Four on the Floor, the fourth John Tyler thriller, releases on March 29, 2022. Below is chapter one of the book followed by a universal link to its sales pages.
John Tyler watched over his daughter Lexi’s shoulder. “It’s just Excel, Dad,” she said as she entered a bunch of numbers. “It’s kind of a glorified calculator.”
“I could use it if it were,” Tyler said. “There’s a lot of voodoo in this program.”
Lexi grinned. “Even though we don’t use much of it, it has good power under the hood. I figured you could appreciate it.”
“Don’t compare this blasted app to a car.” Tyler pointed at a cell in the bottom right. “Am I profitable?”
“So far,” Lexi confirmed. “I hope you’re not planning a long vacation with the proceeds, though.”
“It’s a start.” He patted her shoulder. “Thanks, kiddo.”
“You’re paying me for this, right?”
“Will I still be in the green?”
“Barely,” Lexi said.
“I’ll take it.” Tyler looked at his watch as the door chime indicated someone entered Special Operations Car Repair. “This must be my interview.”
Lexi gave him a funny look. “You’re going to hire an employee?”
Tyler nodded. “I’ll be able to organize work and get things done faster.” He waved his hand toward the monitor. “Your little cells in Excel will appreciate it in time.”
“I hope so.” She stood. “I’ll clear out.” Lexi left the office, and a moment later, a man knocked on the door frame. He was a tall Latino with a light brown complexion and short dark hair which he wore a bit spiky on top. Definitely not a style he could have sported in his active duty days. The man stood about five-ten—the same height as Tyler—and looked a little more slender than his potential boss. His only remarkable features were the top of a tattoo peeking above the top button of white shirt and a prosthetic lower left leg. Tyler couldn’t see it, but he could discern it from the sound it made on the floor, and he’d heard about it when asking around about his prospective employee.
“I’m David Ortiz,” he said, extending a hand.
“Thanks for coming in.” Tyler shook the man’s hand. He could boast of a good grip. “John Tyler.”
“Good to meet you.” Ortiz said. He gestured to a chair and dropped into it when Tyler nodded. “Glad I got here before the storm.”
Tyler glanced outside the window. The sky grew grayer throughout the day, and wind blew the trees in the median of nearby Northern Parkway. He was no meteorologist, but it seemed the recent cold snap intensified. “Me, too. I . . . uh . . . look, I’ve never really interviewed someone for a job before. I used to work in a shop not far from here. Now, the owner there works for me.” This all happened because a drug cartel burned Tom “Smitty” Smith’s business to the ground a few months ago. Ortiz didn’t need the information up front, however, and Smitty would be unlikely to tell him. “I heard good things about you from the people in the garage at Fort Meade.”
“Lot of guys come in there and don’t really know what they’re doing.” Ortiz shrugged. “I helped out where I could. I was a ninety-one bravo.”
A wheeled vehicle mechanic. Tyler enlisted under the same MOS over thirty years ago. Despite four tours with special operations, he’d kept his mechanic skills up. “Me, too . . . when the army didn’t tell me to go shoot the Taliban instead.”
“I know.” Ortiz flashed a brief and awkward smile. “I looked you up when you asked me to come in. You’re kind of a legend.”
Tyler scoffed. “I’m a guy who did his share for his country in twenty-four years of service. Plenty of us out there. A bunch of men and women did more than I ever could.”
“I made it to staff sergeant. Only saw one combat tour.” Ortiz frowned and rubbed his left knee.
“IED?” Tyler asked.
“Yeah. Once I got hurt, I went back to fixing things until I didn’t re-up. Though I guess my days of driving a stick are over.”
“You could probably still beat the more famous David Ortiz in a foot race.”
“He’s won a few more World Series trophies than me, though,” the former sergeant said with a grin. “Plus the Hall of Fame thing.”
Tyler asked Ortiz about his experience working on cars and found the answers satisfactory. Years of fixing army Jeeps and scavenging for parts tended to make decent mechanics. Tyler knew this from experience. “If I offer you the job,” Tyler said, “how many hours a week could you do?”
“Probably three or four days.” Ortiz shrugged. “I’m flexible. You need me to come in, I probably can.”
“Great. Can you start next week?”
The shop’s newest employee smiled. “You got it. Thanks, Mister Tyler.”
“Just Tyler is fine.” The two men shook hands again, and Ortiz left. Tyler noticed the chill in the air while the door lingered open. It had probably dropped ten degrees from the morning, which wasn’t exactly balmy. The third week of March seemed late for cold and snow, but Baltimore weather took on a mind of its own.
Lexi walked back into the office a moment later and sat opposite her father. She pushed her dark auburn ponytail back behind her head. “You hire him?”
“Yeah,” Tyler said. “Good guy. I think he’ll do well.”
