Rome Is Burning (The Iron Eagle Series) by Roy A. Teel Jr.
The Iron Eagle Series, by Roy A. Teel Jr., is a hard-boiled, mystery, suspense, thriller crime series that is expected to span 30 books. Each book in the series can be read as a standalone.
Rome Is Burning is the third book in The Iron Eagle Series. It is available for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords.
“Rome Is Burning” is secret government code for a potential terrorist attack in the U.S. The City of Los Angeles is in danger, and no one knows it. Special Agent John Swenson, aka The Iron Eagle, and Sheriff’s Homicide Detective Jim O’Brian have been in search of a serial killer with a twist: a terrorist plot of tremendous proportions. A disgraced Marine Corps Colonel has hatched a plan with her subordinates to destroy the city of Los Angeles and kill millions of its citizens. John Swenson, also a highly decorated former Marine Corps MARSOC black operative, must step out of his role as FBI agent and back into his military training to stop what will be the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. Swenson and O’Brian engage with Swenson’s retired unit to attempt to stop the devastation. With every turn in the investigation and hunt for the terrorists, a deeper anti-government plot is uncovered, and the only thing standing in the way of death and destruction for a city and a nation is The Iron Eagle and his team of black operatives.
“All is not lost, the unconquerable will, and study of revenge, immortal hate, and the courage never to submit or yield.” – John Milton, Paradise Lost
“Wax seals are so rarely used in this day and age,” said Mark Heisman, owner and operator of Heisman Stationery in Beverly Hills, California. He was wrapping up a special order including a wax sealing stamp and some sealing wax as he commented to customer Colleen Bolton. She smiled as he spoke. “Do you use this?” he asked. Colleen let out a little laugh. “Do I look like an old lady living in the nineteenth century? I hardly think so. This is for my employer; she’s a little old- fashioned.” There was a twinkle in her emerald green eyes. Mark admired her beauty and appreciated her frequent business. He watched her hold a fountain pen that she had been admiring. Her hands were delicate and slightly tan like the rest of her body. She was dressed in a short red sundress that rode midway between her knees and thighs, showing off a fabulous pair of silken tan legs. Her bare arms were without blemish as was her face. Her jet black hair and ruby red lips set her eyes ablaze. He desired her very much and had told her as much several times. He never dared ask her age; any smart man knows better than that, but he figured her to be near his own age of thirty nine. He hopelessly flirted with her whenever she came in, but she never showed any interest. He figured she was gay but continued to woo her just the same.
After wrapping her purchase, he said, “It is still hard getting used to someone using sealing wax for her correspondence.” Colleen looked up at him and said, “How so?” “No matter how one cuts it, Miss, the postal system will certainly ruin the integrity of the wax.” “You have no customers that use a wax seal?” she asked. “Oh, yes, Ms. Bolton. It is quite common. Not to be insulting, but I find it cliché.” “It’s my understanding that it is a family tradition of my employer, so while I don’t personally take offense, I do on behalf of my employer.” “My deepest apologies, Ms. Bolton, no disrespect was intended. It is still an unusual request.” “Oh?” she asked, now listening to him intently. “It just does not fit well into the postal system of the twenty first century.” She set the pen down on the glass display case it had come from and said, “I like it!”
He was the consummate businessman and salesman, and he agreed with her statement. She leaned in close to him, the smell of her perfume wafting up into his nostrils encouraging him. “Can I confess something to you?” he said. She smiled and nodded. “I have been investigating the seal.” She had a stunned look on her face. “Whatever for?” “Please don’t be angry with me. I wanted to impress you with what I learned.” Her eyes softened, and she asked in a sultry low voice, “And what did you learn?” Her eyes were peering through him, and he was getting engorged by her sultry stare. He stumbled on his own words. “Um…um…the wax seal has been used for communication with…” She smiled and leaned on her elbow with her chin resting on her hand. “With whom, Mr. Heisman?” He was clearly taken and out of sorts, and she could see it. “Much to my embarrassment, Ms. Bolton, I don’t recall. I believe that I have seen this mark in the newspapers of late. “I don’t know much about those things, Mark. I just pick up what my boss orders.” “I meant to ask you about that.” “About what?” “Well, you tell me that these are items that your boss orders, yet they always come in your name. Why don’t they come in your boss’s name?”
