Short Cut by J. Gregory Smith (The Reluctant Hustler Book 2)
English | 2020 | Mystery/Thriller| ePUB | 2.9 MB
Kyle Logan wanted nothing more than a return to his normal life after his shady best friend, Ryan, was killed in a misadventure six months earlier. But Kyle can’t tell the rest of the world about what happened because the Philly Irish Mob would send hitmen. Instead, he is stuck covering for all his friend’s petty schemes.Ryan’s double life created a world where people trade favors to avoid legal obstacles. Now, people are turning to Kyle for everything from loans to insurance-denied cancer drugs. Kyle is mystified, with no idea how to help them.
When a colleague called Tom Thumb shows up and asks about preparations for a lucrative smuggling job called the “Mr. Beautiful Project,” Kyle realizes that Ryan meant to include him all along. With Tom’s help they crack the code to a treasure trove of Ryan’s resources: people, favors owed, and information.
Since Ryan’s last gambit got him killed and left Kyle cut to ribbons, Kyle is ready to pass on the “opportunity.” Unfortunately, a pair of hyper-violent mercenaries found out about the deal and will stop at nothing to take it for themselves. Even worse, they know how to find Kyle.
Now if he wants to survive, he and Tom have to complete the deal before the hired guns catch them.
He looked up and now I got a good look at his face. Purple crescents under his eyes spread beyond the frames of his shades. His lower lip was swollen and he winced when he smiled at me. Instead of answering me, he set to probing the cut his smile had reopened with the tip of his tongue. One of his front teeth was missing.
“Jeez, Beet. What the hell happened to you?”
“It’s my fault. Is Ryan here?” He looked at Rollie. “Are you Ryan’s daddy?” He waved a pasty arm as if shooing an insect. “No, he said his daddy was dead. Like mine. I wish he wasn’t.”
Rollie’s hard body language softened and he put the cordless drill down. “We were friends of Ryan’s … are friends,” Rollie corrected, but Beet didn’t catch the slip.
I jumped in. “You want to come inside? I think, uh, Ryan has some water or soda.”
“Thanks,” he said. “It hurts to stand up. Driving is okay, though.”
We led him inside.
Inside, Ryan’s place looked like a time capsule from our high school days. After his parents died, he’d left the house as it had been. The old furniture gathered dust and any framed pictures Rollie and I moved off the walls showed how faded the surrounding wallpaper had become.
He’d never really moved out. He’d worked with me at Delivergistics and both of us spent large chunks of time overseas, so he never got around to it. Even after his folks were gone, when I was back in town, he rarely let me inside the place. Or anyone else, it seemed.
“Will he be back soon?” Beet pressed. “The other guy gets mad real fast.”
“What guy?” Rollie said.
“The money guy. He was so nice before. Until I couldn’t pay.”
My heart sank. “Beet, what did you do?”
He looked up at me and I resisted an urge to wipe his face for him. I never had any kids, but I imagine that’s what the impulse might feel like. Except this “kid” was twenty-five or so.
“What was I supposed to do, Kyle? Ryan always helped before. He told me to go to you if he wasn’t around. You said no.”
The words hung in the air like an indictment. But something else had a bizarre yet familiar ring. “Wait. What, exactly, did Ryan say?” I tore off a square of paper towel and handed it to him.