IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR: The Life & Soul of Wilson Pickett

IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR                            TONY FLETCHER

Wilson Pickett was arguably the greatest male soul screamer of the 1960s and '70s. With a career spanning half a century, he sold millions of albums and tens of millions of singles, leaving a legacy of unforgettable hits, including "In the Midnight Hour," "Land of 1000 Dances," and "Mustang Sally." A first ballot inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Pickett collaborated with some of the biggest names in '60s and '70s pop, rock, and soul, and his passionate stage performances frequently garnered invasions by frenzied audience members of all colors eager to bask-and dance-in his radiant aura. A musician of rare instinct with an unmistakable intensity and charisma, the 'Wicked' Pickett was for many the living embodiment of soul.

In the first biography of this legendary artist, veteran music journalist Tony Fletcher goes far beyond anecdote, weaving the turns of Pickett's extraordinary career into the larger story of black American music in the late 20th Century. As Fletcher shows, from his childhood in the gospel-rich cotton fields of Alabama to his early career in pre-Motown Detroit and long tenure at Atlantic Records, Wilson Pickett always positioned himself at the cutting edge of rhythm 'n' blues and soul. By the time he was thirty, Pickett had five #1 R&B hits, rubbed shoulders with the likes of James Brown, Otis Redding and the Who, and traveled to Ghana with Ike and Tina Turner, Santana and others to headline the first American popular music package to visit the continent. As with so many artists of his generation, the price of superstardom was a career punctuated by violence and drug abuse, with fits of erratic and wild behavior leading to a career slump and two jail terms in the late 1990s before a late career redemption.

Drawn from extensive interviews with the singer's close family and friends and regular members of his studio and touring bands, In the Midnight Hour is a narrative portrait of one of the greatest voices of soul and a rare window into the social upheavals that surrounded him, the genre he helped shape along the way, and the pitfalls of the fame that success brought him.
 

PAT'S REVIEW:

This is an excellent biography about a singer that you truly felt your soul touched when he sang, and I still do when I hear one of his many hits: In the midnight hour, Mustang Sally, Land of 1000 Dances, to name a few there are many more and they are all outstanding songs. The author takes you back to Alabama, his childhood. With memories from relatives and friends. You get a look at his life as a young boy picking cotton and hunting, and fishing until he can make the move to Detroit with his father. One line in the book was their childhood was not difficult because he and his siblings did not know anything different. It is true but the author shows you how his childhood would affect his relationship with people when he got older, musicians, friends, women, siblings, and then anyone else who he came into contact with. He also takes you into his gospel singing and the people who helped him. Then with a group called the Falcons which actually had a couple of good songs on Atlantic label. When he gets his break you see how his voice is truly his instrument and would not only allow him to work with some of the top names in the business, but also travel around the world. During his day he was the guy. The last part of the book is sad but true about a lot of people. This is truly a good book about a great singer and his rise to stardom. I got this book from www.netgalley.com I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com

ULTIMATE COURAGE (TRUE HEROES#2)

ULTIMATE COURAGE                                   PIPER J. DRAKE

Retired Navy SEAL Alex Rojas is putting his life back together, one piece at a time. Being a single dad to his young daughter and working at Hope's Crossing Kennels to help rehab a former guard dog, he struggles every day to control his PTSD. But when Elisa Hall shows up, on the run and way too cautious, she unleashes his every protective instinct.

Elisa's past never stays in her rearview mirror for long, and she refuses to put anyone else in danger. But with Alex guarding her so fiercely yet looking at her so tenderly, she's never felt safer . . . or more terrified that the secrets she keeps could put countless people in grave peril. The only way for both to fully escape their demons will take the ultimate act of courage: letting go and learning to trust each other.
 


