Authors: Cindy Stark
By Cindy Stark
Lawless © 2012 C. Nielsen
All rights reserved
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This ebook is a work of fiction. The names,
characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or
have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any
resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations
is entirely coincidental.
To the sexy
men of country music who've provided many hours of enjoyment and inspiration.
Thanks Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, Luke Bryan and Jake Owens.
Also to my
beautiful daughters—I couldn't be more proud of you.
Deputy Sheriff Milo Sykes's police radio
crackled to life. "All units respond to a reported 10-71 at Mt. Uintah Medical
Center. Suspect is at large and considered armed with possible multiple
weapons. Four wounded. Suspect is wearing a camouflage t-shirt and brown
Milo's pulse paused as his brain digested the
information. "Shit." He grabbed his radio. "2A12
responding to 10-71."
With a quick swipe, he gathered the driver's
license and registration sitting on the clipboard on his lap and exited his SUV.
He sprinted to the older model Mustang he'd pulled over for speeding and
dumped the identification on the driver's lap. "Drive safe, ma'am."
Within a couple of seconds, Milo was back in
his vehicle, lights blazing and sirens blaring as he headed the three miles
back to Pinewood.
When he arrived on scene, the late-afternoon
August sun bore down on two identical Chevy Tahoes that blockaded the entrance
to the small two-story medical center that serviced the entire county. Another
pair of SUVs blocked the staff entrance. There was no other way out. He
scanned the area, not seeing anyone except the two officers in front of him squatting
on the ground, peering through the sights on their shotguns.
Milo pulled up behind them and cut his sirens.
He scanned the area, following the direction of the other officers'
weapons. His heart pounded as he ducked out of his car and crept toward his
two comrades. "What the hell is going on? We have a sniper?" The
rural county hadn't experienced anything that dangerous in decades…if ever.
Charlie Adams kept his eye glued to the scope
on his rifle. "We've got a gunman hunkered down behind the sand pile on
the south side of the parking lot. Witnesses say he's shot one EMT and
wounded three other civilians. Sheriff Williams is in contact via cell
phone with one of the vics. Reports are the EMT is unconscious and
bleeding severely. The others are wounded, but conscious and stable."
Deputy Eric Larsen removed his sights from his
gun long enough to eye Milo. "Karen Jensen is the wounded EMT."
Milo jerked as though Eric's punch had been
physical. "Not Karen." He and his cousin Karen had grown
up together. They'd made mud pies as kids, gotten sick off a stolen
cigarette when they'd been ten, and nearly burned down their town with illegal
fireworks as teenagers. She couldn't die. She had two kids of her
own that she'd only half raised. "What's the plan?"
"Sheriff Williams should be here any
moment. We're keeping the gunman contained until he arrives."
"While Karen bleeds out?"
Sheriff Williams was an exceptional peace officer, but that was a dumb
"It's not like we have a SWAT team and air
patrol," Charlie answered.
Milo peeked over the hood of the vehicle.
A shot pinged not five inches from his head. "Son of a
"Keep your head down," Eric responded.
"The guy is an expert marksman. Must have some military
training or something."
Yeah? He wasn't the only one. "Anyone
else on scene, yet?"
"Nope." Charlie cracked his
neck before refocusing on the sniper.
Enough time had been wasted. "I'm going
to try to draw his fire away from the victims. Maybe that will distract him
enough someone can help Karen. If I get a shot, I'm taking the asshole down."
"Kick some ass, bro," Charlie said as
Milo slipped around the edge of the vehicle.
More shots exploded around him as he made his
way along the row of cars. He had to wonder if he was the idiot, not Williams.
But Karen's life was the prize, and with Milo's Army training, he was the
most qualified out of all of Williams' men to take out the perp.
Milo reached the last vehicle on the row.
Nothing between him and the ruthless marksman but 100 yards and a yellow
VW bug. A bullet ricocheted off the metal next to him. The bastard
was good. He'd give him that.
He followed the ritual he'd perfected in Afghanistan
and took a second to clear his thoughts. Pinewood's summer-long heat wave had
expanded into fall, and the glaring sun cooked his shoulders. A trickle
of sweat ran down the back of his neck, but a cool composure blanketed his
emotions. Years of training with the military and then the U.S. Marshals
had forged him into a cool piece of machinery. Many accused him of
wasting his talents on a rural county sheriff's department, but this was where
he wanted to be.
The brilliant sun was good though. He'd
taken up this position instead of moving around to the back of the hospital
because, although he was more exposed, the bright glare would handicap his
He checked his weapon. Ready.
Milo changed his stance, lifting slightly. A
bullet shattered the VW's front windshield and rear passenger window.
Perfect. Having no glass would make his shot easier.
He positioned his rifle, ignoring the pinging
of bullets around him as he sighted his subject through his high-powered scope.
The man, somewhere in his late thirties, sported a head of unkempt bushy
brown hair and a full beard. "Sheriff's Department. Drop your
weapon and come out with your hands up. If you don't, I will use deadly force,"
Milo yelled across the distance.
