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Vanquish the xander king.., p.5

Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2), page 5


Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2)

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  “I’m sorry Xander, I know that must have been hard to hear.” Sarah finished.

  “It’s all right.”

  “You know your dad must have been forced to deal with this son of a bitch.” Kyle echoed Xander’s thoughts. Mind Meld.

  “I know.”

  Natalie shifted toward Xander.

  “What are you going to do?”

  “Kill him.” Xander said without hesitation.

  “You are going to go and try to kill a man who Sam called the biggest mafia boss in the world? You’re crazy. You have a death wish.”

  “What would you like me to do, Natalie? You’ve seen that I can’t just leave it alone. You were at my house in Lexington when they raided it and you saw what they did to that hospital.”

  “I know, but, what if you can’t kill him? What then?

  “There is no what then.” Sam stood up. “Xander will kill him.”

  “Not without the CIA you won’t.” Sarah knew that wouldn’t be met with cheers, but it had to be said.

  “It will not be with the CIA.” Xander stood to meet her eyes. The tension in the room was as tight as a cramped hamstring.

  “Xander, Director Manning has been calling me for hours. I’m not certain I still have a job. But I am certain that there is no way he will let you do this on your own. He’ll ground your plane and freeze your bank accounts.”

  “Let him try,” Xander growled, his hands instinctively formed into fists.

  “She’s right.” Sam sighed.

  “What? Not you too.”

  “Xander, it’s the U.S. Government for Christ sake. They can take away everything if they want.”

  Xander let that statement hang in the air. The seagulls cooed just outside the open windows and the ocean chimed in as it crashed against the shore. Xander knew she was right. Director Manning had him by the short and curlies. There is no way he could make a move without him. If he wanted to, he had to bring them in. The very thought of it made his skin crawl. There was no telling how far the consequences of working with the CIA would ripple.

  “God dammit.”

  “I’m sorry, Xander.” Sarah softened her stance. “It’s the only way.”

  “But it will be on my terms.”

  “I’ll call Manning. They may already be shutting you down after this little hospital stunt. I doubt he’s in a generous mood.”

  “He owes me. The government owes me for all I’ve done for them. You tell Manning I’m coming to collect.”

  Vitalii Dragov Raises the Stakes

  Forty miles south of Moscow, in the most prestigious neighborhood in Russia—Rublyovka—two doors down from Vladimir Putin, Vitalii Dragov sat behind his desk chewing on a cigar in his thirty-million euro ultra mansion. Dragov was scowling furiously at Nicoli Pavlovich, trying to decide whether or not he would actually make him a ghost this time. His massive belly hung down over his belt and his greasy and poorly dyed black hair reminded Nicoli of a bad Elvis impersonator. An old—shar-pei wrinkled—whale of a bad Elvis impersonator. The crater sized pock marks in between those wrinkles—on an already hideous face—made for one ugly-ass son of a bitch. However, Nicoli knew the true ugly in Dragov lie beneath that disgusting exterior. He also knew that he was about to get a heavy dose of it for letting Xander King get out of that hospital alive.

  “I do not understand. Why he is not dead?” Dragov’s voice guttural, his accent thick.

  “I told you, he had people there. Military people. I will not miss again.”

  Dragov was in a difficult position. For the last fifteen years, Nicoli had been his most valuable weapon. But he knew when dealing with a man like Xander King, there was no room for error. Dragov didn’t make mistakes, and he didn’t tolerate them either.

  “I gave you entire team. Plenty of guns and explosives. Still, he walks. Tell me what I am supposed to do about this.”

  “Let me do my job.”

  “This is third time you have failed. Failure has consequences.”

  “This is the first time I have failed, I had nothing to do with the job in Kentucky and whatever you attempted on that boat in the Virgin Islands.”

  Dragov placed the gnarled cigar in the golden ashtray that sat on top of his mahogany desk, looked over to one of his men and nodded. The man brought a briefcase over to the desk and placed it in front of Dragov.

  “What is it you want most from me, Nicoli?”

