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True Blue Son: The Syndicate-Born Trilogy, #3

True Blue Son: The Syndicate-Born Trilogy, #3

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True Blue Son: The Syndicate-Born Trilogy, #3

ratings:
4/5 (1 rating)
Length:
365 pages
4 hours
Released:
Apr 22, 2017
ISBN:
9781622531493
Format:
Book

Description

The Son—born to save them all.

"True Blue Son is my favorite installment of 'The Syndicate-Born Trilogy.' With her character Zane, K. M. Hodge brings a cohesiveness to the tale. A purpose. A new beginning. Very satisfying!" ~ Melinda McIntosh, Author "A Bit of Tickle for the Mind"

Dr. Zander Ride grew up a son of The Syndicate, his fate as a career criminal all but sealed. With the help of his mother, he escaped a life of crime… until the night he heard The Syndicate had shot his mother in cold blood.

Zander soon finds refuge in the hands of his mother's hacktivist group, who want his help bringing down the notorious group once and for all. But it comes with a cost. Managed by a different leader and guided by a new deadly mission, the hacktivists force Zander to confront the truth about his parents and the sacrifices they made for the cause.

In the end, Zander must decide how far he's willing to go and what he's willing to sacrifice. Can a child born of The Syndicate bring it all down, or will he be another pointless sacrifice in their struggle for money and power?

EVOLVED PUBLISHNG PRESENTS the third book in the award-winning "The Syndicate-Born Trilogy," an exploration of what happens when one well-placed group possesses too much power, and how it affects those who just get in its way. [DRM-Free]

Books by K.M. Hodge:

  • "Red on the Run" (The Syndicate-Born Trilogy - Book 1)
  • "Black and White Truth" (The Syndicate-Born Trilogy - Book 2)
  • "True Blue Son" (The Syndicate-Born Trilogy - Book 3)
  • "The Sally Ride Chronicle" (The Syndicate-Born Trilogy - Book 4 - A Prequel)

More Great Thrillers from Evolved Publishing:

  • "Forgive Me, Alex" by Lane Diamond
  • "The Oz Files" Series by Barry Metcalf
  • The "A Point Thriller" Series by Jeff Altabef
  • The "Zoe Delante Thriller" Series by C.L. Roberts-Huth

Released:
Apr 22, 2017
ISBN:
9781622531493
Format:
Book

About the author

K.M. Hodge grew up in Detroit, where she spent most of her free time weaving wild tales to spook her friends and family. These days, she lives in Texas with her husband and two energetic boys, and once again enjoys writing tales of suspense and intrigue that keep her readers up all night. Her stories, which focus on women’s issues, friendship, addiction, regrets and second chances, will stay with you long after you finish them. When she isn’t writing or being an agent of social change, she reads Independent graphic novels, watches old X-files episodes, streams Detroit Tigers games and binges on Netflix with her husband. She enjoys hearing from her readers, so don’t be shy about dropping her a line.


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True Blue Son - K.M. Hodge

Copyright

www.EvolvedPub.com

~~~

TRUE BLUE SON

The Syndicate-Born Trilogy – Book 3

Copyright © 2017 K.M. Hodge

Cover Art Copyright © 2017 Mallory Rock

~~~

ISBN (EPUB Version): 1622531493

ISBN-13 (EPUB Version): 978-1-62253-149-3

~~~

Editor: Sue Fairchild

Senior Editor: Lane Diamond

Interior Designer: Lane Diamond

~~~

PUBLISHER’S NOTE:

At the end of this novel of approximately 69,404 words, you will find two Special Sneak Previews: 1) BROOMETIME SERENADE by Barry Metcalf, the first novel from The Oz Files series, and; 2) WHISPERS OF THE DEAD by C.L. Roberts-Huth, the first novel from the Zoe Delante Thrillers series. We provide these as a FREE extra service, and you should in no way consider it a part of the price you paid for this book. We hope you will both appreciate and enjoy the opportunity. Thank you.

~~~

eBook License Notes:

You may not use, reproduce or transmit in any manner, any part of this book without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations used in critical articles and reviews, or in accordance with federal Fair Use laws. All rights are reserved.

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only; it may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please return to your eBook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

~~~

Disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or the author has used them fictitiously.

