Imagine you are adopted, and find out that as an infant, you were sold on the black market by a notorious baby seller. Your world is shattered. Your life has been a lie. The truth seems unattainable unless you can find someone to help you get back what was stolen, your identity. Todd Walters is a man on such a quest. With the aid of a former private investigator, Boots Beaumont, the two men begin a search into the unknown. Enter Frank “Red” Barron, an FBI agent who discovers a modern day baby selling operation run by a ruthless team who will stop at nothing to get what they want. These two powerful and parallel stories culminate in an heart pounding conclusion that will both enthrall and engage down to the very last word.
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Nardo crept toward the back of the run down house. He knew there wasn’t a dog. Nardo wouldn’t do a snuff and snatch if there were any dogs on the property. He hated dogs, and of course they could too easily alert neighbors. So that was something he always thoroughly checked out before hand. Tonight, everything was going according to plan, all because he had done his homework. He was good at his job. He’d been following the young woman for a week now, and knew her routine.
The sky was dark and no light came from inside. Now if the kid just wouldn’t wake up while he took care of business, all would be well. He easily slipped in the back door, the lock not even worth mentioning. God, she lived in a piece of crap place, he thought as he looked around the kitchen. His eyes had adjusted to the lack of light, and he could tell the place was a mess. But she was on her own, for the time being at least. No husband or boyfriend in sight. Just her and the kid. A welfare mom. Nardo was disgusted. People should work for a living. Not sit around having babies they couldn’t support.
He made his way toward a narrow hallway. A floorboard creaked and he held his breath. Nothing. He continued to a small room on the right. The door was slightly ajar and he could hear soft breathing. Let’s hope she’s a heavy sleeper. Chances were pretty good, as he knew the infant often kept her awake at night and that she was exhausted. They’d only been home from the hospital for seven days.
He silently entered the room. Shit. He was afraid of this. The baby’s bassinet was near the bed. Oh well, not as if that had never happened before. He’d be quick and hopefully not disturb the child. He was a professional after all. He approached the bed, pleased to see the young woman asleep on her back. That made it so much easier. He flexed his massive gloved hands and reached out for her throat.
She never had a chance. Her eyes flew open just as his powerful hands clamped around her neck exerting enormous pressure. She thrashed ineffectually, but she was no match against Nardo. An expert was he, and naturally he took great pride in this. He didn’t consider himself a cruel man, didn’t care for needless suffering. Just get the job done and get out. It took only a few minutes and the woman was dead.
The next part of the program was a bit trickier. Thank God the baby hadn’t been awakened by the struggle, so he could take care of a few things first. He pulled a large garbage bag from his back pocket and went to the shabby closet. He threw in what little she had hanging there. Next was a dilapidated dresser which held a few more of her clothes and some of the infants. It all went into the bag. With his ear attuned to any noise from the bassinet he quickly checked the miniature bathroom and grabbed a few more personal items, along with a package of diapers. Man, this woman was dirt poor. Her few meager possessions were pathetic. The only thing left was to grab her purse and he quickly found that near the front door. That too went into the garbage bag. He could care less what was in it. That wasn’t the point. Besides, it couldn’t be more than a few bucks anyway, and he was paid well for his work. He didn’t have to worry about a car since she didn’t have one.
Back to the bedroom to grab the body. He easily hefted her over his left shoulder, and carried the bag in his right hand. He made his way to the kitchen toward the back door. Nardo quickly checked outside, but he wasn’t too concerned. There were a couple of other piss poor houses down the street, but none close by. He then backtracked through a cover of trees to where he’d left his car. Body and bag went into the trunk and he gently closed it with a muffled thunk.
Back again to the house to get the baby, and make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything. But Nardo was most thorough and figured he’d gotten enough of her stuff to make it look like she had taken off somewhere with the kid. That was always the best cover, and it’s what the Stork and the Boss insisted upon. No sign of violence, no evidence that something malicious had happened. Make it look like she just took off with the baby, never to be heard from again. Whatever sad excuse she had for a family might go to the police, there might be some minor investigation. But the police were overworked and understaffed, so most likely nothing would come of it. She probably wouldn’t be missed too much anyway.
Nardo returned to the bassinet and expertly scooped up the child. She easily fit into the crook of his arm. He made one last check of things, locked the back door, and returned to his car. He placed the still sleeping infant into a box cushioned with blankets on the floorboard of the front seat. He couldn’t dare take a chance having a baby seat in the car. It would look too suspicious. Nardo didn’t exactly look like the fatherly type. Besides, the box worked just fine. He’d never had any problems before, and he wouldn’t have the kid for very long anyway.
He started the engine and turned the heater on low. In his experience he knew that if he could keep the baby warm, she’d be less likely to wake up. He drove slowly until he was a safe distance away and then sped up but kept it at the speed limit. Being pulled over in the middle of the night with a baby in a box and a dead woman in the trunk wasn’t ideal. If that happened, he’d have to kill the cop too, and Nardo preferred not to do that.
But luck was on his side. No cops, no other cars. He was all alone on the two lane highway and the dumping ground he’d picked out wasn’t too far out of the way. Clockwork, he smiled to himself.
Nardo turned off the road and drove another half mile to reach the ravine. He pulled over and left the engine running while he opened the trunk. Mom tumbled over the edge like a rag doll, and the garbage bag followed. If she was ever found, it wouldn’t be for a hell of a long time. He closed the trunk with a satisfying thump and lumbered back to the driver’s seat.
Next would be the truck stop where he was meeting the Mule. He had no idea what her name was and he didn’t care. The Stork and the Boss were in charge of the operation, but they never handled the merchandise until the final transport. Nardo always hated the meet though. The woman who exchanged the balance of his pay packet for each infant was a real bitch. It wasn’t that she scared him, because nothing scared Nardo. But she gave him the creeps for some reason. She would speak little at each exchange and had lifeless gray eyes. He could never get away from her fast enough.
He looked over at the kid. He couldn’t believe that she was still sleeping. She hadn’t woken up once. All the better for him. Not that it mattered if she started crying, he was used to it. And he always carried a pacifier just in case. But it was a bonus that she slept through it all. Besides, she’d be with her new mommy and daddy soon enough, no harm.
Nardo sighed and was glad his work was almost through. After the drop-off he’d get back on the highway and head straight for home. God, how he hated Louisiana.
Boots enjoyed his various duties at the Club. But he got the biggest kick from the lead sailing instructor. Gypsy was a hoot. He was fun loving, enjoyed playing innocent practical jokes, and was rarely serious about anything. Except for sharks that is. Gypsy was deadly serious about hating sharks and determined to kill as many of them as he could. Each night he set out shark traps, and each morning he checked to see if he’d caught any. One morning, as Boots arrived to give a sailing lesson, there was a dead shark laying across the dock. Gypsy was jubilant. Boots didn’t care for sharks much himself, but thought it sad to see it laying dead on the dock. As he walked by it, the shark suddenly leapt up and snapped at his legs. It missed by mere inches, and scared the shit out of Boots. Gypsy laughed uncontrollably, and when he finally collected himself, explained to Boots how a shark’s nervous system didn’t always die right away, and the snapping is some kind of reflexive death throe. From that moment on, Boots had a new found respect for the primal creatures, and always made sure to stay well clear of any of the sharks Gypsy caught. No matter how dead they looked.