She stood up and took out her American Express card to pay for the items. “My boss is a celebrity who likes to remain anonymous, so she gives me the instructions, and I do her bidding.” He smiled as he took her card to pay for the order. “Yea, I understand. I have a lot of famous customers, and a fair amount of them wish to remain anonymous; however, I do all of their ordering for them then either deliver the goods to them, or they send in an employee to pick them up.” He handed Colleen her card and the receipt for her signature. “I will keep trying to remember where I have seen that logo before, and I’ll let you know the next time you come in.”
There was a copy of the Los Angeles Times next to the register. She could see the front page, and right there in front of her was the seal. She looked over at Mark and asked, “May I see the paper next to the register?” He was so smitten with the fact that she was giving him the time of day that she could have asked for a kidney or lung, and he would have agreed. “Oh, yea, sure. Here you go.” She leaned down with the paper flipped upside down so that the emblem could not be seen and allowed her large breasts to rest on the counter, giving Mark a beautiful view down her dress. Mark stood mesmerized as she gave him a full well-lit view of her exquisite triple D bare breasts. She pretended to read and then asked, “May I take this with me? I didn’t get to read yesterday’s paper.” “Yes…by all means. Please take it. Is there anything else I can do for you, Ms. Bolton?” She stood up tall and said, “Yes, Mark. There is. Would you be interested in having dinner with me tonight?” He babbled almost incoherently. “I’m going to take that as a yes.” He just nodded; he didn’t know what else to do. She handed him her business card. “This is my address. Pick me up at seven. I will make a reservation for two at the Oak Room on Wilshire. Is that okay with you?” It was one of the most expensive restaurants in LA. A meal there with a good bottle of wine could set a guy back a grand or more. “Sure…I will pick you up at seven.” “Great.” She smiled and leaned over the counter and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Now, don’t be late. You don’t want to keep a lady waiting.” She danced out the front door of his store as he stood in dumb silence. “I can’t believe it! It’s going to happen. I’m going to get in her pants…WOW…this is turning out to be one of the best days of my life.” He looked at the clock, and it was four thirty. He would close things up at five and worry about setting up the store in the morning. A dream was about to come true for him, and he was not about to be late.
Colleen got back to her house off Beverly. She had inherited a large fortune when her parents passed away five years earlier. They were in a tragic car accident, and since then she had been trying to get her life on track to figure out what she was going to do with the rest of her life. Men, while she loved them, weren’t in the cards. She wasn’t going to get taken by any man. She used them for sex and that was it. She dropped the bag with the wax and seal on a corner table as she entered her house. Her cat was sitting on the dining room table as she passed to go to the kitchen. “I fear Mark knows too much, Pablo, or if he doesn’t, he will figure it out sooner rather than later. I’m going to dine with him tonight then bring him back here for sex and termination.” Her eyes grew cold and the emerald green turned almost ashen. She walked to her closet and got out her favorite black dress. She showered, dressed, and sat at her makeup table putting on her face, then went to the study that once was occupied by her father and finished writing the notes she had started three days earlier. She had been waiting for the seal and wax to arrive, so she could send them out
They were handwritten with a fountain pen in what looked at first blush like red ink, but the smell foretold as blood. She addressed the front of each envelope and then sealed the back with the wax. Agent Steven Hoffman, FBI; James O’Brian, Los Angeles County Sheriff, and Special Agent John Swenson, Behavioral Science Unit, FBI Los Angeles. The grandfather clock chimed six forty-five as she opened the paper she had asked Mark to give to her. The headline on the front page said it all, The Griffith Grinder Strikes Again. The door bell rang, and she smiled and headed for the door.