Books by K.M. Hodge

THE SYNDICATE-BORN TRILOGY

1 – Red on the Run

2 – Black and White Truth

3 – True Blue Son

4 (A Prequel) – The Sally Ride Chronicle

~~~

THE BOOK CELLAR MYSTERIES

1 – Walker Texas Wife

2 – Texas & Tiaras

~~~

Save the Date

~~~

www.KMHodge.com

~~~

What Others Are Saying about K.M. Hodge’s Books:

~~~

Red on the Run:

A wonderful book! The characters are heroic and flawed and broken, and about 1/3 of the way through the book, I was hooked... rooting for them to overcome, rooting for them to have a happy ending, and scared to get to the end in case it wasn’t a happy one. Ms. Hodge has crafted an interesting tale of suspense amid a beautiful love story. You don’t know who to trust, so you are suspicious of everyone. I can’t wait to read her next book. ~ Melinda McIntosh, Author of A Bit of Tickle for the Mind

~~~

Red on the Run:

Domestic abuse and addiction can be pretty tough topics but K.M. Hodge delivers in a debut novel that is fast-paced and very suspenseful. I wanted to keep reading and I enjoyed this novel to the end. Looking forward to future books in the series! ~ Gail Olmstead, Author of Jeep Tour and Guessing at Normal

~~~

Red on the Run:

Absolutely fantastic! Move over Baldacci. Prepare for competition from this new author! Spellbinding—hard to put down. Had me captured from chapter one through the end! ~ Patrisha Ehlert

~~~

Red on the Run

This book is so much more than a simple thriller. It’s fast-paced, with a plot that will keep your wheels spinning as you try to unravel the intricacies. But it is also a book not afraid to delve into the deeper side of characters and address tough issues. A super enjoyable read, its complexities only add to that. Pick this up for a weekend read—you won’t want to stop once you’ve started. ~ Nella M.

FREE GIFT

Thank you for picking up a copy of True Blue Son, book three in my Syndicate-Born Trilogy. As a way to thank my amazing readers, I have a FREE novel available to all my subscribers. As soon as you sign-up for my newsletter, you will receive a free copy of my sweet mystery, Walker Texas Wife. At first glance, the residents of Herald Springs lead charmed lives. But behind the dazzling smiles and inside the large brick homes, they all have their secrets. Most are harmless, but then again Annabeth King never did quite fit in.

~~~

This newest neighbor is harboring a special secret of her own, one that could prove deadly. Will the members of the drink and gossip club figure out what Annabeth’s working so hard to hide before disaster comes knocking?

www.kmhodge.com/Subscribe

BONUS CONTENT

We’re pleased to offer you not one, but two Special Sneak Previews at the end of this book, each of them a winner of the prestigious Pinnacle Book Achievement Award.

~~~

In the first preview, you’ll enjoy the First 3 Chapters of Barry Metcalf’s’s award-winning BROOMETIME SERENADE, the first book in the exciting The Oz Files series of paranormal crime thrillers.

~~~

~~~

OR GRAB THE FULL EBOOK TODAY!

YOU’LL FIND LINKS TO YOUR FAVORITE RETAILER HERE:

THE OZ FILES Series at Evolved Publishing

In the second preview, you’ll enjoy the First 3 Chapters of C.L. Roberts-Huth’s award-winning WHISPERS OF THE DEAD, the first book in the chilling Zoë Delante Thrillers series.

~~~

~~~

OR GRAB THE FULL EBOOK TODAY!

YOU’LL FIND LINKS TO YOUR FAVORITE RETAILER HERE:

ZOË DELANTE THRILLERS Series at Evolved Publishing

Table of Contents

Copyright

Books by K.M. Hodge

FREE GIFT

BONUS CONTENT

Table of Contents

Dedication

TRUE BLUE SON

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Epilogue

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Special Sneak Preview: BROOMETIME SERENADE by Barry Metcalf

More from Evolved Publishing

Special Sneak Preview: WHISPERS OF THE DEAD by C.L. Roberts-Huth

Dedication

This book is dedicated to my boys, who challenge me daily, and to my father-in-law, Tony, for all of his help and support over the years.

Prologue

I told my first lie at the age of four.

One night after a long and heated fight, my father had beaten my mother with a frying pan until she lay half dead on the floor.

Zander, your mama fell down. Damn bitch can’t hold her liquor. He grabbed me by the collar of my football uniform and yanked hard. You hear me, boy? The sinister look in his eyes, coupled with the bloodied pan still in his hand, let me know what he needed me to do and what would happen if I disobeyed.

So, when the cops showed up, I lied.

The year I turned nine, Mama asked me to hide the truth about the man she loved, the one who’d given me life. She’d waited until he died before letting me know about the two weeks she spent screwing him, a CIA agent, in a dirty alleyway. Following his death, the news had called him Superman. He’d stood up against The Syndicate and, even though he’d died for his efforts, he’d struck an almost fatal blow to the Ocean City and Virginian men.

They can’t know you’re his son, she’d told me.

