Authors: John J. Davis
“This debut thriller finds an entire family on the run from those who would sell bleeding-edge technology to the highest bidder. Ron and Valerie feel like true partners and parents, and Leecy is a believable teen (“…my life is on that phone!”). Clever scenes also have Ron playing with his legend as a one-man Native American kill squad who only used a knife and a tomahawk. Valerie’s past as a Mossad assassin is more explicitly referenced; readers learn that she helped get Boris Yeltsin elected.
Davis sets a solid foundation for more adventures. Sharply written, starring characters readers will be happy to meet again.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“In this fast-paced new thriller
, Blood Line
, international enemies want a lovable family with a heroic past, dead, right now! Their teenage daughter knows nothing of her parents’ work as professional spies, but quickly finds herself fleeing the comfort and safety of her world on an explosive flight for survival, with new dangers at every turn. She begins to learn the truth about her parents and joins them in discovering which among their international enemies wants them dead.
is compelling, with accelerating pace, surprising twists and a spectacular ending—readers will be eager for the sequel, coming soon!”
—Alan Rinzler, Consulting Editor
s psychology is exquisitely wrought, its action is elegantly played out against the backdrop of political and criminal forces, and its ultimate results are satisfyingly unpredictable.
Add a surprise conclusion that skillfully ends the saga while leaving the door open for future developments and the end result is a thriller that proves haunting and unique, recommended for even the most seasoned thriller genre reader.”
—D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Reviews
is a quiet little gem of genius. I love espionage novels and I have read a lot of them, but I can assure you that I have never read a novel where the world of espionage is so smoothly blended with ordinary American family life. The genius of John J. Davis is that both facets of Ron and Valerie’s characters are believable; the spy and the parent. Just as importantly for the reader, this family is very, very likable
5 out of 5 Stars
—Ray Simmons for Reader’s Favorite
“Rich character back stories make this spy thriller an entertaining read. Fans of spy novels and series will enjoy this energetic and entertaining story of a family of spies.”
—Paige Van De Winkle for Foreword Clarion Reviews
SIMON & WINTER INC.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 by John J. Davis
All rights reserved, including the right to reproducethis book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014909579
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing, 2014
Rebekah, you make all things seem possible.
Alan, you saw possibility and helped make it reality.
Thank you, Dr. Valencia.
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The sudden explosion of breaking glass and splintering wood reverberated inside the house like a clap of thunder. I was awake instantly, and the rush of adrenaline coursing through my veins propelled me out of the bed and into action.
“Valerie!” I yelled at my wife, who was already leaping out of the other side of the bed. “That should’ve set off the alarm.”
She was rounding the end of our bed just as I flipped on the overhead lights and opened the door of our room. There was someone in the hallway, but the beam from a high-powered LED flashlight blinded my eyes before I could look away.
I heard a voice.
“Back the fuck up! Keep your hands where I can see them.”
I felt the round end of a small pistol barrel poke me in the chest before I could blink my eyes and begin to see the revolver in one hand, the flashlight in the other.
“Both of you back up, hands in the air, and stay right where you are.”
I raised my hands and backed up until I bumped against my bedside table. Then the guy swung the pistol and hit me in the face hard enough to get my attention, but not enough to hurt me.
He aimed his gun at Valerie again. “Not another step.”
My vision had recovered, so I could see the intruder was wearing a black ski mask, t-shirt, jeans and boots. He was about five feet seven inches, and thin, about 160 pounds, so I had a distinct size advantage, being six feet and 200 pounds. But he had the gun, a revolver of some kind. That was actually another plus for me since the hammer wasn’t cocked. Getting it ready to fire would take all the time I needed.
He started moving the gun in my direction again when I heard the scream.
It was Leecy.
“Valerie, there must be another one of them.”
I grabbed the man’s left wrist with such force the flashlight dropped to the floor and spun away. I knocked aside his right wrist with my left hand as he cocked the gun and fired, sending a bullet into the wall over my left shoulder. Letting go of his left wrist, I turned into him with my back, grabbed his weapon with both hands, and ripped it from his grip. I made a back left-handed throw of the gun to Valerie, who was leaping toward the door to Leecy’s bedroom. She caught the gun in the air as I landed a back left elbow to the intruder’s head, followed by a crushing right cross to his jaw, knocking him unconscious. I left the intruder falling to the floor and raced down the hall.
“Stop right there, lady,” I heard.
“Let her go,” she replied, very calmly and softly, “and I won’t kill you.”
I reached the end of the hall just as two shots slammed into the front door behind Valerie. I ducked back inside the cover of the hallway, but Valerie didn’t move and she didn’t return fire.
“Put the gun down and send my partner out here right now,” I heard the man say, “or this will get messy.”
I walked into the foyer with my hands raised in a sign of submission, but now he had two potential problems, and they weren’t in the same place.
