Rogue Renegades (Rogue Trilogy), страница 1
Copyright 2014 Jade Dean
All rights reserved.
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Table of Contents
Abigail wandered through the market, staying a short distance behind her fellow tourists and the guide that led them. She’d been to Brazil several times before, but it had always been for work. This was the first time that she’d visited for pleasure. Not that she was having a particularly good time so far. The market was a haven for small pick pockets.
Children ran amok, getting under everyone’s feet as often as they could. Many were accomplished thieves and deftly stole the tourists’ wallets and purses without their knowledge. Abby had lost count of the amount of times a small hand had darted towards her handbag. She’d allowed a few dollars to be picked from her pockets, but she was savvy enough to keep a tight hold of the handbag itself.
“Stick together, please,” their guide called in heavily accented English. He flapped his hands at them to draw the stragglers back together. Most of her group consisted of retired couples in their sixties or seventies. They were far more trusting than she was and they’d be dismayed to discover that they’d lost some of their belongings when they checked their pockets and bags.
Abby watched in some amusement as more thieving little children swarmed over the group that she’d been travelling with for the past two days. One woman’s camera was stolen out of her bag and she wouldn’t become aware of the theft until she next went to take a photo.
Frowning in mild annoyance when an urchin made another grab for her purse, Abby smacked the kid’s hand away. His large brown eyes widened at being caught then he gave her a cheeky grin and darted into the crowd. She wondered why their guide had brought them to this remote village. A two hour drive away from Rio de Janeiro, the village was far off the beaten track. It was picturesque enough, if you liked ramshackle buildings and abject poverty. This wasn’t the kind of scenery she’d had in mind when she’d decided to take this trip. Bored and restless, she’d needed a break from Washington for a week. The stress of watching over her shoulder constantly was wearing her down. It was doubtful that she’d be discovered by the man she was running from here. After twelve months of being on the run, she finally had a chance to relax.
All thoughts of relaxation fled when several armed men stepped out from between two shabby buildings. It suddenly became clear why their guide had brought them to this particular village. More men appeared from the left and right, boxing her group into a trap. There were twelve in total, one for each of the tourists. All were grubby, stank of sweat and wore filthy clothing in the form of T-shirts and camouflage pants. All carried assault rifles and held them with a disturbing sense of familiarly.
Abby dropped back even further when she spotted the bandits. She quickly faded into the background and slipped into the trees as her tourist group was surrounded. Their guide made exaggerated noises of outrage when their belongings were ransacked and their valuables were taken. He was clearly involved in the operation and she wondered how many gullible tourists had been taken in by this scam before.
Intending to return to the bus before she herself could be robbed, she turned and saw two more armed men. Short and slim, they weren’t much taller than her and looked similar enough to be brothers. Adept at moving through the jungle quietly, they’d snuck up on her while her attention had been diverted. She mentally cursed herself for not being more alert. Was she already losing her skills after a year away from the job?
The pair moved with the stealthy grace of hunters as they closed in on her. Their dark eyes were flat, hungry and without compassion. She’d seen their kind many times before. Exchanging a glance, they silently decided what they were going to do with her. Their grins faltered and they came to a stop as she heard someone approaching from behind.
Whipping her head around, she saw a third man coming straight for her. He was a few inches taller than the other two men and had a far more muscular build. He met her eyes briefly then turned his attention to the bandits. In that short glance, she saw no sign that he wanted to rape or murder her and was momentarily thrown.
From the shifty way the brothers were looking anywhere but at her, they knew they were in the wrong. She stiffened when the third man’s arm cae around her from behind and a very masculine chest pressed up against her back. Hi forearm brushed the undersides of her breasts and her whole body tensed as she prepared to defend herself.
“She’s mine,” he said in Portuguese.
Sharing another look, the brothers nodded their reluctant acceptance of the situation. “Whatever you say, boss,” one said.
Both men were hardened criminals and they’d just meekly backed off without a word of protest. What sort of man had she just been captured by if he’d managed to cow these two so easily?
Ryan had been accepted into the group of Brazilian outlaws a year ago, but it had taken him a good six months to fully gain their trust. He’d worked his way up through the ranks and was now in charge of a team of bandits. He’d led the raid on the villagers and was pleased to see them doing a pretty convincing job of being terrified. Naturally, the townsfolk were all in on the trap that had been set for the tourists. To defy him and his men would only bring the small town trouble, so they had little choice but to go along with it.
