The sneak peek you’ve all been waiting for! This book is being edited by the lovely Stacia Rogan (check out her website, she rocks!). This isn’t the final version of the text but I know I’ve kept you waiting for too long, so here it is. Enjoy!
“What the fuck have you done?!” I heard Sayer shout in the distance, then the shuffling of hands over me.
I guessed they were the paramedics because I didn’t want to open my eyes again. I had killed the beast, whom, to everyone’s surprise, wasn’t the drug lord that was now being held back by a Met officer, but my supervisor at the Interpol. I had shot him down in order to save the man I loved. I’d become an Interpol agent gone rogue and that would ensure chaos.
“Scarlett,” someone whispered. “Scarlett! Open your eyes. Stay with me.”
I obliged and saw Patrick, the young man who’d become the drug lord’s apprentice, walking next to the stretcher I was being transferred in.
The first thing that came to my mind was to ask him where the fuck he had been while all hell broke loose. But the mix of blood and bile in my mouth didn’t let me speak–neither did the oxygen mask covering half my face.
I wanted to drift away into some fairyland filled with light, green grass, ponds, and birds chirping in the background. Or the fiery pits of hell, I didn’t really care which as the pain burnt my limbs.
“Armand?” I managed to spit some of the blood that threatened to drown me and someone removed my oxygen mask for a moment. “Where’s Armand?”
“He’s been taken in, but don’t worry, it’s all part of the plan.”
Oh, now he told me about the plan. He had refused to do so when I asked him, before it all went berserk and the rival drug dealer, Max MacGowan, and his men got into a shooting with Met and Interpol agents outside the church where the service for Sayer’s dead sister was taking place. All I knew about the plan was to let MacGowan’s men scoop me up and then duck when the bullets started flying. And yeah, that last part I made up myself.
However, I wasn’t expecting Romulus —my now dead supervisor— to want Armand dead. Or should I had come to that conclusion on my own given the fact that Armand had blackmailed him in order to keep me by his side?
It was all very confusing.
“No, it can’t be.” My speech sounded more like mumbling, but he seemed to understand. “That officer arresting Armand wasn’t… Aaaaagh!”
One of the paramedics applied pressure to the wound in my leg and I felt as if the life was being taken away from my body. Coldness overcame me and everything went dark.
Armand wanted to stay with her. He knew she was in pain and all his instinct told him to do was free his hands so he could hold her and, by some miraculous way, transfer it to him. His mind boggled at the thought of what she must have been going through.
Nonetheless, there were other things to worry about. He knew she’d be taken to a hospital under heavy police guard. It was better that she was treated there rather than find some surgeon to do it god-knows-where and under unsanitary circumstances.
He walked towards the police vehicle feeling like the weight of the world had landed on his shoulders, sadness making his chest tight. George welcomed him into the backseat with a silent nod, his features dark while his mind fixated elsewhere. His cane sat between them as a mute witness of their mutual preoccupation.
The officer that arrested George rode on the passenger seat while the one who handcuffed Armand drove them away, waving to his colleagues as they moved aside to let the car through. Once they were away from the scene, Armand stared out the window, his mind still on Scarlett.
“Mr. Sayer?” The driver interrupted his thoughts.
“Yes?” Armand watched him through the rearview mirror as he took off his cap and ran his fingers through his hair. He was probably around Scarlett’s age.
“That was Adrian Lang’s granddaughter, wasn’t she? Scarlett?”
The officer on the passenger side turned to his partner, confused.
Armand exchanged a glance with George before answering, “Yes.”
“I knew she recognized me as soon as she saw me.”
The other officer gaped at his companion. “What the f-?” Was all he managed to say before the driver shot him in the head.
The bullet shattered the window, blood covering everything around the man that now sat with his chin pressed against his chest, a hole in the back of his head.
“You’re not a cop.” Armand looked away.
“No, sir.” The officer-turned-killer rummaged for something, then handed George the keys to their handcuffs. “I’m a contract killer, trained by Adrian Lang himself.”
