ABOUT WILD SAINT
The last time I saw Nyla, I was in the desert, naked and cuffed to a tree with my own handcuffs.
It wasn’t one of my finer moments.
She beat me at my own game once. Now it’s round two, and this time I’m playing dirty.
CHAPTER ONE: DAGEN
The last time I saw Nyla, I was in the desert, naked and cuffed to a tree with my own handcuffs.
It wasn’t one of my finer moments.
I didn’t know her as Nyla at the time. When I met her, she introduced herself as Sierra.
I was all jacked up on residual adrenaline from a job I’d completed, and I needed an outlet.
I was stuck in the middle of nowhere and making my way along the northern edges of the Chihuahuan Desert, looking for the first city with an airport so I could get the hell out and collect my paycheck.
In my line of work, it doesn’t pay to stay in one place too long. The longer a job takes, the greater the chance of something going wrong.
I’m a finder.
I find things, and people pay a lot of money for the things I find for them.
I’m known to my clients as Raguel, or bank account number 749-238-09.
They don’t need to know anything beyond that, so long as I do my job and acquire what they want.
I make no friends; I have enough of those. I have my brothers, and I have my privacy, which keeps me safe.
Finders are essentially ghosts. We are never seen. We have no description, so no one needs to know I’m actually in the older age bracket for this line of work.
At thirty-two, I am literally getting too old for this shit.
I’ve been a finder since I turned eighteen, and I’m close to the going retirement age. The jobs pay well, and when you are at the top of the food chain, people pay even more to hire the best.
I first heard about finders through an associate of my father’s. I overheard them talking one night at a party my parents were hosting. The guy was retiring, on his way out of the business, and the stories he told sucked me in.
I wanted to see the world, work for myself, and enjoy the finer things in life on my terms.
I didn’t even wait for the ink to dry on my high school diploma before I was gone, shocking my brothers and father, who thought I was heading into the family business on the heels of my older brother Lennox.
It wasn’t my thing.
I figured my father had enough sons to follow in his footsteps, so he surely wouldn’t miss me.
I was wrong, but I didn’t know how wrong until recently, when I was made horribly aware of what happened after I left.
This job isn’t easy. It’s definitely not legal at times, but it is lucrative.
Someone in my line of work can comfortably retire after ten years and live out their life stress free, basking in the sun on their own private island somewhere.
I would have been there already, except I’ve been distracted for the last couple of years, lending my time and expertise to my brothers.
But now it’s time to do something for myself, which brings me to my code name. I chose Raguel because he’s the archangel of justice and fairness, which serves my finder reputation well.
He’s also known as the archangel of vengeance, which brings me back to Nyla—or Sierra.
It doesn’t matter.
I found out after my night with her that Sierra was just one of the many names she went by.
Looking back, as I have countless times over the last five years, everything about her seemed too perfect. She just happened to saunter into the local watering hole in a podunk town, looking like something from the cover of Playboy with just enough classy grace to make me want to pursue her.
I wanted her the second I saw her, and my dick overrode my common sense as soon as I heard the bartender call her by her name and hold up a drink just for her.
In my horny mind, a local knew her, so she checked out, and I was getting laid.
I only found out later that she’d paid him a hundred bucks five minutes earlier to say her fake name and make her a Jack and Coke—hold the Jack.
So while I continued to drink a few more doubles, she was just becoming highly caffeinated.
I had planned on grabbing one drink and getting back on the road, but as the night wore on, the rundown motel a mile back was looking better and better. Then she leaned into me with a naughty confession of her own that sounded like the best idea I’ve ever heard.
It turns out Sierra loved the outdoors, and she’d always wanted to fuck outside, but she never got the chance—and who would I be if I didn’t help this deprived woman out?
It turns out Nyla is a finder too.
Looking over her past jobs, I’d say she’s pretty close to the second-best finder around, after yours truly.
I always assumed the guy who was operating under the code name Satyr was just overcompensating for something. It never occurred to me that he was a she, and that mistake cost me just north of two million dollars.
The last time I saw Nyla, she ran off with my pants, which wasn’t a big deal on its own, except that they carried the keys to my rental car, and she took that too. I’d normally chalk that up to poor judgment and a lesson learned, except sitting in the trunk was just over two million dollars, which belonged to a client of mine, and—you guessed it—she took that too.
The clients I work for don’t accept failure, and they really wouldn’t accept an excuse like I just had to put my dick in a honey-eyed hottie I just met at a dive bar in the middle of nowhere because the poor creature had never had sex under the stars and I was broadening her horizons.
A mistake like this could cost me my reputation or, worse, my life.
