In their second adventure, Morgan and Felicity fight for family in this counter-terrorist caper story.
Austin Camacho's Intriguing World of Fiction
Retired jewel thief Felicity O'Brian travels to her native Ireland to defend her uncle's Catholic parish. With her is her partner, Morgan Stark, a retired mercenary soldier. The job looks easy until they meet Ian O'Ryan, an IRA terrorist who believes he is the reincarnation of Orion the ancient hunter. He is determined to keep the violence alive in Ireland and to spread it throughout the island. To avoid bullets, bombs and beatings, Morgan and Felicity rely on a special gift, a psychic link that alerts them to danger. But against O'Ryan they face danger from an entire army of enemies. Trying to separate patriotic mercenaries from heartless terrorists leads them to a sniper mission on the rocky Irish coast, a deadly high speed motorcycle race in Belgium, and a final confrontation on an island off the coast of France where Morgan could die by slow torture if Felicity doesn't find him in time.
Ten minutes of desolation bumped past before she started feeling a subtle mental tug to her left. A slow smile spread over her face as she wrestled the wheel over. She was becoming accustomed to the peculiar psychic link she and Morgan shared.
She had been able to sense when danger threatened her since she was very young. But then, just months before had she met Morgan, and found that he had the same bizarre warning instinct. It didn't take long to discover that they were on the same "wavelength" somehow. Not only could she sense his distress, but if she relaxed enough, she could feel his very location. Even now, the weird tingle in her scalp guided her to her partner and best friend.
As she rattled on over rolling grassy land, her mind flashed back over the last year. They met in a South American jungle. She had stolen a rare piece of jewelry for a man named Seagrave. He double-crossed her and ordered his men to leave her stranded in that tropical forest. As it turned out, Seagrave had done the same to Morgan. In the days that followed, Felicity and Morgan saved each other's lives, fought and bled together, and became closer than either of them had ever been to anyone.
It was in those first few days, long before either of them considered going straight, that they learned about their mental link. At moments of intense emotional reaction they could somehow feel each other's sensations. This, as it turned out, made sex impossible. But as their relationship evolved that fact became irrelevant. Felicity supposed that she loved Morgan as much as she would a brother if she had one. But she trusted him much more.
Dragging her mind back to the present she stopped about fifty yards away from him, pulling the Jeep up beside a motorcycle parked among the dunes. The ground there was like a calm but rolling sea somehow frozen solid. Morgan lay prone against a sandy swell, his head and rifle stretched over the crest. A desert camouflage uniform covered his muscular, brown-skinned body. His kinky hair was cut short. A large tumbleweed lay to the left of his head, and a wide, squat cactus bush stood on his right. His six foot two inch frame was frozen in absolute stillness.
She could feel the tranquility of the scene, just as she could smell the sweet cactus blossoms and fresh crisp air. The total silence gave her the feeling of a diorama, set up in a museum for the viewer's amusement. Perhaps Morgan was staring, fixed on some faraway target. If his concentration was strong enough, maybe she could even sneak up on him.
When she wanted to, Felicity could move with absolute silence. It was a cat burglar prerequisite. Not even a professional mercenary of Morgan's experience could hear her approach.
Of course, he did not need to hear her.
"Freeze, Red." Morgan's sharp voice snapped out, low but intense, when she got within twelve feet of him. His right arm swung back, his index finger jabbing right at her face. He remained still except for that one arm. When his finger returned to its original position, curled around a trigger, his stillness resumed.
Seven seconds later she was startled by a crack like earthbound thunder. The echo flashed out to the horizon and back, and Morgan stopped holding his breath. He waved Felicity forward and pulled his Remington model 700 back to reload the bolt action weapon. In a moment she stretched out beside him, feeling the comforting warmth of the sand and the annoying scratch of the short, sparse grass. She didn't bother with a greeting beyond her smile and a brief nod.
"So, what are you shooting at?"
"Coyotes," Morgan said. "The sheep rancher's having a problem with coyotes. I saw an opportunity to test this new round I'm experimenting with."