She invited Mark in and walked him into the study; he was clearly in awe of the house. She explained her situation and how she inherited the home. After some chit chat, he noticed two shadow boxes on the wall behind the desk in the study. Colleen excused herself to pick something up, and he walked over to the desk in her absence to admire the units. One box held a Marine Corps dress uniform with a full bird colonel’s brass emblems on the shoulders. The second housed multiple ribbons and medals from the Marine Corps. The brass placard above the medals surprised him. ‘Presented to Colonel Colleen Sondra Bolton for service above and beyond the call of duty: Semper Fidelis.’ She stepped back into the room as Mark was looking on at the wall. She cleared her throat, and he turned with a start. “I’m sorry, Colleen. The shadow boxes caught my attention. Is the Colleen mentioned in this award box you?” She nodded. “Yes, Mark. That is my uniform and the medals I earned while in the military.” He looked at her with even greater awe. “I would never have guessed you as having served.” “I did Mark; did you?” He shook his head. “May I ask why not?” She had a look of disapproval on her face, and he feared his honesty might cost him his date.” “I went to enlist when I graduated from high school, but I was deemed 4F on account of a congenital birth defect in my heart.” He lowered his head in embarrassment. She walked over and put her hand on his shoulder. “Don’t hang your head, Mark. You tried. It was not your fault that you weren’t able to serve. The fact that you had the courage to enlist and be declared 4F shows me that you have great courage.” A smile of relief grew across his face.
“I have to drop some letters off, is that okay?” He was so happy that he didn’t care. “Anything you need, Colleen. I’m happy to oblige.” She had Mark take her to a nondescript building off Wilshire in Beverly Hills. She asked him to wait for her as she went into the building. Inside, she placed each envelope in a mailing envelope after sealing them with the self adhesive strips. She slipped them through a small slot in the wall, took off a pair of latex gloves she was wearing, put them in her pocket, and left. The building housed a mailing service that provided its clients with discreet anonymous mailing services that were untraceable. Once she knew her latest correspondence was en route, she rejoined Mark in his car.
They had a delectable meal, but when the check came Mark thought he would have to sell an organ to pay. Colleen promptly pulled out her AMEX and paid the tab. He was embarrassed. “You didn’t have to do that,” he said as they drove down Wilshire toward her home. “I tell you what…you can make it up to me in my bedroom.” She smiled at him as he turned onto Beverly. She invited him to park in her garage, which he did. She walked him into her home, arm and arm, and he pressed the button on the alarm to his car and it beeped, letting him know it was locked.
John got to the office early after coming back from working with Steve and Jim. He was drinking a bottle of water as he went through the mail stacked on his desk. He came across an envelope with no return address and opened it and poured the contents onto his desk. It landed face down, and he saw the wax seal on the back of the envelope. He took out a pair of latex gloves and called Steve and Jim on their office lines; both men were at their desks. Steve said it before John could get it out. “The Griffith Grinder’s newest note?” Jim and John had not read theirs yet. “I only saw the seal,” John said as he held it up to the light with a pair of tweezers. “Well, I’m three hours ahead of you, so I will save you the time of reading it. The long and short of it is the note says there will be another body left in Griffith Park tonight, and this time it says we will see his real wrath.” Jim laughed on the other end of the line. “Like the last pile of meat with a cock on top wasn’t enough?” There was a moment of silence, and Steve asked John, “So, this is note number three in less than two weeks. What are we dealing with?” “This is a serial killer, but she’s different!” They both heard Jim clear his throat.
“Did you just say SHE?” “Yes, Jim. She. The killer is a woman,” John said on the other end of the line. “Women aren’t serial killers, John,” Steve said from his office in Quantico. “Well, this is a woman, and she is getting a real taste for this. We better be careful how we handle this.” “How are we going to catch her?” Jim asked. “That’s a question for the ages, Jim. Let’s beef up patrols in Griffith Park; we might get lucky if she does it there.” Steve replied, “You two are assuming she hasn’t already killed her next victim.” There was silence for a moment, and Jim piped up. “Okay. What the fuck, Mr. Wizard? Do you think he’s already dead?” “Yes!” said John. “Well, we are yesterday’s heroes, guys. We live in a society of what have you done for me lately. We need a profile, and we need it pronto.” John piped up. “I’ve looked over the first two letters that she’s sent, and she’s taunting us, daring us to catch her. She gets bolder in each one.” Steve spoke up. “Well, wait until you read this one. She’s even bolder than before. She’s advancing to the next level. Now, she’s challenging The Iron Eagle to catch her. She says in this letter that she’s hunting him … if it is a she.”