PAT'S REVIEW:

This is a romantic suspense book. Alex is a retired Navy Seal and a single father and when he sees Elisa in the ER he knows that she also is someone who is having a rough time. She does not want to bring her troubles to him or his daughter but when she starts to work for them and helps them with their books, and other files on their computers. He is hooked. His daughter has also taken a liken to her and not having any women around he knows that is something she needs. Then there is a dog that they are having problems with but the dog likes Elisa. When Alex notices a threat towards her one day in town the story really picks up with action and he and his partner, along with the dogs work on helping her and taking care of the threat. This is a good story with action. I got this book from netgalley.com. I gave it 4 stars.Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com 

SEDUCING TEXAS #2

SEDUCING TEXAS                                          DIANA DOWNEY


What happens when the spoilt Texas heiress falls for Mr. Wrong—the untamed, virile man from Alaska, especially now that he’s flat broke and so is she?

Cyn was looking for a rich, cultured Prince Charming, but after spending a week with Shane in the Alaskan Interior, she discovered sophistication and charm are overrated compared to a wild ride in bed. Now that she’s back in Texas, she has set her sights on Shane but must find a job to support herself and her little sister Willa. When she’s approached about the Riches to Rags reality TV show, she jumps at the chance to earn enough money to keep her sister Willa in a private school and her closet filled with designer label shoes.

If Shane wasn’t Mr. Wrong before, he certainly is now. He must work with the feds or face serious prison time for the millions of back taxes he owes. As part of their deal, he must squeeze his ex-fiancĂ©e for information, and they aren’t just talking about holding hands. That’s a serious problem for Shane because he cannot forget Cyn, the saucy Latina lighting up the cold nights in Alaska.

Sexy Thriller with a dash of satire and humor for 18 and older.



PAT'S REVIEW:

This is the second book or the follow up to Taming Alaska. Shane is now working for the government mainly the FBI in trying to find where all the money went and he has to make nice with old flame Nikki. Cyn is recovering from all that happened after she came home without the man she thought once again would be there for her. Realizing that she needs to take care of one sister and the other sister she needs to just watch her back. She now is starting to put all of the pieces together as to why her mother was killed when she gets a visit from a relative. She starts putting the missing pieces together like a puzzle and she finds what everyone is looking for. She now wants to have the upper hand. She also needs to find a job and when she goes on an interview and walks in on Shane kissing Nikki, she is more than hurt she is devastated. She has been in love with this man since she first saw him and for some reason she believed all he said about being in love with her. Now he is trying to explain to her what is going on and the only way to do that is come clean about everything. The agent doesn’t like it but he tells him go to h—l. Now they both have to work together to save each of them. This is another fast paced book, full of sex, murder and intrigue. There are some surprises but overall this was a good book to follow up from the first. I also like the epilogue. I got this book from netgalley.com. I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1radreaderreviews.com (less)

TAMING ALASKA #1

TAMING ALASKA                                           DIANA DOWNEY

Shane O’Flannery is no Prince Charming.

He is uncouth, uncultured, untrainable.

Damn this man! How dare he humiliate the spoiled Texas heiress Cynthia Diaz by turning her down, even if she was underage at the time?

When Shane first meets Cyn, his attraction to this frustratingly hot, flirtatious spitfire almost gets him into trouble when he discovers she’s only sixteen. He cannot forget the temptingly sweet taste of this woman-child, so for two years he does his damnedest to avoid this young siren.

Even though Shane’s body was chiseled from granite and Cyn compares every man’s caress to Shane’s panty-melting kiss, she dreams of her true knight in shining armor. So shortly after meeting charismatic, well bred, and breathtakingly handsome Mr. Waits, the perfect man in every way, she marries him. She fully expects a fairytale honeymoon in Bora Bora, Fiji, or Maui. Much to her chagrin, he whisks her off to the Alaskan Interior. When her life is threatened, she must rely on the ill-mannered Shane to survive—a man who has never read the Prince Charming manual.

WARNING: Taming Alaska is a steamy thriller with a dash of satire and humor for 18 and older due to explicit sex. The story includes a strong alpha male and friends to lovers romance. Taming Alaska is part of a duology and segues into Seducing Texas. 


