Join my VIP list for alerts on new books! Join my VIP email list

Bad Turn excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 12
Helena’s day began a little after 6 a.m. with a run. Accordingly, when she stepped out of the master suite the following morning, she found me already in the corridor, in similar sweats to her own.

The only major difference between us—or so I hoped—was that I wore the Kramer rig clipped to a leather belt underneath the drawstring waistband of my sweatpants. It wasn’t the most comfortable option, but the only way to guarantee the SIG would remain firmly in position, exactly where my hand expected it to be.

Helena didn’t try to keep the annoyance out of her face when she saw me waiting for her. But there was a hint of underlying embarrassment, too, for the way she’d reacted—or maybe overreacted—the day before.

I kept my expression totally bland. “‘Morning, ma’am.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she said, more weary than exasperated. “If I can’t shake you, then you may as well at least call me Helena. ‘Ma’am’ is for my grandmother.”


“Better.” She walked past me and I fell into step alongside, felt rather than saw her cast me a sideways glance. “I don’t suppose there’s any use in me pointing out that I’ll be staying on the trails inside the property?”

I already knew from talking to Schade that the extreme boundaries were covered by a range of electronic and automated security measures that made the CIA headquarters at Langley seem as wide open as a public park on the Fourth of July.

“Not much,” I agreed cheerfully. “And anyway, I could do with the exercise.”

She set off at a pace she couldn’t hope to sustain. More to the point, one I hoped she couldn’t. I was more than capable of a half marathon at a steady jog, or a flat-out dash over a hundred metres or so, but I wasn’t much good at combining the pace of the latter with the distance of the former.

Fortunately, after the first half mile or so she throttled back to a more reasonable speed. One I was able to manage without the disgrace of going into a full cardiac meltdown.

Helena didn’t go much for small talk while she ran. A good thing, since I didn’t have the breath to spare. Every now and again, I flicked my eyes across at her set features. The fixed line of her mouth told me this was one occasion when playing dumb would serve me better than any other strategy I could come up with. I said nothing.

As we reached the home stretch, Helena lengthened her stride. Maybe she was hoping to leave me floundering in her wake at a moment where her husband was likely to see us and decide I wasn’t up to the job.

I kept pace.

I stayed half a step behind and to her right, with my eyes on the treeline and any possible chokepoints in between. We were moving slightly uphill now, along a sandy path that separated two of the paddocks and provided a convenient lane to separate the groups of horses and walk them to and from their grazing unmolested.

Each of the paddocks had a wooden structure next to the fence to provide shelter for the animals from the weather, hot or cold. One was coming up on our right and I instinctively moved a little closer to Helena, forcing her further over to her left.

“You’re crowding me,” she snapped. They were the first words she’d spoken since we left the house.

And right at that moment, as her attention was on me, a man stepped out from behind the shelter with a gun in his hand.

I’d reacted before I had time to think, to blink, to draw breath. A visceral response that went straight from optic nerve to muscle.

I grabbed Helena’s shoulder with my left hand, yanking her backwards as my right went for the SIG behind my right hip.

As I cleared the rig, I piled my weight sideways, twisting so Helena was flung behind me, almost swung off her feet, while I put myself between her and the threat. Aiming low centre mass as an extension of my arm, I had taken up half the poundage on the trigger when my brain finally caught up with what was happening.

I froze, breathing hard—not simply from the running—and waited a beat longer before uncoiling my finger from the trigger and laying it alongside the guard.

Behind me, Helena picked herself up, slapping sand from her clothing.

“God-dammit, Schade,” she barked. She glared at the man, who calmly put away his weapon with apparently no concern for how close he’d come to being gut-shot. “What kind of an idiot game was that to play?”

Schade, meanwhile, had not taken his eyes from mine. He stood entirely relaxed. It was hard to read what was going on behind those wire-framed spectacles.

“Big on idiot, clearly,” he admitted. “Just wanted to check the girl knew how to dance.”

“And?” Helena demanded, moving up beside me, her eyes scanning from my face to his. I kept my gaze on Schade a moment longer, then broke away, lifting the side of my T-shirt and tucking the SIG back into its holster. I tried to keep my face neutral, to suck the air deep into my lungs without gasping for it, to will my hands not to tremble from the nitrous shot of adrenaline punching through my system.

When Schade spoke again, his voice was low with a kind of wonder. “And, damn me if she can’t do a mean tango…”

Return to BAD TURN—and order from your preferred retailer!