I’m happy to share the second excerpt from the newest book in the Rocky Mountain Justice series. I have to confess that the hero in this book is the absolute favorite hero I’ve ever written. Beyond being uber hot, super loyal, he’s got a great sense of humor. More than that, I love this cover. Kudos to the art department!! I hope you love Roman DeMarco and Her Rocky Mountain Defender as much as I do. You can check out the book here.
“There you go,” Roman DeMarco said. He poured whiskey into a shot glass and slid the drink to a customer. Moving to the next person, he cast his gaze at the room. It was still early in the evening, but more than two dozen patrons filled The Prow.
No, patron wasn’t the right word; it gave the bar an air of respectability it didn’t deserve. This place was the last stop on a person’s long, downhill slide to the gutter. Only a few recessed lights over the bar illuminated the windowless room. The smell of stale beer, body odor and desperation hung in the air. The constant thump, thump, thump of a rock song pounded through the stereo system, the bass so deep that the sticky floor reverberated with the chords. The occasional cackle of drunken laughter cut through the music—the sound more manic than merry.
Singles hunched protectively over their drinks, while couples cast furtive glances at each other and moved toward darkened corners. The words, The Prow—spelled out in neon letters three feet high—were superimposed on the front of an illuminated sailing ship as it cut through a glowing wave. The sign hung on the back wall and cast a bloody light on a motorcycle club shooting a game of pool.
It would have been easy for Roman to feel disdain for these people, the forgotten of the world. But he didn’t, not at all.
He wasn’t your average bartender. No, as an employee of Rocky Mountain Justice, a private security firm, Roman was at The Prow to gather information about the bar’s owner, Oleg Zavalov.
Five months prior, RMJ had gained information about Nikolai Mateev, a Russian drug lord who was wanted all over the world. The recent intel suggested that Zavalov not only laundered money for Mateev, but employed his great-nephew, as well. But what RMJ needed was proof—and that meant putting one of their people on the inside. With dual specialties in electronic surveillance and languages, Roman was the perfect man for the job.
It was hard to break through, though. Zavalov, mistrustful by nature, kept a tightly knit duo of two Russian nationals with him all the time. One of them was indeed Nikolai Mateev’s great-nephew. Beyond that, in five months Roman had gleaned woefully little information about the suspected money laundering. Yet, he hoped that once he planted that ELD in Oleg Zavalov’s office, all of that would change.
Now all he needed was an excuse to get into the locked basement and plant the bug.
A regular, a cop who drank for free, approached and slammed down an empty glass. “Another beer,” he said, running a hand through his thick, blond hair. Worse than anyone else was the cop who turned a blind eye to the rampant crime in this place for free beer.
Roman faked a smile.
“Sure,” he said, grabbing the glass. He turned to the tap and pulled down the handle. Foam spit and gurgled from the tap. An empty keg was the perfect reason to get into the basement.
“This one’s spent, Jackson,” he said to the cop. Jackson. Roman could never figure out if it was a first or last name. “Give me a minute.”
“I need to get a new keg from the basement,” Roman said, turning to the manager as Jackson redirected his attention to a group of women nearby.
The manager held out a ring with three keys and Roman took them with a nod. He unlocked the basement door marked as private and flipped on the light switch. The golden glow of a single bulb illuminated a set of dilapidated wooden stairs, cinder block walls, and a patch of gunmetal-gray concrete of the basement floor.
A hallway with four doors was laid out at the bottom of the stairs. The back door, controlled with an electronic lock, led to the alley behind the bar. On the left there was a locked door to the beer cooler and next door, a storage room filled with cheap liquor and stale snacks. The final door, the one that led to Oleg Zavalov’s office, was on the right.
Roman didn’t waste any time. He quickly unlocked Zavalov’s office door and slipped inside. Using light from the hallway, he withdrew the ELD and powered up the device. A small green screen began to glow. One word appeared: Acquiring.
“Damn.” He moved closer to the door. Still no connection. He glanced at his watch. He’d been gone less than two minutes, but how much longer before his absence was noticed upstairs?
The inset screen still glowed green as one word scrolled across its face.
The sound of footsteps on the stairs drew his attention. He glanced at the screen one last time. Signal Obtained. Roman placed the ELD under the top of Zavalov’s desk, an imperfect place, but the best option he had. The door opened, giving Roman a split second to think up an excuse for being in a room that was unquestionably off-limits.