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Book 1 Phantom Force Tactical Series
Romantic Suspense
Date Published: April 2016
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“Engaging read. Hard to put down.” — Billy Allmon, U.S. Navy SEAL (Ret)
He’s a relentless homicide detective. She’s an uncompromising journalist.
Neither desires to work together—but they’ll never uncover the truth alone.
Landing a front page headline isn’t why reporter Caitlin Sparks is investigating a string of suspicious deaths connected to the U.S. State Department. She has a personal stake in finding the killer.
Detective Blake Madison has a connection to the murders too, and will risk anything to uncover the truth. But a journalist is the last person he’d rely on to help him solve a crime—especially one whose trail of evidence leads back to him.
Joining forces becomes essential as the body count continues to grow. Someone powerful doesn’t want the truth to come out—and will stop at nothing to make sure no one talks.
On the run with nowhere to turn, the couple devises a plan to expose the killer. The risk is great and the chance of success small, but the ultimate outcome is something neither one of them envisioned.
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Excerpt
Blake stroked her hair. “It’s okay, baby. Just a nightmare.”
“It seemed so real.” Caitlin felt his arms tighten around her, felt the power in them, and appreciated the comforting peace they provided. She had never felt so exposed, and yet so safe and secure. She turned her head and strained to see into the darkness again. “It felt like he was really here.”
“Dreams have a way of doing that.” He rocked her for a few more minutes in his soothing embrace, and then whispered in her ear. “Better?”
Caitlin took a few more deep breaths, and then tried to draw away, embarrassed. “Yes. I’m all right.” Again, she peered over her shoulder into the darkness to see if the figure would reappear. “Sorry if I woke you.”
Blake did not release his grasp. “Don’t worry. You didn’t wake me.”
Caitlin knew it was useless to struggle so she rested her head against his chest again and tried to relax. Her mind drifted back to a time when she had been intimidated by this man. Now his mere presence was reassuring. His touch, his voice, brought security and a sense of peace.
“That’s better.” He cleared his throat, but it still sounded hoarse when he talked. “I wish you would put the past behind you.”
Caitlin’s breath caught in her throat. That’s what Vince had just told her. She pulled away and regarded Blake with a troubled look. Had Vince been trying to tell her something from the other side that was merely being echoed by Blake? Was it time to move on with her life? Was she ready for that?
She lay her head down again before answering. “I’m not sure I want to yet.”
Blake’s chest rose against her cheek as he sucked in a deep, slow breath, but he didn’t speak and his grasp was unrelenting. She savored the sensation of being held by him with her head against his heart, keenly aware of the solidness of his arms and the warmth of his skin. His embrace was powerful and tender, strong and gentle.
She allowed herself to bask briefly in the peaceful, shared moment, but then feared she was being selfish. He’s probably uncomfortable and wants to go back to bed. “I’m okay,” she murmured into his chest, trying to reassure him. “You can let me go now, Blake.” She opened her eyes when he finally answered.
“I’m not sure I want to yet.”
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About the Author

Jessica James’ award-winning novels are inspired by her love of the land, her belief in everlasting love, and her curiosity about the past. Her novels run the gamut from military suspense and thrillers to historical fiction, Christian fiction, and small-town Southern women’s fiction.
She enjoys transporting readers to another world with complex characters and stories that stir deep emotion. Her novels appeal to both men and women and are featured in library collections all over the United States including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy. She resides in a 200-year-old house in Gettysburg, Pa.
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Bound to Morocco Blitz

