One minute everything was fine. The next minute the job was going south. Fast.
The limousine with Dragomirov hurtled down the mouth of the alley where
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 him. Taylor
So Will reacted, he responded to the threat to
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
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 would 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
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. Los Angeles
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 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.
splashed through a puddle and skidded to a stop. He sounded winded, though the
entire alleyway was only a block long. “Will?” Taylor
Will opened his eyes as
bent over him. Taylor ’s
eyes were black in his white face, his jaw set. Ready for the worst. Taylor
“Right here,” Will said.
Life came back to
face. “Oh, you bastard. Don’t do that
to me!” He expelled a long, shaken breath, and began to check Will over with a
swift, anxious hands. “What the hell
was that supposed to be?” Taylor
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! Oww!” Yeah, 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 nest of garbage.
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. Taylor
“Jesus Christ, Brandt. You want to explain to me what you thought you were doing?”
sounding much more like his normal ornery self, punched him in the shoulder,
and Will toppled back into the trash bags. Taylor
“Goddamn it,” Will said slowly and with feeling.
muttered, hauling him out of the garbage bags once more. He brushed eggshells
off Will’s shoulder. “Sorry. But what just happened? Explain to me. What the hell did you think you were doing?” Taylor
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
soaked with something he hoped wasn’t toxic. Or caustic. levis
It was a fair question. Will was trying to figure that one out himself. “Gretchen Hart is what happened.”
. Two years ago?” Will prodded. “You remember
Victor and Victoria?” New
“Gretchen Hart apparently now works for Glukhov. She walked into that meeting, recognized me, and gave Dragomirov her version of what happened in
“Which was what?”
“Pretty close to the truth,” Will admitted.
“What sting? We’re doing low level security work. Mall cops could have handled this gig.”
“I never said Dragomirov was a genius.”
Will shook his head.
Will said nothing. What could he say?
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. Taylor
He opened his mouth to apologize, but no. He was already on defense over the
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 had an arch
nemesis until he’d watched Gretchen Hart freeze in recognition and then morph
into the Borg Queen’s. Paris
“Find a new client, I guess. Shower. Sleep.” They were short on sleep these days. It wasn’t helping.
“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?”
inquired. “Because so far…not so much.” Taylor
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.”