Title: Zero Warning (An Asher Radman Mystery)
Author: John Charles
Series: Asher Radman By The Numbers – Book Zero
When FBI agent Mateo Hachman took the undercover assignment, he knew the risks. Infiltrate the Proveedores Consortium and bring down the inner circle.
It took almost five years and he gathered enough evidence to bring down Demarco Sanchez the head of the Proveedores as well as over a dozen high level members.
When henchman Abraham Garceau was sentenced for multiple counts of murder, he swore he’d find a way to torture Mateo until he begged to die.
Eight years later, Mateo had a new name, new career, and new life. In those eight years, he never stopped looking over his shoulder; never let his defenses slip, and never got close to anyone. Until he met Isaac Konners. Konners was everything Mateo wanted in a partner. Getting close to Isaac though, would mean breaking his personal vow and endangering an innocent person. Yet Isaac wormed his way into Mateo’s heart, took hold, and wouldn’t let go.
Several weeks after Garceau escaped from a prisoner transport van, a video played on every news channel. A close-up of Garceau looking into the camera filled the screen. “This video is for one person and one person only – Mateo Hachman. I promised I’d get you no matter how long it took and now that I’m free of that f*cked up prison and those bullsh*t guards; I intend to keep my promise.”
Suddenly Mateo was pulled into the worst nightmare he could have imagined. Did he know where to look? Did he know Mateo’s new name? What about his new looks? And what about Isaac? How could he protect Isaac from that lunatic?
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The big rig swerved along the curve as if the driver had fallen asleep. Now on the wrong side of the road, it picked up speed. The driver of the compact car entering the curve from the other direction had no time to react. The impact was sudden, so sudden that neither driver would remember it happening.
A fireball of flames erupted, engulfing the car and the cab of the rig. Screams could be heard, then silence.
Scott smacked his arms trying to put out the flames, his legs wouldn’t move – trapped in the mangled wreckage. His screams were strangled by the soreness in his throat. Tears poured from his burning eyes. The intense heat melted his skin. Darkness battled with the overpowering bright light.
With superhuman strength, Scott jumped from his entrapment, landing on the floor in a heap of blankets and pillows. His screams echoing in the room, hands still slapping at his burning body, legs trapped in the tangle of sheets. His heart seemed to be trying to escape from his chest. His lungs were on fire, tears flowed down his cheeks as the sun rose over the mountains behind his home.
It took almost half an hour for his body to calm enough to move. His breathing was still rapid as was his heart beat, but not as paralyzing as it was just a few moments ago. He tried to sit up but his body was too weak. Tears continued to fall from his eyes as he lay on the floor looking through the wall of windows as the sun continued to rise above the mountains. It’s been seven years, so why can’t I let it go?
With his body now somewhat back to normal, he struggled to sit up, pulled the tangle of sheets from his legs and crawled to the edge of the bed. It took all his strength to stand. Leaving the mess behind, he managed to walk to the bathroom. Closing the door, he leaned against the vanity and looked in the mirror. “Happy Birthday; it’s hard to believe that seven years ago, you were dead,” he said to the man staring back at him.
He took a cold shower to erase the dream, the nightmare that continued to plague him. At least it happened less often now, but why did it always seem to plague him when something good was about to happen. Why are the gods always reminding me of what my life was like only a few years ago?
Breakfast would definitely not stay down so he stood at the counter with his coffee mug in hand. He thought of Patrick, bringing more tears to his eyes. Life had dealt both of them a lousy blow. I will never hurt anyone again, not intentionally or by accident.
Normally Scott would bike to the campus, but today he was dressed more formally and didn’t want to get his clothes messed up. Living in Golden only blocks away from the Colorado School of Mines was more than a-dream-come true. Most mornings he sat on his deck and looked out at the mountain range behind his home. In the winter, the snow-covered mountains gave him the feeling of living in the wilderness, yet he was only minutes away from the bustling campus.
“It is with great pleasure that we honor Scott Witier with tenure,” said the dean as he handed Scott the official document and plaque. The audience of teachers, professors, and staff in the small auditorium applauded. The buffet following the presentation afforded Scott the time to thank personally those who had helped him achieve his goal.
Two others received tenure that day and though not the youngest to receive tenure from this prestigious school, Scott was the only one to achieve that goal in five years. Most took considerably longer, but Scott was determined to get himself back on track after arresting events turned his life upside down.
The rest of Scott’s day was comparatively uneventful. He thanked those who stopped to congratulate him. Most students in his classes didn’t even know of his accomplishments. Some did and either congratulated him or just nodded their approval. Scott was loved by both the student body and his peers. He loved teaching, loved the school, and truly loved helping his students awaken their brains to unlimited possibilities.
Driving home, he wondered what his life would have been like if the accident had not happened.
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