Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Thriller
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Nathan Miller owns the streets of Union City. A rogue detective protected by a corrupt establishment—his rule is absolute. But nothing lasts forever.
Someone has betrayed him and now blog sensation Alexis King knows things she shouldn’t. Coming after Nathan she threatens his authority, giving the elite cause to question his worth.
To protect his reign, Nathan must silence his betrayer before Alexis learns enough to topple him. But he’s no longer the only thing to fear in the rotten underbelly of 2035. His search uncovers an evil preying upon the displaced beyond the city wall—making Nathan the next target.
Festival House was modelled after Shakespeare’s Globe in London, England. In the heart of the city, it’s far from the troubles outside the wall. The Elizabethan theatre, constructed of oak and thatch, stood three stories around with an open-air center.
Nathan entered the private balcony of Mayor Willie Vargas. Below, players acted out a scene from King Lear. The accommodations were plush. Leather chairs sat on each side of a marble table. On top of the table, a wine bottle rested inside an ice bucket.
“Take a seat,” Vargas said in a hushed tone.
Nathan adjusted the lapels of his trench coat before lowering into the opulent chair.
Nathan glanced around the packed house and noted wealthy executives and public figures alike. “Not my crowd,” he answered.
“You could do with some culture, Nathan,” Vargas picked off a piece of lint on his knee as he said, “It could broaden your horizons.”
On stage Goneril recited, “By day and night he wrongs me; every hour he flashes into one gross crime or other, that sets us all at odds: I’ll not endure it: His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us on every trifle. When he returns from hunting, I will not speak with him; say I am sick: If you come slack of former services, you shall do well; the fault of it I’ll answer.”
Nathan shook his head. “If this is culture, I’ll remain uncouth. What did you want to discuss?”
Vargas offered a thin smile that revealed his eye teeth. He set his HoloSphere between them, indicating Nathan should pick it up.
With a sigh, Nathan lifted the unit to find the latest blog from the King’s Ransom frozen on the screen. His hand tightened around the plastic as he looked over at Vargas.
“You’ve heard her latest I’m sure?” Vargas said, “Tell me you had nothing to do with this attack.”
Tossing the unit aside, Nathan answered, “Nothing that can be proven.”
Vargas exhaled through clenched teeth. “You—” He narrowed his eyes. “You think she needs to prove anything?”
Nathan said nothing and Vargas pressed his point. “She accuses you of criminality and then gets roughed up by thugs outside the wall. You see how that looks?”
“I don’t care what it looks like.”
“Well I do,” Vargas yelled.
Goneril raised his gaze to their balcony—upset by the outburst.
His voice a whisper, Vargas said, “I assumed you were smarter than this, but perhaps I need to spell it out for you. King is not to be touched.”
“Maybe you want to talk to Logue about that?”
“I’m the mayor of this city,” Vargas said, “Michael answers to me. As do you.”
“And for how long?” Nathan tightened his left hand into a fist. “She’s coming after me, but do you really think she’ll stop there? Protect her, and she’ll fit you for a noose.”
Vargas turned away, his composure unshaken. He made a show of adjusting his gold cufflinks before answering the charge.
“Her crusade has only made her more famous. Going after her gives her more fodder—I’m protecting us all. You need to cut her off at the source.
“How many know the details? Who stands to gain from all this? You need to find the leak and do it fast.”
Nathan nodded his agreement as Vargas asked, “Who do you think would betray you?”
“It has to be someone I’m putting the screws too,” Nathan said, “They must think this will get them out from under me.”
Vargas reached for the chilled bottle and poured himself a drink into a delicate glass flute. “What would a person like that know? Have you considered someone closer?”
His gaze narrowed as Nathan awaited a suggestion.
“Someone on the force, perhaps?” Vargas asked, “How well do you know your partner?”
Nathan snorted. “No way. He wouldn’t do this.”
“You’re certain of that? I hear he doesn’t want a cut of the proceeds.”
