Naked Desire – Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Jefferson County, Texas
Manuel Alvarez

“This better work, Gringo,” Manny Alvarez growled as he looked at his slim, wiry companion, Darrel, a fellow inmate in FCC Beaumont. After he had jabbed the other man in the ribs to punctuate his demand, Manny looked around him and tried not to seem out of place.
Although they had found a corner of the prison that did not have cameras or the guards watching over it, the cold concrete walls of the prison still towered over them, reminding both men of the stark reality of their bleak situation. Some would view their situation as hopeless, and when he first arrived there, he felt the same, but over time, he had made a realization.

Manny had never gotten used to life in federal prison, the rules and regulations had often gotten under his skin, but despite what others had deemed his mental illnesses, he had always considered himself to be an intelligent man. To pull off the cover-ups, the complexity of the murders, and the drug running that he did, for as long as he did, he had to be. Like a chameleon, Manny knew to survive amongst the inmates and prison guards that he had to change his way of thinking on a case by case basis. With that in mind, he decided to take the Federal Prosecutor’s deal in exchange for his life.

With his change in attitude about cooperation with the authorities came certain amenities: a comfortable bed, a pair of high-end sneakers, and rich foods. He did not have to worry about the jury sentencing him to death for the murder of the Senator, sex trafficking, and the kidnappings that he had committed in his time out of prison, and over time, he had gained the trust of a few of the guards.

It is really no different than when I worked my way through the ranks of the cartel, Manny thought. He was a master at manipulating his superiors. They were a means to an end. Then he would be calling the shots again. Right after he took care of a little business from his past, he thought.

“It’ll work, Manny,” Darrel assured in a less than convincing tone, a tone that in the past Manny would have had him killed or at least beaten for, but in his experience, men like Darrel rarely voiced their uncertainness in Manny’s presence. “They let me take the truck out to the work crew before.”

Manny narrowed his brow at him, his thick eyebrows pinching together as the bridge of his nose wrinkled. Although he loved how addicted the citizens could be, he hated the United States, and after his business, he could not wait to be back on Mexican soil. At the very least, Manny wouldn’t have to be around weasels like Darrel for much longer. If he were, he would do something about it.

The other man wiped his hand across his forehead and quickly added, “More then once. Jensen is at the gate today. He’s already gotten his payment, so he’s going to pretend we aren’t there. Other than that, if you act like you’re supposed to be there, no one will question it. Trust me, man.”

Manny trusted no one. That was why he was alive. It was also why Manny turned on the cartel. Being that he trusted no one, he was also loyal to no one other than himself. His own survival trumped everything, and his every action was with his own interests in mind and for his own benefits alone. Once he was in Mexico, he would never be able to return to the cartel, and that was fine by him. He was still alive, and he intended to stay that way.

 That is all that matters,  he thought. He would trade his life for every man that he once was in charge of, and many men that were lackeys and lieutenants of the Diablo de la Muerte cartel were in prison or sitting on death row as a result of his testimony.

“If it doesn’t,” Manny threatened, the snarl returning to his voice, “I will gut you like a pig, do you hear me?”

Darrel’s face whitened. Wrinkles appeared on the old man’s forehead. Manny thought that he would cry at that moment, and he took pleasure in the fact that he could still strike fear in someone that was obviously beneath him.

“Then,” he added as he smiled at the man, “the people I know on the outside who are protecting your daughter right now will do the same to her, after they have a little fun.”

“Manny. Please.”

He shook his head, strands of his ebony hair brushing against the top of his ear. “I mean it, gringo. I’m in here for life anyway. They can’t do much more.”

“Calm down, man,” Darrel pleaded, his voice cracking with emotion, “I’m doing what you want. Leave my daughter out of it, please.”

As they began to walk to the garage, Darrel hissed, “Shh!”

Manny hated being hushed so abruptly. He was used to having people like Darrel listen to him as they looked up to him and expected him to lead. This man would not have lasted beneath Manny’s leadership.

I’ll probably have to kill him at some point, Manny thought. Such a slight couldn’t go unpunished, and Darrel would probably not be able to carry his weight on the outside.

