Moondance Ridge: Thin Blue Line - Book 2 (coming soon)
Tony Nazario is a successful businessman, a loner with a gypsy spirit, and a sucker for a woman in need. He recently moved to Mount Haven to help his longtime friend save her failing company. He didn’t expect to meet a desperate, but fiercely independent, woman that would change his life forever.
Theresa Regan is in trouble - big trouble. And, the threat is more sinister and powerful than she ever imagined. Can she find a solution to her perilous dilemma or will she lose everything and finally disappear; secretly enslaved by a madman? Or worse, dead because she resisted. Would anyone even notice? Time is running out. A predator has become impatient. And, history has proven, the result may be fatal for everyone involved.
Theresa sat huddled in the tiny cupboard, twisted like a pretzel. It was the only way she’d fit into the cabinet under the industrial sized sink. She didn’t dare move a muscle. The slightest noise might alert them she was here. The three men standing just outside the thin door were monsters. She’d known that before, but tonight she was learning just how far they would go to get what they wanted. Her husband, Shawn, was paying dearly for his betrayal. She closed her eyes and tried to shut out the sounds, but it was no use. Shawn’s agonizing moans echoed throughout the room. It was a sound she knew she would never forget. This moment in time would be burned into her memory for weeks, months and years to come. This was a nightmare she would relive, dissect and ruminate over for the rest of her life. She briefly wondered if that life would last a few short minutes or countless years. Only time will tell, she supposed.
She was so angry with Shawn for getting them into this mess. At the same time, she loved him even more for the courage and skill it took to get as far as he had. Yes, that was a paradox that only she could understand. Hating and loving in the same moment. But she wouldn’t question her emotions. Not now. There would be plenty of time after this was all over to evaluate her feelings. She knew her husband was going to die. There was no way around it, nothing that could be done to stop the evil machinations of that terrible man. She just hoped Shawn’s plan would work and she could survive her predicament somehow.
Theresa’s eyes flew open and her body jerked forward, nearly colliding with the closed cupboard door before she forcibly stopped its movement through sheer willpower and fear. The bone crushing sound that reached her tiny hide-away and the agonizing, inhumane sound that resonated from Shawn’s limp form, nearly made her come undone. A single tear escaped as she slowly closed her eyes and tried to swallow the lump that was lodged in her throat. Then, the floodgates opened and hot liquid flowed down her dust covered cheeks, slid across her trembling chin and landed on her jeans-clad thigh. She ignored the tears; she ignored the wetness as it cooled and permeate the thick denim; she ignored the way her jeans began to tighten and cling to her skin as the damp circle grew with each passing second; she ignored each and every emotion coursing through her traumatized mind. She had to, her very life depended on her silence. It was taking every inch of self-control she possessed to remain hidden away like a helpless child in that tiny prison under an old, musty sink. She wanted to lash out. She wanted to kill Dominic Zarconi in an extremely violent and painful way. But, revenge and justice would have to wait.
“I think he might be dead boss,” Theresa heard the voice loud and clear. She hoped Socks was right. Not because she wanted Shawn to be dead, but because she wanted his suffering to be over. She couldn’t imagine the pain he must be in right now. Theresa knew it wouldn’t matter what they did to her husband, he would never tell them a thing. That was true under normal circumstances, but Shawn was protecting her tonight. She might question his methods, but she would never question his love. Theresa was the love of Shawn’s life. He had shown her that in so many ways over the years. Tonight, he was showing it with his silence. She just hoped his plan worked. Her husband was confident Zarconi would stay true to form. Once Shawn had been eliminated Dominic, or Dom as his men called him, would casually move on to his next task as if nothing out of the ordinary had just occurred. And of course, killing a man he considered a traitor wasn’t really out of the ordinary for the ruthless mob boss. So, he’d either do the final deed himself or he’d order it done and casually walk away - confident cleanup would be thorough and complete in a matter of minutes. His men had plenty of practice in the art of disposal and would deal with Shawn’s lifeless body quickly and efficiently. Both Dominic and Theresa were counting on that. Dom, to ensure freedom from prosecution for his heinous crime. Theresa, to provide a means of escape.
