Make Them Sorry


By Sam Hawken

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A violent stalker has a terrified woman in his sights. Camaro Espinoza will make him sorry.

Life in Miami isn’t complicated for ex-army medic Camaro Espinoza: Piloting charter fishing trips, fighting at the gym, drinking at the bar. Simple doesn’t mean stable, though, and two complicating factors — okay, people — are about to disrupt Camaro’s relative peace.

Faith Glazer, an accountant with no way to defend herself, begs Camaro’s help to stop a stalker who follows her every move. While Ignacio Montellano, a detective on the homicide beat, wants to be her guardian angel and all too deftly finds ways to insert himself in her path.

When Faith’s stalker takes his obsession to a new, frightening level, Camaro might find reason to appreciate Montellano after all. The deeper they look, the more trouble they find: federal agents, money-launderers, crooked security contractors, and paramilitary killers. Every one of them with a reason to come after Faith, and to put Camaro down. But Camaro — the “female Jack Reacher” (The Toronto Star) — doesn’t flinch when violence comes her way. And she has a singular talent for making her enemies sorry they ever heard her name.


Chapter One

CAMARO ESPINOZA WAS on her tenth shot when the man across the table started to list. His eyes were wet and he leaned heavily in his chair, but he didn't fall. Camaro lifted her glass. Whiskey burned all the way down.

They had two bottles of Jack Daniel's between them, both half empty. The man was named Waid, and he tipped the scales a hundred pounds heavier than Camaro. His round face was hazed with a bristly, semigrown beard, and he flushed pinker and pinker as they drank.

She'd been at the place for an hour and did her drinking at the bar. The sign out front said THE ALL-NITER, and it was stacked from front to back with denim and leather, men and women, and assaultive rock guitar played at heavy volume on battered speakers. The parking lot was jammed with motorcycles and more than a few pickups with Harley-Davidson stickers. A Harley logo was like a club seal, worn on hats and vests and do-rags. Camaro's T-shirt was emblazoned with the same, pulled tightly to her body over jeans and old motorcycle boots she'd worn since time out of mind.

There were eyes on her. Waid had been the first one to come calling. He put his hand on her rear, and she locked up his wrist and twisted until he backed off. He laughed, and they had a couple of beers before he made another move. Camaro deflected him toward two bottles of Jack.

One of the waitresses cleared a table for them and set up the shot glasses. Camaro took the first drink, an ounce and a half of Tennessee whiskey catching fire in her stomach. She put the glass upside down on the table between them. Waid did the same thing.

As they emptied the bottles, drinkers and partiers closed around their table. Camaro didn't know any of them, though some knew Waid. They cheered whenever he downed a shot, and cheered again when Camaro put away one of hers. They didn't seem to care who was ahead, or who might remain upright in the end. Only the competition mattered, raw and unfiltered like everything else in this place.

Waid leaned forward, arresting his slide from the chair. "Did I tell you how hot you are?" he slurred.

"Drink," Camaro told him.

He sought out his bottle, and managed to pour a shot though his hands were as unsteady as the rest of him. He studied the glass, brought it to his lips. He swallowed and belched, and for a moment he looked as though he might vomit on the spot. He laughed instead. "Another one bites the dust," he said.

Camaro pointed at the table. Waid had issues turning his glass over. He brought it down sharply on the tabletop. His arm slewed and he upset the collection of upended glasses by his right hand. They hit the floor, the silvery tinkle of them on the concrete scarcely audible.

"Damn it. I'm gonna lose count."

Her head was murky, and she felt heaviness in her limbs to go with the simmering heat below. She poured another shot, drank it, turned the glass over, and put it between them. She let herself sway backward in her chair. She didn't fall. Someone loosed a rebel yell.

"You're pouring 'em on the floor," Waid declared.

Camaro shook her head. "I'm drinking 'em."

"She's pouring 'em out!" Waid said to the assembled people. "You see it, right?"

