Jack Steele is an ex–naval intelligence officer turned private investigator who has just proposed to his girlfriend, Martha, over dinner when he sees a bloodied and frightened boy running toward him outside the restaurant. After Martha steps in to protect the boy from the two men in hot pursuit, a gun battle ensues, leaving Jack’s beloved fiancée dead on the sidewalk. While Jack grapples with the ramifications of her tragic death, he is unwittingly pulled into the dark world of human trafficking at the hands of an Albanian mob doing business near Lake Michigan.
Desperate for answers, Jack partners with a Chicago police detective to learn about the organized crime culture and develop a plan to stop the trafficking operation and free their victims before they are sold on the black market. As Jack puts his own life on the line, he must battle the powerful Catholic Church and stop the cunning exploits of a deranged pedophile priest who believes he is doing God’s work by turning children into little angels. But will Jack manage to accomplish his heroic mission before it is too late for more innocent victims?
Ordainment Betrayal shares the thrilling tale of a former intelligence agent’s dangerous quest to stop an Albanian human trafficking operation in collusion with the Roman Catholic Church.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.48(d)|
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By DENNIS QUILES
iUniverseCopyright © 2017 Dennis Quiles
All rights reserved.
Engjëll entered the old church in downtown Chicago with his partner, Bekim. Outside, their driver waited in a black van parked a discreet distance away. Engjëll knew that when they received their orders from the Priest and went back outside, the inside of the van would be filled with smoke from the fat driver's harsh cigars. Engjëll hated those cigars, but he had bigger fish to fry for now. He couldn't give much thought to the distasteful vices of the ape behind the wheel of the van, at least not at the moment — and not in the house of God.
Engjëll and his partner walked along the long corridor knowing that the coming hours promised to hold much in the way of violence. The cruelty of humanity was just fine with him; he dealt out his fair share of it on a regular basis. He was oblivious to the beauty of the church, and he knew Bekim was too.
He continued past the altar next to the confession booth and through a set of doors that welcomed him inside an interior hallway. The gloomy hallway was decorated by the painting of previous church priests who'd died in the service of the Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in downtown Chicago, Illinois.
After passing a thick, solid door, Engjëll and his cohort entered a chamber where the decorations hadn't changed in at least a hundred years. The room's ceiling was decorated with paintings that would have made Michelangelo's frescoes look like child's play. The paintings trims were covered with 18-karat gold. The royal blue, orange, black, and gold color combinations accentuated the images and gave an eerie, old-world style look often seen in the medieval European Catholic basilicas.
Engjëll stopped in front of a very old wood desk, with trimmings covered in faded gold. Behind the desk sat the distinctive figure of Father Bartholomew de Amantini, a man whose clothing distinguished him as a man of God. The Priest waved his right hand, beckoning Engjëll to sit. He obliged, as did Bekim.
After a minute or so, the man behind the desk handed them a manila envelope. "The Lord has spoken to me one more time, and it is time. You are the servants of the Lord. You know what to do. Fulfill your mission, my sons."
Engjëll said, "Your eminence, we are glad to be at your service — as always. In due time, all will be done as you wish."
"I am glad," Father Bartholomew said.
Engjëll saw a smile cross the Priest's face and something evil flash through the holy man's eyes. "We must go," he said.
Engjëll and his partner left the church. A few minutes later, they got into the van parked a block away. Upon entering and sitting up front, Engjëll told the driver to take off. As the van pulled out of the parking spot, Engjëll pulled the manila envelope out of his jacket pocket and placed it on his lap. He eyed the red wax seal.
"You see this, Bekim?" Engjëll asked, holding the envelope up for him to see over his shoulder. "Father Bartholomew really loves his rituals." Engjëll laughed. "A wax seal? Really?"
After breaking the seal, Engjëll opened the manila envelope and pulled out a five-by-seven, high-quality photograph of a boy. He was laughing and proudly displaying a soccer trophy. Engjëll passed the photo to his partner and pulled out a second page containing the boy's name and address. "Looks like a sweet take," he said. "The kid's toast and don't even know it."
The driver laughed, keeping his eyes on the road.
Engjëll settled back for the long ride to Levittown, Pennsylvania. "We got to make the miles if we want to keep on schedule. Don't bust the speed limit, but don't go too slow either," he said to the driver.
