Jake Wolfe Book 2
by Mark Nolan Genre: Thriller
Every marriage has a secret, but this one is deadly. Lauren Stephens wakes up to find her husband, Gene, has vanished during the night. His phone is dead. Desperate, she hires Jake Wolfe and his war dog, Cody. They search the house and discover something so disturbing that Jake won’t allow Lauren near it. “No, if you see this, there is no unseeing it.”
Lauren thought she had it all: a loving partner, two great kids, a successful business, and a beautiful home in the San Francisco hills. But all of that is about to come crashing down, due to a missing husband, a hidden past, and a frightening secret that will shock a trusting wife to the core. Gene has enemies, and now they want something from Lauren.
Jake Wolfe is a flawed man who has a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He wants to leave his secret, violent past behind him, but when Lauren and her children are threatened, his protective instinct takes command. Jake soon finds himself involved in a dangerous conspiracy, targeted for death, and engaged in battle with a powerful, unseen group who will stop at nothing to get what they want.
Jake’s going to have to think fast and fight hard to protect Cody, Lauren and her kids.
Vigilante Assassin is “Jake Wolfe book two” in the ongoing series. It can be read as a stand-alone, or you can start with book one, titled: Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie.
Both of these Kindle Unlimited books in the Jake Wolfe mystery thriller novel series are available to read for free with your subscription to Kindle Unlimited.
Jake Wolfe bolted upright out of a dead sleep, disoriented and sweating. Driven by survival instincts born from his years in the Marines, and later in the CIA, he reached for his nightstand and grabbed his pistol from a hollowed out constitutional law textbook about the Second Amendment.
He held the weapon in front of him with both hands. His eyes flicked back and forth, looking for someone to kill.
Then, he took a deep breath, as the remnants of a recurring violent nightmare about his covert paramilitary operations faded away and reality set in.
He was on board a boat, the Far Niente, out on the San Francisco Bay and anchored in a quiet spot. He was borrowing the power yacht from his friend, Dylan, and he loved to spend the night on the water, away from the crowds and the problems of the city.
His adopted Marine war dog, Cody, came over to him and huffed, waiting for orders.
Jake scratched Cody behind the ears and whispered, “It’s okay, buddy, I just had the dream again.”
The dog, a yellow Labrador retriever and golden retriever cross, nodded and looked at Jake with wise eyes.
Jake got out of bed, and his body felt stiff with the aches and pains of old war wounds, especially in his thigh where he’d been shot and had nearly bled to death. The cool dampness of the Pacific Ocean air magnified the pain, but he loved being on the water so much it was a small price to pay.
His girlfriend, Sarah, was still sound asleep. Smiling, he gazed at her for a moment as she lay there; seeing the face of an angel, her beautiful bare shoulders, and silky dark hair on the white pillow. All that and a personality that pulled him to her like iron to a magnet.
Turning away, he found a pair of blue jeans and a T-shirt on the floor, put them on, went out the stateroom door and closed it behind him.
In the hallway, Cody sniffed Jake’s thigh, sensing his alpha’s pain. He whined and pushed his head against Jake’s stomach.
“I’m fine, Cody,” Jake said, and patted his dog on the back.
He walked to the galley, opened the sliding door and let Cody out onto the deck.
Cody went to an area of artificial grass to relieve himself.
Jake walked back to the galley, which was close to the sliding door, brewed a pot of strong coffee and poured a cup. He opened a cupboard, grabbed a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream and added a shot to his coffee. He took a sip and nodded his head in satisfaction.
He put the Baileys back in the cupboard next to a bottle of Redbreast Irish Whiskey. Jake stared at the whiskey for a moment, shook his head, closed the cupboard and pushed that temptation out of his mind. He’d gone down that road once when his close friend, Stuart, had died of a heroin overdose.
After that, he’d promised his family and friends he would steer clear of the whiskey prescription to dull the emotional pain that was his constant companion.
Cody came back into the galley and trotted to a water cooler with an inverted five-gallon jug on top. When he pressed his right paw down on a blue lever, water poured out of the spigot, down through a plastic tube Jake had attached and into a large bowl on the deck. Once the bowl was full, Cody took his paw off the lever and drank his fill, then raised his head and looked at Jake with water dripping off his snout.
Jake smiled. “You like that Stinson Beach spring water, Cody?”
Cody licked his nose, barked once and nodded.
“You’re probably wishing there was a lever to fill your food bowl, too, huh?”
Cody raised one eyebrow, then sniffed his empty food bowl and gave it a lick.
Jake headed out onto the aft deck to do some fishing. It was still dark outside and a thick fog had blanketed the Bay. Visibility was minimal, but Jake could see the muted glow of the lights on the Golden Gate Bridge off in the distance as he cast his line off the back rail of the aft deck.
Cody sat close to Jake, as always, like his shadow.
