Raven Series #2 | Jump to Raven # 1
Raven stepped off the night bus. I followed her out, squinting both ways into the darkness. The highway was deserted. We started hiking southwest, toward the center of Tulum, our adopted home town.
It was the end of our doubling back maneuver. After borrowing the kidnapper’s car, we’d bolted north toward Cancún, planning on hiding in the tourist sprawl. But it wasn’t long before we’d realized nobody was after us.
So we wiped down the car and left it on a side street with the doors unlocked and the keys on the dashboard. Then we’d gorged ourselves on seafood at a friend’s restaurant and slept off the resulting food coma, waking in time to hop on a pre-dawn ADO bus heading to Tulum, figuring if anyone was looking for us, they would look everywhere but there.
Just to be safe, we had the driver let us off at the edge of town instead of taking us in to the station.
We were the only ones out at that hour. As we came into town we passed the shuttered stalls of the municipal market. Street dogs searched through piles of trash, lifting their feet high and setting them down softly. When they found something to eat they chewed slowly, suspiciously.
We entered the city’s main square from the east. Our footsteps echoed off the facade of the mayor’s palace. The glow of security lights backlit the soaring palm trees planted in the park.
A man who looked old enough to have witnessed the Spanish invasion sat on a park bench. Steam rose from under the lid of the ancient clay pot resting on his rickety cart.
The odor of corn flour, chocolate, and cinnamon made my stomach rumble.
Raven walked over to him. “Buen día, abuelo. Dos por favor.” Good day, Grandfather.
The old man nodded and filled two styrofoam cups with champurrado. While she paid I scanned the square and the street behind us. No one.
Raven handed me a cup and sipped her own, letting out a small sigh as she the perfectly blended flavors worked their magic.
“Dad, do we have a plan besides finding breakfast and a place to sleep?”
Later in the day, the plaza would be full of street vendors selling tacos, tortas, and a million other things. But right now there was nothing to be had besides the champurrado.
I sipped the thick drink carefully to avoid burning my tongue. “Not unless you want to do anything else, Kid.”
“We should probably get a plan together.”
“First we need to know who’s after you.”
Raven didn’t say anything.
“You don’t have to tell me everything, but you’ve got to tell me something.”
“You remember that project I told you about?”
“I remember you saying something about accounting software, but it was pretty vague.”
“It’s about that.”
“I wouldn’t figure bean counting would cause this much trouble.”
“We’re talking about a lot of beans, Padre.”
“Whose beans are we talking about?”
Raven dropped her voice lower and murmured the outlines of deals involving black market oil, illegal arms, and government kickbacks. Somehow she’d been tracking in on the blockchain, whatever exactly that meant.
“I thought that was all anonymous.”
“It’s not,” she said. “Not really. Not if you know what you’re doing.”
“And someone noticed you were snooping.”
“Yeah. Guess I wasn’t as careful as I thought. Otherwise, I’d be in bed asleep right now.”
“I don’t bet there at our place any more, but I don’t think going home is the best idea just now,” I said. “Don Pedro will be in his office by now. We can get something to eat there.”
“If we can’t, I’m going to eat this styrofoam cup.”
“I’d rather eat market dog, myself.”
We nodded good-bye to the old man and made our way across the plaza.
“As long as they don’t know where the data is,” Raven says, “we can bargain with them.”
“Do you have it on you?”
Raven gave me a full-strength teenage-grade Dad-you’re-a-moron look.
“Where is it?”
“I gave it to Pato and told him to hide it.”
“But Pato’s crazy!”
“He’s the closest thing to a random number generator I could find. There’s no telling where he put it.”