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Dallas contractor, Quentin Abbot, has a mild fixation on old time cowboys, their music and their ways. He tells Wendy, his accountant and lover, that he will be gone to his father's funeral in Terwilliger on the Mexican border only a few days. However, circumstances plunge him into an unfamiliar world of tremendous wealth and power which he is ill-equipped to handle. The powerful and ruthless organization known as La Familia seems to be sticking a slimy finger into Westeco, the company he inherited from his ...
Dallas contractor, Quentin Abbot, has a mild fixation on old time cowboys, their music and their ways. He tells Wendy, his accountant and lover, that he will be gone to his father's funeral in Terwilliger on the Mexican border only a few days. However, circumstances plunge him into an unfamiliar world of tremendous wealth and power which he is ill-equipped to handle. The powerful and ruthless organization known as La Familia seems to be sticking a slimy finger into Westeco, the company he inherited from his father. The beautiful but scheming Babette offers a life of pleasure and luxury that goes against his entire value system. There is a way of redemption for Quentin but at a terrible personal price.
Adventure - Suspense: Against the backdrop of the Mexican crime organization, La Familia, more vicious and relentless than the Sicilian Mafia, we see the story of a likable man swept up in a heady world of tremendous wealth and power he is not equipped to handle. Seduced by a scheming beauty, he is finally redeemed only at great personal sacrifice.
Fiction-Espionage/Intrigue: "Johnson deftly handles the story of a likable man on the verge of disaster who finally makes the right choice."
--By "Powell's Books"
Don Johnson has done an exceptional job creating the vivid imagery surrounding the Abbot family ranch and lands in the hot Terwilliger, Texas. Lively characters, the steady pacing, and compelling narrative kept this reader entertained. ~ The Romance Readers Connection --This text refers to the Kindle Edition.
HE WAS A faceless man, the kind of man no one notices and no one remembers later. No one noticed him when he bought a ticket at Chicago's O'Hare Airport and gave his name as Madison North. He paid in cash and checked no luggage.
He wore a solid, medium grey suit and carried a dark brown brief case and a dark blue nylon suit bag on board. He sat by himself and spoke to no one during the flight.
Deplaning at San Antonio, he walked immediately to the men's room, placed the brief case on the floor, and stood at the urinal until a young man entered, placed an identical brief case beside his, picked up his case and left. He then picked up the case the young man had left, went into one of the stalls and locked the door.
He had straight, black hair when he entered the stall, but when he reappeared in the lobby his hair was a tightly-curled, sun-streaked brown. He now wore a navy blazer over grey slacks. At the car rental agency he presented a Florida driver's license and an American Express card, both made out to one Grayson Turner -- both expertly crafted fakes. He took the keys to an Oldsmobile Cutlass and asked for an area map.
Once in the car, he placed the brief case on the seat beside him, unlocked both snaps and lifted the lid. On one side, nested in a two-inch Styrofoam block was a Walthers PPK automatic of .22 caliber, a box of special, hand-loaded ammunition and a screw-on silencer. On the other side, stacked in neat rows, were banded bundles of $100 bills. He made a quick count -- 25 bills to the bundle, 20 bundles in all.
He consulted the map, pulled out of the lot, and hit a major interchange heading west.
IT WAS AN ordinary hot day in Terwilliger. That is, it was stifling hot -- almost unbearably hot -- to any stranger passing through. It was a two-way heat that put the town through a sweltering squeeze play from two directions.
From above, the small, colorless sun thrust its scorching rays into every crack in the protective covering with which the town sought to shield itself. It seared the roofs of the flat-topped buildings, turning the protective tar into a sticky sludge. It sucked the moisture from listless plants that clung to a stubborn existence in a climate too hot and dry for normal plant growth. It baked the top layer of soil into an unstructured powder that rose with the slightest puff of air to come to rest as a fine silt coating on virtually every surface in town.
The blacktop roads, rocks and buildings eagerly soaked up the sun's heat, later to radiate it back into the air from below. Heat collected and stored during the day was unleashed on the town's sweat-soaked inhabitants throughout the night.
To long-time residents of the small border town it was a normal day for late spring. They had lived all their lives with the heat, accepted it, and some, perhaps, even grew perversely fond of it. It was a rare mark of distinction for the town -- a conversation piece that set the area apart from most of the rest of the world.
