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False Signs (John Taylor #2)

June 25, 2017
Posted at 11:54 pm

I just put in the last chapter of the next John Taylor book to be edited. It is called False Signs, and you should see the first post go up in about a week and a half (depending on how the editing comes back), and then it will post every Wed. after that.

Here's the sneak peek at what's coming:

False Signs

John Taylor heard the ringing phone inside the office from underneath an old, beat up Chevy, which should have been put to pasture years before.

He ignored the phone, instead focusing on not covering himself in oil as he opened up the drain plug to let the black sludge pour out. He wondered, for the hundredth time, how people could skip even the most simple maintenance.

Even if he hadn't been under the car, arms covered in dirt and grime, Taylor wouldn't have made a move to the office to answer the phone. While most of the other mechanics tried to cover the phones for Albert, in case he was with a customer; everyone knew Taylor didn't deal with people.

Sure, he was pleasant enough. He said 'hello' and 'goodbye' to his coworkers. He helped hold or carry stuff when needed, and even picked up shifts when someone wanted a day off. But everyone knew Taylor didn't deal with people, especially the public.

He was a closed book, and none of them had seen even a peek inside its cover. Most days Taylor managed to say less than a dozen words the entire day. There was a pool going to see if he could stay under a thousand for the year.

So everyone, including Taylor himself, was surprised when a few moments after the phone stopped ringing Albert Franklin stuck his head out of the office and shouted.

"Taylor, get your ass up here. You have a phone call."

John pulled himself out from under the car and wiped his hands on a dirty rag hanging from one pocket. It would be tough to determine if the cloth removed any of the built up grease, or just added more of it to his hands.

As he walked into the office, Taylor gave a questioning eyebrow to Albert. Long before mustering out of the Army, Albert had mastered the poker face known to non-coms across the globe. Taylor knew it was useless to try and see through that stoic façade.

Shrugging, he took the grimy receiver from Albert and said, "Taylor."

A voice from the past, one he hadn't expected ever to hear again, echoed out of the handset, "John, it's Trevor Robles. How do you feel about Texas?"

Taylor paused a moment, his mind racing back to the events six months before. He couldn't say they'd changed his life since he was just as aimless now as he was before the adventure in Miami, but they had made an impact.

He had shown up in Miami looking for his fiancée who, along with the rest of the world, had thought he was dead. His unit had been wiped out in Afghanistan, and Taylor had spent three long years as a prisoner in a terrorist camp. Instead of picking his life back up, Taylor learned that his fiancée had moved on, along with everything else he had known. He'd been left wandering the streets of Miami.

He wasn't even sure, himself, what he'd been looking for. What he had found, though, was a Russian woman. She'd escaped from human traffickers, a dead Federal Marshal, and one hell of a mess.

When all was said and done, more than a dozen men were dead, a senior Federal Marshal was in jail for corruption and accessory to murder, and the girl had disappeared into the witness protection program.

Robles was one of the Marshals involved with that whole mess and had managed to get grabbed up by the Russians, thanks to his crooked boss. Robles and Taylor had left things amicably when it was all over; but Taylor hadn't expected to hear from the man, ever again.

"I don't know, its fine I guess. I know it gets hot there," Taylor said answering, although still not understanding, the question.

"It does at that."

"What can I do for the Marshals service?"

"I'm not actually with the Marshals, anymore," Robles said. "I didn't feel very comfortable with them, considering what happened."

"Ohh," Taylor said, still trying to work out where this was going.

"I'm with the FBI, now. We've had something happen down here, and I could use your help."

"What would the FBI need with me?"

"Well, it's not the FBI exactly. The case involves a young soldier, and his mother needs some help. Could I talk you into coming down and meeting with her? I'll set you up with a ticket and lodging, so it's just a few days of your time."

Taylor knew Robles was trying to smooth things along by mentioning the woman's child was a soldier. He didn't particularly like Robles attempt to play him and liked the idea of getting back into the world even less.

"I don't know. I've got a job here, and they count on me …"

Taylor was interrupted by Albert calling out behind him, "Bullshit. You're a fine mechanic, but we'll live without you. I'm not gonna let you hide out here for the rest of your life."

John frowned. He hadn't realized Albert was still in earshot. After the first month, Albert had started making comments about Taylor's self-exile. The observations had gradually increased over time, with Albert making no secret of wanting Taylor to get back to some semblance of a normal life.

While John could see Albert's point, he wasn't sure he agreed. He was even less sure going to Texas to help out the mother of a soldier being investigated by the FBI would be anything even remotely like normal.

"John, it's important. She has no one else to turn to," Robles continued through the phone. "No one out here is taking her seriously. Just meet with her. If you say 'no,' after that, then I won't bug you again. I promise."

Taylor thought for a minute longer and then sighed.

"Fine. Email me the details and I'll come out and meet her. No promises, though."

"Of course. Thanks, John."

"Yeah," Taylor said, and hung up.

He gave a glower to Albert who shrugged it off and went back to work. That night, in his small efficiency apartment, Taylor checked his email and found the information from Robles. He must have been desperate since the ticket was for early the next morning.

What Taylor wasn't happy to see was the ticket was one way.

But, he had promised, and Taylor still believed that meant something.