My first collaboration with Andrew Warren, SANDFIRE featuring action hero Thomas Caine, launches May 22nd. As a special “Thank You” to my readers, you don’t have to wait that long for a taste of the action! Please enjoy this sneak-peek of a mission from Caine’s past…
CAINE PUSHED ON HIS POLES and kicked his skis, gathering speed as he headed down the trail. He followed Argyle’s tracks as they disappeared down the steep mountainside. She had escaped down the opposite side of the trail he had taken to reach her. If he could catch up, he might still convince her to turn herself in. But first he had to escape the helicopter and its soldiers.
Gunfire chattered around Caine. Snow exploded from the compacted drifts.
He pushed harder, increasing his speed, following the fresh ski tracks in the snow. His body curved into an athletic stance, with his knees and elbows slightly bent, and his body leaning forward into the wind. Soon he was parallel skiing, shifting his weight from one leg to the other as he gathered speed. He must have been doing forty-miles-per-hour or more.
Caine stayed on Emily’s trail. He had no idea what lay ahead, but he knew he had to follow, or risk losing her. Sharp cliffs and rocky outcrops leered along either side of the trail. There was only one safe route down the slope, and it was growing steeper and steeper the longer he followed it. Yet he had to trust Emily had already scouted a safe path out of here. That was what he would have done.
When he reached a straight stretch, Caine took the opportunity to look behind.
The three soldiers were also skiing hard after him. They too had planned ahead, and they were gaining.
His fears realized, he squatted closer to the ground and leaned hard into the descent.
Suddenly the open stretch disappeared, and he plummeted through the air.
He hadn’t seen the cliff in time.
He was falling.
Caine held his breath and tensed, until he realized that was the wrong approach. He had followed Argyle’s tracks and she had skied off the same point. There was a snowfield below him. He relaxed his knees, letting his legs absorb the impact as he hit a steep slope ten yards below. He crashed into a snowdrift, barely managing to retain control as he again picked up her trail.
At the last second, he noticed Argyle’s tracks veered to the right. So Caine did too.
He churned snow in a fast stop, realizing he was only a few feet away from propelling himself over another sharp cliff. Once he was steady on his feet, he looked down, feeling the vertigo as he did. The next drop was over five-hundred-feet at least, and ended in deadly, jagged rocks. There would be no surviving a fall here.
A sudden whooshing noise caused Caine to turn and look behind him.
One of the pursuers had jumped the same cliff edge Caine had.
He was bearing down fast on Caine, so Caine pushed off with his skis, sliding out of the way.
The foe landed behind Caine, close enough to touch. He stumbled for a second as he struggled to regain his balance.
Caine saw his opportunity. He reached out, grabbing the assailant’s assault rifle, and twisted the man in a circle across the snow. The soldier lost his balance, and tumbled over the five-hundred-foot drop. His screams echoed through the cold mountain air as he plunged into oblivion.
With the M4 carbine in his grip, and his ski poles hanging by their wrist cords, Caine spun around and fired towards the cliff. The two remaining pursuers had not jumped the cliff above. They stood perched on the edge, preparing for a clean shot when they thought Caine wasn’t watching. They hadn’t expected Caine to return fire so rapidly. One took a bullet in the chest and tumbled down the cliff. The other was fast enough to duck back out of sight behind the drifts of snow.
Caine took off again, skiing fast along the top of the cliff. He followed the narrow snowdrift Emily had taken between both the rising and falling cliff faces. The route offered little room to twist and turn or to control his speed. One wrong move would end in a high-speed collision into the rock edge on his left, or a long fall to his death on his right…
PS: If you’re a Goodreads member, could you please add SANDFIRE you your “Want to Read” shelf? Just click here: https://goo.gl/Xwvf7G
Aiden L Bailey