Through the time that he knew him, Darrel seemed to be weak. In fact, when he had approached him in the Yard with his escape plan, Manny had almost thought it was a setup. After Darrel had asked him for money, Manny had carefully probed the old American with questions over the weeks, gathering information that he deemed valuable. He would not be caught like a rat in a trap. Never again!

Although he was behind prison bars, the Mexican drug lord was not one to be trifled with. While he had burned his bridges with the cartel, the man still had members that were loyal to him, but he had learned the hard way that he could not trust anyone in his organization or outside of it. Darrel could have been trying to get information out of him, so he could have a better life in the federal pen, or at least, be moved to FCI Beaumont, the low-security facility of the complex. Imagine Manny’s surprise when he and Darrel were placed there.

With each step, correctional officers’ eyes were upon them, staring intently at them and ultimately judging them. Several of the guards held their rifles loosely in their hands.

He forced himself to look ahead of him and the hard glint in his eyes faded. They didn’t need to draw suspicion to themselves even before they reached the workplace.

Biting down on the inside corner of his mouth, Manny noticed the tangy metallic hint of blood spreading over his lips. If Manny wanted to get out of there, he needed to act normal and ground himself.

 Soon, he thought, I won’t have to worry about being scrutinized. While he would be on the run as he took care of the business that had been haunting him for four years and he would be forced to lay low, Manny wouldn’t be told what to do. No one would dictate when he would eat, how many hours he could sleep, or if he could take a piss. How he looked forward to that day.

“We’re here,” Darrel spoke up, breaking Manny’s thoughts.

They waited for the large metallic door to be opened. Manny clasped his hands together and tried to calm his racing thoughts. As they waited, a tightness gripped his chest.

The door opened, and as they strolled into the garage, Officer Jensen gave them a nod. He motioned toward a work truck. He offered, “Take that one.”

Manny looked at the white pickup with a decal of the prison’s name on the door. They would have to ditch it as soon as possible. Once word had spread of their escape, he could imagine the manhunt that would commence.

They wouldn’t want Darrel so much, but they would call out the Marshals to apprehend me. After all, Manny knew that he was one of the more valuable prisoners housed there. If they were still funneling drugs through Laredo, he was one of the only ones that could provide state’s evidence to stop them.

“The crew is waiting out on Route 96,” Jensen continued, “You can’t miss ‘em.”

“You got it,” Darrel answered, and they trotted to the vehicle.
Without another word from either of them, Manny opened the door and climbed in. He reached for the seatbelt, brought it across his broad shoulder, barrel chest, and paunchy stomach, and slid the buckle into the latch.

As they pulled out of the garage, Manny started to think of everything that had happened to get him to that point. If it were not for his lover and her willingness to smuggle in cash needed to pay Jensen off, Manny might have still been sitting in his plush cell, and that would have been unacceptable.

They moved slowly through the complex, the landscape beyond the barbed wire fence surrounding the prison passed by them as they rolled alone, and they soon stopped in front of a double gate.

The first gate opened, and Darrel pulled forward. The gate closed behind him as a guard peered into the cab. His eyes passed suspiciously over Manny.

“Jensen told us to take the truck over to the crew on Route 96,” Darrel said, his tone confident.

He’s useful, after all, he thought.

Yet, the guard wouldn’t stop looking at Manny. His eyes hardened, and his thin lips drew downward in a frown. “That so? We’ll see.”

The corrections officer picked up his walkie that was hooked to his wide, ebony leather belt, and after fiddling with the buttons, he spoke into it. His gaze never left the two in the truck.

Manny couldn’t hear the conversation, but he could guess who he was talking to. The man was verifying with Jensen. It made sense, and although he had paid Jensen off, it didn’t keep an empty feeling from spreading into the pit of his stomach.

His gut kept rolling. Even though they were not out of Beaumont, Manny had come too far for their plan to fail now. He didn’t know what he would do if they were denied access to the second gate. His mind filtered through various scenarios, but deep within him, Manny knew that he could do nothing. While it may have seemed that this was the only guard at the entrance to the prison, there had to be more. Their rifles were trained on their pickup. Manny just knew it.

He tried to give the other man a polite nod, plastering a small smile on his face, signaling that he belonged there.

As the guard finished his conversation, the suspicion left his face. He turned off his walkie, placed it on his belt, and he shouted as he waved them through, “All’s clear!”