“Smitty will be glad for the extra help,” Lexi said. She paused and frowned. “Dad, you remember Stacy?”
“Sure. One of your first friends I ever met.”
“Right. She’s coming back into town for spring break. I offered to go get her at the airport and go out for a girl’s day. The weather forecast is bad, though. I don’t want to leave her hanging, but it’s hard to arrange transportation for her now.”
“Someone in an SUV is bound to drive for Uber,” Tyler said.
“She was looking forward to me picking her up. It’s been a couple years since we’ve seen each other.” Stacy went to college a year before Lexi did. The transition from living with her mom to living with Tyler had been jarring even if she rarely mentioned it. Lexi glanced at the window. “I’m not sure what to tell her. She’ll be landing in a couple hours . . . weather permitting.”
Tyler tossed Lexi a set of keys. “Take my car home. I’ll drive the Tesla and pick her up. Make sure you put it on the charger before you go. Maybe you two can have your girl’s day tomorrow. The weather should be better.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Lexi stared at the round and square keys—one for the ignition, the other for the doors and trunk. “Wow. You’re actually letting me drive the Four-Four-Two.”
“She’s pretty big and heavy, and she’s rear-wheel drive.” Tyler’s dark green vintage Oldsmobile 442 sat in the lot near his daughter’s Tesla Model X. He’d spent a lot of time restoring the car, and while he trusted Lexi as a driver, he’d never let her sit behind the wheel of it before. “I’m sure you’ll do fine. I’ll pick up Stacy.”
“Dad, I can—“
Tyler put up a hand. “I have decades more experience driving in bad weather. All-wheel drive or not, experience matters when the snow piles up. You get home safely. I’ll drop your friend off at her house. I’m sure the two of you can spend hours video chatting until tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Dad.” Lexi smiled. “I’ll try not to dent her up too badly.”
“I’m taking any repairs out of your paycheck.”
“The one you won’t get until the body work is finished,” Tyler said.
* * *
The black Suburban scoffed at the snow even as it deepened on county roads. The identical vehicle immediately behind it did the same. As the weather grew worse, the number of other cars on the road plummeted along with the temperature. The team hadn’t seen another vehicle for about ten minutes. Large flakes fell in front of the headlights, and the wipers worked furiously to keep the windshield clean. Poor visibility forced the lead driver to set a slower pace.
No matter. They would still be on time.
A large stone sign marking The Manors of Rock Run indicated they were in the neighborhood. The driver made the next left. Palatial houses dotted both sides of the road. They must have been at least four thousand square feet. The significant distance between homes meant each probably sat on an acre of land. Even in remote Cecil County much closer to Delaware than to Baltimore, properties like this could command a million dollars.
The twin Suburbans eased to a stop in front of the fourth house on the left. Both sets of headlights winked out right away. A few windows were lit up inside the house, which sat at the end of a driveway as long as a football field. Hedges barely getting their leaves back lined both sides. It would make hiding easier, but the team would need to traverse the entire length on foot. Driving so close to the home could alert the residents. A mailbox at the curb told anyone on the street the Chaplain family lived here. The front seat passenger’s cell phone rang, and he answered.
“Are you in position?” their boss asked.
“We just arrived. We’ll be moving in shortly.”
“Excellent. You know what to do. Let me know when you’ve finished.” He clicked off.
Each man slipped a small earpiece into his ear. “Comms check,” the driver said. “This is Adam. Over.”
“This is Baker,” the other front occupant answered. “Over.”
“This is Charlie,” the man sitting in the second row said. “Over.”
“Donald in vehicle two,” added the man behind them. “Over.”
Next, all three in the lead SUV slipped thin black gloves on. They took out their pistols, examined the magazines, and racked the slides. Identical black ski masks went over their faces next. They matched the shirt, pants, jacket, and shoes each member of the team wore. Four doors opened as the quartet slipped out of the Suburban. Each man was close in height, so the four would be indistinguishable if anyone happened to see them. They bent low and walked up the driveway. About three inches of snow lay on the asphalt, and it quietly crunched under each man’s feet.
A couple minutes later, Adam, Baker, Charlie, and Donald put their backs to the garage door. “We’ll take the rear,” Charlie said. “Wait for me to tell you we’re in position.” He and Donald padded off. Adam and Baker kept low and approached the front entrance. A couple minutes later, Charlie’s whisper sounded in their earpieces. “In position at the back door.”
“All right,” Adam said. Baker’s other hand held a snap gun to bypass the lock quickly. “We’ll breach on my signal. Remember we have a target we need to bring out alive. No other survivors. Kill everyone else, and let’s get clear. No mercy. We go in three . . . two . . . one.”
You can preorder Four on the Floor by using this universal link or clicking/tapping on the cover above. It’s available wherever fine ebooks are sold.