“Your partner is incapacitated,” Val continued quietly, “and if you don’t drop your weapon, you’ll be dead.”
“I’ll shoot her if you don’t put your hands up and send your man to bring my partner to me right now,” he countered.
Streams of moonlight filtered through the dark room from the shattered doors the two men had broken through, but I could see the man hiding behind Leecy holding a gun to her head.
“Last chance to leave here alive.”
He’d backed up as far as he could go, pulling Leecy with him to make his escape.
The bullet struck him in the center of his forehead, making a small black hole and propelling him up and back. The look on his face was that of a man realizing his mistake.
Leecy raced away from the dead man as Val dropped the weapon and stood next to me. The entire incident was over in minutes, but it didn’t feel that way to me. I was drained. I was sweating profusely and my hands were shaking. Maybe it was my age; at forty-six, I wasn’t as young a man as when I started in this business, even though I didn’t think of myself as an old man. But that wasn’t all of it. Now that I had a wife and daughter, I had something to lose.
I hugged Val and Leecy. I held my wife and felt her calming presence wash over me. As we both embraced our child, I thanked whatever gods there might be that my two girls were safe.
“What the heck just happened?” Leecy asked from the safety of the hug we had her sandwiched in.
“Home invasion,” Valerie answered. “We need to call Lester and get him out here.”
“I’ll phone the station from the bedroom,” I said, “and check on the guy back there while I’m at it.”
“Yeah, okay, so you say it’s a home invasion,” Leecy went on, “but don’t most invaders steal your stuff and not try to kidnap you?”
I was back in our bedroom, stepping over the limp body of the first guy, but could still hear Leecy’s voice.
“And Mom….you…uh…just killed someone.”
“I know, dear, but…”
“It was a lucky shot.”
“Lucky shot?” Leecy wasn’t satisfied, obviously. “That’s not my point.”
I was so relieved we were all okay that it hadn’t occurred to me that Leecy’s questions would have to be answered. And not just to her satisfaction: we’d have to answer similar questions by the police, and if this incident were classified as more than just a home invasion, we’d be in danger of generating a lot of unwanted attention.
I dialed our local police station and was relieved to hear the woman’s voice on the other end.
“Elizabeth. This is Ron Granger.”
“Hi, Ron. Why are you calling the police station at five minutes after four in the morning? Is everyone all right?”
Elizabeth Williams was the pregnant wife of Park City, Georgia’s soon-to-be Chief of Police and current Captain, Lester Williams. Lester had been performing the job of Chief for the past two years. Everyone felt the current Chief’s retirement was imminent this time, especially Elizabeth who ran the front desk and just about everything else at the station.
It was Val who first met Elizabeth and Lester when they both were working grunt jobs at her brothers’ family business, INESCO. She’d encouraged them to go to the police academy in Atlanta and get the better jobs they now had on the local police force.
“Yes, we’re all fine. We just had a little break-in here at the house and need Lester or whomever is on duty to come out and take a look,” I said. “We’ve got one dead intruder and one that needs medical attention.”
“Dead intruder? My goodness!” She said. “Sounds like those folks picked the wrong house to break into this morning. Are you sure everybody is okay?” She didn’t wait for my response. “I’m going to tell the medics to take a look at all of you while they’re there.”
I thought about protesting but knew it would be useless, so I just said, “Thank you, Elizabeth,” and added, “I hope you are feeling better. I know from talking with Lester last week the past few months have been difficult for you.”
“I’m feeling just fine, thank you. Lester is on his way. I’ve got to call the coroner and the paramedics. Now hang up, Ron.”
Elizabeth was a take-charge lady, no doubt about it.
I hung up the phone and laughed at my instinctive southern desire to be polite at a time like this. Val and Leecy were coming toward me down the hall.
“Get dressed, kiddo, and meet me in the kitchen.”
“Okay, Dad. Hey Mom, I’m not finished with you.”
I pulled off the unconscious man’s belt and secured his arms behind his back to the foot of the four-post bed and then joined Val where she was in the bathroom stripping off her nightshirt and pulling on her jeans.
“Leecy has a million questions, and I don’t have the answers for her.”
“You’ve got the answers,” I said. “You just don’t want to tell her what they are, and neither do I, not yet. For one thing, we have to find out who these guys are and what they really wanted here.”
“It could be something we did five or ten years ago that’s finally catching up with us…”
“Right…for revenge, retaliation…” I agreed. “A lot of our enemies would definitely like to hurt us, but I’m betting they still don’t know for sure who we really are. All they could possibly have is maybe our code names, or whispers, rumors, and vague, mixed-up descriptions that don’t even match how we really look.”
“And Ron,” Val went on, “if our old enemies did know who and where we were, they’d come in greater numbers, more heavily armed and better prepared.”
We stood silent for a moment, looking at each other.
“We’ve been out of action for many years now,” I finally said, with a smile. “This could be exactly what it seems to be – just a couple of punks who broke into the wrong house.”
“I doubt it,” Val said. “Someone could even be thinking they could leverage taking Leecy to get us to work for them.”
“What a terrible thought. Don’t even go there.”
“We have to consider everything.”
“I don’t know about that,” I tried to reassure her, “but we’ve definitely reached the point where we have to tell our daughter a bit more about what we’ve done for a living.”
“What if Lester and his boys don’t treat this like a break-in, but handle it like an attempted kidnapping?” Val asked. “The FBI will roll into town with their usual resources, and they have the clearance to find out whatever they want to know.”
“Well, honey,” I pulled her towards me for a kind of sideways hug, awkward in the small space of the bathroom, “we’ve put off this conversation long enough. Leecy’s not a little girl anymore.”
“Don’t say that, Ron,” Val protested. “She’s still my baby…”
“And,” I continued, “maybe the one positive thing out of tonight’s events is that we have to tell her now.”
“What would my Grandma Leona do?”
“She’d say you need to tell Leecy about our past and your family’s history the way she told you about her past and the legacy she created. I promise,” I said, and I pulled her to me again and hugged her tight.
“You may be right, Ron, but it’s not something you can do for me.”
“So let me figure out how to do it myself.”
I let her go and opened the bathroom door. The sound of approaching sirens hurried me along.
“The police are almost here everybody.”
I turned toward the front door when I heard Leecy’s voice coming from in front of me and not behind as I had expected. “Coffee’s ready,” she announced.
“I’m on my way,” I said. Maybe we worried too much. Leecy really was a young woman now and she deserved to be treated like one.
The sirens got a lot closer, and I heard several cars entering our driveway. Red and blue police cruiser strobe lights danced across our front windows with the orange and red lights of the ambulance.
“I’m going outside to talk to Lester. You and mom stay in the house. Stay in the kitchen, okay?”I heard her say, “Okay, Dad,” as I opened the front door and walked outside.
Captain Lester Williams climbed out of his patrol car, greeting me. “Hey, Ron; sorry to be here under these circumstances. You all okay?”
“Yes, we’re just fine, all things considered.” I shook his hand.
I could see other officers working at the trunks of their cruisers, and the paramedics were offloading a stretcher. The coroner wagon was just arriving.
“Tell me what happened.”
I noticed one officer had a handful of clear plastic evidence bags, and another was carrying an empty cardboard box marked “Evidence, Granger House, Friday, June 21st, 2013.”
“This won’t be the official statement since that will come later; just give me the headlines,” Lester said before I could start telling him what happened.
I told a sanitized version, with as few details as possible.
“These two robbers broke in and tried to rip us off. Real lunk-heads. It all happened so fast I really can’t remember, but I got the upper hand on one, and Valerie was able to shoot the other. A miracle shot really. It’s amazing we weren’t hurt.”
“What?” Lester interrupted.
“No joke. Kind of like the crazy shot that killed Kennedy. And when that happened I was able to jump on the other guy and tie him up. He’s still unconscious inside, last I saw him.”
“Okay….” Lester stood still without saying anything for a while.
“All right; good enough for now. Where are Leecy and Valerie?”
“Inside in the kitchen. Do you want to see them?”
“Not right now. I need to have my guys work the scene. We need to collect evidence, take pictures, remove the body, and get the other guy to the hospital in case he sustained any injuries when you jumped on him.”
“I can tell you right now, Ron, it seems to me this incident falls under the protections afforded a homeowner by Georgia’s Castle Law, and that you’ve conducted yourselves in accordance with the law.”
“Thanks for the reassurance, Lester. Of course, Val and Leecy are real shook up about this.”
“Let’s go inside, then.”
Lester and I started into the living room and made our way to the kitchen, where Leecy was huddled close to her mother. I could see the adrenaline was wearing off and she was beginning to feel the full weight of what happened to her. Lester noticed, too.
“Larry, Murphy,” he said as he keyed his radio, “can you guys check out the Grangers while I work the crime scene?”
Two men pushed a stretcher into the room. One of them lifted a large orange medical kit off of the stretcher and placed it on the kitchen floor.
“I’m Larry,” the tall, thin, blonde paramedic said.
“And I’m Murphy,” the shorter, more muscular, black haired paramedic said.
“Looks like the young lady is up first,” Larry said as he opened his medical kit, removing a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. I watched and listened as he and Murphy checked Leecy’s vitals.
“High, but within normal range, given the circumstances.”
Lester came back into the room, brow furrowed. “Murphy, I need you to bring your stuff. The guy back in the bedroom is coming around. What did you hit him with, Ron, a baseball bat? I thought you said you jumped on the guy.”
“Did you find one?” I regretted the words as they were coming out of my mouth and immediately said, “I’m sorry. I’m just a little rattled. No, I didn’t hit him with anything like that. I may have gotten a punch or two in during the struggle. I don’t know. It all happened so fast.”