Welcome Readers...into my Dreams and Imagination.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hustle Into Love - Chapter Sixteen, Part One

Hey all,

Happy Valentine's Day!  And I have a special gift for you.  Since I promised we'd be done with the FREE READ by the end of the month, I've found a way to make it happen and give you a gift at the same time.  How about some Saturday postings??? 

That's right.  For the rest of the month I'll be posting on Tuesdays, Thursday's AND Saturdays, so settle back with a cuppa for these last few chapters of the story.  We left Chantal in quite a fix.  Let's see how she gets out of it!  Enjoy!

Hustle Into Love


Chapter Sixteen

Mace’s heart fell to his shoes.  He slid to a stop in the dark passageway and looked around worriedly.  “Did you hear that?”
Eric nodded, his dark face grim.  “It was a gunshot.”
Sickness coated Mace’s throat.  “God.  Chantal.”
“Do not give in to fear,” Lì said firmly.  “Channel it instead into finding her.”
Mace only half heard his brother’s wisdom.  “Could you tell which way it came from?”
“This place is like a fucking echo chamber,” Eric snarled.  “Sound bounces all over the place.”
“There are two passageways,” Lì pointed out.  “Perhaps we should split up and search them both.”
“Good idea.”  Mace pointed at one of the dark halls.  “You and Eric take the left passage.  I’ll go right.  If you find anything—”
“Three shots.  Universal distress signal,” Eric interrupted.  “Got it, boss.”
“Be careful, brother,” Lì remonstrated.
Mace nodded.  “You too.”
Without another word, the men split up and headed down the different passageways.  Mace was quickly enveloped in gloom as he made his way deeper into the ship.  The vessel was bigger than it looked.  He now understood why it was the flagship of Sun’s fleet. 
In the distance he thought he could hear movement and the muffled sound of voices.  Praying he was going the right way, he turned and made his way down one of the narrow corridors.  He swore aloud.  It was like a rabbit warren, and if he wasn’t careful, he might never be able to find the woman he loved.
Other shouts rang out, followed by a scurry of pounding feet.  Uncaring of anything other than getting to Chantal, Mace raced through the darkened passageways, his own weapon at the ready.
How far he ran through the twisted and narrow corridors he had no idea.  But he was just beginning to despair he was lost when he turned a corner and ran smack into three of Chóngdé’s sailors.
One was obviously in charge, because he was snarling at the other two, giving them his orders.  But when he saw Mace, his face took on a look of comical dismay.  In an instant the man understood Chóngdé’s operation had been discovered, and all could be lost.  With a startled shout, he pushed his men forward.
“Get him!”
Mace grinned.  He’d been waiting for someone to fight, and now he’d gotten his wish.  No matter that there were three of them, or that they were all sturdy and strong from their working with cargo.  All he had to do was think of one of them touching his lady and his fury flared.  He was beyond incensed and anxious to do some real damage of his own.
Together, the two came at him, but Mace was ready.  The first one he clubbed hard with the butt of his pistol, and when he staggered, Mace followed it up with a uppercut to the jaw.  As the man went down, he fell into his friend, knocking him off balance.  That was all it took for Mace to get the upper hand.  His fists flew as he allowed his anger full rein.  The man had no chance against Mace’s skill and fury.  He went down on top of his cohort.
A stinging blow to the chin snapped Mace’s head back, making him see stars.  Too late he remembered the third man.  A second hit, this one to his midsection, stole his breath, and made him drop his gun, but Mace wasn’t out for the count yet.  He ducked the next punch and lunged forward to grab the sailor around the waist.  They both went down, hitting the metal floor hard.
A red mist covered Mace’s eyes as he pounded on the man below him.  Every imagined pain Chantal might have gone through was remembered.  Every dishonorable action that could have been done to her was considered.  And his enemy paid the price.
After several minutes of combat, he was breathing hard, but his bloodlust was barely quenched.  The sailor was still fighting back, and some of his blows had gotten through.  Mace was pretty sure he had cracked a rib.  His chest felt like a stake had been stabbed through it.
But there was no way he was going to stop.  He had to get to Chantal.  She was what was important.  Broken rib or not, he wasn’t going to stop until he had won. 
Infuriated all over again, he punched the sailor hard in the stomach, then followed it up with a powerful blow to side of the face.  The man’s eyes glazed over and his head lolled, but Mace still didn’t rest.  He hit the other fighter again and again until his enemy was limp beneath him.
Only then did he stagger to his feet.  Wiping the blood from his mouth, he picked up his gun and grabbed the nearly unconscious man by the collar.  “Where is she?” he snarled in Cantonese.  “Where have you hidden her?”
Barely able to speak, the man only groaned.  Mace shook him hard.  “Tell me where she is or the next time I’ll do more than hit you.”
The sailor stared at the gun Mace put to his forehead and saw his death in the other man’s eyes.  He did the only thing left to do.  Coughing weakly, he gestured down a passageway.  “In…the hold at the bottom of…the ship.  But she…is no longer there.”
Mace’s heart stopped.  “What?  Why?”
The sailor looked sour.  “She…escaped.”
A grin tugged at Mace’s lips, making them bleed again.  “That’s my girl.”  Then he shook the other man again.  “Where was she last seen?  Why am I hearing gunfire?”
His enemy coughed again.  “Nearby.  I…was sent to…retrieve her.”
“And the shots I heard?”
“I…do…not know,” was the response just before the man lapsed into unconsciousness.
Mace cursed and dropped the man back to the floor.  Quickly, he grabbed any weapons he could find, stuffing them in his belt.  Then praying he was going in the right direction, he headed the way the beaten man had pointed out.  Deeper into the depths of the Shen-Yi.