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Morocco Series, Book One
Historical Romance
Published: June 2018
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Drugged and kidnapped, Shera finds herself on a ship to Morocco to serve the Sultan. Abandoned and alone, Shera must find a way to escape and confront the people who betrayed her. She gets help from an unlikely source: the man who kidnapped her. When their partnership turns to love, the two must face constant danger to endure. But will they ever be free?
Other books in the Morocco Series:
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Tied To Morocco
Morocco Series, Book Two
Published: April 2019
Lady Catherine was kidnapped and taken to Morocco. There, she fell in love with Tazim. But, just before they were to wed, Tazim disappeared and she was told he was dead. Forced into an unwanted marriage with another, she manages to escape and make her way home to England. But Tazim is not dead. Believing Catherine betrayed him, he has vowed to exact revenge.Can they find each other again? Can their love be rekindled?
Freed From Morocco
Morocco Series, Book Three
Published: November 2019
Kidnapped and taken to Morocco, Lady Olivia prays for someone to come and save her. Help appears in the form of Tristan, the man she loves. He disguises himself as an English ambassador in order to rescue her, but he is betrayed. Now, she must find a way to help him. Can they escape? And will they ever be free from the clutches of the sultan?
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About the Author

Leslie Hachtel was born in Ohio, raised in New York and has been a gypsy most of her adult life. Her various jobs, including licensed veterinary technician, caterer, horseback riding instructor for the disabled and advertising media buyer have given her a wealth of experiences. However, it has been writing that has consistently been her passion.
She is a bestselling author who has written thirteen romance novels, including ten historicals and three romantic suspense. She also sold an episode of a TV show, and had a screenplay optioned. Leslie lives in Florida with a fabulously supportive engineer husband and her new writing buddy, Annie, a terrier.
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The Lost Train Release Blitz

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Action Adventure Thriller
Date Published: 2/20/20
Publisher: Golden Acorn Press
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A former MP, Will Stattin, is called to Europe to investigate the theft of several paintings. He learns that the paintings are part of a series of nine pieces of art, all with a clue that ultimately leads to a train that disappeared from Konigsberg, Germany in late 1944 full of gold, art, and priceless artifacts. He quickly learns that he is not the only one after the paintings. Now it is a race across Europe to find the paintings and the lost train with the help of the beautiful and savvy museum agent, Giovanna Rossi, before the hunt turns even more deadly than it already has.
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About the Author

Seth Crossman is a minister, speaker, and writer who lives in Upstate New York. His own adventures have taken him across the globe and stirred his desire to write fast-paced, provocative thrillers that keep readers turning the page. He has three boys that he wants to inspire with a sense of adventure and courage to overcome whatever obstacles get in their way.

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Pepperoni Pizza Pinching Chimps Blitz

