Our preview of The Bonaparte Secret by Gregg Loomis continues today. The action is really picking up—Loomis wastes no time as he brings us along for Lang Reilly’s latest adventure. Today’s giveaway is book 3 in the Lang Reilly series, The Sinai Secret. To be entered to win, join the discussion below. Today we’re discussing sidekicks. Who are some of your favorites throughout literature or film? Or, do you prefer it when the hero goes it alone?
The Bonaparte Secret
Chapter One, continued
Years of Agency training kicked in. When you have no choice, cooperate, don’t give someone an excuse to kill you. But keep your eyes and mind open. Use what ever assets you have.
Instead of going directly to the source of the noise, Lang moved cautiously along the row of columns that had guided him before being taken prisoner. Even in the dim light, anyone could see his hands raised in surrender.
He was hoping that the dusky twilight, the deep shadows, had prevented his captor from seeing her, leaving her free to go for help once they passed the spot where he had last seen her.
It had never occurred to him he might need a weapon at Carnevale. He had left the Browning HP 9 mm in his bedside table back inAtlanta. Damn! How dumb could he get?
Arriving by the foundation’s Gulfstream, neither he nor Gurt were subject to security screening. Either or both could have brought the firearms he wished they had. On the other hand, had the Browning been in the small of his back, he could well have gotten himself killed trying for it. But Gurt . . .
His stream of self- condemnation ended with the sound of a very solid thump, an expulsion of breath and the sound of metal hitting the marble floor. The gun was no longer against the back of Lang’s skull.
Spinning, he caught sight of a man trying to regain his balance as he took a second blow from Gurt’s handbag, swung on its strap like the weapon it had become. Now Gurt was between Lang and the light. He could only see her silhouette as she moved forward on her victim.
The man yelled something in a language Lang didn’t understand, but he heard Gurt clearly say, “The gun, get his gun. He dropped it.”
There was a grunt as Gurt’s adversary apparently launched a counterattack.
Had it been any other woman, or most men, Lang would have felt compelled to protect her. Instead, it was her opponent who was going to need protection, he guessed. At the top of her martial- arts class of women in the Agency, she had insisted on practicing with the men. The only problem was finding competition after breaking one man’s arm and the ribs of another.
Lang contented himself with a hands- and- knees search of the area as he heard flesh meet flesh and a very masculine yelp of pain. He found what he was looking for and came to his feet just in time to see the man make a slicing motion toward Gurt’s throat with the heel of his open right hand.
It was his final mistake. Ducking under the blow that would have seriously damaged if not crushed her larynx, she grabbed the hand, snatching downward, diverting the force of the blow and sending her assailant headfirst into a nearby pillar with a clearly audible crunch of bone versus stone. He slumped to the floor with a fluid motion that almost denied his status as a vertebrate. He didn’t move.
Lang slid back the slide on the automatic, checking with a finger to make sure there was a bullet in the chamber. “Hope you didn’t have anything breakable in your pocketbook.”
Gurt was peering into the gloom in the general direction from which the noise of the drill had ceased. “I should have thought of that.”
With the hand not holding the gun, Lang took Gurt’s. “I’d be surprised if someone didn’t hear that guy yell. Let’s get out of here before—”
A shot split the quiet, filling the basilica with sharp echoes. Marble chips from a pillar stung Lang’s face. Both he and Gurt dropped to the floor, where they merged with the inky darkness.
“You see where that came from?” Lang whispered
Lang took a second to think. On the floor, he and Gurt could remain hidden in a darkness as deep as Jonah must have experienced. They could move on their bellies commando- style but to get out of the church they would have to navigate a puddle of light just where narthex met nave. He had little doubt whoever had been drilling would come looking for the man lying beside the column and then for whoever had left him there. There was equal certainty that that person would also be armed.
“Give me your purse,” he whispered.
“Now is not the time to be checking for damage.”
He told her what he wanted.
“On the count: one, two, three . . .”
He was never quite sure what object she had removed from her purse and looped overhand in the general direction of the altar. What ever it was, it smashed against something with a gratifying clatter.