"Fuck you, pig." Another shower
of bullets danced off the metal around him.
Couldn't the guy come up with something a
little more original than "pig"? "Last chance," Milo
answered. He'd barely gotten his words out when a red hot piece of lead burrowed
into the flesh above his left elbow. "Awe, shit," he cursed
under his breath. The last bullet he'd taken had cost him a night's stay
in the hospital.
With renewed determination, he ignored the fire
in his arm, sighted in the prick, and squeezed the trigger. The rifle kicked against
his right armpit, barely registering in his consciousness.
The perpetrator jerked before dropping from
Milo lowered his weapon and stealthily made his
way back between the row of vehicles getting as close to the shooter as he
could without giving up his cover. A limp hand extended beyond the edge
of the small sand hill, but Milo kept his weapon ready. Adrenalized blood
thrummed through his veins as he peeked around the corner. The sniper's
body lay prone, his weapon a good eight inches from his body, a neat bullet hole
just left of center in his forehead.
He pushed the button on his shoulder radio.
* * *
Milo slumped at a stool in Sparrow's Bar and
Grill, doing his best to ignore the rocking country anthem playing over the
sound system. At the moment, he couldn't care less about partying all night
long. He'd already stuffed in two pieces of apple pie, compliments of the
grateful citizens of Aspen for saving their quiet little county from the big,
bad sniper. Other than that, his life had come to a screeching halt. Not a
good thing for someone with a restless spirit.
"Dude, you should be celebrating. You're
the hometown hero." Scott lifted his mug of beer in a toast.
Milo drew a finger through the condensation on his
glass of soda. "I know, but it's hard to get excited about two weeks off
work when I can't do anything but sit around." He needed his job, needed
to be busy. He was a live-hard, play-hard kind of guy. The shooting
had cost him a minimum of two weeks of administrative leave while internal
affairs conducted an official investigation. The bullet hole in his arm along
with the consequential drugs from said shooting, left him with very little to
do. No mountain biking, no dancing, and certainly no drinking, at least
for a few days. "I can't even enjoy a damn beer." He'd been on
leave exactly 18 hours and was already bored out of his ever-loving mind.
He should be happy. The shot to his arm was
barely more than a surface wound as far as he was concerned and had only cost him
a couple of stitches. No blood transfusions. No days in the hospital.
Sheriff Williams had given him quite the dressing down privately for not
following protocol, but publicly he'd proclaimed him as a quick-thinking hero
who'd saved many lives. Karen, along with the three other victims, was
still in the hospital, but all were expected to make a full recovery.
"That's tough." Scott swiveled on his
bar stool to watch the few couples who'd come out to dance on a Thursday
night. "You can still fish, though, right?"
He did have that. "Doc said no activity, but
I'm pretty sure fishing doesn't count." The river that ran through his
property provided some of the best fly fishing in the region and had afforded
him solace on many occasions.
"When are you going to show me that
honey-hole you keep talking about?"
"Never." Milo laughed. "A man
does not share his honey-hole."
Scott gave him a sideways glare. "I think
you're making it up anyway."
The vibrating phone in Milo's pocket saved Scott
from his smart-ass remark. He pulled it out, surprised to see the name Quinn
Crawford on the screen. Although they'd been close during their years together
in the Army and the U.S. Marshal's Service, he'd only talked to his friend a
handful of times since he'd left the service three years ago.
Milo pressed the answer button. "Quinn?"
"Milo, buddy. How have you been?"
He could barely hear his friend over the music. "Hang
on a second." He looked at Scott. "Be right back."
He stepped out the door and into the early evening
light, grateful for the quiet Aspen streets. He put the phone back to his
ear. "I'm good, man." Except for the annoying bandage on his arm. "How
"Great. Sounds like you're a celebrity now."
The side of the brick building scraped his shirt
as he leaned against it. "Heard about that, did ya?" Milo knew a
couple of national networks had run a brief report on the standoff during the
early morning news shows, but he'd expected the story to fade after twenty-four
hours without much notice.
"I did, and I have to say it couldn't have
come at a better time."
He drew his brows together. "How so?"
Quinn chuckled. "I'm about to make your loss
my gain. I need a favor. I need to place a witness under your protection."
"A witness?" The proposal surprised
him. "You know I'm no longer a marshal, Quinn."
"Exactly why I need you. This particular
witness has been compromised four times already, and I'm starting to suspect
our organization has somehow been infiltrated. She's a high profile witness in
the Trasatti trial, and I need to keep her safe for another four weeks."
"John Trasatti, the mobster?" He'd
guess that pretty much anyone who'd turned on a TV during the past year had
heard about the arrests of several members of the infamous crime family. It
had been a sweet coup for the Chicago Police Department. "You think they
have someone on the inside? That's hard to believe." The Marshal's
Service prided itself on its flawless protection record.