There were a few moments of silence between the men. “Let me read the letter, and I will call you both back. It’s definitely a woman,” John said. “Well, if she wants to flush out The Eagle, she’s inviting hell with it,” said Jim. “There’s no way to know because we haven’t been talking to the media about this. The media only knows what we want them to know, and most of that is information being leaked from within. Does anyone here think that she knows who The Eagle is?” Steve asked. “No,” came the response from John and Jim simultaneously. “Well, then what the fuck are we dealing with?” Steve asked in a pleading voice. “Trouble, Steve. Real serious trouble. We need to leak it to the press that she is trying to get to The Eagle,” John said. “Are you out of your damn mind? Leak it to the press and The Eagle that a woman is looking to kill him?” Steve asked. Jim said, “That’s a hell of a good idea, John. We let The Eagle flush her out. He’s not going to kill a woman!” Steve chimed in. “You’re kidding, right Jim? The Eagle killed Jill Makin. He doesn’t give a shit what the sex of the killer is. He’s going to take it as a challenge and start looking for her, then it’s going to come down to who is smarter, faster, and more lethal.”
John responded. “Steve’s right about everything but his last point.” “Which is?” Jim asked. “The Eagle is only going to see it as a challenge to save lives. We have no idea who she is.” “Well, I have a feeling we’re going to see how serious she is in a few short hours; you guys better get on it.” “Thanks, Steve. John and I were just going to sit back and play chess tonight.” There was no laughter. “Let’s get to work before we have another body on our hands.” “We already have another body on our hands; we just don’t have it yet. We need to find out what motivates this woman,” said Jim. “Leak it, Jim. Let’s give her the same nickname we use in the office.” “Why that name, John?” Jim asked. “It will piss her off. We need her angry, so she will slip up, so we can catch her before The Eagle does.”
Steve chimed in. “How do we know The Eagle isn’t already looking for her?” “We don’t,” said John. “I have a feeling this fourth victim is but the tip of the iceberg of something much larger.” There was a sigh on the other end of the line. “Please don’t tell me you think it’s as big as Barstow?” Steve asked. “It’s a whole new world of serial killers. Each has to do worse than the last. It’s got to be bigger and better. Stack up the body count.” “Jesus Christ, John. You’re not talking about a serial killer anymore; you’re talking about a terrorist,” Jim said. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about. This is a game to this woman. She’s pretending to be a serial killer, but I think she’s part of something larger, more sinister, and a hell of a lot more dangerous to the public as a whole.” “Well, I’m not going to start issuing security briefings to the president based on four letters from a woman,” Steve said with sarcasm in his voice.
“You better get ready to Steve. If one of us doesn’t get to her first …” John replied. “One of us who?” Jim asked. “The FBI, the police, or The Eagle.” “Jesus, John. You’re lumping The Eagle in with the validity of law enforcement? Those words better never reach beyond the three of us. The Iron Eagle is a vigilante killer, plain and simple. He’s not a good guy! He’s a criminal, no different from the people he’s killed,” Steve said, now completely angry. “There’s a difference between The Eagle and those he’s killed, and you know it,” Jim said. “This conversation is over. Do what you need to with the park. John, you have the ball here. If you think this is the start of something that could deal a blow to national security and you can validate it, get it to me ASAP. We can’t put every resource into this yet, but I will see if I can get a couple of trainees working on Internet and phone chatter. Jim, you leak it through your office as discussed, and, John, find out just what the hell we’re dealing with.” Steve hung up the phone and shook his head. “What the fuck is the world coming to?” He didn’t realize it, but he had the line on speaker, and the line was still open. “An end if we’re not diligent, Steve. An end,” John said as the line went dead.