"Yeah, we got to keep to our schedule," the driver said. "We don't want to piss off Father Bartholomew."
Engjëll involuntarily shivered. He feared the Priest. Something about him gave Engjëll the creeps. "No, we don't ever want to piss off Father Bartholomew. Not ever!"
* * *
Engjëll felt a tingle of excitement as they pulled up in front of the would-be victim's house. It belonged to a guy named Kruger — a Mr. Robert Kruger. His nine-year-old son, the kid in the photo, was named Josh. Neither of them knew what was going to hit them in a matter of hours. Engjëll liked it that way. In a sense, the power he had over the Kruger family made him feel a little like God Almighty.
It was dark when the driver parked the van in front of the Kruger's driveway. Engjëll and Bekim stepped out of the van. Before they quietly closed the doors, Bekim grabbed a stainless steel cylinder containing a powerful gas. They pulled down black balaclavas and used the shadows to stealthily ease their way to the main door. Engjëll motioned for Bekim to go around back to the kitchen, where he could easily pick the cheap lock. Once inside, he'd disperse the gas through the nearest air return vent in the central air-conditioning system to knock the occupants of the house out cold. Engjëll had used Google to check on the homes in the Kruger's neighborhood. Although they were old and inexpensive, they all had central air and heat.
Bekim disappeared in the shadows. Engjëll waited patiently, keeping out of sight in the darkness beyond the reach of a nearby streetlight. A few long minutes later, Engjëll's handheld radio crackled.
"Phase 1 complete. Proceed. All clear on the street?" Bekim asked.
"Roger that. All clear," the driver said.
Engjëll donned a gas mask and black surgical gloves. He headed around back to join Bekim, who opened the back door for him. Using small, red lens penlights, they both lighted their way upstairs without difficulty. Engjëll had checked the floor plan of the Kruger house as well. He knew where little Josh was likely sound asleep.
Engjëll's heart beat fast as they both made their way to Josh's room. The gas had rendered the occupants of the house unconscious within minutes, but the operation could always go south for some unexpected reason. He urged himself to hurry, but he also urged himself to remain calm, cool, and collected. He opened the boy's bedroom door, using the light to see his face and make sure he had the right target. He did.
He reached down, covered Josh's mouth with duct tape, and bound his hands and legs. Bekim reached inside his inner jacket pocket and pulled a cheap pocketknife from it. He stabbed Josh, making just a small wound, one small enough to ooze about half an ounce of blood. The blood dripped from the wound into a small, transparent, plastic cup. He then scattered a few drops of blood on the bed as well as on the room's carpet.
Slowly and carefully walking over to the master bedroom, Engjëll accompanied Bekim as he opened the door and observed Josh's parents deep asleep on their bed. He placed a couple of drops of Josh's blood on the father's slippers, then took the father's right hand and one by one, dipped his fingers in the cup containing Josh's blood. Following this, he pressed Robert's fingerprints on the pocketknife blade and handle and in the finger grooves. Carefully, he placed Robert's hand back on the bed with his fingers facing up and walked out of the room. He closed the door, and both men left the master suite.
Engjëll and Bekim returned to Josh's room. Bekim picked up Josh, placed his body over his right shoulder and, with Engjëll's help, covered the boy from head to toe with a black linen sheet before heading downstairs. On the way out, both men crept into the garage. Engjëll opened the driver's side door of a green Chevy, which was unlocked.
He placed some of Josh's blood on the door handle, the inner door armrest, and steering wheel and bent down and placed some on the driver's side floor mat. Next he opened the passenger side glove compartment and skillfully placed the pocketknife on top of some white papers. Carefully, he closed the lid and exited the car. He took the remaining blood and opened the trunk to pour the rest of the precious red liquid in a single spot inside the trunk.
* * *
"Come on," Engjëll whispered. "Let's get the hell out of here. The parents could wake up any minute now."
Bekim nodded. "Yeah, let's go. Kid's getting kinda heavy anyway. Don't want to get a hernia or somethin'."
Engjëll quietly closed the Chevy's trunk. He darted outside, took a quick look around, and then signaled Bekim to come quickly. A few moments later, they'd loaded the still unconscious Josh in the back of the van.
The fat driver grinned. "Everything go A-OK, boss?" the driver asked.
"Like white on rice," Engjëll said.
"I love it when you speak American," Bekim said.
