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Vanquish the xander king.., p.11

Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2), page 11

 

Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2)
 


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  BOOM!

  Another explosion rattled the villa, this time from the backside. The blast re-focused Xander and he turned back toward the room and over to the closet. Inside the walk-in closet, on the left, there was a full length mirror attached to the wall. Xander bumped his fist against the right side of it and it popped open like a medicine cabinet. However, its contents in no way resembled medicine. Xander reached in and pulled two nine-millimeter pistols off their hooks, one Glock nine, and ammunition as he quickly strapped a replica of his favorite tactical knife, Rambo, to his leg. He could now hear the shuffling of feet echoing up the stairs from the foyer. Time was up. He turned back toward the hallway as he tucked the extra clips and a gun down into the shallow pockets of his white linen lounge pants, and broke into a dead sprint. As he entered the hallway, two men were coming up the stairs. He didn’t have time to cock the pistol and fire so he ducked to the height of the rail and sprinted passed them. Shots—most likely from two Uzi’s—sprayed all around him but he managed to keep from getting hit. He saw Kyle exiting the master bedroom window in front of him, a window that led to the roof of the connected pool house.

  As the gunmen rounded the stairway into the hall behind him, Xander cocked the second pistol and yelled for Kyle, “Catch me!”

  Unsure if Kyle heard him, he was going to have to just chance it. He knew more gunmen would be right behind the two that now had an open shot at his back, and his pistols were no match for their fully automatic weapons. Simply turning toward them and firing would most likely cost him his life. So, he did what any badass motherfucker would do. He ran straight for the window, jumped, rotated toward the two gunmen in midair, and, just as his ass was clearing the bottom of the window seal, he put two bullets in each of them while falling in full backward extension through the window and into the waiting arms of his best friend on the roof.

  Kyle had heard him.

  Xander wished he’d been wearing a GoPro camera.

  Jack missed the action due to the fact that he was loading his gun.

  Sam just reached out her hand for the extra pistol, as if all he’d done was poured her a drink.

  Tough crowd.

  Xander passed her the gun and extra clip with a disheartened look and then did the same for Kyle. Shouts in Russian filtered out the bedroom window to them. Xander pointed in the direction of the rows of grape vines across the pool area that led to the south. “Sam, you and Kyle make your way south and as soon as you are out of view, turn to the west and make your way to La Castellana. Ask for Antonia. She’ll tell you where to go from there, Jack and I will meet you there.

  “Just come with us now, Xander.” Sam hurried.

  “Did you find Melanie?”

  “No time.”

  “Well, I have to.”

  “Xander, it’s too late.”

  He ignored her. “And, I have to find Zhanna.”

  “Why Xander?”

  “To kill the bitch.”

  Blurred Lines

  By the time Sam and Kyle made it across the pool area and out to the vines, Xander had shot two more gun-toting thugs through the still open master bedroom window. Sometimes, at the most inopportune times, weird thoughts popped into his head. Like, just how unbelievably odd it was that his life had brought him here to Tuscany, standing on a roof, shooting moronic, under-trained thugs through his bedroom window. Truth is stranger than fiction.

  Xander turned back toward Jack. When he did, he had another thought. All of that other stuff about shooting people through his bedroom window in Tuscany was weird, until you turn around and see a real life, goddamned American cowboy standing there with you.

  “Jack, I’m going to go around front and come in behind them. I have to find Melanie. Stay here and smoke anyone that comes through this window. Just make sure no one comes up behind me.”

  “Roger that.”

  Jack tipped his hat and pulled the hammer back on his shiny cowboy pistol. Xander backed up, dropped off the roof until he caught the edge in his hands, then dropped the last ten feet to the grass below. The smell of smoke and explosives was heavy in the air, the front of his beautiful Tuscan home was completely blown to shit. He stepped over the broken stones that used to be his front wall, pistol in hand, crouch-walking around to the front. Behind him he heard Jack’s Colt Python doing its job. Three shots fired so far. Xander sidled up to the only standing pencil pine, peered around it but didn’t see any movement. Then there was Melanie. Just as Xander made a motion to move, she put her hands over her head. He couldn’t see her face, but he could only imagine the horror it displayed. She was backing up toward the delivery truck and then Nicoli Pavlovich came into view, a gun extended in front of him, directly in Melanie’s face. Five men followed directly behind him, their guns positioned upon her as well. Rage flamed through Xander like a backdraft blowing through an opened door in a house fire. He went to move again then noticed a glint of light in a tree just over Melanie’s head in the distance.