Jake drank some coffee, and reveled in the freedom of being out on the water. He didn’t need to travel very far from shore. The water was a natural barrier to the endless cars, people, and trouble. It offered a refuge from civilization, and it just felt so peaceful. Peace was what he wanted most in life right now.
He was thankful that his friend, Dylan, was letting him borrow the Far Niente. Dylan was one of those Silicon Valley software millionaires. He currently lived in Dublin, Ireland. All the large American software and internet companies had branch offices in Dublin. Although Dylan owned the boat, he never used it. He was a world traveler and a serial entrepreneur who only came home to California once or twice a year.
Jake patted Cody on the back. “This is the good life eh, buddy? When I got fired from my job last month, it was a blessing in disguise.”
Cody wagged his tail, and thumped it on the deck. Thump, thump, thump.
“But I still need to make a living so I can buy the essentials— dog food, beer, and fuel for the boat, right?”
Cody barked once and nodded his head. He’d been trained for three different jobs: as a Marine IED detection dog, then as a patrol dog, and finally, after he was retired from the Marines due to a lingering injury, he’d been retrained as a civilian service dog.
He could understand over a thousand words, and more than a hundred hand signals and whistled commands.
On paper he seemed like the perfect service dog. The problem was that he’d once had to kill an enemy combatant while deployed overseas. He’d saved the lives of his Marine platoon, but now, much like his owner, he couldn’t let go of his war training. He was too independent to be a normal service dog;
only a former war dog handler like Jake could offer the firm leadership he required.
A foghorn sounded from the San Francisco end of the Golden Gate Bridge with a low, drawn-out blast. There was a quiet pause, and then another foghorn answered with two distinctly different blasts from the midspan of the bridge.
In the quiet stillness after the foghorns ended, Cody stood up and growled. His hackles stood on end and his tail stuck straight out as he sniffed the air while showing his teeth.
Jake paid close attention. He trusted Cody with his life; if his dog sensed that something was wrong, he believed him. Opening a tall storage cabinet, Jake grabbed a pump shotgun with an illegal Salvo 12 silencer attached, and reached into a drawer for a pair of night-vision binoculars.
The hair on the back of his neck stood up and the sixth sense that he’d honed in combat warned him of impending danger. He could almost smell it, if such a thing was possible.
He heard a little song in his head. He’d been told it was similar to the way some people with epilepsy heard a tune just before they had a seizure. It had started happening after he’d had a near-death experience.
He searched the darkness through the binoculars. There— something was behind them in the water. An inflatable dinghy emerged from the fog and headed straight toward the glow of the Far Niente’s running lights.
Jake recognized that type of boat—he’d used one just like it on night missions in the Persian Gulf. It was approximately ten feet long and powered by a quiet electric motor. The one man on board steered the dingy and held a rocket propelled grenade launcher across his lap.
A familiar anger burned inside Jake’s chest. Some of his best friends had been killed by RPGs. Did the terrorists still have a bounty on his head, or was the man seeking revenge for somebody Jake had assassinated?
One thing was certain—if an RPG hit the Far Niente’s onethousand- gallon fuel tank, the resulting fireball would destroy the boat, and kill him, Sarah and Cody.
Cody stared at the raft and sniffed the air. One of his back legs —the one that had been injured in combat—trembled.
Jake whispered, “Cody, take cover.” He gave a hand signal and pointed at a spot behind the aft rail.
Cody ducked down prone on his belly, out of sight. He kept his intelligent eyes trained on Jake, waiting for orders to dive off the boat, swim to the raft, and attack the enemy.
Jake aimed the shotgun at the raft and focused his thoughts. He had to make sure his target pointed the RPG downward. They weren’t far from shore; a high shot could send the explosive round on a long arc where it might hit a boat, a house, an apartment building or a restaurant on the nearby shoreline and cause civilian casualties.
Jake shook his head. That was not going to happen on his watch. He would take whatever steps were necessary to stop an enemy combatant armed with a military weapon who was attacking America’s coastline.
He flipped on the spotlight and red targeting laser mounted on the shotgun, and purposely blinded his opponent. “Drop your weapon or I’ll open fire!”
The bearded man’s eyes widened in surprise, but he ignored the warning as he stood up and raised the launcher.
Jake didn’t hesitate. He fired at the man’s hands, where they held onto the launcher. He shot down and to his left, shredding the man’s left hand and knocking the weapon downward and to the side.
The man pulled the trigger with his right hand, and the rocket-propelled grenade fired into the water of the Bay. Moments later, there was a bright flash underwater as the RPG exploded. Dead fish floated to the surface, along with air bubbles that smelled like war.
The familiar scent triggered Cody’s memories of battle and he let out a fierce growl, struggling to follow Jake’s orders to take cover.
