Broken glass, p.1
Broken Glass, page 1part #1 of Willy Flores Short Story Series
BROKEN GLASS: The Willy Flores Thrillers (Short Story Series) – Book 1
By Matt James
Fresh off a chaotic mission in Japan, CIA operative Willamina “Willy” Flores desperately needs a vacation to clear her head. What she wanted was some time off with her family in her hometown of Miami, Florida. What she got was another deadly situation. This time, Willy is thrown into the underground drug world as she desperately tries to rescue her addict sister from her well-funded dealers.
This short story is the first in a series of quick, fast-paced page-turners, starring a beloved character from Matthew James’ action-packed thriller, Beautiful Dragons.
*You DO NOT need to read Beautiful Dragons to enjoy Willy Flores’ escapades. It does help, though...
ALSO BY MATT JAMES
Dark Island (coming soon)
The Dane Maddock Adventures w/ David Wood
Skin & Bones
Venom (coming soon)
The Willy Flores Thrillers (Short Story Series)
The Logan Reed Thrillers
The Hank Boyd Adventures
Blood & Sand
Elixir of Life
The Hank Boyd Origins
The Cursed Pharaoh
Climbing out of the Uber, Willamina Flores inhaled deeply, smelling burgers and hotdogs from the street. “Willy” as some of her close friends called her, paid the driver and turned back toward her parents’ home. Her stomach rumbled as she caught another whiff of the food. It was a tradition in her family to throw a party when someone came home after a long time away. Willy had been away from her hometown of Miami for over a year and needed some time away from her job.
Job, she thought, rolling her eyes.
As far as her family knew, she did, indeed, work for the Central Intelligence Agency. But when Willy was brought on board, she had told her family that she’d be working on the logistics end of things, not as a field operative.
She was damn good at it too.
Smiling, Willy opened the low fence’s gate and entered the property. Even from the opposite side of the home, she could hear Los Lonely Boys: Nobody Else blasting from the rear patio speakers. It was Willy’s favorite band back in college and something you could groove to when hanging out drinking homemade margaritas, Modelo Especial, or her preferred alcoholic beverage, Jack on the rocks. She was lucky enough to have seen the band a few years back during the South Florida Garlic Fest.
Man, did they rock!
Willy’s abuelo, a man she admired very much, also drank Jack Daniel’s. He had been a Miami cop for over thirty years before retiring fifteen years ago. Her grandpa was the reason she went into law enforcement in the first place. Although, she eventually applied to the agencies, not the local P.D.
The front door opened, revealing the man himself. In his hands were two glasses, each filled with a dark liquid and ice. He didn’t say a word as she continued forward. He just stood there, holding the screen door open with his elbow, waiting.
“You read my mind, Abuelo.”
She leaned in and kissed his cheek, happily taking the cold, low-ball glass from him. They clinked the drinks together and sipped them, smiling as they walked arm in arm into the house.
They were nearly tackled to the floor by the family dog, an eight-year-old pit-mix. He was the dumbest dog on the block, but his affection was unmatched. Remy had never learned a single trick. He made up for it by loving on people instead.
“Hey, boy,” Willy said, greeting the fawn-red dog with a series of pats and scratches.
Next, was her mother, a twin look-alike of Willy’s minus the twenty-five years that separated them. They both had long, raven-black hair, and dark, penetrating eyes. Her mom’s hair was finally showing her age, though. Grey speckles could be seen here and there, giving Willy hope that she would age as slowly as her mother had.
She smiled. I hope I look that good when I’m in my fifties.
At thirty-two, Willy was in the prime of her life, traveling the world while taking down some of its most despicable people. Her former boss and friend, Roman Shepard, had only recently retired and, unfortunately, had disappeared. She was his number two and was now in charge of his team in Japan. However, Willy requested time off before diving back into the fray. They still had some cleaning up to do in the region after all.
Her week home was supposed to be filled with family, friends, drinks, and food. Her father was a self-proclaimed expert on all things grilled. He mostly cooked burgers and hotdogs, like he was now. Willy didn’t need to see him doing it for her to know he was—it was a given. No one ran the grill at his home except him.
“Mina!” Willy’s mom cried, rushing to her. She never called her Willy. No one within her family did. It was always Mina. No one in the Company ever called her “Willy” either, for that matter, until Roman gave her the nickname five years ago.
The two women embraced for a moment and then turned and made for the rear of the old, wood-framed home. They were common in South Florida and were beautiful pieces of architecture if you kept up with them. The one they were in now, Willy’s childhood home, was eighty years old and going strong.
It was also only a mile from the beach, something she took advantage of every time she came home. Even if it was early winter. “Winter” in the southern part of the state didn’t exist. It was beach weather every day it didn’t rain.
Tomorrow for sure.
“When are you going to give me some grandbabies?” Her mom asked, half-joking. She knew Willy was too busy and dedicated to her work to settle down. Willy glanced at her grandpa who softly shook his head.