  A sniper.

  Xander propelled himself onto his back and just as he did he heard a crack in the distance, followed by the whiz of a bullet, rifling through the branches of the tree he’d just been crouched behind. Then, another gunshot in the distance, this one from the east. Almost simultaneously a bullet collided with the stone of the wall just above his head. Pieces of it showered down around Xander.

  They were surrounded.

  This was orchestrated.

  Zhanna.

  Xander knew if he tried to play hero and save Melanie in that moment he would only get them both killed. He would have to hope they would make the mistake of using her as bait. He heard the horde of gunmen shuffle as Pavlovich ordered them after him. Xander pulled his knees to his chest and did a kick-up to his feet. Two more cracks from sniper rifle blasts rang out in the distance, but somehow they missed.

  “Time to go Jack! Follow the path Sam took, I’ll catch up!” Xander yelled as he ran around the side of the house.

  “Roger!” Jack yelled back. “They’s five more of ‘em come around the back Xander, I’ll try to get a couple of ‘em on my way out!”

  Xander didn’t respond, he was busy running a zig-zag pattern, trying to maintain a moving target for the snipers. The god-awful snipers. He heard a couple of blasts from the unmistakable boom of Jack’s Python and made it around the corner of the pool house. He paused for a glance around the corner and he saw Jack disappear between the vines. Two men nipping at his heels about fifty feet back. Before sprinting after them, Xander walked around the corner toward the pool, glanced back up at his bedroom window and saw the front end of a rifle pointed in Jack’s direction. With the accuracy—or lack there of—that these snipers had so far displayed, Xander almost ignored him and took off after Jack. But, even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time so he leveled his pistol on the middle of the window and squeezed the trigger. The rifle fell forward out of the window, out onto the roof.

  “Good thing they don’t have me shooting at me.” He said aloud to himself as he broke into a full sprint toward the grape vines. Jack’s Python only held six rounds, and Xander was pretty sure he’d already spent those. He’d better hurry before the gunmen caught up to him. Old men were still good for a lot of things, but running away wasn’t one of them. Xander didn’t know how great he’d be at running either. The gunshot wound in his stomach was sore and the wound in his calf was sending pain through every inch of his nervous system.

  Xander hit the dry soil stretch between two rows of Sangiovese grape vines at a full sprint. Faintly, he heard the delivery truck start up behind him. They were taking Melanie with them. No need to come after him when they had Melanie. Xander was aware that they knew his weakness for his loved ones. They knew Xander would come to them and as Xander took a turn to the west in between the vines, the image of Pavlovich’s eyes bulging out of their sockets from the pressure Xander’s hands were putting on his neck flashed gloriously through his mind. The next thing Xander knew he trip
ped over something heavy at his feet and did a nose dive forward onto his stomach. Sliding head first, arms stretched out in front of him.

  Pete Rose would have been proud.

  Xander was not. He shot up to his feet and pointed his gun at the body lying in dirt path. Just to the right of that body, laid another, two men in full tactical gear. A cowboy hat emerged from the vines where they laid.

  “Didn’t expect that, did you, young buck? You ain’t the only one with a few tricks up his sleeve.”

  Jack. A wide, proud smile on his face. He chuckled at the somewhat bewildered look on Xander’s face. “What, you didn’t expect me to just out run ‘em, did ya?”

  “No.” Xander lowered his gun and raised a smile. “No, I most certainly did not, old man.”

  “Now let’s go save that pretty woman and your girl crazy friend.”

  “Yes...lets.”

