Ralan Hendrix works for an unnamed agency. Recruited in college, he's young, smart, capable and prepared for anything--except Daphne. Flung together by circumstances, they give in to their passions, not realizing that Daphne has become the prime witness in Ralan's latest case.
This excerpt takes place after they first make love. Ralan knows it was a serious mistake, but can't feel sorry for what happened between them. However, his boss might not be as forgiving as his partner (who raked him over the coals after ripping him a new one.)
Ralan's dreams were, predictably, highly erotic and full of people trying to kill him—some while he was having sex with them. Beautiful, brown eyes followed him wherever he went, watching his every move. More than once, he was attacked, fending off his assailants, who had a fighting style strangely similar to Daphne's. The final one tried to rip his throat out like a vampire. Waking in a cold sweat, he sat up in bed, gasping.
His room was dark and chilly. When he got up to go to the bathroom, the light didn't come on. A glance out the window told him why. A power line lay in the snow, sizzling and sparking. He saw by the illuminated dial on his watch that it was not quite 3:00 AM.
Stumbling through his room, he searched for his cellphone in the dark. The meager moonlight from the snow obscured sky didn't make much of an impression in the sprawling apartment. His fingers closed over the phone when a sound met his ears that wasn't part of the usual nighttime sounds. It was the sound of someone trying to get through the seven locks on his door.
Grabbing his phone, he scuttled silently to his left, looking for the weapon he kept in the drawer of a small table. Sliding the drawer open, he closed his fingers around the cold steel of the gun. Backing into the hallway by feel, he kept his eyes on the door as he squatted behind the corner of the wall.
One handed, he dialed 911. The dispatcher answered quickly, her voice penetrating in the gloom.
"What's the nature of your emergency?"
"Someone's breaking into my apartment," he replied in a gruff whispered. "Tillerman building apartment 212."
"That's a security building, sir."
"Security's been compromised. Better send the coroner."
"Who is this? Are you a police officer?"
"Just get the fucking cars rolling," he whispered harshly.
"Officers are on their way. With the snow, it may take ten minutes."
"I may not have ten minutes," Ralan replied as the last lock clicked.
Leaving the phone, he moved into a more comfortable position. Watching the door, his eyes fought to find shapes in the velvety blackness. There! The clouds moved suddenly, whisked away by the wind. Moonlight shot through the tall, arched windows of his living room, glittering eerily on weapons. At least three men were in his home!
Backing to the bedroom, he eased the door shut, glad it didn't squeak as it sometimes did. Locking it, he leaned against it, wishing he had his cellphone. He knew he had a bulletproof vest in the closet. Crawling to it, he slid through to a blacker hole in the dusky bedroom. By feel, he found his vest and put it on awkwardly.
The men in the outer rooms were moving slowly and cautiously. He wondered if they even knew he was there. Had he been doing the operation, he'd have gone directly for the bedroom to neutralize the occupant. Maybe they weren't after him. Maybe they were looking for something.
Soft footfalls in the hallway outside his bedroom met his ears. The door swung open, squeaking slightly as it usually did when it opened too wide. The movement halted abruptly. The intruder wasn't far enough in his room for him to attack. Did he want to anyway? He'd seen three, what if more followed? In the dark with a backup weapon and a vest, he felt vulnerable. They moved quietly, steadily, meaning they could see. He was nearly blind. Taking his chances that they wouldn't look in the closet, he stayed as still as he could. Somewhere on the back wall he had a row of throwing knives. He kept them for target practice. He also had a bundle of shuriken. If he could reach that, it would give him an advantage—silent, where the pistol was not.
Ducking under the clothing, he reached for the knives. The wooden floor creaked beneath him. Biting his lip, he froze. But he'd been heard. No longer worried about sound, he made a fast grab for the pouch of shuriken. The door to the closet slid open. A black blade flew out of the doorway, hitting the man in the throat. With a gurgling cry, he collapsed.
Ralan disarmed him, putting the strap to the other man's Uzi over his head. He grabbed the sidearm, but didn't have time to search for more. The door burst open and someone else fired into the room. He knew enough not to go all Hollywood, firing in short bursts in an arc. Imagining the beating his bedroom was taking, Ralan fired back, hitting the other man in his left leg.
With a groan, the man staggered back, clutching his leg. As he was just inside the doorway, Ralan slammed the door in his face, knocking him down. Grabbing the other man's goggles, he jammed them on his head and the room immediately came alive! One man lay bleeding at his feet. The other wobbled, stunned and blinded. Ralan hit him again with the door, watching him drop. He disarmed him as well, dragging him into the room.
He heard movement in the hallway and a scratchy voice spoke near his ear. The goggles had an earpiece for communication. Gutierrez, Hanson, come in! Dammit!"
More movement in the hallway. Ralan positioned himself by the door, standing beside it with his back to the wall. It eased open and the man cautiously peeped in. Seeing his downed companions, he became alert, but it was too late. Ralan's Uzi cracked into his jaw, knocking him back a step. With a guttural growl, he slammed his elbow back at Ralan. He would have connected if the dark haired agent hadn't see it coming. Instead, the intruder hit the doorjamb with his funny bone.
Howling, he turned, swinging at Ralan. Remembering his fight with Daphne, he blocked his his arms and hooked the man's leg with his foot. The assailant crashed to the floor where Ralan kicked him in the head until he quit moving. Bending to disarm him, he didn't notice that one of the others had regained consciousness. A hand grabbed his left ankle. Ralan slammed his left fist into the man's face and a white hot flash of agony rushed up his arm making him scream. Grabbing his Uzi, he hit the man with that, but the blow was feeble.
The man grabbed at his ankle once more, yanking hard. Ralan went down, hitting his head on the door. Stunned, but conscious, he tried to get enough leverage to hit the man again, this time with his right. He was tangled in the Uzi strap, lying painfully on his throbbing left hand. The stock of the Uzi bit into the tender flesh of his injured knuckles.
The man on the floor struggled to his feet. Ralan, still tangled up with the others, couldn't move to protect himself. Jackbooted foot rose to slam into his face. Instead, the man grabbed at his chest and fell with a heavy thud. Doing his best to stand up, Ralan tried to get his bearings. He was dizzy, disoriented. Bright flashes of light lit the room.
"Don't move!" Someone bellowed from the front door.