So I paid my buyer out of my own pocket and created a debt to sweet little Sierra, who I found out later had claimed her own paycheck under the name Satyr. Her payday came from her employer, who was the one I originally stole it from.
The fact I stole the money first is irrelevant.
What matters is she took from me.
And, as I stood there cuffed to a deceptively sturdy tree with my own handcuffs, wearing nothing but a stiff cock pointing in the direction of my rental’s taillights as they disappeared into the night, I vowed vengeance.
Little did I know I would have to wait five years to find her again.
When I saw her face on the security video from the storage unit, I lost my shit.
I was beginning to believe I would never find her, and there she was, walking out of the building carrying the file we needed, and not more than forty feet away from my brothers sitting in their car.
She was right there.
My own team couldn’t track her down in the five years they had, so I switched gears.
My younger brother Cole hooked me up with his tech guy, who hacked our contracts system, which is tantamount to treason in my line of work—if it was ever discovered I was behind it—but this information was too good to pass up.
He pulled all of the job’s contract information, including the names of everyone who accepted it.
This is when I finally located the name she goes by, but that was all there was.
Any other morsel of Nyla was simply not there.
It’s like she didn’t exist until ten years ago.
But that isn’t all Dark Webb found.
There is a new contract she’s signed on for. It’s paying out an unheard-of amount of money, and it’s open to all of the finders who signed up to retrieve the microfiche that Ryder and Cole are looking for.
Nothing about this adds up.
I shouldn’t care that Nyla is walking into what is most likely a trap, but I do, and this frustrates me even more.
I should want to recover what she took from me, take retribution for the money she owes me, and throw her to the wolves, but there is something holding me back.
I had Cole’s guy get me a date and a location so I could intercept her.
The date is today, and this old hotel in the middle of Fairbanks, Alaska, is where she’s going to be.
I am a finder.
I find things.
Nothing else has ever eluded me for this long.
And here we are.
It has been exactly five years, one month, and three days since I last saw Nyla, and those wide eyes staring back at me in utter fear tell me she isn’t as excited about our reunion as I am.
Making my way across the crowded lobby, I’m locked on her as her gaze shoots around the room, no doubt looking for an escape.
She remembers, and she knows where she stands with me.
I hate explaining myself.
While her appearance has changed, she still moves with the same purpose and grace that sucked me in the first time. That tight little body of hers did the rest, and I can’t help but flash back to her raw need as she rode me home on a little blanket in the moonlight.
I’ve replayed the moment I would finally see her again over and over in my mind, and it’s true what they say: there really is nothing like the real thing.
I close in on her position, and I’m twenty feet away from having her when her hand shoots up in panic, causing me to slow my step as she continues to look around the room.
As I follow her line of sight, I realize she isn’t looking for an escape; she’s looking at all of the other faces in the lobby, and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
My chest tightens as I consider our situation.
Scanning the faces, I recognize one other person in the room, although it is from his photo only. He’s a low-level finder, just starting out. As I step between Nyla and the person who goes by the code name Blue Dog, I get the impression this guy thinks he’s the only one here in our line of work. The guy sits casually reading a newspaper, and he hasn’t bothered to scan his surroundings to look for any possible threats.
Nyla’s hand tells me to stay back as she puts her other hand to her ear. Her lips move without a voice, just like mine do when I communicate through my earpiece.
Remembering I went radio silent with my own team, I tap my earpiece on, and a voice crackles through before I start speaking.
“Man, am I happy to hear from you. Something’s going on,” Nigel says. “I’m trying to find out more, but I can’t get in touch with your brothers.”
While I listen to Nigel speak, I keep my eyes trained on Nyla.
Her face falls as she nods to herself, no doubt receiving some information from her team, and it’s probably information I need.
“Look, by my count, four of us are in the lobby of this hotel at the same time.” I wonder if Nyla noticed the guy dressed as a porter by the front desk. “That doesn’t happen.”
Nigel types away on his keyboard before telling me the location on their contract has just been updated. “The new information is that the item they need to retrieve is in the safe in room 339.”
A contract is never changed once it is agreed upon.
“Hack in. I want to know who’s in that room.”
Nyla braves a glance in my direction.
I furrow my brows, silently warning her to stay put. The bustle around the lobby becomes background noise to the sound of fingers rapidly tapping on a keyboard through my earpiece.
Then, suddenly, everything goes quiet.
“Shit,” Nigel hisses.
“There is no room 339,” he answers. “At least, not in the system there isn’t. If there’s a room 339 in the building, and they are all heading for it at the same time, then it’s—”
“A kill box.”
Mistakes like this never occur in my line of work, and the reasons for wrong information are very few, starting with sabotage and ending with setup operations, and if I’m not the one doing the setup, I’m the one being set up.
