The Barista’s Guide to Espionage, страница 1
The Barista’s Guide to Espionage
The Barista’s Guide to Espionage
The Amnesiac’s Guide to Espionage
About Dave Sinclair
The Barista’s Guide to Espionage
Better shape up Bond. There’s a new girl in town and she’s come to kick some ass.
* * *
Meet Eva Destruction, the only thing quicker than her mouth is her talent for getting into trouble. It’s true she’s always had an eye for a bad boy but when she falls for billionaire super-villain Harry Lancing, it seems that even Eva may have bitten off more than she can chew.
* * *
Eva hurtles headlong into terrorist attacks, assassinations, car chases and the occasional close encounter with a dashing spy who seems determined to charm Eva into bed as he is to thwart Lancing’s plans to bring down every government on Earth.
* * *
As the odds begin to stack up in Lancing’s favour the fate of the world lies in Eva’s hands. Luckily for the world, Eva Destruction isn’t the type of girl to let a super-villain ex-boyfriend with a massive ego, unlimited resources and his own secret island get the better of her.
* * *
“High octane, wise-cracking, ass-kicking entertainment from the first to the last page…”
* * *
“As if Stephanie Plum had James Bond’s (Australian) love child...I loved it. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s clever. I want a movie of this now. Brilliant.”
Eva was out of bullets, out of luck and out of time.
Crouching low in the tropical vegetation, she inhaled slowly to steady her nerves. The metal tang of blood mixed with the rich scents of crushed foliage, almost heady in its intensity. Blood had smeared across her forehead and cheeks, like gory war paint. You can do it, she told herself. There was a good fifty metres of open ground between her and the beach. The odds weren’t with her making it without being seen, but she had no choice. If she faltered, people would die and the world would be plunged into chaos.
She stood on unsteady legs and did her best to block out the exhaustion. Ignoring the pain from her countless lacerations, Eva broke into a run. Ducking low, she sprinted from the jungle and headed towards a small pier with its nearby powerboat. With every stride, her hope grew. Could she do it? Was there still a chance? Her breath sawed in and out as her legs and arms pumped. Bullets splintered the wood at her feet and she skidded to a halt.
The sound of footsteps thudded behind her, and Eva turned. Three black-clad guards stepped carefully onto the tiny pier, the wooden slats screaming in protest at the added weight. They approached her slowly; a couple of their compatriots had made the fatal mistake of underestimating her. Their corpses littered the island. But these guards needn’t have bothered with their caution. She’d spent both magazines from her Sig Sauers.
Bikinis were nice and all, but completely rubbish for storing extra ammunition.
The tropical sun scorched her exposed skin, which was slicked with sweat. She’d been so close. So close.
Now she’d never get to him.
The guns fell from her hands and clattered noisily on the wooden slats. She didn’t remove the tiny umbrella tucked under her bikini strap like a samurai sword. Slowly, Eva placed her hands on her head. Her mind rapidly processed the scene. Three to one. Not the best statistics, but she wasn’t out of options. Her eyes lingered on the barely-healed scar on the middle guard’s cheek.
The guards circled, careful to ensure there were several metres between them and her.
She smiled. “So, what brings you fellows here?”
The guards jolted. One even took a step back.
Eva widened her grin. “How’s everyone doing? Much on, boys? Who’s up for Boggle?” Her bravado was forced, but she refused to show weakness. There was too much at stake.
The guard on her left favoured his right leg, a dark wet patch glistening on his black trousers. His mouth was pinched, with pain or annoyance, she couldn’t say. It was probably a bit of both. Privately, she patted herself on the back – she’d managed to hit something after all. Eva had been shooting so wildly she assumed she’d had the accuracy of a concussed Stormtrooper. Running through the jungle with blood in her eyes hadn’t helped her aim.
The middle guard – who happened to be the shortest and oldest – stepped forward, outside striking distance. Van Buren. Since they’d first met, he’d had a perpetual sneer, as if she was comprised of nothing but spoiled milk. They’d had run-ins before. The month-old red scar on his cheek was a vivid reminder of their last little dalliance. “Drop the umbrella.”
“Nope,” Eva said.
“Why are you even carrying that out here?”
“Yeah, I’m not buying it. What’s with the umbrella?”
“It’s magic,” she said.
“No. What are you, five?” He had to know she was stalling for time.
“Then why carry it through the jungle?”
“Greta and I have been through a lot together.”
“You called your frilly little pink umbrella Greta?”
Eva nodded. “Skeletor’s Mighty War Hammer seemed overblown.”
