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Under the Radar: A Stand-Alone Thriller

Under the Radar: A Stand-Alone Thriller

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After six months of deep undercover work, everything goes wrong for Ryan, leaving him with a gunshot wound, and forced on the run. The only place he can go is his late wife's best friend's house. Except Gertie and Ryan aren't on the best of terms. And Ryan would rather listen to grass grow than spend any time with her. 

But the more time he spends with Gertie, the more he realizes things are not what they seem. Rather than shielding her from the bad guys, she's kicking butt and refusing to ask names. Gertie seems to be running from her own dark past with skills he never knew she possessed. 

Can Ryan figure out how his undercover job went south, solve the deep dark mystery of Gertie and live to tell the tale? 



Intro Into Chapter 1

Unleashed Chapter 1: Introductions

Tears flow down my cheeks until I pinch the bridge of my nose and take a shuddered breath. Man, I hate this day already. I lift my gaze to the mountains beyond the Spokane River where the sunrise peeks over the mountains.

I grit my teeth, pull my ponytail through the hole in the back of my Mariners baseball cap, and start a slow jog.

The path twists and turns with the river at a gentle incline. Pine trees, meadows, and an occasional game trail border the paved pathway. A crisp breeze tickles the hairs on my neck, but I barely notice.

If I run fast enough maybe I can outrun my memories.
The path passes a large hotel with a terrace that faces the trail and river.

There’s a guy sitting at a wrought iron table on the patio. He has wavy brown hair, a cup in one hand, and a book in the other. He’s sat at that same spot for the last couple days.

Just him.

Of course, it’s just him. Who else is up at five in the morning? Only the teen-aged girl who doesn't want anyone to see her crying while she runs.

The guy glances up from his book and his eyes widen. He leaps to his feet and opens his mouth at the same time I’m yanked backward by my ponytail. I yelp, grabbing at my hair. Adrenaline shoots through my veins, and my heart races.

I glimpse a thick, burly man with a scraggly beard looking down at me with feral eyes.

A hundred factors shoot through my mind in a split second. Bad guy. Bad intentions. Far from my car. And alone. Forgot my mace.

Fight like hell. Just like Dad taught you.

I slam a fist to his groin. He doubles over, releasing my hair. I elbow him on the back of the neck, knocking him to his knees, then render him unconscious with a kick.

Another guy, younger and leaner, tackles me from the side. I’m slammed to the ground and we skid to a stop in the grass. Wind bursts from my lungs. The taste of dirt and blood fill my mouth. My side and skin scream with pain.

I’m elbowing the second attacker in the face and neck when he’s yanked off me by the guy from the terrace.

Terrace guy uses a few well-placed strikes until my attacker is in a bloody heap next to his buddy. Both attackers are unconscious.

Terrace guy returns to me and holds out his hand. “Are you alright?” he asks, his eyes wide and chest heaving from the exertion.

He looks pretty young. Not much older than me. Twenty, maybe?

“Uh…” I look down, checking myself for blood. “Yeah, I think so.”

I take his hand and he hoists me off the ground onto my wobbly legs. I wipe debris from my sweatshirt and leggings, hissing when I accidentally brush against exposed scrapes on my legs.

He winces. “Ooh. That doesn’t look good. Come inside and I’ll get you cleaned up.”

I hesitate, glancing at the two unconscious bodies. They’re probably local transients living by the river.

Terrace guy follows my gaze, pulls a phone from his pocket, and dials. After a moment, he says, “Two guys just attacked a jogger on the trail outside the hotel. Can you take care of it? Thank you.”

He drops the phone back in his pocket and says, “Do you want to stay and wait for the police? Or would you prefer to get patched up?”

I shudder, imagining a dozen things these guys could've done to me. “Let’s get outta here.” I hold up a finger. “Hold on.”

I walk to the smaller of the two guys and kick him in the ribs as hard as I can. I’m about to kick the other guy when I catch a glimpse of his hand. His fingernails are clean and well-trimmed. Odd for a transient. I furrow my brows, crouching to look closer. He makes a noise and starts to move. I straighten, and back away, trying to get distance in case he comes to.

The guy from the terrace stares at me, slack-jawed.
“What?” I ask.

He snaps his mouth shut and blinks a couple times. “Uh, nothing. C’mon, you can use my bathroom to clean up.”

He steps off the paved path where I’d been running, toward the hotel onto a narrow dirt path that snakes through the swath of overgrown vegetation between the hotel and my running trail.

I shake my head at him. News articles about people murdered by their rescuers flash through my mind. “I think I’ll use the lobby instead,” I say.

“You’re probably right. For all you know, I could be the Boogeyman.” He steps onto the path and glances over his shoulder. “The name’s Drew, by the way.”

I follow him into the grass. “Aleasha. And thanks for the help.” I stare at his back where his shirt stretches over well-defined muscles. I bet his chest and abs are the same way. He’s lean though, not bulky.

I like lean.

He pauses at a wire fence bordering the hotel’s property and holds up a cable to let me through.

