Vanquish the xander king.., p.10
Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2), page 10
Xander was losing control. The one thing he couldn’t stand was a liar, and the thought of being surrounded by them was driving him mad.
“It’s not bullshit, Xander.”
Xander pulled the hammer back on the nine-millimeter. Zhanna didn’t flinch.
“We are not so different, you and I.”
“You’d better do better than that. Jack already tried that one.”
Zhanna walked from the poured concrete around the pool into the grass, putting only inches between her and Xander’s gun. “Fine. The KGB has a mole inside my father’s inner circle. I needed Jack to be in yours. All I had to do was make sure that my father got wind of this retired cowboy agent that had a falling out with Martin King, and just like that, my father made certain that Manning put Jack on the team.”
Xander swung the gun back to the now standing, Jack. “Well, Zhanna, you are a little late with that make-believe story, cause Jack already told us he was friends with my dad. Jack, you have three seconds to tell me the truth, or I’ll just shoot you both.”
“We were friends Xander.”
Xander put the gun back on Zhanna. The moonlight swam in her eyes, eyes that held no fear of Xander’s gun. “So you’re the liar then, Zhanna.”
“Xander, we aren’t lying. What Jack doesn’t want to tell you is that after he slept with your mother, your father and Jack’s friendship ended rather abruptly.”
Xander lowered the gun as rage coursed through his veins. “My mother...would never do that to my dad. Never!”
“It’s true, Xander. I made a horrible mistake. Your mother and I both did.”
“Shut your mouth, Jack!” Xander turned toward him, his chest heaving, and his heart pounding.
“I tried to make it up to your father, but that is when the two of them were killed. That’s why this thing has haunted me for so many years. I figured the least I could do for your father was find out who killed him and make it right. When Zhanna reached out to me with the plan, I immediately reached out to Manning.”
“Then why didn’t you reach out to me to tell me all of this before we met with Manning?”
“Because, I needed Manning to know for sure that we didn’t know each other. I couldn’t risk anything else.”
Xander’s head was doing cartwheels. How could all of this have been going on and he and Sam didn’t know about it? He hated to admit it, because it was admitting a mark against his own mother, but it did make sense to him. His mom and dad hadn’t been the same that last year. That was why Xander was so surprised when his dad was coming along to the amusement park on the morning they both were killed. They hadn’t been spending time together at all before then. They had been so distant.
“I’m sorry you had to find out this way, Xander.” Zhanna tried to console him.
Xander just looked at her, a blank expression clung to his face. Kyle stepped forward, took Xander’s gun, and looked between Jack and Zhanna. “Can the two of you just leave us the fuck alone right now?”
“That’s a good idea,” Sam agreed. Without another word spoken, Zhanna and Jack went inside.
Kyle put his arm around Xander’s shoulder but he quickly shrugged it off. Kyle didn’t know what to say, neither did Sam. Xander turned his back to the two of them and looked up into the star dotted blackness above him. From behind, Kyle and Sam could see Xander’s chest heaving more and more as he stood staring at the sky.
“Xander,” Sam whispered. “Can I get you some water?”
Xander turned toward her. His look frightened her. She’d seen him angry, but the cool, calm, and collected Xander had never given off madness. He took in a deep breath and held her stare.
“Sam, no matter what you hear, promise me you won’t interrupt me.”
“Xander? Calm down. What do you mean, Xander?”
“I promise, Xander, but please, don’t do anything rash.”
“Yeah, man, let’s just sit out here and have another cigar.” Kyle urged. Xander had gone to a place he’d never seen. It truly scared him.
“I will not sleep in this house with a traitor. I must know, right now, if Sarah is with us, or with them.”
“Xander, I promise you I will find out by tomorrow morning. I promise.”
“No, you promised you wouldn’t interrupt.” Xander started to walk away. “That’s the promise you’d better keep.”
“X! Don’t! Just stay out here and chill with me!” Kyle shouted to him.
It fell on deaf ears.
The Calm Before the Storm
Xander rolled his neck in a circular motion and took a deep breath to calm himself as he gave a light wrap against Sarah’s closed door with his knuckle. He didn’t know if he could go through with this. His head was swimming from the conversation with Jack and Sam. He didn’t know if he would be able to put all of that out of his head long enough to be with her or not. He slowly pushed open the door, and lying on her back on top of the comforter was Sarah, wearing only a light-pink lace bra and matching panties.
He could do this.
