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Cadillac Payback:

Rising Tide

AJ Elmore

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The author makes no claims to, but instead acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of any wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction including brands or products.

Copyright © 2021 AJ Elmore

Cadillac Payback: Rising Tide

All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by AJ Elmore.

Summary: A year after Maria took down the rival kingpin who killed her brother, she has climbed the ranks with what’s left of her crew. Tensions are high and things get weird when a member of the old crew shows up back on the scene without an explanation.

1. Crime 2. Revenge 3. Romance

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

ISBN:

Edited by Eugenie Rayner, Magic Lamp Editing Services

Cover design by The Illustrated Author

Cover art copyright©: AJ Elmore

For Derrick, who never fails to send food down the writer hole and makes sure there’s wine when I surface.

Part One

Chapter 1 Trap

Isaiah

I'm stoned. I'm so baked that I think if a fish did bite the line of the fishing pole in the sand beside me, I'd probably let it win. I have plenty of poles. Though that is my favorite reel.

I push the brim of my brush hat out of my eyes, lazily scanning my rig, following the line out into the surf. I hear a giggle to my left, and glance that way to see two girls, mid-twenties – maybe – in tiny bikinis. They're checking me out. I give them a little smirk, pull my brush hat over my eyes, and relax against the thatch of my discount store lawn chair.

Sure, it's nice to know I've still got it, but anything beyond distant appreciation is a hassle. The last thing I need are the complications that come with women. What to wear, where to eat, who to kill? Trouble, every single one.

It's hot, but the ocean breeze keeps the heat at a steady roll. It's about 10:30, judging by the sun's slant. By noon, the beach will be drenched in unforgiving oppression, but just now I'm enjoying the burn.

It's my day off, and I'm almost out of beer. I am out of weed. Already there are two errands to be achieved today. With luck, that's all I'll fucking do.

The hardest part about transitioning to life lived mostly on my own has been having to buy weed. OK, maybe it's not the hardest, but it's been the most annoying. Running out is the worst kind of bullshit.

Paying street prices is an insult. Having rookie assholes trying to haggle me while I silently hand them a lesson in trade, it's demeaning. But what can I say to them? In my last life, you would have been so far beneath me that you never would have met me. No, of course I can't say that. So I grit my teeth through it, pay too much, and retreat to my little beachside apartment.

I don't go out, don't drink in bars, don't want friends. I don't own a TV. I spend long hours doing hard labor on a fishing trawler, where all the guys think my name's Jonathan, and call me Doc – like Doc Holliday, because of the time I shot a flare down the throat of a shark we accidentally hauled up.

I saved Dave from losing an arm. The guys thought it was awesome. I never did address how naturally it came to me to point and shoot. We just dumped that shark overboard and didn't talk about it. Unless, of course, we were tossing back tall boys at the bait house after a long day and too many beers.

I enjoy the work. It keeps me busy. My time at sea has whittled my physique into something harder than it was when I was into “produce” distribution, and bar hopping with Charlie. I like the ocean. There are a lot less assholes out there. It's my day off, and I'm still fishing.

“Excuse me, sir, I wonder if a gentleman might help a lady out?”

A woman's voice, behind me a little, to my left. It's a smooth alto that rings familiar enough to flip my stomach, and make my breath freeze in my chest for a flash. No way.

Suddenly I'm standing in a flower shop, not knowing dick from balls about flowers. And there's a warm female body beside me, telling me what colors we've picked and how many guests there will be. Her heart is set on the string quartet and the arched trellis. As if I'd ever tell her no about anything.

Back in the now, I take a hard swallow that might as well be a mouth full of sand, and don't move as I say, “I'm afraid you've got the wrong guy. I'm not much of a gentleman.”

“Just a little sunscreen on my back?” asks the voice, low and coy.

I'm still slung across my modest chair, but the shields are up. I do a quick scan of the beach that's visible from beneath my hat brim – a jogger with a dog; the maybe-twenty-somethings; an over-the-hill, fat guy in a Speedo. It's not much to work with, especially if this is an ambush.

“Sorry, lady. Can't help you,” I say, and my right hand is moving slowly toward my cooler.

“That's strange,” she says, and the words move like wind through a cemetery. “The Isaiah I remember was such a sweetheart. There's no need to draw on me, honey, I'm not here to kill you.”

The arm reaching for the gun in the

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