This tour guide wasn’t the only one he had in his pocket. He had half a dozen men on his payroll that took foreigners to remote locations so they could be robbed. This group of tourists were Americans and most were retirement age. No harm would come to them while Ryan was in charge. They’d return to their hotels penniless, but without suffering from any injuries. Most were advised to only carry a small amount of cash with them during their day trips and to leave their passports in their hotel safe anyway. They could still continue their holiday, but would stay in the larger cities if they were smart.
These jobs usually went off without a hitch, but he knew straight away that this one was going to be different. He’d spotted a far younger female face amongst the crowd of tourists and sensed that trouble would shortly arise. Ryan had a feeling that she would be beautiful even without seeing her face clearly.
Two of his men also spied her and circled around her when she tried to hide in the trees. Unless he took steps to stop them, she would be carried away into the jungle to be repeatedly raped. When they were done with her, they’d cut her throat and would leave her to rot in the jungle. He’d seen this type of behavior before and had done his best to put a stop to it. Every now and then one of his men would relapse and he’d have to teach them a lesson. That lesson usually ended in their deaths.
Cursing beneath his breath, he strode over just in time to avert a disaster. Wr
“Join the others,” Ryan ordered his men then turned his captive around. Dark gray eyes stared up into his curiously rather than fearfully. As he’d suspected, she was gorgeous with high cheekbones, full lips and a lithe yet lush body hidden beneath a white blouse and khaki pants. Her long, wavy, dark brown hair had been pulled up into a neat ponytail. Did she even know what was happening to her? He doubted it, because if she’d known she was about to be kidnapped in broad daylight, she’d have been screaming and attempting to escape.
Abby studied the dirt streaked face of the gang leader and instantly saw that he wasn’t what he was pretending to be. The contact lenses that changed his eye color to dark brown were expensive and of high quality, but they weren’t invisible for someone who was trained to see them. Black wasn’t his normal hair color, either. It had been dyed recently and it was a shade too dark to be natural. He was just over six feet tall, which was a good six inches taller than her. His face was chiseled and so was the body beneath his filthy black T-shirt and camouflage cargo pants. Like the other two men, he was armed. An assault rifle was slung over one shoulder, a pistol was shoved down the front of his pants and a knife hung in a sheath at his belt.
“What do you want with me?” she asked him quietly.
“You’ve just landed neck deep in trouble,” he replied in English. Like her, he was American, but his accent didn’t give her any hints about where he’d originated from. “I’ve just claimed you, so that should keep you safe from my men. For now, at least.” Turning, he made sure none of his banditos were close. The two he’d sent to help the others were laughing and pointing towards them. One made a crude gesture that told the others what her fate was to be. “I have no choice but to take you with us now.”
He didn’t sound very happy about that and neither was Abby. Being kidnapped hadn’t been in her holiday plan. “Take me where?”
“Back to our base,” he said grimly and gripped her firmly by the upper arm. “Stay quiet and I’ll do my best to keep you safe.”
“Hey!” one of her fellow tourists yelled when the pair strode into view. “Release Abigail at once!” In his late seventies, he was far past his prime, but he stood in Ryan’s path to defend the girl anyway.
“Out of the way, old man,” Ryan snarled in an authentic Portuguese accent. “This does not concern you.”
“Where are you taking her?” the man’s wife wailed and attempted to grab hold of the younger woman.
Abby subtly twisted her wrist free as her captor yanked her after him. “I’ll be ok,” she tried to reassure the couple. They believed she was a legal secretary who had taken a holiday to Rio because her boyfriend had cheated on her. They all believed that she was trying to mend her broken heart. The truth was far stranger than that pitiful story, but she couldn’t tell anyone who she really was. To do so would end with her death or permanent incarceration if word filtered back to her former boss, Logan Matthews.
Ryan directed his men back to their vehicles that were parked on a rough dirt road behind the village. He pulled his prisoner into the cab of the lead truck and directed his usual driver to take a seat in the back with the others. Their journey would take an hour and he hoped to have a conversation with his prisoner in relative privacy during the drive. The men clambered into the back of the truck as he fired up the motor.
He waited until they’d left the small village behind before he addressed the girl. “What are you doing in Brazil?”
“My boyfriend cheated on me and I’m taking a holiday to mend my broken heart,” she responded almost by rote.
Sending her a skeptical look, Ryan turned his attention back to the badly rutted road that wound its way through dense jungle. “Nice try. Use a more believable story next time.”
“Why are you here?” she fired back. “Who are you working for? The CIA? DEA? Some other agency that has interests in this area?”
