Thursday teaser excerpt: A Lovely Night to Die

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This week’s excerpt is from Caleb Pirtle’s newest book.

By Caleb Pirtle III

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.

About the book

Roland Sand has killed two government operatives sent to execute him. He is arrested and represented in court by a beautiful young public defender, Eleanor Trent. Their eyes connect. So do their hearts, but both keep their feeling buried deep inside them.

Eleanor does not know that Sand is an assassin for a rogue intelligence agency that sells its deadly services to foreign nations as well as to its own country. He has angered his chief, the one-eyed Bohemian, by refusing to kill an accountant who accidentally saw the details of a top-secret mission. Sand sees no reason why an innocent man should die.

The Bohemian’s agents kidnap Sand and take him from the Durango, Colorado, jail. He is given one chance to redeem himself. He must carry out the assignment to assassinate the President of the United States. It is a mission sanctioned from inside the United States government.

Eleanor is furious, and she is frightened. She has lost cases before. But never has she lost a client. In desperation, he calls Navy SEAL Commander Patrick Hurt to help her track down the missing Roland Sand. She handled a case for one of Hurt’s friends years earlier, and he said she could count on him if she ever needed him.

At Midway Airport, Sand awaits the arrival of Air Force One. The President comes down the steps, and Sand sees Eleanor in the greeting committee. He is told, “Kill the President or we kill the lady.” He has only a second to make up his mind. And Hurt knows, if necessary, he must kill Sand to save the President.

If you liked this excerpt, check out the book on Amazon.

About the author

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of more than seventy books, including the Ambrose Lincoln series.

Pirtle is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. Several of his books and his magazine writing have received national and regional awards.

Pirtle has written three teleplays, and wrote two novels for Berkeley based on the Gambler series: Dead Man’s Hand and Jokers Are Wild.

Pirtle’s narrative nonfiction, Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk is a true-life book about the fights and feuds during the founding of the controversial Giddings oilfield and From the Dark Side of the Rainbow, the story of a woman’s escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II. His coffee-table quality book, XIT: The American Cowboy, became the publishing industry’s third best selling art book of all time.

Learn more about Caleb on his:

And follow him on Twitter @CalebPirtle.

 

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