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Children’s Book, Middle Grade
Date Published: October 2019
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A Mystery unfolds when pizza delivery boys along with their pizzas keep disappearing, mostly pepperoni pizzas.
Keah is puzzled by strange noises that happen around the apartment building where she lives.
With the help of her friends, Keah is determined to find out why these things are happening before her family get back from the cruise.
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Excerpt
Chapter 1
Bang, bang, bang!
        The knock on the front door made Keah jolt awake. Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes she stretched and yawned.
        “Who is it?” she shouted as she stretched again.
        “Pizza!” The voice from the other side of the door shouted back.
        “I didn’t order any pizza,” Keah replied.
        Walking over to the front door, she picked up a small stool and placed it by the entrance before stepping on it. She pushed her eye up to the spy hole. Her dad had assumed that everyone was going to grow six-foot-tall when he had the spy hole fitted, but for Keah, who was struggling to reach five foot two, a stool was the only option.
Keah could see a mass of curly black hair with a red cap perched on top. A boy about her age, sixteen, moved away from the door and turned to face Keah’s front door. He stood awkwardly, holding a stack of pizza boxes.
        “Someone at this address did, Miss. Someone has to pay for all these pizzas. My boss is gonna be livid if I take them back.”
        “I didn’t order any pizzas. Go away. I’m calling the police.” Keah stepped away from the door.
        That’s when she heard that noise. The sound that grated through every bone in her body. It was the noise that made her spine tingle like fingernails running down a blackboard. A thought rushed through her head: Is that two pieces of metal scraping together? She shuddered and took a deep breath.
        Looking back through the spy hole, she watched the boy look around quickly, then turn and head back down the hallway, shaking his head. She heard him talking loudly and cursing to himself as he shoved the boxes back into the pizza warmers. His boss was going to be so annoyed. He had just walked past Mrs. Joy’s front door—Mrs. Joy was Keah’s neighbour—when he stopped and turned. Walking back to Mrs. Joy’s front door, the pizza delivery boy spoke to someone, but Keah couldn’t quite see who.
        Keah thought she saw dark shadows enter the hallway and move around the pizza delivery boy. But she couldn’t quite see who it was before the hall light switched off. Keah desperately wanted to go out into the hallway and turn on the light just to see who the boy was speaking to, but instead, she stepped off the stool and slid down the door onto the floor.
        Taking a deep breath, she crawled over to the coffee table, grabbed her iPhone and then edged her way back to the door. Even with her ear pressed against the door, she heard nothing but silence. Pressing her phone to wake, she opened her keypad. Slowly she pressed the button 000. She then placed her phone on the carpet next to her. What if Mrs. Joy had visitors, and they had ordered the pizzas? How stupid would I look? She thought to herself as she rested her head against the door and yawned. What a weird smell. I feel so tired. Keah thought before she finally closed her eyes.
        Bang, bang, bang!
        The vibrations from the banging on the door awoke her with a start. The light was now streaming in through the window, and the traffic sounded noisy. She felt the door vibrate against her back as the knock came again. Realizing she must have fallen asleep by the front door, Keah crawled into her bedroom, crouched at the side of her bed and listened. She heard people outside in the hallway. Someone banged on her neighbour’s door. Mrs. Joy is getting a lot of visitors lately, she thought.
She showered quickly and got ready for school. Slightly hesitant, she opened the front door and stepped out into the hallway. A tall policeman stepped in front of her.
        “Oh,” she announced, quite startled. “What’s going on?”
        “Morning, Miss. Do you live in this apartment?” The policeman had a broad Australian accent. Keah stepped back. She turned and glanced at the door before nodding dumbly.
        “Why didn’t you answer your door when I knocked earlier?” The policeman leered at Keah, making her stomach turn.
        “Got ID?” Keah said, avoiding eye contact.
        The policeman fumbled inside his tunic and eventually pulled out a wallet and showed her his identification card. By now, he had been joined by another man. This one was not in uniform but in a dark grey suit.
        “Morning, Miss. Got a name? I’m Detective Sergeant Paul Grimes.” He whipped out his ID before she could even think of asking.
        “Keah. Keah Madelia.”
        Keah had stepped back again and was now squished up tight against her own front door.
        “Where are your parents, Keah? You don’t live here alone, do you? You off to school?” The DS bombarded her with questions, and all she could do was shake her head.
        “Well?” DS Paul Grimes said.
        The uniformed policeman started to look around the hallway as if he was losing interest in Keah.