The man dropped the empty grenade launcher into the raft and groaned in pain, holding the wrist of his injured hand tightly.
Jake kept the red targeting laser trained on his enemy’s chest.
“Who are you? Who sent you?”
The man cursed in another language, and spat in Jake’s direction.
In the years since Jake’s first deployment overseas at the age of nineteen, he’d seen many men just like this one—and he’d killed them. “I should blow your head off, but I’ll give you one chance to lie facedown and put your hands on the back of your neck.”
The man just sneered, then drew a pistol with his uninjured hand and opened fire. Jake fired at the same time. He pumped a blast of buckshot into the man’s chest, and then another. The man fell onto his back in the raft, which began to lose air. Jake set the shotgun down on the patio table, pointing its
powerful flashlight at the sinking raft, and then used his encrypted black phone to take pictures. He zoomed in to get a shot of the man’s face before the raft went under. The assassin’s legs were caught up in ropes and netting, and he was pulled down along with the dingy by the weight of the electric outboard engine and the RPG launcher. Now the only visible signs of the battle were the dead fish floating on the surface of the water, and they would soon become shark food.
“That’s a shame about those fish,” Jake said.
Looking at the man’s face on his phone, Jake took several deep breaths in an effort to calm his simmering rage and push back memories of dead friends killed by men just like this one.
The fierce animal inside of Jake could rise to the surface at any given moment if it was provoked, but he tried to keep it under control as best he could.
Cody stood up on his hind legs and put his front paws on the aft rail, sniffing the air and growling.
Jake noticed that Cody’s back leg was trembling again; it was a telltale symptom of his PTSD.
He gave Cody a command to stand by. The last thing he needed was for his dog to dive into the Bay right now, for no reason other than that he wanted to bite the throat of a dead killer.
He texted the photos to Secret Service Agent Shannon McKay. She worked at the White House, but was currently in San Francisco. McKay had requested a lunch meeting with him at noon. They’d originally had the meeting scheduled a month ago, but they’d had to postpone it until today.
With that done, Jake stood there staring out at the dark water and dark sky. No boats were nearby, so if anyone on shore had been staring out into the dark, all they might have seen were a few flashes of light. But there was a dead body in the water, and a fishing boat might pull it up in a net. He hadn’t planned on killing a man before breakfast. What should I do now? The correct thing would be to call the cops, and sit here until the police boat SF Marine 1 arrived. Jake knew Captain Leeds, and he
was good man. But some over-eager rookie prosecutor in the DA’s office might put Jake and Cody behind bars. Jake could end up in a jail cell, while Cody sat helpless in a cage at the dog pound, hoping to be adopted and avoid the needle. No, Jake would never let that happen to Cody.
Maybe they should just cruise away, avoid the government bureaucracy, and protect the most precious commodity in their lives—their freedom.
Cody looked at Jake and barked once.
Jake felt like Cody was reading his mind. He went inside the boat and heard water running. Thankful that Sarah was in the shower, he climbed the stairs to the bridge, manned the controls, raised anchor, and started the twin engines.
The sixty-foot power yacht was large enough to be seaworthy and cruise the ocean, yet small enough that it could be handled by one skilled sailor. Jake always said it was a good vessel for a loner who liked people, but only in small doses. He glanced at the GPS display and took a picture of it with his
As he steered the vessel toward the yacht harbor in Sausalito, he tapped the contact “Grinds” on his phone and sent a text to his best friend Terrell Hayes. I had a situation, but it’s all good now. I’ll give you a report in person.
Terrell was a homicide detective with the SFPD, and an early riser who existed mainly on coffee, cigarettes, and the occasional sandwich from Molinari’s deli. In combat, he’d sustained a traumatic brain injury, and now suffered a headache every day of his life. He often claimed Jake was the source of his headaches, not the TBI. His text in reply was a single word: Sigh.
Jake nodded when he saw the text. He often put his friend through a lot of trouble. But that’s what friends were for, right?
His encrypted black phone buzzed with a reply text from McKay: I ran the photos through Homeland’s facial recognition system and got a positive ID. I’ll tell you more when we meet at noon.
Jake watched the sun begin to rise, peeking over the Marin headlands and painting the morning sky and water with brushstrokes of purple and gold. It was another beautiful day on the Bay, except for the fact that somebody had tried to kill him.
Would he ever have a normal, peaceful life? Or had fate doomed him to a violent struggle against the bloodthirsty killers of the world?
He had a strange feeling he was about to find out.
Dead Lawyers Don't Lie
Jake Wolfe Book 1
A mysterious killer who calls himself The Artist is assassinating wealthy lawyers in San Francisco. When war veteran Jake Wolfe accidentally takes his picture during a murder, The Artist adds Jake to his kill list and he becomes a target in a deadly game of cat and mouse that only one of them can survive. How far would you go to protect your loved ones from a killer? Jake wants to leave his top secret, violent past life behind him. But the reluctant, flawed hero can't ignore his duty and his personal moral compass.
