BLACK ROCK GUARDIAN #4
Apache Protectors: Wolf Den
A riveting new series comes to a thrilling conclusion…
When you play both sides...there's always a price
Ty Redhorse is tied to both sides of the law. Now he's caught between the tribe's gang and his cop brother--and the FBI wants him to choose. Complicating the stakes is Beth Hoosay, the stunning FBI agent who always follows the rules...except when it comes to their sizzling attraction. But how long can Ty play this dangerous game before he gets caught in the cross fire?
Excerpt from BLACK ROCK GUARDIAN - Apache Protectors: Wolf Den
At the sound of tires crunching on the gravel drive, Ty Redhorse glanced up from beneath the hood of the `76 Cadillac Eldorado to see two cop cars pull before the open bay of his garage. His heart sank as he straightened and came to attention, as if he was still in the US Marines. The tribal police vehicles rolled to a stop. Trouble, he thought, arriving on his doorstep.
They only had six men on the Turquoise Canyon force, and two of them were here at his shop. That did not bode well, and the fact that one of them was his younger brother only made things worse. He and Jake rarely spoke and when they did it usually ended badly. But Jake had been by yesterday and Ty had been touched to see how relieved Jakey was to see him alive and well. Small wonder after what Ty had been through.
Hemi, Ty’s dog, had been even happier, showing her unrestrained joy at finding him again. Jake had Hemi out searching and she tracked him, but by then he’d already made it home to the rez and to Kee, who stitched him up. Wasn’t easy because he’d lost a lot of blood.
Jake cast him a worried look and glanced at Ty’s shoulder as he put his unit in Park. Clearly Kee had told him about the injury. Ty inclined his chin at Jake.
The little brother Ty had helped raise, and protect from the gang, had turned out fine. The late-day sun of an ordinary Friday afternoon in late October gilded Jake’s skin, and the uniform gave him an air of respectability. Ty smiled, unable to resist indulging in the pride that rose in his chest as Jake inside his SUV.
The big man stepped from his police unit. That was Jack Bear Den, the tribe’s only detective, since they’d rescinded the offer to hire detective Ava Hood. Now, there was a woman after his heart, breaking the law to get her niece back. Yes, her career had imploded, but Ty would bet she didn’t regret a thing.
Bear Den took charge of the most important cases on the rez. And he was here. Ty’s eyes narrowed. Not good.
“Hello, Ty,” said Bear Den, extending his paw of a hand.
Ty glanced at the rag he held, knowing he could use it to wipe away the worst of the motor oil, but opted against it. He accepted Jack’s hand and watched as realization dawned. Bear Den’s clean palm was now slick with filthy brown motor oil. Ty’s smile brightened. The day was looking up.
“This is a surprise. You boys need an oil change?” asked Ty.
Jack shook his head.
“Search my shop?” He motioned to the interior.
It wasn’t really a joke. They’d done it before. But Ty’s days of running a chop shop were over. He had mediated a position that allowed him to exist on the fringe of the tribe’s gang, the Wolf Posse, which had helped him when no one else would. All that had changed when each of his brothers needed his help. Getting that help had been costly. And one, two, three, the gang had him again. Favors did not come free.
He was caught.
Bear Den held his smile as he kept his right hand well away from his spotless clothing.
“It’s clean,” said Ty, indicating the Cadillac with its hood up. “Even have the paperwork.”
“I believe you,” said the detective. “I saw the car you restored for the chief’s boy, Gus. The detailing is amazing.”
Ty’s eyes narrowed at the flattery.
Jake was now making his way over. He, at least, knew not to block the bay doors with his vehicle. His little brother had the look of a man who wished to be anywhere but where he was. He came to a stop two steps behind the detective, making it clear who was in charge. Ty’s gaze flicked to Jake’s and he read stress in his brother’s wrinkled brow. Jake did not think this would go well. Ty flicked his focus back to Bear Den.
“What can I do for the boys in blue?” Ty’s hand went to his forearm and he rubbed his thumb over his skin where his gang tattoo sat below the one of the marine emblem that he’d had done when in the United States Marine Corps. When he realized what he was doing, he forced his hand to his side. The grease covered most of the ink anyway.
“We’re here about our missing girls,” said Bear Den.
Ty knew about the missing teenagers. Suspected he knew far more than Detective Bear Den.
Police had a crime, they needed a suspect. So what crime was Jack Bear Den interested in pinning on him?
“When you getting married to that Fed, Jack?” asked Ty, changing the subject and using the detective’s first name with the desired result. Bear Den’s face flushed. “She’s an explosives expert, right? Should make life interesting.”
Bear Den did not take the bait, but he shifted from one foot to the other. Ty had him off balance.
Bear Den glanced to Jake, who stepped alongside his superior, hands on hips, as if he even had the least control of his oldest brother. Jake had two years of community college and had passed the test and joined the force right after graduation. But he’d never joined the Marine Corps or seen the kind of horrors both Ty and his youngest brother, Colt, had witnessed. Thank God.
Maybe that was why Jake felt comfortable with a gun strapped to his hip while Ty had had his fill of them in the marines.
To Jake there was right and there was wrong. That must be so comforting, not to be bothered with all those shades of gray. But who had Jake called when he realized that little white newborn he had already fallen in love with was in danger? Not the tribal police force.
“We have reason to believe that the Wolf Posse is responsible for the selection of the women that the Russian mob is targeting,” said Bear Den. “Our women.”
“Girls, wouldn’t you say?” said Ty. “What I hear, not one is over nineteen and Maggie Kesselman’s only fourteen. Right?”
Ty folded his arms, the grease on his palms sliding easily around his formidable biceps.
