Excerpt II for Love or Justice:
Later that night, David’s false alarm was all Laurie wanted to talk about as they got ready for bed. Laurie sat on her bed, pulling her nightclothes out of her bag.
Dante took out his nightshirt and sweats, laying them beside his sleeping bag. He was determined to sleep in his own bed tonight, no matter what happened. He had been on dangerous ground the last couple of nights, but he mentally committed himself to stopping it tonight.
“I don’t think I could do it. Be away from my husband when I’m about to give birth.” Laurie ran a brush through her hair.
“Lots of people have to, military wives, police wives when their husbands are on long assignments, Marshals Service. It’s just something that happens. Love the man; you have to love the job too.”
“Yeah, I guess, but God that must be hard.”
“It is hard. I’ve seen a lot of men do it. It makes them crazy. David’s doing well with it though. He’s going to be a great Witsec Inspector.”
“Well, he should be doing great with it. Apparently he has the best teacher.” Laurie winked at him.
“Don’t pay any attention to Rick.” Dante shook his head. “He trained me, so if that tells you—”
“Intruder!” Max yelled from downstairs. The sound of several gun shots followed, then return gunfire.
Laurie sucked in a breath, and stared at Dante in shock.
Dante grabbed her, dragging her into the hall. He unlatched the safe room with a swift motion. Without a word, he thrust her in, slamming the door.
As soon as Dante closed the safe room door, David burst through his bedroom door.
“Laurie?” was all David said. Dante pointed to the safe room.
“This way.” Dante got out his gun and moved down the hall.
Dante never expected a gun battle here. He led David to the mouth of the hallway where they crouched down low to the floor. Dante could hear shots and return fire. Max and Cheyn were both still fighting. Dante intended to give them cover.
He gestured to David to cover the left. He crouched close to the right side of the hallway and inched his way forward until he could see out over the living room. Then he ducked back behind the wall. He was just above Max, who was hiding behind a protrusion in the stonewall that housed the fireplace.
Max shot across the room at a man behind the couch.
Dante aimed. When the man popped up again, Dante let off a round. The man flew backward, and lay on the floor. Dante crouched back down again.
He could still hear gunshots coming from the living room below him. He maneuvered himself to see where else Max was aiming. There was another man hiding just outside the door to the patio. The man’s gunfire hit the stone wall with a sharp rapping and the tinkling of broken stone. Dante took aim, but the assailant saw him. Dante ducked behind the wall.
Two more shots came. One to him, the other to Max. The former missed, the second didn’t.
Dante turned back to the scene just in time to see Max crumple to the floor. He took aim at the assailant and fired. The man crumpled to the ground as well.
Dante heard continued gunfire on the left side of the house. He crawled over to David, who shot and then ducked for cover. There was an armed man crouched on the other side of the counter toward the open front door. He used both as an effective shield from the gunfire. Dante took aim, but had to duck as a bullet flew at them, narrowly missing his head.
David returned fire. It caught the man in the neck.
He fell to the floor. All was silent.
“Where’s Cheyn?” Dante glanced down into the kitchen.
“Kitchen floor. He’s bleeding, but I don’t know where he got shot.”
“Any more of them?”
“I don’t think so, I only saw one.”
Dante grabbed his cell phone. He punched the radio button.
“The Hilo safe house has been assaulted. Two officers down. Three assailants dead. Requesting immediate back-up and medical assistance!”
“Copy that, safe house. Back-up and medical assistance is on the way,” responded the voice on the other side of the phone. Dante stuck the phone back in his pocket.
“David, we have to secure the house. I’m going to crawl out to the end of the landing. I need you to cover me.”
When Dante was halfway down the landing, a shot rang out from a part of the kitchen below where David was crouched.
A scream came from the hallway behind Dante. Oh God. Laurie was out of the safe room.