It would be her only chance. Shawn had given her very specific, very strict instructions on what she had to do once Dominic left the room. She would need to listen for the two goons to follow Dom out, count to twenty then slip unnoticed out the back door. On her way, she was to make a quick stop in the electrical room, disconnect Shawn’s phone from the camera system then hide it with the rest of the evidence he and Zach had compiled. Once she was out of town, she could find someone she trusted to share it with. Avoiding the camera’s once she slipped out the back door was going to be her biggest challenge, but Theresa was confident she had the plan memorized...especially the blind spots. There was only one camera in Dom’s restricted area, located in the alleyway that led to the casino’s main parking lot. Once in the lot the cameras were everywhere, but she could avoid them if she kept to the north entrance. The entrance Dominic used. She’d then make her way to the highway, cross the street, cut through the public park and slip into the parking structure attached to the large shopping mall. Her truck was securely hidden in plain sight awaiting her return.
It was a simple enough plan, but Theresa’s heart began to beat a little faster as she considered everything that could go wrong along the way. Dominic’s low, menacing voice cut through the fear and brought her back to the current situation. “He’s not dead, but he will be.”
Dominic crouched in front of the man he had come to despise over the past hour. The kid seemed to hold so much promise. Dominic had brought him in off the street, mentored him and began to trust him with his biggest secrets. With each passing day, Dom started to think of him as the son he’d always wanted. And in return, Shawn Lanza had betrayed him. Thanks to Drago, the traitor had been caught before he stumbled across anything that could damage the operation. Anger flowed through his entire body and the fondness he’d developed for the kid slowly dissipated. Nobody betrayed Dominic Zarconi and lived to tell about it. No exceptions. “This is your last chance, kid,” Dom said angrily. “Tell me what you took and where it is. I know you were in my office. Drago saw you leaving. Where did you hide it?” Dom knew it was still somewhere in the building. That too was a relief. Whatever Shawn had been after, it would be recovered...eventually. He had nothing to worry about, but still... he didn’t like it.
“Nothing,” Shawn choked out. “I told you, I was just dropping off the invoices from Anita.” Blood seeped from the side of his mouth as he coughed. His body jerked and began to shake as pain engulfed him. He must have internal injuries. His life was slowly coming to an end. He hated knowing Theresa was seeing this... hearing it. He hated knowing he had failed her. Please just let her escape unharmed. He silently prayed. And give her the strength to walk away. Something he hadn’t been able to do. He’d been so sure he could succeed where his brother Zach had failed, that he’d risked everything...and lost. Now, he was leaving this world with too many unanswered questions. He was leaving his wife in danger without protection. In his obsession to get justice for his brother, he’d risked the only woman he had ever loved. Theresa was going to be vulnerable, but at least Dom didn’t know who she really was...who they were. That one secret was the only thing saving her from an equally horrific death. If she stuck to the plan, she might have a chance. Please leave! Shawn silently pled.
Dominic stood, disappointed. He was confident whatever Shawn had, it was nothing to worry about. He’d found the kid on the street picking pockets. He had skills, sure...but Dominic never left anything out in the open. Not even in his own office. His files were all tucked away, safe and secure in the ghost partition on his computer. Nobody could access them. Nobody but him. Dom had hired the best hacker in the area to set the system up for him. Sure, there was a chance some up and coming techie out there had the skills necessary to find his records, but certainly not a street rat like Shawn Lanza. Even if someone was good enough to hack the system, they would never break the encryption code. No, the kid wasn’t a threat, but he still had to die. It was the price Dom demanded from anyone that betrayed his trust. He casually slid the Glock from his shoulder holster and pulled the trigger.