“You have to get
out now. We have a confirmed sighting in your area.”
was it. The phone went dead.
clenched her jaw, took a deep breath and sprung into action. There was no time
for anything, any second they could be there. Walking down the hall she took
the ancient elevator to the bottom floor and forced herself not to run as she
entered the sidewalk traffic on a busy New York day.
pushed past her on their way to meetings, events and errands. She didn’t dare
look behind her for fear that if she was being tailed, they would recognize
that she knew. Instead she used her extensive training and took advantage of
store window, car windshield or passing stranger’s glasses were a small glimpse
behind her. At first there was nothing. It was almost impossible to pick out
one stranger from the rest.
was sunny mid-afternoon in downtown and a sea of bodies congested the
sidewalks. However after five blocks and two crossed streets, Taylor was able
to hone in on her pursuer.
was tall with a square jaw and long hair down to his shoulders. Dressed
casually, he fit in with the rest of the crowd in this area. He fit in too
phone went off, vibrating in her pocket.
Mom, how are you? No, just doing some shopping. Yes, I promise to pick up some
lady-like clothes while I’m out. I know, I promised. OK, yeah that sounds great.
I’ll call you later tonight. Love you, too. Bye.”
mother was great but always insisted that Taylor should dress more like a lady
and less like a tom boy. Shaking her head from these thoughts she focused on
her current situation: the stranger tailing her.
block later an opportunity to test her theory presented itself. A group of
tourists stared wide-eyed, in the middle of the block, snapping photos every
which way. Taylor approached the group in a friendly manner and offered to take
a picture of them. They readily agreed and posed together, with huge smiles
plastered on their faces.
positioned herself so she was looking through the camera, back the way she had
just come and toward her mystery man. Sure enough, as she took the picture he
ducked into an alleyway.
Handing the camera back to the group of
colorfully clad foreigners, she continued down the street. Within seconds the
man picked up her trail again, staying a safe ten to fifteen yards behind her.
plan quickly formed itself in Taylor’s mind as she flagged down a taxi. A
second later an older taxi cab pulled up next to her driven by a rather large
darkly skinned man. The driver looked at her through the safety glass that
separated them, as she entered the cab.
Can you take the highway please?”
were interrupted by a knock on the door. The same man that had been tailing her
stood outside with a smile. He opened the door, “Mind if I share the cab?”
gave him a winning smile of her own, “Of course, please come in.”
man entered the cab, “Thank you.”
to?” The cab driver asked.
can take her first I’m not in a hurry.”
cab driver shrugged and maneuvered into traffic. There was an awkward silence
in the backseat as the two sized each other up. He was muscular and rigid,
probably ex-military of some kind. His knuckles were scared and his left ear
was slightly disfigured. This was going
to be interesting
, Taylor thought to herself.
what do you do for a living?”
looked at her companion with another smile, “I’m in the information industry. How
cab driver was waiting to enter the freeway now, the sun on their left.
I’m also in the information business. Maybe we know some of the same people.”
possible. Which company do you work for?”
were not very well known. It’s a private firm that tries to stay under the
you can tell me,” Taylor winked. “I’m good at keeping secrets.”
not what I heard.”
cab was on the freeway now picking up speed, the sun streamed through the
window with blinding intensity.
you shouldn’t believe everything you hear.”
was another awkward pause as the two mentally prepared themselves for what they
knew was to follow. With lightening reflexes the man’s left hand reached inside
He was fast but Taylor was faster. She sent a right
jab that connected with his jaw and as soon as the gun was free from his jacket
his wrist was in both her hands being slammed over and over again into the
“Hey, hey! What’s
going on back there?” the cab driver yelled, trying to both look in his
rearview mirror and keep on eye on traffic.
Left hand pinned
against the roof, the man struck out with a series of right punches connecting
with Taylor’s face and body. In such a tight space however, he was unable to
take advantage of his superior strength and most of his punches lacked momentum.
Bending forward, the sun’s light blazed through the window, blinding her
adversary. It gave her the split second she needed. Releasing her right hand she
balled it into a fist and sent a powerful strike breaking his wrist.
The man winced as
the gun fell to the floor.
“Is that a gun?”
the cab driver screamed. “Oh lord Jesus!”
The fight was
already over even if the he didn’t know it. Taylor blocked a straight right and
unbuckled the man’s seat belt. She could see panic in his eyes as he considered
his options. He had nowhere to go, throwing himself from the car at this speed
was out of the question.
Taylor almost felt
sorry for him - almost. A few second later the seatbelt was twisted around his
neck, his left hand lay limp, his right hand reached behind him and pulled at
Her scalp screamed
in agony, but she pushed the pain from her mind and instead berated herself for
listening to her hairstylist and letting her hair grow out.
“Hey, hey lady,”
the cab driver yelled. “You let him go, you let that man breath.”
released the belt buckle strapped around his neck and the limp body sunk in the
The cab driver
stared wide-eyed, he looked like he might cry, “Is he—is he dead?”
not going to kill me are you?”
“Only if you stop
The pudgy cab
driver’s mouthed dropped open and Taylor felt the cab speed up. Her face was
going to have some bruising and she could taste blood on her lip, but other than
that she didn’t seem the worse for wear.
Going over her
dead companion’s belongings didn’t reveal much; no ID, no wallet, just the gun
and a cell phone. Maneuvering through the phone revealed an empty text message
box and only one call. An incoming call received an hour earlier. Taylor
redialed the number and pressed the phone against her ear.
“Is it done?” A
strong, elderly male voice asked. “Jax, are you there? Do you have it?”
“Jax can’t come to
the phone right now. But now I’ve heard your voice. I know who you are. And I’m
coming for you.”