Vanquish the xander king.., p.4
Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2), page 4
The hospital room door flew open and he stood to face the four men, using the chair as a shield. To his surprise only one man walked in. A surprisingly unassuming man, not very tall, not very well built, but a very familiar face.
Mafia boss, Vitalii Dragov’s number one assassin.
At one time the most wanted man in the world. Xander remembered this when his Special Operations unit was studying for a possible mission. A mission that never deployed because Nicoli Pavlovich was found dead. Xander let out a sigh and rolled his eyes.
“As if I haven’t had a bad enough week, now I’m seeing ghosts?”
“You know me, I see.”
“I know you died.”
“Much easier to walk in shadows, if you no longer exist.”
Xander could appreciate that sentiment. If people thought him dead, no one would be trying to kill him right now. Nicoli trained his gun on Xander’s chest. His face was hard. A large scar under his right eye, further menacing his permanent scowl.
“So, what is it that you want with a measly whiskey entrepreneur like me?”
“Boss says you are dangerous. Me? I think...not so much.”
“Dragov? If he wants some free bottles of whiskey, tell him there are easier ways.”
“Cut shit, King. I am not in mood. You killed three of my best men.”
“On my yacht? Your best men? Really?” Xander looked genuinely surprised. “Why Nicoli, I’m disappointed. They were taken out by a couple of girls. I didn’t have to lift a finger. What’s that say about you?”
As Xander spoke his eyes were trained on Nicoli’s trigger finger. As soon as he saw it twitch he tossed the chair at him, sending the bullet that had been meant for Xander’s heart, up into the ceiling tile. Before Nicoli could adjust, Xander front kicked the side of the second chair, sending it sliding into Nicoli’s groin. In the hallway, he could hear gunshots.
Xander knew she could handle herself, but she clearly didn’t know all that was going on if she thought more than one man was coming for him. Kyle could have been wrong. What if there were more than four?
Just as Nicoli re-positioned his pistol, Xander hit his hand with a perfectly placed spinning wheel-kick and sent the gun flying against the far wall of the hospital room. He followed that with a straight right hand but Nicoli weaved to his left and countered with a left hook to Xander’s stomach. A direct hit to his nearly, but not completely healed stitches. As Nicoli brought a right hook toward him, Xander managed to step in, the right side of his hip to the right side of Nicoli’s and, with a sweep of his right arm and a twist, Xander threw him onto the floor, Judo style. He landed in a thud but let the momentum send him into a back somersault, landing him next to his pistol, which he picked up, aimed at Xander and fired a shot that just missed because Xander had simultaneously thrown himself into the hallway.
Xander heard gunshots coming from the exit at the end of the hall so he grabbed a nearby metal bedpan and immediately ran in that direction.
Better than nothing.
He figured at this point it was either Sam, or the rest of his group taking gunfire, and regardless, he was a sitting duck in that hallway so he had to move. Just as he shut the door to a stairwell a bullet whizzed through it’s squared window and nearly smacked him in the side of the head.
He glared through the now glassless window and locked eyes with Nicoli back in the hallway just outside his hospital room. He wanted nothing more than to stay and fight this notorious assassin. To make him dead for real this time, but he heard a scream one floor below, followed by a string of gunfire. Nicoli shot his gun once again but Xander was already halfway down the stairs. For the first time a shot of pain screamed through his calf muscle that had taken a bullet on the yacht. It was Sam’s scream he’d heard, she must have been ambushed. He blasted through the door that led to the second floor hallway and slung his bedpan like a Frisbee, hitting the man who held a gun on Sam in the head. As if she knew he was coming, she shot to her feet and dove at the other man that had swung his gun toward Xander, her momentum carrying them both through the open door of the first patient room on the floor. They disappeared from Xander’s view and he jumped to his feet. As he jogged to the man he’d just struck with the bedpan, he noticed a red spot growing on his white hospital gown. He lifted the gown and saw that blood ran steadily down into his joggers. Nicoli’s right hook had popped his stitches. There was nothing he could do so he bent down, wrenched the gunman’s neck until it gave a loud pop, picked up his bedpan, and jogged to the room Sam had tackled the man into. Just before he made it inside he heard gunshots behind him—Nicoli—and a burst from an Uzi from the other end of the hall. As soon as he got inside the room, Sam was putting the finishing touches on her offender with a skull crushing boot to the head.