Everyone on this contract is about to be sucked into a trap.
I know what’s coming before Nigel says the words.
I thought I had more time to extract Nyla before whatever is about to happen happens, but my time just ran out, and I’m too close.
“You’re out, Raguel. I’ve sent notice to the pilot; you’ll be wheels up in twenty minutes. Get out of there. We’ll figure this out later. I’ll alert the rest of the team. We good?” Nigel asks.
“Almost,” I answer and turn off my headset.
I have no time to listen to Nigel argue the finer points of leaving now.
I know our emergency procedures.
Leave everything behind, and get the hell out.
It’s simple, really, except that it’s not.
I have a score to settle, and there’s no way I’m leaving everything behind.
After closing the last few feet between us, I grab Nyla’s arm without hesitation and head toward the exit.
She goes stiff in my grasp as she furiously looks around us.
She hasn’t said anything yet, but I can practically see her gears working overtime to figure out her own plan of escape.
A group of camera-carrying, wide-eyed tourists files out of the large tour bus parked out front, and they begin to fill the lobby.
Everything swells and slows around us.
Nyla leans hard to the left, and I’m about to have it out with her when I notice a key in her hand, which is extended toward a row of temporary lockers.
I relent and allow her to open a cubby.
With her one free hand, she removes a duffel, slings it over her shoulder, then nods once.
She’s being more agreeable than I thought she would be, so I can only assume she hasn’t come up with a better plan yet.
I continue toward the exit.
A woman’s voice echoes over the lobby intercom, announcing an urgent call for Mr. Carlisle. Nyla’s body stiffens in my grasp, then she attempts to look back over her shoulder.
“Your signal?” I ask, keeping my eyes focused on our exit.
“I—yes.” She whispers her response, and she sounds disoriented.
This will work in my favor.
Plastering on my nicest smile for the tourists in front of us, I continue to walk to the door, doling out excuse-me’s along with my flirtiest smile to the older ladies blocking our way.
As we pass the seating area, Nyla watches as Blue Dog stands, folds his paper, and makes his way to the stairwell.
She must recognize him as well.
The woman does her homework. I’m impressed.
In examining the situation with Nyla, I know I have the upper hand right now. I have her, and she can’t make a scene. There is also something else that has thrown her off her game.
I’ll use this to my advantage.
She can try to fight me, but it would draw attention. I expect she’ll make a move when we’re clear from the building, and she doesn’t disappoint me.
As soon as we’re through the front doors and on the street, she pulls hard on her arm and tries her best to head east, farther into the city. The only problem is I’m heading west to my plane, which is fully fueled and waiting to leave.
Her attempts to free herself from my hold are beginning to frustrate me.
Her small frame is no match for mine, and I spin her around to speak directly to her for the first time in over five years. That’s when I notice her eyes have become glossy.
I’m about to pull her hard in the direction I want when a shot cracks into the cold street. Instinctively ducking, we both scan our area, looking for the shot’s origin, when a second and a third come from inside the hotel, and people rampage through the door to escape the crowded lobby.
“What do you know?” I demand as I yank her hard to face me.
Judging by the panic in her eyes, it isn’t me she is scared of.
She yanks her arm in short tugs, trying to get away. “I don’t know anything.”
Her eyes flit from me to the street to the hotel and back. She’s cagey. She brings her free hand up, and her slender fingers pick at mine, trying to dislodge her arm from my grip.
“Really? You all just happen to have the exact same job, in Alaska, of all places. Tell me what you know.” I hold her there with me in the street.
I know she wants to get out of the area as badly as I do, so she’ll talk, or there’s a good chance we’ll both be shot at next.
“Fine. My team just got some information, and they sent it to me before—” Nyla pauses, and I sense there is more to her story.
“Before what? I don’t have time for this. Whoever set you up must know you didn’t show up by now. They’ll be looking for you,” I say urgently, tilting my head toward the hotel exit to remind her we aren’t safe yet.
“Before my team evacuated. I—I’m on my own until I can get back and contact them,” she answers with another pull.
“Why did your team abandon you?” I ask incredulously.
Radio silence is the last option in my team’s emergency plans, and it’s only implemented in the event of—oh shit.
“A contract hit was placed on me this morning. I just found out. I ordered the evac. I need to leave,” she says with another futile tug of her arm. Then she continues, “Look we need to get out of here. The hit is—”
“And why would I care about a hit on you?” I cut her off, putting her in her place.
I definitely have the upper hand, and I’m keeping it until she repays her debt to me.
She turns slowly, and derision replaces the fear on her face. She knows something I don’t, and I’m bothered all over again.
“Because, Dagen Saint”—so she remembers my name—“your name is listed on the same contract—right below mine.”