“You didn’t deny gang involvement,” said Bear Den.
“What tipped you off, Minnie Cobb attacking the health clinic, or Earle Glass trying to snatch Kacey Doka back?” Ty asked, naming the two gang members now in custody. The gang had already written them off, so no risk of revealing new information there. “Or maybe it was my big brother, Kee, helping you find that kidnapped detective on loan. What was her name? Detective Hood, right? Way I hear it, Kee has a new girlfriend and you got a new dispatcher. How does Carol Dorset feel about that?” he asked, mentioning the woman who had held the position since before Ty was born.
Bear Den scowled and his gaze shifted to Ty’s injured shoulder.
Ty resisted the urge to test the stitches. Kee had put them in himself two days ago after Ty managed to make it the twenty odd miles from Antelope Lake to the rez. Once he was back on tribal land, the Feds could not touch him. So they’d sent Bear Den to rattle his cage.
Ty gave in and scratched his left shoulder. The stitches were beginning to itch.
Jake’s face flushed and he pressed his lips between his teeth, clearly unhappy to be placed between his idol and his embarrassment of a brother. His worried expression, as he braced for what Ty would do next, just burned Ty up. Afraid he’d have to arrest him, probably. Ty would like to see him try.
His brother seemed to have put on weight since he’d married Lori Mott, but Ty knew he could still take him because Jake and Kee both fought fair, while he and his youngest brother, Colt, fought to win.
“So, you boys have any idea what will happen to me if one of the Wolf Posse drives by and sees two cop cars parked at my shop?” asked Ty.
“I’d imagine it would be easier to explain than if I haul your ass into the station as an accessory to kidnapping,” said Bear Den.
Bear Den was talking about Ty transporting Colt’s girl, Kacey, off the rez and back to her captors two and a half weeks ago. Not kidnapping, but darn close, and he was sure the tribal police would not appreciate the subtle differences. He was in serious risk of the tribe bringing charges against him, possibly turning the case over to the attorney general, and Bear Den was all for that.
“Shouldn’t you be chasing the guys that blew up our dam?” asked Ty.
Bear Den’s mouth quirked. “I’m multitasking. Now, you want to talk to us here or there?”
Ty faced off against the big man. He knew he could not take Bear Den in a fair fight, but he had a length of pipe just inside the open bay door. “What do you want, exactly?”
“Just some help,” said Jake, standing with palms out. “These are our girls that they’re taking. We want them back.”
Ty had no objections to that. He just didn’t want to stop breathing because of it. “What’s that got to do with me?”
Bear Den took over again. His hair was growing out and it curled like a pig’s tail at his temples. Ty wondered again just who had fathered this monster of a man. Certainly not Mr. Bear Den, who was big but not supersized.
“No secret you’re in the Posse.” Bear Den pointed to the grease-smeared tattoo of four feathers forming a W for wolf on Ty’s forearm. The gang was an all-Native branch of the Three Kings, wore the yellow and black colors of that group and had adopted an indigenous symbol that resembled the crown worn by the Kings while representing their Native culture.
“No such thing,” said Bear Den.
True enough. A better word would have been inactive. He knew more than he would like and less than he used to, which was still too much. And he owed favors. Way too many favors.
Ty no longer did their dirty work, but he looked the other way. Kept their cars running smoother and faster than law-enforcement vehicles and drove the occasional errand. He did what was necessary. There was just no other way to survive in a brotherhood of wolves.
“We need to know how they choose the targets, if they have targeted anyone else and where the missing are being held.”
Ty could never find out that last one because the gang only snatched and delivered. They did not store the taken. That was the Kuznetsov crime family, a Russian mob that dealt in women the way a farmer deals in livestock. Buy. Sell. Breed. And they were just one of many. The outer thread of a network that stretched around the world.
“Is that all?” asked Ty, and smirked.
Bear Den’s frown deepened. The man was aching to arrest him, but the tribal council had voted against turning Ty over to the Feds after the incident with Kacey Doka because her statement included that she had wished to be returned to her captors and that she accepted a ride from Ty. In other words, no coercion or capture, so not kidnapping. Ty suspected the fact that he was walking around free burned the detective’s butt.
“That would do it,” said Bear Den.
Ty leaned back against the grill of the Caddy and folded his arms, throwing up the first barricade. “I don’t know if they have more targets. I don’t know where the missing are being held and I don’t know how they choose.”
“But you could find out,” said Jake.
Ty gave his brother a look of regret.
“Help them, like you helped me,” whispered Jake as he extended his right hand, reaching out to his big brother from across a gap too wide for either of them to cross.
“You’re family, Jakey. It’s different.” He thrust a hand into his jeans, feeling the paper with the address of the meet in his pocket. Ty rubbed the note between his thumb and index finger. “Listen, guys, I have a nice honest business here. So how about this, how about you do your job instead of asking me to do it?”
Bear Den glanced at his garage and the car beyond the Caddy.
“It’s all legit, Bear Den. You can’t get to me that way.”
Bear Den snorted like a bull. “If they ask you for details on our investigation, could you feed them some false information?”
“They kill people for that.”
Judging from his expression, that eventuality did not seem to bother the detective in the least.
“Bear Den, your police force arrested me and you did everything you could to get the tribe to turn me over to the Feds. I owe you, but not a favor.”
“You threatening me?” asked the detective.
“That would be illegal. I am telling you, nicely, to piss off.”
“We’d like you to meet someone,” said Jake.
“She’s FBI,” said Jake.
Ty laughed. “Oh, then let me rephrase. Not happening, ever.”
Excerpt BLACK ROCK GUARDIAN ©2018 – Jenna Kernan