This is just a little taste of my novel “Crossfire” which is available on Kindle and Smashwords. It is an action romance (does such a genre exist?) of approx 70 000 words and this excerpt below is the first chapter. All comments are welcome.
Time stood still for a long moment as the April sun sank behind tall buildings, rushing shadows applauding the victorious darkness. No birdsong comforted the sun as she bled from mortal wounds. Silence reigned in the industrial area on the outskirts of Paris, abandoned for the weekend.
A black crow sat on a rooftop, silhouetted against the bloodied battleground of the sky. The bird shook shiny feathers, peering at a large cat foraging in the alley. The cat scattered without warning, and then the bird heard it too, heavy footfalls, approaching fast.
A man appeared, running unsteadily, one outstretched hand using the filthy wall of the narrow alley for balance, and the other pressed against his abdomen. As the crow watched, the lean stranger stumbled and fell. Curious, the scavenger leaned forward with more interest. The man dragged himself back to his feet, uneasily glancing over his shoulder before resuming his run. The bird watched him go.
If the wounded man had seen the crow, he gave no sign as he continued his headlong flight into the dusk. He ran with the desperation of a hunted animal, intent only on survival. Though darkness exerted a stranglehold on the light, the fleeing man knew his ally wouldn’t triumph soon enough to save him. The deserted streets confirmed what he already knew, that he couldn’t expect help from anyone. Perhaps it was better this way. He wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if more innocents died in the crossfire.
The man knew he had reached the end of his strength reserves. He had run nearly two kilometers since escaping the hail of death directed at himself and his men. With every beat of his heart, he could feel more blood pouring out of the ragged exit wounds the bullets had left.
By now, his assailants knew he had escaped their ambush. Soon they’ll start combing the area, baying like bloodhounds at the scent of his spilled blood. The grim thought prompted a new turn of speed from his tired legs.
Then, he saw it. A yellow La Poste sign. He knew security gates barred the locked inner doors of the building’s lobby, but the outer swing doors couldn’t lock. The open doors allowed customers to collect their mail from the locked post boxes outside of normal hours.
His clouding vision fixed on the building, the man lurched towards his sanctuary, his boots crunching in the coarse gravel. The post office would afford him refuge, and a chance to fight. Undetected, he could remain there until dark, and then go to the emergency rendezvous.
He fell against the mirrored swing doors, using his momentum to push them open as he cast a final glance over his shoulder. He hung there for a moment, swallowing hard as he tried to still his ragged breathing, listening for sounds of pursuit.
Reassured, he picked a spot about ten feet from the entrance, and sank to the floor, resting his back against the wall, stretching his legs out in front of him. A moan escaped past tight lips as the pain threatened to overwhelm his senses. He pushed the darkness away, gritting his teeth. Pain signaled life, even as it promised possible death. The thought reminded him he had no time to waste.
Awkwardly he removed a Glock 17 9mm semi-automatic from the belt of his jeans. His left arm was useless to him as he tried to reload the gun, but after a few failed attempts, the full magazine slid into the weapon. Feeling a surge of triumph, the man clasped the pistol between his knees and pulled the slide back with his right hand, feeding a bullet into the chamber. He put the gun on the floor next to him, ready for use. He repeated the process with a second identical pistol, afterwards pushing the weapon back into one of two holsters nestling in the small of his back.
His immediate survival assured, he put his right hand beneath his black leather jacket, trying to assess his injuries. He found his shirt and jeans soaked with blood, but he didn’t have the means, or the energy, to stop the bleeding. Shock had him in an icy grasp, stealing away his resolve. Nausea coiled in his stomach, and he shivered as an ominous chill infiltrated his body.
Fighting his failing senses, he realized he didn’t have the strength to walk to the emergency meeting. His assailants will find him, and corner him, in this cold, dark place. He’ll fight, but save one bullet for his own use, if things start to look hopeless. They’ll never take him alive, not again.
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Chapter Two is in the next post.