Title: The Lone Wolf Agenda
Series: Bob & Liz Danforth, #4
Author: Joseph Badal
Publisher: Suspense Publishing
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Blog Tour: 1 August to 31 September 2013
Hosted by: Partners in Crime Tours
With "The Lone Wolf Agenda," Joseph Badal returns to the world of international espionage and military action thrillers and crafts a story that is as close to the real world of spies and soldiers as a reader can find. This fourth book in the Danforth Saga brings Bob Danforth out of retirement to hunt down lone wolf terrorists hell bent on destroying America's oil infrastructure. Badal weaves just enough technology into his story to wow even the most a-technical reader. "The Lone Wolf Agenda" pairs Danforth with his son Michael, a senior DELTA Force officer, as they combat an OPEC-supported terrorist group allied with a Mexican drug cartel. This story is an epic adventure that will chill readers as they discover that nothing, no matter how diabolical, is impossible.
James Sullivan watched the Bombardier Global 7000 aircraft slowly taxi away from the terminal and breathed in the heavy odor of aviation gas exhaust. Like ambrosia, he thought. He hooked the fingers of both hands in the chain link fence that separated him from the Santa Fe Airport tarmac and squeezed the wire as though to bend it. He gripped the fence so firmly to stop his hands from shaking. He always got the shakes at times like this, just as some men trembled at the prospect of sex and others shook when confronted by danger. But what was about to happen was better than sex and had nothing to do with fear. He shook out of satisfaction that he was about to finish a job that soon would result in the deaths of infidels.
The setting sun painted the plane’s white skin red, reflecting bloody shards of light off its windows. Sullivan knew it was time to go but he couldn’t tear himself away. Just another minute. He watched the plane turn to make its way to the runway; heat plumes from its twin engines swirled in the cold early evening New Mexico air.
Sullivan released his grip and flexed his fingers to encourage circulation. He removed his baseball cap, ran a hand through his dirty-blond hair, replaced the cap on his head, and walked to his white Chevrolet pickup truck parked near the terminal building. He took a suitcase and a canvas satchel from the pickup, carried them to his co-worker Renee Morales’s Saturn sedan parked two slots away. After he unlocked the Saturn with the keys he’d stolen out of Renee’s desk drawer inside the terminal, he got in, started the motor, and slowly drove away along the access road. Sullivan held the steering wheel tightly, first with one hand and then the other to ease each in turn from the pain he inflicted on them.
At the Santa Fe Bypass Road, he stopped for the red light, then turned right, watched his speed. After a couple miles, he took the entrance ramp onto southbound Interstate-25 and accelerated to the legal speed limit of 75 miles per hour. He let the heavy flow of commuters pass him on their way home to Albuquerque.
Five minutes later, at 3 p.m., Sullivan glanced right as he passed the Santa Fe Racetrack, just before the La Cienega exit, and noticed the glint of light that was the Bombardier jet climbing into the cloudless sky.
The mood on the airplane was exuberant: Ten CEOs of energy companies were aboard, already well-lubricated with alcohol and enthusing about the three-day oil and gas industry retreat they’d just attended in Santa Fe.
Fifty-four-year-old Fred Zook, CEO of Premier Exploration & Development, leaned his bulk forward against his seat belt, fighting the rising aircraft’s G-force, and nodded at his long-time friend and fellow Yale University graduate, Jeffery Raines, the head of Farragut Oil, seated across from him.
“You as excited about this as I am?” he asked, raising his bushy eyebrows into two upside-down V’s.
Raines smiled and ran a hand over his bald head. “Enough to wet my pants. These oil shale and gas formations will not only make all of us even richer, they’ll also alter the geopolitical and economic universe.”
Zook opened his arms to include all of the plane’s passengers. “If we can keep this coalition together, and the environmentalists don’t kill the deal, and the tree huggers in Congress don’t ruin things, and the President doesn’t order his EPA to stop us . . ..”
Raines slowly wagged his head. “Yeah, there’s all of that. But the world is different now. The American people are fed up with decisions that do nothing but cost them more money at the gas pump and cost more in lives lost to war in the Middle East just to preserve our energy interests there.” He shrugged. “I’ve thought a lot about this. This is way more important than just profits. This is about our country’s survival. We need to make sure none of us ever forgets that.”