It wouldn’t be the last time I’d be forced to hide the truth for my family—to defend them, excuse them, and to save my own ass.

For the last year, I’ve been carrying my mother’s greatest lie with me.

When the enemy shot her down in cold blood, she didn’t die like they thought. The great plan of 2025, to take down the group once and for all, had failed. Her plans never worked, but you couldn’t tell her that.

Once again, I’m the one paying for it. Now the crazed mad man is after me.

My ma always says I am the light that came out of the darkness. But does she notice I’m starting to dim? That she and everyone around her are snuffing me out?

Now, once again I must lie to save her life, but my dishonesty will come at a cost. Can I give up everything to save her? I shouldn’t have to, but it seems that’s my burden—my birthright. I am the son of The Syndicate—always. No matter how far away I run, the truth of my lineage will follow me until the ends of the Earth.

Chapter 1

Lighthouse Field Beach

Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz

June 20, 2026

6:00 AM

~~~

The beach was nearly deserted, a surprise considering the perfect surfing weather. Zane jogged into the water with his long board and paddled out the back channel, ducking and diving in the approaching waves. The muscles of his arms and legs stretched and strained with the motions. After spending a solid week in the lab, he enjoyed the feeling of physical exertion again. He even welcomed the warm salt water shooting through his nose and sinus cavity. It reminded him that he was still alive.

He sat back on his board and watched the surfers catch one wave after another, all the while keeping an eye on the ripples, in search of a wave for himself. After a few moments, he spotted one in the distance and positioned himself in the perfect spot. He turned the board and paddled to gain momentum. As the swell began to rise, he broke to the left and popped up onto his feet. A thrill of excitement shot through him as he rode the wave down the line to the beach.

He picked up his board and held it under his arm. The wet sand squished between his toes as he walked the beach. He stopped in his tracks when he caught sight of her. Even with the wind blowing her hair and obscuring her face from view, he knew it was her, standing outside the reach of the waves, biting her nails, waiting for him. He fought the anxiety building in his chest. For a moment, he thought about running, but couldn’t. His ma needed him. He was all she had now.

He took a deep breath and mentally prepared himself for the hamster wheel of bullshit that would inevitably come shooting out her mouth.

To what do I owe the pleasure of your company at this ungodly hour? Zane shook some water loose from his ear canal.

She tossed him a towel.

He dried off and watched over her shoulder as two surfers dragged an older man off the beach.

We have to go, she said. There isn’t time.

Zane nodded towards the men. Is that your doing?

She stopped biting her nail, her face going white—paler than normal.

Dying slowly will do that to you, Zane thought, and tried to shake the image.

That’s Scott Mitchel. I told those young men that he attacked me, but I don’t know how much longer they’ll hold him back.

How did he find me?

I don’t know. I followed him all the way here.

Zane took a deep breath and held it, knowing that if he didn’t, he might say something he would later regret. She tugged his arm, irritating him further, and he let out the breath.

She guided him away from the beach.

I’ll fill you in later in the car, but we’re going to have to leave now. I stopped at your apartment already and packed up all your essentials—

Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. You went to my apartment? How’d you get in?

Your cute neighbor let me in with her key. She’s single, you know. She raised her brow and smiled at him.

Jesus, Ma!

He didn’t realize his mistake until it was too late. A hard whack to the back of the head startled him. His ma didn’t tolerate taking the Lord’s name in vain. Ever. Period.

There’d better be coffee in that truck, he said, rubbing his head.

Black, just the way you like it, Sweet Pea.

He let the childish nickname slide and matched her fast stride. As sick as she was, she could still book it across the sand. Ma, where’re we going?

Virginia.

Isn’t that like walking into the lion’s den?

You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Trust you? He could never trust her, but he kept that to himself. No need to say anything that would result in another hit to the head.

He tossed his board into the back of the truck, noticing his army surplus bags already stowed for the trip. East Coast or bust, huh? He settled himself into the truck seat and took a sip of his tepid coffee.

Something like that. There’s someone I need to see. Her gaze remained fastened on the road ahead.

Zane glanced back over his shoulder. The surfers off in the distance were still talking to Scott.

This isn’t going to end well.

Chapter 2

Yellow Hat Cabin

Millburo, Virginia

June 25, 2026

Noon

~~~

Jason? Her gaze penetrated through him, making his whole body buzz. Can you put the gun down?

He lowered the rifle to his side while his free hand went reflexively to the pendant around his neck. I don’t understand. I.... His mouth hung open like a door with a broken hinge.

She stood there silently in front of him in a tan tunic and white pants.

Is it my imagination or does she look softer? Maybe dying has that effect on people.

