Authors: Jason Dean
Copyright © 2012 Jason Dean
The right of Jason Dean to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by
him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be
reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in
writing of the publishers or, in the
case of reprographic production, in accordance with the
terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.
First published in 2012 by Headline Publishing Group
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living
or dead, is purely coincidental.
Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library
eISBN: 978 0 7553 8271 2
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
An Hachette UK Company
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH
To my agent, Camilla Wray, and my editor, Vicki Mellor.
For their ceaseless enthusiasm, invaluable guidance, and their tireless
efforts in getting this novel onto the shelves. But
mostly for giving
me a chance, for which I’ll always be grateful.
When James Bishop regained consciousness, he raised his head from the floor to look at the wall clock and calculated he’d
been out for thirteen minutes. His next thought was that almost anything could have happened to the Brennans in that time.
Using the kitchen island to pull himself up, Bishop
picked up his Glock from where it had fallen next to the refrigerator
and pushed the catch on the side that released the magazine. It was still full, with a round still in the chamber. Frowning,
he checked the rubble for his knife. No sign. Which made no sense at all. If anything, he figured it should have been the
other way round. You don’t leave your enemy with his gun
unless it’s for a good reason. The thought weighed on his mind, but
he didn’t have time to dwell on it. Not now.
He made an effort to control his breathing. Whatever he’d inhaled had left a sharp, metallic taste in the back of his throat.
His head was throbbing and he still felt woozy. The attacker had come from behind, just as the rear door had blown inwards,
and he’d forced the damp cloth over Bishop’s mouth before he could react. Before the drug had completely invaded his system,
Bishop had managed to use his knife to stab at his assailant’s arm around his neck, but he hadn’t had the strength to drive
the blade in further before he’d blacked out.
The October light was fading now. Bishop moved to the
blown-out doorframe and saw Thorpe’s legs and boots sticking out of
the small gazebo in the distance.
One man down, at least
, he thought. But what about Neary at the gatehouse? Chaney? Tennison? Oates? Bishop couldn’t believe his whole protection
team was down. Fourteen minutes had passed since he pressed the panic button, which meant the Long Island estate should have
been swarming with cops by now. But everything was quiet. All he could hear was the beat of his own heart.
For now, he had to assume he was on his own. But he still needed to find his clients.
He turned towards the hallway, his gun leading the way. As he advanced, his rubber-soled shoes squeaked on the polished floor
and he shifted his weight
to his toes. At the front of the three-storey house was a large entrance foyer with a grand staircase
leading up to the second floor in two graceful semicircular sweeps. When Bishop reached the end of the corridor he jammed
a heel hard into the floor and waited for a moment. When no shots came he moved into the open space.
A figure dressed in black lay at
the base of the left staircase, head covered by a ski mask, a stubby Heckler & Koch MP5K
inches from his hand. Surrounding him was a congealing pool of blood. Bishop checked his pulse and found no sign of life.
Fifteen feet away, leaning against the front doors with his legs splayed out and his chin touching his chest, was Tennison.
That makes two then
, he thought. The
man was bloody but alive and Bishop could hear a faint whistling sound as he breathed.
Bishop moved quickly up the white-carpeted stairs. At the top, two passageways ran off the landing. He turned down the left-hand
one and pushed open the third door on the left. Inside, an unused bedroom led to another smaller room: the safe room – a small
by seven inches of concrete. No windows. Only one entrance. No way to break in. Once the interior button
was pressed, a reinforced steel fire door slammed down over the doorway. Randall and Natalie Brennan should have been inside,
but the steel door had not been engaged. The room was empty.
He clenched his jaw tight.
At the first
sign of trouble, the
sign, get the principals to the safe room. It had been drilled into his team enough times. He couldn’t believe both father
and daughter had been left exposed during the assault. Oates had been using the room to grab some shuteye, but he would have
woken immediately at the sound of gunfire. Then he should have grabbed them both, brought them back here
and sealed them in
in less than a minute. Just like he’d been trained. Which meant he’d either screwed up big time or the hostiles had top intel.
Neither option made Bishop feel any better.
He heard a faint thump from the floor above. Then a familiar creak on the metal staircase at the end of the other passageway.