PAT'S REVIEW:

This book opens with sex, a feisty Texas young women named Cynthia Diaz who as left her boyfriend out in the middle of the woods or field because well say he was not up to standards. When later she goes to a dinner with her mother and all of the highest society people in town are there. She is flirting with a man named Shane O’ Flannery, turns out he is awarded this night for business and when he finds out that she is only 17 he gives her his card and sys call him when she is of age. A week goes by and she is actually calling him but not because of a birthday. It is because of a tragedy and because she is Hispanic when he gets there he find she is in jail. Once everything is worked out. They realize that her mother has been killed, but saved her life. He once again helps her home, but turns her down. When she meets young men she compares them to him, but years go by and by the next time he sees her she is more stunning than ever, but she is also engaged. Now after being married and expecting to be on a flight to some exotic island she finds herself on a plane flying into Alaska and wondering what is going on when she him. Yes Shane, and now they are on a smaller plane going farther into Alaska than she ever wanted to be. Her is when everything in the story changes. She finds out a little about what happened to her mother, her husband is killed, and Shane and her have to trek through the woods to escape the men that are after them. Meanwhile they become to fulfill what each of them wanted to do years ago. There is plenty of action horizontal, and escaping from the killers. Only to leave you at the end with them? Read the book. I got this book from netgalley.com. I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com 

TEMPORARILY YOURS

TEMPORARILY YOURS                                  DIANE ALBERTS                                                                                    
Stats whiz Kayla Moriarity knows her way around numbers and algorithms. Men, on the other hand, are unsolvable equations. Now Kayla’s en route to her sister’s wedding—alone and without the fictional boyfriend she invented for her family. Fortunately, her plane comes complete with complimentary cocktails and a ridiculously hot ex-marine in the seat beside her. And that’s all it takes for Kayla’s inhibitions to go sailing out the airlock...

Cooper Shillings has soft spot for people in trouble, but he certainly wasn’t expecting to land in it himself—and definitely not while getting naughty mid-air with a sexy southern belle. When he hears Kayla’s predicament, however, he offers his services as a stand-in boyfriend. After all, he’s heading overseas soon...and how could he refuse a little no-strings wickedness?

It’s the perfect plan. And all Kayla has to do is ensure her family falls for the ultimate bluff, without falling for it—and Cooper—in the process...
 


PAT'S REVIEW: 


Kayla is a stats wiz or statics, she has been that way her whole life and now she is stuck in an airport explaining to her mother that she is going to be late because of a delay. Overhearing most of the conversation and wondering why she is sitting by herself in a crowed airport. Cooper walks towards her and after getting a candy cane removed from his shirt sits next to her and pickups her plight. Wanting to help her she polity declines and then gives him the numbers as to why it would not work. She is surprised that he knows her official title and something inside of her shifts a little towards him. Cooper upgrades his ticket to sit next to her when he finds out that she normally drive to places, not flies. He helps her on the flight after they talk just a little more she finds out that he is ex-military but is going back over sees for a security job. She thinks that there is more to the story but he does not want to talk about it. She REALLY enjoys his way of distracting her during the flight to make it a more satisfying experience. Afterwards she realizes that he is still waiting for her and helps her with her bag. When she agrees to his idea of him being her boyfriend for the weekend for her sisters weeding everything is going good. The only problem turns out to be that everyone really likes him, and because of the way they interact people think they are really dating. It then gets supper crazy when he finds out that her uncle is the man that hired her for the new job. From their it becomes more confusing for the both of them because she finally tells him not to go back oversees. Now he must not only deal with his past but if he thought of a future he must think about that now as well. This is a very good story and both main characters are full of depth. You as a reader get caught up in their journey and what is going to happen. A very good book. I got this book from netgalley.com. I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com (less)
 

