now have exclusive Nick Bracco novellas to read with a brand new chapter posted each Monday.  To read the last novella "Killer on the Loose," which I collaborated with Jennifer Chase just click on the link at the bottom of this post.


This coming Monday I will begin a new book titled The Greed Factor.  These are stories that will not be available anywhere else but here.
Enjoy!










https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4SY-vLe9ggkeXF1ZUwyaWM5U28/view?usp=sharing

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

FBI AGENT NICK BRACCO AND INDEPENDENT CRIME FIGHTER EMILY STONE ARE CHASING A KILLER. MONDAYS ARE NICK BRACCO'S CHAPTER, THURSDAYS ARE EMILY STONE


                                                     Chapter 15: Nick Bracco

 
      Nick put his phone down and fist-bumped Matt.  “Emily found the missing girls,” he said with a big smile.

     Matt pointed to Karl Saxon who was answering questions from a Baltimore detective.  “What about him?”

     “I want him released.”


     Matt gave Nick a deadpan stare.  “Sure, why not.  He’s only a hired assassin.”

     Nick folded his arms across his chest.  “Do you remember the names on his playlist of victims?  Charles Nekert.  Rocco Slate.  Vance Thalter.  All terrorist supporters  from different parts of the world?”

     “I’m listening.”

     “Well, we don’t exactly have any hard evidence against him.”

     “Yeah?”

     “And it would be really hard to find a charge to hold him on.”

     “So we release him and wait for him to kill again?”

     “That’s right.”

     “And try to find evidence against him at that crime scene?”

     Nick nodded.  “You’re good at this.  You should be in law enforcement.”

     “Are you out of your friggin’ mind?”

     Nick tugged Matt’s arm to get him away from the throng of police gathering around Saxon.  Once they were far enough away, he said, “That casing I showed you from the Morrison murder?  The one where I kept from the evidence room?”

     “Yeah?”

     Nick glanced over his shoulder at Saxon.  “Well, I told Karl that I was given the casing by a terrorist who wanted Saxon incarcerated for the rest of his life.”

     Matt’s glare softened as the concept became clearer in his mind.  “And exactly who did you say gave you this casing?”

     “Amin Soharto.”

     Matt’s grin widened.  “You’re kidding, right?  We’ve been searching for Amin for a decade.”

     “Right.”

     “And what makes you think he can find him?”

     “Because if he doesn’t, I promised that casing would find itself into the evidence chamber.”

     Matt shook his head.  “You are a nasty man.”

     “That’s what Julie tells me all the time.”

     Matt draped an arm around his partner.  “I could use a drink.”

     Nick patted Matt’s chest.  “Let’s make them doubles.”

 

                                                             The End

Thursday, January 21, 2016

FBI AGENT NICK BRACCO AND INDEPENDENT CRIME FIGHTER EMILY STONE ARE CHASING A KILLER. MONDAYS ARE NICK BRACCO'S CHAPTER, THURSDAYS ARE EMILY STONE



 

KILLER ON THE LOOSE

Chapter 14 – Emily Stone

 

Emily kicked open the front door and quickly stormed the house. Anger and desperation overcame her. The interior was the same as she had left it minutes ago—empty and barely lived in.

She knew in her gut that the girls were close.

“Em,” Rick said breathlessly joining her side. It was obvious that he was stressed and out of constructive suggestions. “We only have minutes.”

“Check everything, I mean everything in the living room and kitchen areas.” She ran down the hall and entered the first bedroom.

Emily stood for a moment in the middle of the empty room. The closet doors were open but the interior was vacant. She gritted her teeth and ran to the other two bedrooms with the same result. Kicking the bathroom door inward, she spun around in frustration.

Nothing.

Think.

“It’s clear,” stated Rick as he joined Emily. “There’s no way that they would be stashed in the kitchen cabinets, closets, or anywhere else.”

Emily’s cell phone buzzed, but she ignored it.

Out of extreme frustration and borderline rage, Emily stomp-kicked the wall leaving a crushed in hole behind.

“Em,” Rick said softly.

“The girls are here I know it,” she said softly.

“There’s no basement or crawlspace underneath the manufactured home,” Rick informed.

Emily rubbed her forehead in frustration and felt the beginning of a pounding headache. She suddenly realized. “Wait a minute. How could I have been so stupid…” she ran into the main bedroom. Looking in the closet closely and then craning her neck upward, she saw a small opening to the attic area with two hinges, locked and leaving the pull-down opening sealed. It was a small crawlspace, but it had to be it.