He ran back
towards the landing,
stopped and raised his Glock with both hands, his light blue eyes fixed on the exit from the right-hand
A second later, a heavy-set man dressed identically to the dead man downstairs emerged. Over his right shoulder was a large
black holdall, in his right hand an MP5K. With his left he was pulling a cotton ski mask down over the bottom half of his
face. On his right sleeve was a blood-smeared rip.
Bishop stepped out. ‘Halt,’ he said.
Instead, the man turned quickly and Bishop’s reflexes and training took over. He fired three shots straight at his chest.
They all hit home. The man grunted and fell backwards down the curving staircase, bouncing off the banister and landing on
floor, sprawled on his back. Almost a mirror image of his friend on the other side.
Bishop looked over the railing and waited until blood seeped through the man’s clothing where the rounds had hit. He then
ran down the right-hand passageway and leapt three steps at a time up the small spiral staircase. At the top, he pushed through
the double doors to Brennan’s
He almost tripped over Oates’s body. The young ex-soldier lay on his back just inside the double doors, three dark stains
on his unprotected chest, his light brown eyes staring sightlessly at the ceiling. His gun lay a few inches from his outstretched
hand. Although he’d only been in the team eight months, Oates had been a good protection officer,
the soldier in him ever
alert. Yet somehow the enemy had managed to take him totally by surprise.
Bishop saw the large antique desk in front of the window was undisturbed. On it was a state-of-the-art laptop and a small
silver-framed photograph of the smiling family. Directly in front of the desk, Natalie had been stripped to her waist and
a chair. Her body was drenched in blood from the neck down and the carpet underneath was soaked. Bishop could see
straight away she was dead.
On Bishop’s right the selection of photos on what Brennan smugly called his Wall of Fame watched him. At his left were two
floor-to-ceiling bookcases. One had been pushed aside to reveal a thick steel door, partly open.
That was when Bishop knew
the attackers were professionals. Until that moment he himself had had no knowledge of any secret vault.
Close to the door, the silver-haired Randall Brennan lay stretched
out on his side, his eyes open under a creased brow, his mouth slack. He looked like he was contemplating the crimson pattern
on the carpet in front of him, except
that his throat had been cut.
Bishop turned and stepped over to Natalie. Her throat had also been cut and her head had rolled to the side, her long black
hair obscuring her features. Countless lacerations haphazardly criss-crossed her torso and breasts above a deep stab wound
in her flat stomach.
Crouching at her side, Bishop looked up
at her open blue eyes for a long time and gently touched her cheek. The pale, blemish-free
skin still felt faintly warm against his palm.
‘Jesus.’ Seventeen years old and her life already over.
He studied the cuts on her chest. They looked frantic, as if the killer had gone at her in a frenzy. Like you’d find in a
lover’s murder, not a professional
What the hell was going on?
Bishop turned to check Randall Brennan for similar cuts and saw his missing knife lying next to the body.
Then a voice said, ‘What you doing in here, boss?’
Bishop rose and slowly turned round, his gun at his side. Sam Chaney stared at him. He was standing with his back against
the doorframe, his left arm lying useless
against his side and a steady flow of blood dripping onto the carpet from a wound
in his right thigh. His Glock was aimed at Bishop, the barrel steady. Resting his head against the frame he glanced at the
knife next to Brennan’s body and said, ‘The one who took me out was carrying a big black bag that was kinda hard to miss.
So where is he?’
Chaney. Stand down. He’s at the bottom of the stairs with three in his chest.’
A head shake. ‘There’s only one dead perp down there and there sure as hell ain’t any bag with him. Where were you? You know,
while the rest of us were getting our asses shot off?’ He nodded at the bodies on the floor and coughed once. ‘While all this
was going on?’
Bishop studied him as sirens sounded in the distance. Watched as Chaney’s blood began to pool on the carpet and his thigh
muscles started to contract. And it dawned on him why he’d been left unharmed. An inside man. A nice scapegoat for the cops.
‘Maybe you should put your gun down,’ Chaney said, his right hand beginning to waver slightly. ‘Like right now. I don’t
have to shoot you.’
‘Lower your weapon, Chaney. Somebody’s setting me up. Maybe you. Or have you already forgotten who’s in charge?’
‘The piece, Bishop. I won’t tell you again.’
‘You seem real quick to—’ Bishop was beginning when Chaney pulled the trigger.