Excerpt – Operation No Coincidence

Victoria Ashton hoisted a laptop bag over her shoulder, locked her black Acura TL, and proceeded to the elevator of the parking garage. Her two-inch heels echoed lightly on the cement.

At the sound of a vehicle traveling too fast for the confines of the parking deck, she hesitated before entering the crosswalk. On the best of days she didn’t trust anyone to give pedestrians the right of way. Looking right, Victoria saw a white Chevy panel van speeding toward her. Mildly concerned, she stepped out of harm’s way to wait for the vehicle to pass.

“Jackass,” she muttered under her breath.

Suddenly, the vehicle stopped, rocking on its wheels, the smell of burned rubber permeating the air. The sliding door facing Victoria flew open.

“Victoria,” a male voice called in the distance. She recognized it as one of her associates.

A man dressed in black from head to toe lunged at her from the open door.

She sidestepped the stranger, who was now ducking his head as if to ram her in the stomach. His black-gloved hands reached out to grab her.

“Police, help! Call 9-1-1!” a man screamed.

The attacker continued moving in for the strike, but Victoria was quicker. She jammed a knee into his jaw, then immediately launched a kick outward, the pointed toe of her shoe making direct contact with the assailant’s groin. He grunted and fell hard on his ass, panting and cupping himself. Farcical, Victoria thought for a fleeting moment.

“Security! Stop!” a voice shouted, accompanied by heavy footfalls.

“Let’s get the fuck out of here,” the driver, a second man in black, yelled and revved the engine.

The guy on his backside didn’t need to be told twice. He’d already crab-walked two steps back, then, righting himself, dove for the van’s open door.

The vehicle sped away, tires squealing, leaving tread marks in their wake. Victoria watched helplessly. “Damn it,” she said to no one in particular.

The Chevy smashed through the lowered security arm at the exit and made a two-wheeled right turn onto Broad Street, horns blaring in angry protest.

A tall, mid-thirtyish man with dark hair and a frantic expression in his muddy brown eyes ran up to her, out of breath.

“Victoria, are you okay?”

“Yes; other than annoyed, I’m fine. Thank you, Nick.”

“He tried to kidnap you.”

“No, he wanted my laptop.” At least that’s what she thought.

“It looked like he wanted more than that.”

She clamped one hand on her bag and made the other into a fist, to keep Nick or anyone else from seeing how they trembled.

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