Boulder (Riders of Apollo #5)

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Riley Everett

“Fuck this.” I hiss for the sixth time today and shove my way through the crowd to the train station. There’s a preacher out the front shouting about sins and giving our problems over into the light of the angels, they’re all fascinated by him but I’m already running late to the office and Chief is gonna kill me.

He’s my handler and I’m his highest operative, the entire organisation knows who we are after that case in my first year so apparently we have to make a good impression all the time. I figure we’ve already made it and have continued to show it after all of the cases we’ve been doing. My phone rings while I’m getting out of the tube station a few minutes later and I wince.

I’m in trouble.

“Hey boss.” I drag out, ducking under arms and dodging people as I head up the street to the building I was supposed to be in twenty minutes ago.

“You’re lucky I lied to you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The meeting isn’t until ten.” I stop short and check my watch, the little bastard scheduled for me to arrive half an hour early.

“Ohhh, I don’t know whether to be impressed or offended.” I skip up the front steps, enjoying the way the crowd of operatives parts to let me through. I know I shouldn’t get cocky but it’s fun to have everyone know who you are and know that you are capable. When you’re raised in the East End of London, most people don’t think you’ll amount to anything, especially not with my record but look at me now. “I’ve gotta go, security checks and shit.”

I turn my phone off and toss it into the bucket before slipping off my holster with my government issued gun and knife and putting them in there too. I step through the detector and it goes off, making me roll my eyes. “We do this every more Altman, I have shrapnel in my back from an IED in the Baltics.”

“I know, Agent Everett. Sorry, just part of the job.” She responds, fishing out her handheld detector and gliding it over my body. I give her a thumbs up and she lets me collect my shit and I put my belt back on in the lift.

“There you are, Boss was pissed.” I laugh at Johnson’s face as it pops out in front of me the second the lift doors open. He’s a boy-next-door type and usually runs my missions from behind the computer, he’s my tech guy. The Q to my Bond, so to speak.

“Meh, the idiot knows I hate coming in. This time he’s even managed to beat me, I got here early! Early!”

“Blasphemy!” He shouts back, handing me a cup of tea which I take gratefully. We both head through the cubicles to the main office at the back where Chief basically lives.

“What’s up, Chief?” I greet enthusiastically, immediately taking the seat opposite him with a grin, kicking my feet up on his desk. Johnson waits for permission to sit down and does so like a normal person so he doesn’t piss this guy off.

Now, Chief is officially known as Harrison Rae, a tall fifty year old with salt and pepper hair and a fierce disposition. His reputation is legend now but he’s a little fluff ball and wouldn’t hurt a fly even though he knows every different way to kill you. “Get your feet off my desk, Riley. You were not raised in a barn.”

“I was raised in a two bedroom council flat in the East End.” I retort and he rolls his eyes, forcing my legs down and throwing his pen at me. I only just dodge it. “Look, man. What is this about?”

“This French threat is escalating, we’ll probably have to send you out at the end of the week. They’re encroaching on Mexican and Rider territory, if they piss off one more person it’s going to be all out war.”

“And they want me to do what I did with the Vicca Crime Family.”

“They want you to dismantle it from the inside without war, that means license to kill, unlimited access to everything and stealth.”

“You know, that would be great fun but I don’t operate in America. How do they have the power to pull this shit on foreign land?”

“That’s what the Commander wants to talk about. The Americans are only letting you in, meaning you won’t have help in the country like you did here. No safe houses, no help, nothing. You will only be able to communicate with me and Johnson here.”

“I’ll be cut off from everything, I know England like the back of my hand, the Baltics, Ukraine and Hungary too but I don’t know anything about America.”

“You’ll be given a week to go through everything, that means all-nighters with Johnson. Further training into American combat and you’ll need to look at maps and hierarchies.”

“Well shit, Johnson. You up for this?”

“Can’t have you flying blind, it’ll be dangerous, more so that the Vicca Crime Family. You have to worry about the French, the Mexicans, the Italians, the Russians and the Riders.”

“What Riders are you talking about?”

“The Riders of Apollo own most of the land that the French are trying to conquer. They have pacts with all three major players out there due to this one.” They pull out a picture of a gorgeous woman with long blonde hair and sharp hazel eyes. She’s meeting with the head of the Italian mafia, Lorenzo with a leather jacket on saying property of Reign. “This is Saviour. We don’t know her real name but she has known connections in the major players, she’s not in charge but she has the most influence in the area.”

“She’s-”

“No sleeping with her.” He points at me and I pout, what a let down.

“She’s married.” Johnson tells me and my heart breaks further. Chief looks cocky at that prospect and throws the file down on top of the others. “Is that everything we gotta go through, Agent Rae?” He points at the large stack of files and by the way Chief’s face twists into a smirk I’d say that’s not even half of it.

“We’ll discuss this more after the meeting with the Commander and for God’s sake, don’t embarrass me.” That is obviously pointed more to me than Johnson and I skip along behind him to the Commander’s office while Johnson types avidly on his phone. “Stop skipping and fix your blazer.”

I frown and look down at my ruffled outfit. I tuck my silk blouse back in, straighten my blazer and brush down my slacks before giving him a thumbs up. “I don’t think you understand how hard it is to skip in stilettos, you should be proud.”

“Shut up.” He hisses and the doors open for us just on time. I normally walk into these meetings late, even the Commander seems surprised at my punctuality.

“Riley, Harrison, Louis, take a seat please.” I actually forgot that Johnson’s first name is Louis, I’ve been called him by his last name since I joined up. “Right, I gather that Harrison has briefed the both of you on your upcoming mission.”

“Yes sir.” We say simultaneously and I fight the urge to fist bump like we always do.

“It’s a complicated mission and quite possibly one of the dangerous that has crossed my desk in my fifteen years at this job. Riley, you have the right to turn down this mission as you’ll be the only one in danger but you have to know that you are the only one qualified to complete this mission properly.”

“I get it, boss, I’m just a little concerned. I mean, America isn’t my home turf, why haven’t you asked one of the agents who work out there to do it?”

“I understand your concern but the foreign agents are not fully trained for the extent of the mission. It’ll be undercover to slip into the French militia but you’ll have to make friends with the Riders and the other key players in the area. They can’t play both ways nor are they combat trained as well as you. You are all I have.”

“You don’t have to convince me, I’ll go but I would like to ask for the week so I can train and study, say goodbye to family, etcetera.”

“You leave seven days from now, Riley. I’ll send you the details and Johnson will be your main port of contact.”

There’s no place like home.

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