While not one to divulge her personal life to everyone, Willy had yet to tell her parents that she was gay. She wasn’t against men, far from it, actually. Willy just preferred the company of another woman. Her mom wanted grandchildren, and it would break her heart to know it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.
“Someday, Mommy, someday…”
Tipping back her Jack, Willy polished off the rest of the glass, crunching an ice cube as she headed for the liquor cabinet for another round.
“Do you have to ask?” he called back. Willy smiled and held a hand out behind her, feeling him slip his empty into it. “When are you going to tell them?”
Seeing her grandpa in the reflection of the glass cabinet, she looked up at him in it and shook her head. “Not yet. I don’t want to ruin the time I have here with them.”
“You told me ten years ago.”
“No, I didn’t!” She laughed. “You walked in on me in my dorm room and caught my girlfriend and me with our tongues down each other’s throats.”
They both laughed together, clinking their refilled glasses.
He shrugged. “At least she was cute.”
“I have good taste.” She smiled and held up the drink, making sure he got the double meaning.
They laughed again and walked outside.
“What’s so funny?” her mom asked.
Willy almost gagged.
Did she hear us?
“Nothing, Margie,” Grandpa said, “I told Willy one of my jokes.”
Her mom rolled her eyes. “Oh, one of those.”
Relieved, Willy blew out a long breath and followed her mother outside, grandpa in tow. She did find it pretty ridiculous that, at her age, she couldn’t be honest with her own mother. She probably could’ve been if her mom wasn’t so hell-bent on getting grandkids.
Willy found her sweat-soaked father at his station behind the massive, built-in grill, Modelo Especial in hand. Mom was a margarita kind of girl, and so was her—
Her father’s eyes snapped toward her mom, telling Willy all she needed to know. Maria, Willy’s younger sister, wasn’t coming to the party. It was no surprise to Willy, unfortunately. Maria had been busted for possession again a month ago, losing her apartment in the process. It was her third such arrest in five years, except, this time, she refused to enter rehab.
Before anyone said anything about it, Willy waved it away and smiled. “It’s fine… I’m just happy to be home.”
“We’re happy too,” her dad said, smiling wide while tending to the charcoal grill. He never used gas.
“Luis,” her mom said, “refill?”
“Of course,” he replied, doing an awkward dad dance, “it’s only Saturday!”
Everyone cheered, all twenty of the people in attendance for her homecoming. Her cousins from Key Largo were there as were her aunt and uncle from Fort Lauderdale. Then, there were the neighbors on both sides of her parents, the Darling and the Espinoza families. Willy had dated Guillermo Espinoza back in tenth grade.
He was here too, but thankfully, with his wife and kids.
All in all, it was a great Saturday afternoon. The sun was out, but the temperature nice, only in the mid-seventies. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky either. Willy almost salivated at the thought of going to the beach tomorrow. Her body badly needed some sun. Being back in Florida, she suddenly felt uncomfortable in her very comfortable leather jacket. It was a staple for her in Tokyo.
“Mina, can you do me a favor?”
Turning, Willy found her mother, food tray in hand. “Sure.”
“Can you check the mail? I’m expecting something.”
Nodding, Willy headed back toward the house. Like always, her grandpa joined her, never being too far away. The two of them had so much in common and were genuinely joined at the hip when they were together. If she ever told anyone what she really did, it would be him. He’d understand and be a great person to confide in as he had already proven with the secret he kept about her personal life.
Roman had been the only person she ever talked to about things. But he was gone now, leaving Willy with no one. The other men in her team were straight-shooters, unlike her and Roman. The two of them were two peas in a pod, never afraid to get their hands dirty.
“You know what this is all about?” Willy asked.
Her grandfather shrugged. “Nope, but I needed to get away from your aunt and uncle. They drive me crazy.”
Willy stopped. “But she's your daughter!”
He grinned. “So?”
Willy sighed and opened the back door. They casually moved through the house, laughing at silly photos of the family on the wall of the main hall. Eventually, they made it to the front and opened the door. When it swung in, her grandpa was hit with an invisible force and sent sprawling to the hardwood floor. His drink fell, shattering to pieces.
The sound of breaking glass shook Willy out of her daze, her mind catching up to the half-dozen gunshots echoing down the street.
Her grandpa had been shot.
The house had been sprayed with bullets. Luckily for her abuelo, he had only taken a round to the shoulder, sparing him from being hit in any vital areas of his body. Armed, Willy was about to draw the compact pistol from her ankle holster but was stopped by a shouting voice.
Three men marched up the front walk, stopping ten feet from the steps up to the house. Standing tall, Willy faced them and waited. If they wanted her dead, they would’ve already opened fire on her.
“Ten thousand dollars. Have it tonight, or Maria dies.”
“What’s this all about?” Willy asked, squeezing her fists.
The man in the middle spoke again. “She owes us money and says her folks can pay it. She’s broke and going through some pretty nasty withdrawals.” He smiled. “Needs to lay off the needles, chica.”
“Where is she?” Willy asked, staying in control of her emotions. Maria was her sister first and foremost. It didn’t matter, though. Willy would’ve tried to help even if this wasn’t about her sister.