  “Out. You know this.”

  “That’s right. You want out. And I have always told you that there is no way out. No?”

  “Yes, no way out.”

  Dragov placed his two fat thumbs on the chrome buttons of the oversized brown leather briefcase, popped it open, and turned it toward Nicoli so he could see what was inside.

  “This is more money than you will ever be able to spend. Thirty million euros.”

  Nicoli couldn’t help but stand. The pile of cash in front of him would be enough to get his brother out of prison and for them to live on for the rest of their lives. Prison in Russia doesn’t work like it does in America. If you had enough money, you could get anyone out, no matter the crime. His brother had been in prison for five years of his three life sentences, for murders that Nicoli himself had committed. Since everyone thought Nicoli to be dead, they pinned all of it on his brother. It had haunted Nicoli every night in his dreams since the day they put him away. Nicoli promised his brother he would get him out or die trying. Now was his chance.

  “I will give you this, and your freedom from your debt to me, if you kill Xander King. But, I must have proof. You must bring him to me, and kill him in front of me. Nothing else will be acceptable.”

  Nicoli had always been the exact opposite of an emotional man. But, the thought of freedom with his brother—the only family he had ever known—almost overwhelmed him. And he and his new love could live happily ever after. He would use every ounce of his twenty years of the highest levels of training to get this job done. Xander King’s days were officially numbered.

  Dragov took a sip of vodka.

  “I see this means a lot to you.”

  Nicoli had no response.

  “But let me tell you this. You don’t succeed? I kill you, your brother, and that pretty little blonde of yours. Understand?”

  Nicoli did understand. Perfectly. Nothing in his degenerate, self-serving, cockroach of a life had ever, nor would ever, mean more than this…

  Killing Xander King.

  Apparently Vigilante Justice is a Team Game

  During the entire flight back to Langley, Virginia—CIA headquarters—Sam had the cabin television tuned to Fox News. Xander couldn’t stand Fox News. He couldn’t stand CNN for that matter either. You can’t get real news from biased news stations. Anyone who formed their opinions of the world from the things they learned by watching this slanted programming did nothing but make themselves look ignorant—no matter their political views. Mr. Rogers knew more about what was actually going on in the world than the sheep that blindly tuned into this type of programming. Xander knew the lies first hand from all of the black-ops missions he carried out. They always reported on the outcomes of his missions like they were stating facts, when in fact, they were the furthest thing from the truth. The reports about what happened at Scripps Mercy Hospital in sunny San Diego yesterday morning was just another shining example of how gullible the American people could be. It was reported as fact that the attack on Scripps Mercy—like every other attack these days—was an act of terrorism. And it was reported as such, only because some random “terrorist cell” took credit for the attack using their Twitter account.


  By the mercy of God himself, the plane landed in Virginia and they no longer had to watch any more bullshit news. Unfortunately, the next thing Xander had to do was say goodbye to Natalie. Something that only got harder to do, not easier. She wanted to stay, but she had halted filming her new movie as long as the production company would let her without throwing an absolute conn
iption. The look on her face when she said goodbye was going to take a while before it wasn’t absolutely seared into Xander’s mind. She was hurting. They had talked for an hour on the jet about how to proceed. They both wanted the same things, but like Natalie said, timing is everything. And, this couldn’t possibly be a worse time for a burgeoning romance. Natalie knew it, Xander knew it, and so they were going to do their best to leave it at that. If their paths crossed they would cherish a moment in each other’s arms. Anything more than that put Natalie in danger, and that was not something Xander was willing to risk.

  Their entire conversation was of course private, however, it’s impossible to keep completely private in a confined, enclosed space. Much to Sarah Gilbright’s delight. She wasn’t trying to listen in, but, she wasn’t going to put on headphones either. While it wasn’t the easiest thing to hear—how much they clearly cared for each other—Sarah couldn’t be happier about the decision to let fate bring them together if the timing ever were right. Sarah had nothing against Natalie, she seemed like a nice enough person, but as far as Xander King was concerned, she liked him uncommitted and untangled. Sarah would just wait for the right moment to show him what he really needed, and when that time was right, you’d best believe she would pounce like a kitten on a ball of yarn.