A woman pushed forward. She spilled halfway out of a denim vest and wore no top underneath. The inky splash of a poorly drawn angel lay across one breast. "What's the matter, Waid? You got a problem with her?"

The man next to her cackled. The two of them teetered with beer bottles in hand. Camaro felt the ring of spectators close around the table.

Waid scowled. "I'm only saying she don't got the body for it. She's cheatin'!"

Jeers broke out. Someone pushed Waid and he nearly fell from his chair. He was slow to straighten, hanging on to the table with one hand. "Come on and quit," said the woman with the angel tattoo. "Quit if you can't take it."

"I'm not quittin'!" He grabbed his bottle and poured another shot. Amber liquid sloshed over the rim. Camaro didn't object. Waid did the shot, roared through bared teeth. "I'm a goddamned machine, baby!"

Attention shifted to Camaro. Everyone watched for the moment she could drink no more. Bass rolled from the speakers, pounding the barroom. The tempo merged with her heartbeat. She felt right.

She poured a shot. Waid regarded her with glazed eyes. She held up the glass between them, put it to her lips. Head up and back. Whiskey down. The glass rang when she slapped it onto the table. "Did that one go on the floor?" she asked.

Waid didn't answer. Pouring another measure took all his concentration. His tongue protruded from between his teeth as if he were a child doing a complicated math problem. He put his bottle too close to the edge of the table. It started to fall. The woman with the angel tattoo caught it. She and her boyfriend laughed at him. His pink face flushed a deep red. He drank.

Camaro waited. Waid extended his arm, hand gripping the glass. He turned it upside down, held, cracked the glass onto the table. He laughed, he hiccuped, and was violently ill.

Waid lurched out of his chair, heaving. He tripped over his own feet and into the arms of a trio of heavyset men nearly as drunk as he was. They went down, arms and legs tangled. Cheers turned to hysterical laughter before the ranks closed up and Camaro was alone at the table.

She rose from her seat. Someone drew her arm across his shoulders. Camaro let him whirl her, the room tilting, her senses askew. She fell into the hands of a couple of women who shouted congratulations into her face. She fell through to another table, pitched into the lap of a man drinking rum and Coke with a couple of others wearing leather cuts.

"What the hell?"

Camaro looked the man in the face. She was slow to focus, but she made out even features, a youthful look, and sandy hair. The man had only a patch of hair on the point of his chin, no beard, no mustache. Two silver loops of fine wire pierced one earlobe.

"You okay, lady?"

Camaro glanced around at the other men at the table. They were all the same: early thirties at most and not so rough. Weekend bikers who rode shiny bikes they probably never got their hands dirty fixing themselves. "I'm fine. I need my bottle," Camaro said.

"Looks like you need to lay off," the man said.

"What's your name?"


"No, I don't want to know. Let me up."

"I'm not holding you down."

Camaro made it back to her feet. The man held her wrist and kept her from falling. She looked more closely at him. "Help me find my bottle," she said.

The man looked toward his friends, but followed when Camaro pulled him. Together they pushed through to Camaro's table. A bar girl in a tube top collected the remains of the drinking game. Someone had their hand on Camaro's bottle. She snatched it away from them, and cradled it. She drank straight from the neck.

"Take it easy with that. You're drunk," the man told her.

Camaro kissed him on the cheek. "Not as drunk as I'm gonna be."

"You need me to call you a cab? How about you come sit at my table for a little while?"

"That's cute," Camaro said. She took his hand. "Follow me."

She led him through the assembled throng, underneath a nest of speakers, punishingly loud at close range, to a calmer outlet ending in a door lit with a red EXIT sign.

Camaro found the ladies' room and pushed through the door. The man behind her said something. She ignored him. In the small restroom there were three stalls and two sinks. A pair of women stood at the sinks, reapplying makeup in the cracked mirrors. Two of the stalls had visible feet below the closed doors.

"Hey, this is the ladies' room!" one of the women called out.

