Sinners and scarecrows b.., p.1

SINNERS & SCARECROWS (Blaze series Book 2), page 1


SINNERS & SCARECROWS (Blaze series Book 2)

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SINNERS & SCARECROWS (Blaze series Book 2)





  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.

  Copyright © 2017 David Carter

  Cover design © 2017 by

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  All rights reserved.

  For Angie.

  Because people like you make the journey worth it.


  Firstly, I would like to thank my wife and two boys for their patience and support of this novel, as sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

  Thank you to my brother (Carter) for all the hours spent on designing the SAS logo and back cover for the paperback.

  Your enthusiam to jump on board this project will be something I’ll always remember.

  I would like to once again thank my editor, Sally Odgers, for her time and giving my manuscript the finishing touches. Thank God I didn’t have to re-write this novel from scratch this time!

  Visit Sally’s website:

  Find David on Facebook: @davidcarterauthor

  “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

  Sir Edmond Hillary

  Also by David Carter

  Blaze series

  From The Shadows

  Sinners & Scarecrows


  February, 2009

  Hazel left the hair salon after a busy morning strutting through west-Brighton’s shopping centre, freely spending her husband’s endless wealth. She had got a manicure and brought two pairs of heels, before having the faded streaks in her hair replenished.

  She saw an empty table outside of a busy cafe as she bustled along the sidewalk. She dropped her shopping bags, and snobbishly called out to the young waiter clearing tables. “Soy latte, please.”

  She stuck her nose up at the overweight, dark-skinned man sitting at the table next to her. His plate was a mess of steak and eggs, smeared in ketchup. He wore a thick, golden chain around his neck, complete with chunky gold rings on almost all of his fingers. “What are you looking at, bitch?” he snarled.

  She quickly turned away, deciding to leave the moment her latte arrived.

  But she never got the chance.

  Just as the young waiter approached with her order, a plain blue sedan screamed up the road and slowed as it neared the cafe.

  A man leaned out the window and fired three shots from his weapon as it slunk past.

  The black-skinned man fell face first into his plate.

  Hazel’s eyelids slowly flickered shut as the blood gushed from her chest.

  The car’s tyres screeched as it rapidly fled.

  “Someone call an ambulance!” the waiter cried out.

  A well-dressed business man frantically reached for his cell phone. But he needn’t have bothered.

  They were already dead.

  Chapter 1

  February, 2017

  The Chardonnay Lady rocked gracefully on the swell of the ocean as she neared the hidden entrance to Smuggler’s Point. Forty-three-year-old Vino Barsetti stared up at the starlit sky before slightly altering his course after checking the GPS on the control panel in the luxurious cabin.

  He slowly exhaled and ran his hand through his head of curly, black hair, before expertly guiding the small luxury yacht through the narrow crevice—hidden among the rugged cliffs on the barren east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

  After navigating the passageway of midnight-black water, he carefully moored her to the pier in the highly secret cove. He unlocked the door that led down into the small sleeping quarters in the hull of the yacht, then stooped through the narrow stairwell and limped down the short flight of stairs. He turned on the lights and checked his cargo one last time.

  All present and accounted for.

  He locked the door and returned up to the cabin before setting foot on the pier.

  “Is everything in order, Vino?” said a stern voice, coming from a short, stout man in his mid-sixties. His black, gold-tipped walking cane lightly tapped against the slimy, wooden boards of the pier with each step he took.

  “Yes, Mr Lombardi,” Vino replied respectfully, and nervously pulled his jacket zipper up a fraction.

  “Excellent. Have the merchandise unloaded and delivered to the warehouse in east Brighton so our new potential clients may sample what we have to offer. And if all goes well, Vino, you may consider yourself back in the fold.”

  “Thank you, Mr —”

  “But —” he cut him off, “if you ever screw up again, there will be no reprieve.”

  “Yes, Mr Lombardi, thank you Mr Lombardi,” Vino replied.

  Mr Lombardi reached for his gold pocket watch from his smart, grey vest, and checked the time using the dim light of the moon. Ten minutes past one. “Get a move on,” he said.

  Vino went to work. He limped aboard the yacht and began to unload the cargo with help from three of Mr Lombardi’s sons.

  Vino had been a fit and able man until thirteen years before, when he had tried to steal some money from a young man in his late teens who was about to buy drugs from him. Vino completely underestimated the young man, who had put him in intensive care, leaving him with a permanent limp and his street cred in tatters.

  Vino had been skimming money into his own pocket from his drug peddling, and Mr Lombardi had realised after noticing his weekly envelopes were lighter than usual. He had given the order for him to be beaten and stripped of his rank of captain. But in a bitter-sweet coincidence, the young man in his late teens had attacked Vino before Mr Lombardi’s sons had had the chance to deliver the message from the boss of the notorious Lombardi family.