  Xander and Jack did their best to look normal as they crossed over Via del Castello Street, walking toward Xander’s favorite little restaurant in the area, La Castellana. The exterior was mixed brick and stone and the back patio gave patrons a view of the rolling hills of Chianti. The Pappardelle Bolognese was off the charts there. One of his all-time favorite meals. As a few locals walked by, their eyes fixed upon the two of them as they approached the restaurant, Xander realized how ridiculous he and Jack must have looked. Xander in his white v-neck t-shirt and white linen pajama pants, barefoot, and then Jack, well, looking like Jack. They must have looked like they were on their way to some warped Las Vegas-themed Halloween party. The only person this would look halfway normal to would be Antonia. She’d seen Xander in his pajamas before. Just then a beautiful dark haired, olive skinned stunner walked out of the side entrance of the restaurant.

  Speak of the devil.

  The look on her face was not what Xander wanted to see. Something was wrong.

  “Xander!” She ran up to him. “I tried to help them, but there wasn’t time!”

  “Slow down, Antonia, time for what?”

  Just as the question left his lips, out of the corner of his eye he saw a BRT delivery truck. His stomach dropped when he saw Sam getting thrown into the back of it. It dropped again when he saw Kyle at the wrong end of a machine gun. A flash of Sean getting his head blown off that night in Syria flashed in front of his eyes. On reflex, Xander whipped his pistol forward, and without the need to take aim he shot the man pinning Kyle with his gun in the throat. Kyle dove to the right and the BRT truck lurched forward. Sam’s eyes met Xander’s just before the back doors were slammed shut.

  Xander turned toward Antonia and she tossed him a set of keys. Xander had prepared for this day. Antonia knew this was the moment he would use it.

  “Jack, make sure Kyle is all right. If I don’t come back, I think we all know where I’ll be.”

  “Dead?” Jack had never been known to mince words. There was no time for that old dog new tricks thing. The BRT truck full of gunmen and two of Xander’s favorite women sped off in the opposite direction.

  Xander glanced over at Jack. “No matter what, you find Sam and Melanie. I suspect they’ll be in Moscow before the night is over. Bob will be ready for you at the airport. He won’t trust you, but he’ll listen to Kyle. Promise me, you’ll find them.”

  “Son, they’re getting away.”

  A gleam came to Xander’s eye. “Don’t you worry about that, Jack.”

  “Okay then, I promise.”

  Xander bolted for a carport behind Antonia’s restaurant and made a bee-line for a covered vehicle. The gleam in Xander’s eye came from knowing why the BRT truck would never get away. He tugged at the front of the cover and in one motion a jet-black Lamborghini Aventador was free of its restraints. Xander jumped into the cockpit and fired up the engine. Seven-hundred and fifty horsepower roared to life when Xander popped the clutch as he slammed the gas and squalled out of the parking lot, sideways, smoke from the tires filling the air and the smell of burnt rubber teasing his nose. Like a jet down a runway, Xander corrected the supercar and just like that, the fastest Lamborghini ever made launched forward down the road toward the enemy.

  Five short miles later, Xander could see the back of the BRT truck in the distance. At one-hundred and ninety miles an hour, it didn’t take long. The rolling hills covered in delicious grape vines were going by in a blur that could only be described as suicidal. They looked more like random streaks of light. Like those pretentious pictures photographers take of the blurred street lights. Their version of showing the city’s emotion, or some dumb shit like that. Rather apropos, the satellite radio played “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. It would have made for a fantastic moment except for the fact that Xander absolutely hated that song, and the douchebags who stole the music to create it.

  Before Xander could react—because at two-hundred and ten miles-per-hour it would be absolutely impossible to react—something large and black clipped the back end of his Lamborghini. After an outstandingly violent, yet glorious and seemingly never ending spectacularly world class crash, full of twisted metal and broken glass, everything went dark.

  Keep Your Enemies Close

  After over an hour of pacing around the restaurant, it occurred to Kyle that Xander wasn’t coming back. He didn’t know what that meant exactly, but something didn’t feel right. Jack had told him what Xander had said to do, but it didn’t mean he had to like it. The thought of not going after his friend made him nauseous. The three espresso’s Antonia had given him hadn’t made that feeling any better.