“Thank you,” I say, glancing up at him as I pass through the fence. Wow. Seriously green eyes.

“You bet,” he says.

We trudge up the incline to the terrace. He picks up his cup and book, before ushering me inside and points down the hall. “The lobby is this way.”

“How long are you in town?” I ask.

“I’m not sure yet. It could be a couple days, or a couple weeks.

I’m here until the job is done.”

“What do you do?”

“Lots of things. Right now, I’m a head-hunter,” he says.

“What’s that?”

“I recruit people for specific jobs.”

“How many people are you recruiting here? Do you recruit just Spokane, all over Washington state, or the entire country?” I ask.

“Just one person.” He guides me to the front desk with his hand at the base of my back. Warmth rushes to the spot where his fingers rest.

“How long have you been here?” I ask, trying to ignore his hand.

He raises a brow. “This particular visit? Or for this specific person?”


At the front desk, a girl in a white button-down shirt, long, curly blonde hair, and way too much make-up, gives me a once over. “Are you all right?”

“She was running and someone attacked her,” Drew says. “Do you have a first aid kit and a bathroom she can use?”

The girl—her name tag says Sandi—picks up a phone from the front desk. “Do I need to call the police? Are they still out there?”

Drew shakes his head. “I’ve already made a call.”

Sandi returns the phone to its receiver, then steps out from behind her desk. Her eyes travel up my body, resting on my forehead. “Yeah, sure. Follow me.”

She points to a door near the lobby’s entrance with a restroom sign next to it. “You can go in there. I’ll bring everything to you.”

“Thank you,” Drew says.

“I don’t think it’s anything serious. Just some scrapes and bruises,” I say to him when we stop in front of the bathroom.

“You sure about that?” Drew steps closer, raising his hand to my face. I freeze, unsure how to react. On the one hand, he’s a stranger.

On the other, he did just save me.

He gently pushes my hair from my face. I wince as the strands graze my forehead.

“Mmhmm.” He nods. “Hurts, doesn’t it?”

“A little.”

Drew smiles, glancing into my eyes, then back at my forehead. “Don’t move.”

He strides into the bathroom, runs the water for a moment, then comes back with a wet paper towel. He motions to my head. “May I?”

“Uh, sure.”

He gently presses the warm, wet paper to my forehead, and I wince again. Pain throbs at the wound.

When he pulls his hand away, there’s a big red splotch on the paper towel.

“Is it bad?” I ask, suddenly wishing I could look in the mirror.

“It’s still bleeding, but I don’t think it needs stitches. Why don’t you check yourself out in the mirror, and I’ll hunt Sandi down.” I nod, watch him leave, then go inside and lock the door.

Glancing in the mirror, I groan. Leaves stick out of my hair in all directions, an eye is swelling, and there’s a pretty good scrape on my chin. Not to mention the gash on my forehead. Somewhere in the struggle, I’ve lost my baseball cap. Nathan’s baseball cap. It was his favorite too.

Sighing, I pick at the leaves in my hair. I’ll have to go back to the trail later and see if I can find that hat. It means too much to not make an effort to find it.

Drew taps on the door. “You doing okay?”

“Yeah,” I poke my head out of the bathroom. “I look like I’ve been put through the wringer, but I’ll be fine.”

“Here you go.” He hands me a washcloth and waves a band-aid in front of my face. “I managed to wrestle this bugger from Sandi.”

His eyes widen in mock seriousness. “She’s tougher than she looks.” I chuckle.

Drew nods toward my head again. “Want me to put it on?” “Sure.” Sooo articulate, Aleasha.

While he’s carefully placing the band-aid over my cut, I say, “You didn’t say how long you’ve been here.”

“You caught that, huh?” He clears his throat. “I’ve been here six days so far.”

“And how long total for this specific person?”

A smile twitches at his lips. “About eight months.”

“Eight months? You’re persistent. What makes this person so special?”

Drew grins then steps away, admiring his handiwork. “I’ve had to do a lot of homework with this one. I’ve been waiting for the right time to approach them.”


“You never know how a person’s gonna react.”

“You’re recruiting them, right? For a job? That’s a good thing,” I say. “Who wouldn’t be flattered by that?”

Drew tilts his head and gazes at me. “You wanna go to breakfast?”

I catch another glimpse of myself in the mirror and wince. “How about lunch instead?”

“That’s probably a good idea.” He glances at my forehead again. “Do you need me to drive you anywhere?”

I start to shake my head then realize that the quickest way back to my car is via the trail, and past the guys who just attacked me. What if they got away before the police got there? A shiver runs down my spine and I force a smile. “You know what? I’d love a ride.”

After he drops me at my car, I thank him and wave while he drives away. When he’s out of sight, my smile fades. I unlock the door to my car, plop into my seat and hit the lock button.

My shaky hands grip the steering wheel until my knuckles are white. This probably never would have happened if I’d had Nathan running with me. But it’s been almost a year now, and he’s not coming back.

A tear slides down my cheek and I whisper, “Happy would-be birthday, little brother. Thanks for dying and leaving me all alone.”

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