Boulder (Riders of Apollo #5)

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Riley Everett

“This doesn’t look good.” I groan, staring down at the large map of the county I’ll be operating in with the rest of the files spread out to show where everyone will be. “I’m leaving in less than twenty four hours, Johnson.”

He’s sat there, all chill with a glass of wine in his hand as I glare at the piece of paper dictating my next steps. Sure, I can learn all the back roads and short cuts, all the hangouts and headquarters but that won’t protect me in no mans land. None of the kingpins know anything about the French, they have no names and no leads and I imagine they’ll follow me the minute I land.

A random woman from a foreign country landing in the middle of their crap with basically no background information and no online profile, meaning they can’t find anything about me online. They’ll try and hack my tech by the malware will destroy their hard drives the second they try and obviously they’ll track me, listen to my conversations, all of that fun stuff.

I will be monitored twenty four seven which means I’ll also have to protect the idiots that choose to follow me. “You’ve handled worse than this, Riley.”

“Bullshit, look at this, Johnson. There are strict hierarchies, treaties, borders, everything. I agitate any one of them and I can cause a war, ya know? The one thing I’m trying to stop!”

“They do seem to have a temper.”

“That doesn’t help, you absolute knobhead! Oh good Lord, I’m going to fail this mission and boss is going to ship me straight out to Kandahar, say goodbye my dear friend for this is going to go to shit.”

“Riley! Snap the fuck out of it, you were in the army from sixteen to twenty four. You’ve been in a literally warzone, taken actual bullets and IEDs and somehow are still alive. You’ve been an agent here for four years and managed to take down an entire organisation, stop panicking and think logically.”

“That’s the issue, I can think logically but all of these groups are going to jump to the wrong conclusions and stalk me. If they stalk me, they are in danger. I can’t watch my back and deal with them as well.”

“Riley, you can’t think about them. I’m sorry. Your mission is taking down the French, if that means cooperating with local mafias/gangs or whatever the fuck you want to call them, then you have the legal right to do so. If you need to shoot someone, mislead someone, spy on someone, you can do that too. Your mission is the priority and I’ll be backing you up the entire way.”

“I swear you have to be accessible twenty four hours a day, Johnson. I don’t care, you’re crucial to me.”

“Boss wants me to go by the American times too so I’ll be awake when you’re awake and asleep when you are.”

“Good luck to us, Johnson.”

-------

I fucking hate planes. I fucking hate people. Oh and I fucking hate airports.

I don’t like travelling without my weapons but obviously I wouldn’t make it passed security with them so they’ve stashed them in my car abroad. Still, I have metal in my back so every time I pass through one of the full body scanners... “Over here please.” I step out of line to the bloke with the handheld device and the woman who is gonna feel me up for any weapons.

“Do you have anything to declare?” The woman asks and I sigh heavily. I hate having to relive my sob story all the time.

“I have shrapnel in my back from an IED.”

“You were a soldier?” Blokey asks me, still moving around me with that stupid stick that makes you feel like you’ve committed every crime in the book.

“Yeah, eight years.” They finish their search and let me collect my shit. I obviously head straight to the pub to drink my weight in alcohol to chill my anxiety. I shot some tequila before chasing it with beer, waiting for my stupid plane to board since the Commander made me get here three hours early because I’m a dick and would miss the plane otherwise.

I manage to get myself relatively tipsy before my plane finally boards and Commander did me the solid of getting me a first class seat. Probably because I’m likely to be flying to my death and he knows it. At least I get to do so in comfort. “Do you want any champagne today, Miss Everett?”

“How many glasses are free?”

“Just the one...”

“How much is the bottle?”

“£100.”

“Sounds perfect, could you charge the card that bought the ticket?”

“Of course!” She bounces off to get my entire bottle of champagne and I grin cheekily. I don’t think the Commander is gonna like me spending one hundred quid on champagne but hey, this is a celebration.

------

Okay, I am officially trollied.

I bounce off the plane with my carry on and a little bit of a sway in my step. Navigating security is a little hard but I do it, collect my bag and head out to the front of the building where I find my driver. “Miss Everett.”

“Hello!” I launch myself into the front seat of the car to start mucking around with the radio so I can blare my music instead of the shitty American radio. The poor driver seems traumatised as I blare AJ Tracey and scream the lyrics in excitement.

“This is your place, Miss Everett.” I grin up at him and hand him a fifty pound note.

“Sorry, I haven’t changed the currencies yet but thank you for the lift!” I grab all my shit from the car before staring up at the ugly apartment building with a frown. How depressing. I already miss the graffiti covered, weed smelling streets of East London.

I heave my suitcase across the car park and basically fall over the curb when Saviour - yes, Saviour, the gorgeous biker - appears in front of me with another very attractive woman with gorgeous strawberry blonde hair. Lexie I think her name was. “Oops! Hi!” I cheer, finagling my suitcase so that it’s not in between us anymore.

“Hi, I’m Saviour, this is Lexie. We’re from just up the road, we basically run the area so if you have any problems then come to us, okay?” She’s British... I’m so sad she’s straight and married, what a major disappointment.

“Sure, my name’s Riley. I’ll see you around, love.” I salute them both before manoeuvring around to get to the building.

The flat is just as ugly as the outside. A small one bedroom apartment with a wall of cabinets, a small fridge and a combo oven. A tiny couch and a shitty TV. The bedroom has a double bed in it with a spring mattress and the bathroom is just a shower, toilet and basin, no mirrors or anything.

I send a text to Chief, simply saying: ‘you’re a bitch’.

To which he replies: ‘get over it, it’s not home, just an extra place to stay’.

I end up throwing my phone somewhere and passing out in my bed fully clothed.

Good day, eh?

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