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Protect & Serve(8)

By:Nikki Wild

“Well, I’m Francis O’Rourke, and the garden door was wide open,” he insisted, those glacial eyes sending icicles straight into my core. “Figured we’d come in and see if our friend was about. Ask him. He’ll tell you.”

There was no way I was bringing Nathan out here. We’d be swarmed in seconds. A cool bead of sweat raced down my spine. I was glad that I was sweating in places this guy couldn’t see. I didn’t want him to think I was nervous.

But somehow, I got the impression that he already knew. I felt like he could smell it on me, like his crooked grin mocked the blood rushing in my ears. This was a bad situation. There was no denying that. But there was also no reason to add any fuel to the fire.

So to speak.

“I know who you are,” I said, keeping an even tone. “You’re Peter Wallace’s men. And I doubt, given Mr. Hale’s sizable estate, that you’re carrying those gas cans in here to help ease the burden of his fuel costs.”

Not a single one of them uttered a word. I had their attention, though. That had to count for something. There was no way these guys were going to let me arrest them without a fight, and I wasn’t ready to die protecting Nathan’s pompous ass. Rules be damned.

I continued: “I’m giving you a chance to walk away. Get out of here and don’t come back. Tell whoever Wallace’s right hand man is to back off, or…”

“Or what?” O’Rourke sneered, eyeing me defiantly. “You’ve got no backup, girl. You’re all alone here with me and my boys. Sure, you might be able to take out a few of us, but not all. I’m willing to bet that you miss at least once, and that’s all it’ll take.”

“And then you’ll go away for killing a cop. You know what they do to cop killers on the inside?”

He smirked and glanced down at the gas can near his feet. “Nothing, Detective. Not a damn thing if they never find the body.”

I clenched my jaw. This was not going well. “You’re threatening me? I’m giving you fair warning. Leave now, before things get ugly.”

“And I’ll say it again,” he replied, taking one step up toward me. “Or what?”

“Or,” Nathan said, coming out behind me with his drink still in his hand, “she’ll shoot that gas can at your feet and ruin your whole day.”

That seemed to give O’Rourke pause. I could practically hear the gears turning in his head as he glanced down at the can.

“You’re bluffing,” he said.

Nathan shrugged. “All it takes is a spark, and you’ve already soaked half the first floor. I’m willing to bet that from this angle, the shot will knock the can backward down the staircase, torching every single one of you before you can even think to run.”

“Of course, there’s always the possibility she doesn’t hit it on her first shot,” he continued, and for a moment, my guts twisted. What the hell was he doing? But he shot me a sideways glance and smiled, and I kept my mouth shut. “And hey, maybe the can won’t explode, but that gun she’s holding is a standard issue Sig P220 full of .45 ACP. Ten in the magazine, one in the chamber, and she’s got the high ground. Do you have any idea how big of a hole that will leave at this range?”

He swaggered to my side, taking a long draught from the tumbler and licking his lips before again regarding the thug, almost like he’d forgotten about him.

“How much ground do you think you can cover before she unloads her clip? Your friends down there might get away, if they run, but I’ll take great pleasure in knowing that you most certainly won’t.”

O’Rourke didn’t answer. Behind him, his groupies shifted uneasily. No one took their eyes off me, but I could tell that some silent exchange was going on between them. I hoped that none of them could tell I had no idea whether or not Nathan’s little plan was going to work.

I could hit the gas can, sure. But could I make it blow? That seemed like something straight out of an action movie. I preferred to keep the business end of my gun pointed right where it belonged: center mass on the Irish asshole with the big mouth.

Standing next to me, Nathan seemed so calm. I could feel his stoicism, his self-assuredness radiating from his body. I gripped my weapon tighter and nodded in agreement.

“So, what’ll it be?” I asked him with far more certainty than I actually felt. “You boys wanna do this the easy way, or the hard way?”

I didn’t have to wait long for an answer. O’Rourke’s face pulled taut in cold, hard rage, and then he turned and descended the stairs, his men following soon after. My eyes found themselves firmly planted on the oversized handgun tucked into the back of his waistband.