The second gate opened, sliding against the perimeter barbed wire fence, the truck jerked over the gravel entrance, and they were well on the way to freedom. He could barely contain his excitement, but the lurking rage that always simmered since those events that had resulted in his arrest all those years ago bubbled over.

Manuel “Crazy Manny” Alvarez was out of prison. He looked out the side window as he watched the trees and greenery pass them by. Dark thoughts overtook his mind.

He would make his way down to Mexico, disappear across the border, and rebuild his contacts within the drug trade before doing away with the leaders of his old cartel and taking his place. Manny was sure that he could straighten out his crime syndicate once more. After all, the people at the top were much more inept than anyone he had met before.

Yet, before all of that, there was still the business that he had to see to first. The man that had betrayed his organization in the first place- the scum that had played at being a member of the cartel when he was actually an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration—had to pay, and he would pay dearly.

That cabrÓn will watch as his bitch is hurt and killed before taking a bullet to the brain. Manny had long since planned it out, knowing the details of how he was going to do it as well as he knew his body needed oxygen to breath. He smiled to himself, taking solace in his soon-to-be-real fantasy.

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Undercover Desire – Chapter 3

Brief Summary

Drugs. Love. Second Chances.

Kelly Swinson wants to become Anchor, and she cannot resist the lure of the story or the promise of promotion when a series of suspicious overdoses are washing up on the shore of the Rio Grande caused by the new, designer drug, Rapture.

CHAPTER THREE

Kelly looked at the scrap of paper that she had written the address on again as she sat in her vehicle. The cold air conditioner blew on her face, causing her hair to stream around the headrest.

1542 Rosemont. This was the place, but the building looked abandoned. Dirt—several inches thick in some places—clung to the bricks. Glass in the windows of the dilapidated building were smashed, shards laying below the panes. The unbroken windows were so caked with years of dust that they were completely opaque.

The houses—run down, falling apart buildings with rickety, cracked roofs—around the building weren’t in any better condition. This part of town housed the impoverished, the detritus of society; it was a blotch that the mayor wanted to hide, to pretend that it didn’t exist.

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Undercover Desire – Chapter 2

Brief Summary

CHAPTER TWO

Kelly arrived at the newsroom before everyone but Paul, a usual occurrence. Her job was her life, and she wanted to get the most out of it. The thoughts of the anchor position danced within her mind, tantalizing her the proposition of Swinson being a household name.

“Swinson!” Paul bellowed as she passed his office.

Her stomach dropped. He would want an update to her story, as he viewed it as a waste of time. The senator’s death was enough to make it tantalizing to the public, but Paul wasn’t sure that there was anything substantial to it.

His nonchalant attitude made her nervous. Although she had proved herself on many other stories, she couldn’t help but think that he didn’t think she would be good enough to promote her to anchor. Sure, he thought that she had a pretty face—like most of the female journalists working for Channel 5—but that didn’t mean that he thought that her reporting skills were enough for the promotion.

He must think that Cayce is right for Anchor. Cayce Shaffer—known to the news team as simply Case—had been at the station longer than Kelly. Unlike Kelly, Case had it all: blond hair, blue eyes, and long, slim legs. She was sure that Cacye, among other coworkers, was sleeping with Paul, but she would never mention it to anyone.

She bit at her mouth, pulling her plump bottom lip between her teeth. As she withstood the desire to run a hand through her hair, she crossed her arms over her chest.

“Get in here!” Paul continued to shout.

She hesitantly obeyed. Just because she was willing to endure his stares didn’t mean she liked it or wanted to seek out his attention. He made her skin crawl, and she hated to be alone with him.

However, there wasn’t a whole lot she could do about it. Paul had been at the station for years, and he was the News Director. Complaining would only have hurt her career.

“What do you got on this drug story?” he demanded, looking her over intently, his eyes lingering a little to long on her breasts. He leaned against his desk, crossing his arms over his chest. A gray sports coat covered his slim frame, rubbing against his dark jeans.

As he looked at her, the hackles on the back of her neck rose. She ignored the chill crawling up her spine and focused upon what he wanted: an update on Rapture and the overdoses connected to it.