The response was a second shot, a noise that again sent sound caroming from wall to wall. But there was also a muzzle flash, a pinprick of light in the gloom.
Lang was on his knees before the echoes stopped. He fired three quick rounds at the place he had marked as the source of the shot and violently rolled to his left. The reply was a scream and more shots that filled the air with malignantly humming fragments of stone. Lang noted there were at least two shooters.
“They’ll spread out and try and find us,” he said. “I’ll give you cover. Run for it.”
“I’ll think of something. Right now, you best get moving or our son will be an orphan.”
She needed no further incentive.
Lang spread three rapid shots toward the same spot where he had fired previously. Before the second, Gurt was up and dashing for the exit. She drew two shots which, as far as Lang could tell, damaged only the church’s interior.
Moving quickly before his opponents could fi re at the source of his volley, Lang was at the edge of the lighted place at the entrance. He heard a footstep behind him and to his right, another from his left. However many of them there were, he could not be sure, but the fact they had distributed their forces was bad news. It meant they were probably professionals, not some random thieves using the distraction of Carnevale to loot the church.
Professional or not, Lang was going to draw fire the instant he crossed that lighted spot. Either that or stay here, hoping Gurt could bring help before they found him.
Then the lights went on.
Not brilliant illumination, but bright enough in contrast to the murk in which he had been. It was also enough to momentarily blind him.
Instantly, he understood.
That was the purpose! Gurt had somehow found a light switch and blinded whoever had been shooting at them.
He leaped across the space between himself and the narthex like a running back stretching into the end zone.
The impact with the floor knocked the breath from his lungs as two bullets ricocheted from the place he had been a split second before.
Gurt tugged him to his knees. “Hurry! They may be right behind us!”
He didn’t need the encouragement. Staggering to his feet, he stumbled the few feet to the door out onto the lighted piazza, just behind Gurt. Once outside, they both flattened themselves against the basilica’s facade rather than present a target to whoever might choose to fire from the church’s door.
After two or three minutes, Lang asked. “Guess our friends aren’t willing to step out into the light. Want to go back to the dance?”
Gurt pointed. “You will go nowhere with that in your hand.”
Lang had forgotten he still held the gun. He looked at it for the first time he could actually see. “Tokarev TT30. First time I’ve seen one of those in a long time.”
Gurt snorted. “Seven-point-six-two millimeter with an eight-round box clip. Based on the Colt .45. Used to be the standard Russian sidearm.”
Agency training included a working knowledge of small arms— recognizing them and using them.
“Underpowered piece of crap, if memory serves. But reliable in the worst of conditions.” Lang was examining the weapon more closely. “But this one isn’t Russian.”
He held it up for her inspection.
She pushed it down out of sight. “If someone sees you waving a pistol, the police will not care whether it is Russian or not.”
Lang took a brief glance around the square, confirming its only occupants were a group of very drunk couples staggering at the far end of the Procuratie Nuove toward the long- closed Museo Correr, too far away for them to notice what he might have in his hand.
“Not only not Russian, it’s Chinese. I can see the characters on the barrel.”
“During the Cold War, the Chinese manufactured a number of Russian small arms for their own army, the AK- 47 for example.”
Lang held the weapon fl at against his leg, invisible to any passerby. “But why would anybody use a gun that dated? I mean . . .”
“You wish to go back inside and inquire?”
“Not that curious.”
She took his hand. “I have had excitement sufficient for the evening.” She looked at him under half- lidded eyes, an expression he found sexy if not provocative. “Come, let us take the boat back to our hotel and I will provide even more.”
“That’s an offer I can’t refuse.” His hand went to his face.
Gurt looked at him inquisitively. “Your nose? It does not seem to be hurt.”
Lang’s eyes were searching the paving around him. “My clown’s nose. It must have come loose when I hit the floor.” He touched his bare head. “And my clown’s hat, too.”
She gave him a tug toward the canal and, hopefully, the old Chris-Craft. “You have been clown enough for to night. Drop the gun into the canal before you have to explain it to the police.”