"I'm only…I'm sorry," said the man.

She dragged the man after her into the unoccupied stall and pushed the door shut when they were both inside. The mostly empty fifth of Jack Daniel's went on the toilet tank.

She grabbed him by the leather of his cut. They kissed in the close confines of the restroom stall, while outside the two women at the sinks complained. The air smelled of hairspray and sweat.

"Wait," the man said when they broke. "One second."

"Shut up and take my shirt off," Camaro told him.

Chapter Two

THE POLICE CRUISER lit her up ten minutes after she left the All-Niter. Camaro wavered on the back of the Heritage Softail she rode but got to the side of the road. She killed the engine and removed her helmet. A sluggish breeze stirred the hair from her shoulders. In the dark, honey brown was the color of deep, old wood.

She stayed in the saddle as the cop approached. She was careful bringing out her wallet, careful again when extracting her license from its plastic holder. She felt steadier now than she had an hour ago, but only a little.

The cop was young and Latino, with perfect black hair and a spotless uniform. His name tag looked new. He shone his flashlight into Camaro's face. She winced, but didn't look away. "What's the problem, Officer?" she asked.

"Do you know how fast you were going, ma'am?"

"I don't know. Thirty-five?"

"Fifty. The speed limit is thirty. That's a school zone back there."

Camaro resisted looking over her shoulder. "It's the middle of the night."

"The school zone still counts. License and proof of insurance, please."

She thrust the cards at him. The cop played his flashlight over them. "Everything okay?" she said. "I didn't know it was a school zone back there. I would have slowed down."

"There are signs."

"I must have missed them."

He shone the light in her eyes again. "How much have you had to drink tonight?"

"I don't know. A couple shots. A beer."

"Uh-huh. You want to step off the bike while I check these out?"

Camaro swung off the bike and leaned against it. The cop went back to his unit. He turned on the inside lights. She saw him working on the computer terminal mounted to the dash.

It was a hot night and humid. Offshore winds kept it from being unbearable, but only barely. Sitting still, without the forward motion of the bike, Camaro sweated.

The cop came back after several minutes. He didn't return her cards. "Ma'am, I'm going to execute a field sobriety test. If you fail that, I'm going to have to place you under arrest."

"Okay," Camaro said.

He told her what to do and she tried to do it. She passed the eye exam, but stumbled on the walk-and-turn. The cop gave her three tries, but they weren't enough. Camaro put her hands behind her back without being told, and he cuffed her. He took the karambit from her boot, and confiscated the multi-tool on her belt.

She listened to him report the incident on the radio while they drove. It was around three o'clock in the morning, she ventured, and the streets in this part of Miami were almost completely still. In some places there was never a time when traffic didn't flow at least a little, but there was a sleepy side to the city tourists never saw. Camaro saw it now as the cop cruised empty streets lit with sodium-vapor streetlamps, past storefronts shuttered against the night.

At booking they relieved her of the contents of her pockets. The karambit and the multi-tool went into a bag with her keys, wallet, and cash. They asked if she was suicidal. If she said yes, they'd strip her and put her in a tear-proof gown before shutting her in a holding cell alone to wait for a psychiatric evaluation. She did not say yes.

They brought her into a room consisting of nothing but long benches made of molded plastic. The benches were bolted to the floor. All around the periphery of the room were cells with glass windows and heavy doors. The benches were nearly full. The cells all had four or five people in them. Camaro saw a man sleeping on the floor inside one with his shirt wrapped around his head.

"Wait until your name is called," Camaro was told. "Watch some TV."

Three televisions faced the benches, each on a different channel. Men and women sat apart, but united in their attention to the TVs. Signs admonished them to refrain from talking, though some still muttered to one another and hoped the squall from the television sets would be enough to cover the sound. Camaro spoke to no one.

