***WARNING: The following contains SPOILERS for those who haven't finished reading "War Angel." If you fall into that category, stop reading or continue at your own peril.***
Welcome back to the blog people. Apologies for my absence. I've been losing sleep and working hard trying to finish "War Angel II" before the New Year. (I know...it seems like I've been saying that FOREVER.) I promise that I'm very close to the finish line. In the meantime, I've decided to share an important excerpt from the book with you. Some of the old threats from the first book have been killed or murdered at this point in Lenox and Jahaira's saga. However, that absolutely does not mean that your favorite lovers are safe or that the chess game that began in the first book does not continue with new pieces on the board. I now introduce you to a man who might just play a very important part in how this all plays out before the end. Enjoy and feel free to leave comments or feedback. There's also a link at the end for you to pre-order copies of "War Angel II: Where Angels Fear to Tread" if you haven't done so already.
CHAPTER 9 – ENTER the mysterious WALTER BRICKMAN
Paulo put a cigar between his lips as he watched the car drive away, even though grey clouds had darkened the skies as a harbinger of hard rain. Hidden under his colorful button-up shirt with the tacky tropical print, in the waist of his khaki slacks, was the skull-handled knife that he someday planned to slowly carve out Lenox’s heart from his chest with. Curiosity had gotten the better of him that day and its reckless influence had been strong enough to make him get close enough to gaze into the eyes of his enemy. Wise prudence made him maintain his distance, despite the temptation to act in haste before time. His bloodthirsty twin sisters had no idea how badly he wanted the same thing that they did but, for his plans to come to fruition, he held those urges at bay. He looked at the ground as he fumbled in his pockets for his tiny box of wooden matches.
“One of these days you’re going to have to teach me that trick,” said Paulo as a man in a sharp black suit and grey fedora lit his cigar with the matches he had been searching for.
“The one where I pick your pocket or the one where I sneak right up on you?” the man in black asked. His voice was harsh and grainy, like a heavy stone being dragged across gravel.
“Both would be nice,” Paulo answered before he took the first pull of smoke from his stinky cigar. “How are you Mr. Brickman? You’re looking spry,” he said after he exhaled and blew smoke in the man’s face.
“I’m fine and after all this time, you don’t have to be so formal young man. You can call me Walter,” the man answered, handing Paulo the matches he had masterfully lifted off him.
“Eh, I prefer Mr. Brickman. I mean, we aren’t really friends now are we. Familiarity breeds contempt as they say,” said Paulo as he winked.
“Of course we’re friends, even though, I would have to say that you have very bad manners,” Brickman answered.
“Really? How have I offended you?”
“It’s very, very rude to show up in someone’s home uninvited,” Walter Brickman told him. His expression was grim as he straightened his bright, red tie and stared into Paulo’s grey eyes.
“I haven’t done any such thing,” Paulo protested.
“Oh, you think I’m referring to the young man that you were following…the one who just drove away? No, you haven’t shown up at his house uninvited, at least not yet but I bet you plan to. However, I wasn’t talking about him.”
“So who then?” Paulo asked.
“I consider every building, every block and every street here my home. This city is mine and I don’t remember inviting you.”
“I’m just visiting,” Paulo answered.
“Good. When are you leaving?” Brickman asked.
“I hope sooner than a week.”
“Threatening me?” Paulo asked fearlessly for show but slightly nervous in his heart.
“Just suggesting that you would have a much better summer back in Florida. I’ve heard that the beaches are gorgeous.”
“That they are but I’m tired of beaches. I like the buildings here,” Paulo answered with his eyes turned up at the man-made marvels that stretched towards the clouds like phallic symbols that were aroused by, and attracted to the skies above them.
“Better to relax with warm sand between your toes than to permanently nap underneath the cold dirt of a grave.”
“Can I assume that THAT was a threat?” Paulo asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes,” Walter Brickman answered coldly. “That was absolutely a threat…and you know me well enough to know that I don’t bluff.”
“I’m not here looking for trouble,” Paulo started to explain.
“But trouble tends to follow you like your shadow…and that blade stashed at your waist sort of sends a different message…at least to me it does.”
“This is a dangerous city. I carry it for protection.”
“Protection?” Brickman laughed. “Anyone in this city that values their life would be terrified of YOU if they knew what you are, like I know what you are.”
“I’m just here for a few days to take care of some old family business,” said Paulo.
“Any business that has anything to do with your family is most definitely bad business. Nothing good will come of it.”
There was an intense moment between the two men as they stared at each other, silently measuring how much of a threat they could potentially be to one another.
“Speaking of family, how’s my nephew?” Paulo asked, thumbing the smooth skull carved into the top of the handle of the blade at his waist.
“He’s fine…safe from the likes of you and yours,” Walter Brickman answered, sliding his jacket aside just enough to expose the black handle of his loaded sidearm.
“I bet Caesar would disagree,” said Paulo, slowly and wisely moving his hand away from the knife while maintaining intense eye-contact with Brickman.
“Too bad he’s no longer with us…which kind of makes his opinion irrelevant. Besides, he never knew about the boy so even if he wasn’t dead, your point is moot. What I REALLY wonder about is how he would feel if knew that you kept his bastard son a secret from him? I mean, I have to wonder why his own older brother, his familia, would do something like that?” Brickman asked. He wasn’t sure what Paulo’s endgame was or what mad schemes rattled around in the man’s brain but he planned to put a stop to them, no matter the cost.
“I did warn my little brother about slinging dick all over town,” answered Paulo.
“He should have listened,” said Brickman.
“So, how much did you pay the little slut to give up my brother’s only son to you?” Paulo asked with anger and disgust.
“Nothing at all. As soon as she gave birth, she wanted the child gone…off of her hands. For some reason she was terrified of your family. Crazy right? Go figure.”
“She was right to be. I haven’t run into her since I’ve been here. I wonder where she’s hiding?”
“She’s not here in the city anymore. I saw to it that she left safely and got herself far out of any of Caesar’s siblings’ reach. That was the bargain between your dead brother’s mistress and I. So, if that’s what you’re here for, the woman is long gone and your nephew is my adopted son now. There’s nothing here for you Paulo,” Brickman told him.
“Maybe not,” Paulo answered with the same slick grin that his brother had used to charm countless women right out of their panties.
“Take care of whatever business you have here and then leave before I decide to plant you in the concrete at the root of one of these skyscrapers that you admire so much.”
“I’ll be gone before you know it Mr. Brickman. Tell my nephew that his uncle loves him,” said Paulo as he turned and walked away just as it began to rain.
Walter Brickman spat into the street and watched his phlegm float with the rushing flow of rainwater in the gutter towards the sewer opening on the corner in the direction that Paulo had walked off in.