A Nick Chevalier Adventure
Genre: Young Adult Thriller Action Adventure
Tags: Thriller, action-adventure, spy, mystery
Release: December 28, 2012
Editor: Natisha LaPierre
Line Editor: Greta Gunselman
Cover Designer: Marion Sipe
Dubai. A girl is kidnapped. Her father is mauled to death by attack dogs. A hidden USB key holds the answer to his murder and to a criminal mastermind’s secret plan. Still carrying emotional scars from his last mission, Nick Chevalier is hired by an Emirati espionage agency to help solve the mystery. But he discovers too late that he is being manipulated, and the mission could cost him his life.
This is dangerous, but I’m psyched for it. Determined to board the plane, I walked to the Royal Jordanian check-in counter at the Abu Dhabi airport. After landing in Jordan I wasn’t sure how my plan would unfold, but I knew what I wanted.
The old saying popped into my head: revenge is a dish best served cold. Who thought that one up? Obviously not somebody who really wanted to get even. I disagreed one hundred and fifty percent. And then some.
You didn’t serve it up cold. You served it white-hot, because it was the only thing that would keep you sane. Because revenge consumed me the way fire consumed a rag doused in gasoline. When I stared at the ceiling at night, it poked me with a sharp stick and prevented me from nodding off.
So I was headed to Jordan.
To be honest, something else also robbed me of my sleep. Guilt. It devoured me bit by bit, savouring my pain. My mother was still in a coma because of me. I couldn’t shift the blame onto anybody else’s shoulders. It sat squarely on mine.
Okay, enough with the introspection. Back to business.
The attractive young woman who took my passport and ticket wore a red jacket and a tired smile. Jameela, her nametag said. Her eyes travelled from my face to the passport photo, where a cowlick sprang from my forehead in a perpetual tangle. Wavy black hair touched my shirt collar. Blue eyes, straight nose, cleft in the chin, a jaw tough enough to take a knock-out punch and come back for more.
“Any luggage, sir?”
Sir? I was only seventeen. “Carry-on. Nothing else.” The backpack slumped at my feet like a sleeping dog.
The clock on the wall above Jameela read twenty-five after ten in the evening. She yawned. I was wide awake, as if I’d swallowed a handful of amphetamines.
In my sweaty palms, I clutched the reason for my trip, a copy of the plane ticket that fell out of Ziad al Ameri’s pocket during our mortal combat at the desalination plant.
Final score—Terrorist 0, Nick Chevalier 1.
Justice. Sort of. Ziad had kidnapped my mother and sister, and Mom had been badly injured in the hideout where he’d kept them. The doctors weren’t sure if she’d ever wake up. Although Ziad was dead, there had to be other members in his organization, and I was sure as hell going to try to find them.
Jameela cocked her head at the computer, frowned, and mumbled. “Just a moment, sir.” She keyed in a combination of letters and numbers.
My cell phone vibrated in the back pocket of my jeans. The number didn’t look familiar, but I answered anyway. “Hello?”
“It’s been a month, Nick.”
My whole body went rigid. The voice on the other end of the line reminded me of roses and sweet summer rain.
“Ready for an assignment? I need your help.”
More spy work? The last time I got involved with Angel and the Canadian Intelligence Force, Ziad sent me down a mountain road in a car with severed brake lines. Then he handcuffed me to a metal post while he reset the timer on a bomb designed to blow me into bloody bone fragments. Thanks to a combination of luck and quick wits, I escaped.
Okay, so in the end I struck a terrorist off the most wanted list. But my mother might never again watch me score a goal at a soccer game or coax me into remaking the hopeless hospital corners on my bed.
Work for CIF? Umm, ya think?
“I know your father and sister are planning to return to Canada in a week. Your mother’s going to be flown to Toronto General Hospital. You want to stay behind because your work isn’t done, right?”
“How did you know I asked to stay in school and—” Stupid question. Of course she knew. Her agency had the power to scrape at the skin of my life until it bled.
“Ziad’s ticket was taking him to Jordan. You’re not thinking of going there, are you?”
Were my motives so transparent? “No.” I stared at the big gold lettering that made up the Royal Jordanian sign. Good thing Angel wasn’t around to see me.
“Ziad’s dead. Why would you track his ghost to Jordan?”
To find out who funded his mission. “Angel, don’t call me again.” I turned off the phone and shoved it into my pocket.
“Mr. Chevalier…” Jameela’s expression changed and she squirmed in her seat, as if her shoes were too tight. “I’m sorry, but we can’t let you on this flight.”
Useless airline. “What kind of—” Don’t blame the airline. Blame Angel and the Canadian Intelligence Force.
I spun around and scanned the crowds. A group of Indian men trundled along, pushing trolleys laden with shrink-wrapped luggage. Three women in black abayas glided elegantly to the information counter, followed by three Filipina nannies and a gaggle of loud-mouthed kids. The British man in line behind me struggled to keep his twins quiet and rolled his eyes at me. Maybe that was a polite Brit way of saying, “Get moving, buddy!”
Yep, there she was. Angel sat on a bench about fifty meters away, a laptop perched on her knees. Damn. She hacked into the airport computers to stop me from getting on the plane. Anger swelled inside my chest. My travel plans were none of her business. I could do whatever I wanted without her permission, and she had no right to interfere. And I needed to get on that plane.
A stylish felt hat covered her halo of golden hair. She wore sandals, jeans, and a long-sleeved top that concealed her muscular build. Studs glittered in her earlobes. For an undercover agent, she was kinda hot.
She waved. I jogged in the other direction, stuffing my passport and ticket into my breast pocket.
“Hold up, Nick,” she called.
Why? I had nothing to say, and since I didn’t have a boarding pass, I might as well go home. Leaving the air-conditioned comfort of the departure area, I stepped into the humid air. Steam bath. I’d never get used to it. Moisture coated my face. A solid line of cars parked in front of the terminal, disgorging travelers and their bags.
The snarl of traffic, trolleys, and travellers slowed me down. Sure enough, Angel caught up, the laptop’s black carry-case bouncing off her hip. She pointed at a dark blue Mercedes parked behind a tourist bus.
“That’s my car.” Her hat had slipped to the side, and she pulled on the brim to straighten it. “Can we talk?”
What a question. I felt frustrated as hell. “Sure we can. It’s not like I have a plane to catch or anything,” I grumbled.