Read Kick Start: Dangerous Ground 5 Online
Authors: Josh Lanyon
Will is finally braced to bring Taylor home to meet the folks. Unfortunately, not every member of the Brandt clan loves Taylor the way Will does.
Then again, not everyone loves the Brandts. In fact, someone has a score to settle — and too bad for any former DSS agents who get in the way when the bullets start to fly.
Kick Start: Dangerous Ground 5
Copyright (c) 2013 by Josh Lanyon
Cover by L.C. Chase
Cover photo licensed through Shutterstock
Edited by Keren Reed
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from Just Joshin Publishing, Inc.
Published in the United States of America
Just Joshin Publishing, Inc.
3053 Rancho Vista Blvd.
Palmdale, CA 93551
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
To the ’Neathers. Love you guys.
Table of Contents
Dangerous Ground 5
ne minute everything was fine. The next minute the job was going south. Fast.
The limousine with Dragomirov hurtled toward the mouth of the alley where Taylor waited. Not unprepared — Taylor was never unprepared — but unsuspecting. Taylor would be occupied watching for threats to Dragomirov. It would not occur to him that Dragomirov was now a threat to
So Will reacted, he responded to the threat to Taylor. That’s what partners did, right? Even as Will dropped down onto the top of the limousine, he was mentally justifying his decision to Taylor — justifying it because before he ever hit the roof, he knew he had made a mistake.
Problem Number One: There was nothing to hang onto. Had the car windows been rolled down…maybe. But the windows were not rolled down, and Will began to slide. The instant the limo braked or turned the corner, he was going to go flying — at thirty-plus miles an hour. Problem Number Two: Problem Number One was moot, because even if Will didn’t go flying, which he
do any minute now, he had no way of stopping the vehicle. And Problem Number Three: If he did survive, MacAllister was going to kill him.
The rush of garbage-scented air blasted against his face, blurring his vision. The alley was nicer than some alleys in Los Angeles, meaning there were no bums to run over. Orange and green and purple graffiti bled into a long smear of chain link fence topped by coils of barbed wire, old brick walls and metal roll up doors. A couple of phone poles with sagging lines flew by, interspersed with several dumpsters. The alley opening — and the busy cross street beyond — was coming up fast. With only seconds to spare, Will wrapped his arms around his head and rolled, launching himself at a fast-approaching blue dumpster.
There was a sickening moment of flying through thin — very thin — air, and then he crash-landed on a mountain of cardboard boxes and black and white garbage bags.
It wasn’t like in the movies. Will landed hard and heavily, the bags giving way, the boxes not so much. It hurt. It hurt a lot. But without the boxes and bags, he’d probably have been killed. He reflected on that for a stunned second or two while he listened to the screech of tires fading into the distance, the pound of approaching footsteps.
Taylor splashed through a puddle and skidded to a stop. He sounded winded, though the entire alleyway was only a block long. “Will?”
Will opened his eyes as Taylor bent over him. Taylor’s eyes were black in his white face, his jaw set. Ready for the worst.
“Right here,” Will said.
Life came back to Taylor’s face. “Oh, you bastard. Don’t
that to me!” He expelled a long, shaken breath, and began to check Will over with swift, anxious hands. “What the
was that supposed to be?”
Will gave a weak laugh and raised his head. “Everything still attached?”
“Shut up. Don’t move.”
“I’m fine.” Will waved him off. “I’m fine!
was possibly overstating the situation. But he was alive and, miraculously, he seemed to be in one piece. One black and blue piece, probably. “Shit.” Painfully, he crawled out of the stinking, slimy nest of garbage. Taylor moved to help him, removing a shoebox that had gotten stuck on Will’s elbow. Will climbed — and it did feel like a climb — to his feet.
“Jesus Christ, Brandt. You want to explain to me what you thought you were doing?” Taylor, sounding much more like his normal ornery self, punched him in the shoulder, and Will toppled back into the trash bags.
“Goddamn it,” Will said slowly and with feeling.
“Sorry,” Taylor muttered, hauling him out of the garbage bags once more. He brushed eggshells off Will’s shoulder. “But what just happened? Explain to me.
would you act like somebody in a goddamned
Will shook his head.
“Dragomirov tears out of here like a bat out of hell.
With you on the roof of his car.
His asshole driver nearly runs me over —”
“We’ve been laid off.”
“Fired. Without the severance package, I’m guessing.” Will brushed orange peelings and what looked like — and pray to God was — raspberry jelly from the front of his leather jacket. The seat of his Levi’s felt soaked with something he hoped wasn’t caustic. Or toxic.
Taylor looked stunned. “What are you talking about? After ten days? What the hell happened?”