“I’m not working for anyone,” he said grimly.
Frowning, Abby wondered what the hell he was doing here then. She knew an agent on a mission when she saw one and this man wasn’t the bandit that he was pretending to be.
“What’s your name?” she asked him when the silence stretched on for too long.
“Ryan,” he replied then glanced at her. “You can’t call me that, of course. The men know me as Alejandro. It would be best if we didn’t talk at all when we reach the compound. You’ll have to do everything I tell you to without arguing or I’ll have to punish you in front of the men.” His lips pressed together and he shot her a warning look. “You wouldn’t like what I’d have to do to you.”
“Ok,” Abby said agreeably. “No talking back. Gotcha.” Obeying orders from a man that she didn’t know wasn’t something that came naturally to her. It would probably be best to go along with his plan in this particular situation. She wasn’t sure what type of punishment he’d have to mete out, but it would no doubt be painful and humiliating.
Ryan shook his head at Abigail’s blasé attitude. She was around thirty, only a couple of years younger than him, and she wasn’t a flighty kid. She should be mature enough to realize that she was in deep trouble. “You’re name is Abigail, right?”
“I prefer Abby,” she replied.
“Do you realize what is going on here, Abby?”
Beneath the dirt, Ryan’s face was ruggedly handsome, which she’d always found appealing. Pretty boys didn’t do much for her. She wondered what color his hair and eyes really were. Focusing on the question, she nodded. “I’m being kidnapped and your men are expecting you to rape me into submission once we reach your base.”
“You don’t seem to be particularly frightened by the idea,” he said with a touch of bewilderment.
“That’s because I know you aren’t going to hurt me,” she said confidently.
Taking his eyes off the road for a moment, he found her studying him closely. “How can you possibly know that?”
“Because I can tell that you’re a good man.”
Shaking his head, he refuted her statement. “You don’t know me. You don’t know the things I’ve done.”
She heard self-loathing in his tone and instantly empathized with him. “We all do things we later regret, Ryan,” she told him gravely and he had the feeling she was speaking from experience. “It’s how we choose to live our lives afterwards that really counts.”
“Sometimes we don’t have a choice,” he said almost too low for her to hear. For a while, he was silent and then he turned to her. “I have a job to do and it will be over in a few more days. When it is, I promise I’ll see you to safety.”
“I’ll hold you to that, Alejandro,” Abby said with a tiny smile then subsided into silence.
Their trip was long, bumpy and was shrouded in shadows that were cast by the dense foliage. The sun barely made its way down to their level and they drove in a perpetual gloom until they finally turned off into another dirt road and eventually reached a clearing.
Abby peered at the well-lit compound through the filthy windshield and automatically catalogued the windows, doors and the number of men in sight. She plotted a possible escape route based on what little she could see. She would compile a more comprehensive list of escape routes once she was inside. There was plenty of jungle to hide in once she did manage to break free.
Most women would have been screaming in terror by now, but none of them were highly trained special ops agents. Make that former special ops agent, she reminded herself. Whoever Ryan really was, the
Twenty more men spilled out from within the long, shabbily constructed building. The walls were a hodgepodge of wood, canvas and even car doors. The tin roof looked as though a strong puff of wind would carry it away. Ryan pulled her out of the driver’s side door after him and took her firmly by the arm as he strode towards the structure. The sun had set during their journey, but her night vision was excellent and she didn’t trip over any of the obstacles that were strewn in their path.
One of the men moved to intercept them. In his early forties, his skin was pitted from childhood acne and his skin was weathered. He wore a grin that didn’t reach his eyes as he looked her up and down. “So, you have finally chosen a woman, Alejandro. She is very beautiful. Such bounty is surely too much for one man.”
Abby kept her face neutral, not giving away that she could understand every word he said as his eyes crawled over her, lingering on the swell of her breasts. “Perhaps we can all have a taste of her?” He rubbed his hands together and she noted a twisted scar on the back of his left hand. From the way his skin had melted, it had been caused by fire.
“I don’t share, Marcos,” Ryan said with a sneer as he rudely pushed past him.
“Diego will be here in four more nights, my friend,” Marcos said to their backs as they entered the building. “We will see what he has to say about who will get to share your woman.”
Abby took stock of the slatternly females that watched her from doorways and the young children that hid behind them and peeked out from behind their skirts. All were natives of Brazil, but that didn’t mean they were living in the compound willingly. Like her, at least some of them had been kidnapped and forced to service the outlaws.