Nick Seven and Felicia Hagens left the CIA for the laidback ease of the Florida Keys, leaving behind a life of intrigue. When Nick’s former mentor becomes part of a conspiracy with international repercussions, Nick breaks his self-imposed exile to stop him. The case throws Nick and Felicia into a juggernaut of espionage, government cover-ups and political assassinations. Will they succeed in stopping the plan in time? Can their relationship survive another unwanted adventure?
“You just made the trip worthwhile.” He slipped his hand inside his black leather jacket and felt the butt of his Walther PPK out of habit, reassuring himself that it was still there. “How’s Verna?”
“Not bad. I won’t tell her you asked, though. You know how she feels about you.”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to spark an argument,” Nick dryly replied. “I still don’t know what I did to make her dislike me so much.”
“Sometimes it doesn’t take much to incur a person’s wrath. You know that. She’s tired of all the moving around. Bombay two years ago, Morocco, then Germany, now stateside. She wants to settle down.”
“She keeps talking about Florida.”
“You gonna get out to keep her happy?”
Gadge looked at him. “With the world going to hell the way it is? You know better. She signed on for the full ride and knew it. Ten, twelve more good years, then maybe I’ll think about it.”
“A company man to the bone,” Nick stated. “Bet when you cut yourself you bleed red, white and blue.” He smiled wistfully. “Actually that isn’t a bad idea. I’ve been thinking about Florida myself.”
“I heard through the grapevine that you’d been talking about getting out.” Gadge hesitated. “Nicholas, I adored that wife of yours and I know you took her death hard, but you kept your graveside promise to avenge her murder. Is that why you want to get out?”
Nick’s eyes narrowed. This isn’t the kind of chatter I wanted to indulge in. I’ve been trying to move on. “It opened my eyes and made me rethink my priorities. Let’s focus on the job.”
Gadge chuckled. “Clickety-clack, clickety-clack. Another piece of the puzzle falls into place.”
Gadge quickly shifted his eyes to the brownstone as a man emerged and casually descended the front steps. He nudged Nick with his elbow. “There’s our pigeon.”
“How do you want to work this?”
“You take him on foot. I’ll cruise ahead and box him in.”
Nick quickly eased his tall lean frame out of the car, transferred his gun to his coat pocket, then zipped up his jacket. He shoved his hands in his pockets and crossed the street, taking a position a half-block behind the other man. The subject was in his thirties with brown hair in a shag cut, medium build and decked out in a plaid wool jacket. He kept his hands in his pockets as he strode at a fairly rapid clip down the street.
The man stopped at the next block as Gadge cruised past him. He gave the car a fleeting glance, then crossed the street. Nick maintained his distance while wondering where the man was going. The suspect slowed his pace as he saw the brake lights on Gadge’s car light up when he pulled to the curb. Nick slowed as well, thinking that something was about to go horribly wrong.
The man abruptly turned and pointed a Glock nine millimeter pistol at Nick. Nick stared back with a blank look while slowly withdrawing his gun from his pocket, trying not to spook him. The man glanced in the other direction at Gadge Harmon quickly approaching, then refocused his attention on Nick. He squeezed the trigger twice.
Before Nick could aim his gun he felt the sting of a bullet hitting him in his left arm. He returned fire without perfect aim, missing his target. Nick feinted to his left as the man fired once more. The shot found its way into Nick’s left side.
He crumbled onto the sidewalk, trying to break his fall with his other hand. Nick lay on the cold concrete and lapsed into semi-consciousness, his head swimming with pain. He heard the sound of heavy footsteps running toward him but couldn’t open his eyes. After a moment the feet ran in the same direction the first man had taken.
Nick pushed himself to his feet and breathed deeply. The pain seared in his side and arm. He looked down the block and saw Gadge Harmon chasing the shooter. Nick followed as quickly as he could on wobbly legs with his gun drawn.
Gadge entered an alley on his left with Nick following by a good twenty paces. When he got to the entrance Nick saw the man they were pursuing standing atop a garbage can at the rear of the alley, attempting to scale a fence.
Gadge fired a warning shot over the man’s head. “Halt!”
The man looked around, saw Gadge approaching and raised his hands. He climbed down from the can, tossed his weapon on the ground then stood with his hands in the air. Gadge stopped when he was within three feet, took careful aim and fired two shots in rapid succession. The bullets imbedded themselves in the man’s chest. He cried out, tumbled backwards against the garbage cans and let out a final rush of breath.
What the hell was he thinking? “Gadge!” Nick called out.
Gadge turned in surprise and looked at Nick leaning against the corner of the building, cradling his left arm and rapidly sucking in air. Gadge glanced at the dead man then back at Nick. His eyes were filled with confusion and his mouth was agape.
“I—uh—I…thought he killed you, Nicholas,” he quietly intoned.
Nick slumped against the building and slowly wagged his head. “Aw, Gadge,” he lamented. “No.”