It was a fair question. Will was trying to figure that one out himself. “Gretchen Hart is what happened.”
“Gretchen Hart. New Mexico. Two years ago?” Will prodded. “You remember Victor and Victoria?”
Taylor blinked. “Yeah, but…are you telling me…? What
you telling me?”
“Gretchen Hart apparently now works for Glukhov. She walked into that meeting, recognized me, and gave Dragomirov her version of what happened in New Mexico.”
“Which was what?”
“Pretty close to the truth,” Will admitted.
Taylor opened his mouth but couldn’t seem to find the words. Will knew the feeling. He said wearily, “As predicted, Dragomirov doesn’t like feds. A lot. Even ex-feds. So we’re off the case. I guess he thought we were trying to set him up in some kind of sting operation.”
“What sting? We’re doing low level security work. Mall cops could have handled this gig.”
“I never said Dragomirov was a genius.”
Taylor was silent. Then he said, “How the hell would that bitch recognize you?”
Will shook his head.
Taylor’s face screwed up in anger. “Fuck!” He turned and kicked a white and blue, half-deflated child’s ball that had rolled out of the pile of trash bags. The ball shot to the left, bounced off a green brick wall and landed on the pitted pavement with a flat, angry smack.
Will said nothing. What could he say? Taylor had not wanted to take this job in the first place. But they had needed the money and Will had talked him into it. End result: they had put in ten days, working a bodyguard detail for a guy who, though maybe not a crook, was certainly a scumball — and they would not be getting paid for the privilege.
He opened his mouth to apologize, but no. He was already on defense over the Paris thing; not smart to further weaken his position. Anyway, he wasn’t going to apologize for being a realist. They were not in a position to pick and choose clients. How was he supposed to have known their arch-nemesis would show up? He hadn’t realized they
an arch-nemesis until he’d watched Gretchen Hart freeze in recognition and then morph into the Borg Queen.
Taylor turned back to face him, fists planted on his narrow hips, eyes glinting the same shade as a Mojave Green. “Fuckin’ A. What now?”
“Find a new client, I guess. Shower. Sleep.” They were short on sleep these days. It wasn’t helping.
Taylor bit back whatever he started to say. This unusual restraint was almost worse than hearing him voice his feelings.
“Look,” Will said. “I couldn’t predict this. Nobody could predict this. We’re independent contractors now, and sometimes things are going to go wrong.”
“Does that mean sometimes they’re going to go right?” Taylor inquired. “Because so far…not so much.”
Now it was Will’s turn to hold his tongue. He said shortly, “We’re done here, let’s grab our gear and get the hell out of Dodge.”
* * * * *
“I’m going to talk to Richard,” Taylor said, breaking the silence of their drive back to Ventura.
Will shifted painfully in the passenger seat. His tailbone felt bruised. Along with his ego. “About?”
Taylor didn’t answer. He didn’t have to. “Richard” was Richard Lamprell, owner of Geo-Gulf Oil and Taylor’s stepdad. Taylor’s parents had divorced when he was in junior high, and his mother had remarried a multimillionaire. A fact which always seemed to make Taylor uncomfortable, and never more so than when Richard had offered to lend them the start-up capital for their security consulting business after they’d left the DSS.
Taylor had turned the offer down flat. Knowing his feelings on the subject, Will hated that Taylor was now having to rethink his position. He hated that his own initial reaction was relief. Anyway, it was only his initial reaction because he did not want them beholden to anyone, even family.
“No. We’re okay. We’ll work it out,” he said.
Taylor’s hands whitened on the steering wheel. “No, we’re not okay, Brandt. We’re taking jobs we don’t want to take because we can’t pay our bills — and then we can’t pay our bills anyway. We’re not okay.”
“Throwing money at a problem is not a solution.”
“It sure as shit is, if the problem is you don’t have enough money.”
“I don’t want to be in hock to Richard. Nothing against Richard. I don’t want to owe anybody. I don’t want to be obligated.”
Taylor gave a short laugh. He glanced away from the shifting parking lot that doubled as the 101 Freeway. “Really? Because we’re already sixty grand worth of obligated to our mutual credit card companies. At twenty percent interest. Unless you plan on cashing out our retirement funds next, we’re out of resources. Which means we’re out of options.”
“MacAllister. Taylor —”
“We could try and get our old jobs back, I guess,” Taylor added tersely. “It won’t be Paris, of course, given that you already turned that posting down for both of us.”
There it was again. Fucking Paris. Right on schedule.
“Christ. Enough with Paris.” Will couldn’t help the edge in his voice. In fact, he didn’t want to help it. He was tired, in pain, and sick of feeling guilty over a decision he had made with the best possible intentions.