* * * * *

“That’s the last of them.”  Eric tossed the unconscious sailor at his feet.  “How many does that make?”
“I believe you have knocked out five so far,” Lì murmured.  He gazed around at the bodies littering the floor and sighed.  “You are very good at your job.”
Eric grinned.  “Damn straight, I am.”
“May I suggest we keep the next one awake so we can question him.”
“Sure,” the bodyguard agreed with a shrug, “if he cooperates.  But if they come at me with a gun again, all bets are off.”
Lì inclined his head.  “Of course.”
The men continued down their chosen passageway.  They could hear the sound of heavy feet running and every once in a while, shouts and screams.
“I wonder how D’Avranches is doing,” Eric muttered.
“My brother can take care of himself.” Lì nodded reassuringly.  “Do not worry.  He is an expert in many types of fighting.”
“Yeah?”  Eric relaxed a little.  “Good, because Princess will never forgive me if something happens to her man on my watch.”
Lì opened his mouth to respond, but shut it quickly when around the corner a burly sailor appeared.  He took one look at Eric and Lì and cursed long and loud.  Then, without another word, he launched himself at the bodyguard.
The two men went crashing to the floor.  Lì nimbly jumped back and waited to see if Eric needed help.  So far the bigger man had had no trouble taking anyone down.  “Remember not to knock him out,” Li called to Eric.  “We need to know where Chantal is.”
All Eric did was grunt.
Lì watched impassively, but after a few minutes, a frown touched his elegant face.  Then he sighed.  “Eric,” he reprimanded.  “This is not…how do you call it?  The WWE.  Stop playing with him.  We must find out about Chantal.”
He heard another grunt, then Lì was rewarded by the sight of Eric twisting around to lay the man out on the floor.  A knee in the back and the bodyguard’s impressive three hundred pounds kept the sailor still.
“Okay, boss—” Eric looked up at Lì, his dark eyes sparkling, “—all yours.”
“He truly enjoys his work,” Lì said to the captive man as he knelt beside him.  “And he will enjoy it some more unless you tell us where you have Ms. Montgomery hidden.”
“I will not tell you anything,” the beaten sailor snarled.  “Go to Hell.”
“Uh, uh—” Eric pressed his knee harder into his enemy’s back, “—be nice.”
The man groaned and tried unsuccessfully to suck in his breath.  His face was turning an alarming shade of red.
“I must tell you, your operation is over,” Lì informed him.  “The police have been called and Hui Sun is on board.”
“Hui Sun?”  The sailor’s eyes rolled back in his head.  He gasped in fear.  “No.”
“That got his attention,” Eric commented.
“Yes, didn’t it.”  Lì gazed down at captured man.  “I believe you have a choice, friend.  Either tell me what I want to know or I shall be forced to turn you over to your employer.”
“And that’s only after,” Eric growled, with another quick punch to the sailor’s kidneys, “I pound on you a little more.”
“I really will not be able to stop him,” Lì said apologetically to the now terrified man.  “Or Hui Sun, unless you tell me the truth immediately.  Tell me where Chantal Montgomery is.”
The sailor glanced at Lì’s implacable face, then at Eric who gave him an unholy grin.  With a shudder of terror, he collapsed, as afraid of his erstwhile boss as he was of two men holding him captive. 
Less than a minute later the man had been knocked unconscious, and they were both running towards Chantal’s location.  But would it be too late?


Chantal's got a lot of people riding to her rescue.  I wonder who'll get to her first?  Mace, Eric and Li?  Or maybe Hui Sun?  I hope it's not Chóngdé.  That would make things even worse!  We'll find out next time!  Until then go give someone you love a hug!  It's the day for it, after all!  ~grin~





Ashley L said...

Yeah! Everyone is converging on Chantal and she will soon get off that ship! I think it would be interesting if Chongde is the one to get to her first, though. Thanks for the Saturday additions too!

Phylis said...

I'm off this Saturday, so I get to enjoy a chapter on time!!! Whoooo Hoooo! Can't wait till Thursday's episode. I think there is going to be a huge collision of people!

CJ England said...

You're welcome, Ashley. I wanted to be able to finish by the end of the month and I didn't think you'd kick too hard about the extra! *smile*

CJ England said...

We shall see, Phylis. I know it's all got to come to a head somewhere. Hopefully it WON'T be Chantal's!!!!

Carrie said...

I have been meaning to leave a post after I read the chapter but was called away by the baby and forgot. I can't wait to see who gets to Chantal first and I want to see how Sun reacts to Chongde illegal activites. Saturdays are going to be awesome, considering my birthday falls on the last Saturday of the month its going to be a great day.

CJ England said...

Well, Happy Birthday a few days early, Carrie! I'm glad I can give you a gift you'll look forward to.