The edgy look was gone, but tokens of that other life remained. Her rose petal tattoo peeked out from the V-neck of her shirt.

He wanted to touch it—to touch her—but stood stock still instead, like the barrel of his old shotgun.

She stepped inside the cabin and closed the door behind her. The click of it closing echoed through the sparsely furnished room. He let her take the rifle from his hand, and she leaned it against the wall by the door.

Am I dreaming? Did that squirrelly kid at the bait and tackle sell me some bad pot?

Sally walked back to him and took his hand in hers. I’m sorry.

The crack in her voice broke him, and he tugged her close. The familiar beat of her heart against his chest reminded him to let out the breath he’d been holding. He palmed the back of her head and weaved his fingers through her hair. The familiar earthy smell of her musk filled his nostrils, leaving him intoxicated. In the breathy chaos of their re-acquaintance, his eager mouth sought hers out.

I’m so sorry... Her apologetic plea whispered against his lips and clouded his mind.

Sally....

Even as the heady fog of lust took over his body, his brain screamed for answers. His body won out over his mind’s desires, and he released her from his kiss and enveloped her in his arms, his palms cupping her head against his bicep.

A soft knock at the door startled him, and his grip loosened.

The door opened a crack, and in the frame stood a young man who looked to be in his mid-twenties, almost filling the doorframe.

His handsome features, green eyes, and disheveled hair looked familiar to Jason, but he couldn’t place why.

Ma. The young man ran his fingers through his hair as his gaze darted around the room.

Sally pulled away from Jason. This is my son, Zane.

Hey, man, nice to meet you. The young man extended his hand in greeting, and Jason firmly shook it.

When Zane smiled, Jason noted the subtle features and expressions he shared with his mother. The resemblance caused a sudden and irrational urge within Jason to protect the boy.

We should get going. Zane stood inside the arched doorway tapping the tip of his Chucks on the wood floor.

Going? You’re leaving already? You just got here. Jason wet his lips and shifted his weight from one foot to another. He glanced back at Sally and swallowed hard.

I can’t lose her again.

Oh, no. You’re coming with us. She tugged his hand towards the bedroom.

Oh no, not again.

Jason tugged back to stop her. Wait a minute, Sal. What’s going on?

I’m sorry, but there isn’t time to explain anything right now. Can you please pack? She raised her brow and widened her eyes, as if daring him to say no.

All right. He turned on his bare heels and entered the bedroom. Sally followed behind him, but paused at the doorframe while he started throwing what few things he’d brought with him into a rucksack. He looked up and caught a small smile dancing across her face, and followed her gaze to the bed they’d shared last summer. When her face flushed, he chuckled to himself.

My book! Sally stepped into the room and picked up the book of poetry that he kept by the side of the bed. She clutched it to her like a long lost friend. A piece of paper—a picture of the two of them taken a year ago in that very same room—fluttered out from between the pages and onto the floor. She bent over to pick it up.

Oh, Jason. She covered her mouth with her hand.

I’m going to load the bike up into the truck bed, if that’s okay? Zane called out from the other room.

Sally looked up at Jason before calling out a response to her son. Go ahead, Zane. The keys are by the sink.

Jason let out a short, surprised laugh. How did you know?

It’s where we kept them before.

How does she know me so well, and yet I know nothing about her?

Are you ready? A slight hitch invaded her voice, but she swallowed and looked at him with expectant eyes.

He gave her a curt nod and followed her out of the room, turning back almost immediately, remembering his most important possession. Shit.

Jason? She still clutched the poetry book with a white-knuckled grip.

I almost forget Blue. He picked up the old relic typewriter—a gift from her—and his writing supply satchel.

You named it Blue?

Well, Old Blue. It’s blue and well.... He looked away and shrugged his shoulders.

Sally cupped his cheek and brought his gaze back to her.

Even though his arms were full, he bent forward and captured her bottom lip with his, kissing her the way she had taught him she liked.

When he pulled away, she tilted her head to the side and smiled again. Let’s get going. We’ve got a lot to talk about.

Yeah. He laughed a little. I’d say that’s an understatement.

Sally’s smile floated across her lips but never made it up to her eyes. After a short pause, she turned on her heel and started for the front door.

When they had everything loaded into the truck, Jason bent over to tie his shoe. He needed a second to catch his breath and regroup. Sally had a way about her that made his mind go foggy and his senses come alive all at once. The situation called for a clear head, but he could think about nothing but kissing her. He couldn’t just let her drag him around by the nose hairs, so he took a mindful breath and paused to take stock of the moment. Even though he had no reason whatsoever to trust her, he did. Their chemistry defied reason.