This gripping thriller is full of suspense, plot twists and surprises. It features a cast of interesting characters, including several strong-willed women, two wise-cracking San Francisco Police Homicide Inspectors, one highly intelligent dog, and a philosophical killer who shares Jake's admiration for Van Gogh paintings but still plans to kill him anyway. As Jake gets closer to unraveling a merciless conspiracy, his life gets turned upside down and the danger level increases, adding to the growing suspense. This entertaining page-turner starts out as a murder mystery and then shifts gears into a high-speed action thriller that takes you on a roller-coaster ride to the riveting ending. A good read for those who enjoy mysteries, suspense, action and adventure, vigilante justice, unique characters, witty dialogue and a little romance too. Now on sale in over a dozen countries around the world. Be the first among your friends to read it.
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Photojournalist Jake Wolfe sat in his Jeep Grand Cherokee and watched Caxton walk toward the parking area. The television news station where Jake worked had assigned him to get photos or video of Caxton doing something scandalous. He’d been following the lawyer for days.
Jake glared at the slick attorney as his thoughts turned once again to the previous weekend. It was all he could think about lately. His boss had told him to follow Caxton to a strip club and record him with a hidden camera. The pounding music at the club had been so loud that Jake had missed a call from Stuart, one of his best friends from when he’d served in the Marines.
Later that night, Stuart had been found dead from a heroin overdose and Jake blamed himself for not answering Stuart’s call in his time of need. And he resented his employer—and Caxton —for causing him to go on the assignment.
He took a deep breath and let it out. His hangover today wasn’t as bad as the one he’d had yesterday, or the day before.
He took a drink from a bottle of water and promised himself that he would stop using whiskey to numb the pain. Last night his fiancée, Gwen, had told him he needed to get over Stuart and move on. She may have been right, but when she talked that way, Jake felt he might get over her and move on.
For a moment, he considered quitting his job, cancelling the wedding, and borrowing a friend’s powerboat. A few weeks alone at sea might do him good. He shoved that reckless idea from his head and reminded himself to take life one day at a time. He was going to Stuart’s funeral tomorrow; maybe that would bring some closure and peace. Maybe then he could forgive himself and stop thinking about hunting down the drug dealers who deserved to die.
Jake was observant, a people watcher, and as he waited for Caxton to drive out of the lot, he noticed an attractive, welldressed woman who wore her gray hair in an updo. She reminded him of his own grandmother, so full of life and love and wisdom. As she was getting into her car, a man in a dark hoodie and filthy jeans stood up from where he’d been crouched between two parked cars, grabbed her purse, tore it from her hand, shoved her to the ground, and took off running toward Jake’s vehicle. Jake opened his car door, shoving it fast and hard and straight-arming it like a football player.
The door and the purse snatcher collided—and the door won.
The thief’s face smacked into the window, his knees banging against the metal. He bounced off and landed flat on his back on the pavement, dropping the purse as he fell. Jake got out of his vehicle, closed the door, and stood looking down at the thief. A bruise was forming on the man’s forehead. He struggled to his knees and glanced at the purse on the ground near Jake’s feet.
Jake shook his head at him. “Leave it.”
He had the sunken eyes and sallow complexion of a meth addict. He looked Jake up and down and saw his worst-case scenario, a vigilante who still believed in chivalry.
Jake took a step forward and raised his eyebrows. “I’m going to give you to the count of three. One … two …”
The man reacted in a fight-or-flight response that came from deep within the recesses of his chemically cooked lizard brain. He got up and ran across the street with surprising speed, vanishing around the corner into a crowd of pedestrians.
Jake picked up the purse and walked past several parked cars to where the woman was standing, and handed the purse to her.
“Are you all right, ma’am?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Thank you for stopping that thief.”
“Are you an undercover police officer or just a man who believes in doing the right thing?”
“Actually, I just lost my temper there for a minute.”
Her eyes opened wide. Jake held the car door as she got into her vehicle. He stood there and waited until her door was closed and locked and the engine running. She waved as she drove off. Jake nodded and walked back to his Jeep.
As he walked, he stood out from the people in business suits.
Several women stared at him, observing the controlled, deliberate, and dangerous way his animal-like body moved. He was tall, with wavy dark hair and dark eyes, and wore jeans and boots, with a black t-shirt and a black leather jacket. His face was devoid of expression, and his muscular body and confident walk gave the impression that he could handle himself in just about any situation.
Mark Nolan is the author of Dead Lawyers Don't Lie, and the sequel, Vigilante Assassin. Right now he's busy writing Jake Wolfe Book 3. He also tries to make time every day to answer emails from readers. You can reach him and subscribe to his newsletter at marknolan.com.