"He's paying you for this?"
Morgan waved the question away. "Every one of those pelts is worth a good hundred dollars. The coyotes will pay for the trip."
"A new round? I thought you told me that rifle fired twenty-twos."
"Sure," Morgan replied, settling behind his Leopold variable power scope. "Twenty-two two-fifty caliber. I reamed the chamber out to take a larger case. I use the six millimeter Remington case and neck it down to take the twenty-two cartridge."
"Of course," Felicity said with a smirk. "That's just what I'd do. So much better for, well, must be better for something."
"Sniper work," Morgan said. "Coyote hunting is a lot like sniper work. I don't know if you pay that much attention to my side of the business, but I've got a couple of subcontractors working as counter-snipers in Iraq."
"When some insurgent takes a shot at our civilian contract force, we hit back, but with precision. For them, I wanted a cartridge that would shoot a bullet fast and flat. It's got to have a lot of power. And it shouldn't make a big mess of the target or in this case, damage the pelt. Here, take a look." He handed her a pair of binoculars. "Today I'm using forty-six grains of powder behind a fifty-two grain hollow point bullet."
"Right." From her viewpoint, Morgan was speaking meaningless gibberish now. He was in his own world, a world of soldiers and hunters. All she could see through the binoculars were two...well, dogs, maybe two feet high or so, with beautiful fur in a light brown, almost yellow color. The Steiner glasses brought her face to face with these animals across the plains. They were looking around in confusion, sometimes looking down at their fallen comrade.
A loud crack on her left made her jump again. In her binoculars, she saw the larger coyote stiffen and fall onto its side. His partner's ears perked and he backed away.
"Right through the lungs," Morgan said, grinning and cocking his fist back, "at three hundred fifty yards." He could judge distances with incredible accuracy, as she well knew. Silence returned and she went back to viewing the distant coyote, pacing back and forth with that light tread that made some animals appear to float across the ground. She knew this beast was raiding some rancher's sheep. Yet, this whole scenario bothered her. No, the truth was, it was Morgan who bothered her. Rifles, she thought, were a way to make killing impersonal and remote. Yet he made it as personal as possible. He modified his rifle, hand loaded and even designed the ammunition to bring these animals down.
"Morgan, I need to talk to you."
"In a minute, Red," Morgan said, getting a good sight picture on the third coyote.
"I'm looking at a job I'm not sure we should take."
"Not now, Red," Morgan hissed through clenched teeth, tightening his cheek weld to the walnut butt stock.
"Morgan, please don't shoot him."
"What?" Morgan stared at Felicity as if he doubted his hearing.
"He's so pretty. And you've already proven twice that you can do it. And my uncle who I haven't seen in seven years wants to hire us."
"What?" Morgan asked again, sounding like an eavesdropper, falling behind the conversation.
"I want to hug him and ask him how things are back home, not do business with him."
"You might have to do business with him as an excuse to visit home," Morgan offered.
"And why do you hunt, anyway?"
"Huh?" Morgan was kneeling up now, as if maybe reading her lips would aid his comprehension.
"I mean, you don't need it for food, like those poor beasts."
He seemed to seize on that point, as if finally she had asked a question he could answer. "Red, hunting is the best way to improve your hearing. To sharpen your eyesight. To acquire stealth." He paused to think. "Besides, it's fun."
"You should try being the hunted. It does all the same things for you. Nothing could match the rush of walking through a crowd of police with a pocket full of hot diamonds. Uncle Sean is meeting me tomorrow evening. Please come back tonight. I can't deal with him alone."
Morgan sat up, laid his rifle down and rested a hand on her shoulder. "This thing's really got you shook up, hasn't it? Of course I'll come back. We'll work out your family problems together." He gave her a hug, and felt her gratitude as she returned it.
Morgan saluted the lone coyote who howled, perhaps in return. As the animal trotted off, Morgan headed for his bike. His partner needed him, and that was enough reason to leave right away. He would send the farmer back for the two valuable pelts.