Trigger

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4

The attacker lunged and Dylan blocked the initial slice of the knife, but the man got him pinned, blade pressed against his throat.

Dylan was going to regret his next move but he headbutted the guy anyway and slapped the knife from his hand. It clattered to the ground and he kicked it behind the toilet. He could just shoot him and be done with it but the noise alone would cause distress, potentially stopping the train and definitely finding himself in a pair of handcuffs.

He’d have to do this the old-fashioned way.

The man threw a punch, wildly aiming for Dylan’s face and neck. He blocked him and got a hit of his own in. They grappled, pulling and tugging on jackets and shirts. There wasn’t much room, barely more than an arms-length. Dylan slammed him into the sink, one hand around the man’s neck to bend him backward.

“Who sent you?”

He spit in Dylan’s face, so he returned the favor.

“I asked you a question.”

The man jabbed his fingers into Dylan’s tender ribs, which lowered his defenses enough he was able to shove him back. He dove for the knife but Dylan stepped in his way, throwing him against the locked door.

“How much did he pay you?”

“You want to know how much your life is worth?” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, smiled. “Not very much.”

“You should’ve asked for more.” Dylan took a swing at him and missed, probably left a dent in the door.

The man reached for the knife again, showing Dylan his back. He hauled him to his feet by the neck of his shirt, wrapped an arm around his throat and held him firmly against his chest. He choked against Dylan’s hold.

“Why does he want me dead?”

His face turned red, his mouth open and desperate to suck in air. “T-tying up,” he gasped when Dylan lessened the pressure. “Loose…ends be…fore…”

Dylan twisted an arm up behind his back, shoulder mere inches from being dislocated. “Before what? What is Mette planning?”

He took a shaky breath. “Nothing you can stop.”

Dylan snapped the arm up and felt the joint give. He cut off the man’s scream with the heavy pressure of his forearm and had no plans to let up until he went limp.

It took time and the man struggled, kicking his legs out and using his good arm to try and pry Dylan’s away from his neck. It was all no use. A desperate attempt of a dying man.

When he finally fell still, Dylan dropped him on the ground. He reached behind the toilet to recover the knife and stood there, flipping the sharp thing over and over in his hand as he steadied his breathing. It was well balanced, the hilt of it probably handmade.

And he had no idea what to do with the Frenchman’s body.

He checked the time. They still had almost two hours on this train before they got to Munich. He couldn’t ride the rest of the way in here, besides, his bags were unattended at his seat. His passports and money and guns were available for anyone to take.

He wrapped the knife in a wad of paper towels and stuffed it in his pocket. The man wasn’t easy to maneuver, as helpful as a sack of potatoes, but Dylan got him situated with his head on the seat of the toilet, one arm draped in the bowl. He looked a little off but that was because he was dead. Nothing to be done about that.

Dylan pressed an ear to the door, tried to listen for voices or movement. The train was too loud and the overhead lights of the bathroom buzzed. He couldn’t hear shit.

He assumed there would be a line, patient customers waiting to heckle whoever was taking their sweet time in here. He put on his best casual face, slipped into the act he’d decided to go with.

The lock clicked when he slid it open, the lights going off.

There were a couple of older gentlemen waiting just outside and Dylan smiled at them. “Might want to pass on this one,” he said. “My friend had a rough night last night and he’s not holding himself together very well.”

Thankfully, they took the hint and moved along to find another bathroom. Dylan didn’t dawdle getting back to his seat.

His bags were still there, seemingly undisturbed, but his empty coffee cup had been taken. He tried to settle back into the scenery and the rock of the train but the truth of the matter was he’d just been attacked twice in the last eight hours and there was a dead man in the bathroom two cars down.

It’s possible his Czech passport was flagged at the train station when he bought his ticket. Mette would have had an hour and a half to send another hitman before he’d even gotten on the train. If that was the case, it’s highly likely there would be a third attempt waiting for him in Munich.

His head pounded, the dull headache from earlier splintering into something huge and ravenous now. He searched his duffel for his toiletry bag and shook three ibuprofen into his palm. He cracked the seal on his Fiji water and swallowed them down.

This was not the way he thought his day would go.


The Munich train station was packed when they arrived just after three in the afternoon without further incident. Dylan kept his head down, stayed close to the families and backpackers in front of him. Any number of cameras in the train station could be hacked and watching, it was still impossible to know how Mette was tracking him.

He lifted a baseball hat with the German flag on it and pulled it low over his eyes. Conspicuous but hopefully effective at avoiding any watching eyes.

He followed the signs for rental cars, his elementary German helping him just enough, and picked the counter with the shortest line. He was not interested in spending another six hours on a train to Paris and two more to get to London. Having control of his own movement behind the wheel of a car sounded like bliss. The long stretches of autobahnen would be perfect to calm his frayed nerves.

The woman smiled at him as she handed over the keys to a boring compact car and his very fake Italian driver’s license he paid a pretty penny for when he first landed in Europe. “Do you have any questions for me Mr. Venturi?”

“No, thank you. You’ve been very helpful.” He wished he had a few Euro to tip her with. She really did have a lovely smile.

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