Read Cowboy Ending - Overdrive: Book One Online

Authors: Adam Knight

Tags: #fiction, #adventure, #murder, #action, #fantasy, #sex, #violence, #canada, #urban, #ending, #cowboy, #knight, #outlaw, #dresden, #lightning, #adam, #jim butcher, #overdrive, #lee child, #winnipeg, #reacher, #joe, #winnipeg jets

Cowboy Ending - Overdrive: Book One (8 page)

Crumpling the
plastic bottle and tossing it into the garbage bin, I pushed away
from the pillar and rolled my neck to loosen some tension. It
popped loudly in my head though no one else could hear it. I closed
my eyes for a brief second and tried to get a grip on my
heartbeat.

 

Someone clapped
me on the arm. My body reacted instinctively as my eyes snapped
open; trapping an arm, gripping a collar tight and forcing it up on
an angle until my elbow locked out.

 

“Jesus,
Joe!”

 

My eyes focused
on Mark’s pain tight face just above the bunched up collar my fist
was jamming under his chin. I blinked a few times, the adrenaline
still blasting in my veins before letting him go.

 

Mark coughed
and shook out his arm, rubbing at his throat as he eyed me warily.
Nearby bar goers had backed away from the sudden activity. I could
feel their eyes on me. Judging.

 

I wiped a palm
down my face. It came away sweaty. Greasy.

 

“What the
fuck’s the matter with you?” Mark yelled.

 

“Sorry,
man.”

 

“Seriously?”
“Yeah. Sorry. Been a long day.”

 

“So you take it
out on me?”

 

“I didn’t
know... I …” I shook my head to clear it, my pulse still high but
receding. “I’m just tired and it’s been crazy. I
suck.”

Mark rubbed at
his throat a bit more than he needed to, just to be obvious about
it. “Fine. But don’t ever try that shit again.”

 

I raised my
hands palms out in the universal gesture of peace.

 

He grimaced.
Then punched me good naturedly – but harder than he needed to – in
the shoulder. I winced theatrically.

 

“You owe me a
beer,” Mark laughed. “You are seriously keyed up tonight.”

 

I didn’t say
anything. No point in denying it.

 

He motioned me
forward. “Come on. You’re friend’s at VIP.”

 

Threading our
way through a throng of packed people always takes longer than
you’d think it would for guys our size. Still, practice makes
perfect. Within relatively short order we made our way down through
the side hallways and up to the loading door where David was
clicking the head counter and making notes on his clipboard.

 

Tamara stood
there and waved in a perky little fashion from amidst her small
group of friends, several of whom I vaguely recognized from the
gym. In truth I almost didn’t recognize her without her librarian
glasses, though I should’ve figured she’d be a contact lens wearer
as well. ‘Course she was also dressed to kill in a un-YMCA approved
mini skirt and top. If I had ever wondered how well sculpted her
legs were, I now no longer needed to imagine. A little dash of
make-up and a please-stare-at-my-cleavage attention drawing pendant
and my little friend Tamara was going to attract some admirers.

 

Which was
probably the idea.

 

Tamara stepped
past David and give me a quick hug. “Thanks!” she exclaimed before
making some fast introductions that I had no chance of hearing once
she turned her face away from me given the noise. Still, I gave my
small smile and shook hands all around.

 

“These
guys give you any trouble?” I asked loudly, motioning to David and
Mark with my forehead as they turned back to face the remaining
people in the VIP line. I saw Mark give Tamara’s ass a long look
and throw me a knowing smirk.

“Oh no, they
were fine.” Tamara shivered a bit, rubbing at her bare arms. “Can
we head inside? It was a cold wait.”

 

I lead Tamara
and her small group back up into the club where the noise and
lights were once again over powering. Without even having to check
with the doors I knew we were over capacity and that it wasn’t even
close. Most Saturday nights we ended up fudging the attendance
numbers somewhat just in case the Liquor Commission came in for a
headcount. But tonight no official in the world would believe we
were at our limit of five hundred people. Aaron was willing to ride
the wave and pay the fine if we got busted, which would admittedly
be peanuts compared to the profit coming in.