He stepped inside the bedroom, walked past the bed, and over to the window. The restored cobblestone was cool beneath his feet and the only light in the room came from the crack in the bathroom door. He shut the door and pulled back the thick burgundy curtain. The stars were magnificent in the country, and they were really showing off tonight. The moon laid into view the rolling hills that stretched far beyond the second story window where he stood. His life was like a symphony. Sometimes it could be the sweetest of melodies, at other times, it was the theme from Jaws. Right now it was as if both tunes were playing in some tumultuous harmony. On one side, the sweet melody—this beautiful place, all the people he loved around him, and in a moment the warmth of a gorgeous woman—then, the Jaws side of his life—his parents murderer, Dragov, living through another night, his rabid dog Nicoli coming to kill Xander, Natalie in Paris, and, of course, all the unknowns that surrounded Sarah. A woman he had really grown to like. A woman that as he looked back at her lying atop the comforter, might as well be the sexiest thing he’d ever seen. What a swirl of emotions. He looked back out the window and up at the wondrous night. He wondered if it were possible that Natalie could be thinking of him at that very moment. It was then—as a star shot across the sky—that he realized; every other woman he ever came across would leave him wanting her. He really shouldn’t be in the room with Sarah right now. Without knowing if he could trust her, without knowing if he could control himself at the thought of betrayal.
Sarah had awoken and propped herself on her elbow. Her curves were intoxicating. It angered him that he wouldn’t be able to stop himself. He should have stayed outside with Kyle.
“I didn’t think you were going to make it. I’m sorry I was so forward earlier. I really should never have more than two glasses of wine. I was out of my head.”
Xander didn’t say a word. He turned from the window, removed his shirt, then his pants and crawled into the bed on top of her. Sarah went to speak but Xander covered her mouth with his hand before she could get anything out. There was wildness in his eyes. He could tell by the way she looked back at him. She didn’t fight him. She let his hands have free reign over her luscious curves and soft skin. Without hesitation she grabbed him and began to stroke him. He ripped her bra off of her chest without undoing the clasp. Sarah let out a moan of excitement and tried to pull him into her, but as soon as she reached for him he caught her arms and pinned them back behind her head at the wrists with his left hand. He tasted her soft skin that had already grown salty with her sweat. The scent of lavender and honey returned to him and his desire for her was strong enough to blind him. She let out another moan, this one more in pleasure. Xander dropped his grip from her arms and pulled himself on top of her. He couldn’t wait any longer, he wanted—needed—to be inside of her. He grabbed her by the hips and rolled her over. She moved to her knees, grabbed the headboard with both arm
“Xander? What’s wrong?”
“You tell me.”
Sarah pulled his shirt over her breasts and one last zing of desire almost made Xander reconsider. But he couldn’t.
“I don’t understand. We don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. Was it something I did?”
Sarah’s expression changed when she saw in Xander’s eyes the madness that Sam had noticed earlier.
“No more games. How long have you been working for Dragov?” Xander growled.
“Dragov? Xander, what the hell are you talking about?” Sarah’s face turned quickly from concern, to anger. “After I’ve risked my life for you, you’re going to ask me this?”
Sarah was too spun up to stay seated. She got up to her feet, deep breaths coming fast, her hands on her hips.
“No more bullshit, Sarah. Tell me the truth!” The muscles in his neck tightened, looking like cords. Sarah could see he was truly angry.
“Xander, what are you talking about? I’m CIA, you know this. I would never work with someone like Dragov!”
Xander rounded the bed and pinned her against the wall. “Okay, then you are working with that motherfucker Manning to take me down!”
“What? Why would Manning...Xander, I saved your life on that boat! What the hell is wrong with you? What was that about on the bed? Why would you almost make love to me if you doubted me?”
Xander could see the hurt in her eyes. What the hell was he doing?
The bedroom door busted open and Zhanna rushed through the door. Without hesitation she stepped in between them and shoved Xander onto the bed.
“What the hell are you doing Xander? Who do you think you are?” Then to Sarah. “Are you all right?”
Sadness washed over Sarah’s face. Xander knew at that moment that he had made a massive mistake. “No, I’m not all right!” Sarah moved away from Zhanna and stormed off into the bathroom. Xander had no words. He covered himself with his pants and left the room immediately. Zhanna’s intense judgment followed him out of the room.
Once inside his room, Xander headed directly for the shower and stepped inside. As the warm water washed over his body, for the first time that he could remember, he was disgusted with himself. He let his past effect his present, and worse, he had let it effect Sarah. She didn’t deserve to be accused like that. She had more than earned the right at a chance to explain herself. He knew he had just completely humiliated her, and hurt someone that had done nothing but care for him. And he cared about her. What had he done? The water continued to massage his back and as he tilted his head into the shower, letting it fall down upon his face, Natalie flooded back to his mind. She would be so disappointed in him. For so many reasons. Why was he doing this? The selfishness of revenge? Or was he thrusting himself further inside this madness, subconsciously doing things to push Natalie away, to keep her safe? Or, was he denying himself Natalie, to keep from losing someone else that he loved? Xander had never really been good at introspection. Not on the level that he would ponder an uncomfortable thought. That’s what the whiskey and women had been for. That’s part of the reason he had let Kyle in, because he knew his friend could distract him from really feeling something. But regardless of his lousy introspective skills, Natalie had awakened something in him. Something that wanted more. More than revenge. However, he knew he couldn’t stop now. He finally knew for certain who killed his parents. He finally could put an end to all of this bullshit and heal. No matter what, he had to finish it. For his sake, for Sam and Kyle’s sake, and for Natalie’s sake. She may not know it yet, but Xander had plans for her. For them. He would do everything in his power to make her the happiest woman in the world.