  After a significant period, Vino had recovered sufficiently to earn his way back into the family’s favour. He was assigned with a dangerous task; to sail many miles out off the coast and rendezvous with passing ocean liners carrying pre-ordered illegal goods for Mr Lombardi and other such clients. He knew it was risky, and that if the coast guards ever caught up with him, he would be spending the rest of his life in prison. But he did it anyway; he had nothing else to live for. He wanted back into Mr Lombardi’s family, and he would do everything in his power to make it happen.

  A behemoth of a man greeted Mr Lombardi on the pier. He was almost seven feet tall, dwarfing the boss of Brighton’s equivalent of the Italian Mafia. His name was Tyrone Sanchez, the co-coordinator of logistics at Smuggler’s Point. He had an AK 47 fully automatic rifle slung over his brawny shoulders, as did his army of men who maintained security and worked the docks at the secret port. “We’ve got a problem,” he said to Mr Lombardi.

  “What is it?”

  “We’ve had a security breach.”

  “To what extent?”

  Sanchez’s shoulder length hair ruffled in the ocean breeze. “The situation’s been contained. But for your own peace of mind, I think you’d better follow me.”

  Sanchez led him to the far end of the pier to his cabin. He respectfully opened the door for Mr Lombardi and ushered him inside.

  Mr Lombardi saw a scruffy, middle-aged man gagged and bound to a chair.

  Mr Lombardi was not impressed when he saw who it was. “I’m afraid he’s one of yours,” said Sanche

  “Yes, I believe he is,” he replied with an exasperated sigh.

  “How would you like me to proceed?”

  Mr Lombardi considered his options, then said, “Throw him in the truck with the rest of the merchandise. Vino can take care of him in the morning.”

  Without question, Sanchez clubbed the man over the back of his head with the butt of his rifle and carried him outside, still tied to the chair. He threw him in the back of the truck with the merchandise that Vino and Mr Lombardi’s sons had loaded so far.

  When the rear doors were latched and sealed, and Sanchez had received his large sum of money for his services, Mr Lombardi got into his brand new, black 2016 Chrysler 300s sedan and followed Vino, who drove the medium-sized wholesale meats delivery truck up the narrow, rocky trail to the top of the cliff face. Vino stopped momentarily as he spotted the front tyre of a motorcycle peeking out from behind a row of trees. He got out of the truck and pushed it over the edge of the cliff into the ocean below.

  They made the one hour drive inland to Brighton. Vino and Mr Lombardi’s sons unloaded the merchandise and prisoner into the warehouse. It was located in an abandoned block of industrial buildings in one of the run down suburbs of the giant city.

  When Vino has completed his task, Mr Lombardi approached Vino, who was now guarding the doorway to what was formerly an admin office in the centre of the large, virtually empty warehouse. He sternly said, “Stay with the merchandise and ensure no one, and I mean no one enters this room until I return in the morning with our new, potential clients. There are to be no mistakes!”

  “Yes, Mr Lombardi. I can assure you there will be no slip ups!” he replied emphatically. He paused, then asked, “What would you like me to do with him?” He pointed at the prisoner. He was still bound to the chair, sitting in the corner of the warehouse, groaning from the gash in the back of his head.

  “Until proceedings have concluded, keep him quiet. You can deal with him later.”

  Mr Lombardi and his entourage left the building, leaving Vino alone, guarding the room in the middle of the warehouse.

  Six hours later, Vino flinched as he heard the rattling of keys coming from outside the main entrance to the warehouse. Mr Lombardi led in a group of nine men, all largely overweight and dressed in a mixture of black and grey finely tailored suits.

  “I have imported the finest quality hardware available,” he said to the group of men. “I think you will all be most satisfied with what I have to offer.”

  Vino opened the door to the room he’d been guarding and stepped aside. The eyes of the men lit up with excitement as they viewed the merchandise Mr Lombardi had assembled for them. Mr Lombardi warmly said, “I will leave you gentlemen to it,” before stepping outside and closing the door behind him.

  Thirty minutes later, the men filed out of the room and thanked Mr Lombardi with satisfied smiles before taking their leave.

  Vino looked grimly at Mr Lombardi, and cautiously asked him, “May I now consider myself a part of your family? I have done everything you have asked of me.”

  He smiled and wrapped his arms around him, then said, “You must complete one final task, Vino, and then you have my word, you will be considered as family once more.”

  “And what do you require of me?” Vino asked anxiously, knowing full well what he would request.

  “Get rid of the merchandise,” he replied curtly. “The prisoner, too.”

  Mr Lombardi returned to his Chrysler outside, leaving Vino alone. He walked over to the prisoner and dragged him into the room with the rest of the merchandise. Then he retrieved his Uzi sub machine gun from his post outside the door and set it to full automatic. He crossed himself, then emptied the magazine into the room.

  He doubled-checked the prisoner and the merchandise. Mr Lombardi will be pleased.

  He limped to the other side of the warehouse. He pushed over a giant roll of thick, see-through plastic sheeting that was leaning against the wall in the corner, and used it to cover a large patch of floor.