  “Son,” Jack started from his seat under the hanging garlic, “we gotta go.”

  Kyle didn’t respond. He knew Jack was right. And he knew Xander said what he said for a reason, but he had never been in this position before. No Xander, and no Sam. He walked out of the restaurant and onto the back patio. The quintessential white and red checkered tablecloths on the tables and the lattice along the walls that were covered in daisies didn’t even register to him. Neither did the bright green grass covered hills that were sprawled out in front of him. He took his cell phone from his pocket and scrolled down to Sarah Gilbright in his contact list. He had her number still saved from the night of the King’s Ransom bourbon launch party on the rooftop in San Diego. Though it had only been a couple of weeks ago, it seemed like light years. He pressed dial and her phone rang, unanswered, until her voicemail picked up.

  “Sarah, this is Kyle Hamilton. Xander and Sam have been taken. I really don’t know what to do. Jack is here, but I don’t know him well enough to trust him. I know Xander had his suspicions. I know you think Xander has suspicions about you too, but I assure you that he doesn’t. Not anymore. He feels horrible about...listen, I need your help. It looks like Zhanna has set us all up and now I don’t even know where to go. Jack says he does, but can I trust him? Please call me back Sarah. Please?”

  Kyle ended the call, his shoulders slumped, his mind lost. The door rattled behind him and Jack walked out onto the patio.

  “Kyle, I know you don’t trust me yet, and I understand that, but you’re gonna have to. If Xander and Sam are alive, I know where they are gonna be. But son, they ain’t gonna be there for long. Not alive anyway.”

  “With Dragov?” Kyle said to the hills.

  “That’s right. Dragov’s. Now, I know where that sum bitch lives in Moscow, but I can’t call this in. Director Manning is compromised. I can tell by the messages he’s left on my phone. We call him, and not only would we have to deal with the Russians, but we’d also have to contend with the CIA. I can gauran-damn-tee ya that Manning is spinning up some story of betrayal about us right now. We can worry about that later. Right now, look at me.” Kyle turned toward him. “It looks like it’s just me and you. I reckon I was wrong about Zhanna, I can’t believe it, but I don’t know what happened to her. And Sarah, I guess Xander ran her off. So as I was sayin’—”

  “Just you and me,” Kyle interrupted.

  “That’s right. I heard how well you did in Syria. W
e’ll need that and then some if we’re gonna have a shot at savin’ your friends.”

  “Why are you doing this, Jack?”

  “Like I told y’all last night. Xander’s daddy. I did him wrong, and though I know I’ll never make up for it, I can sure as hell die trying. Especially, if I can save his boy.”

  “You think Xander is okay?”

  “Don’t know, but we gotta act as if he ain’t. That means get our ass to the airport, and get our ass to Moscow. I know you don’t know me, but this ain’t my first rodeo, son. I’ve got friends in all the right places and I’ll have us as good a plan as we can get before we land. But...” Jack grabbed Kyle’s eyes with a look that gave Kyle a chill. “...You gotta understand something...We do this, we are pretty much signing up for a one-way ticket to the great beyond. You get me?”

  “I do.”

  “You ready for that?”

  “I would do anything for my brother.”

  “Well, you just might have to.”

  Kyle called and got things squared away with Bob. He said he would have the jet ready to go. Bob couldn’t believe that something had happened to Xander, but he seemed ready to stay in it for the long haul in order to see Xander safe again. One common theme amongst anyone who was ever around Xander very long was the loyalty that the people in his life had toward him. Kyle knew why, it was because Xander would die for them, and everyone who ever got close to Xander, knew it too.

  Antonia let Kyle borrow her catering van and now he and Jack were pulling up to the private aircraft division at the Florence airport. When they walked through the glass doors and into the holding area, something fiery red caught Kyle’s eye in the corner of the room. As soon as he realized it was Zhanna, something lit a fuse in his adrenaline box. His fists clinched and everything around him blurred as he stomped toward her and violently pinned her up against the wall by her shoulders.

 
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