The palm-lined main street was deserted, as were all the other streets in town. The only sound audible to the human ear was the shrill hum of a cicada emanating from the tropical shrubbery surrounding the courthouse lawn. Building material was predominantly whitewashed adobe with a few scattered buildings of native stone. The almost total absence of wood reflected the town's distance from any reliable source of timber.
The air was still in the downtown area and in the nearby neighborhoods where the laborers and people on welfare lived. However, at the edge of town where the land swept upward into majestic bluffs overlooking the river, there was a measure of relief from the heat and dust. Paving blocks, laid by hand in the earlier days when labor was cheap and plentiful, covered the streets, and a hint of coolness was carried by the light but steady breeze from the river. Houses were large and tree-shaded with huge green lawns irrigated directly from the Rio Grande by powerful electric pumps. This was the River Bluffs section of town.
At the very end of this area was the magnificent Cueva de Leòn, residence of Darby Abbot and world headquarters for Westeco Corporation, a vast business conglomerate of land, men, and machinery founded and virtually owned by Darby Abbot.
He was a reasonably careful man, as a man in his position needed to be careful. The large, white adobe structure, of Argentine Provincial design complete with a red tile roof, was surrounded by an eight ft. adobe wall studded with broken glass embedded in the concrete cap. A guard was on duty 24-hours a day at the large wrought iron gate which barred the only entrance to the grounds.
Two large and powerful German Shepherds, trained to attack viciously, without command or provocation, were loosed at sunset to prowl the grounds until morning. Electronic alarms installed throughout the house could summon a small but well trained private army at any time day or night.
These precautions were just that and had never been put to any serious use. For the most part, Darby Abbot lived quietly and pleasantly as befitted a man of such substance and power. He considered this array of alarm systems, dogs and armed men as mere safeguards that any prudent man might employ -- that is any who had the means to do so and who might have acquired enough potential enemies to make their effective functioning occasionally desirable.
A tall and sparse man with an acutely angular frame and an unruly mop of white hair, his appearance was at considerable odds with his surroundings. Clad in a sleeveless undershirt tucked into severely worn and faded jeans, he looked more like a particularly disreputable caretaker than like the patrón of a huge and profitable conglomerate composed of agribusiness, construction, financial institutions, and contract labor organizations, all of which were well known and duly documented in the public records. Beyond the records, there were unsubstantiated rumors of back door politics, illegal alien traffic, smuggling and influence peddling.
Now, his bare feet slapped audibly against the brown Mexican floor tile as he sauntered down the hall and stuck his head through the arched passageway into the cavernous main parlor.
"Carlotta!" His voice had a rasp to it as though it were on the verge of cracking.
An attractive young Mexican woman, busily dusting a side table at the other end of the room, turned and stood quietly, her arms at her sides. "Si, patrón."
"If anything important comes up, I'll be in my office for the rest of the afternoon. Understand?"
She displayed a slight, but affectionate smile. "Of course, Señor Abbot...You will not be disturbed."
His face cracked into a grin, and he shifted a wad of tobacco higher into his cheek. "And, I'll see you tonight."
She inclined her head, and the smile on her face broadened. "At your pleasure, patrón."
She watched him pad down the hall toward his private office at the far end of the hall. She knew her insistence on maintaining the appearance of a formal relationship between them during the day amused him. But, it helped satisfy her sometimes eccentric sense of propriety, and she was grateful for his indulgence.
She was grateful to Darby Abbot for many things. He was a kind and wonderful man who had demonstrated his fondness for her in many ways, not the least of which was smuggling her entire family out of the poverty-stricken village in Mexico where they had faced a lifetime on the edge of starvation. Her parents and brothers now had lucrative employment on one of the Westeco Ranches, and she was privileged to work here in the patrón's own hacienda.
The cruel wagging tongues in town did not know the patrón as she knew him. Of course he sometimes seemed hard and ruthless in protecting his own interests, but that was the way of any man who ruled in a hard and ruthless world. She knew him to be kind and considerate except when forced to be otherwise, and she certainly had no intention of provoking a self-protective reaction from Darby Abbot.
She was happy to keep his hacienda spotlessly clean, care for his laundry, and to warm his thin body in the night when he was in the mood. Or, more accurately, when she could tantalize him into the mood -- which, by now, was almost any time she felt like it.
She swelled with pride at the remembrance of how, with a light touch of her hand, she could gently instill the wine of youth into his aging loins, and a surge of warmth stirred her body. Ah, tonight would be very special. She would please the patrón in a hundred ways that she alone knew how to do and, in so doing, would bring great pleasure to herself as well.
Copyright © 2001 by Don Johnson