She judged time by the length of the shows parading across the screens. She broke the waiting time into thirty-minute chunks as late-night programming and infomercials ate up the hours. Camaro sat on the bench for a little over four hours before someone called her name. A policeman carrying a can of pepper spray and a baton, but no gun, beckoned her to the end of the row. She got up and shuffled past the others. Some watched her go, but most didn't care. No one seemed to care about anything.

"Espinoza?" the cop confirmed.


"You're being released. Follow me."

He took her to a counter not far from where she'd been booked, photographed, and fingerprinted. They gave her the bag of her belongings, but told her not to open it until she was out. After that they escorted her down a side hallway to a locked door opening directly to the outside. She emerged alone into the rising heat of the morning.

"Hey there, Camaro Espinoza."

Camaro saw him standing on the sidewalk near a sedan parked in a red zone. He was rumpled, as if he'd been up all night or had been roused too early, but his beard was orderly and it looked as though he'd shaved his neck no more than a day or two before. "Detective Montellano," Camaro said.

Ignacio Montellano stepped toward her and smiled. "Hey, I thought I told you to call me Nacho. All my friends do."

Camaro didn't respond. She gripped the bag from the jail in one hand.

Ignacio's smile faltered. "You do remember me, don't you? Otherwise my feelings are gonna be hurt."

"I remember you. It's been a while."

"It has. So let's take a ride and we can get all caught up."

"I can walk."

"It's a long way back to your place, if you're still living in Allapattah. And I know you are, so don't argue."

Camaro looked past Ignacio. There was a large parking lot, mostly empty, and a dusty street with auto and tool shops squatting under the rising sun. An airplane's engine noise carried over high chain-link fences topped with curling barbed wire. They were somewhere west of where she needed to be, and she wasn't sure of the way.

"How about it, Camaro?"

"Okay, fine."

He opened the passenger door for her, and closed it, too. Once he was behind the wheel, he stoked the engine and turned the AC to max. Dawn lit the sky like a burning brand, and there were no clouds. It had been close to a hundred every day for the past week. July in Miami.

Ignacio fastened his seat belt, watched until Camaro fastened hers. Only then did he put the car in gear. "I guess you're wondering what I'm doing here," he said.

"I'm wondering where my bike is."

"Impound. I can keep you from going in front of a judge, but you still have to pay to get your ride back. Sorry."

Camaro tore open the plastic bag from the jail. She checked her wallet, stuffed it into her back pocket. A small roll of bills was intact. She hiked up the cuff of her pant leg, clipped the karambit to the inside of her boot. "I guess I owe you," she said.

"I don't keep track of things like that."

She looked at the detective. He was heavyset and fiftyish, but not old. His hair was still dark, though it had receded a healthy distance. Even his beard had no stray white hairs. As she watched, he fished a pair of sunglasses out of his breast pocket and put them on. They drove directly into the sun.

"I suppose it's been about a year," Ignacio continued.

"About that."

"Been keeping busy?"


"Good, good. How's the charter-boat business? Still paying the bills?"

"Listen, I don't know what you want, but I don't have anything to say except thank you."

"Thank you is good. I can live with that. I didn't expect much better. It's not like we're buddies or anything. I only kept you out of prison when you killed all those guys." His expression remained neutral, eyes on the road, hands at ten and two.

"What do you want?" Camaro asked.

"Me? Nothing. I've been keeping Camaro Espinoza on my radar since then, that's all. If your name comes up, people know to give me a call. This morning I got a call. DUI? I had to have a look."

"Nothing to see."

Ignacio shrugged. "I suppose not. Though we're sitting here now and I gotta say, you smell like you fell in a bathtub full of booze."

She didn't answer. She sat back in her seat. Ignacio took the main street away from the jail, six lanes with a concrete island in the middle. The neighborhood shuddered with every arrival and departure from Miami International. Palm trees were a stab at making the cement desert into something resembling the better Miami, the sexy Miami, but there was nothing but business here.

"So you were drinking," Ignacio said. There was no question.

"I was."

"And then you got on that Harley of yours, figuring you'd make it all the way home to sleep it off?"

Camaro was silent.

"Seems dangerous," Ignacio said. "And you're such a careful girl."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Only that I figured you'd want to steer clear of any kind of trouble until everybody in Miami forgot who Camaro Espinoza is. That's the safest way to go. You make yourself noticeable, somebody might come poking around. They might wonder where you came from, or where you're going. They might wonder if you ever killed anybody. And why."

"You know why," Camaro said.

"I do. Now I keep an eye out."

Camaro let the miles slip by. She had a better idea of where they were. Soon they'd be in her neighborhood, where people kept small homes and families and worked hard for basic needs and simple pleasures. She thought she'd disappeared there, and there was no one left to know her name.

"If you're wondering what I want for helping you, the answer is nothing," Ignacio said. "I'm not that kind of cop. And I won't ask if we can be pals, because I don't think you really want one. Won't stop me from trying. I only wanted to tell you to keep on the straight and narrow from here on out. There comes a day I don't catch trouble before it finds you…"

"I don't see why you'd care."

"Maybe I don't like to see good people make bad choices."

They rode together in silence after that, the only sounds the rushing of the air conditioner's compressor over the car's engine. Ignacio never looked her way. He was careful to check his blind spots and use his indicators. He never broke the limit.

When they rolled down Camaro's street, she was ready to get out. The atmosphere inside the car was too chilly, and she could think of nothing to say she wouldn't rather keep to herself. He stopped in front of her one-bedroom rental, blocking the driveway and the red crew-cab pickup truck in the carport. He put on his hazard lights and shifted into park. "Home again," he said.

"Thanks for the ride."

"My pleasure. Let me give you my card. If you need someone to be your designated driver, I can help."

Camaro watched him produce the card like a magic trick. One moment his hand was empty, and the next the card was there. She didn't take it. "I'll do all right on my own."

"I only give one pass for DUI. After that, I'm inclined to let things play out."

She sighed and took the card. "Happy?"

Ignacio smiled. "Very."

Warm air rushed in when she opened her door. Camaro got out. She heard him call her name. She leaned back inside. "Yeah?"

"If you ever feel like you're gonna hurt somebody, maybe give me a call then, too, all right? I hear one of your neighbors got a pretty nasty beatdown after putting hands on his kid."

"I heard that, too."

"Remember me."

Camaro put the card in her pocket. "I'll remember."

"Okay. See you around."

She slammed the door and stood on the curb until Ignacio pulled away. She saw him wave over his shoulder. She didn't wave back.

"Yeah, see you."

He turned the corner and was gone.

Chapter Three

THE GYM SMELLED of sweat and heat and straining muscles. It was loud inside, but not because of music. No music played in Miguel Anuria's place. It was a camp for toil and work and pain, and while fighting might have seemed like a dance, there was no dancing to be had.

Camaro went down hard on her back inside the five-faced cage in the center of the space. The woman sparring with her came rushing in. She scrambled to get inside Camaro's guard. Camaro caught one of her legs between her own and spoiled the attack. They rolled together, each trying to advance position. The woman put her hand on Camaro's chin to lever her away. Camaro clubbed two blows into the woman's headgear to still her.

The woman's name was Laura Ogarrio. She was ten years younger than Camaro and slighter. As they tangled on the mat, the coiled muscles of Laura's arms and legs belied her size. They rolled again, this time with Laura on top and Camaro underneath.

Miguel shouted from outside the cage, "Laura, get your leg free! Use your knee and slip her guard. ¡Escúchame!"

Camaro felt the younger woman moving against her. Laura barred her chin with an elbow, dug in with a knee, and struggled to pull her leg from Camaro's trap. Camaro bore down, then released abruptly. Laura fell over her, both knees going to the ground. Immediately Camaro hooked the back of a leg, rolled up with an arm behind the woman's neck. Her hands locked together. Laura had nowhere to go.

