My new series is out!
You can grab the first two books now at Amazon or read on for a sample of the first couple of chapters
The bass from the car speakers threatened to blow a hole through his chest.
He could feel it pounding against his eardrums like war drums readying him for battle.
It put him on edge.
He shouldn’t be.
Not right before one of the most important nights of his life.
He had to stay sharp for what he was about to do.
What he needed to do.
For them at least.
“What?” shouted the driver.
“I said turn it down!” said Phoenix.
The driver gave Phoenix a shake of the head as if his passenger were out of his mind and continued on, speakers still bleeding sound.
Reaching across, Phoenix stabbed the off button with more force than he intended. As his finger sank deep into the dashboard, the button remained buried in a permanent off state.
“Bro! Do you know how much this car cost?” the driver demanded.
Phoenix turned to look directly at the driver. Casting a steely gaze his way, he said nothing.
“What?” asked the driver with a shrug.
Still not responding, Phoenix just continued to stare.
The driver kept his gaze straight ahead, refusing to face Phoenix. Mouth twitching from side to side, he began to drum a beat with his fingers along the steering wheel.
“Look, I know it was loud but you didn’t have to break my shit. That’s all I was saying.”
Phoenix allowed a small grunt to escape his lips before he turned to stare out the tinted car window. He watched as the late night London life passed them by.
Drunks shouted in what they thought was English to one another.
Girls in shoes that were too high tried to stay upright as they put the Leaning Tower of Pisa to shame.
Kids sat on street corners eating two-piece chicken and chips, their hoodies shadowing their faces like the cloak of the Grim Reaper.
“You know the plan?”
The driver let out a sigh and rolled his eyes. Sucking his teeth, he replied, “Yeah, man. I know the plan.”
“You don’t sound all that convincing. I don’t want to spend my time locked up like those other fools you know. Or should I say knew,” said Phoenix
“I know the plan, man.”
Phoenix stared once again through the window. They were nearly there.
Pulling a balaclava over his face, Phoenix secured it so no features could be seen.
As the car slowly rolled to a stop, Phoenix looked across to his partner. He held out his hand, and the heavy weight of a firearm sank into his palm. Wrapping his hands around it he simply nodded the driver’s way.
“Time to get that money.”
* * *
Phoenix kept his head low as he walked through the door of a convenience store, which was located on the corner of the street. Hood pulled over his head, he kept his frame small so he wouldn’t be detected.
Walking low through the aisles of the shop, he knew where the cameras and overhead mirrors were positioned. Phoenix wanted as little evidence of him on record as possible. Making his way towards the front of the store, his head snapped back and forth.
Good. It was empty.
Packets of sweets and fizzy drinks offered to cure him of his hunger and thirst, but he wasn’t interested.
Newspapers and magazines promised to get rid of any boredom that he might have. And if his gaze traveled further up, magazines of a different nature offered to cure him of those lonely nights.
He walked slowly so he could assess the situation. His footsteps trod lightly, until he was at his destination. Facing the shop counter, he waited for his victim to turn.
Standing with his back to him, the shop owner was a portly man no taller than five-eight. His greasy, jet-black hair was slicked back in what he thought was the latest style of the day. But he either didn’t get the right memo or failed to read it properly.
The shop owner turned around and fell backwards, hand clenched to his chest as he looked upon Phoenix in shock. “What do you want?”
“A kiss. What does it look like, fool?” said Phoenix.
“You don’t scare me with your bully act. You do know who I am! Don’t you?”
“I don’t care who you are. Hand it over.”
The shopkeeper blew wind through his lips and gave Phoenix a sad shake of his head. “You’re dead. You know that, don’t you?” Pinching the bridge of his nose, he kept on shaking his head as his shoulders rocked with laughter.
Phoenix let out a heavy sigh and pulled out the handgun buried inside his hoodie. Pointing it forward, he faced the shop owner with deadpan eyes.
“I know who you are, Abdul. I know what sort of game you play. I know this isn’t your first rodeo. But let me inform you of this. You have money that I want. Dirty money. Filthy money. Money that should be burned and never touched again. But right now, that doesn’t matter to me. Right now, I need that filthy cash a lot more than you do. So, hand. It. Over.”
