COMING FRIDAY 7 PM PST. JOSEPH BADAL AUTHOR OF: PAYBACK
7 PM PST.
When Bruno Pedace learns that his investment banking partners are setting him up to take the fall for their own corrupt practices, he does what he has always done—run away. But the documents he takes with him put a target on his back. He changes his name and, for nine years, goes underground, until an assassin tracks him down in California and badly injures him.
Befriended by Janet Jenkins, a courageous woman who works in a battered women’s shelter, Bruno, for the first time in his life, with Janet’s help, fights back. He constructs an ingenious financial scheme to get payback for the crimes perpetrated by him, former partners.
Two drive-bys of the bungalow in El Segundo in his wife’s Toyota van left Rasif Essam frustrated and angrier than he was already. There was no vehicle in the gravel driveway on the side of the house, no garage either. He could see no lights on inside. His left foot tattooed the floorboard and his hands beat a riff on the steering wheel.
He thought I can’t wait around here forever. Some damned cop might drive by and spot this van. He sorely wanted to punish Janet Jenkins. He’d come to the point in his thinking that what had happened to his family was all because of her. But, if she wasn’t home, he could still harass her; make her sorry. He’d trash her shitty little house.
He parked the van in the lot of an Asian market and walked two blocks back to the bungalow. After he eyeballed the houses on either side of Jenkins’s place, to make certain there were no nosy neighbors, he fast-walked down the driveway to the rear door, found it locked, and kicked it in. He quickly went through the kitchen into a small dining room that opened onto a living room.
Essam scoffed as he glanced around. “Nothing of value in here,” he muttered. He moved toward the bottom of the staircase to the second floor, when a shrill voice called from the top of the stairs, “Is that you, dear?”
Essam took in a big breath and charged upstairs.
Janet was listening to KKGO radio when she heard her cell phone ring. She tried to grab her purse, which had slid up against the passenger door, but couldn’t quite reach it. I’ll deal with whoever it is when I get home, she thought. Then she sang along with Carrie Underwood’s Jesus, Take the Wheel. She knew her voice was professional quality and wondered what her life would have been like if she’d moved to Nashville, rather than to L.A. She interrupted her singing, blurted a laugh, and said, “Dream along with me.” Despite bumper-to-bumper traffic, she was making decent time and hoped her mother had eaten the lunch she’d left for her in the refrigerator. She then picked back up with Underwood.
“Who are you?” Maybelle Jenkins cried her heart quickening, her breathing erratic. “What are you doing in my house?”
The man grabbed her arm and dragged her to the bedroom at the rear of the second floor.
“Stop it,” she yelled.
The man threw her on the bed, pointed a finger, and shouted, “Where’s Janet Jenkins?”
“She’s not here.”
“I can see that, you old bitch. When will she be here?”
Maybelle shrugged and lied, “My daughter is out of town on business.”
“You’re full of shit, old woman.”
She tried to stand, but the man slapped her and knocked her back on the bed. She stared at the man and, for an instant, thought she saw her former husband, Marvin. The guy had the same beady black eyes. Her stomach burned and her heartbeat quickened even more.
“You wait here,” the man ordered. “You leave this room and I’ll break your scrawny neck.” He walked out and closed the door after him.
Maybelle heard the clomp-clomp-clomp of his footfalls as he went back downstairs. She took in a series of deep breaths to calm her heart, then went to the window on the side of the back bedroom that overlooked the driveway.
In “Justice,” Matt and Renee Curtis return, along with their maniacal tormentor, Lonnie Jackson. On a trip to Costa Rica with their friends Esteban and Alani Maldonado, Matt and Renee believe they are beyond Jackson’s reach. But Jackson orchestrates the kidnapping of Renee and Alani and transports them to his human trafficking headquarters in Nicaragua.
Matt and Esteban recruit former special operations soldiers living in Costa Rica to help them rescue their wives.
As with all Badal’s novels, “Justice” is a bold and complex thriller that weaves an intricate plot involving an international human trafficking organization, the CIA, Washington, D.C. political leaders, corrupt Central American politicians, Bulgarian organized crime figures, and a compelling cast of engaging, inspiring, and diabolical characters.
The Curtis Chronicles saga is an epic series into the age-old conflict between good and evil and will have you begging for more.