“Hoist me up,” she ordered.

“Wait. We don’t know if there’s some kind of trap.”

“Do it! They may not have much time left.”

Rick didn’t protest as he helped Emily up toward the opening.

She quickly pushed at the door, but it wouldn’t budge. “Give me your flashlight.”

Rick quickly handed it to her.

Emily pounded on the opening, around the sealed areas, and the cheap drywall began to crumble. “Can you hear me?” she yelled and continued to pound at the opening.

“Quiet!” Rick ordered still balancing Emily. “Did you hear that?”

Emily stopped.

A tiny muffled voice, “Please… please help us…”

“Thank God,” Emily said breathlessly. “We’re here to help you, back away from the opening.” She continued to pound at the entrance until the opening was wide enough for her body to fit through easily.

Emily disappeared into the darkness.

Rick waited nervously glancing at his watch as the minutes ticked down.

Emily took a moment to adjust her eyes to the shadows. Two figures came into view. At first, they resembled ghosts floating toward her.

“It’s okay, we’re here to get you home.”

“Home…” one girl exclaimed and began to cry.

“C’mon we have to hurry,” Emily insisted.

Emily helped the girls to the opening as Rick pulled them to safety. They were shaken and filthy, but didn’t seem to have any visible physical injuries. Emily knew that the damage and horror inflicted on them was hidden from view. They would probably carry it with them forever.

Emily dropped down and fought the urge to cry but refocused her energy.

The girls hugged her tight.

“You have to wait a few minutes longer. Help is on the way,” promised Emily. “The police will get you home.”

The girls clung to her as her heart ached for what they had been through during their ordeal.

Emily and Rick quickly guided them to the front door and instructed them to wait. The girls were hesitant and scared.

Emily softly said, “It’s okay, those men will never hurt you again.”

The girls waited at the front door.

Sirens approached from the distance.

Emily and Rick raced out of the house and around to the path leading away from the property. It was not until they were a safe distance away with a vantage point did Emily glance at her cell phone.

The text message read: The girls are in the attic. Check the master bedroom closet.

Emily quickly sent a message to Nick: They are alive waiting for police. Thank you.

She smiled and squeezed Rick’s hand. No words were spoken between them.

They watched for a few more minutes as the local police, K9 units, and FBI arrived. The cops spread out in a typical military formation to cover the property.

Two police officers rushed the girls immediately to a waiting police SUV.

Police radios chattered and loud voices filtered throughout the compound.

During the excitement of the search and seizure, Emily and Rick retreated to their hidden vehicle covertly leaving the investigation behind.

 

 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

FBI AGENT NICK BRACCO AND INDEPENDENT CRIME FIGHTER EMILY STONE ARE CHASING A KILLER. MONDAYS ARE NICK BRACCO'S CHAPTER, THURSDAYS ARE EMILY STONE


                                                              Chapter 13: Nick Bracco

 

                Nick had to lie flat on his stomach before he could see it.  The imperceptible rectangle underneath the bus.

                “You lose something?” Matt asked.

                “Remember that shell casing I kept from the Morrison homicide?” Nick asked while scrutinizing the compartment in the undercarriage of the bus.

                “The one I told you to tag and inventory?”

               
 
                “Yeah, that one.”

                “What about it?”

                “It’s about to pay dividends.”

                Matt got down to his knees and following Nick’s stare.  “What are you looking at?”

                “See that bulge under the bus?”

                Matt got ever lower to where his face was pressing against the cool grass.  “Yeah?”

                “I believe that is where Karl Saxon is currently residing.”

                “Damn,” Matt said.  “I am very impressed.  How did you come up with that one?”

                Nick pointed a thumb over his shoulder.  “That kid just told me.”

                “Oh.”  Matt sighed.  “You want me to get him?”

                “No,” Nick said, coming to his feet.  “Just cover me.”

                “I can handle that.”

                Nick strode toward the gathering of detectives and forensic techs preparing to inspect the bus and said, “Give me five minutes alone before you guys get started.”

                Detective Herman Clark gave Nick a half-shrug.  “Sure.”

                Nick slowly made his way up the steps into the interior of the bus, then cautiously walked down the aisle to the exact location where the compartment was situated.  He noticed a slight interruption in the rubber floor mat that ran down the center of the passageway.  There was a clean break in the rubber pad, almost seamless to a casual inspection.  Nick was very quiet as he subtly pulled up on the mat and peeled away the layer of covering that exposed the hidden door.

