First Chapter of THE HUNT FOR XANADU

THE HUNT FOR XANADU Final CoverI’ve decided that it might be fun to post first chapters of fantasy books, flash fiction, or even poetry on this blog for the next two months. It will give everyone a taste of my writing, along with some other fine authors, and offer some fun “reading escape” time. So, without further ado, if you’re interested in a brand new contemporary fantasy thriller series, with a super new heroine, I give you Chapter #1 of THE HUNT FOR XANADU. This is not the chapter where you will find the fantasy, but the thrill, and will give you the flavor of the novel. Enjoy!

THE HUNT FOR XANADU
Chapter 1

Present Day

Hidden in the security camera’s blind spot, she sucked in her gut, closed her eyes and listened intently. “Come on, already,” she thought, drumming her fingertips rapidly against the brick wall. She heard the dogs panting now. This sound had replaced the earlier frenzy of them tearing into the drugged raw hamburger she had thrown over the fence just twenty minutes before. She’d crushed thirty-six Acepromozin tablets into the ground meat, reckoning it would enough to knock out the four guard dogs, if not kill them outright.

She glanced at her watch and waited. This is taking so long. Five more minutes passed, with nothing sounding except the soft, rotating click of the camera. Abruptly, she yanked down the protective goggles resting on her head and placed them over her eyes. The clicking now echoed loudly, indicating the camera was once more faced in her direction. Brazenly she stood, aimed her laser gun and pointed it directly into the lens. The high tech, silicon-based CCD camera had an impressive wavelength sensitivity. The laser’s high-powered emitter instantly saturated the pixels of the camera’s CCD sensor and burned the chip out instantly.

Ricardo Perez thought he protected himself with the best of everything. He’d under-estimated meeting an assassin so invested in seeing him dead.

Hooking the laser into her belt loop, she flung her knapsack over her shoulders and scaled the wall in a practiced leap. She balanced delicately on the edge to prevent being punctured by the barbed wire and slipped on a pair of leather gloves, grabbed the wire cutters hanging from her backpack and snipped her way through. In less than twenty seconds, she was inside the backyard of the compound. Three of the dogs lay unconscious in the grass nearby, but their twitching feet told her they were still alive. Where is the other one?

A deep, menacing growl came from behind her and she whirled to face the remaining Doberman. She had just enough time to register the bits of bloody hamburger still clinging to its snout before it lunged. Her instincts kicked in and she did the only thing she could remember. She punched the animal savagely in its throat like she’d been taught, and it fell to the ground, dead.

Breathing hard, she turned back to the house where Ricardo had hoped to escape from her. Her body shook and she took a deep breath, trying to keep her anger in check. This man couldn’t expect to destroy her family and get away with it. He was going to pay.

She moved past the koi pond, stopping only to disable the second security camera with her laser.
She passed the kidney-shaped pool and skirted around the cabana, her eyes never leaving the house. Shadows moved behind the curtained windows on the second floor. At the sound of a sliding door opening, she dove behind a hedge. A well-muscled guard moved onto the balcony and lit a cigarillo. Its smell traveled to her in the gentle breeze. She held back a cough and brushed a wayward blond strand out of her face.

The guard scanned the perimeters, then took out his cell phone and sat back on a lounge chair to make a call. Sweet nothings floated down to her and she took that moment to leap across the hedge and race to the side of the house, hiding herself in the back door portico. She edged around the building until she located the final camera attached to the roof above a spare bedroom. Too far for her laser’s range.

She waited until the camera scanned another part of the property and then got to work. She pulled out a long rope from her backpack which she attached to a grappling hook. With a precision borne from hours upon hours of practice, she tossed up the hook and snagged the end over the bedroom’s balcony railing. With a jerk, the rope pulled taut and the hook locked in place. Fifteen seconds later she was standing on the terrace.

The clicking camera indicated it was again in range. She leaned around the corner of the wall, aimed her laser and disabled it.

She left her bag and goggles on the terrace and moved to the sliding door leading into the bedroom. It was locked, which wasn’t a surprise. The girl leaned her head against the glass, her breath fogging the window, and noticed there was no security bar holding it shut. That was a mistake, Ricardo. She removed a set of lock picks from her pack and sixty seconds later broke in.

The house was quiet. With infinite care, she made her way across the room to the bedroom door. She cracked it open, pulling her pistol and stun gun from their holsters. She already knew the layout of the house from her research. There were four bedrooms and two bathrooms on the second floor with a wide hallway opening over the front foyer downstairs. The plush, cream-colored wall-to-wall carpeting, that stretched through every room, was an added benefit. Now she wouldn’t have to worry about her footsteps making any noise. The lighting was good, too. An enormous, glittering chandelier hung from the foyer ceiling and lit the entire area with a yellow glow. She peered into Ricardo’s bedroom and heard him speak to one of his guards. The sound of his voice made goosebumps on her arms.

“Pablo, go get us a couple of beers.”

The guard came out of the bedroom and as he passed her room, she jumped on him and released the stun gun. He barely had time to cry out before she hit him violently in the side of his head with the butt of her gun, silencing him. He fell unconscious to the floor. With great effort, she dragged him by his feet into the bedroom. Thankfully, he wasn’t as large as the first guard she had seen or it would have been much harder. In less than a minute, he was trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey.

She moved quickly down the hall towards Ricardo’s room, her pistol in one hand, the stun gun in the other.
She peeked inside. Ricardo had moved to the balcony.

What happened next came down fast.

“The dogs are too quiet,” the remaining bodyguard said. A whistle sounded and when none of the Dobermans responded, she could distinctly hear him click his gun’s safety. “The cameras are dark, too. Ricardo, stay here.”

The guard moved across the room and out into the hallway, shocked to see her simply standing there. With a startled shout, he fired at her, but she feinted to the right and fired back. Her heel slipped slightly on the carpet and messed up her aim. She hit him in his hip, rather than his chest. Dammit to hell.

The guard fell to the floor with a yell, but fired again, the bullet ricocheting off the wall behind her. She took that moment to pounce upon him, kneeing him fiercely in his groin. He tried to hit her with the butt of his gun and she delivered a brutal elbow strike to his cheek, shattering it. He shrieked, bringing his gun up again. She shoved the stun gun in his side and fired the full voltage.

A bullet whisked by her head, shattering the picture frame on the wall next to her. She flinched and glimpsed Ricardo shooting wildly from behind the door. Their gazes met and fear filled his eyes. With a squeal, he ran back into his bedroom and disappeared from view.

Her adrenaline pumped through her veins and his fear spurred her on. Run and hide, you coward. With a savage smile, she raced after him.

The hunt was on.

If you’re interested in purchasing the entire novel, it is available on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1ixAnkP

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