Abdul took a step forward and looked at Phoenix with narrowed eyes. “I know you,” he whispered. “It’s Phoenix, isn’t it?
Slamming the butt of the gun into the bridge of Abdul’s nose, Phoenix heard a satisfying crack as bone broke under metal. Abdul staggered backwards, holding his nose in both hands as he yowled in pain. Abdul tried to blink back the tears that filled his vision, but failed. As he wiped a sleeve across his eyes, the shop owner saw Phoenix still standing there with his hand outstretched.
“I am not going to ask again. Stop being a dickhead and do as I say,” said Phoenix.
“You must be out of your mind! This will only end badly for you. This will only end in your suffering! This will only end.” Getting another pistol-whipping across the face, Abdul was about to collapse to the floor but was only saved by grabbing onto the shop counter.
“From where I’m standing, it looks like the day is only going to end badly for you. And get worse the longer this carries on. Now I don’t want to, but I can start blowing off pieces of you if you would rather I do that. So what’s it going to be?”
Abdul looked at Phoenix with quickly swelling, puffy eyes. Grinding his teeth as if into dust, he debated what he should do.
Phoenix pointed the gun at one of Abdul’s arms. Backing up quickly, Abdul held both hands in front of him. “Okay, okay, okay. Give me a minute.”
“You have less than that and counting.”
Abdul turned his back to Phoenix and pulled down a water painting of himself. Fitted into the wall behind it was a safe. Covering the combination with his hands, he entered in the right code. With an audible click, the safe door slid open, revealing its contents.
Phoenix let out a low whistle and smiled. “Abdul, Abdul, Abdul. Who’s been a busy boy then?”
Taking out one stack of money after another, Abdul placed them on the counter.
“Put it in a bag. I can’t carry all of that by hand, now can I?” snapped Phoenix.
Abdul gave Phoenix a look that could have pinned his soul to the wall. He yanked a plastic bag from behind him and began to stuff it with money.
“Is that everything?” Phoenix asked, looking behind the shopkeeper.
“You sure, Abdul? I wouldn’t like to think you’re holding out on me.”
Without a reply, Abdul simply stared.
Phoenix gave the shopkeeper a slight nod and turned on his heel, making his way for the exit. His attention snapped to a mirror in the top corner of the shop. What he saw there turned his blood cold. Diving for cover behind a row of shelves, Phoenix tucked and rolled just as the first gunshot went off.
“You think I’m joking! Don’t you? You thought this was going to be easy! Well, you were wrong!” Abdul screamed.
Phoenix pulled a jumbo packet of sweets to one side. Looking through the hole created, he could see Abdul holding a shotgun that looked bigger than him. Tucking himself in so he was a smaller target, Phoenix tried to come up with a plan.
As a shop window shattered from friendly fire, Phoenix watched in disbelief as his getaway driver sped off, back wheels burning rubber.
“That…argh…” Phoenix muttered under his breath.
One option down.
Which meant that he had to come up with another one fast.
“Abdul! Lets talk about this like fine gentlemen!”
“Fine! Be that way!”
Phoenix rolled out from his hiding place and fired off a few shots wildly. He didn’t care where they went; he just needed them to give him time. Getting to his feet, he made his way towards the back of the shop and hit the back door with his shoulder. It flew open just as a shot showered food over him. Keeping his head low, Phoenix made his way through one doorway after the next. Shoving boxes out of the way, he heard a door slam open behind him. As he ducked down, a boom went off behind him as bits of mortar showered onto his head.
Phoenix didn’t check if he was hit. He didn’t have time. Pointing the gun behind him, he let off a volley of shots.
Phoenix dove through the last door, where he found himself in an alleyway. Spotting a dumpster resting against the far wall, he ran over to it and wheeled it against the door. It wouldn’t hold for long, but the extra minute it gave him would be enough.
Running towards the end of the alley, Phoenix came across a high, chain-link fence. Ascending it as quickly as possible, he breathed in and out to calm his heart rate down.
“Well, that could have been worse–”
That was when the sound of police sirens filled the very air around him.33