Forged In Desire

FORGED IN DESIRE                                      BRENDA JACKSON

   When good girl Margo Connelly becomes Lamar "Striker" Jennings's latest assignment, she knows she's in trouble. And not just because he's been hired to protect her from an underworld criminal. The reformed bad boy's appeal is breaching all her defenses, and as the threats against her increase, Margo isn't sure which is more dangerous: the gangster targeting her, or the far too alluring protector tempting her to let loose. 
Though Striker's now living on the right side of the law, he's convinced his troubled past keeps Margo out of his league. But physical chemistry explodes into full-blown passion when they go on the run together. Surrendering to desire could be a deadly distraction—or finally prove that he's the only man qualified to keep her safe, and win her love.
PAT'S REVIEW:
Margo Connelly need’s protection from a man who has threaten everyone that was not only on the jury but in the court room the day of his conviction. She first of course thought this just to be an idle threat. Then the first person was killed. Now her uncle has hired a protection service. Lamar “Striker” Jennings has been assigned as here body guard. She turns out to be someone that he was not expecting to get to him, to make him start giving up personal feelings that he has told no one. Now this assignment has just become more. She can’t believe that she is not only attracted to him but wants to spend time with him. Though she still does not believe that she is in any danger. They are both in danger of losing themselves to the other one, plus there are some other twists added to this story who is after her that will surprise you when you get to the end. This makes for a very sexy, and suspenseful book. Wanting to find out who is after her plus their attraction makes for a fantastic story. Wonderful characters help build for a good read. I got this book from netgalley. com. I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com 


WORTH THE WAIT

WORTH THE WAIT                               A. J. PINE
             
                                                                                                                       
                                      I like to think of myself as a man of pleasure…

I enjoy a good pint of ale, being in the arms of a beautiful woman, and living by my own rules. The only thing I try to avoid? Commitment. And I’ve got a three-year success rate to prove it.

I wasn’t planning on Grace—the beautiful, funny, totally off-limits massage therapist who keeps popping up in my life. She’s on a six-month mission to rid her life of toxins. No alcohol. No red meat. And, yeah, no men. I’m talking full-on man cleanse.

I know I should walk away, but I can’t…and the only way to keep her in my life is to live by her rules. I’ll need to prove to a woman who’s lost all trust in men that I’m worthy of her love. And do it all without so much as a single kiss.

The only problem? If I win, I’ll lose the one thing I swore I’d never give up. My heart. 


PAT'S REVIEW:

Grace was not looking for a man or any type of a relationship in her life. She is on a six month of cleanse, cleanse of everything. Jeremy is a customer for a massage at the hotel he is staying at. They immediately have a connection. Telling him that she is not dating should work. The problem is they end up meeting a few more times and each time they are still drawn to each other. Not wanting to ruin her cleanse he tells her that he is willing to wait if they can be friends. This is when the story takes off. He ex from three years ago and now a T.V. personality signs her up for a reality type show for a local station wanting to see want happens now at the end of here last three months. Grace is working on getting past an ex that won’t leave her alone, but does not want any help because she feels that man will hurt her parents. At the same time Jeremy is working through becoming a partner in the bar he is working at with his best friend. There are a lot of good and funny parts along with some real touching moments. Overall a good book, and you don’t need to read any of the books before this one to be caught up. A good story. I got this book from netgalley.com. I gave it 4 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com



THE BETRAYAL:How the 1919 Black Sox scandal changed baseball

THE BETRAYAL                 CHARLES FOUNTAIN
         
        In the most famous scandal of sports history, eight Chicago White Sox players―including Shoeless Joe Jackson―agreed to throw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for the promise of $20,000 each from gamblers reportedly working for New York mobster Arnold Rothstein. Heavily favored, Chicago lost the Series five games to three. Although rumors of a fix flew while the series was being played, they were largely disregarded by players and the public at large. It wasn't until a year later that a general investigation into baseball gambling reopened the case, an a nationwide scandal emerged. 

In this book, Charles Fountain offers a full and engaging history of one of baseball's true moments of crisis and hand-wringing, and shows how the scandal changed the way American baseball was both managed and perceived. After an extensive investigation and a trial that became a national morality play, the jury returned not-guilty verdicts for all of the White Sox players in August of 1921. The following day, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, baseball's new commissioner, "regardless of the verdicts of juries," banned the eight players for life. And thus the Black Sox entered into American mythology. Guilty or innocent? Guilty and innocent? The country wasn't sure in 1921, and as Fountain shows, we still aren't sure today. But we are continually pulled to the story, because so much of modern sport, and our attitude towards it, springs from the scandal.

