The Solitaire Series Reminder: Each week, a story will appear on my blog, and be free to read for one week only. The next story will take its place, and the first story will be available on Amazon and other e-retailers. But if you follow this blog, you can read the stories for free every single week! Read more about the Short Story Deal here.

Throughout the series, there will be collections of stories, and we will even be producing some really cool swag along the way. Watch for contests, prizes, and even some fun “in-person” events!

Kaede Nakamura went by his last name most of the time, because fucking Americans couldn’t pronounce his name no matter how many times he told them how to say it.

Some people called him “K” for short. He never objected. What was the fucking point?

“Kaede?” the doctor said as he stepped into the room.

“Yes,” he said, blinking twice. A correct pronunciation? Who the hell?

Then he looked at the man’s face. Japanese descent, obviously. That was another thing that bothered him about Americans. All Asians do not look alike any more than all white people look alike, no matter what they might assume.

Maybe his anger should be directed at the American who had sent him here, not the entire population of the United States.

Still, his boss was dead, his future uncertain, all due to some scarred-up gambler that no one seemed able to eliminate.

He had no idea why he would be so important to the Queen anyway. There were card counters all over the city making money at their casinos. Why would this one matter any more than the rest of them?

“Your arm is definitely broken,” the doctor told him. “But it’s a clean break, so no need for surgery. That’s the good news. Your ribs will be sore for a couple of weeks at least.”

“And my knee?”

“Bruised. You’re a lucky man. Who got to you anyway?”

Nakamura just stared at the doctor for a few seconds.

“Right. I might know your assailant and even where you can find him, that’s all. He may have visited me if you gave as good as you got.”

“Oh, I know who he is, and where to find him.”

“Well, you may want to wait a bit before you go after him. At least, until you heal a little.”

“He’s a half-scarred cripple. I think I got him. Thanks, Doc.”

“Not Jack?”

“Yes, Jack.”

“The one who took out the Queen?”

“That’s the one.”

“In that case, you’re lucky to be alive at all.”

“Can you just set my arm, so I can get out of here? In the meantime, shut up.”

“Yes, sir,” the doctor said.

He moved Nakamura’s right arm gently onto a padded armrest, adjusted the height to make sure he was comfortable and turned away to get a casting setup from a drawer.

Kaede glared at his back but stayed quiet. He needed the doc and, whether he liked it or not, his advice wasn’t all that bad. Whatever else he might believe about Jack and that fucking dog of his, the man was dangerous. He’d bested some great operatives who’d been sent after him, and in the end, he’d killed the queen.

Ordinarily, that action alone would make him a free man. But Nakamura had no desire to make it that easy for him.

* * *

Want to read the rest of the story? It’s nos available on Amazon with the rest of the series. Find it at the link below!

I hope you are enjoying reading this series as much as I am. You can the rest of this series on Amazon here! Stay tuned for another FREE story right here next week. I hope to see you then!

Troy Lambert
Troy is a freelance writer, author, and blogger who lives, works, and plays in Boise, Idaho with the love of his life and three very talented dogs.

Passionate about writing dark psychological thrillers, he is an avid cyclist, skier, hiker, all-around outdoorsman, and a terrible beginning golfer.