“Just like old times, huh?”
“Are you all right, Xander? You’re bleeding.”
He put his finger to his lips, then pointed in the direction of Nicoli, and then signaling that there was someone else, the other man that shot at him from the other end of the hall. He and Sam would have made excellent charades partners.
“Do you have a gun?” He asked her.
“No, lost mine in a skirmish and his gun is empty.”
“Skirmish?” He took the time to smile.
“Xander King, we have you surrounded now! Put hands up and come out slow!” Nicoli shouted from the hallway.
“No thanks,” Xander told him.
“You are trapped. Don’t be stupid. You probably don’t even have weapon.”
“I didn’t need a weapon upstairs did I? You hack!”
“Hack? You think you are better assassin than Nicoli Pavlovich? HA!”
Sam shot Xander a—please don’t antagonize him—look. Xander shrugged his shoulders and raised his bedpan for Sam to see. Her eyes closed and her shoulders slumped. They could hear multiple sets of boots walking toward their door from both sides. They had nothing to defend themselves with. Sam unscrewed the metal rod that held together a nearby IV stand and Xander readied his bedpan. Though they knew their “weapons” couldn’t beat actual guns, they weren’t about to go down without a fight. But they could see in each other’s eyes that they both knew this was it.
They were trapped.
“There are four of us out here now. I suppose you are going to kill us all?” Nicoli’s thick accent echoed in the hallway.
Before Xander could answer Nicoli, a woman shouted his name.
“Run! There are too many of them, run!” Xander shouted back.
As the words left his lips, bullets began to fly. The hallway filled with blasts and pops, ricocheting bullets and breaking glass. Xander moved to the doorway but Sam pulled him back in. The bullets stopped and Xander ripped away from Sam’s grip. Just when he got to the doorway, a gun pointed down the hallway emerged into view. Xander instinctively swung at it with the bedpan, knocking it from someone’s hands. Shots fired immediately from the other end of the hall and whoever was holding the gun bolted back in the direction of the exit. Xander peeked around the doorway, down the hall, and there stood Sarah Gilbright.
“Xander! I thought you were dead!” She ran toward him. “Sam?”
“Who was that man?
“Pavlovich? Dragov’s former assassin? That’s impossible, he’s been dead for years.”
“Call it in. Give the police a description, maybe they can pick him up before he gets to his extraction point. Are the others okay?”
“They’re fine. I came back for you as soon as I knew they were safe. Kyle is with them, he said he knew how to use a gun so I left him with my spare.”
Xander was really beginning to like Sarah Gilbright. CIA connections be damned.
Sam emerged from the room.
“Of course. I couldn’t leave the two of you here to fight alone.”
“Thank you.” Xander told her just before his knees buckled. Sam and Sarah moved in simultaneously to keep him upright. “You know, normally, I am much better with two women.”
“Jesus Xander, you’re a bloody mess,” Sam looked down at the blood stained gown. “Are you all right?”
“I’ll be fine, just as soon as you tell me why I am being targeted by a ghost assassin, sent by the biggest mafia boss on the planet.”
Sam looked at Sarah.
“Let’s get him to the Escalade. It’s not far.”
They started walking him toward the exit. Xander stopped and turned toward Sam.
“Sam, did Vitalii Dragov murder my parents?”
No More Secrets
For the second time that day, Xander woke up, foggy, with a beautiful woman staring back at him.
“Don’t pinch me if I’m dreaming.”
Natalie gave him a soft smile and continued to dab his forehead with a cool wet towel. She had her hair pulled back into a ponytail and for the first time Xander got a glimpse of her adorable little ears.