        “My-my parents are cruising around New Zealand, somewhere. I’m on my own till they get back. I am old enough. I’m sixteen—well, I’ll be sixteen in a few weeks!”
        “Are you off to school?” DS Grimes asked again. “Which one?”
        “Yeah. St. Luke’s, at the corner of Holden Street,” Keah replied. Looking up at the DS, she asked him what all the police were doing in her building.
        “Don’t suppose you’d let my young officer here just poke his nose inside, would you? Only a pizza delivery boy went missing last night, and we believe this was his last delivery before he disappeared.”
Keah’s eyes widened, and her heart quickened. I saw him—I saw him talking to someone at Mrs. Joy’s front door. Keah wanted to scream at the detective, but instead she looked at her front door again then back at DS Grimes.
        “I’m late for school, and I didn’t order any pizza, perhaps Mrs. Joy did,” she declared boldly, pushing her key in the lock and letting the door swing wide open. “Knock ya self out.”
        Keah watched two policemen step out of Mr. & Mrs. Guey’s flat before she stepped back inside hers.
        She saw the uniformed policeman pull a pair of white disposable gloves from his pocket and watched as he rummaged around in the kitchen bin. Satisfied nothing was exciting in the waste bin, the policeman walked into Keah’s room, emerging a few moments later. Glad I tidied up after showering this morning. That could have been embarrassing, Keah thought. DS Grimes emerged from her parent’s bedroom. Her sister’s door was wide open. Mia would not be happy if she found out they’d touched her doll collection, which sat the whole length of one wall.
        “Did you hear anything last night, Keah? About 9 o’clock?” DS Grimes enquired softly.
Keah was already shaking her head from side to side and looking toward the window.
        “No, nothing, sorry. I-I um, I fell asleep quite early last night.”
        The DS reached into his inside pocket and pulled out what looked like a business card. He held it out to Keah.
        “Well, if you do recall anything, please call me. No matter how silly or small you may think it is, I would still like to hear about it. Okay?”
DS Paul Grimes pushed the card into Keah’s hand and left. The other policeman quietly followed, not even looking at Keah as he walked past her. Keah studied the card. Her older sister was around his age and single.
        And he is cute for a cop. Maybe a bit grumpy for Erin, Keah reasoned with herself.
        She slipped the card into her school bag before throwing it over her shoulder. Slamming the door behind her, Keah rushed past the policemen in the hall and skipped down the stairs into the street. She didn’t look back or slow down until she’d reached her school three kilometers away.
Her best friend Abby was waiting for her at the gate as usual. A total contrast to Keah’s fair complexion and strawberry blonde hair, Abby had olive skin and dark hair that matched her equally dark eyes.
Keah turned and scoured the street before entering the school. She linked her arm through Abby’s as they walked the long driveway to the school building.
        “Did you hear what happened last night?” Abby asked.
        Keah shook her head from side to side as if she hadn’t heard and glanced at Abby.
        “Another pizza boy disappeared. That’s four now,” Abby said, quite anxious.
        “Oh yeah, that—apparently it happened in our building. The boy delivered pizza to someone in our building then vanished,” Keah tried to act nonchalant but didn’t dare look at Abby again, in case she saw the guilt in her eyes.
        Keah knew she had been acting strange since her parents left for the cruise and that she should have gone to help that boy last night, but she hadn’t.
        “Oh, Keah! Did you see him? Did you order pizza? No—you wouldn’t—I know that, but Keah, how dreadful,” Abby cried as she let go of Keah’s arm and swung around to face her. “Have you told the police? Are you alright?”
        Keah nodded. She looked fine, but her stomach was knotted, and she felt shaky.
        No one had been there when Keah was woken up at 2am by the dreadful screams. She felt as if she was going mad with the scratching from the inside of her wardrobe. It came from the ceiling, from under the floor. She felt tired but didn’t want to tell anyone in case they thought it was because she was on her own and couldn’t cope. Although she often spoke to her neighbours, neither had commented on the noises to Keah. The sounds started two days after her parents left with her six-year-old sister Mia. She now wished she had gone with them, but it was too late. At the time her exams were more important. Plus, the excitement of staying home all on her own for three weeks was more than she dared wish for.
        Keah had planned get-togethers at her place and even a massive party. She had run the party idea through her mum because she knew someone would tell her parents. So, she told her it would be very low key and if her mum had wanted her oldest sister Erin, who lived way over at Happy Valley, to come and supervise, that was cool. At the time Keah had felt that she was old enough to cope with a few friends on her own. Now, she was not so sure.
About the Author