“Mark…Mark…” He was nodding in and out; his wrists were aching, but he wasn’t sure why. “Did you have fun having sex with me, Mark?” He knew who was speaking, but he couldn’t feel the ground. He opened his eyes and saw Colleen below him; he was hanging, nude, in the air by his wrists. He started to get his bearings. His vision was blurry, but as it improved he was able to see that the walls around him were one giant map. He looked closer, and there were markings on the map, arrows pointing in different directions, flames in several parts, and depictions of explosions in others. “What are you doing to me, Colleen? What’s happening?” “Look at it, Mark. Look at the walls and the map; we’re going to make it happen!” He looked around him. “Who’s going to make what happen?” “Oh…I wish I could explain it all to you, but it’s too complex. I’m going to do it with the help of The Iron Eagle.” He shook his head. “The serial killer?” “Yes… it’s going to be beautiful. A whole city burning in blessed hell fire set in motion by me, those who serve me, and with The Eagle at my side.”
“Why are you hurting me?” “You’re a means to an end, Mark; you’re just a means to an end. You’ve seen too much. I must dispatch you; it’s nothing personal. You were wonderful in bed.” He struggled against the ropes that held his wrists, and as he did he heard the sound of a motor starting beneath his feet. He looked down as best he could, and he saw blades circling beneath him. “What are you doing to me?” “Do you like hamburger, Mark? That’s what I’m doing to you … making Markburger.” He heard a clinking noise, and he began to feel his body lowering toward the blades. “Oh, God! What are you doing, Colleen? What did I do to you?” His feet were inches from the blades when she said, “You fucked me, Mark, and you enjoyed it. Now, you have to keep your part of the deal and help me get The Eagle’s attention.” His feet hit the blades, and he began to scream. Colleen watched and listened as the blood curdling screams continued, and Mark’s body was slowly lowered into the industrial meat grinder. The blood and ground Markburger were coming out of the bottom of the grinder; he was still screaming as the unit slowly pulled his body into the blades until they reached his ribs, and he could scream no more. The blood began pouring out of his mouth as his body was consumed by the machine until there was nothing but a pair of hands tied in a prayer hold, palm to palm. She stopped the machine. “I will leave these with the burger. They will know who you are by the finger prints. This will bring forth The Iron Eagle, and we will be one in the carnage!”
About the Author:
On May 11, 1995, at 30, Roy’s life was irrevocably changed. After walking into the hospital, he was admitted and later received the worst possible diagnosis – Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. His doctors gave him two years to live, and he left the hospital in a wheelchair. After battling Multiple Sclerosis for nearly 16 years, Roy began devoting his energies and passions to the full-time art of storytelling. His disability has brought with it an unforeseen blessing. He can finally take medications to alleviate some of the pain from his MS and focus on the pleasures of character creation and the joys of putting words to paper.
As an author, Roy A. Teel Jr. is very diverse, and his works include both fiction and nonfiction. His previous works include The Way, The Truth, and The Lies: How the Gospels Mislead Christians about Jesus’ True Message (2005), Against The Grain: The American Mega-Church and its Culture of Control (2008), Light of Darkness: Dialogues in Death (2008), and And God Laughed (2013).
In 2014, Roy began publishing The Iron Eagle Series, a hard-boiled, mystery, suspense, thriller crime series that is expected to span 30 books. The main character, a former Marine Corps Black Operative turned rogue FBI agent, hunts serial killers in Los Angeles. Each novel addresses different subjects, and while fiction, all titles deal with real world subject matter. “The Iron Eagle Series” is not about things that can’t hurt you. What happens in these novels can happen to any one of us if we let our guard down and/or are in the wrong place at the wrong time. To learn more, go to IronEagleSeries.com
Roy lives in Lake Arrowhead, CA with his wife and children. Readers can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
*Content Warning: The Iron Eagle Crime novel series contains mature subject matter, graphic violence, sexual content, language, torture and other scenes that may be disturbing to sensitive readers. This series is not intended for anyone under the age of eighteen, reader discretion is advised.