“Well said,” Zook replied. Then he laughed and added, “But there ain’t nothin’ wrong with profits.” From his aft-facing seat, he glanced out his window and shielded his eyes from the blazing sun, now a melon-red fireball. He was about to turn back to Raines when a flash of brilliant-white light drew his attention toward the ground.
“What the hell was that?” he blurted, pointing at the window.
“Oh my God! It’s the terminal building. An explosion.”
James Sullivan was two miles past the La Cienega exit when the flash of light from the bomb in the airport terminal bloomed in his peripheral vision off to the northeast. But he concentrated on the horizon ahead, where he knew the corporate jet’s flight path would take it. He counted seconds with his fingers against the steering wheel, knowing the jet would soon reach an altitude of ten thousand feet -- the level at which the altimeter triggering device would detonate the bomb he’d placed aboard.
Fred Zook thought a prayer of thanks, while he looked into Jeff Raines’s startled, wide-eyed gaze. Then he thought how lucky he had been all his life, and raised his glass of scotch to clink against Raines’s glass, when everything in his consciousness suddenly fractured into minute particles.
James Sullivan drove Renee Morales’s Saturn he’d taken from the Santa Fe Airport parking lot and dumped it in the Sandia Casino employees’ lot on the north side of Albuquerque. After he hotwired one of the cars there, he drove to his girlfriend’s apartment.
Sullivan guessed Susan Gaithers, a nurse who worked the night shift at a local hospital, would be asleep when he opened the door to her apartment at 4:30 p.m. They’d met in a club a week after he arrived in new Mexico. He told her he was starting law school at The University of New Mexico in the fall, swept her off her feet, and moved in a few days later. The arrangement had provided him with a roof over his head without having to go through the process of a background check associated with an apartment lease, or having to provide a credit card for a motel room. He used her telephone at will, not exposing his cell phone to possible eavesdropping. And Susan was a tigress in bed. All in all, not a bad situation. He was surprised when he walked into the apartment and found her crying; on the couch, telephone in hand. She wore a halter undershirt and bikini underpants.
“Oh my God!” she yelled. She rushed to him, threw her arms around his neck, and planted kisses on his face.
“What’s wrong?” Sullivan asked.
“Don’t you know? There was an explosion at the airport about an hour ago. Felicia from work just called and woke me up to tell me about it. She wondered if you worked today. I was just about to dial your cell when you walked in.”
“That’s awful,” he said. “I got off early today. I must have just missed the explosion.”
“Thank God!” she exclaimed. “Thank God!”
“You’re trembling, babe,” Sullivan said. “I’m okay.” He looked over her shoulder at the television and saw the results of the bombs he’d planted. He smiled, pushed her back so he could see her face. “It’s nice to know you care so much about me.”
“Care!” she said. “I don’t care about you, you idiot. I love you. Don’t you know that?”
“Of course I know that. I love you, too.” He kissed her lips and said, “You standing there with almost nothing on, looking sexy as hell, reminds me of one of the reasons why I love you.”
Susan smiled back at him. “You never get enough.”
“I’m just so damned happy to be alive; I can’t think of any better way to celebrate than making love to you.”
She took his hand and led him into the bedroom.
Sullivan was overwhelmed by her passion. She showed him in many ways how deeply she loved him. He thought for an instant what a shame it was to have to kill her.
ABOUT the AUTHOR
Joseph Badal worked for thirty-eight years in the banking and financial services industries, most recently serving as a senior executive and board member of a NYSE-listed mortgage REIT. He is currently President of Joseph Badal & Associates, Inc., a management consulting firm.
Prior to his finance career, Joe served for six years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army in critical, highly classified positions in the U.S. and overseas, including tours of duty in Greece and Vietnam. He earned numerous military decorations.
He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in International Finance (Temple University) and Business Administration (University of New Mexico). He graduated from the Defense Language Institute, West Coast, and from Stanford University Law School’s Director College.
Joe serves on the boards of Sacred Wind Communications and New Mexico Mutual Insurance, and is Chairman and President of The New Mexico Small Business Investment Corporation.
Joe has had five suspense novels published, including Shell Game, which was released in 2012. His next novel, The Lone Wolf Agenda, will be released in June. He writes a blog titled Everyday Heroes. His first short story, Fire & Ice, was included in an anthology titled Uncommon Assassins, in 2012.
Joe has written dozens of articles that have been published in various business and trade journals, and is a frequent speaker at national business and writers’ events.