  He returned to the room in the middle of the warehouse and retrieved the prisoner and all of the merchandise, before wheeling a machine the size of a barbecue grill into the centre of the covered floor space.

  He took a moment to consider what he was about to do, then brushed the thought aside as he plugged the power lead into a socket in the wall, and fired up the bench saw.

  Chapter 2

  “Hey, I asked you a question,” said Danny. He jabbed Blaze’s shoulder. “You were off in fucking space.”

  “I was just thinking about...never mind.”

  “Well, whatever it was, don’t crash into the back of Spider.” He grinned. “We all want to get to Brighton in one piece, all right?”

  “What was the question?” Blaze asked as he slowed his Vintage Ford Mustang a little, keeping a safe distance back from Spider’s Harley Davidson. He was leading them to Archer’s headquarters.

  “Do you think Spider will hand over the presidency when you rejoin the MC?”

  Blaze thought for a moment, then said, “I’m sure Spider is doing a good job running things.”

  “Come on, man,” he probed, “I know you want it back.”

  “I’ve had my turn at the head of the table. Anyway, I’ve got other plans.”

  “Such as?”

  “How to play this whole situation to my advantage.”

  Danny shook his head. “Just play it cool, all right? You know Archer hasn’t forgotten the history you share. He’ll have guys with big guns and shit all over the place.”

  Blaze’s features appeared harder than stone as he replied, “Good. I’m fucking counting on it.”

  Danny sighed and ran his hands through his long, messy, blond hair, before he said, “Now why did I know you were gonna say something crazy like that? I take it you have a plan? Something that only someone as crazy as you could dream up?”

  Blaze wiped the sweat off his freshly shaved scalp as the summer sun baked them in their tan leather seats. Then he replied, “You better fucking believe I do, Danny boy.”

  Chapter 3

  Spider pulled off the main street of Brighton’s CBD and rode down a dark, grimy alleyway. Dirty rubbish skips lined the walls, and a dozen stray cats disappeared into the piles of boxes and stacks of broken pallets that littered the service lane between the tall buildings. Spider parked his Harley to one side outside of a green, steel door. Blaze parked directly behind him. He and Danny got out of the car and joined Spider, who at well over six feet tall, looked almost directly into the camera mounted on the wall above the door. He pressed the buzzer, then asked Blaze, “Are you ready for this, man?”

  He stepped inside Spider’s personal space, and face to face, curtly replied, “Did you know she was still alive?”

  Spider stepped back with his hands up. “Blaze, I swear to you, I had no idea about Zoe. Neither did anyone else in the MC. You have my word on that, brother.”

  Blaze knew he was telling the truth; he had no reason not to trust him. “Let’s just get this over with,” he said. “I sure as shit ain’t leaving here without her.”

  The door buzzed open. Here goes everything, Blaze thought.

  They walked through the opening and down a long, dimly lit corridor. Blaze had to contain himself as two security guards greeted them, patting them down for weapons.

  “It’s okay,” Spider said to Blaze, “they’re only doing their job. You can’t expect the governor to just let you come in here armed to the teeth, do you?”

  “Is that what you call him? Governor?”

  “It’s either that or a round of brass knuckles to the ribs.”

  “I much prefer my special name for him,” he grinned.

  “What’s that?”

  “You’re about to find out.”

  They followed the security detail up two flights of stairs. When they reached the top, they walked out through a door onto a mezzanine floor that looked down into the ground level of the building. Th
ey were standing inside the latest and most popular bar and nightclub in Brighton: The Underground. There were a dozen or so clear Perspex boxes mounted on poles with sexy, naked women dancing erotically inside of them. Strobe lights flashed wildly, fluorescent lighting painted the walls and ceiling. The long, oval bar in the centre of the floor was reasonably crowded either side for this time of day. The bass to the loud hip-hop music pounded in their ears.

  “I see Archer’s finally gone up in the world!” Blaze shouted over the music to Danny, “Business must be going well; this place is going off and it’s only fucking midday!”

  “It sure beats the shit out of The Wolves Den!” Danny shouted back.

  The security guards led them across the mezzanine floor and stopped outside what appeared to be an office. “Wait here,” one of the guards said.

  He returned promptly. “The governor’s ready to see you now.”

  The three of them filed in quietly. The security men waited outside.

  You should have checked my boot, shitheads, Blaze thought.

  Blaze’s skin crawled as he saw the governor sitting behind his polished mahogany desk, leaning back ever-so-smugly in his comfortable leather armchair, with his giant, pale-skinned, bodyguard, Francois Steyn, standing next to him with an AK 47 at the ready in his hands. The governor leaned forward so that he was sitting upright at his desk as they entered and stood before him. He eyeballed Blaze as he said, “It’s a pleasure it is to see you again,” followed by a grin that reeked of sarcasm.

  “How’s it hanging, asshole?” Blaze replied. “Prolapsed and full of shit, as usual?”

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