Fountain traces the Black Sox story from its roots in the gambling culture that pervaded the game in the years surrounding World War I, through the confusing events of the 1919 World Series itself, to the noisy aftermath and trial, and illuminates the moment as baseball's tipping point. Despite the clumsy unfolding of the scandal and trial and the callous treatment of the players involved, the Black Sox saga was a cleansing moment for the sport. It launched the age of the baseball commissioner, as baseball owners hired Landis and surrendered to him the control of their game. Fountain shows how sweeping changes in 1920s triggered by the scandal moved baseball away from its association with gamblers and fixers, and details how American's attitude toward the pastime shifted as they entered into "The Golden Age of Sport."
Situating the Black Sox events in the context of later scandals, including those involving Reds manager and player Pete Rose, and the ongoing use of steroids in the game up through the present, Fountain illuminates America's near century-long fascination with the story, and its continuing relevance today.         

PAT'S REVIEW:
Mr. Fountain takes you back in time to the scandal of baseball that changed a team, a generation, and for some the idea that the game was on the up and up. He begins with going back into the 1880’s and bringing you up to 1919, and the gambling, and players known at those times to change a game. One of the most egregious was Hal Chase. He was brought up quite a bit and discussed about plays and throws. I must say I have read in other books about baseball that he was someone that was not thought highly of after having high praise as a fielder and hitter. In other books it was mentioned about him throwing a game but this author goes into more detail. He also goes into how once, or more than once he admitted to just that when it was brought to owners, and Johnson who was the President of the American league nothing was done, so this was allowed to go on just like steroid use was decades later. You get a look at Johnson, Cominsky, and the players. He also takes a look or tries to at the men or gamblers that were accused of meeting with a few of the players to begin the whole scandal. He then takes you through the hiring of Judge Landis, and the back story behind that. I do agree with the author on point that if Joe Jackson was not part of this we would not be talking about it here almost 100 years later. His name being attached has made this still to this day a big story. I do think the players had the intention of losing but then got shafted. Also I think after reading this book I think they felt nothing would happen because of the men who had done it before them. Landis would change the game forever and the way he worded his statement after the jury found the men innocent, meant that they were out of baseball for life. There is one part that Joe Jackson did go to try to see Cominsky and tell him about it but was turned away. That Cominsky knew and didn’t want to hear it. Then later it all blew up. Don’t know how true but if it is once again the owners get away at the players expense. It should be noted that the author takes you negotiations and how each player was stuck to a team and what the team offered to play. That they could play in expeditions, but in a few years’ teams were having them play in expeditions and not paying them. This does not justify, but this is what led to free agency in the 1970’s, and how many years it took. I also liked the end where the author goes into Joe Jackson’s career that was fascinating since I remember my father telling me how good he was but reading about it was something else. Overall a very good baseball book and the history of the game. I got this book from netgalley.com. I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com

ONCE PERFECT (Shattered Past #1)

ONCE PERFECT                              CECY ROBSON

Evelyn Preston’s future once looked perfect—until her wealthy father was caught in an embezzlement scandal and took his own life. Alone and struggling to pay her college tuition and bills, Evelyn finds a job as a waitress at the ultra-hip nightclub Excess, where she used to have more in common with the privileged private-school clientele than her fellow staff members. But something attracts her to the sexy six-foot-four bouncer and underground MMA fighter Mateo Tres Santos. Although they’ve led different lives, their troubled pasts bonds them in both survival and love.

Mateo is ex-army who wound up in prison for assaulting the man who harmed his sister. Now he’s feeling the same protective impulse for this petite blond waitress. When Evelyn experiences a panic attack at the club, Mateo comes to her rescue. And when Mateo is wounded shielding her from a brawl, Evelyn returns the favor and comes to his aid.