Sally came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist. I promise I’ll explain all of this.

Jason loosened her hold on him and turned his head in her direction, but avoided making eye contact, hoping it might lessen the siren-like effect she had on him. Where are we going, Sal?

Manny’s house.

Manny knows about this? What the hell?

I’m going to take my bike. I’ll meet you there. He walked passed her to retrieve his bike out of the back of the truck.

Jason— She started after him, but he held up his hand to stop her.

I just need a little time to process this, Sal. I’ll see you there.

With that, he slipped on his helmet and jacket and took off down the highway towards Alexandria.

By the time he got halfway there, Jason realized that Manny must have known all along that Sally was really alive. After all, his friend had been the one to give him the death notification. For the first time in a long time, he wanted a drink. Suddenly, his promise to her to never drink again, the promise that had kept him sober all this time, had become hollow and meaningless. But his overwhelming anger surpassed his desire to fall off the wagon... for now.

Instead of fantasizing about a drink, he thought about what it would feel like to punch Manny Richards in the face and keep punching. As he neared the familiar neighborhood, the anger rolled around inside his gut like a grenade whose pin had been pulled.

Jason parked his bike outside the brownstone that belonged to his friend and AA sponsor, and walked up the steps of the porch as Sally’s son pulled his truck up behind Jason’s bike. Jason pounded his knuckles on the front door, making them sting.

Manny greeted him with a wide grin. Hey, man, where you been holed up? His friend’s cheerful expression transitioned into a look of concern. What’s wrong?

Jason sidestepped so Manny could see the two people walking up the steps behind him. Can we come in, Manny? He didn’t wait for an answer, but shouldered past his friend, through the house, and out the back door to the patio. He could sense Manny following closely behind.

Jason paced back and forth on the patio stones, waiting until Manny closed the door, before unleashing his pent-up rage. You knew! You knew the whole time, didn’t you?

It’s not that simple. Deep grooves lined his friend’s forehead.

Fuck you, Manny!

I guess I deserve that. The man looked away and rubbed the peach fuzz hair that marked the beginning of his hairline at the top of his head.

Jason’s rage boiled over once more and he rushed at his friend. He smashed him hard against the side of the house, driving his fist into his gut, then stepped back and let his friend double over. A hollow sadness took over for his spent rage, causing his legs to tremble, and he collapsed onto one of the Adirondack chairs that circled the fire pit.

Jason.... Manny hobbled over to him, clutching his stomach. He sat down in one of the matching chairs and lit up a cigarette.

What, you’re smoking again now?

The old man shrugged and let the smoke leak out through his parted lips.

Jason tried to calm his mind as he focused on his breathing, mindfully inhaling and exhaling until he felt as though his mind and body were one again. Her smell, a mix of tangerine and sandalwood, had rubbed off on him.

He glanced over at Manny, who seemed genuinely contrite. I’m sorry I hit you.

No, you’re not, and that’s okay. I’d have hit me too. He took a long drag of his cigarette.

Jason laughed and some of the tension in his shoulders and back loosened. He sat back in the chair, slouching down so he could look up at the cumulus clouds that hung in the sky overhead. It was one of those perfect summer afternoons, making the whole day seem all the more surreal.

The sound of the door sliding open startled him, and he turned to see the intruder.

Manny’s daughter, Julie, held a tray of lemonade and snacks. She’d probably heard or saw some of the fight.

Sally and the boy stared at him through the glass of the back door.

Julie placed the tray down on the table between the two chairs. Here’s something to tide ya guys over until the pizza gets here. She turned around to head back into the house.

Thank you, darlin’, Manny called out to his daughter over his shoulder. Once she had closed the door, he took a sip of the drink. His mouth puckered and he let out a grimace, but kept drinking.

Manny’s a good man. I need to give him a chance to explain himself.

The boy, her son.... Manny squinted at Jason.

I know. I didn’t see it at first. Jason shook his head, trying not to think about it.

He looks just like him. It’s like seeing a fucking ghost.

Jason sighed and sipped his lemonade, making his own mouth pucker. God, that’s awful.

Manny returned to his cigarette and laughed between puffs.

His friend’s infectious laugh spilled over, until Jason doubled over laughing, too. The laughter washed away the anxiety hanging on him like wet clothes. This despite the two sets of eyes watching them from the kitchen.

***

Julie fidgeted with the kitchen towel as she watched her father and Jason talk. Their fight earlier had worried her. Her pop was an old man—too old to be fighting. When she’d first heard the commotion, she’d come downstairs to find two strange people standing in her kitchen. Before she said anything, she’d glanced out the wide window that looked out into the backyard. Her first inclination

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