EUTOPIAN DESTINY ~ PREACHER MAN
Excerpt from Chapter One
Joe walked into Jack’s office whistling the wedding march. Jack’s unit had spent a year in El Paso helping the INS Border Patrol combat a significant surge in illegal activity. The traffic had slowed down to a normal level and management was sending the borrowed units back to their home offices.
“Better get your best suit pressed, Jack,” he said. “You’ve got a bride to give away back in Boston.” He froze when he saw the somber look on Jack’s face.
“We’re not going back yet,” Jack said. “You’ve been selected for a special undercover assignment.”
“What assignment?” Joe asked.
“A highly organized group is smuggling young women into the country and selling them as sex slaves,” Jack said.
Joe grimaced. Of all the crimes he’d witnessed, this was one of the worst. The women were usually enticed with promises of good jobs, nice homes and husbands. They didn’t learn their actual destination until they were trapped.
“This particular group is especially ruthless,” Jack said. “They’ve left a trail of dead women across the southwest. One of their victims survived long enough to give the police the name of a town she heard her captors mention. It’s called Eutopian Springs. It’s so small it isn’t on most maps. We finally found it on the Texas-New Mexico line. Since it’s over two hundred miles from the border, it doesn’t seem probable. But it’s our only lead. We have to pursue it. We need you to infiltrate the town and become an integral part of their routine while you help us search for evidence.”
“Why me?” Joe asked. “I have a bride waiting for me in Boston. I want to go home to her. They can pick another agent for this assignment.”
Jack shook his head and said, “Not really, Joe. Your background makes you uniquely qualified for this job.”
“What background?” Joe asked suspiciously.
Jack couldn’t hold back a chuckle when he said, “Your religious background. We can’t get someone in there if we don’t have a legitimate cover job for them. The only one available in Eutopian Springs right now is the Baptist Preacher.”
“What the hell!” Joe said, tipping over his chair. “You want me to impersonate a Baptist Preacher?”
“No, you wouldn’t be impersonating a preacher,” Jack said. “You have enough hours in theology to meet the job requirements and we both know you can recite your father’s sermons from memory.”
“I don’t know, Jack,” Joe said, as he swept his hand through his hair. “I’ll have to think about this one. Let me talk to Angelique and see what she says.”
“No,” Jack said. “This is the hardest part. You can’t tell Angelique or anyone else where you’re going or why. You’ll give up your apartment, have your mail forwarded to me and literally disappear. I’ll be your only contact with your real life. I’ll notify Angelique that you’re on assignment and can’t be reached.”
“My God, Jack!” Joe said. “We can’t do that to her. I’ve already walked away from our wedding once. I’m twenty-eight years old. I want to go back to Boston, marry my fiancée and live happily ever after.”
“Okay, I’ll let headquarters know that you’ve declined the assignment,” Jack said. “I’m sure they can find someone else to break this case. After all, fifty women a month aren’t really that many to worry about.”
Halfway to the door Joe’s shoulders slumped. Jack knew him too well. How could he go back to Boston and live a happy life with the fate of fifty women a month on his conscience?
“Damn you Jack, did you have to say that?” Joe snapped back at him.
“Of course I did,” Jack said. “You would’ve said the same thing to me, if the situation was reversed. Go home and brood about this tonight, I’ll need your decision in the morning.”
“Oh,” Jack added, as Joe turned back toward the door. “I’d start losing the profanity, if I were you.” Joe bit back another curse and walked out of the office.
Jack took a deep breath and started a new mission log. He’d already searched the backgrounds of the other available agents, hoping to find someone else to take this assignment. Joe was the best qualified.