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They took the narrow path to the front door of number 16, the motion-sensor light flicking on bright and blinding. Dylan slammed his foot against the door, breaking through with ease. He was greeted with gunfire and a mad scramble toward the back of the house.

Alec shot the closest man in the shoulder which gave Dylan the chance to disarm him and whip the handle of his gun across his cheek. He fell to a knee, blood dripping down over his jaw and into his beard.

“Mr. Cordell, I presume?” Dylan asked, gun pointed directly between his eyes.

The man had a receding hairline and a bald spot growing at the crown of his head, unkempt eyebrows like little caterpillars resting on his protruding brow. “Who the fuck is asking?”

A shot rang off the ceiling fan and Alec shot back, first up the stairs into darkness and then straight through the archway to the back of the house. He hit someone and they groaned in pain.

It was distracting enough that when Jameson launched himself at Dylan, he wrestled him down onto his back, nearly got his hands pinned but Dylan got a punch off, square to the jaw. It hardly phased Jameson, though, and he got his big, thick hands around Dylan’s neck. He wasn’t a pro; his fingers didn’t quite find the carotid artery he needed to really cut off the air supply.

Dylan poked him in the eye and rolled with him when he recoiled until he was sitting astride his chest, knees hugging his ribs. “If you answer my questions, I won’t shoot you.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Of course not, but isn’t it worth your life to gamble on it?”

Jameson tried to wiggle his way out of Dylan’s grip but that just earned him another punch, this time to the chin. Dylan heard the painful click of his jaw and wondered if he’d bitten clean through his tongue.

“Tell me about Angus Mette.”

He rolled his head to the side and spit blood. “He’s dead. Everybody knows that.”

“Who pays you then?”

“Bailey. But he’s always run the books and handled the money. It’s no different.”

“Richard Bailey?”

Jameson nodded.

“Where can I find him?”

That earned him a laugh. “I’m not fucking telling you where Bailey lives. You’re out of your fucking mind.”

A crash drew both of their attentions to the next room over. Alec was wrapped up in two men, one with his arm around his throat and the other taking free punches to his face and ribs. Alec had shoved the man choking him into the wall and framed pictures now littered the floor, broken.

Dylan focused back on Jameson, slapping his face to get his attention. “I hate repeating myself. Where’s Bailey?”

“Up my fucking arse! Just kill me already.”

Alec, still in the other room, got a couple swift kicks to his attacker’s chest and knocked him back into a table, its contents loudly clattering to the floor. The man holding him must have squeezed harder and Alec gasped in his hold, sputtering little chokes as he tried to pry the man’s arm from his neck.

Dylan grabbed Jameson’s face in both his hands, fingers pressing dangerously close to his eyes. The pressure probably making his vision blur. “Okay, let’s try something different. What is Bailey planning? The next big mass killing?”

“Go fuck yourself.”


Dylan landed four hard punches to Jameson’s face, breaking his nose and some of his teeth. He wasn’t dead but he was doing a very good impression and Dylan hoped he’d stay put.

He rose to his feet and grabbed his gun, rushing into the back room. He put two bullets in the man who had been splayed over the table before turning his weapon on the guy currently suffocating Alec.

His face was all red, hair falling in spikes over his forehead. There was blood on his perfectly crisp white shirt and Dylan really hoped it wasn’t his own. The man tilted Alec so that he stood between Dylan’s gun as a shield.

Dylan didn’t have time for this. He shot one round into the ceiling which had the desired effect of startling the man holding Alec captive just enough that he shifted. Aim, inhale, pull the trigger. Quicker than the blink of an eye.

The man dropped to the ground.

Alec gasped for air, staggering toward the wall to hold himself up as the blood rushed back to his brain. Dylan fought the instinct to go help, instead turning to make sure Jameson was still laying in a puddle of his own blood.

He, of course, was not.

Dylan came face to face with the angriest version of Jameson he could possibly imagine, teeth bared and dripping in red. He just managed to block the first few blows but Jameson’s fist connected to Dylan’s temple, knocking the whole world just a little to the left. His gun slipped from his hand, clattered on the ground.

He staggered and tried to regain his balance, tried to dip down to pick up his weapon but Jameson pulled him in by the zipper of his jacket and slammed him to the wall. His head snapped back and he grimaced at the sharp pain. He got his hands on Jameson’s face to try and dig into the soft spots of it. Anything to cause pain.

He didn’t see the shooter, but the crack of a gun sent a spike of anticipation through Dylan’s body. He took stock, didn’t feel the blunt force trauma of a bullet.

Jameson slipped to a heap on the ground at his feet, revealing Alec with his Walther still outstretched in front of him.

They breathed together, chests rising and falling in jagged gasps of air until they synced, slowed.

“That was a bit full on, wasn’t it?” Alec said, voice scraped raw.

“I need a drink.” His heart beat heavy against the confines of his chest. Without the bones there for protection, he was convinced the organ would rip right through his skin and abandon him.

“And maybe a good fuck.”

Dylan smiled in disbelief. “Nothing like getting your blood pumping, right?”

“I know a bar.”

“Out here?”

Alec seemed to get himself together enough to holster his gun and button his suit jacket. “God, no.”

“Great. Let’s check the place for intel and get the fuck out of here.”

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