                Nick pulled out his gun and moved a few feet back before crouching low and saying, “You can come out now Karl.  We all know you’re here.”

                Nothing happened for a few seconds so Nick added, “I have a very tempting proposition for you that could make your day.”

                When the silence lingered Nick said, “Karl, if all I wanted to do was apprehend you I would’ve sent the SWAT team over to smoke you out, but I’m here by myself because of my proposal.  If you make me wait another five seconds I will leave and send in the muscle.”

                The hidden door hinged open and Nick could see a hand pushing up on the platform.  Then Karl Saxon’s head came up wincing from the tight quarters he’d just subjected himself to.

                “That seems very uncomfortable,” Nick said, holding the pistol out just for affect.

                Saxon rubbed his neck and sat upright.  Half his body was still beneath the floor level.

                “Please,” Nick said.  “Do me a favor and place your hands on the floor.”

                Saxon complied.  A huge scowl of dissatisfaction on his face.  “Okay,” he said.  “I’m listening.”

                Nick pulled out a plastic baggie from his inside jacket pocket.  A cylinder-shaped object sagged to the bottom of the bag.  “Do you know what this is?”

                Saxon shrugged.  “No clue.”

                “It’s the shell casing you left behind at the Morrison homicide.”

                A flicker of recognition flashed across his face.

                “Ah,” Nick said.  “Suddenly you remember that little mistake.”

                Saxon waited. 

                “Well, here is my proposition,” Nick said, dangling the baggie like a treat for a hungry dog.  “This bit of evidence would surely tie you to the Morrison murder.  Something you’ve been able to avoid your entire career.  But I’m willing to keep my tiny souvenir if you tell me where the missing girls are.”

                Saxon was about to speak, but Nick interrupted.  “Please don’t insult me and say which girls.”

                Saxon’s scowl wilted into resignation.  “How do I know you won’t introduce it once I tell you?”

                Nick shook his head.  “You’re just going to have to trust me Karl.  Morrison was a terrorist.  You did me a huge favor by getting rid of him.  Now I’m willing to return the favor.”  Nick held up the baggie once again and dangled it.

                Saxon seemed to be cursing himself, muttering indecipherable words under his breath.

                “I didn’t hear you,” Nick said.

                Saxon’s face was taut with anger.  “They’re inside the bedroom closet.”

                “Which bedroom?”

                “The Master bedroom in the main house.  Have Stone look at the pull down hatch to the attic.  That’s where they are.”

                Nick returned the baggie to his jacket pocket.  “Pleasure doing business with you Karl.”  

               

 

               

Thursday, January 14, 2016

FBI AGENT NICK BRACCO AND INDEPENDENT CRIME FIGHTER EMILY STONE ARE CHASING A KILLER. MONDAYS ARE NICK BRACCO'S CHAPTER, THURSDAYS ARE EMILY STONE



 

KILLER ON THE LOOSE

Chapter 12 – Emily Stone

 

The cell phone disconnected.

Emily rehashed the conversation with Nick and wished that he had given her more information. There was still hope that the girls were still alive.

“Em?” Rick interrupted. “What’s going on?” his tone was civil and even, but it had a definite sternness to it. His usual somber stare tried to read Emily’s face.

“Karl Saxon,” she replied. It didn’t make any sense to her, but she was going to get to the bottom of it.

“Who is Karl Saxon?” Rick insisted.

Ignoring the question, Emily turned and hurried back toward the compound.

“Emily!” Ricked yelled after her. “We only have about ten, maybe fifteen minutes, before the cops arrive.”

“That will have to be enough time,” she gritted her teeth and ran faster.

Rick didn’t have any other choice but to follow Emily.

“You have inside information from the FBI? From who? How?” Rick rapidly fired more questions at her. “How long have you been in contact with them?”

“I’ll fill you in on everything later—I promise,” was the only thing Emily managed to say.

The couple made it to the storage building in two minutes where the two restrained men waited.

Emily stormed the building and quickly decided which man she wanted. “Unhook him and stand him up,” she ordered Rick.

She felt her anger rise. She wasn’t going to let those girls die.

The man with a dark beard waited while Rick unfastened him, stood him up, and pushed him against the wall. It was the first time the captive showed any emotion—even if it was only mild distress mixed with idle curiosity.

Emily began, “Who are you working for?” She retrieved her weapon, but didn’t aim it at him.

The man blinked and looked past her.

No response.

“I said, who are you working for?” she demanded.

He slowly focused on her, eyes steady, but remained quiet.

Rick took a step forward and Emily stopped him.

