“Eyes on target,” a scratchy voice said over the com-link.
“Stay out of sight. No one make a move until I give the go,” Luke Dashwood responded. He had been two days out on a mission that should have been wrapped up in an evening. His security firm had been hired to track a rogue mercenary who had been stalking Luke’s old military commander.
Unfortunately, the stalker had turned out to be an ex-private military goon with an ax to grind. A guy named Roger Duhnam who blamed Captain Rawlings for his firing from GDS, Greyslate Defense Services. They’d been attached to Rawlings’ ranger unit in Yemen, and Duhnam’s incompetence had gotten one soldier killed and another injured.
However, it didn’t mean that Duhnam didn’t have skills, and he also had home advantage. He lived in a suburban neighborhood, and probably had the whole place wired for monitoring. It was after midnight on a Monday, so Luke hoped all the non-combatant civilians stayed indoors. Even so, he and his team would have to be careful of stray bullets puncturing the walls or windows if a neighboring home if a fire fight ensued.
“This guy is highly trained,” Luke said to his team as they slowly surrounded the man’s house. “Keep an eye out for booby traps.”
“Roger that,” Rick Douglas, his right hand man, said. “You heard the boss. Stay sharp.”
A rifle shot shattered the night. Luke winced as the call of “Man down. Brandon’s been hit,” sounded in his ear. Dunham knew they were there. But how?
“How bad?” Luke asked.
“I’ve pulled Brandon to cover and called for an ambulance,” Marigold Bennet, Brandon’s twin sister, said, her voice tight with worry.
Marigold was a cool customer, on and off duty. If she called for an ambulance, it was bad enough that Brandon’s bear couldn’t heal on his own. Damn it. He worried about Brandon, but he had to keep to the mission, or he’d end up with more casualties. “Anyone have eyes on the shooter?”
As if cued, Luke felt the air stir around him, and he dropped down just as the boom of the shot resounded, and the bullet took a chuck of wood out of the tree behind him.
“Son-of-a-bitch,” he whispered, his breath harsh and ragged. “Somebody get eyes on that fucking asshole.’ Luke’s wolf fought to the surface, and the dark night became more crisp, less obscure. His beast wanted to rush head long toward the direction of the shot, find the guy, and rip his throat out. His human side knew any rash action on his part was suicide. He took a deep breath, forcing the animal back inside its fleshy cage with the promise that he would let it loose once he took Dunham down.
He spotted a brief glint from on top of Dunham’s house. “He’s behind the chimney. Keep your heads down. Jacob,” he said to the last of his team, “You and Rick distract him while I head down the block. I’ll sweep around and flank him.”
Both men confirmed the order, then the shooting began in earnest. Luke could hear the distinct difference between the 9mm hand guns and Duhnam’s rifle, and he gave a little prayer that no one, with the exception of the shooter, died tonight.
Sirens and emergency lights lit up the street as Luke used a hedge row of boxwood bushes to hide his progress. The chaos would make it easier for Duhnam to escape, but it relieved Luke to know that Brandon would be getting immediate medical attention.
He climbed the back fence of a neighboring house. Quickly and quietly, he made his way across the grass and over another fence into the perp’s backyard. With inhuman speed, he jumped up to the deck, and in another leap, landed on the roof. He let his wolf slip forward and scanned the roof, ready for an ambush.
“Damn it,” Luke hissed.
“What’s that?” Rick asked.
“I don’t see him. He’s not on the roof.” Luke jumped down to the deck, suppressing the urge to howl his rage. “Where is he?”
A cry of rage pierced the night, and Duhnam jumped from the bushes and attacked Luke. Luke hunkered down, tucked in his shoulder and threw the man several feet across the lawn. When Duhnam came up, he was holding a knife.
Luke bared his teeth and held up his hands. His claws extended from his fingertips. “You’ve got one blade. I have ten. I win.”
He could see the resignation in Duhnam’s face. The man wouldn’t be taken alive. He charged Luke, his bowie leading the way. Luke dodged left then grabbed the mercenary by the throat and ripped it out. He threw the glob of flesh and esophagus on the grass and watched as the man toppled over. “Stupid son of a bitch,” Luke said.
Marigold’s voice came over the com, panic evident. “His heart stopped, Luke. He’s dying. Brandon’s dying.”
Luke raced around the house to the scene where his man had gone down. Two paramedics were working on Brandon while his sister Marigold paced back and forth, tears streaking her normally stoic face. When Luke drew closer, she threw her arms around him. He smelled the metallic, sweet scents of Brandon’s blood as Marigold whispered a prayer for her brother.
“We’ve got a pulse,” one of the paramedics said.
He felt Marigold sag against him. He patted her hair. “Ride with Brandon. I’ll round up Jacob and Rick, and we’ll meet you at the hospital.”
She nodded her head then wiped her face. “See you there.”