Former CIA spook Nick Seven doesn't realize what he's up against when he takes on the mob in this suspenseful, quirky adventure by Tim Smith.
When former CIA agent Nick Seven did a favor for his friend, gambler Rock Moretti, he didn't know that his innocent gesture would place him in the middle of a turf war between two crime families, each fighting for control of the lucrative Miami market. Nick's peaceful life in the Florida Keys becomes a battle of wills as he must call on his instincts to outwit both Dons, as well as a Justice Department prosecutor with a personal agenda. When Nick becomes the target of a hired assassin, he realizes that he has his own vendetta and thirst for revenge.
“Vendetta Factor” excerpt
It was nearly midnight on Key Largo and the continuous party atmosphere showed no signs of slowing down. The evening sea breeze had cooled off the temperature somewhat as waves of deep blue water from the Gulf of Mexico rhythmically lapped up on the shore, leaving traces of white foam behind. Silent flashes of heat lightning several miles away lit up the sky, backlighting a handful of gray clouds while the red, blue and yellow neon lights of Cricket’s Yacht Club reflected on the water’s rippling surface at the inlet, offset by the steady flashing red light of a nearby conning tower. A lone white Flamingo stood in the shallow water near the outside deck, oblivious to the frivolity surrounding him while patiently waiting for any morsels of food that might come his way.
People entered the club to get a drink and enjoy the jazz being played by the quartet in the lounge while the real action took place in a private dining room. An amber haze of cigarette and cigar smoke hung in the room like a cloud. Two men sat at a green felt-topped table, each with a dwindling stack of poker chips in front of them while a dozen observers stood around, watching the action and the eight thousand dollars in the center of the table. The two players each held five cards and looked intently at each other, knowing that one of them would soon walk away from the table richer than when they had sat down two hours earlier.
Rock Moretti was hunched forward, both meaty forearms resting on the edge of the table. He was in his shirtsleeves, his silk paisley tie was loosened, and matching suspenders held up his ample trousers. His trademark Cuban cigar was wedged tightly in the corner of his mouth as he aggressively, impatiently puffed it.
Nick Seven, dressed in khaki slacks, a black cotton shirt with a palm tree print and tan loafers with no socks, leisurely rested his tall lean frame in his Captain’s chair while casually drawing a puff of smoke from one of Rock’s illegal imports. He stared at Moretti through lowered eyelids, a slight non-committal smile adorning his tanned face, waiting for his opponent to make a decision.
“Raise ya a thousand,” Moretti growled, tossing ten one-hundred dollar chips into the pot.
Nick paused a moment, never breaking eye contact as he removed the cigar from his mouth, exhaled a large billow of bluish-gray smoke then slowly rolled the cigar between his thumb and forefinger. “Call,” he said, matching the bet.
“Showtime, Nicky. Whattaya got?”
Nick hesitated again, the semi-smirk not leaving his face. “Two pair.”
Moretti chuckled softly as he laid his cards on the table. “Full house. Jacks over tens.” He continued chuckling in satisfaction as he began to rake in his winnings.
“Excuse me, Rock,” Nick interrupted. Moretti stopped and looked at Nick as he began laying his cards on the table one at a time. “When I said two pair, I meant a pair of red Kings and a pair of black Kings,” Nick said as he flipped the Ace of Hearts kicker onto the table.
The spectators began laughing softly as Moretti slumped back in his chair, his eyes taking on a look that would slice through steel. He glared at Nick for a moment before a smile began to dimple his pudgy face as he slowly nodded his head in appreciation. “Lucky Nick,” he said.