As their attraction intensifies, Mateo is determined to find out what nightmares are lurking in Evelyn’s past—even if that means tackling his own to save her.  
                                         
HUBBY'S REVIEW:                                                                              
Evelyn Preston’s life is turned upside down the day of her father’s death and all of the allegations. Now going from a rich life to living in an apartment with her only true friend. She is working at a bar and is going to a community college trying to get through with her nursing degree, and move on. The bouncers at the bar are like the girls she works with really very little talk they think all the same of her, at least her mind. That is until Mateo the head Bouncer helps her one day and little by little her shell starts to drop. When one of the other bouncers makes a joke about her cookies that she brought in as a thank you she starts slowly feeling like one of the group. She is attracted to Mateo and he is to her, but each of them are tied to their past. When she goes to one of his fights she begins to understand a little because she hears his story and what happened to him when he stood up for his sister. Now the problem is they want to be together but there is no time between work, school, and his nights when he needs to fight for extra money. The real story is how they make the other want to be better and succeed. There is a lot going on in this book but it all works with the story. The characters are good, and they help make this book work as well. Overall this is a very good book. I got this book from netgalley.com.  I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com
                                                                                                                                                                                              

Ed Duncan Author of: PIGEON BLOOD RED - Here Tomorrow 7 pm PST.

Ed Duncan
Author of:
Here Tomorrow
7 pm PST.
Excerpt From Chapter 1
When Rico knocked on Jean’s door he was happy to hear the sound of footsteps. At least she was there. Maybe it was a good omen. Jean, a stunning redhead with a figure that made the heart leap, looked through the peephole, opened the door, and greeted him wrapped in a towel. She was even more tantalizing than she’d been in the car earlier that day. She wasn’t completely dry, and here and there tiny droplets of water glistened on her arms and shoulders. Rico inhaled the subtle fragrance of her shower gel, but before it could distract him, a voice in his head reminded him, “Point one percent.”

“I wasn’t expecting you back so soon,” she began, a playful, sultry smile on her face.

From the doorway Rico scanned the living room and saw nothing amiss. He walked in and closed the door behind him. Too bad. He only knew how to do this one way. “Jean, how long have you known me?” he asked stoically.

She was baffled. “You know as well as I do. What kind of a question is that?”

“I never tried to hide from you how I make my living, true?” They stood face to face, inches apart, before she took a few halting steps backward. “So you know what happens to people who don’t tell me what I want to know, don’t you?”

“Rico,” she stammered, her voice trembling, “you aren’t making any sense. What’s this all about? I don’t know what you’re accusing me of, but I haven’t done anything, I swear.”

He took a straight razor from his coat pocket and opened it. As he walked toward her, she covered her face with her hands. He stepped behind her, thrust his left arm through the triangle formed by her hands pressing against her face, and grabbed her right shoulder. With his right hand he held the blunt side of the open razor against her right cheek.

“Where is it?”

“Please, Rico,” she sobbed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He pressed harder and tightened his grip on her shoulder. “Please, please!”

“I don’t believe you.” He turned the sharp side to her cheek.

“Rico, not my face, please! I swear I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Her tears puddled where the razor met her skin.
“Sorry, baby.”

As Jean cried out he let the razor fall from his hand and, in one uninterrupted motion, expertly muzzled her scream with the same hand before the razor hit the floor. She fainted.

When she came to, she was lying on the couch where Rico had carried her. He stood with his back to her, talking to Jerry on the phone. Jerry hadn’t been able to get past lobby security in Robert’s building.

“He palmed it, right?” Jerry asked.

Rico glanced over his shoulder at Jean. “I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He hung up. “I had to be sure,” he said unapologetically.

She shivered in her towel and glared at him, anger roiling in her eyes. He went to the bedroom and returned with a blanket, which she allowed him to drape around her shoulders.

“Sorry, baby. It was just business.”

Still too furious to speak, she defiantly turned her back to him and silently dared him to say anything about it. A small victory but it was something. Ignoring the gesture, Rico walked out and closed the door softly behind him.

