Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2), page 1
Xander King Series
Life Threatening News Travels Fast
Another Day In Paradise
Is This a Bad Time
An Explosive Conversation
As If I Haven’t Had a Bad Enough Week
No More Secrets
Vitalii Dragov Raises the Stakes
Apparently Vigilante Justice is a Team Game
Sam’s Cold Heart Might Just
Dean Martin, Bottles of Wine
A Friend of the Family
Director Manning Has a Secret
It’s a Long Story
Did I See a Wood Fired Pizza
Expect the Unexpected
The Calm Before the Storm
Keep Your Enemies Close
Tom Petty Would Be Proud
A Thin Line Between Love and Hate
Pistols and Parachutes (not a good mix)
Here Comes the Calvary
Belly of the Beast
Welcome to the Jungle
Kyle Hamilton Has Trust Issues
Blood, Sweat, and Urine
Upside Down and Inside Out
A Roomful of Worry
A Moment of Clarity
In the Pines
Hot Blooded, Cold Hearted
Back to Life, Back to Reality
And Now... I’m Going to Kill Him
SEAL’d With a Kiss
Life is a Highway
Slow-Motion, Art, and a Fireworks Display
Let’s Make a Deal
Cut and Run
Peyton Manning’s Got Nothing on Xander King
Letter From the Author
About the Author
The Xander King Series
by Bradley Wright
WHISKEY & ROSES
Copyright © 2016 by Bradley Wright
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means,
without prior written permission.
Bradley Wright/King’s Ransom Books
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination.
Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead,
or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
Vanquish/ Bradley Wright. -- 1st ed.
“People are like stained glass windows; they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light within.”
“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?”
Life Threatening News Travels Fast
“Xander killed the wrong man.”
Sam’s blood ran cold. Her iPhone dropped into her lap. Her body, too paralyzed by shock, to pick it up and respond.
“Hello? Sam? Sam, are you there?” Special Agent Sarah Gilbright called to her from the other end of the line. She knew this information would be devastating to Sam so she gave it a moment to sink in as she mashed the gas pedal to the floor. Her rented Ford Taurus screamed at her as she swerved onto Versailles Road in Lexington, Kentucky, her heart thudding in her chest.
Sam could hear muffled noises coming from the phone but her mind followed the memory of killing Sanharib Khatib with her own bare hands, no more than a week ago. Though it caught her off guard, she wasn’t completely surprised by the news. She told Xander before they ever flew to Syria that it was possible that Khatib wasn’t the right target. Her shock stemmed from the immediate reality that this would devastate Xander. She had no idea how she would tell him that his parents’ killer was still alive. No clue how she would reveal that his friend Sean, even though he died valiantly while destroying a terrorist cell, he didn’t die helping to avenge Xander’s mortal enemy as they had thought.
“Sam. Sam, I know this is terrible news, but unfortunately, it’s not the worst of it. I need you to talk to me. Sam!”
Sam finally broke her trance from the yellow-orange flames that crackled in the fireplace in front of her. She picked up the phone while she steadied her nerves.
“Did you say that wasn’t the worst of it? How could—”
“Sam, Xander is in danger.”
“Danger? Xander is fine. He’s playing on a yacht in the Virgin Islands with Kyle and a few young ladies they picked up along the way.”
“I’ve been trying to contact him for the last half hour, and he hasn’t answered. That’s the reason I’m talking to you. They know where he is, Sam. And my team that I left in Moscow last week, while you all were in Syria hunting Khatib, has information that a jet full of ex-KGB, sent by Vitalii Dragov, is on its way to the Virgin Islands right now as we speak.”
“Vitalii Dragov? The Russian mafia? Why would they—”
“It’s a preemptive strike. Someone in the CIA leaked information to Dragov that Xander King was looking for his parents’ murderer. They are going to the Virgin Islands to kill Xander. I can explain everything on our way.”
“On our way? I don’t—”
“Sam! We don’t have time for this. You’re at Xander’s mansion right?”
“R-right...in Lexington.” Sam said in a daze, her mind running into overdrive as she tried to wrap her head around all that was happening.
Sarah swerved in and out of traffic as she barreled toward Xander’s horse farm.
“Then I’m assuming you have access to your choice of weapons? Grab everything we’ll need to thwart an attack on a yacht. We don’t have a minute to spare. Dragov’s plane is scheduled to land in St. Thomas in just three hours and twenty minutes. If we’re incredibly lucky, that will give us enough time to get there before it’s too late.”
