Excerpt: Murders on the Edge
A loud clang jarred me, making me fall out of bed and onto the floor, landing on my rear. At least there was soft padding there. Jim was still asleep, in our bed at his house in southern Arizona.
I stood up and climbed back into bed. "Jim," I whispered, hitting his chest.
He rolled over the other way. "What? We just got married and already you're nagging me?"
I turned him back over and covered his mouth with my hand. "Someone's in the kitchen."
He kept his eyes closed. "Is Dinah there?" he asked through my hand over his mouth.
He was referencing an old song about Dinah in the kitchen. I was surprised he could remember it, considering it was written before both of us were born, like in the early 1800s. I seemed to be remembering a lot of trivia these days, since I'd been hiding out with not much else to do in my downtime.
I shook Jim's arm. "No, silly. Wake up. I heard a loud noise in the kitchen." At least I thought it was the kitchen, down the hall. It sounded like some pots and pans clanging together.
Jim got up and ran his hand through his hair. "I'm never allowed to sleep, am I?"
Another noise made us both stare toward the door. We each grabbed our guns on the nightstands on both sides of our bed and pulled on some clothes. Someone had made a big mistake coming to the Bond house. Department of Homeland Security agents didn't take too kindly to criminals, and since we were now both agents, they were in for a double whammy, especially on our wedding night.
Needless to say, it had been a long six months of waiting to get married. Nothing had gone as planned. We didn't get married until the day before, on the way from New York to Arizona by way of Las Vegas.
While Jim stood next to me at the opened door, I ducked my head out to see if anyone was in the hallway of the one-story home.
Jim yanked at my tank top. "What are you wearing?" he whispered.
"A shirt." I tugged at his chest hair. "What are you wearing?"
"Nothing, but I'm not a woman."
I raked my eyes down over him with a grin. "Nope, and I couldn't be happier."
He shook his head. "If whoever is out there sees you without a bra, they're going to ogle over you."
"And I'll be a diversion." I looked down at my body. "Besides, I'm not that big chested, so they may not even notice."
He kept staring at my chest. "Oh, they'll notice."
I covered it with my arm. "I'm cold. So sue me."
He blew out a big breath. "Someone said they had to have the air conditioning on, even though it's October."
"It's hot," I whispered.
He ignored me and stuck his head into the hallway. A small door shut somewhere in the house. "Follow me," he said.
I did as told by my superior agent, who was also my husband, and followed him. He went into the kitchen, where every pot and pan in the place lay on the brick red tile floor, making walking a little tough. At least the kitchen light was on. The clock on the wall read almost six in the morning, or just about sunrise.
Jim pointed toward a cabinet, where the door was slightly ajar.
"Coyotes?" I whispered.
He shook his head and put his finger to his lips. He gave me some sort of unspoken direction, which I didn't understand, but acted like I did. He inched closer to the cabinet where all the pots and pans had been stored.
When he knelt at the hinge-side of the open cabinet door, I came around the other side. He lifted one finger, then the second, and when he got to the third, the door opened, pushing Jim down. A man fell on top of him, speaking a stream of Spanish.
Jim tried to grab the gun that had been pushed out of his hand, while inching out from under the man. "Get off me."
"Stop moving," I said to the man in Spanish, holding my gun steady.
The man sat up and looked back at me, raising his hands over his head. "Don't hurt me," he said in Spanish.
"Can you get off me?" Jim asked. At least he knew Spanish, too. He was more multi-lingual than I was, even though I'd been an interpreter for various languages at the United Nations.
"Sure." The man moved slightly, but was in obvious pain, grabbing his side.
Jim slid out from under him and grabbed his gun. "Why are you here?"
"I had to run away. They're after me, and I have to tell someone in the United States."
"Are you from Mexico?" I asked the man.
"Sí. I know some men who are terrorists and have to get a message to the president. I know you can do it, too." He winced and leaned over to the cabinets, still holding his side. I looked down and saw a huge bloodstain covering his shirt. "I'm not armed," he said. "But need to see your president. It's a matter of life and death."
Jim reached over and lifted the man's shirt. "I'm a doctor. Let me see what happened."
"It's too late for me, but save my son." He looked at Jim. "Save my son." His eyes focused on me, and I could see the sadness there. His face paled as his head banged against the cabinet door. "Señora Bonita."
"Thanks," I said. "I can't remember the last time any man told me I was a pretty lady." I shot Jim a dirty look, but he ignored me.
The man fell backward, laboring for breath.
"Hang in there." Jim studied the wound. "It's not good, but I can call an ambulance."
"Señora Bonita," he said to Jim in a weak voice.
"I'm not really a pretty lady, but hey, whatever floats your boat." He looked up at me. "I think he's hallucinating."
The man made some weird sounds then went silent. Jim felt for his pulse, but it was too late. He tried CPR, but no luck. "He's dead," Jim said.
"I can see that." I walked over to the phone and laid my gun on the table, but before I could even lift the receiver, a shot rang out. I ducked, grabbed my gun, and aimed it into the hallway between the kitchen and the bedroom. It was a shame it was an open floor plan, because there was more than one way in and out of the kitchen, central to the one-story building.
