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Checkmate

Deadly Games Book 1

Author(s): Chaytor Chandler

Chris Lancer, Senior Special Agent, Interpol, Special Operations Division, is getting close to taking down a powerful illegal arms dealer based in Portugal, but has to rescue her main contact from U.S. law enforcement before she can continue.

U.S. Marshal Jack Striker was attacked by a female assailant while transporting a Portuguese fugitive. He is successful in obtaining extradition papers for his fugitive and the unknown woman, but soon discovers his attacker was Chris, and she has no intention of letting him arrest her or her contact—his fugitive. But her evasions make him more determined than ever. Once he learns her true identity, he enlists the aid of a fellow ex-Navy SEAL living in Portugal, Peyton McKenzie, in order to help track her through the Portuguese countryside and hopefully lead him to his fugitive.

Someone is trying to kill Chris and is always one step ahead of her. She knows there is a leak inside Interpol and is convinced her target is not who she initially suspected. She is forced to sever all ties with Interpol and joins forces with Jack and Peyton. The trio find themselves in a race to survive and end the reign of an enigmatic arms dealer and his Interpol connection.

Excerpt


Chapter One

South of Petersburg, Virginia

Broad daylight was not ideal for an ambush, but there was no other choice.
At least there was little traffic on this lonely stretch of country road. Partially hidden behind overgrown bushes flanking the dirt road she was parked on, Chris stood on the running board of the rusty 1970 GMC pickup and peered through the top of the bushes.
Dressed in a dark shirt and blue jeans, she watched as the car with two U.S. marshals and her target approached. When they got close enough, she took a deep breath, jumped behind the steering wheel and pulled out in front of them. The driver swerved left to avoid a collision, but Chris didn’t stop, forcing him to hit the driver’s side door of the pickup.
Chris slammed the gears into park, slid over to the passenger side, and leaped from the truck, an Ithaca 37 shotgun in her hand. She ran around the back of the truck, pointed the shotgun at the vehicle and looked at the sedan’s occupants. U.S. Marshal Jack Striker was at the wheel and his deputy, John Spelling, the passenger. Both were looking at her and starting to make a move to react. Chris’s target was in the backseat, separated from the front by a heavy wire barrier. She pointed the gun at the sedan, yanked the slide back and pushed it forward again with the all-too-familiar chung-chick sound of the shell being loaded into the barrel and yelled, “Marshals, keep your hands where I can see them and get out of the car!”
The front doors opened and she backed up to retain a safe distance from them as they exited the vehicle. Marshal Striker was tall and broad-shouldered with un-marshal-like shaggy light blond hair that brushed his collar. Chris knew he was in his mid-thirties but hadn’t realized how handsome he was, even with sunglasses on. He stood on the other side of the vehicle, hands on the roof staring at her with pursed lips and a slightly red face. He was not happy.
Deputy Spelling was standing on her side of the vehicle with his hands in the air. He was a young guy, somewhere in his twenties. His hands were steady and his full-on stance told Chris he was confident, but probably a newbie. He was trying too hard to be defiant.
Keeping her shotgun trained on the marshals, she instructed, “Drop your guns where you are and move away from the vehicle. Marshal Striker, come around to this side.” When the marshal complied, she continued, pointing to her left. “Now, back up and stand on this side of the road.”
When she felt they were a safe distance away, she approached the open car door, reached in and released the back door locks. “Get out of the car, Ricky,” she instructed the last occupant.
Ricky Vasquez was all smiles as he emerged. He was wearing his signature silk European suit, black hair slicked back and pulled into a short ponytail. He stood, tugged on the lapels of his jacket and said, “Hey, Miss Hart. Glad to see you. How did you know where I was?”
“Not now, Ricky. You need to leave. Your papers and a plane ticket are in the truck. Get in and get out of here.”
“Not yet. I’ve unfinished business.” Ricky stooped, picked up the deputy’s gun, spun around and walked toward the marshals with a cocky swagger.
“Ricky, no!” Chris rushed toward him, her heart pounding inside her chest. “Leave ’em alone. We’ve got no time for this,” she called as he raised the gun and fired at the deputy. Spelling fell back as the marshal reached for Ricky.
Chris stepped close to the marshal, swung the shotgun around, grabbing the barrel and hit the marshal hard in his side with the stock, knocking him to his knees. He wrapped himself with one arm and placed the other hand on the road to keep himself from falling over. He gasped as he tried to catch his breath.
Ricky was laughing as he turned toward Chris, who punched him in the face with her fist. “What the hell?” he exclaimed. He put his hand up to his bloody face. “You broke my nose!”
“You dumb son of a bitch. I had it handled,” she exclaimed as she pointed the shotgun at Ricky. “Now get in the damn truck and get the hell out of here. I don’t want you to stop until you’re back in Lisbon or I swear to God, I will hunt you down like a dog and make no mistake about it, Ricky, next time you’ll have more than a bloody nose.”
Ricky turned toward the truck. “I’m not driving that piece of junk.”
Chris pressed the barrel of her shotgun into Ricky’s chest. “If you don’t get in that truck, I’ll kill you right here.”
Ricky raised his chin in defiance. “You wouldn’t do that. You need me to close the deal.”
Chris pressed harder and replied through clenched teeth. “Think so?”
Ricky backed up with his hands in the air. “Okay, okay. What about them?” he asked, pointing toward the marshals.
“I’ll take care of them. Now leave!”
Ricky moved toward the truck, climbed in through the passenger side and drove off.
Chris turned toward the marshals. Striker was still gasping but not as badly. He had moved over to his deputy and was checking his wounds.
Chris grimaced. “Is he alive?”
He nodded as he put pressure on the wound with his hands.
“First aid kit?” Chris asked.
“In the trunk,” the marshal answered.
Chris ran over to the car, popped the trunk, grabbed the kit, and ran back. Standing outside grabbing range, she tossed it to the marshal.
“Keep as much pressure on the wound as you can,” she instructed.
The marshal’s sunglasses had fallen off and he looked up at her with violet blue eyes. “I think I know how to do this.”
Chris nodded, turned and went back to the vehicle, scooping up their pistols as she went.
“Wait,” the marshal called out. “I need one of the phones.”
“Not a chance,” Chris called back as she tossed the guns in the passenger seat, slammed the door, and ran around to the driver’s side. Thankfully it cranked, and she left the scene.
One of the phones was on the console. She picked it up and dialed nine-one-one. When the operator picked up, she yelled, “Officer down! Officer down! Near the intersection of Highway Twenty Five and Oakmont. I think one of them has been shot. Please hurry!”
She disconnected before the operator could say anything, dropped the phone in the seat and hit the accelerator.
 
