Deadly Intent

By: Christiane Heggan

Prologue


May 18


Allen Correctional Center

Lima , Ohio



On his forty-third birthday, which nobody gave a crap about, Ian McGregor decided he’d had it with prison life. He came to that realization as he and nine other inmates walked from Cell Block 11 to the prison rec room, dragging their feet and shoving each other, for no other reason than to piss off the guards.

Ian had spent half his adult life in and out of prison. While most of his offenses had been minor—drunk and disorderly, attempted burglary, bad checks—this last stint, sixteen months for breaking and entering, had been the pits. Thank God, ten days from now he’d be a free man, and this time, by God, he would stay free. No more stinking cells, no more pervert inmates and no more prison riots, the last of which had left him with four ugly puncture marks on his arm where some goon had stuck him with a fork.

Unfortunately, freedom was about all he had to look forward to. He had no money, no job prospect and no place to call home, unless his longtime, on-and-off girlfriend, Rose Panini, took him back. He wouldn’t blame her if she

didn’t. With his track record over the last twenty years, he wasn’t exactly what women called a catch. Simply put, Rose was fed up. She had made that plain the morning of his last sentencing, swearing she never wanted to see him again. So far, she had kept her word. His pleas for her to visit him had remained unanswered, as had his letters. But Ian was optimistic. Once she saw him standing on her doorstep, repentant and oozing with charm, she’d take one look at him and forgive him. Rose was no prize, but she had a big heart. Not to mention a steady job.

His second problem was a little more serious. And it came with a name: Arturo Garcia, one of the meanest SOB’s he’d ever had the misfortune to know. Ten years ago, Ian had worked for the man, delivering meth and cocaine to nightclubs throughout the Toledo area. The job had been fairly easy and the money good until the cops, who had been watching Ian, had apprehended him in the middle of a delivery and hauled him off to jail.

But just when he thought he’d be spending the next decade behind bars, the D.A. had offered him a deal that was almost too good to be true—his freedom for the goods on his boss. Ian hadn’t thought twice. He should have, because in addition to ratting on Arturo, Ian had walked off with thirty thousand dollars of his money, and that had made the drug distributor even more enraged.

On the day of his sentencing, which Ian had been dumb enough to attend, Arturo had to be dragged out of the courtroom kicking and screaming as he fired a volley of obscenities at Ian.

“This ain’t over, you lousy snitch,” Garcia had shouted. “When I get out I’m gonna find you and gut you like a fish.”

Fortunately, by the time Arturo was getting out of prison, Ian was going in for the B & E job, a twist of fate that

saved him from a sure and painful death. The word was that Arturo had returned to his native town of El Paso, where he and his younger brother, Tony, helped their widowed mother run the family grocery store. But who could tell if that was really true. For all Ian knew, Arturo could be cooling his heels outside the prison gates right now, waiting for a chance to kill him.

Ian’s thoughts were interrupted by a vicious whack behind the knees. “Move it, McGregor. What do you think this is? A funeral procession?”

Ian was tempted to yank the guard’s baton out of his hand and shove it up his ass. The thought, satisfying as it was, went no further. That kind of behavior would only get him a week in solitary and suspension of his TV privileges. He didn’t mind the solitary part, but he hated to be deprived of his nightly hour of television, especially now that Baywatch had gone into syndication and was being shown every night. There was nothing like a bunch of stacked babes in tight bathing suits to get a man’s blood pumping.

As always, the recreation-hour crowd was divided into two groups—the hard-core poker players, who never got the game out of their system, even when they played with fake money, and a handful of TV aficionados. Tonight, Ian and his tube-addicted buddies were in for a treat. Instead of a full hour of their favorite program, they had elected to watch the last half hour of a local beauty pageant, followed by the last thirty minutes of Baywatch.