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Talon by Dale Mayer (1)

Prologue

Twenty minutes after leaving the craziness at the hotel, Talon Lore knocked at the front door but didn’t wait to walk into Laszlo’s small Santa Fe rented house.

Laszlo was already there, working on the dead hired gun’s laptop. Laszlo waved to Talon and said, “Put on your own coffee.”

Talon snorted. “We walked out and left Erick to deal with the cops.”

“That’s all right,” Geir said as he walked inside from the back door without so much as knocking. “If there was ever anybody who could handle it, it’d be Erick.”

Talon studied his friend. “How are you holding up?”

Geir extended both hands, still shaking with fury. “I didn’t dare go in that room.”

Talon nodded. “I understand. It’s all okay though. We’re working our way through this. One new fact at a time.”

“And faster than I would have thought,” Laszlo said. “It’s just these hiccups are pretty damn ugly.”

“I’m also pissed you guys didn’t tell me right away what you were doing,” Geir said. “I had to hear after the fact.”

“Hey,” Talon said, “you went silent. We’ve been trying to reach you.”

“Besides,” Laszlo added, “we all heard after the fact, in a way. Badger wouldn’t ever let it go. It’s been bugging him for the last two years. He caught the first lead, and we carried on down the rabbit hole from there.”

Geir nodded. “Just so long as I’m in the loop from here on in.”

“You’re in,” Talon said. “But remember, you may not want to be.”

“Like you guys,” Geir said, “my life hasn’t moved forward. It always felt so wrong, and I couldn’t find a way to get back on track.”

“Well, we might have something to help you get there.” Laszlo lifted his gaze from the laptop. “Because there’s a lot of stuff here. It looks like we have more than enough information to confirm this John Smith asshole was a very busy boy. Not just with our cases but others. The police will still want to see this laptop. But I want to get all the information I need off it first.”

“Does it say who he did business with?”

“A couple people could be in here. It’s in code, and it’ll take us some time. Do we have any specialists we can bring in?”

Geir snorted. “If Levi doesn’t have them, you know Mason will.”

Talon nodded. “And what about my friend Chad? Is there any sign this hired gun had anything to do with Chad’s accident?”

Laszlo nodded. “Yes.” He looked up. “I don’t know how well you know the family. Do you want to say anything to them about it or let it lie in peace after all this time?”

Talon winced. “His sister and I were a thing for a long time, and Chad was my best friend. I feel like I owe her the truth for the sake of both of them.”

“Clary?” Geir asked. “I remember you mentioning her a couple times. Why did you break it off?”

Talon shrugged. “Because I couldn’t leave the military at the time. And she wanted me home every night,” he admitted. “And I let her go because she wanted so much more than I could give her.”

“How do you feel about her now?” Laszlo looked up from the laptop again, his gaze piercing, even in the darkly lit room.

“I’ve never forgotten her,” Talon said. “But she married soon after we broke up. I figured she was more than ready for the change.”

“Well, maybe it’s time to renew that acquaintance.”

He shook his head. “No, she’s happily married. I don’t want to burst that bubble.”

Laszlo snorted, his fingers busy on the keyboard. “No, she’s not. She got divorced last year.”

Talon straightened ever-so-slightly. “Really?”

Laszlo nodded. “Really. And I think she deserves to know the truth. At least what we know of the truth. Chad was walking in a parking lot and was struck by a hit-and-run driver.”

“Another vehicular accident,” Geir said softly. “Son of a bitch.”

Laszlo snorted. “Talon, looks like you’re up next.”

Talon nodded. “Maybe I am at that.”

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