"When in Rome," Engjëll replied.
All three men laughed. A few minutes after that, they were almost at the interstate highway bound back to Chicago.
Many hours later, the driver pulled into a dimly lit spot at the Chicago bus station.
"You both stay here and watch the cargo," Engjëll said.
"Right. You got it, Engjëll," Bekim said. "Happy hunting."
Engjëll left the van and headed up to the terminal rest area and observed the bus schedule, paying special attention to the buses arriving from Detroit, Michigan, and Kansas. When the first bus arrived, he radioed Bekim and the driver, who had both stayed in the van.
Engjëll, now hiding behind a glass door, observed every single person who stepped off the bus. And suddenly his eyes went wide, and he smirked when he saw, to his best guess, a fourteen- to fifteen-year-old, pigtailed blonde girl alone and waiting for the bus cargo doors to open. He waited to see if the girl was traveling alone or if someone would be joining her soon. Upon observing that the only thing she picked up was a small backpack and a guitar, he alerted Bekim and the driver.
"I think we've got the catch of the day," Engjëll said.
"Roger that. Two fish for the price of one."
Engjëll followed the girl as she walked toward the vending machines. She set the guitar against the vending machine and dropped her backpack. She yanked out some change. Engjëll approached her from behind.
"Machine broken?" he asked, giving the girl a friendly smile.
"Dunno. Looks like I don't have enough change anyway."
"Allow me" Engjëll said. He fed a dollar into the slot in the machine. "Pick whatever you'd like. It's on me."
"You sure, mister?"
"Of course. Really. Buy whatever you want."
"Well, uh, okay." She selected a Snickers bar.
"Would you like some pop?" Engjëll asked.
"Well, like, uh, I guess so. I'm sorta thirsty after that long ride"
Engjëll fed another bill into the adjacent soda machine. He returned the girl's smile as she chose a Coke.
"Thanks, mister! This is really nice of you," the girl said.
"Don't mention it."
Engjëll bought a Coke for himself and snapped the can open. They both took a sip.
"You play?" he asked, nodding toward the guitar.
"Yeah, a little. I'm not that good though."
"I bet you play just great." Engjëll took another sip. "My daughter plays, you know. At the church."
This is gonna be easy! Like taking candy from a baby, he thought.
"How old is she?"
"Oh, I'd say she's about your age. She's fourteen."
The girl beamed at him. He felt warm and fuzzy inside, a slight erection starting in. He knew she wasn't for him, but knowing what games were in store for this sweet little thing made him hot.
"You meeting someone here?" he asked.
She didn't answer. Instead, she adjusted her backpack on her right shoulder and leaned over to pick up the guitar.
"Sorry," Engjëll said. "I didn't mean to pry."
"Oh, that's okay," the girl said.
They made their way to a seating area in a food court. He was pleased that she was walking with him. He could sense her hesitation, but he'd overcome any normal caution. He was already building rapport.
The two sat down at a table opposite each other. The table was still dirty with food residue left behind by the previous occupants, but they both agreed that a dirty table was better than no table at all. After ten minutes of conversation, Engjëll knew that her name was Hanna that she was alone in the city of Chicago, that she had come to apply for a job in a local café, and also that she was staying in the city at a girlfriend's apartment.
"Say, since you're new in town, would you like to join my daughter at church? Might be fun for both of you. She can also show you around the city. I can introduce you right now, if you like."
Hanna hesitated. Engjëll could tell she was mulling it over.
Go ahead, sweetie, take your time, he thought.
When Hanna smiled, Engjëll knew that he'd trapped her. So he asked, "What will it be? Should I take you to your girlfriend's house or go directly to the church to meet my daughter?"
"What's the name of the church?" she asked.
Engjëll told her.
"I'll look you and your daughter up there once I get settled in at my girlfriend's apartment."
Engjëll fought his disappointment. A flicker of rage began to surface and then burn. Engjëll forced himself to smile and gave Hanna the address.
"Hanna, at least allow me to show you the way out."
Both of them walked out the main exit, and as soon as they reached the terminal's main entrance, Engjëll alerted his partners by squelching his microphone three times. Engjëll turned back to face Hanna and said, "From this corner, you can see the church's bell tower. Look." He extended his hand and signaled the driver in the nearby van with his index finger.
They walked a few more steps away from the terminal's main entrance.