 

Still, the
further over capacity we got the easier it was for things to get
out of control.

 

It took me a
moment to realize that Tamara was trying to ask me something, but
even when I turned to look at her I couldn’t make out what she was
saying. Must’ve been the pendant.

 

A few moments
of exaggerated lip movements and pantomime later I nodded in
understanding and led Tamara’s little group up to the main bar and
motioned for them to stand right in front as I walked in behind
waving to Shelby. Getting her attention I then pointed to Tamara
and then to myself mouthing “She’s with me!” in as exaggerated a
fashion as I could. Shelby nodded immediately with a big smile,
finished up with her current client and then came right over to
take Tamara’s order.

 

She smiled
gratefully at me. I nodded back and motioned out towards the crowd,
regretfully. Tamara nodded and I left her there, beginning my
search for a new place to perch until the band stopped butchering
Garth Brooks’ entire catalogue.

 

Seriously, this
guy couldn’t carry a tune with a wheelbarrow full of buckets.

 

Not finding a
good place to perch and feeling way too agitated to stand still I
began another perimeter sweep.

 

Basement was
good. Packed wall to wall with people but nothing dangerous. The
guards hanging out down there were standing on stools against the
walls in order to keep an eye on everything. The restrooms seemed
clear, no passed out bodies in the men’s room or illicit
shenanigans going on. The ladies room I took on faith from the
girls I asked as they departed from powdering their noses.
Hopefully only with actual powder.

 

Up the stairs
to the coat check at Main Street entrance. The ladies there were
taking a breather as Big Mike was holding up the line outside. And
given the number of people already crowding the club I couldn’t
imagine too many more of the hundreds waiting in queue getting even
a sniff of alcohol from inside our establishment.

 

Two long steps
to my left and I stood in the entranceway to the dance floor facing
the main bar and VIP section. Hard to really make out anything in
specific looking out to the floor with so many people packed
together in a rhythmic mess. People could’ve been in trouble or
not. My instincts said no.

 

Over in the VIP
section I could see Officer Miller with ease, his huge shouldered
frame moving in a bad white man attempting to dance sort of way.
His big mitts were still holding two beer bottles each. Officer
Parise and the little guy I didn’t know real well - Myron something
- were sitting on one of the couches talking to themselves as a
plethora of scantily clad ladies shook their asses in before them.
Some other men in suits hung around in VIP as well. No one I
recognized specifically though one of them might’ve been a City
Counselor.

 

A brief
movement caught my eye. It was Tamara. She was waving at me and
smiling wide as she and two of her friends attempted to breach the
perimeter of the dance floor, drinks held high over their heads.
They had less trouble with that then I would have. Being a small
attractive girl goes way further than being a massive man in some
crowds.

 

Okay. Fine.
She’s hot.

 

I shook my
head, trying to clear it of cobwebs. Fatigue from the day was
finally sinking in.

 

Everything
seemed in order.

 

But I
still couldn’t settle down.

And I couldn’t
figure out why.

 

Something about
the crowd was making me twitchy. No one thing was standing out and
flagging itself to me as a trouble spot. Just everything in general
was feeling ….

 

Off.

 

Best I can
explain it.

 

Mercifully I
heard the band announce “We’re gonna take a break after this song,
folks!” I turned away from the dance floor when I noticed Aaron
leading people my way from the VIP section. I was about to make
another pass through the basement before heading back to the main
stage to my preferred perch but I froze.

 

I recognized
both people.

 

I shot a glance
over my shoulder. No way I was going to be able to sneak off
without shoving people bodily aside.

 

Shit.

 

Please don’t
recognize me.

 

Aaron and his
guests stopped in front of me. “Joe!” Aaron shouted genially,
clapping me hard on the arm with a martini glass in his other hand.
“Have you met, Max?”