He aimed his gun at her head. “Drop it.”
With few options available, Eva did as asked and reluctantly unsheathed Greta and dropped it on the pier. It was as if she’d betrayed a friend.
Satisfied with the small win, Van Buren said, “Right. Now, come back with–”
“Nope, VB,” she said firmly. “I’m waiting for something.”
Eva checked the expensive and bulky men’s diving watch on her wrist. The timepiece was too big for her, but it wasn’t a fashion statement. The watch had a purpose. As did she.
Eva was surprised how little time she had left.
“You have somewhere else to be?” Van Buren asked. His cockiness grew every moment Eva stood motionless.
“Don’t we all?” Eva asked. “Oh. You asked because I checked my watch. Right. This little baby tells me when all sorts of interesting things are going to happen.” She wriggled her wrist in the air.
His eyebrows drew together. “What kind of things?”
Eva held up a finger to silence him, but nothing besides an uncomfortable ten seconds of silence followed. “Sorry.” Eva shrugged. “It was ripe for a dramatic pause, now it’s kind of weird. Wait, okay…and, no… Okay, wait.” She nodded at the watch. Confidently she repeated, “It tells me when all sorts of interesting things are going to happen.”
Van Buren stared blankly at her. Eva nodded encouragingly. At first he shook his head in confusion, then realised he was expected to repeat himself.
“What kind of–?”
A thunderous explosion rocked the island, reverberating th
When the last explosion died away, all three stared at the devastation Eva had wrought. But she had no time to admire her handiwork.
Launching herself at the nearest guard, she used a rugby tackle that would make an All Black proud. She caught the guard mid-back and off balance, and he staggered backward, arms flailing. His thrashing caught his neighbour and both men bounced off one another and careened unsteadily towards the edge of the pier. A well-placed Mae Geri front kick sent them both bowling over the side. They splashed unceremoniously into the clear, warm water.
And her Krav Maga teacher had said she lacked discipline…
Eva turned and bent her knees into a fighting stance, facing off against Van Buren. Even though he was two metres away and holding a gun, he looked petrified.
“Don’t you move!” He waved the pistol at her.
“Sure.” Eva placed her hands on her head.
“I said don’t move!”
“You want me to put my hands down so you can tell me to put them on my head?”
“Yes. No. Shit!”
“One thing at a time, chill VB,” Eva said.
“Stop calling me that.” Van Buren waved the gun in her direction and peered over the side of the pier to determine what had happened to his lackeys. That was all Eva needed.
Stepping towards him, she pivoted to one side. Van Buren’s attention snapped back to her and he lunged. Eva grabbed his arm at the wrist and elbow, and pushed her thumb into the elbow joint, causing him to shriek in pain. She peeled his gun away and before he had time to blink, Eva had the weapon pointed at his head.
“Holy crap. That actually worked.” She didn’t know who was more shocked.
Van Buren’s lips moved, but no sound escaped. He clenched his eyes closed, waiting for that final, fatal shot.
The tropical sounds of the jungle returned, timid at first, then stronger; the incessant background cacophony of birds and insects assaulted Eva’s ears. Sweat trickled where sweat had no right trickling. Her trigger finger tensed and relaxed. Tensed and relaxed.
She exhaled. “Time for a swim, VB.”
Van Buren pried one eye open. “What?”
“Jump. I won’t ask again.” Eva pulled back the gun’s hammer.
He may have been many things, none of them good, but Van Buren knew when to do what he was told. Without hesitation, he leapt into the water. As soon as she heard the splash, Eva picked up Greta and ran for the end of the pier.
Fumbling hands undid the rope trying the boat and she pulled the starter cord. There was no time to check fuel levels. She wouldn’t need much. All she needed was enough to get to the other island.
If it wasn’t already too late.
She gunned the throttle and the boat sliced through the still crystal waters, towards the island on her right. She was probably meant to call it starboard or aft or whatever it was but, in her short time on the island, she hadn’t bothered to learn sea-faring terms. She’d had more important things on her mind.
Faint popping sounds came from behind. Loud thumps hit the hull. Her head jerked around. One of the guards had managed to scramble onto the pier and was firing an assault rifle. He refocussed his aim, and leaned into his stance. Eva willed the craft to go faster, despite the throttle already being on full.
More distant pops. The bullets pierced the boat from the front, snaking their way up the hull towards her. Eva saw the other island loom larger and prayed she’d make it. Only a couple more minutes…
It was too much to ask.
