I manage to reach it and get it settled in my hand just as I hear the footsteps approaching closer.

Taking a deep breath, I turn myself around, count to three, and then rise.

The most striking pair of baby blue eyes pierce right through me as I come face-to-face with the owner of the footsteps.

For a heartbeat, I’m frozen, stricken stupid by the handsome giant in front of me.

Then my survival instinct comes roaring back in.

It’s kill or be killed.

Adrenaline spiking again, time slows down. I catch the surprise, the confusion, then the acceptance in the bright blue gaze of the man looking down at me.

He’s ready to die, his eyes tell me, and I almost hesitate.

Almost.

My hand shakes and I wrap my other hand around the barrel to steady the gun.

Then I close my eyes, ask God for forgiveness, and pull the trigger.

I expect a little recoil and maybe even a warm splash.

What I don’t expect is for the gun to click and nothing to happen.

What the fuck?

I open my eyes slowly to see the massive man smirking down at me.

Shit.

4

Gabriel

Normally when someone puts a gun to my chest with the intention shutting down my beating heart, I rebel against that very notion and stop them.

But something about the way this girl’s deep blue eyes look up into mine stops me from moving.

Feelings that are completely alien hold me in place as I stare into her eyes. I don’t even get to give her a grin before she pulls the trigger.

Click, smack.

I’m not sure who’s shocked more, me, her, or the guys behind me.

There’s a lot of smoke and loud sounds echoing through the church, but that click of an empty chamber resonates through my ears as if it’s a big fucking gong.

I can’t help but smirk at the little woman standing in front of me when the gun doesn’t go off.

“Damn, that bitch was gonna cap your ass,” James shouts as he jogs past me, heading toward the back of the church, chasing after the fleeing Russians and Irish.

I just stand in place as the men flow past me. I was the first in and should be the one leading the charge, but I can’t seem to move my feet. It feels like I’ve been fucking cemented to the floor. Like I’ve been weighed down with cement boots and tossed into the river. I’m floating down, down into the inky blackness.

The trigger is pulled again and panic begins to fill her eyes, her cheeks red and flushed from whatever emotion is flooding through her.

I don’t know exactly what the emotion is, but I’d say it isn’t exactly murderous rage that I was trying to kill her future husband.

“Thing isn’t going to kill me itself, girl. You need to reload it,” I say loud enough so that she can hear me over the sudden roar of gunfire coming from the doors behind the cross.

“Fuck,” she groans as her fingers go slack around the metal grip of the gun.

“Yep.”

Reaching out, I cradle the small, delicate hand holding the pistol with my own and pry it easily from her fingers.

Pocketing the gun into the back of my jeans, I reach out and take her hand again in mine, then I yank her along with me. I guess I got us a prisoner of war or something. Ain’t tortured a chick in a long time, though. Not sure if I’m going to be down for that. Not one with a set of balls as big as this blue-eyed girl’s got.

“We gotta move. You gonna be a problem I have to take care of?” I ask as we move down the aisle toward the entrance of the building.

It’s probably going to get a bit hectic if she’s going to be putting up a fight.

“I… I…” she stammers as we come out of the church’s entrance.

Cars screech across the cold asphalt of the parking lot, and the gunfire hasn’t stopped out back either. Fuck.

“Michael,” I say through our comms. “You get the tracker tags on the black Audis?”

“No, too many guards. Simon, do you have visual through the city?” Michael asks.

“Not yet, but I will. How many men are down?”

“I count five inside, four outside. Not sure how many got out, Alexei wasn’t one of them.”

Fuck. We needed to hit Alexei.

“What about the Irishman?” I ask.

The bride beside me freezes up instantly as I try to get her to the black Tahoe I came in.

Shit, that’s right, that’s her dad. She was supposed to marry Alexei. I’m not entirely sure where my head is at right now, it’s somewhere between the delicate hand I have clutched in mine and the need to unleash catastrophic violence on the men who we came to kill.

Racing around the corner of the church, two more Audis swerve away from us as they try to escape the havoc that’s being unleashed.

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