“But, Xander’s plane isn’t here. We have no way of getting there—”
“I have a jet waiting at the Bluegrass Airport. A local businessman, Tom Wright, happened to be in town and he is letting us use it. Sam, just do what I ask and do it now if you ever want to see Xander alive again. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
Before Sam could respond—not that she could have anyway—she heard the line click off. Her emotions had gotten the better of her during that call. She swallowed hard and brought them under control. She kicked back her chair, dialed Xander’s cell phone and made her way to the weapon room. The quiver in her lip stopped and the steel returned to her nerves. No one was going to kill Xander King tonight.
Not on her watch.
Another Day In Paradise
The sun began to settle on top of the water, hovering, ready to dip its fiery toe. The evening sky’s orange light cast over the crystal blue waters fifteen miles off the coast of Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. Seagulls cooed to each other as they floated in front of the fiery ball of life and the warm breeze continued to say hello in the most gentle of ways. The local fi
At least Xander King thought so. And let’s be honest, that’s all that really mattered to him.
The girls were dancing to some completely annoying electronic dance music (EDM) song, by some talentless hack of a “DJ” on the top deck. Kyle Hamilton—Xander’s oldest friend in the world—took a break to walk over to Xander, who was perched on an oversized half-moon lounge chair on the raised deck that overlooked the girls having a blast in front of that beautiful sunset. Kyle plopped down beside Xander, sweat-drenched from dance, put his arm around him and gave his glass of King’s Ransom bourbon a clink.
“I don’t know what’s more beautiful, that sunset, or those five gorgeous young ladies dancing in those bikinis.” Kyle pointed casually in the direction of the beautiful butterflies fluttering about the back of the yacht.
Xander smiled and raised his glass, his dark hair blowing in the warm and salty breeze.
“Yes, you do.”
“You’re right, I do,” Kyle winked. “I’ll tell you what isn’t beautiful, this god-awful music. If you can even call it music. You’d have to be on drugs to like listening to this shit...Got any to put me out of my misery?”
“I know, it just drones on and on, doesn’t it? No heart, no soul.” Xander sipped his drink and took a pull from his Davidoff Oro Blanco cigar. Ah, now there was some soul. He puffed the sweet cigar smoke out through a relaxed, half open mouth, and watched it plume out against the tangerine skyline.
“Can I plug your phone in? I know you have better music than this.”
“I do, but it’s dead.”
“Dead? Xander King with a dead cell phone? I never thought I’d see the day.”
Kyle—Xander’s best friend since as far back as he could remember—took the back of Xander’s neck in his hand, squeezed it, and gave it a loving pat.
“I’m loving the new, X.”
“New, X? What do you mean?”
“I don’t know, ever since we took out Khatib, you’ve just been, well, relaxed.”
“Yeah.” Kyle sighed, relaxed. His six foot-three inch frame sprawled out across the lounge chair. He and Xander were similar in height, but Xander had a good fifteen pounds of muscle on his fit and trim friend.
“I must say, I do feel like a weight has been lifted.”
Xander was speaking of the now dead, one hundred and sixty pound boulder of cutthroat, murderous terrorist to be exact.
Xander sat his cigar on the edge of the heavy glass ashtray, ran a hand through his hair, and let out a sigh. Kyle removed his grip from Xander’s neck and turned to face him.
“Uh, oh. What is it?” Kyle asked, sensing something weighing on Xander’s mind.
“Come on, X. Let me guess...Natalie?”
Kyle was of course referring to Hollywood sweetheart, Natalie Rockwell. He could tell the wounds from her and Xander’s fling were still fresh, he just hadn’t wanted to say anything. Before Xander was forced to answer yes and give some sappy spiel about how he couldn’t get Natalie off his mind, even though he knew they couldn’t be together, the ladies had finished dancing and were walking over to see what the two of them were up to.
Saved by the bell. Or, belles, as it were.
“Ladies,” Xander scooted away from Kyle and made room for all five of the gorgeous women. They had met them at the roulette table in the pool casino at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas just a few hours ago. Xander took Kyle there like he had promised just before they got off the plane in Syria. Xander was drawn by the promise of high stakes poker while Kyle’s interests never reached far beyond the ladies. The two of them were on a good run at the pool casino under the waterfall when they noticed a group of the sexiest five women that they had ever laid their eyes on, playing blackjack at the table next to them. After a couple of mutual admiring glances shared between the two groups, Xander leaned back and spoke to the perfectly tanned, long legged blonde in the emerald green bikini with the matching, and sparkling, emerald green eyes. One perfectly braided strip of hair stood out playfully among the rest of her stick-straight strands.
“Quick,” Xander smiled, “what’s your name, where are you from, and what is your favorite number?” Xander gave his most sultry smile. A smile most naturally brought on by a never-ending river of bourbon.