A bullet ripped through her shoulder and at first all she felt was the thud. Then the single most excruciating pain ricocheted through her body. The throttle jolted from her grasp and the engine shuddered to a halt. Eva fell forward into the aluminium hull, and she pressed her palm to the wound. She could feel blood pooling and running down over her bikini top, and she knew the bullet had gone clean through. Scurrying towards the engine, it was suicide to remain where she was. More shots rang out as she reached for the throttle, while keeping one hand pressed to the bullet hole.
The piercing sound of more ammunition tearing through aluminium flesh reverberated through the boat. Rising to her knees, she peered over the lip of the hull and tried to get her bearings while her spare hand frantically grasped for the throttle.
A bullet grazed her temple.
Eva fell back, and she hit the side of the boat hard. Legs failing her, she tipped over the edge, plunging into the water. Gulping for air, her limbs refused to function, even though everything in her screamed swim! Stinging sea water flooded her lungs, and the boat drifted away as her vision started to grow dark.
Everything was lost.
Eva woke with a desperate gasp, her whole body shuddering awake.
Her arms jerked but didn’t get far. The restraints saw to that. Why am I sitting up? Am I handcuffed?
A soothing voice said, “Woah, settle. You’re okay, you’re okay.”
She blinked repeatedly. Everything seemed slightly blurry, the world seemed out of focus and devoid of colour.
There was a metallic clang and the same voice said, “Tell the Commander she’s awake.”
Commander? Of what?
Eva shook her head. Her mouth was dry and tasted of vomit. Her ears rang and her skin was bunched in places, especially her shoulder. Bandages? Stitches? Someone had worked on her while she’d been unconscious. Everything that could ache, did.
Eva struggled against her restraints. Her vision still hadn’t returned, although it was a lighter blur. She needed to know where she was, who held her captive. Why she was shackled.
“Please stay still, Miss. You’re safe.”
Eva meant to laugh, but the only sound to escape was a hoarse wheeze. She attempted to talk, but couldn’t form anything coherent.
Footsteps approached. “Here, this will replace the lost electrolytes.” The accent sounded American.
He poured a sweet liquid into her mouth. Eva gulped it down, coughing at first. It was the single best thing she’d tasted in her life. It even got rid of the lingering flavour of vomit.
Eva rolled her tongue in her mouth. Everything still hurt, and she still couldn’t see, but at least she felt only half-dead. Hoping her voice would work this time, she said, her voice croaky, “The eighties called, they want their handcuffs back.”
Eva blinked. Her vision was returning; she could finally make out small details. In quick succession she checked every corner of the room for an escape route, a weapon, anything that she could use. She came up short on all counts. No windows, a hefty-looking bulkhead door and not much else. All she had to work with was a plain metal table and a balding sweaty sailor with a strong chin and weak eyes. The overall effect was a kindly face, if a little browbeaten.
“The handcuffs. I thought it was all about plastic restraints these days. You know, whatever you guys call those cable tie things.”
“You guys?” he asked. She thought there was a hint of amusement in his voice.
Eva nodded in his direction. “The uniform. Either this is a US Navy vessel or you take An Officer and a Gentlemen cosplay really seriously.”
The sailor sat and tapped his pen on the metal table. She wondered how long he’d been there while she was unconscious. The pad in front of him was blank. She assumed there was about to be an interrogation. The lack of flowers and candlelight, plus the metal restraints, excluded the possibility of a date. She assumed he wouldn’t be asking about her favourite movie or if she had any brothers or sisters. Which was a shame, because she really had awesome taste in films.
While silence filled th
The sailor ran his hands through his thinning hair. The name tag above his right pocket read Lieutenant Commander Cole. There weren’t as many ribbons above his left pocket as there should be for a man of his age.
The drink had revitalised her, refocussing what she needed to do and where she had to be. Neither of those things were here.
“The island. You have to send a party to the island. There’s someone in danger. If you could send out a boat or something to search for–”
He shook his head slowly. “We won’t be doing that.”
“For one thing, we’re not authorised to. Secondly, we need to know your story first. The only thing we know for certain is we found you floating at sea.”
“Then why tie me up?”
There it was, a slight hesitation. “Standard procedure.”
A lie. It was plain to Eva that something else was at play. Handcuffing someone you rescued, especially with countless lacerations and a gunshot wound, was far from standard procedure. No, the sailor knew more than he was letting on. That made two of them.
Eva scanned the room and was overcome with dread. If they weren’t going to do the saving, she’d have to do it herself.