Ten things you should know about Nick Hunter
1) Nick Hunter is an ex-contract killer.
2) The most important thing on Earth, to Nick, is his family.
3) It took a lot of effort to turn his life around, but the shadows of his past are with him everywhere.
4) Nick is the kind of person who makes his own rules. Luckily, his moral compass is steady.
5) He doesn’t regret dispatching any of his victims. Most of them were just unreachable leeches, sharks
that had grown too big to be touched by common laws anymore.
6) Given a boat and a gun, and accompanied by his family, Nick would live happily forever more.
7) Nick’s best friend and comrade in arms is Tequila.
8) Nick’s favourite weapon is Tequila’s dagger. Failing that, his bare hand.
9) He is a very good strategist and tends to work with what he’s got.
10) He dishes out the just desserts in book two, but book three is all about his son.
And a tease...
Blood is Heavier, by Ella Medler
Nick turned his head in a reflex motion, to see if the cigarette butt landed in the middle of the road, and as he did so, he caught sight of the gigantic ball of fire ripping through the house. He felt the shock wave of the explosion before he heard it, or maybe it was just that his brain had been stunned beyond normal function.
His eyes wide open, Nick watched, bewildered, as shards of shattered glass from the living room windows sliced through the air and impaled themselves, like daggers, into the soft ground. The raging inferno that had been his home shot debris high up into the air; some of the fragments smacked against the van’s windscreen, startling him.
No. No. No. How could it be? Max was in there. She’d smiled and waved only seconds ago.
He could see the fire, but his mind rejected it like some sick fantasy, refusing to allow it to become real.
Max was in there. There was nothing wrong with her – he’d seen her smile and wave just now.
She was alone. JB was here, by the van. He couldn’t have hurt her.
Nick turned his head to the patch of pavement where JB had been standing. There was no one there.
His pulse was suddenly so thunderous, so fierce, he felt like jets of blood might burst right through his temples.
“NO,” Nick shouted at the top of his lungs, a raw, rasping scream of agony. “Max!”
Why did it take so long to open the damned door? Why was he so maddeningly slow as he ran faster than he’d ever ran before towards the raging fire?
Max was in there. He’d just seen her – she’d smiled and waved at him.
Nick’s feet pounded the pavement with the wild tempo of an Olympic sprinter. Not fast enough. Why couldn’t he run faster? Why did his knees choose this vitally critical moment to turn to jelly? When did perfectly clear air turn to cloying treacle?
Max was in there, waiting for him, relying on him to come and save her from the heart of the inferno. How long could she survive it? She couldn’t be dead. She’d smiled and waved at him.
She’d only just smiled and waved at him.
The heat was lashing at his face now, scorching his skin. Maxi’s face swam in front of his blistered eyelids. She smiled and waved at him.
He was dimly aware of the shrill wail of sirens getting nearer. Who called the fire brigade? Max? She couldn’t have. She was in there. She’d smiled and waved at him.
She was all right. She must be. She couldn’t be hurt. She was smiling. She’d waved at him.
Nick vaulted over the laurel and ploughed through the rubble and fragments of wood and twisted pipes. The wall of flames snarled and bit at his exposed skin. He brought up an arm to cover up his face and pushed on, bent double.
Max was in there. She needed him. She’d smiled and waved…
He tripped, his trousers snagged on something. Furious, he shook his leg and the singed fabric gave way, ripping with the ease of cheesecloth all the way down to his ankle. It didn’t matter. He must get to her. Max. She was in there. She’d smiled and waved…
A pair of strong arms wrapped around his shoulders like steel cables and pulled him back. Nick resisted, but he was out of balance and he fell, twisting to his side.
Another – smaller – blast gouged scorching, clawing gashes into his flesh and he heard his singed hair crackle as it caught fire again.
He pushed himself to his knees. Max was in there. She’d smiled… She’d waved…
A fire blanket wrapped over him and he felt more than one pair of arms lift and half-carry, half-drag him away from the heat. He fought with the blanket. He fought with the arms. His eyes were shut. He couldn’t open them.
“Max!” Nick shouted, a trapped animal thrashing to get free. She was in there. She’d smiled at him… “Max! Maxi!” his throat was molten lava, his lungs felt drained of the last molecule of oxygen. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t speak.
“Max! Maxi!” he forced out a hoarse croak. “She’s in there! She waved at me! Max! Get off me! Let me go! Max!”
It was out, now, the blazing hellhole. Only cinders remained.
It had taken much less time than expected, putting out the fire, breaking up the thick wall of onlookers, sending away the ambulances.
The charred remains of his home were still smoking, taunting him, calling him in. He would have tried to get a little closer, if only he could bear it. He was too afraid to look, terrified of what he might see, horror-struck by the intensity of destruction, sickened by the notion that he was, once more, the cause of it all.
Nick dropped his head in his hands where he was, sat on the kerb, still wrapped in his blanket. His eyes were stinging. His lungs were raw. There was a crushing weight locked tight around his chest, pounding through his ribcage and snapping splinter after splinter out of the wreckage of his heart. A few more breaths and he imagined it would be all gone. Smashed, shattered, pulverised, as much a ruin as his home had become.
He’d refused to go to the hospital. All he allowed the paramedics to do was un-stick his lashes so he could open his eyes again. He drew a couple of lungfulls of oxygen out of the tank, as well, to make them happy and avoid being sedated and taken away against his will.
Hot tears trickled down his cheeks, etching grey streaks through the black smudges. He was all right. Again. And Maxi… Maxi… wasn’t. Nick shuddered, suppressing a groan.
History repeating itself.
Why couldn’t it have been him? Why did others have to die in his place? It would be so much easier to be dead than to live…
Survivor’s guilt, the psychiatrist had diagnosed all those years back, in Hereford. Not Nick’s fault. Not preventable. Six men had died because that’s what happens in armed combat, he’d said.
His six men died because they trusted him. They trusted him to know what he was doing, to get it right. And he’d let them down. No amount of hours on a psychiatrist’s couch could erase that out of his head.
And now he’d let Maxi down. Jaw locked, fists clenched, he wondered what his excuse could possibly be now? There was no war. She died because she was too close to him. Her love had made her vulnerable.
And he, himself, was solid poison. People who trusted him withered up and died at his mere touch.
Nick wrapped his arms around himself, fighting to stop the automatic reaction that always turned his self-loathing into raw anger. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to stem the tears. The anger twisted and snarled and flared up inside him until it turned to fury – a fury so vicious, so ferociously brutal and all-consuming that if Axel, or Jesse or anybody else were standing in front of him right now he would have crumbled their bones to dust with his mere hands and laughed as he did so.
There was no war. But there would be one.
Ella Medler is a published author and co-author, an opinionated book reviewer and article writer, a cantankerous proper grammar and punctuation user, and most of all, a dedicated writers’ friend. Always a dreamer of huge dreams and a savourer of life.
She lives in sunny Cornwall, UK, in an ivory tower, away from such mundane annoyances as kids’ school reports, or what to cook for dinner, or whether she’ll ever be able to find enough hours in the day to achieve all that she wants to achieve. Follow the harp music and you’ll find Ella sunning herself by the infinity pool, surrounded by a chorus of excited fans who clamour to recite snippets of written masterpieces, old and new.
Ella writes fiction. Check out her works and get in contact here http://ellamedler.wordpress.com/.