Tuesday Sampler: Lovely Night to Die

He had one mission: assassinate the President. If he failed, the girl he loved would die. Read an excerpt from my newest thriller. Written especially for the eReader.

HE LAY ALONE in the dark and waited to hear footsteps outside the front door.

It was nothing new for Roland Sand.

He had been waiting for an invitation from the grim reaper for the past three months, sixteen days, eight hours, and six minutes, provided the digital clock on his motel nightstand was correct.

Hotel clocks hardly ever were. A few minutes of lost time here and there made little difference to a man on the run, and he had been running most of his life. Sand doubted if the running would last much longer.

One day, probably sooner than later, or maybe sometime in the middle of the night, it would all be over.

The door would be torn from its hinges, and he would hear the sound of a single gunshot.

Then again, he might not hear anything at all. And the cool darkness that wrapped itself around him like the arms of an unfaithful woman would remain dark for a long time.

Lying with his back against the wall in the early morning hours, dying didn’t seem like such a bad way to make his final exit. So why was he determined to fight so hard for a chance to catch another breath – and who was trying to rip it from his throat?

Sand crawled out from beneath the damp, wrinkled sheets and walked to the window.

He opened the drapes just wide enough for him to look out across the parking lot and toward the lights of Durango, Colorado, lodged against the backdrop of the San Juan Mountains.

The timbered ridges were dark bruises against the sky, and the stars had been wiped away by a thunderhead that promised bad weather.

Sand smiled faintly. He must have come to the right place. It was far easier to hide away in bad weather.

Sand knew how to become one with the rain and the fog. He would be another faint shadow without a face, a ghost in the mist, a name without a voice, and names were the easiest things he had to throw away.

Thunder rumbled in the west like a slow-moving train, and lightning reached down to touch the top of the mountains.

The winds crackled with electricity.

His gaze swept from one end of the street to the other.

Two Atlas trucks and an aging Chevrolet van were the only vehicles on the road.  Sand ignored, then forgot them.

He was searching only for black SUVs that would bring men wearing black suits and armed with enough firepower to leave the little Colorado town in ruins.

They were somewhere behind him.

He didn’t know how far.

Roland Sand knew the kind of man he worked for. He realized he had been reduced to a vague number on some out-of-date death certificate.

Sand’s name would not be released. He would be just another John Doe in an unmarked folder at the back of some clerk’s filing cabinet.

A pauper’s grave might be too good for him.

Who was Roland Sand?

Don’t know.

When did he work here?

Don’t recall.

Whatever happened to him?

Maybe he retired.

Everyone would know he didn’t quit.

No one quit the Association.

A man worked until the day he died. For some, the day always came earlier than they expected.

Common sense, at least the strategic reasoning that lay buried deep inside the Intelligence Community, said Sand would escape to some metropolitan area, maybe Los Angeles, probably Denver, and lose himself among the great unwashed, the multitudes that crowded city streets most hours of the day and night.

His last assignment had gone awry in Durango, Colorado, and now his handler wandered the shadows, unknown and mostly unseen, waiting for him beneath the steel and glass skyline of Denver.

Sand would go where the phone call told him to go, and the call said Denver, and the prepaid American Airlines ticket placed him on a late-night flight to Denver.

No need to run.

Hide in plain sight.

That’s what he had been taught.

His would become just another stray and ugly face among a thousand stray and ugly faces that few saw but hardly ever remembered.

That was their logic.

It had been written on page sixteen, paragraph four, of the Association’s strategic handbook, marked Escape and Survival.

It might as well have been chiseled in stone.

The one-eyed Bohemian who wrote those words believed desperate men faced with desperate circumstances always relied on their safety nets when the tightrope broke and their world began crumbling around them.

It was instinct, and instinct kept them alive.

Don’t think.

No time to think.

A man’s next thought was never as quick as someone else’s last bullet.

Find home.

Home was a good place to hide.

Home might even be a good place to die.

The one-eyed man who ran the Association only thought he knew Roland Sand.

He trained the agent.

He molded the agent.

He broke down Sand and built him back again in the image of the Association.

Do what you are assigned to do.

Do it quick.

Do it efficiently.

Ask no questions.

Get the hell out.

 Don’t leave any tracks.

Sand had been issued a new credit card from a bank that did not exist, ushered out the door, and given a Sig P320 military handgun.

He had two jobs.

Find the target.

Pull the trigger.

On the outskirts of Durango, Sand broke protocol.

Please click HERE to find Lovely Night to Die on Amazon.

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