Tracey C Ayres writes action-packed mysteries which are fun and exciting for young readers. Most of her books have heroines rather than hero’s, for no particular reason, and her characters are intrepid, quick-witted and smart, and sometimes they are even fearless. Because Tracey believes when we lose ourselves in a story, our imagination should hold no barriers.
Best known for her book Gularian Islands (the one with the blinking dragon eye on Youtube) which received an incredible five stars LitPik review.
Tracey was born in England where she grew up with two older sisters and three younger brothers. Studied childcare, social work and psychology and wrote for a local newspaper but now loves her current job the best and that is writing stories for young children.
Living in Australia with her husband, daughters, grandchildren and a menagerie of pets she loves to find a shady tree and lose herself in her adventures while writing.
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The Wrath of Leviathan TOUR

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BetterWorld, Book 2
Science Fiction (Cyberpunk) / Thriller
Date Published: September 1, 2018
Publisher: See Sharp Press
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In Wrath of Leviathan, the second book of the BetterWorld trilogy, Waylee faces life in prison for daring to expose MediaCorp’s schemes to control the world. Exiled in São Paulo, her sister Kiyoko and their hacker friends continue the fight, seeking to end the conglomerate’s stranglehold on virtual reality, information, and politics. But MediaCorp and their government allies may quash the rebellion before it takes off. And unknown to Kiyoko and her friends, a team of ruthless mercenaries is after them and is closing in fast.

EXCERPT

This excerpt from The Wrath of Leviathan is from Gabriel’s point of view, and set in a Japanese neighborhood in São Paulo, Brazil. Gabriel is a former Brazilian special forces sergeant who works for a private security company now. He’s been assigned as Pel and Charles’s bodyguard. He and Kiyoko are at their neighborhood’s weekly street fair when they receive an emergency message from Pel that they are under attack.

Gabriel bolted for the apartment building. He dodged around people, trying to get through the crowds. 

They didn’t always move as expected. He bumped into a man his age, who spilled a half-full plastic cup of beer. 

“Filho da puta!” The man hurled down his cup and swung a fist.

No time for this. Gabriel grabbed the man’s arm, twisted, and threw him to the ground. He took off again.

I can’t believe this is actually happening, he thought. And timed while he was away—it had to be deliberate. He tried calling Pel while running. “DG, call Pel,” he commanded his augmented reality glasses. 

No answer. He shoved his way through a food line blocking the street. More curses thrown his way. “Police! Out of the way!” he shouted.

Seemed to work, even without having a badge. 

He kept running, the rows of overhanging white lanterns marking his progress. “DG, call SSG emergency dispatch.” His company had set up procedures in case of trouble he couldn’t handle himself. 

The connect icon flashed. “Serviços de Segurança Globais,” a woman’s voice said. “Please state the nature of your emergency.”

“Da Silva. Condition Red. I need backup in Liberdade immediately. You have the address. Unknown number of assailants attempting to kill or kidnap Demopoulos and Lee. Need a helicopter team.”

He turned onto Rua dos Estudantes, their street. No tented stalls, but it was still crowded with pedestrians. Only a few more blocks, though. 

“Helicopter?” the woman asked.

He abandoned the crowded sidewalk for the street. “Yes, Condition Red. Possible kidnappers, probable head start. Hurry, I am alone!” 

Gabriel kept running. He dodged between groups of people bound for the fair. With luck, the SSG helicopter would arrive from their Congonhas base in fifteen minutes. They always kept at least one on rapid response, and it was only an eight kilometer flight. 

He called the state military police, Águias da Cidade, next. 

No answer. What was the problem? And no police visible. Where was that Inspector De Barros when they needed him? 

Gabriel approached their six-story apartment building and zoomed in on his data glasses. Nothing unusual. No smoke, no noise, people walking up and down the sidewalks as if it were any other day. 

Two white cargo vans were parked on the street, one next to their building and another three spaces up. Also not unusual, except for the tattooed girls standing next to them and glancing back and forth. Both wore dark data glasses with wraparound mikes, unzipped leather jackets, and bulging cargo pants. The closer one was young, with cinnamon skin and black hair tucked under a red bandanna. The further one was older with dark skin and long purple box braids.