She was enraged, as much at herself as at him, because she knew that the next time he called she would answer. She tried to justify her emotions by telling herself that he’d stopped short of actually harming her and that he never would have. But who was she kidding? She could hope but she could never know for sure.

When the cab pulled up in front of Robert’s building, Jerry was standing outside smoking a cigarette. It was an expensive high rise on the city’s Gold Coast along Lake Michigan’s north shore, with a security guard on duty twenty- four hours a day. There was no way around it; if they wanted to get into Robert’s apartment, one way or another they’d have to deal with him. This was admittedly a minor detail, more of an annoyance than anything else.

Jerry knew Rico hated cigarette smoke. An icy stare from him whenever Jerry lit up was as effective a deterrent as a punch in the gut, so he put the fag out as Rico left the cab. Rico kept his body rock solid by lifting weights at a neighborhood gym, jogging regularly, and minimizing his intake of junk food. He didn’t like the idea of second-hand smoke undoing any of his hard work.
“So what happened?” Jerry asked.

“She didn’t have it.”

“I could’ve told you that. She’s good people.”

“Don’t start with me.”

“But—”

“But nothing. Anybody can cross the line.”

“Including me?” Jerry hoped Rico might exempt him
but didn’t expect it.

“Yeah, including you.” The two men stared at each
other for a long moment before Rico smiled. “No, not including you.” The smile vanished as quickly as it had appeared and his eyes narrowed. “You know better.”

The comment stung and Jerry hung his head a little, but it was true and he knew it. It wasn’t easy to get close to Rico and not many people did. He was loyal to a fault, yet distant and brooding. Deadly as a cobra but with a dry, sometimes biting sense of humor. Brutally honest, he lacked guile. Hated hypocrisy. Loathed arrogance. If you were in a fight for your life against hopeless odds and could pick just one person to help even them out, he would be your choice every time. But if you needed a shoulder to cry on or even a pat on the back, you’d have to think long and hard before you settled on Rico.

“Now, about this guy...” Rico said, ignoring Jerry’s reaction.

Jerry snapped out of it. “You have to tell the security guard who you want to see. He rings the apartment. If the person answers, the guard buzzes you in.”

“High-class joint.”

“No wonder he’s always out of money.”

“How much traffic in and out?”

“Not too bad so far.”
Taking in as many details as his eyes could process in one sweep of the area, Rico slowly turned in a circle, looking for anything out of the ordinary, anything that counseled against getting on with the business at hand. Outside, there were pedestrians and cars passing everywhere, but it was a busy street, so there was nothing unusual about that. Inside, the foyer was empty except for the security guard. Nothing looked menacing. Nothing looked out of place. He nodded. “Okay?” Jerry nodded back. “Let’s go and talk to the man.”

They walked briskly to the entrance, donning sunglasses almost in unison, then glanced behind them one last time before opening the door. Rico nodded to a spot inside. Jerry planted himself there. Without slowing, Rico continued toward an oak-paneled counter facing the door, behind which sat an unarmed security guard casually reading a newspaper. He was about forty, with a gaunt face and stringy hair reaching below his collar. He was the kind of guy who went through life trying to keep from stepping on anyone’s toes and hoping everyone would try to avoid stepping on his. He looked up in time to see Rico, advancing quickly in his direction, throw open his coat and jerk a .45 out of a powder-blue shoulder holster. He leaped to his feet and raised his hands above his head. Rico slammed the gun on the counter.

“Put ’em down,” Rico said. Eyes bulging and hands shaking, the guard complied and his face took on the look of a condemned man who had just received word of a reprieve. “That’s right. Relax,” Rico said. “Now buzz Robert McDuffie’s apartment.” There was no answer. “Try again.” Still no answer. “Get the key and take me up there,” he ordered, then nodded in the direction of the .45 resting on the counter under his hand. “This’ll be pointed at the back of your head on the way. Any questions?” The guard shook his head. “Then let’s go.”

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