“Are you all right? Do we need to take you to another hospital?”
Xander sat up.
“Please, I think I’ve had enough hospitals for one day.” He looked around and everyone was there with him, they were in the living room of his beach house on Coronado Island. His home in San Diego was much different than his home in Lexington. On purpose. His home in Kentucky was much more traditional, it kept to the wonderful and rich history of where he grew up. He wanted something different when he was in California. His mansion on the small island that on one side looked out to San Diego Bay and on the other, the Pacific Ocean, was much more modern. More squared lines and marble floors than crown molding and hardwood. The living room where he sat up on the couch was almost entirely white. White marble floors paired with white walls that reached all the way up to the white twenty-five foot ceiling. The three-piece couch brought in a little color, light gray, but most of the pop in the room came from a few bright paintings on the wall. They were those modern, abstract paintings. Xander actually hated them. They filled the room with absolutely no feeling of home, instead it made it feel more like a hotel. However, his interior designer had been a real tigress in the sack and just as every other man before him, that fact forced him to make some bad decisions. And, whatever; the towering wall length windows forever filled with beach and ocean made up for anything that lacked in the rest of the grand room. He looked over to Sam.
“Did Kelly, finally, have enough?”
Sam walked over, Kyle and Sarah followed, all of them taking a seat on the couch opposite of him and Natalie.
Sam gave a smirk. “I believe so. We just sent her back to Orange County. I think she had some episodes of The Real Housewives to catch up on.”
Natalie patted Xander on the leg. “She your girlfriend?”
“Please. I’m not like you and Pepè Le Pew. I didn’t move on quite so fast.”
“Like me? Do you mean the co-star of my movie, Jean? Please. Is that why you just left something on my balcony in Paris and ran away? Alexander King, a jealous man?”
Xander rolled his eyes. “Sam, I think it’s about time you catch me up on just what in the hell is going on.”
“I intend to. Natalie, do you mind? Maybe take a shower or check out the beach?”
“No, no. She needs to hear this. She said she wants me to let her in, well, let’s let her in. Hold nothing back.” Xander shifted on the couch giving his midsection a break.
Sarah shifted as well, but her discomfort came more from the realization of just how much Natalie meant to Xander. She wasn’t aware of the feelings he had for her. Apparently, Xander wasn’t the only one with a jealous streak. This was making Sarah uncomfortable.
“Are you sure that’s a good idea, X? You can’t unsay it, once you say it.” Kyle leaned against the couch.
“I agree with Kyle,” said Sam.
“Yes, this isn’t for civilian ears. I’m not even sure Kyle should be here for this,” Sarah added.
Before Kyle could take offense, Xander addressed Sarah. “Listen, anything you have to say to me, you can say to Kyle.”
“But Xander, this is government business.”
Xander’s blood began to boil and everyone in the room felt the temperature change.
“This is my business, and if you don’t like it, maybe you should get back to CIA headquarters and leave this to us.”
That cut straight through.
“There would be no us,” Sarah made a circular motion with her finger encompassing everyone, “here, if it wasn’t for me. Don’t forget that.”
Sarah was right. In the last week she had saved his ass twice, and Sam’s once. That was enough to make her one of us, if anything was. He took a deep breath and brought his eyes back to her, contrite.
“You’re right. I’m sorry.”
“Please, fill everyone in on what is going on. Natalie is a big girl, she can make up her mind what she wants to do after that.” Xander took Natalie’s hand. She squeezed it in return.
Sam spoke up first.
“All right then, I’ll start so everyone is on the same page. Natalie, Xander’s parents were murdered right in front of him when he was just a boy.”
Natalie shot a look at Xander. Her eyes filled with emotion. For Xander, the fear of Natalie knowing had given way to relief.
No more secrets.