"Damn it, sobrina," Miguel called. "She's going to put you in the choke! You got to find some leverage, girl."

Laura panted against Camaro's chest. Camaro's breath came in short, choppy bursts. They'd grappled for most of two minutes, an interval timer outside the cage silently counting off the seconds until the horn. They'd done two rounds of three minutes previously, standing and on the ground, and both were slick with sweat.

In this position, Camaro couldn't close the choke to end it. She felt Laura tense for a breakaway move. Camaro allowed her hook to loosen. Instantly they rolled, Laura surging on the canvas. Camaro held on until she felt the younger woman slip into position. She locked in again, the guillotine choke tighter than before. At this angle she was able to leverage the pressure with Laura's body weight, her grip the fulcrum.

"You gotta slip it, Laura. Slip it! Slip it!"

Laura struggled. Her movements fell apart, no longer considered or disciplined. She jerked against Camaro's grip, but found no way out. Camaro cranked the younger woman's neck until she felt it pop. Laura tapped Camaro on the side.

Camaro let go. Laura collapsed onto the cage floor. The interval timer sounded. The round was over but the match was done. Laura plucked out her mouth guard and lay on her back, lungs sobbing for air. Camaro was no different. She felt sore all over, and there was fresh pain in her right arm, still bothering her months after getting free of a cast.

Miguel unlocked the cage. He stood over the both of them with his hands on his hips. "I've seen better from both of you," he said.

Camaro spoke around her mouth guard. She was too tired to take it out. "She's quick. Strong."

"You're quick and strong. She's young and doesn't know all the tricks yet. What's your excuse?"

Camaro put a sweaty arm over her eyes. "Send me to the old folks' home," she said.

"Thirty-three ain't old!"

"It feels like it."

"Then you need to change how you feel. Get up and get showered. Somebody else needs the cage."

It was a minute before Camaro felt ready to rise. She rolled onto her knees. Around the perimeter of the cage, men and women watched her. Miguel had Laura on a stool and bent close to talk with her. Laura looked as though she was crying. She was the daughter of Miguel's brother-in-law.

A few heads nodded as Camaro left the cage. She stripped off her head protection and dropped it on a chair. She took a towel from a stack by the wall, mopped her face and neck.

"Excuse me?"


  • "Camaro is a lean, mean, fighting machine and a woman of very few words. But that's ok because she says plenty with her fists."—Kristen Centorcelli, Criminal Element
  • "Tightly plotted...the action-packed narrative derives its real power from the complex character of Camaro, whose toughness and bad attitude make Jack Reacher look like a choir boy."Publishers Weekly

    "Hard-boiled action... Tougher than an army boot.... It's deeply satisfying to watch her."—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
  • "Sam Hawken may have struck crime series gold. . . [This] heroine has got the freshness, charisma, and layers to backbone not just one great novel, but an ongoing series."—Mystery Scene
  • "A complex and compelling protagonist (coupled with richly defined secondary characters), authenticity of voice and vista, and resonant timeliness. . . . Camaro Espinoza is a name to remember, and readers will find themselves rooting for her despite the many liberties she takes with conventional law and order. Justice is in the eye of the beholder, after all."—John Valeri, The Strand Magazine
  • "A lead character with a private code, and to hell with those law books. . . . Like a good action hero, Camaro is solitary, vengeful, and fond of beer and motorcycles--a female 'tough guy' who defies stereotypes with engaging bravado. Hawken calls her 'a lean, mean thrilling machine.' He's nailed it."—Booklist
  • "A winner for a wide crime fiction audience."—Jack Batten, Toronto Star
  • "A protagonist that'll light up the literary seascape unlike anything before."—Craig Johnson, bestselling author of the Walt Longmire mysteries, the basis for Netflix's Longmire

On Sale
Aug 7, 2018
Page Count
320 pages
Mulholland Books

Sam Hawken

About the Author

Sam Hawken was born in Texas and currently lives outside Baltimore with his wife and son.

Learn more about this author