“How ’bout this… We’ll come back tonight for the money, and if you don’t have it, Maria dies,” his eyes narrowed, “along with everyone who lives here.” His eyes undressed Willy. “You get me?”
The men backed away until they were climbing into a nondescript SUV. Before closing the front passenger door, the leader of the gang, or whatever they were, spoke again.
“Oh, and no police.”
Willy recognized that they’d merely shoot her sister if they were alerted to a police presence. She also knew that local PD couldn’t mobilize an effective response quick enough to save Maria’s life. Being an expert at doing things off-the-books, Willy immediately knew she’d have to figure things out herself, on the fly.
Feet came running up behind her. She spun and found her mom and dad sliding to a halt deeper into the house. Even at his age, her grandpa was attempting to sit up, even with a gunshot wound to the shoulder. He was a tough one to keep down.
“Oh, my god!” her mom shouted.
Her dad said nothing, instead, pulling out his cell phone and calling 911. He covered his other ear with his hand and frantically told the operator what had happened.
She knelt next to her grandpa. “What?”
“Go. Take my car. Here.”
He shoved his keys into her hand and bit his lip in pain.
Willy didn’t argue, standing, and turning.
“The trunk…” he winced. “Your birthday.”
Wide-eyed, Willy could only nod. She ran for his all-black, fully-restored 1969 Pontiac GTO. Keys in hand, Willy swiftly opened the trunk and smiled.
Sitting in front of her was a lockbox, and knowing her ex-cop grandpa, it contained exactly what she needed. The old-school three-dial combination lock clicked, announcing that she had successfully opened it. She grinned when she lifted the lid.
Flooring the pedal, Willy shot the muscle car forward, the 500-horses smoking the tires. The GTO’s powerful engine roared, increasing in volume and speed as she careened to the end of the block. Seconds later, Willy had to slam on the brakes, so she didn’t plow into the foot traffic crossing the neighborhood crosswalk.
An old woman gave her a sour look, covering her ears against the squealing tires. Throwing open her door, Willy climbed out and shouted at the lady.
“Did you see a black SUV come through here?”
The pedestrian looked appalled that Willy was asking her a question, demanding an answer. Never taking her burning eyes off her, the woman’s will finally broke, and she stuck a gnarled finger south. The gunmen had turned left at the intersection.
Without thanking the lady, Willy hopped back into the car and peeled out, cranking the wheel. Smiling, Willy caught a glimpse of the woman covering her ears. She eventually gave Willy the bird too.
Willy’s deceased abuela would be proud. She was full of piss and vinegar, the complete opposite of her grandpa. They were the yin to each other’s yang. Where one lacked a particular trait, the other supplied it. They were happily married for forty-nine years, never once showing any signs of displeasure with one another.
Shifting in her seat, Willy felt her grandpa’s Glock underneath her left leg. When throwing open the trunk and opening his lockbox, Willy found the weapon and two spare magazines—three mags total with one being in the gun. If everything went according to plan, Willy wouldn’t have to use it. She was hoping a threat from a CIA agent would do enough to deflate the situation. If it didn’t, she’d be calling in reinforcements. Even when, not if, this thing was over, she’d be phoning the police. Whoever these people were, they’d be going down for sure.
Thankfully, the section of road she was
The amount of money owed was mind-boggling, though. How did her sister owe them ten grand? There was no way that Maria had purchased that much from them. The only other thing that could’ve happened was that she was involved in a failed sale of some kind.
Maybe she stole it from them?
Either way, Willy needed to hurry.
The street raised slightly, blocking Willy’s line of sight for just a moment. When she crested the small hill and went airborne, she saw what she was hoping to see. A black SUV turned left, down an alley leading to a large group of dilapidated buildings. Some looked to still be in use, but most appeared abandoned.
Slowing, she guided the GTO forward, parking along the eastern side of the road. Double-checking her gun, she readied it and shoved it into the back of her jeans as she climbed out, hiding it beneath her jacket. Then, she softly closed the door and ran for the southern end of the building. Peeking around the corner, she spotted the SUV parking a hundred yards away, at the front of a second warehouse.
Glancing up, Willy cursed the fact that it was only four in the afternoon. She wished it was midnight. The shadows of the utilitarian alley would’ve hidden her well. She couldn’t dwell on it now, though. She couldn’t wait eight more hours for midnight to come. The shooters would return to her folks’ house before then if she didn’t do anything about it now.
As she neared, all four of the vehicle’s doors popped open. Out in the open, Willy stumbled and dove behind a wretched smelling dumpster. Just the softest of gongs rang out when her shoulder banged into it. Cursing herself for being so careless, Willy slowly got to her feet and peered above the garbage heap.
One of the men was looking her way.
Dropping from sight, she gripped her gun hard and looked for something to hide behind. If that one guy discovered her before she could take him out, or, at the very least, if he found her before she could disappear, it wouldn’t just be her own life that would end.
by Matt James / Childrens / Picture Books / Death have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes