Ridge Creek Reunited (Ridge Creek Duology)

BOOK: Ridge Creek Reunited (Ridge Creek Duology)
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Ridge Creek Reunited

C L Green

Published by C L Green
at Kindle

 

Discover other titles by C L Green:

 

Ridge Creek Duology

Ridge Creek

Ridge Creek Reunited

 

Standalone titles

Natural Attraction

 

Copyright 2014 C L Green

 

ISBN-10: 0987552481

ISBN-13:
978-0-98755248-8

 

Front cover image © Mariusz Blach / 123RF

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locals, or persons, living or dead is coincidental.

 

Kindle Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Amazon.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

*****

De
dication

 

Happy Birthday Dad, this one’s for you.

*****

C
hapter One

Vincent Altieri

 

Emma…

My mind racing as I slam Mazz through her gears and race along the thin bitumen road towards Jake’s house.

This is all my fault!

If only I’d taken an extra split second to look at the time first. If only I’d realized it was after three in the morning. If only I had not have been stupid enough to wake them and put them both in danger.

God damn my crazy hyperactive mind
. Sometimes it’s a blessing, sometimes it’s a curse.

Tonight it was a curse. Fuelled by an unhealthy amount of Redbull, I o
nce again lost track of time.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The news I had for Jake was good. It was news that I’d finally found something to lever Altieri with. Something that would likely keep him at arms-length and divert his attention away from both Jake’s and Arianna’s lives.

Th
e news however, was
not
so good that it was worth anyone dying for. I could have kept it to myself for a few more hours, but
no,
I couldn’t wait.

Again, stupid, stupid, stupid!

And now we’re all paying the price for my stupidity just because I couldn’t wait to tell Jake I’d discovered something during my investigations. Something that Altieri was working hard to keep private. Something that meant far more to him than just business.

My discovery was that
Altieri had not one, but
two
wives. And with these two wives, he had
lots
of children. Lots of children to demonstrate that Vincent Altieri was a family man and he loved his family.

This ordinarily would not be big news. It was big news for us however in that I also found that Vincent Altieri was
currently
married to both wives. Which means that Vincent Altieri is a very naughty
man
.

Digging deeper I tracked signatures on both marriage certificates and soon discovered that he married both times using
the same celebrant.

Interesting.

A couple of calls later I also discovered that this same celebrant was not impartial to chatting to a nice young lady over the phone once a large
whack
of money landed in his personal savings account.

This chat revealed that Altieri’s two wives had absolutely no idea that each other existed. It also revealed that these two wives lived large. This meant it was costing him a packet to keep them both happy. Which
also meant he needed money,
lots
of money, to keep them both happy and at opposite ends of Melbourne town.

Needing bucketloads of
money to keep two wives happy
and
unaware of each other, Arianna’s cash cow website had been his dream come true. She’d doubled his normal takings in a matter of weeks and for the first time in a
very
long time, Vincent Altieri had been sleeping peacefully thinking he had his shit sorted.

Then suddenly it was all gone again and he was
not a happy man. Clearly asshole Tony knew he had a big problem the moment he walked in the door and Arianna announced she’d canned the site. An unhappy Altieri meant
bad things
were going to happen and he’d be right in the middle of them. Which sent him over the edge and… well enough said.

This is
also where it got interesting. Somehow Tony then managed to talk Altieri round and smooth their relationship over. Tony did this by announcing Arianna was dead (dealt with) and he had another contact who could rebuild his site (enter Ms. Doggie On The Couch hacker friend). Altieri, appeased for the short-term was willing to wait while the ordering system came back online.

Then Tony turned up dead.

With Tony dead and no idea who Ms. Doggie On The Couch was, Altieri once again accepted that he would have to revert to old style business and restless nights. That was, until a few days ago when a phone call out of the blue had him all fired up again.

This phone call came from a medium level pot dealer, who by marriage was distantly related to one of Altieri’s bigmouthed cousins. This bigmouthed cousin had filled him in on Altieri’s problems over a few beers at a family barbeque the day before. This pot dealer couldn’t believe his luck when fate appeared to hand him a winning Lotto ticket. While having a few beers out the back of a Harley shop in New South Wales
the very next day
, he stuck his hand out to grab the elbow of a woman as she stumbled while passing nearby to him. Straightening before him, she’d squeezed her eyes shut just long enough that her contact lenses had slipped and he’d caught a glimpse of cornflower blue eyes. Cornflower blue eyes that he’d seen all over the television just a couple of weeks before. Cornflower blue eyes that he knew were worth a
lot
to Vincent Altieri if the gossip he’d heard was true.

And so I now have my point and case of why we should be running background checks on every single person that Jake and Zane deal with. We should have known the linkage between this pot dealer and Altieri before he set foot out the back of the Harley shop. We should have known to keep Ari
out of his sight.

And I also have my point and case on why I should
not
have called Jake in the middle of the night and woke him up to tell him all this. It was stupid and now I regret it.

Big time.

If I’d have realized it was so late, I would have left the call till morning. Actions always play out differently in the daylight. Reflexes are faster when people are fully awake and functioning properly. Jake would have been alert, he may have even been carrying a gun. Alert and armed, the odds were more likely to have tipped his way.

Goddamit.

This is bad, bad, bad. Waking Jake up had meant waking Pierre up. Pierre waking up meant Pierre needed an emergency trip outside before he disgraced himself on Jake’s polished timber floor. Jake was rushing to get him outside. Jake was trying not to spill his coffee and was distracted by my ramblings on the phone. He was also distracted by a desperate to relieve himself Pierre.

All distractions resulting from
my
middle of the night phone call. I should have been thinking more to Arianna’s safety than I was to my own excitement at having found one of Vincent Altieri’s weaknesses.

Arianna has
been through enough.

As a best friend, I suck. Three days into officially providing her security detail and she’s right back where she started. Being transported to God Knows Where by God Knows Who
, to a future of God Knows What.

Fuck.

In one foul swoop it’s all gone bad. So bad that maybe I’d be more useful to folks if I ripped this Goddamned steering wheel hard left and hit one of those monster trees on the roadside. Took myself out of the equation. I’m not much value to anyone the way I am.

This is once again, the story of my life. I can
never
quite cut it. I’m always not quite good enough. I am forever, and always will be, the woman who doesn’t get shit quite right. I’ve been painfully aware of this all my life. Since I got my first less than perfect score on a math test at school. My father was
furious.
I can still remember his rebuking words,
“You can’t get it nearly right when you are operating on someone’s brain Emma. You need to get it perfect. You must show perfection in all you do. There is no room in our lives for small errors. A small error can be the difference between life-and-death.”

God, it kills me right now to admit he may have been right.

Thank the Heavens there are two big reasons for me not to take on those trees right now. The first - Jambo. I should have left him at home safe in his cage, but instead I brought him with me. I love that bird. He’s got
attitude.
Any creature with as much attitude as Jambo does not deserve to die. There’s also the fact that I think he loves me too and I’m sure the brave little guy would just stand up there on the dashboard and point heroically at the tree like a captain going down with his ship. He doesn’t deserve an end like that.

The second is of course Arianna. Well, really, she’s the first, but on priorities within the reach of my fingertips
right now
, Jambo wins. Arianna needs my help and at least I know she’s still alive. That goony looking, bald headed, ugly (ewww, let’s make that
real
ugly) thug may have given her a fair whack on the back of the head, but I saw her breathing. Thank you God for great technology. Great technology meant I managed to zoom the camera close in on Ari. Close enough to see her chest rising and falling when the asshole picked her up off the ground.

After that, ugly guy and the man with the gun appeared to be arguing. What the hell was with that? I so wish I
’d have had sound.

Note to self:
Explore audio for all external cameras.

Oh, and then there’s Jake. Probably an extremely good reason number three. That’s if he’s still alive
and
if he’s still talking to me. Surely he’s going to blame me for all this? I was the one who woke him up in the middle of the night and by default, sent him outside. If both he and Arianna were still asleep in bed, their attackers would have had to go in after them. Then the alarm system would have kicked in.

God damn it!

I suppose I should at least be thankful that Jake agreed to let me have those cameras installed in and around the house. It is only because of the cameras that I know what happened. I saw the whole play. Like a train wreck, it all unfolded before my eyes. As I sat there on the phone tinkering with the software that linked all the camera feeds up, I happened to see the movement behind Jake.

Unfortunately for Jake however, I didn’t see the movement
soon enough.

By the time I saw the
two men, they were right behind him. Which, another
note to self
, means I need to talk to Jake and Zane about having
full-time
people watching those camera feeds. Clearly my efforts to cast an eye over them now and then will not cut it. Considering we plan to install cameras on all the Greenhouses, the Harley shop and any homes of interest, it’s going to be a
big
job. We will need eyes on screens twenty-four, seven.

Of course I don’t know why I am even making notes to
myself
when there are bigger dramas afoot. Jake could be
dead
for all I know and then he won’t need
any
cameras, anymore.

Please let him be alive
!

It all went so fast. The whole damned scene. One minute I’m ranting and raving excitedly in Jake’s ear about my discovery and the next he’s got two men standing behind him and one’s about to whack him over the back of the head.

I yelled to warn him. He dropped his coffee. Pierre freaked out and took off into the trees. Jake swung and punched the very, very ugly bald guy in the face and he went down. He then swung and hit the older guy in the stomach. The older guy buckled over in the middle but didn’t go down. I wish he had because it didn’t take him long to recover from the blow. Which also meant it didn’t take him long to pull the gun from the back of his pants.

The part I don’t understand is what Jake did after he stomach punched the older guy. He turned and
ran for the shed.
Why’d he do that?

To draw them away from Arianna?

It was a bad move.

The shed was too far away and it took too long. He should have run back towards the house. It was closer. He should have run inside. If he had
’ve run back towards the house, the older guy might not have had enough time to recover and pull out his gun.

But this is where it got even weirder. The older guy
did not
shoot. He just watched Jake running without doing anything. It was the ugly bastard on the ground that ended up shooting Jake. He pulled his gun while he was still lying on the ground and took a shot at him.

Goddamit, he shot Jake.

Well I think he shot Jake. I think this because Jake was nearly through the sliding door when I saw his whole body jolt on the screen before me. I also heard the loud bang through his phone as it laid on the ground discarded during his fight. Jake didn’t stop though, he managed to continue on into the shed. That’s when two
more
men appeared and they followed him inside. From there, I don’t know what happened to Jake.

He never came out.

It was at that point that I panicked for a few seconds and then yelled for Zane. Zane sensed the urgency in my voice and came flying into the room within seconds. While I’d explained what was going on, valuable minutes had passed. Zane told me to ring Luke and Towball. I did. Again, more valuable minutes passed. It was only after all these valuable minutes had passed that I realized the one person I
most
needed to ring, I hadn’t.

BOOK: Ridge Creek Reunited (Ridge Creek Duology)
2.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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