Southside Regional Medical Center
Petersburg, Virginia

Jack was lying in his hospital bed, enjoying the feeling as the pain meds began to take effect. Although it did nothing to relieve his reeling mind, it did lessen the pain.
He was brought out of his drug-induced moment of relaxation by someone calling his name. He opened his eyes and saw his director and a few of his other deputies. His attempt to sit up was stymied by the sharp pain in his side and his boss’s hand on his shoulder.
“No need to sit up, Jackson. How are you?”
“I’ll be fine. Nothing broken, just severely bruised. When did you guys get here?”
“Just now. We already spoke to the doctors about Spelling. He’s in recovery and doing as well as can be expected. You applying pressure to his wound and the EMTs getting him here so fast were instrumental in saving his life. Well done.”
“I had help. Sort of.”
“You want to tell me what happened out there? And why you insist on avoiding the interstates? This wouldn’t have happened if you’d been on the interstate, you know.”
“Would have happened somewhere along the way,” Jack replied.
“Maybe. Maybe not. What happened?”
“We were ambushed by a woman with a shotgun and a pickup truck. Pulled out in front of us. I couldn’t stop. Hit the truck. That’s when she jumped out and came around with the gun pointed at us.”
“She got Vasquez free and clear, did she?”
“After she broke his nose,” Jack answered with a smile.
“Broke his nose? Why the hell would she do that?”
“He shot Spelling. Pissed her off. I got the impression she didn’t want anyone hurt.”
“That’s a little odd, don’t you think? She threatens you with a loaded shotgun and then assaults her accomplice for shooting one of you?”
“That’s what happened. After Vasquez left, she helped by getting me the first aid kit. I can only assume she called nine-one-one from one of our phones as soon as she took off.”
“Yes. The call was traced back to your phone.”
Jack nodded. “Have they found the truck and our car yet?”
“The truck was found at the airport. No trace of Vasquez, though. No one by that name got on any flights out of Richmond or DC.”
“She had his papers in the truck, along with a plane ticket. I suspect he traveled under a different name,” Jack added.
“No doubt. Any description of the woman?”
“Tall, but not as tall as me. Dark brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. Dark clothes. Dark sunglasses. Right shoulder holster with a Glock.”
“Right shoulder holster, huh? That means she’s a lefty. Can’t be too many international criminals fitting that description running around.”
“Probably not, but I doubt you’re going to find anything on her.”
“Why not?” Jack’s boss asked.
“No prints. She wore gloves. And a hunch.”
“What kind of hunch?”
“Something wasn’t right about the whole thing. She was too concerned about Spelling. What criminal on what level would be concerned about an officer down? You haven’t had time to listen to the nine-one-one call yet, have you?”
“No, but it’s on our to-do list.”
“What about our vehicle?”
“Now there’s an interesting story. Some kid drove it right up to the front door of the local police station. They suspected it was yours when they saw the damage to the front end. When they questioned the kid, he told them a woman gave him two hundred dollars cash to take it there. He was supposed to leave it as close to the front door as possible.”
“Really?” Jack creased his eyebrows as he pondered that.
“Yes. All the guns and your phones were inside.”
“She trusted the kid not to steal anything?”
“He told the police she told him she would be watching. If he didn’t do exactly as she said, she’d find him and make him wish he was dead. Strange chick we’re dealing with here, Jack.”
“Was the shotgun there, too?”
“It was. No need to ask about a trace. They already tried. There’s no serial number. It can’t be traced.”
“And no fingerprints.”
“None. Any idea who she might be?”
“No. But I intend to find out.”
“Really? And just how do you intend to do that?”
“By going to Lisbon,” Jack answered and looked his boss in the eyes. “Just as soon as they release me from here and you get me extradition orders for her and Vasquez.”


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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 978-1-62916-005-4
Genre: Thriller
Date Published: 11/30/2036
Publisher: Taliesin Publishing

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