LEVERAGE

Chapter 1


'It's probably another lie. Nothing he's said in the past 18 years has been true so why would this be?'

But even as he thought it, he found himself inclined to believe the most incredulous thing he'd heard yet. He had every reason to doubt the man in the driver's seat beside him. Less than three hours earlier, he'd been pointing a gun at his face. But there was no gun to force him into the car - that was all him.

Why was he here? There was a part of him that couldn't help but be curious. And yet there was another part that worried he was going to regret this.

11 hours earlier...

Jason wasn't surprised in the slightest when his dad's expression grew colder (if that were possible). Yep, this was going to be a dead-end conversation.

Cole Thurmond glanced up at the clock on the wall behind the nervous teenager. Jason couldn't remember a time when that clock actually worked. It had been stuck on 9:07 for years.

"I can't decide which part is the most moronic."

'Here we go.' Jason resigned himself to hear another cutting speech.

"The part about quitting the only thing that might stuff some sense into your head, or that you think you have what it takes to..." he allowed himself a condescending chuckle. Jason's face used to burn when Cole did that but now he just took it in stride.

His dad was back to business; his tone final. "You're not joining the Navy."

Jason resisted the urge to avert his eyes to something - anything - other than the gaze that met him on the other side of the desk. He lifted his chin and leaned forward.

"I don't feel motivated at college. It's been a whole semester and I want to rip my ears out."

"This coming from a kid who's never had his ears ripped out before."

Jason bit his lip. Why did his dad have to do that with every expression he used? Before he could get another word in, Cole continued.

"There's no future in the military for you. Their wars here are smoke screens and you'd be a puppet."

"Just 'cause you don't believe in anything doesn't mean I'm that way too! Why are you so against me doing anything with my life?"

Cole stood. His tall frame and broad shoulders made Jason still look small in front of him.

"I believe in plenty. Like believing you should focus on finishing school and forget about the military."

Jason stood for a few silent seconds before making his way to the door. It was a dead end. He knew it would be.

Jacket halfway on, he stormed out the front door and turned down the sidewalk.

The light rain didn't bother him; Jason's head was fuming. It was always like this. The weird thing was that, for the most part, his dad hardly cared what he did. Jason knew for a fact that he was fully aware of when he'd sneak out back in high school. He was indifferent about the grades he got, the time he got home, or who his friends were. So why did he seem to block him when he actually wanted to do something that mattered?

College was fine but it didn't spark anything in him. For most of his life, there hadn't been anything specific that interested him. But several months ago, he'd gone to a Blue Angels air show with some buddies. He couldn't fully explain it, but something awakened inside of him. Watching the aircrafts weaving through the sky with perfect precision gave his imagination wings. He truly felt that he was capable of piloting like that one day.

Jason was so lost in thought that he didn't notice the car that had started to hydroplane on the slick asphalt and begin to spin into the lane closest to him. Only when the impending vehicle was several feet away did Jason look up. With no time to think, he reacted as anyone would by putting his arms up to block his face.

He waited for the impact but none came.

A few moments later, he peeked between his arms and slowly put them down in disbelief. As his arms went down, so did the car. Had it really just been HOVERING? It came to rest on the ground and its two occupants stared at him with mouths agape.

Jason didn't know what to do. His mind was spinning and it was starting to make him sick. He turned and ran.


Cole heard the front door open and close again with a bang. Shortly thereafter, the back door opened and closed. What now?

He followed the bumbling noise outside to the back. There in the far left corner of the small yard, he saw the kid sitting on the free standing swing next to the oak tree. He casually strode over until he was standing several feet in front of the swing. The kid glanced up but didn't speak. He seemed more upset than earlier.

"Any reason for the commotion or do you just like making sure the universe knows you're home?"

"Can we just not. Please?"

Yeah this couldn't simply be about earlier. He almost sounded distressed.

"What's the matter with you?"

Jason didn't look up. "I'm fine."

For a second Cole hesitated. Finally deciding to leave it alone, he turned to leave.

"Don't blow a socket."

Jason breathed a bit easier when he saw his dad go back in the house. He wasn't anywhere close to talking about what just happened. He first had to figure out exactly WHAT happened. He tried to align his frantic thoughts.

'That car wasn't actually hovering... was it? It was almost like I was controlling it. No no no that's impossible! Okay think. THINK. What did you SEE? The car was coming toward me, I put my hands up... and what?'

Jason shook his head.

'I'm just crazy. I'm going crazy. I imagined it.'

But... those two women in the car looked at him like they were seeing an alien. What was going on?


It was past midnight. Cole was in his room adjacent from the study. Jason had gone to bed a little over an hour ago in his room upstairs. Cole was just on the precipice of sleep when he heard it.

A probing beep grew louder and louder. He was out of bed and across the hall in an instant. He tore the clock off the wall - the clock that never worked - and from the back where the battery should go was the source of the noise. He shook the small device out of the clock into his hand. He hadn't touched this in 18 years.

So this is how it would be.


Something Jason couldn't explain jolted him out of his sleep. He opened his eyes to see a revolver pointed at his head. He looked up to see the last thing he expected.

His dad. With his finger on the trigger.

"Dad..."

The man didn't say anything. His face was cold. And yet... was there a bead of sweat on his forehead?

"What are you doing!?"

The hand holding the gun began to shake ever so slightly. Painful moments passed. Suddenly Cole let out an angered yell and Jason watched the gun crash against the wall to his left. He looked back to see Cole pacing back and forth in quick - almost stressed - strides. All the while muttering a string of profanity under his breath.

In a flurry of anger, fear, and confusion, Jason jumped from the bed and swept the gun up in his hand.

"Were you about to kill me?"

Cole stopped his pacing to assess the situation. The kid wasn't pointing the gun directly at him but in his frantic state, anything was possible. Even in the dark room, he could see the fear in his eyes.

"Dad!"

Finally Cole spoke. "I'm not your father, kid."

Jason gaped in astonishment. He didn't know if he was going to puke or explode. "What do you mean?"

Cole looked up at the ceiling. "Oh boy..." he mumbled to himself. "I'm gonna catch hell for this."

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN?" Then Jason repeated, "Were you about to kill me?"

"Yes," came the simple reply.

Before he knew it, Jason's knees buckled beneath him and he stumbled down to floor. He had no strength or motivation to stand again so he leaned his back against the wall behind him and let the gun drop on the carpet. He buried his head in his hands.

"If you're not my dad then who are you?"

Cole gave a relenting sigh. "At this point, you might as well know." He said this as though he were convincing himself of the fact.

"Well?"

"My name is Kol."

Jason raised his eyebrow slightly. "Is this a joke to you? I know your name is Cole."

"No, smart ass. Kol. K-O-L. I changed the spelling when I came here. And while we're talking about names, your name isn't Jason. It's Luke."