If she would have him.
Xander shut off the water, toweled dry, and collapsed onto the bed. He realized as he stared up at the old reclaimed wood beams in the ceiling that it could be a while before he could make all of that happen. He just had to make sure he wouldn’t be hurting anyone, like Sarah, in the meantime. He knew he had to be patient. He couldn’t bring Natalie into this underworld. Not again. Not until he had cleared the evil from his life, and they could truly be together without worry of another incident like the one at his home in Lexington. He had been lucky that she hadn’t been hurt, or worse. If it wasn’t for that text, they both would be dead. It was the first time in a while that he had thought about that anonymous text. He let it bother him for a moment, but he was tired, and his body finally gave out on him.
The smell of bacon and a relentless beam of sunlight finally tore Xander from a deep, but tormented sleep. It didn’t take him more than a second to immediately feel sick about what he had done to Sarah. He had never been in such a prolonged state of rage. He knew that Sarah wanted him, but not like that. Not with that rage inside him. No matter what he did, she would never forgive him for that. He’d become a real charmer with the ladies. He was starving, but the thought of facing Sarah at breakfast made him want to bury his head under the covers.
A knock at the door.
“Xander?” Kyle called to him through the door.
Kyle pushed the door open and Xander sat up when he saw the look on his friend’s face.
“You tell me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“What happened with you and Sarah last night?”
“Oh, you heard.” Xander felt that rush of disappointment in himself. Not to mention how embarrassed Sarah must have been seeing everyone this morning.
“I haven’t heard a thing, that’s why I came up. Zhanna said something happened between you and Sarah last night but she said it was up to you to tell us.” Kyle never lost his look of concern.
“So, Sarah didn’t tell you?”
“Xander, Sarah’s gone.”
Xander jumped out of bed and put on a shirt. “Gone?”
“Gone. We’ve looked everywhere. Thought she may have just gone for a walk, but none of her stuff is here.”
“Damn it. I fucked up, Kyle.”
“It’s okay, just tell me what happened.”
“I was such an asshole.”
“It can’t be that bad.”
“I stopped just short of making love to her, then demanded that she tell me how long she’d been working for Dragov.”
“Oh...yeah, that’s kinda messed up.”
Xander didn’t know what to say.
“So, how’d you two leave things?”
“We didn’t. Zhanna came in and kept us from tearing each other’s eyes out. I left and took a shower then fell asleep.”
“And now Sarah is gone.”
“And now Sarah is gone.” Xander repeated, trying to work through it.
“Shit.” Kyle took a seat on the bed. “Now what? I thought you two were really getting along.”
“We were, she’s fantastic...I just...I lost it last night. I don’t know who I can trust and it made me crazy. I took it out on Sarah, and she was the last person that deserved it. I should have directed my anger toward the obvious, Vitalii Dragov’s daughter.”
“Xander,” Sam shouted from somewhere in the house. “There’s a delivery truck coming up the drive, should we be concerned?”
Xander looked at Kyle. “You’re sure Sarah actually left? I feel awful.”
“We looked everywhere, man. And like I said, her stuff is gone.”
“Xander?” Sam walked into the bedroom. “Did you hear me? There’s a delivery truck—”
“Probably just something for the winemaker. I know he’s working on the fermentation tank this week.”
Sam made a face, then went over to the window and pulled back the curtain. A whit
“Jack!” She shouted down the hallway.
“What is it Sam?” Xander asked.
“Jack!” No answer.
Sam walked back over to the window, and just as she heard Jack call back to her, and the truck began to back away from the Villa, a massive boom reverberated through the house and pieces of the front wall blew out toward the truck. The shock of an explosion brought the three of them to their knees, shoulders hunched in a protective reaction. From the other side of the Villa they heard a woman scream and Sam got back to her feet just in time to see armed men in full tactical gear jumping out of the back of the delivery truck. Her alarm bells had been correct.
They were under attack.
“Xander, Nicoli Pavlovich and his men are here,” Sam relayed what she was seeing.
“Is everyone all right?” Jack asked as he walked into the room. His .357 Magnum Colt Python held down by his side. “We got company.”
“Sam, find Melanie and make sure she’s safe.” Xander said as he ran out the bedroom door and down the upstairs hallway to Zhanna’s room. Smoke filled the main level and debris from the blast covered the great room that led out to the back pool area.
“Zhanna!” Xander shouted as he approached the door to her room. He could hear instructions being barked in Russian by someone just outside. He opened the door to her room and the only thing he saw was a black boot leaving through the open window. “Zhanna!” He shouted again, running over to the window. When he looked out, the only thing he saw was a man pointing a gun at him and a bullet ricocheting off the stone right above his head. He would have to deal with Zhanna later.
by Wright, Bradley have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes