Authors: M. C. Grant
Tags: #Suspense, #mystery, #Fiction, #medium-boiled, #M.C. Grant, #Grant, #San Francisco, #Dixie Flynn, #Bay Area
“Please,” says Mr. French.
I accept the cigars and the large snifter of brandy with gratitude before heading out to the front steps. It's late, very late, but Mr. French's light was still on and I was too amped up to sleep. He also loaned me a soft fleece blanket to wrap around my shoulders, which makes me feel like a young girl again, camping out under the stars.
I take a sip of brandy and snip the end off the six-and-a-half-inch, caramel-skinned Cohiba. It lights with just a few puffs and tastes of white sand, blue sea, rich soil, and a simpler time.
The brandy is smooth, rich, and luxurious, like something you just know you can't really afford.
“Are you celebrating?” asks a voice in the darkness.
“No,” I answer and hold up an unlit cigar. “I'm waiting for you.”
Pinch climbs the stairs to sit beside me. “We could just share,” he suggests.
“No,” I answer. “Not this time.”
With a shrug, Pinch accepts the cigar, snips off the end, and lights it. “Did you bring me a brandy, too?” he asks.
I shake my head. “That's my indulgence.”
We sit in silence, smoking our cigars, until I ask, “Why did you do it?”
“Lebed made me an offer.”
“A hundred grand?”
He takes a deep puff and exhales. “Your life.”
I bristle. “I had that under control.”
He takes another puff. “You didn't.”
“I did,” I protest. “I had Joe's confession on tape. Lebed hired him to kill Alimzhan Izmaylovsky.”
“Lebed knows what Joe would say, and he's already rounding up everyone he thinks would take action against him. His lawyers are also ready to march into your offices if you even try to mention his name. It'll never make print.”
“My editor would neverâ”
“Lebed would buy the paper if he had to. Everything is for sale. Your editor would either toe the line or be replaced. As would you.”
“Son of a bitch.”
He smirks. “That's being too kind.”
“So if he has it all worked out, why kill Joe?”
“And the sisters?”
“They're part of the deal. He'll leave them alone.”
“So you're my white knight, is that it?”
“I wouldn't go that far.”
Pinch goes to flick his ash, but I touch his hand to stop him.
The ash helps to reduce the temperature of the burning tobacco,” I tell him. “It creates an air-block, cooling the smoke and slowing the burn. It improves the taste.”
Pinch smiles. “Mr. French tell you that?”
I try to resist but end up smiling back. “He did. He's very wise, is Mr. French.”
We smoke some more until I ask, “How did you know where to find us?”
“You couldn't have tailed us,” I say. “Nobody could. I didn't even know where we were half the time.” I blow a cloud of smoke and watch it change shapes. “You knew the address, didn't you?”
“If I had known the address, I would have been there before you, waiting.”
Pinch sighs. “You're too predictable, Dix.”
I bristle again. “How?”
“People like you, and you like it when people do.”
“When you told me you were meeting Joe, I knew you would use Mo's Cabs to get there.”
“So?” I ask again, still not getting a clear picture.
“All of Mo's cabs are LoJacked. All I needed was the carrier frequency and I could follow all his cabs on my laptop. Two cars driving like maniacs and a drop-off at the scrap yard couldn't have been more obvious.”
“So I led you right to him.” My cigar grows bitter in my mouth, but I suspect it's not the tobacco. “After twenty years in hiding, I get him killed for the sake of a Father's Day story.”
“That's one way to look at it,” says Pinch.
“And what's another?”
“You saved two lives. I don't know what Roxanne will do, but at least she has the option now to put her past behind her and try for a normal life. As for Bailey, it may take a few days for the guilt to pass, but I expect she'll start sleeping through the night for the first time in her life.”
“But Joe Brown still didn't deserve to die.”
“He was a paid killer,” says Pinch.
“So are you.”
“And my day will come. Just not today.”
I take a sip of brandy and hand the glass to Pinch. “And thanks to you,” I say, “I guess I get to wake up tomorrow, too.”
“I'll drink to that,” he says. “One more day.”
I take the glass back and accept his toast.
“One more day.”
Â© Don Denton, Black Press
About the Author
M.C. Grant is the secret identity of international thriller writer Grant McKenzie. (Oops, there goes that secret.) Born in Scotland, living in Canada, and writing fast-paced fiction, Grant likes to wear a kilt and toque with his six-guns. Often compared to Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay, Grant has three internationally published thrillers to his nameâ
No Cry for Help
âthat have earned him an avalanche of positive reviews and loyal readership around the globe. As a journalist, he has won numerous awards across Canada and the United States, including one in 2012 from the Association of Alternative Newsmediaâthe same organization that Dixie's fictitious
San Francisco NOW
belongs to. You can find him online at: http://grantmckenzie.net.
Being a writer is never a solitary endeavour, since there are so many voices (foreign and domestic) in my head when spinning a tale. However, once imagination has birthed the story, it takes real rather than fictitious humans to bring the story into the readers' hands. And to this end, I couldn't ask for a more enthusiastic and generous team than I have found at Midnight Ink. Every person involved in the creation of Dixie's adventures is so very, very important to its success, and if you, dear readers, are picking this up in a bookstore or online, then the team has done its job.
Word of mouth is also so very important to a writer that I value all the support that bookstores and all their fabulous employees have shown to my work.
Lastly, without my brilliant, supportive, and kind readers, writing would not hold the joy that it does. I write to be read, and nothing brings me more delight than to hear from a reader who has enjoyed one of my books and recommended me to their friends. I cannot thank you enough.