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Against The Wall
By Lyn Stone
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"I don't see how we're gonna be much help to Jack fifteen clicks away," Joe Corda said. He immediately lowered his voice when he heard the echo bounce off the old masonry walls. "That's lethal stuff he'll be dealing with. Not like bullets. One hit and he's dead. If he were going in alone, I wouldn't worry so much, but he'll have that doctor along. And the kid."
"He'll need tickets and they're it. I'd have gotten us closer, but we'd stick out like M&Ms on a sushi plate anywhere else around here," Holly Amberson argued.
"As it is, the locals won't even blink at us. They're used to weirdos renting this place. Artistes!" she hissed with a flourish of her fingers.
He looked around as he put down two of the suitcases. "This dump looks like something out of a really bad French novel."
"Oh, yeah, like you've read so many of those," she muttered. "But I will admit a Bela Lugosi butler wouldn't be out of place."
He leveled her with a look. "We are the help, remember?"
"Not you, slick." She smirked. "You are the gigolo. Man, I do hate that shirt. Which pimp's closet did you raid anyway?"
Just outside, Martine Duquesne Corda was busy issuing imperious instructions to her bodyguard, Eric Vinland, and chauffeur, Will Griffin. Holly laughed. "Martine's really getting into her role. You let her boss you around like that?"
"Sure." Joe shrugged, hands on his hips, preoccupied with taking in the rustic, old-world charm of the faded mansion in France's Lorraine region. "She does have an image to maintain. How do you like her disguise? She'll be just that beautiful when she does reach sixty, I bet."
In an abrupt change of topic, Holly commented, "Where the heck are the outlets in this barn? I need a place to hook up." She hefted the case containing assorted gadgets and her laptop and set it on a scarred marble-topped table near the door.
They both moved aside as the others entered. She waited until Will had closed the door. "All the rooms been swept?"
"Clean," Eric assured her. "We're good to go." He turned to Martine, clicked his heels and bowed, looking more like a muscle-bound kid on spring break than the bodyguard he was supposed to be. "Our reclusive Madame D'Amato may proceed with her work uninhibited." He peered over his wire-rimmed glasses and winked at Joe. "As well as her play, of course." Caught off guard, Martine laughed and blushed.
Holly pointed to the mound of luggage now piled near their feet. "You guys cut the bull and set up the global positioning system. Let's check Jack's location. We need to know exactly when to expect him."
Will, quintessential agent, the quiet man, finally spoke. "His ETA's eleven-thirty, give or take five. He'll be here."
"Verify." Holly was running this end of the mission. Joe reached for the case with the GPS instruments. His duties consisted of whatever Holly ordered him to do. And also protecting his wife, not an official member of the Sextant team but a contract language specialist who was central to their cover. Holly, Will, Eric and he were masquerading as her entourage. Clay Senate was maintaining Stateside control while the boss, Mercier, had assumed the lead.
The Sextant team consisted of agents recruited from various government organizations expressly for the purpose of preventing terrorist activities around the globe. This suspected bio-terror threat was the first of its kind for Sextant.
Identify, Infiltrate, Analyze and Eliminate. That first part, they had all had a hand in. The second and most difficult order of business was about to go down within the next few hours if all went as planned. The primary agent was about to insert.
Joe looked up at the peeling paint on the fancy plaster ceiling and - seriously lapsed Catholic that he was - uttered a devout prayer that they would all survive. He was known for his hunches, and he had a really bad feeling about this.
Jack Mercier entered the hospital wing of Baumettes Prison with the barrel of a submachine gun resting at the base of his spine. While he loved humanity - in fact, had devoted his life to the protection of it - he had decided since coming to this place a week ago that he was not that crazy about people. Especially Claude Bujold, his least favorite guard.
Maybe he was rationalizing the fact that he wanted to kill the man, but he didn't think so. Claude considered beatings a form of entertainment, the more helpless the victim, the greater the rush. Misuse of power really pushed Jack's buttons.
Jack was supposed to be awaiting arraignment, accused of conspiring to ship illegal weapons into France. Bogus charges, of course, faked to get him into this place.
He had escaped most of the vicious harassment by bribing Claude. The promise of money from Jack's attorney had gotten Jack the promise of medical attention today.
Jack waited until they entered the small ward, empty now except for one patient and the doctor attending him at the far end of the room. Today was the day.
The white-clad doctor who was bending over the patient stood and turned. Jack stopped in his tracks. Wrong doctor. Most definitely, wrong doctor.
Should he postpone? Too late. With everything else in place, it was now or never.
Claude prodded him down the aisle between the rows of beds. "Hey, Doc, this piece of filth has been complaining of chest pain. Would you -"
Jack whirled, grasped both of Claude's wrists and pinched the nerves that controlled his fingers. He rammed the top of his head beneath Claude's chin and heard a satisfying crack.
The machine gun fell, hitting the floor a split second after Jack's knee connected with Claude's groin.
The guard crumpled with a cry. Jack delivered a blow to the side of the head that would keep Claude unconscious for a while. Unfortunately, the bastard had to be left alive.
Excerpted from Against The Wall by Lyn Stone Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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