Dirty Angels

Dirty Angels - 1

Karina Halle

For Scott MacKenzie, from Karina MacKenzie.

A Note from the Author

Thank you for wanting to read Dirty Angels. Please note that the following book deals with the life within the drug cartels of Mexico and as such, it depicts many brutal acts and events that most people wish to believe don’t happen—but they do. As a writer, I tried to stay as true to the real life dealings of the Mexican drug cartels and consulted such books as El Sicario, The Last Narco, and Midnight in Mexico. As a result, the book contains situations that are not suitable for all readers, whether you are 18+ or not.

While this book is written in English, all characters are assumed to be speaking and thinking in Spanish, except where otherwise noted.

Trigger Warning: If you are sensitive to scenes that include or allude to rape, domestic violence, abuse and torture, please do not read this book. While Dirty Angels is fiction, it strives to be as realistic as possible to the world of Mexican drug cartels and the mentioned scenes do occur and frequently. Otherwise, please note the book contains a lot of explicit and unprotected sex, erotic material, violence, and bad language.

Epigraph

If the narcos want something, they will get it one way or another. And as far as the women are concerned, there is a saying: “If I want you, I will have you, for better or worse. If I can’t have you one way, I’ll have you another way. And if I can’t have you, no one will have you, that will be the end of you, and there you will be buried. Simple.”

El Sicario: The Autobiography of the Mexican Assassin

Despair and Deception, Love’s ugly little twins

Came a-knocking on my door, I let them in

Darling, you’re the punishment for all my former sins

I let love in

I Let Love In, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Prologue

I was running.

I didn’t know where, all I knew was that I had to keep going, one foot in front of the other. The wet grass brushed against my bare legs and I wished I’d planned my escape a little bit more. After a month of dwelling on it, toying with the idea, then finally committing, you think I would have escaped my husband’s house with something more than shorts, a blouse, and a wallet. At least I was wearing running shoes.

There hadn’t been any time. I was already outside when I saw my husband’s boring guests arrive. I didn’t mean to be. I was supposed to be in my room putting on my dress and making myself look oh so lovely. I’d been looking forward to them coming over for the last few days – they’d break up the daily monotony of a woman captive to her narco husband, a slave to the golden palace.

I’d only gone outside, out the kitchen door, to get flowers for the centerpiece. The maid had brought these expensive blossoms from in town, but I wanted the gardenias that grew at the front fence and created a hedge along the line. When the guest’s Mercedes rolled in through the gates, I froze in place and watched as they parked and strolled up to the door. The night sky was minutes away from engulfing us.

After Salvador answered with that big phony smile of his and ushered them inside, I took in the deepest breath I could. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t chance changing my mind. I needed to act, and act now.

I grabbed a few sparse blossoms off the hedge and walked over to Juan Diego at the front gate. I knocked on the glass of his booth, making him jump in surprise as he’d just started to read his tabloid, and told him I was going outside along the hedge to get more flowers. He was reluctant—he had orders to keep me inside, though Salvador always insisted it was to protect me from everyone else. But there was never anyone to protect me against Salvador.

I waved my flowers at him and put my hand on my hip. I had only been the wife of Salvador for two months, but I was going to use that while I could. I needed to act like I owned authority, even if I didn’t. Juan Diego was a kind man, and he was in no power to deny the wife of Mexico’s largest drug cartel access to her favorite flowers.

The flowers my mama used to put in my hair every Sunday.

He waved me through with a warm smile, and I returned in kind, acting a role, pretending I wasn’t trembling on the inside. I slowly walked along the hedge, plucking the flowers, my hands filled with fragrant white petals. I eyed the cameras that were stationed around the outer edge, knowing I didn’t look suspicious to Rico, the surveillance guy inside, but if Salvador caught sight of me on the cameras, outside the compound, he would lose his shit.

There was no time. It was now or never.

I had to run. I had to try.

So I did.

Where the hedge started to blend in to the surrounding jungle and the clipped front lawn became unruly and unkempt, I dropped the flowers at my feet and ran into the darkness. I had studied our land—his land, it was always his land—time and time again, and all I knew was to avoid the roads. If I headed down behind the house, I’d come across the river that was too deep and wide to cross, and if I went across the road I’d be heading into the backyards of our neighbors who were as guarded as we were. I had to keep running north, through the trees, through the twilight.

I just had to keep running.

I ran for a good twenty minutes straight, my body coasting on adrenaline and the endurance I had built while working out in the home gym every day. I fell a few times, my hands always taking the brunt of the fall before the ground could take out the rest of me. I always got back up. There was no time for pain. I felt it, but it was almost a relief to have. After what Salvador had done to me, I could take a lot.

I ran and ran and ran, tripping over roots, dodging the trees in the weak moonlight that filtered through the trees, until the river suddenly cut across in front of me. I had no idea where I was, and I could see a few more stars than usual without the city lights. Somewhere in the trees a bird called out.

I thought about my parents, the people I was most worried about. Actually, the only people on this earth who mattered to me. I worried about Salvador finding out that I had run, I worried that he would kill them. But as brash as he was, he wouldn’t do anything until he knew the facts. At least, I hoped that would be the case. The plan was for me to call my friend Camila and get her to take care of them – before he could.

Looking around me, I made my way to the river’s edge and contemplated going across. It wasn’t as wide here and didn’t look to be as deep, with the tops of a few boulders poking their way through the current. I wondered if Juan Diego had alerted Salvador about what happened. I wondered if Rico had been watching when I disappeared from the cameras. I wondered how much time I had before they found me.

A branch snapped behind me. Even though that was the only sound I heard, I knew it belonged to a person who was probably wincing very loudly at his mistake. You couldn’t afford to make mistakes in Mexico.

I quickly jumped from the shore and into the river, the cold water coming up to my mid-thighs and catching me by surprise. I gasped loudly and was momentarily frozen from the shock. Then I heard a fervent rustling behind me and knew I had to keep going or I’d die.

Or worse. With Salvador there was always worse.

The current rushing up against me was strong, and my sneakers slid against the sand and pebbles under my feet, but I made myself move, made myself push through the river, the other side so close. I kept going, my legs turning to ice, my eyes focused on the dry land, my arms stretched out as if I could reach it that way.

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