Cowboy Logic - B.A. Tortuga Page 0,1

Please. I cain’t breathe.”

“I’m in the truck. Hold on, Bubba. I’m coming.”

The line went dead, and he tried to do just that. Hold on. Breathe. He felt a little like he was underwater.

“Hey, he don’t look so good.” What was Jericho still doing here? “He’s wheezing like he’s got a broken rib.”

“Sister says no ambulance. We can’t afford it.” Anderson coughed, blood on his tongue.

“Honey, you have to go to the hospital. Why can’t we get your momma on the phone? She won’t answer.”

She probably couldn’t. Denny’s didn’t allow personal calls. “Sister’s coming.” Bailey would fix it. She always did.

“Oh, but—”

“Now, now.” The principal was there suddenly, leading everyone else away. Mr. Meeks was always so kind but firm. “He has family coming.”

Please God. He thought he needed help. Soon. This wasn’t like the other beatdowns he’d had. This might make the newspaper.

He didn’t hear sirens, so he guessed that was good. Anderson floated, trying not to fall asleep. What if he had a concussion?

“Bubba? Oh my God. Bubba.” Bailey was there, taking his hands. “Someone help get him in the truck. Now, god damn it!”

“I’ll help.” Jericho again. Shit, was he ever going to go away? Did he have to see this humiliation?

“Thank you. Be gentle with him. He’s fucked-up.”

“I c’n…”

“Shut up, Bubba.”

He coughed, wet goo running down his chin. The blood was bubbling now.

“Here.” Jericho eased him into the truck. “You get them to come out and put him on a stretcher when you get there. That way they can start giving him some air.”

“I will. Thanks.”

He looked up, the world streaked with red. “I’m going to California, and I’m never, ever, coming back here. Ever.”

“Good luck on that, buddy.” Jericho let him go and finally disappeared like a magician’s bunny.

“I’ve got you, Bubba. Just keep your head above water.” Bailey touched his arm before getting them moving.

“Love you, Sister. I’m going to show them all. I swear to God.”

“I know you are. I can’t wait to see what all you do.” She never condescended. She meant it. She was his number-one fan.

“I’m going to make you proud.” He swore it. He was going to get out of here and make them all proud.

No matter what.

Chapter 1

Arnie20 beeped and booped, his mechanical arms rising and falling. The limbs worked okay, but the head motion was just… wrong. Stiff. The eyelids opened and closed, but Logic had to show this kit at a local con tomorrow, and it needed to be fully functional.

People expected a certain level of robotic joy from him these days. He blamed TV.

He remembered when the point was mayhem—saw blades and grappling hooks—and while joy was fun? Mayhem was more entertaining. There were still robot wars, but really, he’d accomplished everything a guy could there, so he’d had to move on.

His phone dinged, and he looked at the screen, snorting. Nope. He’d told Mike he was off until Monday, and he’d meant it. His agent was relentless. The book bestseller had created a monster. The TV series deal had created a fully formed demon with horns and a forked tongue and tail.

Logic wasn’t sure how it happened. Mike—who was a friend and a fan as well as his agent—assured him it was the right book at the right time under a lucky star.

It didn’t hurt that he’d won Robotics to the Death. Not once, not twice, but seven years in a row. He’d started with a fan base.

“Come on, Arnie. Shake your damn head.” Logic calibrated the hydraulic one more time…

This time Arnie tilted his chin, head bobbing up and down. Fucking A. He’d take it. All he had to do was run the code from start to finish to make sure all the bugs were out, and he could order pho.

He glanced out the lab window, the bay looking beautiful today. Maybe he’d go for a walk, eat in, feed the chipmunks.

Chipmunks were so ridiculously cute, and he loved them.

His stomach rumbled. Man, maybe he would skip the pho, which wouldn’t fill him up, and go down to the wharf to LouLou’s.

Mmm… pancakes. Well, plate-sized pancake. Hell yeah. Butter. Maple syrup…

Okay, he had a new plan.

Running the code took no time, and Logic peered in the mirror to see if he needed to shave. Nah. Fashionably bearded, but not too Grizzly Adams. Totally doable.

Sort of like a muscly Steve Jobs with a broken nose.

The thought had him cackling. That was him—a tough-guy nerd, with wire-framed glasses, an Apple watch, and a third-degree black belt