Were they armed? His data glasses couldn’t identify Bandanna Girl, but Purple Hair had a long record, including an arrest for illegal firearms. The two women stared at him and tapped their data glasses.

Gabriel turned away and pretended to look at building numbers. “DG,” he whispered, “display feed from Pel 2SQ1BZ23.” Pel’s emergency activation streamed his security camera feeds to a Comnet site that Gabriel and SSG headquarters could access.

Swiping a finger along the right arm of his data glasses, Gabriel panned through the camera feeds. Five were out. Still transmitting but no picture. 

But the hallway camera showed people emerging from Pel and Charles’s apartment. The door was off its hinges and smudged black. Seven people exited, four of them carrying Pel and Charles, who looked unconscious. The intruders wore street clothes, not uniforms, wore gloves, and were masked as telenovela stars. Three moved slowly and stiffly. They entered the stairwell through a shattered door frame. 

Shit. They’re already leaving. It would take them a while to get downstairs, though. 

Gabriel was outnumbered at least nine to one. But all he had to do was delay them until reinforcements arrived from SSG and the police. Should he pin them in the stairwell? Or take out their transport?

I’ll go for the transport. Gabriel strode toward the closest van, which had no windows in the back. 

The tattooed women stared at him, then reached into their jackets.

Gabriel whipped out his pistols. In his right hand, a Glock semi-auto with dampened recoil and a full clip of hollow-point. In his left, a long-barreled needlegun with a big magazine of guided flechettes with explosive heads. Both guns had laser targeting systems integrated with his data glasses and able to adjust for range and wind. 

Purple Hair drew a polymer submachine gun. Bandanna Girl, who was less than ten feet away now, pulled out a sawed-off shotgun.

Holy shit. Gabriel’s arms acted on reflex. He swung the needlegun toward the greater danger, the girl with the shotgun, red crosshairs in his augmented vision sweeping toward her chest. He flipped the switch to full auto. At the same time, he swung the Glock toward Purple Hair. He pulled both triggers.

Neither gun had much recoil but they made plenty of noise. Just as Bandanna Girl leveled her shotgun, half a magazine of explosive flechettes ripped into her torso and exploded in a spray of red. He hit Purple Hair too. She staggered backward.

Bandanna Girl dropped to the sidewalk, blood gushing out of her jacket. 

Wide eyed, Purple Hair shot back, spraying bullets in his direction. Plinks sounded against parked cars and thwacks against concrete.

Gabriel felt a sharp pain in his upper right arm. He fired the Glock at Purple Hair again and dashed behind the nearby van. 

People screamed and ran. On the sidewalk to his right, a middle-aged Japanese woman lay on her back, bleeding from the stomach. On the street, a school-age girl grasped her forearm and wailed. A lanky teenage boy tried to pull her away. A familiar image flashed into his mind, a dead girl in the Tropical Breeze dining hall, blood soaking the carpet around her. 

Gabriel glanced at his arm. It burned like fire and blood dripped from his torn shirt sleeve, but it wasn’t bad enough to worry about yet. 

The bystanders would most likely survive. “Everyone get out of here!” he yelled. 

He glanced around the side of the van. Purple Hair was gone, either retreating or reloading. Bandanna Girl lay in a spreading pool of blood, motionless.

“Gabriel!” Kiyoko’s voice. He turned.

Kiyoko was running toward him in her pink kimono. Her eyes were wide. 

I thought she was staying put. Gabriel waved his arm. Pain. Wrong arm. “Get out of here!” he yelled in English. “Take cover!”

She nodded and veered toward the minimarket where they did most of their shopping.

Gabriel peered around the van again. Purple Hair was waiting for him. He snapped back behind cover. 

Purple Hair fired her machine gun again. More plinks and thuds and screams. 

Kiyoko was in that direction! His heart seized. He whipped his head around and saw her just outside the grocer’s. Unharmed but exposed. Someone had pulled down the corrugated metal shutter door that graced every store in the neighborhood.