Jim crawled toward the opening that led into the living room and peeked around the corner. He aimed and several shots pierced the air.
I looked out the other side of the kitchen, toward the hallway near the bedroom from where we'd just come. One man leaned against the wall beside the master bedroom doorframe, peeking into the guest bedroom. He appeared to be Middle Eastern, and definitely didn't belong to our décor. I aimed and shot him in the chest. He fell, and a shot fired into the kitchen, but I wasn't sure where it came from. I slid under the kitchen bar, to the right of the doorway, and hid. Just as I peeked around the corner again, a shot fired from behind me, probably from Jim.
Another man was in our bedroom, crouching by the door with a gun in his hand. They must've run into the house when we were talking to the man in the kitchen, or came through our window, since it was a one-story home. However, no man other than Jim was allowed in our bedroom without my permission. That was a violation of my rules, and this guy had better know I meant business.
I stood up and glanced out into the near darkness. The man moved an inch and I fired. He fell right beside the first guy, both lying in our hallway and bleeding all over the floor. Now I was really angry since I'd have to shampoo the carpet. But at least the cleanup would be easier, stacking the bodies in one place.
I looked into the hallway again, and since there were no other doors between the kitchen and the master bedroom, I slipped out and ran toward the guest bedroom, beside the master bedroom. The door was perpendicular to the master bedroom's door. I lifted my gun and searched the guest bedroom. No one was inside.
Once I stepped over the bodies in the hallway, I searched through our bedroom and master bathroom. The place was empty. The hallway was next, and I followed it up to the second guest bedroom, past the kitchen entrance and closer to the outer side door. The guest bedroom door was slightly ajar, and I could hear someone breathing behind it. I shot into the wooden door, and heard something move. A man exited from behind the door with his hands up, carrying no gun. He was Middle Eastern and spouted off some words I didn't understand. I pushed him into the kitchen, where Jim helped me pull him to the floor, behind the half wall that served as a kitchen bar. Jim reached into a drawer and removed some duct tape. With my help, he tied it around the man's hands in the back. He pushed him up under the kitchen bar and moved in front of him.
Jim spoke in Arabic to the man, who replied in something that sounded like 'la-la-la' to me. Arabic was a tough language for me, with tons of repeated sounds to my ears. For all I knew, 'la-la-la,' meant 'death to America.' I really hadn't had time to learn it fully, but I was picking up more and more words. However, the words I heard didn't usually make sense.
"There are two more," Jim whispered, putting duct tape over the man's mouth.
"I shot two right near our bedroom."
"Not our bedroom," he whined in a whisper. "That was my sanctuary."
"It was them or me and I figured I should win."
"Now I'm ticked. I'm going to assume there are two more." Jim moved toward the living room, to the right of the kitchen and peeked inside. It was dark, so Jim reached up and flipped on a light. A shot rang out from the left, piercing the light bulb in the living room. Sparks flew everywhere. The shot came from the direction of the dining room, beside the half-wall of the kitchen bar and closer to the outer side door.
"Guess it's lights out," I whispered.
Jim reached up and turned out the kitchen light, leaving us in the dark before the dawn, literally. He pointed toward the other hallway, where the dead guys stained our carpet, and I nodded. I inched around the corner of that hallway, while holding my gun ready, just in case.
A man crouched behind the kitchen bar in the dining room, and I leaned up with my gun toward his head. He spun around and grabbed me, pulling my back to his chest, while babbling the old 'la-la-la' syllables at me. I just hoped he wasn't referring to my lack of bra-bra-bra or I'd slap his face.
His arm went around my neck. I went limp as soon as I felt the cold metal gun next to my head. He grabbed my gun, and as soon as he did, I flipped the guy over, stuck my foot in his back, and took both guns from him.
"La-la-la," he said, over and over again.
"Yeah, same to you, buddy," I whispered into his ear. "Get over the no bra thing already."
Jim crawled out and taped the guy's mouth shut, and then taped his hands behind him. Both of us moved him into the kitchen beside the first Arabic guy.
While Jim secured the rest of the house, I went to the den, on the other side of the second guest bedroom beside. The den door was shut, and I knew it had been open earlier.
I put my hand on the cold metal knob and turned it, but it was locked. Jim stepped closer, shaking his head.
"Locked," I whispered.
He lifted his gun and shot the doorknob, making a huge hole in the door. "The insurance company is going to love me," he whispered. He ducked his head into the room, and ran in with his gun blazing. I stood outside to clean up the bodies, hopefully not his, and saw something moving on the deck. It was through the window next to the outer side door. Once I stepped closer to the door, I moved a bit of the curtain aside and peeked out. Six more armed men were there, approaching the door. I reached over and tried to lock it, but the doorknob was missing.
"Jim," I whispered. "A little help here."
No answer. Figured. He'd probably turned on the television in the den to sit and relax. Fighting criminals after our wedding night had to be draining. Forget the new wife. She could handle herself.
Now I had to deal with more bad guys on my own. It was as if fate had said to me, 'Welcome to married life, and oh, you might need this gun to protect yourself. Good luck.'