 

Max Poulin. The
man who wore number seventeen and the Captain’s “C” for the
Winnipeg Jets let loose with a million dollar smile and extended
his hand to me. A shade over six feet and as fit as you’d expect a
professional hockey player in the second year of his twenty-seven
million dollar contract to be. Dressed to the nines in a silk
collared shirt, jeans that cost more than my van with his hair cut
short and his green eyes twinkling in the lights. Poulin was a
local hero these days. A perpetual leading scorer and always the
first guy to volunteer for public events on behalf of the team. Not
to mention he was now a full time resident of Winnipeg.

 

“Joe, is
it?”

 

I shook his
hand firmly but carefully. I didn’t want this guy ending up on the
disabled list unless he earned it on the ice. “Yeah. Heard you
potted the game winner?”

 

Poulin’s smile
was perfect. Just humble enough to appear genuine (hell, he might
have been genuinely humble) but proud enough to show he appreciated
the attention. “I got a lucky rebound. Fluery was way out of
position. Easiest goal of my year.”
“But a big one!” Aaron chimed in, grabbing Poulin’s arm. “That
one’s gonna be all over the highlights for a while.”

 

“So long as the
team’s winning. Playoffs are the goal this season.”

 

“Ain’t that the
truth.” Aaron motioned to the penthouse region. “I was just about
to take Max and Cathy upstairs to get away from the crush of
people. He won’t be able to stay for the after party given
tomorrow’s practice.”

 

“Of course,” I
replied, stepping aside and motioning for them to pass. Also
managing to avoid making eye contact with Poulin’s raven haired
date for the evening despite her attempts to the contrary. “Go
right …”

 

Commotion. At
the Main Street entrance. I could see it happening over Poulin’s
shoulder even as Aaron’s hand snapped up to the earpiece he was
wearing.

 

Adrenaline
surged again. Addictive in it’s pure sensory enhancing rush as
another shock of cold tingled down my spine. The gooseflesh
returned, raising the hairs on my neck and down my arms as I
stepped into motion. I pushed past the hopes and dreams of the
Winnipeg hockey faithful and rushed towards the street.

 

It was colder
than before. Or maybe it just felt that way. I’d been inside a
human sauna for the last several hours so the brisk air hit me like
a wall. The lineup of people were pressed back from the street and
staring at the scene I was bursting onto.

 

At least
a half dozen members of the
Native
Posse
(wearing full patches and colors) were engaged
in action with Big Mike, Danny and another young doorman; trying to
force their way inside. Mike had his frying pan sized hands on the
chests of two of the gang members holding them back. Danny and his
partner stood on either side, blocking the club entrance and
minimizing access.

 

“Let us the
fuck in!” one of the younger members shouted, his finger pointing
past us. His face screwed up in rage. “We want to talk with the
boss!”

 

The others were
all shouting and gesturing as well.

 

Mike held his
ground, trying to be reasonable. Wanting this to end peaceably.
“Come on guys, you know the rules. Your colors aren’t on the Dress
Code.”

 

“So this is
some kinda racist club? Is that it?”

 

“No man, your
gang colors!”

 

“Fuck you,
whitey. You think you can just take our women and keep us
outside?”

 

“I have no idea
what you’re talking about, but you cannot come in!”
“You had no trouble letting my sister in though did you?” yelled
the guy from the back. A younger man, maybe eighteen years old. A
dream catcher tattooed under his right eye. “It’s okay for them to
come in, but not us is that it?
“You guys need to calm down!”

 

I could feel
Aaron crowding in behind me. A quick glance over my shoulder showed
me that Mark had recruited two other doormen on his way up front.
The gang members were starting to back away as the numbers game
slowly caught up with them. Seething hatred in the tattooed kids’
eyes.

 

More insults
were tossed our way for a few minutes. Racist this. You white
fucks, that.

 

Aaron leaned in
close to me. His voice precise. No nonsense. “Push these guys away.
We don’t need this abuse and our guests don’t need to see it. Show
of force, Joe.”

I glanced
back at Aaron. His overly tanned face was calm but severe. He
wasn’t joking at all. In the lineup I saw the people talking
amongst themselves, whispering back and forth. In my opinion few of
those people would let anything these punks said change their
opinion about partying at
Cowboy
Shotz
tonight or any night.

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