Hope you all are having a fantastic start to 2013! I’m hard at work on a couple projects, including the next Jack Noble stand alone novel. It’s another peek into Jack’s life before Noble Intentions. In this book, Jack is an agent in the SIS and partnered with Frank Skinner. They think they are onto an underground terrorist cell, but find out they’ve stumbled onto something much more twisted.
To wet your appetite, I thought I’d put up a quick sample of what’s to come. This is the first chapter, so there’s no spoilers or anything like that. Also, it is UNEDITED, so beware the typos!
NOBLE 37 (working title) – CHAPTER 1
Six feet. A deadly distance. Especially when one man has a gun aimed at another. Close enough to not miss. Far enough away to have zero chance of making a move.
The guy I had been hunting in the dusty and dimly lit warehouse found me first. I had taken a set of splintered wooden stairs to the catwalk that wrapped the edges of the building and cut across the center of the room. I hustled up the steps two at a time. The old wooden boards sagged but held under my weight. The catwalk was stronger. Every step I took made a slight thumping sound. I knew if I wasn’t careful, he’d hear me. And he did. I only heard his footsteps a second before he spoke.
“Stop,” he said. His accent was thick. South American. “Drop your gun.”
I froze and lifted my hands. The gun dangled from my index finger and I let it fall over the railing. It hit the floor with a thud, managing to not discharge a round. My backup piece rested reassuringly against my lower back.
“Now turn around,” he said.
I turned to face him. He was average height and average build, wearing a tan jacket and knit cap. Dark hair covered his cheeks and chin. He stood six feet away, a pistol held close to his chest and aimed at me. A distance of six feet increased his odds of being deadly accurate. A distance of six feet reduced my changes of effectively neutralizing him. Even at six-two, my reach wasn’t enough to land a blow.
“Who the hell are you?” he said.
“I’m the man who was sent to kill you,” I said.
“Who’s your boss?”
“Because I want to write him a letter to recommend he fire you.”
“Because you failed, asshole.” He lifted the barrel of the gun and waved it back and forth, like a mother scolding her toddler.
“Only problem,” I said, “is this is only recess. Playtime for you.”
The man forced a laugh. “You’re following me, so you must have some idea who I am.”
“Not really.” And that was the truth. Frank and I had acted on a single piece of information.
“Well let me give you the abridged version. I’m someone you shouldn’t be following. You should have done your research first. Now it’s too late for you.”
I smiled. “It’s never too late for me.”
His eyes narrowed. He brought his left hand up and wiped his cheek with his palm. His eyes darted upward and mine followed along. Light shone through a tiny hole in the roof. Rain water dripped through the hole and spattered the man’s face. He’d have to move. His next step would seal my fate. The man didn’t move, though. Not immediately, at least. Two more drops hit him. Then a third. Finally, he cursed and took a step forward. Six feet had been reduced to five. Still out of my reach, but not by much. If I lunged forward, I could reach him.
“Just give it up,” I said. “We’ve got the warehouse surrounded. You won’t make it out of here.”
“Then neither will you.” His eyes widened and he stuck his arm all the way out. His wrist flicked up and down. I saw my opportunity. The distance between the gun and me had been reduced by at two and a half feet. A stutter step and I’d have him by the wrist.
A crashing sound to our right startled both of us. I turned my head and saw a door to the outside open. Light flooded the floor below. The silhouette of a man slipped through the opening. I had lied when I said we had the building surrounded. There were only two of us, and I had left Frank behind a block from the building. Either he had caught up, or the man hadn’t been alone, in which case it would be two against me.
“Freeze!” Frank’s voice echoed through the warehouse.
The man forgot about me and turned toward Frank. Bright muzzle blast exploded in front of me as he opened fire on Frank.
Frank didn’t return fire, hopefully in an effort to not strike me and not because he’d been hit. I couldn’t worry about that, though. The man stood five feet away, his body turned and his arms outstretched over the steel railing.
I lunged forward, left arm out, right arm up. I closed the distance before the man could react. I wrapped my left hand around his throat from the side, letting my thumb slide just below his Adam’s Apple. He grunted against the pressure. At the same time I drove my right arm down, catching him on his wrist, which extended out a few feet over the railing. I twisted his arm and drove it down into the steel railing. Bone and steel met with a crack. He dropped his weapon and it fell to the floor below us.
The man reached across his body with his left arm and punched at my face, connecting with my nose. Although he didn’t have enough momentum to do any damage, the blow managed to disrupt my grasp on his neck. My eyes flooded with tears. I felt him break away from my grasp.
“My arm,” he said.
I heard the sound of a knife being pulled from a sheath. Brought my palms to my eyes and wiped away the tears that blurred my vision. Once again, the man stood six feet away from me. His right arm pressed against his chest. In his left he held a knife with a six inch blade.
This time six feet didn’t matter. In a fluid motion, I lunged forward and grabbed the railing with both hands. Then I swung legs forward, driving the soles of my combat boots into his chest. He shrieked as they connected with his broken arm. The knife fell from his hand and bounced off the catwalk and fell to the concrete warehouse floor.
My momentum carried through, knocking the man to the floor. He turned onto his stomach and began crawling away.
“Jack,” Frank shouted from below.
I said nothing. Walked up behind the man. Stood over him. I reached down and wrapped my right arm around his neck. Placed my fist in the crook of my left arm and pulled back with both.
The man clawed at my forearm. He flung his torso side to side, but was no match for me. Desperate attempts to breathe were cut off by the force I exerted against his trachea.
“Jack, let him go.”
I looked up and saw Frank standing at the end of the catwalk.
“Come on, Jack,” he said. “We need this guy.”
“I don’t care,” I said as I squeezed tighter.
Frank approached with a hint of caution, perhaps thinking I’d snapped. He’d have been right if he thought it, too. “Let him go, Jack. Let’s get him to HQ and question him. Then you can do whatever you want to him.”
The man’s knit cap had fallen off and his sweat soaked hair brushed against my cheek as his body went limp. I pulled back. Looked at Frank and then the man. Frank’s words filtered made sense at that moment. I let go of the man. His body fell against the catwalk.
I reached over and grabbed the railing and pulled myself up. “Christ, I think I killed him.”
Frank tucked his gun and squatted down. He reached out and placed his hand on the man’s neck. After a few seconds, he said, “He’s got a pulse. Help me get him downstairs and into the car.”
“So that’s where you were,” I said. “Pulling the car around instead of chasing him in here with me.”
“You just took off, Jack. I lost you.” He looked up and I met his gaze with a smile.
“Just giving you a hard time.” I bent over and scooped my hands under the man’s shoulders. Lifted him up. Frank grabbed his legs and we carried him down the stairs.
Frank’s car was just outside the warehouse entrance.
“I’m gonna make sure it’s clear out there,” he said.
I nodded and leaned against the door for support. The man started to come to, coughing and groaning. For a second I thought about knocking him out, but decided against it. A blow to the head might dampen his memory, and we needed to get everything he knew.
Frank opened the back door on the driver’s side of his Lincoln and gestured for me to come out.
I backed out of the warehouse, dragging the guy with me. The rain had stopped and the sun peeked through the disintegrating clouds. The light penetrated my eyes like a shard of glass.
“Give me a hand,” I said.
Frank came closer and reached out for the man’s right arm. Together we slid him into the backseat and buckled him in. I handcuffed his left wrist to the metal post that connected the headrest to the passenger’s seat.
“Sit in back with him,” Frank said. “If he gets out of line,” he looked at the man and smiled, “well, you know what to do.”
I nodded, then walked around the back of the car and got in on the other side. I slid in next to the man and, for the first time, realized that he smelled like he hadn’t showered in a week.
“If you hadn’t been armed, I’d have thought you were a bum,” I said.
The man pursed his lips and spit. His saliva smattering the back of the seat in front of him as well as the center console next to Frank.
I wasted no time and drove my elbow into his solar plexus. Any breath that was in him came out in a loud exhale and he doubled over, chin to knees.
“Try it again,” I said.
The man looked at me and said nothing. His face turned red and the veins in his forehead stuck out like a snake swimming through water.
“Keep him quiet,” Frank said.
I nodded. Looked at the man as he held his arm close to his chest. I said to Frank, “Go ahead and call the doc in to set and splint that arm.”