Home > Voice of Fear (Krewe of Hunters #38)

Voice of Fear (Krewe of Hunters #38)
Author: Heather Graham

 

Prologue


   Alfie leaned against one of the historic cemetery’s obelisk memorials, one that had been commissioned and crafted to honor law enforcement killed in the line of duty.

   Like himself.

   Not many remained “in spirit” as he did, though he did have friends among the other dead buried in the cemetery, both officers and agents who had served their time, retired, and died peacefully of old age, and those who’d met a violent end in the pursuit of justice.

   Day was just breaking. Dead or alive, he had always loved the beauty of a new dawn. And so, for a minute, he just watched the sun rise. He couldn’t feel the warmth anymore—neither could he feel the cold of a snowy night. But he could remember the heat of the sun and smile because simple things in life were so good, and it was important in death to remember them.

   Though he remained, he had seen others go on in a spectacular ray of light, wondrous in itself. And when it was gone, so was the soul of the departed.

   But he knew why he waited.

   It was Susie.

   Sweet, innocent, optimistic—no matter what life dealt to her.

   He had arrested her once when she had been on the streets, but he’d heard her story, and he’d known why she had run away from her home. On the streets, it was too easy to turn to prostitution, and prostitution too often led to drugs.

   She had been so sweet, so naive, so desperate. She had been relieved to be arrested.

   At first, he hadn’t believed the stories she’d told him. That there was a criminal mastermind out there who controlled a whole network of people, who was at the helm of all kinds of illegal activities—arms deals, prostitution, murder for hire, drugs—and who sanctioned and supported all kinds of crazy killers.

   Alfie now knew that the Krewe had a good idea of who the mastermind was.

   Rory Ayers.

   Finally incarcerated because his ego won out over his insidious plans. But he’d had a long reign as a criminal kingpin, and even in jail, still seemed to hold power over life and death.

   At first, Alfie thought Susie had seen one superhero movie too many. He thought she had invented some diabolical comic book villain in her head because she couldn’t accept the life she’d come to lead.

   But when he’d made a point of going to a friend who was the prosecutor for her case, they’d managed to get her probation and a stay at a halfway house. She wanted to be off drugs; she wanted nothing more than a nice, normal life.

   She was just a kid. A sweet kid. The daughter he might have had one day.

   But she had disappeared from the halfway house. And when that happened, he went over every statement he’d ever taken from her. He’d found and interrogated a pimp who had pushed her out on the street. And putting it all together, he’d concluded she had known there was a compound of supposed family homes and commercial properties where business was being conducted—the business of illegal arms deals, every illegal drug known to man, and more.

   Susie had once told him she was always careful. She was so afraid “they” might get her. At the time, she could never quite identify “they,” but she claimed “they” were out there, and the whole hierarchy was so complicated and convoluted, there was no hope if “they” decided you were done.

   Alfie’s superiors had looked at the evidence. They had gone in with SWAT and FBI assistance. They’d believed they had the element of surprise. They’d been wrong. The shoot-out was one of the largest and most deadly area law enforcement had engaged in.

   They took down a massive criminal empire.

   But he hadn’t found Susie.

   And he had died in the effort, looking for her so desperately he hadn’t even realized he was dead until he’d found his old partner, quiet tears running down his cheeks as he knelt by Alfie’s body.

   It was a shock to be dead.

   He didn’t even remember the pain. But he knew, almost immediately, that he would linger. And he believed it all had to do with the events of the day: the fact that their surprise raid had not been a surprise, and there had been no sign of Susie.

   And while they had made a massive dent in the “empire,” they hadn’t taken down the man they were after—a man referred to as John Smith.

   There were clues as to the identity of this man. It had been suggested through various minor criminals they’d picked up and incarcerated that John Smith just might be Rory Ayers.

   And it was all happening again.

   Alfie straightened. He’d been waiting as morning had broken. He was glad to have friends among the dead—and among the living. He’d stumbled upon Krewe members by happenstance when they’d been at the cemetery. Now, when he knew something was up—when he could help in any way—he hitchhiked a ride from an unsuspecting driver and headed to Krewe headquarters.

   They were more than willing to help him, and had tried to do so before. But he believed rookie Krewe member Jordan Wallace was on to something that might have to do with “John Smith,” or the man who had been running things when he had died. A man who had cleanly disappeared while his thugs were left to willingly die for him.

   Why? Why take bullets for another man?

   Alfie thought a series of recent Krewe cases might have been connected. One of the men arrested during an attempted Embracer murder had given them a description of the man who had recruited him.

   A man who had called himself John Smith.

   Alfie hadn’t recognized the man from the drawing. But it could have been a man they had in custody. A man named Rory Ayers. Not as he appeared now. But a man could easily change his appearance.

   Alfie knew Jackson Crow, field head for the Krewe of Hunters, believed him—and believed in him. There was someone pulling a lot of strings. A master puppeteer who could make people do things they had an itch to do—and things they didn’t want to do.

   Alfie wasn’t waiting for a Krewe member right now, but rather a man who had his own brand of talents and who was, by chance, related to a Krewe member.

   He smiled in relief. He could see Patrick Law was making his way toward him. He’d reached out to Patrick because he’d been concerned about Jordan.

   Of course, worried as he was, Alfie could have hitchhiked to the Krewe headquarters. But he wasn’t sure why he was so worried. Though young, Jordan Wallace was a competent agent. She was on an assignment with the full backing and support of Jackson Crow and the Krewe of Hunters. And what she was doing wasn’t crashing into a den of vipers, per se. Her intent was to watch over possible victims.

   From the time Alfie had met Jordan, she had wanted to help him. And he wanted to help her. She was young, bright, a crack shot, and a hell of an actress, which made her excellent for undercover work. Maybe too excellent. Just as Susie reminded him of the daughter he might have had, Jordan reminded him of the sister he might have had because of her energy, her passion, and her love for others.

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