Just a few more seconds, he thought. Just a few more seconds, and you're mine! All mine!
From the corner of his eye, Engjëll could see a dark van fast closing in on his position. Suddenly, the van screeched to a stop, the door opened, and Hanna was rushed inside. She struggled, but Engjëll and Bekim were too strong for her. Within seconds, Hanna was bound and resting next to little Josh as the driver of the van sped toward the Eisenhower expressway. Full of rage, frightened, and with both her hands and legs tied, Hanna observed a little boy sleeping in the corner of the van. His mouth was covered with duct tape, and as she took in his head resting on a dirty pillow, she knew her worst fears were being realized. The hair on her skin raised, and her heart wanted to leave her chest. Yet in her mind, she knew this was just the start of her most terrible nightmare.CHAPTER 2
Robert Kruger stirred awake as sunlight bathed the interior of the bedroom he'd shared with his wife, Cynthia, for many years. He yawned, stretched his arms, and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He glanced at the alarm clock on the nightstand and saw it was two minutes to six o'clock. "Honey, it's time to get up," he said, noting that Cynthia barely moved, had hardly heard him.
"Come on, babe. We got a busy day today" Robert said, nudging her on the shoulder.
Cynthia sat up on her side. She said she had a bad migraine, one she hadn't felt in a long, long time. With both hands, she moved away her long, straight gold hair from her face and gently rubbed the back of her head.
The alarm went off. Loudly.
"Oh God, Robert! Turn that thing off, will you? My head hurts something awful."
Robert laughed. He smacked the alarm clock to turn it off.
"It's not funny!" Cynthia whined.
"I haven't seen you with a migraine in years."
"Guess it's our lucky day," she said with a groan.
"Robert is that blood? Are you hurt?"
"For the love of God, Cynthia! What are you saying? What blood? Where?"
"There!" she said, her voice rising in panic. "Robert! Look at your hand. That's blood."
Robert looked at his hand and realized he did, indeed, have blood on his fingers. Without thinking, Robert stepped out of the bed and ran out of the room toward the end of the corridor to Josh's room. Cynthia followed. When they opened the door, Cynthia ran inside and stopped cold when she saw that the bed was empty. Robert could see that she was terrified, and the fear rose in his heart as well when he saw bloodstains on the carpet and bed.
"Oh God!" she cried. "Where's Josh? Where's our baby?"
Robert stood there, unable to say a word, his mind whirling, the bile rising from his stomach to his throat.
"Someone has taken him! Taken him!"
"We should call the police. Right now," Robert said.
He saw a look of rage on his wife's face. Confusion mixed with the other emotions he felt. "What, honey? What is it?"
"This is your fault! I know it is!"
"I don't know what you mean."
"Yes, you do! It's those thugs your brother deals with. It's those crooks. I know it! It has to be. Those crooks never leave you alone. I told you that your brother's association with them would bring doom to our family. I knew it!"
Trembling, he moved toward her, ready to take her in his arms. "Cynthia, for the love of God and our son, don't look at me like that! I have no idea what is going on. Whatever happened, it's not my fault. Right now, we have to find Josh! We have to call the cops! The FBI!"
She ran to Robert and hit him in his chest and face. "Where is Josh, Robert? Where is our son? What have you done with my baby?"
Robert was in disbelief and he didn't know what to do. He held his wife steady and asked her to look at him. "Cynthia, you know I love our son," he said. "I will never do anything to hurt him. You know that. Perhaps he is downstairs or in the basement playing electronic games. Let's go find him together."
Excerpted from Ordainment Betrayal by DENNIS QUILES. Copyright © 2017 Dennis Quiles. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Kidnapped, 1,
2 Framed, 9,
3 The Shooting, 19,
4 Reckoning, 27,
5 Without Mercy, 37,
6 Arjeta, 49,
7 The Decision, 61,
8 The Krye, 67,
9 The Priest, 77,
10 Attacked, 87,
11 Special Delivery, 95,
12 Escape, 105,
13 The Avenger, 115,
14 The Plan, 121,
15 Unwanted Guests, 127,
16 The Raid, 135,
17 Exodus, 149,
18 Confrontation, 155,
19 Flight, 165,
20 Hell's Fire, 173,
21 Just Desserts, 181,
22 Recovery, 189,
23 The Gift, 197,