Ripple Effect

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Ripple Effect is USA Today Bestselling Author L.T. Ryan’s first novel in the Noble series told from Riley “Bear” Logan’s point of view!

One shot. One Kill. A simple plan. A simple operation.

But it doesn’t take much to throw off the assassination of a corrupt U.S. Senator in a foreign country. Not once the cartel gets involved.

Can Riley “Bear” Logan and Jack Noble fight through the waves before a traitor gets to them first?

The action is fast-paced and non-stop in this international thriller! Fans of Tom Clancy, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp, and Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne will enjoy this suspense filled Bear Logan & Jack Noble thriller.

Chapter One

He sat across the street from the kind of fancy private school he never would have been able to attend when he was a teenager. It’s not that his father hadn’t had the money for it. Quite the contrary, in fact. But his uncle had forbid it. No member of the cartel was going to have that blight against their name. Instead, he’d followed in his father’s footsteps and gone to a run-down public school in the heart of the city. Fights in the cafeteria had made him a man. He grew up on the streets, learning which corners the cops avoided and which they hounded. It was a better, more useful education than any institution could provide. He was grateful, though he couldn’t help the bitter taste that washed across his tongue. These kids that spilled from the tall entryway doors dressed in their matching uniforms had it so easy. 

They had no idea how advantaged they were. But he wouldn’t have traded his experience for the world. He could walk down any street and every single person in his way would step to the side. Even the biggest, toughest gangsters paid deference to him. It wasn’t just his family name. It was the reputation he had built for himself. It was a reputation he was ready to flaunt. He’d spent far too long in the shadow of his uncle.

“But that’s about to change,” he muttered. There was no one in the car to hear his words, but he didn’t care. His eyes were trained on the girl who had just emerged from the front of the school. He brought his hand up to shield his eyes from the afternoon sun. A thin layer of sweat pooled where his index finger met his forehead. She laughed and smiled and waved to her friends as she bounded down the front steps, looking carefree and optimistic. She was about to receive a hard lesson in life. He was glad the windows on his sedan were so darkly tinted. The girl looked directly at him as she crossed the street and passed in front of his vehicle. But her eyes slid past the car and quickly returned to her book as soon as she made it to the other side of the road. A coy smile played around her lips as she read. 
She stopped at the corner, folded the corner of the page she was reading, and then continued on her way. He checked his side mirror and studied the road. All clear. He slid out of his car and shut the door. It closed with a slight click. He doubted the girl was paying close enough attention that she’d be concerned by the sound in the first place, but he couldn’t afford taking that chance. They had one shot to do this. If they missed their window, her father would go on high alert and they wouldn’t have another chance at her.
She turned the corner, the wind rustling her school uniform, causing her plaid skirt to blow to the side. He kept an eye on the back of her head, determined not to let her out of his sight for one second. He tapped the screen of his phone and brought up his partner’s contact info. He hit the call button, stuck his phone back in his pocket, and adjusted his earpiece. The other man answered after the first ring. “Yeah.” “On my way.” “How long?” “Three minutes.” He looked over his shoulder. No one was following. “Maybe less.” “Copy.” They kept the line open, but neither one said anything for the next several minutes. He kept his distance from the girl by taking up a leisurely pace. He looked up at the buildings surrounding him, his hands deep in his pockets. He knew he didn’t look like a typical gangster with his plain white sneakers, dark jeans, and brand new leather jacket. The people he passed on the street glanced at him for a second or two and then looked away. He was handsome, but not remarkable. 
They wouldn’t remember him for more than a few minutes, if at all. She stopped at the next corner and stole a glance at her paperback while waiting for a line of cars to pass. He cursed under his breath, but didn’t slow down. It’d be too obvious he was tracking her if he mirrored her actions. She might be a young girl, but her father would’ve taught her the basics of keeping herself safe. “What?” the other man asked. “Passing it now,” he said as he walked by the girl. She smelled like lavender shampoo. It stood out amid the lingering exhaust fumes. She looked up from her book at him for a second. There was no sign of recognition on her face. The fear she should feel was not present.
The other man cursed. “Still on track?” “It’ll be fine.” The line went silent again. He didn’t worry too much. They’d been watching for a while now. They knew the route the girl took from school each and every day. Unless something came up, they’d know exactly where she was heading. It didn’t much matter if he was in front of her or behind her. The sound of sneakers tapping the sidewalk behind him indicated that she’d started walking again. He slowed down enough that she was only a few paces behind. When they got to the end of the block, he was afraid she’d stop again and it’d put him even further out in front, but she didn’t even pause at the corner. “Incoming,” he said quietly. 
This street was the quietest one they had found on her route home. It also happened to have a couple alleyways along the way. The buildings were tall and close together here, which meant plenty of shadows to hide in.
He passed by his partner’s hiding spot and caught the other man out of the corner of his eye. He was pressed against the wall, where the girl would only be able to see him once it was too late. As long as he grabbed her and wrapped a hand around her mouth right away, no one would notice the girl being snatched right off the street. The road was empty. The windows in the building across the street closed and boarded up. He felt his pulse quicken now that they were on the precipice of success. There was a small scuffle behind him, but it was nearly a silent one. He slowed down and looked around him. 
The street was deserted. He turned back to the alley just as one of the girl’s stark white shoes disappeared into the darkness. He checked their surroundings one more time and, certain that no one was watching, followed her into the alley. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust now that he was out of the bright sunlight. Once they did, he saw the other man struggling to hold onto the tiny girl. She was lean and not particularly strong. How many ten-year-olds were? Still, she was flailing enough that his partner was having trouble keeping her in his arms.
He rushed forward and grabbed her feet. One hand only had hold of her sneaker laces. She yanked her foot back, untying her shoe in the process. She managed to drive her knee into his stomach as he reached again for her foot. It knocked some of the wind out of him, but not enough to slow him down. He crossed her ankles and held them against his side with one arm. With his free hand, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a knife. He flicked it open and pointed in her direction. She instantly stilled. “Good girl,” he said. “Behave and nothing will happen to you.” She nodded, tears forming in the corners of her eyes. They spilled over the edge and cascaded down her cheeks. The other man pulled her further into the alley and pushed her up against the brick wall, his hand covering her mouth. He placed the knife under her chin. “You scream, you die. Understand?”
The tears were nonstop now, but she nodded her understanding. The two men stared at each other. They didn’t need words to communicate. When the other guy released her, the girl followed the movements of his hands. Her eyes widened when he pulled a small roll of duct tape out of his jacket pocket. “Please,” she whispered, the sound choked by her sobs. “Please don’t hurt me.” “Don’t do anything stupid and we won’t,” he said. “I have money. I can get more from the ATM. If it’s money you want, I can give you everything I have.” “That’s not gonna do the trick for us, sweetheart.” “Please.” Her lip wobbled. Her voice came out watery and strained. “Please let me go.” The other guy ignored her pleas and slapped the tape over her mouth. When she tried to shrink away from him, he reminded her of the blade under her chin. She froze and allowed the other man to smooth the tape over her lips. He heard her whimper, which made him smile.
His partner moved on to her hands, wrapping them tightly together with the duct tape. When he started to bind her ankles, she twitched as though she wanted to kick him and attempt to make her escape. One look down at the blade and she stilled. It wasn’t worth the risk. When the job was done, he brushed her hair out of her face and put the knife away. “If everything goes according to plan, you’ll be seeing your father again soon enough.” The tears continued to fall down the girl’s face as they picked her up, one on each end, and carried her down the alleyway and into one of the warehouses where they had a commercial van waiting to take them to the next location.

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L.T. Ryan