  The four of them, Xander, Kyle, Sam, and Sarah all waited impatiently outside the office of CIA Director Thomas Manning’s office. Their main goal—Xander’s goal—was to successfully talk Manning into leaving them the hell alone and letting him carry on as he always had. Sarah’s first goal was to make sure she still had a job. Second, she would try to go along with Xander’s goal, but she knew Manning would never go for it. So, anything north of grounding Xander and her not being fired, would ultimately be good enough for her.

  “Xander, were you able to contact your sister, Helen?” Sam broke the silence between them. All around them phones were ringing and people were buzzing. Apparently, business was good at the CIA. Or bad, depending on how you look at it. The complications that Xander’s recent stunts have brought them had only further swirled the beehive, and Sam knew this would be evident when the queen bee himself—Director Manning—began his tirade.

  “Yes, I spoke with her last night. Thank you, Sam. She said the men you sent were parked out front and back of her house. She doesn’t understand, or like why they are there, but she said she felt safe. That’s all that matters to me.”

  “How’s Kaley doing?”

  “Growing like a weed. Her favorite word is “AGAIN,” she loves yelling it, particularly when I make the mistake of tossing her, spinning her, or holding her upside down.” Xander smiled, as he always did when he thought of his niece.

  “Are you talking about your niece?” Sarah asked?

  “I am. She’s five years of absolute adorable.”

  “That’s sweet.”

  What wasn’t sweet was the way the door to Manning’s office flew open. All four of their smiles immediately shifted. Kyle’s shifted to fear, Sam’s became solemn, Sarah looked away nervously, and Xander’s went to five-alarm-fury. No words were spoken and Xander was already preparing for a fight. Manning walked out, he was a bulldog of a man. Short, stout, and slobbering mad. His face permanently red and his suit screaming for help as it tried desperately to stay buttoned around his ever growing—stress eater—belly.

  “Well, if it isn’t the biggest pain in my ass since my double hemorrhoid of 2011,” Manning barked.

  Xander shot to his feet. Sarah noticed that the two of them could literally not be more different. Manning looked warn, gray, stubby, soft, and completely devoid of style. Xander was fresh, tall, and hard as a rock. Xander’s photograph belonged in the pages of a men’s style magazine. He wore his tight fitting navy blazer, white collared shirt, gray skinny jeans, and navy Italian loafers like an all-out stud. He combined the dapperness of a European while maintaining the sexy strength of a full-blooded American. It was the very best of both worlds. A man built in a lab, she thought, despite the tension of the moment.

  “By pain in the ass I’m assuming you mean doing your job for you. Taking out no less than seven of the FBI’s ten most wanted in the last twelve months. That pain in the ass?”

  “So, you’re going to come in here, to a man that holds your fate in the palm of his hands, and be a smart ass. Fuckin’ prick, I oughta throw you in jail right now.”

  Xander took a step forward.

  “You could try.”

  “Try?” Manning’s head might explode. Sarah noticed that his shade of red had gone from rouge to maroon. She had to do something before this became a real situation.

  “Director Manning, Xander, can I just remind you that we are on the same team?”

  Xander scoffed while Manning turned his rage to her.

  “Sarah Gilbright, nice of you to finally check-in. Let me just remind you that your fate, just like Captain America here, also hangs in the balance of my good graces. And let me just tell both of you this,” he pointed between the two of them. “It ain’t lookin’ good for either one of ya.”

  Xander heard the accent of Manning’s last sentence turn to hillbilly, and he knew he was making fun of Xander being from Kentucky.

  Xander over exaggerated a country twang himself. “How original, Manning. That’s right, I’ma hillbilly. I have a bourbon distillery, and a farm, you know, where my seventeen million dollar horsee stays in a barn worth three times your house here in Virginia.”

  Kyle swore he could actually see steam piping out of Manning’s ears.

  Sam stood up, she’d had enough of the nonsense.

  “Could we please step inside your office like adults and have an actual conversation? Regardless of the fact that our fates are in your hands, Mr. Manning, Sarah is right. We are trying to accomplish the same goals.”

  “Is that right princess? And just what goal might that be? To avenge Xander’s parents? I couldn’t give a rabbit fuck less about them.”

  Xander stepped forward but Sam caught him and stepped in front of him before he could rearrange the ugly on Manning’s face.

  “Well, that may be the case Mr. Manning, but I do know that you care about having Xander working for you, and not against you. I think everyone, including your superiors, would agree with that.”

  Just then a man stepped out into the hallway from Manning’s office. He looked like he was straight out of an old western. He held a tan suede cowboy hat down by his dark blue Levi’s as he ran a hand through his medium-length silver hair. His matching silver mustache, red and black checkered flannel shirt, and battle hardened, wrinkled face along with a good looking pair of caramel tanned cowboy boots rounded out his Montana man persona. He stepped in front of Manning and reached his hand toward Xander. Xander accepted the handshake from the old, but still fit, cowboy.

  “Jack Bronson.” A real man’s man voice.

  Jack reminded Xander of a carbon copy of Sam Elliot. Voice and all. The man, like Xander, had a real presence.

  “Xander King.”

  Xander reminded Jack of a hardened—whatever that pretty guy’s name was in The Hangover, something Cooper. Real pretty, like him, but with a razor sharp edge. An edge you can only obtain from war.

  “Frogman?” Jack grunted. Eluding to Xander’s time in the Navy Seals. Something he and Xander shared.

  “Oorah.” Xander smiled.

  “Oh, terrific, the two of you are fast friends.” Sarcasm poured out of that comment as Manning rolled his eyes and motioned for them all to move inside his office. Had Manning made a massive error putting Jack on this?

  Jack had managed to defuse the situation. Just before Sam and Kyle walked through the door Manning held up his hand. “The help will have to wait in the lobby. Mary will be glad to get you a coffee and a copy of the Washington Post. I’m sure there is yet another story in there of how Captain Fuckup King here goes about his business.”

  And just like that, the tension shot back through the roof. Xander waved them in.
  “Where I go, they go. You want to talk to me, you talk to them. We don’t do a damn thing without them. Captain Fuckup that you dick.” Mr. Mature.

  Manning puffed out his chest. “You don’t make the rules here King, and—”

  “Boys,” Jack spoke up. “If everything you two say turns into a pissing contest, that’s all this whole meeting’s gonna be. Tommy, it seems like what these two did over in Syria ought to be enough to get them into this meeting. They’re the kind of people I want on my team anyway.”

  “I appreciate that Mr. Bronson—”

  “Call me Jack.”

  “I appreciate that Jack, but, your team?” Xander made a face.

  Manning finally gave in and had everyone take a seat. After starting with his “this is how this is gonna go speech,” Manning proceeded to explain how their relationship was going to work. Xander’s team, the CIA, and Jack Bronson would all work together. After some back and forth between Xander and Manning not seeing eye-to-eye on things...well, on almost everything, they finally came to an agreement.

  Jack Bronson would be the lead. Mostly—Manning explained—because he couldn’t leave handling Xander to the—in his own words—“apparently inadequate, Sarah Gilbright.” But, he at least let her be a part of this so called team. Xander agreed to Jack being designated the lead because he knew he was going to do what he had to do, regardless. At least this way, Jack—who Xander liked immediately—would be the one to communicate with Manning. Something Xander would never do, and he was happy Sam wouldn’t have to do it either. It was even easier to let Jack have this designation after he heard the similarities in their military experience. Both walked away from prestigious careers due to lack of trust in the U.S. Government. Manning at least had the foresight to see the need for bringing in someone Xander could relate to. However, Xander was no fool. He knew that no matter what, this was Manning’s guy. All the important details would stay between Xander, Sam, and Kyle.

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