Kiyoko banged on the shutter door. “Let me in! Me deixe entrar!” She followed with something in Japanese.

“Take cover damn it!” Gabriel shouted.

She ducked behind an old Camry hybrid next to the market. Safe for now.

Gabriel looked around the other side of the van. Someone shot at him with a pistol. The bullet whizzed by his ear. 

It was the driver, leaning out the window. A girl, light skinned with long dark hair. 

Gabriel holstered his Glock and tried the back door of the van. The handle was unlocked. Made sense, they were expecting passengers. He whipped the door open, needlegun in his left hand. 

The girl turned around, face rigid with surprise. Too late. Crosshair on her head, Gabriel fired a short burst. 

Her head exploded, blood and bone fragments and brains splattering the windshield. Gabriel almost gagged but emptied the rest of the magazine into the console. Plastic and metal fragments flew everywhere. The dashboard lights went out.

One van down. He could take out the tires of the other. He couldn’t see them from this vantage, though; he’d have to cross the street. “DG, call SSG emergency dispatch.” 

“Serviços de Segurança Globais,” the dispatcher began. 

He interrupted her. “I need that backup.”

“On its way.”

“Patch me through.”

“Pistario here.” 

First good news. Nicolas Pistario was an old comrade from the special forces, team leader, damn capable. SSG didn’t have ranks like the military and although Nicolas supervised more people, he and Gabriel were equivalent in the field. 

“Da Silva. Eight to ten assailants, heavily armed. Two white cargo vans. I took out one, will try to get the other.”

“Copy that. We are loading, and airborne soon.”

They hadn’t even left the base yet, and then they’d need another few minutes to get here. “Couldn’t get through to police,” Gabriel said. “Can you give it a try?”

“Copy that. Will pass it to dispatch.”

Da Silva clicked off. He slapped another magazine in the needlegun. 

More shop owners closed their shutters. Lots of people would be calling the police. And nearby patrols would hear the gunshots and radio headquarters. For a shootout, they’d bring armored vehicles, maybe helicopters.

Gabriel crouched, ready to dash across the street. Wish I had a smoke grenade. He glanced around the left side of the van. 

An automatic rifle fired at him. He ducked back behind the van. The shooter was another teenage girl, standing in the street with an AK-47. She was bronze-skinned, with blonde-streaked hair tied in a bun. Not the type you’d expect to carry an AK-47. What’s with this gang?

An icon of Kiyoko’s face popped up. “Are you safe?” Her voice trembled.

“Yes. Stay behind cover. Don’t stick your head out.”

“Please don’t die,” she said.

“I won’t.” He tapped his glasses arm, terminating the connection. If I try to cross the road, I’m dead. If I stay here, they might get away.

Someone peered from the glass front doors of the apartment building, just ahead and to his right. “DG zoom,” he commanded. 

It was a man wearing a Tony Santos mask, everyone’s favorite telenovela billionaire. Holding a matte-gray submachine gun. He peered out the door but made no move to exit. 

What was he waiting for? 

The side entrance. If Gabriel were running their gang, he’d send some men out the side to flank him. He’d be surrounded. And dead. 

Gabriel abandoned his position and ran back up the street toward the plaza, keeping the van between him and the machine gunners. He glanced into the side street between the apartments and the building with the grocery store, seeing two masked men with pistols. They saw him too and fired. 

(scene continues…)

About the Author

T. C. Weber has pursued writing and music since childhood, and learned filmmaking and screenwriting in college, along with a little bit of physics. Trapped at home during the “Snowmageddon” of 2010, he transformed those interests into novel writing. His first published book, Sleep State Interrupt, was a Compton Crook Finalist for best debut speculative fiction novel. By day, Mr. Weber works as an ecologist and has had a number of scientific papers and book chapters published. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland with his wife Karen. He enjoys traveling and has visited all seven continents.

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