“Not a whole lot,” she responded meekly as she fiddled with the watch clasped around her wrist. “A lot of people are unwilling to talk, scared of the cartel.”

While the police would not comment on the cartel presence in Laredo, most knew that they were there. The Diablo de la Mue Cartel was the dirty secret that officials kept to themselves, only bringing it up when it was election season.

Then, there would be a flurry of arrests, but little would be done to stem the flow of narcotics crossing the border between Mexico and the United States. Kelly thought that most officials—lawyers, police, and politicians—were in bed with the cartel. That was why most of the offenses would go away shortly after they were brought to trial or the officers would look the other way to the cartel’s dealings.
I hope that the news of the overdoses and Rapture will shine a spotlight on these crimes. No more could people pretend that there wasn’t a problem, and maybe there would be something done about it.

Paul’s flaxen-colored hair glistened in the sunlight streaming through the window, the ivory Stetson adorning his head gleaming, as he waited for her to continue.

She didn’t want to tell him about the text she had gotten before she knew more of it. It could be a wild goose chase. It seemed like the entire story was just that, but she knew that she could figure it out if she were given the time, yet he wasn’t known to give his journalists much. He would say he gave them just enough rope to hang themselves.

From time to time, she overheard him. His bosses would pressure him. They would want a bigger story—a larger headline—to beat their competition. When the ratings were lower than expected, Paul took the heat. In return, he would light a fire beneath his news team: that usually meant screaming coming from his office as he met with certain reporters.

She had not been on the receiving end of his tirades, but she couldn’t blame him for the reaction. When she first developed an interest for journalism, she knew that it was a high-pressure profession.

However, to be under his judgmental gaze was unsettling. She resisted the urge to display her uneasiness. If she did, she was sure that he would prey upon that weakness, using it as a means to exploit her feelings.

Kelly was sure that he wasn’t the type of man that would use her thoughts to sleep with her, and she tried to remind herself that, to take comfort in that thought.

Apparently, running out of patience, he shook his head, the locks of his hair brushing the crook of his tanned neck. “I need a story, Kelly.”

Again, she twisted her watch. Although the air condition was running and blowing strands of her dark hair across the bridge of her nose, she felt hot standing in the office beneath his keen eyes. She was exposed to him, and she nervously bit the inside of her cheek.

“You’ll get a story,” she promised, her voice hiding the apprehension wailing within her. “A big one.”

“Get me one, soon. Three days, Kelly.”

I’m not sure if I can have it done in three days. She thought of the lead that she had received on her cell phone earlier that morning, and she knew that tracking down the information that the lead might potentially give her would take more than the allotted time.

If she wanted to work as a journalist and possibly as an anchor, she couldn’t crack beneath the strain of her job. She would succeed with this story, she promised herself, and she would be promoted before Cayce Shaffer.

“If I don’t have it by Friday, I want you on something else. Got it?”
“Yes, Mister Whitaker.” She bowed her head, the bangs of her hair hiding her dark eyes.

“We’re getting beat by those hacks over at Channel Eight. Channel Eight! Get me a story!” His face was beat red by the time he had finished talking, but his gaze still touched her in a way that made her stomach churn.

As he screeched at her, she could feel each of his words reverberating inside of her body. She stared at the small pimple in the middle of his forehead.

“Go on!”

She backed out of Paul’s office, going to her desk. Her heart raced as she glanced at him and watched him sit down at his own desk, pick up his cell phone, punch numbers into it, and frown. The corners of his thin mouth pulled downward into a snarl.

She dropped into her chair, taking a moment to look at the anonymous text message again.

I can tell you all about Rapture, it read, intriguing her like many leads hadn’t.

Kelly thought about all that she knew about the synthetic heroin. It was just like the regular drug, except that it was laced with Fentanyl, a drug that was used during anesthesia. The Fentanyl increased the potency of heroin once it had been diluted, making it fifty percent more efficient, but the drug also had a dark side.

After she had navigated to a website that allowed her to look up phone numbers, she tried to find the number—956-555-0111—that was associated with the text.

It’s a throwaway phone. That made tracking the registered users almost impossible. Contrary to her Internet search, she didn’t think that finding the sender of the text message would be that easy, and she felt warier of the person.

For what seemed like hours, she stared at the phone on her desk, trying to work up the nerve to pick up the receiver and dial that unknown number. Her thoughts raced as she tried to make sense of who sent it until her thoughts landed on a type of person that made the most sense.

An inside source? The anonymity of the text screamed it. They didn’t want to leave their name, just the vague message about Rapture and the overdoses.

Inhaling, she tried to stop her thoughts racing through the confines of her mind. This was going to be the break that she needed; she was sure of it, or, at least, that was what she told herself. Still, it was too good to be true.

Nothing ventured, she thought, nothing gained, remembering what her father would always tell her. He raised her to take chances, to reach for the stars.

Kelly knew that she wasn’t going to get a story by staring at the phone as if doing so would prompt the person would call her at the office. While her business card did list her extension, he or she had left a message on her cell phone.

She snatched the receiver and punched in the numbers quickly before she lost her nerve. With each ring, her heart sprinted faster. Concentrating intently on the other end of the phone, she tried to envision the type of person who would answer.
After two rings, someone picked up, but there was just silence. She could hear breathing on the end of the line, but no-one greeted her.

“Hello?” Kelly peeped. She tried to control the quaking that passed through her at the strange silence. “Is someone there?”

This was a mistake. Visions of her death at the hands of the Cartel slammed into her mind. If they killed a senator—like she surmised—they wouldn’t have any qualms about ending the life of a lowly reporter.

At least, she thought, she was in the office. If they came to the office, she was sure that Paul would call the police. They wouldn’t be able to end her life in the News Station.

After a few more moments of silence, a masculine voice answered in a gruff tone, “Who is this?”

“My name is Kelly Swinson. I’m an investigative reporter for WTUW-TV Laredo.”

He went quiet again and was likely judging if she was truly who she said that she was. It was not the first time that an informant was hesitant to talk to her, and she mused that it wouldn’t be the last.

“You texted me last night about Rapture,” she insisted. “I would very much like to speak with you about the things that you mentioned in your text.”

He sighed. “Not over the phone. The parking lot at 1542 Rosemont Avenue. No cameras. Come alone.”

She grabbed a small, square notebook and jotted the address down on the corner of the top page.

Before she could object or even make sure that she had gotten the address right, she heard the click of him hanging up, followed by dial-tone screaming in her ear.

She sighed, hung up the phone and slouched back in her chair, taking a long moment to mull over the short, terse conversation.
It is a stupid idea to even consider doing what he said. If she went to the address he gave her, she might very well be walking into her own murder, but what other choice did she have?

“Dammit, Kelly,” she muttered to herself. “What have you gotten yourself into.”

Of course, I have to go. Without the lead, there was no story. Without the story, there would be no promotion, and Cayce would, most likely, be promoted to anchor. She would probably be out of a job without a story. Without the job, she might as well be dead, at least in her mind.

She ripped the sheet of paper from the notepad, folded it in half, and placed it and her smartphone into her purse.
As she crossed the newsroom, she poked her head into Paul’s office.

He looked up from his laptop, raising his eyebrows questioningly.

“Got a lead,” she said. “Be back later.” She retreated quickly before he could press her for more information, but she could hear him call out something before she left the office.

He bellowed, “I want an update when you get back, Swinson!”

If I get back, she thought, unable to shake the dismal feeling of dread that clawed at her psyche. Others were filing into the newsroom as she was leaving.

“How’s the story coming, Kelly?” the blond—Cayce Shaffer—asked, snidely. Her ivory dress shimmered like her hair in the filtering light from the large windows.

Kelly dismissed Cayce with her hand. She hoped her fear wasn’t written on her face, but it was likely masked by the excitement of finally having a lead.

Once she was back in her black SUV, she sat in silence for awhile. Opening up her large purse, she pulled out the folded scrap of paper and studied the address she had written down.

1542 Rosemont. It wasn’t the best part of the city. In fact, it was a downright terrible part of town that far up Rosemont. The area was a haven for Mexican gangs.

As frightening as that thought was, it did lend credence to the tip. Where there were Mexican gangs, there would be the Cartel, and where there was the Cartel, there were drugs and other illicit activities.

She started the car. It was too late to turn back now.

 

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