The blonde tucked her hair back behind her ear, gave a mind melting smile, and answered as the dealer started the little white ball around the roulette wheel.
“Kelly, Newport Beach, twenty-one.”
Xander gave her a wink, leaned back to his table, and pushed a tall stack of chips over to the red number twenty-one square in the middle of the table. Kelly’s jaw dropped and she stood up to get a better look.
“Whoa, how much money is that?”
The dealer centered the chips on the number and politely answered for Xander.
Kelly’s felt-matching green eyes went from the stack of chips to the little black sign that stated the minimum and maximum bet of the table, then back to Xander.
“Five-thousand dollars? Are you crazy?”
If she only knew.
Kyle smiled and jumped up to his feet as well, the waist-high pool water swirled all around them in his wake. Kelly’s four friends gathered around her when they’d heard the outrageous amount that Xander had bet. They were intrigued by the fact that he bet it just because it was the favorite number of a woman he had never even met before. As the ball danced around the roulette wheel, Kelly’s dark haired friend asked for clarification.
“Holy shit, how much will he win if it lands on twenty-one?”
“The odds are 35 to 1 on any single number, ma’am,” the dealer answered. When he saw only a blank look on the pretty brunette’s face staring back at him, he finished the math for her. “That’s one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars.”
The waterfall that separated the casino pool from the Garden of the Gods Oasis continued to rush and gasps from the girls filled the rest of the air around them. The ball clinked a couple more times along the raised slats of the wheel that separated the numbers, teetered like it was going to stop on six, then made one final jump into the number twenty-one slot.
The roar from the seven of them and the twenty some-odd people looking on from the bar filled the entire outdoor pool area at Caesars. Kyle and Xander jumped up from the table splashing wildly, shared celebratory hugs with the girls, and ordered shots of Don Julio Tequila Blanco for everyone around them to celebrate.
Needless to say, Xander King was a hit at Caesars.
The shots arrived and a celebratory toast was offered. Another crowd roar of appreciation rattled the entire hotel casino. Kelly pulled Xander aside and asked him just how he intended to reward her for the big win. And just like that, Xander called Bob and told him to fire up the jet. One hour later they left McCarron International airport on Xander’s Gulfstream G650 luxury private jet, and that’s how they all ended up on Xander’s humble little yacht in the middle of a gorgeous Virgin Island sunset. All that whirlwind of the day could now be seen in Kelly’s weary emerald eyes as she took a seat in Xander’s lap.
“Wow. I swear, Xander, I’ve never had so much fun in my entire life. When I woke up this morning in Las Vegas, I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that I would end the day on the lap of a gorgeous man, on a gorgeous yacht, anchored in the middle of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Crazy.”
Xander admired the twinkle in her eyes as the sun disappeared behind her. Kelly was as beautiful a woman as he had ever seen. And while staring into her eyes, it became apparent that the steady flow of liquor hadn’t done a thing to damper the usefulness of his equipment. This fact became evident to her as well after a long, passionat
“Now this...is my kinda party!” Kyle shouted as he pulled the brunette—Angie—onto his lap. The soft yellow lights lit up the large deck area, casting a dreamlike glow over the seven of them.
Amidst another shot of bourbon for the entire group, a man came out from the interior cabin dressed in his yacht-whites.
“Hey Tony, what’s up?”
“Dinner is ready, would you like to enjoy it on the outdoor dining table, or at the dining room table inside?”
Xander looked from Tony to Kelly and found her biting her lip in anticipation, looking a lot more like she’d rather have him for dinner. Then he looked over at the others and found they had zero interest in dinner themselves.
“What are we having tonight?”
“Your favorite of course, pizza.”
Xander nodded and turned to Kyle and the girls. “You all okay with cold pizza later?” The answer was a resounding yes. He turned back to Tony, “Just put it in the fridge if you don’t mind, we’ll come down and heat it up later. We’re having a little too much fun right now.”
“Of course. Cold pizza is better anyway.”
“Thanks Tony. We’re good up here if you want to give everyone the rest of the night off.”
“Thank you sir. I’ll do that. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“Can’t make any promises.”
Tony laughed, gave Xander a fist bump, and walked back inside. Kelly leaned over, kissed Xander on the neck and whispered in his ear.
“There anywhere more private we can go?”
She ended the question with a nibble at the bottom of his earlobe. He felt her breasts pressing against his chest and her hand gently caressing him. The almost shy—awe shucks—woman he first spoke to in Vegas was currently nowhere to be found. Thank God. Xander wrapped his hands around her, picking her up as he stood from the lounge chair.