Nathan reached for the bottle. “He’s idealistic, not suicidal.”
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Nathan paused with the bottle in his hand.
“That costs more than your salary. Put it down.”
With a terse nod, Nathan slowly replaced the bottle. “I know my partner. Quinn’s not a rat.”
“Why doesn’t he want a cut of the proceeds?”
“I told you, he’s idealistic,” Nathan said.
Vargas shook his head and turned away. “I’d feel better about him if he was on the take.”
Nathan stood and glanced down at the players on the stage before he said, “You don’t need to worry about Quinn. He’s not who I’m looking for.”
As he turned to leave the balcony, Vargas said, “You may trust your partner with your life, but I don’t trust him with mine. Take him before the Judge. Eli will know if he’s hiding something.”
“So, what was that about back there?” Quinn asked as they drove past the wall. “Festival House isn’t the usual beat.”
Nathan gave him a look but offered no reply. Vargas’ warning echoed in his ears.
“Was nothing,” Nathan said after a moment, “Had to meet a concerned citizen is all.”
He turned away to watch the city glide past his window. He didn’t want to doubt Quinn’s loyalty, but Vargas’ accusation took root. Angry at Vargas and himself, he opened and closed his fists while the veins throbbed in his neck.
“Pull over up ahead,” he said to his partner.
Quinn put it in park. Nathan jumped out and rushed into a dark alley.
Throwing his own door open, Quinn hurried after him.
“If it isn’t my old buddy Terry,” Nathan said, full of menace, “How’s my favorite pusher?”
Footsteps scattered as a pair of teenagers beat a hasty retreat.
“Oh man,” Terry said, “Chasing away my business.”
The complaint fell on deaf ears and did nothing to remove the condescending grin from Nathan’s lips.
Rail thin and wiry, Terry Watts displayed the hallmarks of a junkie.
Nathan said, “Don’t worry Terry, you’ll find more like them.”
Shifting his feet, Terry glanced between Nathan and Quinn several times. “Why you sweating me man? They was paying customers.”
Nathan showed Quinn an astute smile before he put a shoulder into Terry and slammed him back against the brick wall. Terry’s head bounced hard off it before he collapsed in a heap.
Nathan grabbed a handful of his greasy blond hair to pull his head up. “Let’s get one thing straight, T-dog. You operate under my good graces. You exist because I allow it. I let you move your shit on my streets in return for your cooperation when I want it.”
He shoved his head back to the ground. “So don’t piss me off.”
“All right man.” Terry crawled a short distance away to sit up. Spittle hung from his bottom lip. He asked, “Shit, what do you need?”
“Well now, that’s more like it.”
A bottle breaking echoed in the alley. Quinn to glanced into its dark depths and hovered his hand over his holster.
Nathan paid the noise no heed. “Somebody’s been talking, Terry. They been telling King shit she shouldn’t know.”
“Well, it isn’t me man!” He scratched his cheek as he said, “I—I didn’t say nothing.”
“Did I say it was you?” Nathan clipped him behind the head knocking him forward. “You don’t know shit and, even if you did, who’d fucking believe you? Piece of shit junkie.”
“Well then, what do you want man?” His pleading tone gave Quinn pause, but it only further angered Nathan.
With his left hand around his throat, Nathan lifted Terry up and pressed him back against the wall.
“Miller—” Quinn objected. Nathan silenced him with a look.
“You’re connected, shithead.” Nathan tightened his grip on Terry’s throat. “You got your ear to the ground. You know things. You know how to find out things. Want to keep getting high? Find out who’s talking to King. You bring me their name, and you can crawl back into your haze. Otherwise, I’m gonna be all up in your shit, and things will be unpleasant for you.”
He dropped him, and Terry slid down the wall wracked by coughs as air flooded back into his tortured lungs.
As he walked away, Nathan said, “Spread the word. I want a name, and I want it now!”
Quinn lingered a moment as Terry retched on the concrete before he turned away from him and followed his partner into the dark.
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