The pounding rhythm of her heartbeat affirmed that she was still alive. But it no longer gave Miranda Sánchez comfort. It seemed to have evolved into an alien creature that invaded her being drummed in her chest, neck, and ears; and screamed to get out.
She gripped the crucifix on the delicate silver chain around her neck and once again prayed for salvation. Not for the deliverance of her soul—for which she had prayed thousands of times in the cathedral in Ocotal—but for the rescue of her body . . . and mind.
The sickening, pale-yellow, muted light from a naked bulb provided just enough illumination to see her hands. She stared down at her shadowed fist wrapped around the cross, opened her fingers, and cringed at the filth under her fingernails and on the back of her hand. The stench of human waste assailed her nostrils, and even breathing through her mouth did little to allay the putrid odors.
Three days had passed since she'd been allowed to bathe. Three days of hunger, threats, and beatings because she resisted the man named Carlos.
She released the symbol of her faith and dropped it between her breasts, beneath the coarse, homespun fabric of her plain, soiled, once-white dress. The rag had fit tightly on her full figure just one week earlier. It now draped over her like a hand-me-down from an older, larger sister.
Miranda shifted on the pallet set against the wall opposite the cell door, pressed her back against the damp cement wall, and shivered. Despite the August heat and humidity, the wall chilled her.
It took a magnificent force of will, to laugh under the circumstances, but she forced out a curt, cough-like chuckle, mocking herself for leaving her home in Nicaragua. Why didn’t I listen to Mama?
“Miranda, only harm will come to you for trying to better yourself,” Mama had said. But she couldn’t stand the thought of looking like her mother—a worn-out drudge, a slave to a system that offered no hope to poor women.
A sudden tap-tap-tap interrupted her thoughts. Miranda cocked an ear. This was something new. She tried to quiet her heart and still her breathing. There it was again—tap-tap-tap. It seemed to come from the wall on her right.
She moved to all fours, pushed off with her hands, and rose from the pallet. Suddenly lightheaded, she leaned against the back wall. When the dizziness lessened, she moved to her right, touched the cell’s sidewall, and waited for the tapping sounds to come again. “Tap-tap-tap,” she whispered, thinking for a moment her imagination was playing a game with her, mocking her, teasing the last of her sanity from her terrified brain.
Maybe ten minutes had gone by when she wailed a mournful, toneless hymn that careened off the cell’s hard surfaces and drifted like morning mist through the small, barred opening in the cell door. Miranda’s legs turned rubbery and she slid down the wall to the floor. Tears flowed onto her crossed arms. Then she slowly rolled to her side and scrunched herself into a fetal ball, making herself as small as possible.
Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap. More rapid this time. Frantic.
Miranda uncurled herself and scooted to face the sidewall. She removed a sandal and banged the wall three times.
Ten seconds passed, then the tap-tap-tap came again. The faint, feathery sound of a female voice carried to her. The words were indecipherable, but not the tone. There was no mistaking the high-pitched tone of fear.
Miranda felt momentary exhilaration. She wasn’t alone. But then reality struck and she felt more desperate than ever. Being here wasn’t an isolated incident. The man had brought at least one other woman here. There could be dozens more. What did he intend to do with her? To them?
Joseph Badal is the author of 16 award-winning suspense novels, including Payback, which was released on May 12. He has written four stand-alone novels and twelve books comprising three series: the Danforth Saga, the Lassiter/Martinez Case Files, and the Curtis Chronicles. He is an Amazon and Barnes & Noble Best-Selling Author, a two-time winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize, a three-time Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal Winner, and Eric Hoffer Prize Winner, and a two-time “Finalist” in the International Book Awards competition.
Joe is a frequent speaker at a writer, civic, and business conferences, and has taught several master classes in writing.
Prior to his literary career, he served six years in the U.S. Army, including tours of duty in Vietnam and Greece, from which he received numerous decorations.
After his military service, he worked for thirty-six years in the banking & finance industries and was a founding director and senior executive of a New York Stock Exchange-listed company for sixteen years.
Joe is a member of International Thrillers Writers, Sisters in Crime, Croak & Dagger, Military Writers Society of America, Public Safety Writers Association, and Southwest Writers Workshop.
at May 20, 2020
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