Emily decided to take a different approach. She holstered her weapon and took a step closer to the man—inches from his face. “I know you—I know everything about you.”

The man snickered and kept his steady gaze on her.

“Yes, I do know all about you… from Karl Saxon.”

The man twitched slightly and his demeanor became stiff at the mention of Saxon—now there was fear in his eyes.

“See we’re on the same page.” Emily took out her phone and played the men’s previous conversation she had recorded. “What do you want to bet everything I need to know came directly from your mouth.”

“No,” replied the man. His breathing became shallow.

“What do you think Karl Saxon is going to say about it?” Emily laughed and searched his face. She caught the man’s gaze and demanded. “Where are the girls?”

The man looked away, clearly hiding information.

Emily took a step back, “They’re here,” she stated softly. “They’re here,” she said again.

“What?” Rick asked. “How do you know?”

She moved to the door. “Something wasn’t right about the house. It seemed staged.”

“Em, we have less than five minutes.”

Emily ignored Rick and raced to the main house.

Monday, January 11, 2016

FBI AGENT NICK BRACCO AND INDEPENDENT CRIME FIGHTER EMILY STONE ARE CHASING A KILLER. MONDAYS ARE NICK BRACCO'S CHAPTER, THURSDAYS ARE EMILY STONE


                                                                 Chapter 11: Nick Bracco          

 

                Nick pushed the contact button and put the phone to his ear.  He knew Emily Stone was in pursuit of a couple of missing teenage girls and his assassin suggested he knew where they were. 

                “Nick,” Emily answered.  “You have good news for me?”

                “I’m afraid not,” Nick said.  He watched the empty bus sit there while the number of police and FBI agents began to dwindle  The imminent danger had subsided and so was the interest.

                “Then what about this briefcase and the connection to the girls?”

               
                 Nick sighed.  “I have an known assassin who’s willing to give me their location if I release a prisoner as an exchange.”

                “And?”

                “I’m sorry.  The prisoner is a lifer.  In for triple homicide.  We can’t do it.”

                There was a prolonged silence while Emily seemed to assess the setback to finding her missing girls.  Nick turned to see the young kid from the bus sitting under a tree looking at Nick with an anxiousness that Nick had recognized from twenty years in law enforcement.  He was hiding something.

                “Nick you have to help me.”

                “ I do have something that might help you.  Something that wasn’t mentioned in the media.  The assassin’s name is Karl Saxon.  Maybe you could use that in your interrogation.”

                “Can’t you get me a clue as a good faith gesture from this Saxon?  Even if you could get me what state they’re in.”

                “It’s a thought,” Nick said mindlessly, watching the kid swivel his head searching for an escape plan.  “Let me get back to you,” he said, then shoved the phone back into his pocket and headed toward his innocent looking passenger.

                As Nick approached, the boy was scooting back as if he could climb the tree backwards.  A Baltimore policeman stood guard over the kid and Nick waved him off.  “It’s okay,” he said.  “I’ve got him now.”

                Once they were alone, Nick took a knee next to the young bundle of nerves and said, “You forgot to tell me something.”

                The boys eyes widened.  “I did?”

                Nick nodded, but said nothing.

                “Like what?” the boy said gripping a handful of grass in each hand.

                “Like something about this terrorist you’re keeping to yourself.”

                “Terrorist?  Are you saying the guy’s a terrorist?  I thought he was some guy who wanted to leave you a message?”

                Nick cocked his head.  “And how did you know he wanted to leave me a message?”

                The kid was flush up against the tree and gasping as he tried to come up with the words.

                “I . . . I don’t know,” he stammered.  “I thought I saw you get a note.”

                Nick glared.  “You saw me open a piece of paper.  I never told you it was a message from the terrorist.”

                “Yeah, but—”

                “No buts,” Nick said, then gestured for a nearby patrolman.  “I’m going to have you taken downtown and interviewed by some of our finest police officers while I try to find this guy.”

                As Nick walked over to the officer, the boy panicked.  “No!  You can’t do that.  I didn’t do anything.”

                Nick looked over his shoulder.  “Tell that to them.  I too busy.”

                “Please,” the kid tried to scream, but in a hushed tone.  “Don’t leave.” 

                Nick understood.  The boy was terrified to be without his one pal in law enforcement.  He strode over to the kid and got down to a knee again.  “You have something you want to tell me?”

                The young kid’s eyes darted from the bus to Nick then back to the bus.  In a soft whisper the boy said, “He’s still inside the bus.”