CHAPTER TWO, PART TWO OF
CHASING THE WHITE LION
BY JAMES R. HANNIBAL
Lone Star Book Blog Tours prior tour stops.
TALIA LEAPED UP FROM HER CHAIR, leveling her Glock.
In the same instant, a meaty hand wrapped the barrel and tore it from her fingers. One of the Russian gorillas stepped out from behind her and handed the weapon to Oleg.
The rat laughed, holding Talia’s Glock in one hand and the vodka bottle in the other. “Nice try. But you cannot save yourself. This was your last mission, Miss CIA Agent.”
“You mean, ‘CIA officer.’” The correction came from the bar— from the only patron who hadn’t turned at Oleg’s signal.
The rat lowered the bottle. “What did you say?”
“My friend, here, is a CIA case officer.” The man kept his back to them, face buried in an untouched drink. “She was trying to turn you into an agent. Get it right.”
Talia knew the voice, despite the fake Russian accent. Adam Tyler. “What are you doing here?”
He swiveled the stool, bringing his face into view. The accent vanished. “Looking after you.”
“I don’t need looking after.”
“Hey!” Oleg waved the bottle and gun in the air. “Who is this guy?”
Tyler ignored him, keeping his focus on Talia. “Are you sure? I count fourteen hostiles. One of them already has your weapon.”
“Fifteen. You’re slipping. And I can handle them.”
Tyler glanced at Oleg. The two shared an incredulous look and asked the same question in unison. “Oh really?”
With a grunt, Talia lifted the little table and launched the two vodka tumblers. She swatted one with an open hand, sending it flying at Oleg to shatter on the bridge of his rat nose.
At the same time, Tyler left the stool to bring a closed fist down on Oleg’s forearm.
The Glock fell. The rat clutched his bleeding face and ran for the door. “Kill them, you idiots! Kill them both!”
The Russians converged. Talia’s world descended into hairy, nicotine- scented mayhem.
Her first target, the gorilla who’d torn the Glock from her hand, caught a knee in the groin, followed by an uppercut that met his face as he doubled over.
Another Russian dived for the Glock, but Tyler soccer- kicked him in the temple, and the weapon slid into the dark space under a booth. Talia had no chance to go after it. A thick arm caught her in a choke hold. She clawed at it, fingernails slipping on hair and sweat.
As she fought for breath, a figure swept in from her left, swinging a bottle. Talia cringed, but the bottle connected with her attacker’s head, not hers. The sweaty arm went limp.
She grabbed the bottle- swinger by his lapels, jerking his face into the light. “Finn?”
Michael Finn— Tyler’s forever- shadow and daredevil cat burglar— pumped his dirty blond eyebrows.
Talia pushed him away. “I should have known.”
Finn gave her a self- assured smolder, the one she never knew whether to love or despise. “The count was fourteen,” he said in his Melbourne accent. “Not fifteen. You included me. So—” He paused to level an oncoming attacker with his elbow.
“So, Tyler was right, and I was wrong. Yeah, I get it. Do you really have to be here?”
“Someone’s gotta look out for Tyler while he’s looking out for you.”
One of the Russians pinned Talia’s arms with a bear hug. She drove her heel repeatedly into the man’s instep, shouting with each stomp. “I don’t . . . need . . . looking . . . after!” The hold loosened. She ducked out and shoved the Russian back over an empty chair. He fell at Tyler’s feet and got a face- full of boot.
The three fought their way through the bar with chair legs and liquor bottles, until Talia reached the bouncer— the biggest gorilla of them all.
He crossed his arms and growled, “Where you going . . . little girl?”
Behind her, Tyler knocked out his last opponent, raised a gun, and fired three rounds into the ceiling.
The gorilla stepped out of their way.
Tyler walked past, slapping the weapon into Talia’s hand as he started up the steps to the alley. Her Glock. He must have dug it out from under the booth while she was talking to Finn.
As she followed, she checked the mag. Plenty of rounds. “You couldn’t have used this earlier?”
“What? And skip all the fun of a full- on bar brawl?”
A third member of Tyler’s team waited beside a Toyota HiLux pickup. The big Scottish pilot, Mac Plucket, stood by the cab, holding Oleg by the collar of his jacket. Oleg’s kicking feet were a good six inches off the pavement. “Evenin’, lass. Your wee friend here offered me a hundred thousand dollars ta let him go.”
Talia and the other two climbed into the back of the truck. “And what did you say?”
Mac produced the envelope. “I accept.”
“You forgot let me go part.” Oleg swung his fists at Mac, never connecting.
“Good point, lad. My mistake.”