This excerpt is from Chapter Two of Conduct Unbecoming. Teague’s on the hunt again. Nadeya, a former Army buddy, has gone missing and her best friend, Aileen, has asked him to find her. She took a picture of a man she recognized, someone involved in the death of her finacée. The problem is, there’s a body on the beach that looks a whole lot like the man she was after. Teague enlists the help of his friend, Jasper, who owns a boat that can quickly transport them to the beach where the body lies.
Jasper’s black Boss 351 Mustang was already in the driveway, parked next to Kai’s battered red Jeep. Not wanting to park either of them in, Teague pulled up in the yard. He heard voices behind the house, so didn’t bother going to the front door. He found Kai and Jasper in the back yard, talking happily.
“There he is!” Jasper yelled. “I guess we’re outta here, Kai.”
“Come back if you can. I know Paisley would like to see you both.”
“I don’t know how long this is gonna take,” Teague said. “But Jasper doesn’t have to stick around.”
“And miss out on the fun? This could be interesting. Psychotic ex-girlfriend on the loose tracking down murder suspects? Hell yeah!”
“It’s not like that, Jasper.” Teague paused, reconsidering. “Okay, she may be psychotic but I never dated Nadeya.”
“No? You dated her bestie though, right?”
Jasper nodded. “Then it’s a good thing you didn’t date her too. Could get ugly.”
“Can we please just go? Danielle and Neil are expecting me.”
Kai helped them with the ropes and they headed out into the bay. The jetty wasn’t far. It was a straight shot across the bay to the point. They were slowed slightly by channels, but it was much quicker than if Teague had gone by car. He tried to review the files Isobel had sent him, but the glare off the screen made reading hard. Instead, he looked around, enjoying the beauty of the day.
“Don’t suppose you’ve got a spare weapon on this tub?” Teague asked his friend.
Jasper chuckled. “Cabinet above the bed.” He tossed Teague a set of keys.
Teague caught them with one hand and ducked inside the cabin. He unlocked the cabinet and found Jasper’s stash. It was quite impressive. Helping himself to a sleek handgun, he checked the magazine and chamber before tucking it in a spare holster he found hanging to one side. He loved the fact that Jasper was well prepared and trusted him enough to loan him a weapon. Feeling better prepared, he locked the cabinet and headed up on deck. They were approaching their goal.
Teague shaded his eyes against the glare off the water. Squinting, he saw his friends on the beach. A police boat stopped them, but let them through when he saw Jasper at the helm, allowing it as a professional courtesy.
Teague spotted Neil on the shore. Whistling sharply, he got his friend’s attention. Neil turned around, waving at Teague and Jasper as they approached. Danielle stooped over a body that lay, spreadeagled, on the beach. He was face up, though his chest lay on the sand. Teague gave an involuntary shudder.
“Either he’s real limber, or his neck’s made outta spaghetti,” Jasper said quietly as they walked up.
“Guessing cause of death was a broken neck?” Teague asked facetiously.
Danielle squinted up at him from her position on the sand. “Medical Examiner hasn’t shown up yet, but it’s a fair bet. However, the gunshot wound to his abdomen would have been as effective. Slower, more painful. . . .”
“Nasty way to go,” Teague said.
Jasper got gloves from a nearby patrolman and squatted near Danielle. It wasn’t his case, but he was interested. Having worked with him before, Danielle didn’t mind. Jasper often saw things others didn’t. She was glad for his input.
“What did you want to tell me?” Neil asked Teague.
Danielle joined them. She kept her eyes on Jasper and her forensics team, but wasn’t going to miss Teague’s narrative.
“I got a call from an ex-girlfriend this morning, an Army Captain, Aileen Griffen. She claimed that her best friend had disappeared.”
Danielle looked like she wanted to interrupt. Teague held up one palm, stopping her.
“While on the surface, the two things might not seem to be related, let me finish. Nadeya, the one who disappeared, was Army, well trained. Put in an application at Quantico when she left the military, but couldn’t pass the psych evaluation. She’s lethal by any standards.”
“Define lethal,” Danielle said. She stood with her legs wide, arms across her chest. She considered this conversation a waste of time.
“Black belt in Krav Maga. She’s studied mixed martial arts, boxing and ballet. She put in more time with a handgun than probably the three of us put together. She’s brilliant, borderline psychotic and possibly armed. According to her shrink, she was convinced this man, among others, murdered her lover back when she was in the service. I can’t say definitively that she killed him, but he sure looks a hell of a lot like the fella in this photo, don’t you think?” He showed them the grainy print, following up with the jpg from his e-mail.
“How do you have this photo?” Danielle frowned, narrowing her eyes.
“Her shrink gave it to me. She said that Nadeya saw him in a bar on the beach and snapped the picture. She was determined to track him down.”
“Is that our stiff?” Jasper asked as he loped over. He gave the photo a thorough examination, nodding. “Looks a lot healthier in the picture, but fair bet it’s the same guy.”
“Do we have an ID?” Teague asked Danielle.
She dug the toe of her shoes into the sand, hands in her back pockets. “We’re working on it.”
“Which is Fed speak for We do, but we aren’t discussing it with a civilian. I get it. This guy got himself killed and he might have been murdered by a friend of mine. Please, don’t play games, Danielle.”
“It can’t hurt to tell him that much,” Neil said softly.
Danielle nodded. “His name was Nikola Tesla.”
“That’s the father of the electronic age?” Teague said. “He looks pretty good for a man a hundred and fifty-six years old. Someone one is jerking you around. Or you’re jerking me around.”
© 2014 Dellani Oakes