Dead Men's Dust

Dead Men's Dust by Matt Hilton

Book: Dead Men's Dust by Matt Hilton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Matt Hilton
Tags: thriller, Mystery
wanted to pick up the telephone and speak to my mother, but I didn’t.”
    “Was that your choice?” I asked.
    “No. John always argued against it. Said it was best we remained anonymous for a little longer. Just another six months or so. He said it was to give everyone time to reconcile themselves with what we’d done. So that they’d forgive us.” She laughed sadly at herself.
    “Did you believe that?” I asked softly. “That John was concerned about what people back home thought about you?”
    “I’m not a complete idiot,” she said, and again a spark of anger flashed across her features. “We argued about it a lot. But that’s not why he left. Believe it or not, we do love each other. It’s not important what anyone thinks.”
    Her challenge was as direct as a laser-guided warhead. Aimed directly at me. After all, I was the only other constant here. I had come to America because of Jennifer’s request as much as the letter Louise had sent. She wanted to know whose side I was on.
    “You’re right. It doesn’t matter,” I told her.
    She nodded, pacified for now. “When we left England, I knew that he was hiding something. That he was running from more than his wife and children. He was in some sort of trouble and he had to run. That’s the bottom line.”
    I sat back from the table, had to rotate my shoulders so that I could lean against the booth wall without nudging Rink into the gangway. I said, “It’s not likely that the men who were after him have followed him here. The cost would exceed what he owed them.”
    Louise looked more than a little stunned at my words.
    “I…I didn’t know.” Her eyes glazed over. “Are they…uh…bad men?”
    “Yes. Loan sharks. The type who take body parts as payment.”
    She could’ve been slapped in the face and looked less surprised. “I had no idea. I thought the debt he’d gotten himself into was just the usual type that everyone ends up with.” She shook her head, then met my eyes again. “Was it Jennifer’s debt? He said he couldn’t control her spending. He even cut up her credit cards, but it made no difference. In the end, they lost everything…and that’s why he had to leave her.”
    I chose not to comment. But Rink, who had just heard the truth from me earlier, snorted in derision. Louise shifted her gaze between us. Challenging us to disagree with John’s version of events.
    “The men after him,” I said, to steer the conversation away from John’s lies, “are dangerous in their own right. But you needn’t worry; they’re not exactly an international outfit. They don’t work outside the U.K.”
    “You know that for a fact?” Louise asked.
    “Yes.” To allay any fears about unlikely possibilities, I decided to elaborate on the truth. “I’ve already had a…well, call it a talk with them. They’ve backed off. They know the consequences of doing anything to John or any of his family.”
    “His family.” Louise snorted.
    “Present company included,” I reassured her.
    She looked at me again, and I gave her my most open-faced promise in return. She turned up her nose above a twisted mouth. She wasn’t so pretty now. “You didn’t even know who I was. How could you make the same agreement for me?”
    “My demands weren’t open to negotiation. They harm John or anyone close to him and they’d pay the consequences.”
    I saw fear creeping into Louise’s face now. Not the worry that was evident before. Something new. Something scary that had just dawned on her regarding the man who’d traversed an ocean to help her.
    “Who exactly are you, Mr. Hunter?” she asked.
    “I’m John’s brother,” I told her.
    “But, who…or what…?”
    I held up a hand to ward her off.
    “Just leave it at that,” I said. “All you need to understand is that I’m John’s brother. And by association, you are family. I’m here to help you, okay?”
    Louise picked up her coffee, drained it in one continuous gulp.
    “After you

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