The sudden revelation was unsettling, but Armand had to keep his cool. “Who sent you?”
“Let’s say my employer was just murdered by your… wife?”
“Not yet.” He drawled. “So, the paying party in your contract is dead.”
George took off Sayer’s handcuffs and his employer did likewise for him.
“Is he?” The officer-that-wasn’t grinned through the mirror. “Where to, sir?”
“My house isn’t far from here, you can drop us wherever you find convenient.”
“Very well, sir.” He grinned, then added, “He never told us who our target was associated with.”
Armand shot another glance at the man that would’ve been his murderer, but this time the latter was focused on the road.
Scarlett, he thought, you’re just full of surprises.
“I’ll see that you are well compensated for this.”
The man parked a couple of houses down from Armand’s. George stepped out first.
Armand hesitated for a second before getting out. “Do you know where I can find Mr. Lang? He should know what happened.”
“He’s retired. Living in the Caribbean, I believe. I can help you with that if you’d like.”
Retirement. That was a word he might not hear again after this.
“I would be very grateful for that.” He was about to step out when he paused again. “I didn’t catch your name.”
“Miguel, but they call me Michael around these parts.”
“Thank you, Michael.”
Both men went into the house without uttering a word. George set to packing everything he could while Armand took out his mobile and started making calls on the way to his bedroom.
He rang Patrick first and was glad to learn Scarlett was taken to a hospital he knew well.
“What’s her status?” he asked as he took off his bloodstained jacket.
“She went into shock during the ride to the hospital. They thought they lost her, but she came back. She’s lost a lot of blood. She’s in the operating theatre and they’re trying to get the bullets out.”
Armand felt as if the ground was being removed from under him, so he held onto the dresser and took a deep breath before asking, “How many cops?”
“Loads. Met, Interpol, Scotland Yard… They’ve been asking a lot of questions.”
“Don’t worry if they take you in, I’m sending a lawyer to get you out.”
“Will do, sir.”
He hung up. A sense of despair overwhelmed him. He was the one who was supposed to be there. His was the first face she should see when she woke up instead of some doctor’s. But, alas, that wasn’t possible, so he had to make sure she was safe.
Searching through his mobile’s contacts he found the perfect person to call.
“Sayer?” George peeked through the door.
The call could wait. They had to get out of there before the police realized they never made it to the station. He handed George his mobile, took off his shirt, and searched in his wardrobe for a clean one. “I need you to contact Bradley and Ollie and tell them to head to the hospital to check on her. Make arrangements with the rest for when we can retrieve her.”
He trusted Bradley and Ollie because they were two of the most serious and clever henchmen he’d ever employed. They worked as realtors for his firm as a cover-up and they had surprised him with how good they were at it. Bradley, an Australian guy that didn’t talk much and whose specialty was hand-in-hand combat, and Ollie, a London native that, whenever he wasn’t making use of his IT and forgery skills, was cracking jokes left and right, were exactly who he needed at the moment to take care of Scarlett’s situation.
George went on to make the calls while Armand changed into a fresh suit. It had been a long time since he’d found himself in a situation like this. He’d never considered himself a gangster and the fact of calling out his men and getting them together didn’t suit him. But it had to be done or not one of them would make it out alive. He’d do anything for her, and if that meant becoming a fugitive and turning into one of those blood-shedding gangsters, so be it.
He pulled a bag from under the bed and filled it with clothes and some of his guns. Once he made it down, he turned on the fireplace and threw the bloodstained suit in it to burn.
“I packed her clothes too.” George brought some of the heavier firepower with him. “They are in the car.”
There was no time to waste. Sooner rather than later the police would start searching for them. They took the Bentley down the M4 and into the Financial District, parking inside the underground of a building near Paternoster Square. He had bought the two upper floors from a stockbroker firm that went bankrupt and had converted them into a luxurious flat as part of his retirement plan. Thinking of a near future that was now slowly drifting away from him.
A future where he had pictured himself happily married to a woman whose fate was now a mystery to him. And he couldn’t help feeling guilty about this turn of events.