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“Rhett and Toni confront the Westside Scorpions, a ruthless gang in Santa Fe, in order to help free a couple trapped in...”
While vacationing in Santa Fe, Dee and Harris Drake witness a murder, and because of threats made by the ruthless Westside Scorpion gang, are forced to enter the Federal Witness Protection Program. They are relocated to Houston where they lament the fact that they’ll never again see their daughter and grandson or their home in Nebraska.

While awaiting the murder trial, Harris disappears, and his wife fears that he is returning to Santa Fe to eliminate those who would do them harm, and those who are responsible for their loss of freedom. Dee hires private investigators, Rhett and Toni Sanders, who find the runaway witness in Santa Fe. But rather than bring Harris back to Houston, together they devise a plan intended to permanently neutralize the entire Westside Scorpion gang, a plan involving suspense, danger, and a lot of uncertainty.





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Chapter 1
Two months ago. Early afternoon. Twenty-five miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The weather was spectacular for a hike. As is typical for mid-April, the temperature was in the low sixties, and the humidity in the high mountain desert was practically non-existent. The rolling foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, with their sparse vegetation made a nice contrast to the bright blue cloudless sky above. There was a faint scent of cedar in the air. It was truly a wonderful setting for a long walk.

But this walk hadn’t been planned. Harris and Dee Drake had visited a local deli in Santa Fe just after breakfast, purchased sandwiches, potato chips and bottled water, and had placed them in their cooler with just enough ice to keep their lunch cool until well after noon. They’d driven that damned rent car north and had visited the Sanctuary at Chimayo. While there, Dee collected some holy dirt in a plastic baggie, and purchased a plastic souvenir bottle from the gift shop to hold the holy water. At the time she’d told Harris it would bring them luck. Unfortunately, she didn’t know that the luck they were about to experience was bad luck. Very bad luck.

Thirty years ago while on a picnic at a park adjacent to the Platte River, Harris had proposed to Dee and she’d said yes. And ever since then, they went on picnics frequently, especially when on vacation. This vacation would be no exception. The concierge at the Bishop’s Lodge had suggested Santa Cruz Lake as an ideal spot for a picnic. She’d said it wasn’t a big lake, but that it was a very pretty setting, and that it would be unlikely that there’d be anyone else there on a weekday at this time of year.

But that damn rent car. Harris preferred to take road trips when on vacation, but this time they flew. Dee had discovered that Great Lakes Airlines -- headquartered in Cheyenne -- had offered a very special pricing for North Platte area residents, and that flying to Albuquerque with a connection in Denver was only four hundred dollars for two round-trip tickets. And they could leave their home and be in Santa Fe in less than two and a half hours as opposed to the eleven hours it would’ve taken had they driven their car. So it didn’t take much for Dee to convince her husband to fly rather than drive. But even with the deal they got for the air fare, Harris insisted on using a rent car from one of those companies you’ve never heard of with a name like Rent a Heap, Cheap Cars or whatever. The Japanese-manufactured subcompact they rented at the Albuquerque airport would cost only fifteen dollars a day plus gas.

The picnic had been delightful. Harris and Dee split two sandwiches. One was smoked turkey and Havarti on wheat and the other was tuna fish on seven-grain bread. They’d sat at a picnic table at the south end of the lake, high on top of a hill, and enjoyed the beautiful view. Santa Cruz Lake was created in 1929 when a 125-foot tall and almost 200-yards long dam was built across two snow-fed rivers which provided the water. The lake surface was about 120 acres with a large granite buttress on the west side, and ravines and canyons with several stands of pinon pines and cottonwood trees on the other sides. The vacationing couple talked about other picnics they’d enjoyed in the past, and talked about their daughter, Charlotte, and their grandson, Ash, who were living in South Dakota. They talked about what else they hoped to do while in New Mexico during this vacation. There were some minutes when they held hands and did no talking at all. They’d just looked at each other and at the scenery, which for them was mesmerizing. It certainly wasn’t Nebraska.

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