“Ever since that day, every decision he has made has been in the vain of avenging their murder. As soon as high school ended, he joined the Navy. In record time he was a Navy Seal, then once again in record time he was admitted into Special Forces, carrying out top secret black ops missions all over the world. Honing his skills so that one day he could use them for revenge. Correct me if I’m wrong Xander, but, along the way, Xander could no longer stomach the innocent casualties and the recklessness of the United States Government. That is when he dragged me into all of this.”
“Sorry to interrupt, but how did you two meet exactly?” Natalie asked.
“Another story for another day. Let’s just say that Xander made quite the impression.”
“As did you.” Xander smiled. Okay, maybe not all the secrets had to come out. What’s wrong with a little mystery?
“Anyway, I followed Xander and we’ve been administering private justice these last few years while searching for who could be responsible for his parents’ murder.”
“Private justice?” Natalie asked. “Do I even want to know?”
“Let’s just say that the bad guys haven’t had a lot of good luck the last few years.” Sam smiled.
“I see.” Natalie went along with it, not letting the need for details ruin the moment. “So, I’m assuming you now know who killed your parents? Is that who came after you while we were in your bed in Lexington?”
Sarah adjusted the fold in her blouse. Trying not to let on. She didn’t even realize how strong her feelings were for Xander. Not until she saw Kelly kiss him, and not until Natalie’s words. Sam interjected before Xander could answer.
“If I may?”
Xander nodded for Sam to continue. “We thought that those men were sent by Xander’s parents’ killer. They were, but we were wrong about just who that man was.”
There it was. Finally, confirmation. In that moment, Sean’s face flashed in front of his eyes. His friend who died because of Xander’s haste in Syria. Sadness fell over his chest like a weighted vest.
“Last week, I’m sure you heard about it while you were in Paris, we attempted to avenge their murders, and, while we were successful in our mission, we took out the wrong monster.”
“Why would I have heard about this while I was in Paris?”
“It was all over the news,” Xander said. “The terroris
Natalie’s face went white.
“That was you? But...the report said fifty-some terrorists died in that attack. You did all that?”
“Me, Sam, Kyle, and one other friend that didn’t make it.”
Natalie stood and began to pace the room.
“I told you we shouldn’t have told her. This is government business, Xander. You are out of line.” Sarah spoke up.
Natalie stopped in her tracks and laid a laser stare, set on incinerate, into Sarah’s eyes. “I am fine. It’s just a lot to take in. What the hell do you have to do with any of this anyway?”
Sarah stood up and took a step toward Natalie. Natalie held her ground. “I, Hollywood, am the reason Xander is alive on that couch right now. I broke rank and protocol to make that happen.”
Natalie’s face softened. “I’m sorry.” She went back over to Xander and sat down. “Thank you. I didn’t mean to imply—”
“It’s fine,” Sarah cut her off. “Real life drama is a lot different than the movies, honey.” Natalie took that jab and held her smile. “I’ll take it from here if that’s okay, Sam?”
“By all means Sarah, this is your part of the show.”
Kyle shot Xander a look. Xander knew exactly that Kyle’s raised eyebrow was about, Natalie versus Sarah and it said watch out. Xander paid it no mind however, because this information from Sarah was the part he was really interested in. He gave Sarah his full attention.
Sarah proceeded to explain to them how she came about the information that in fact, it was Vitalii Dragov that was responsible for the murder of Xander’s parents. The part that Xander wasn’t prepared for is the reason why. He had no idea that his father had dealings with the Russian mafia. Why would he? Xander was just a teenager when his father’s business was at the height of its profitability. And, even though Sarah didn’t know why his father got involved in the first place, he knew that it would have to have been because that low life Dragov threatened him and forced him in. His father was a good man. No one would ever be able to convince Xander otherwise, and God help anyone who tried. He had a lot of questions for Vitalii Dragov, and he had every intention of getting every single one of them answered. No matter what that took. Dragov had not only killed his parents, but he also put all of Xander’s loved ones’ lives in danger in the last few weeks.
by Wright, Bradley have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes