Book One - Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula
I wrenched open the tailgate and dove out head-first. My hands made contact with
the rocky dirt and I flipped up, landing squarely on my feet. Silver Tooth already
had the gun on me.
My eyes zeroed in on a jagged-edged rock at my feet. In one fluid movement, I reached
down, grabbed the rock, and hurled it toward the gun. My movements were so quick
that Silver Tooth didn’t realize what had happened until the rock tore through the
top of his hand, embedding in the thin flesh.
Letting out a piercing scream, Silver Tooth dropped the gun. Diving forward, I had
it in mine before it hit the ground. When he looked up, he was looking down the
barrel of his own weapon.
Though in pain, he kept his voice even, menacing. "Who sent you?"
I couldn’t very well answer in my young female voice, so I kept silent, clasping
the gun that I had no idea how to shoot.
Peripherally, I saw one man’s hand move toward his holster. Before his hand moved
a fraction of an inch more, I turned the gun on him. His hands flew up in the air
in surrender. I moved the gun to the other man, who mimicked his friend, raising
his hands in the air. Silver Tooth flinched. The gun moved back to him. Silver Tooth
laughed low. Holding up his limp hand, he asked me, "Do you mind?" Taking my silence
as consent, he savagely ripped the rock from his flesh.
Perspiration beaded on his forehead. "Why don’t you tell me what you want," he said
I kept quiet.
He lifted his chin toward Ben. “Do you want him?”
Still, I didn’t respond, at a loss of how to cross this bridge.
"The silent type, eh? How about I do the talking. You want what we all want: the
Who is the assassin?
His lips lifted, revealing the silver tooth. "No reason we can’t share, eh? Be partners.
Together, we take these Kings out of the equation." Smiling, he waited.
After seconds of silence, his face contorted in frustration. "Do we have a deal
or not? Talk!"
Well, I certainly couldn’t do that, and I wasn’t using the gun in my hands. Simultaneously,
I tossed the gun behind me and kicked Silver Tooth square in the chest. I could
hear the wind leave his body. He flew backwards and landed on his back, gasping.
Adrenaline rushed through my veins. The night sky brightened, revealing everything
around me in a new light. I perceived every physical detail of my adversaries, breathing
in the smell of their skin and hair, tasting their fear on my tongue. Time and space
slowed. Everything slowed but me.
The other men went for their guns. I leapt toward the nearest thug, grabbing his
hands just as he drew his gun. Squeezing his hand hard, I felt bones crack and give
way. Crying out, he released the weapon, letting it drop to the ground. Still clenching
his hand, my other arm swung around, punching him in the gut. His body folded around
my fist, and he flew backwards ten feet, bouncing off the van. Before he hit the
ground, my left leg swept the other thug’s legs as he trained his gun on me. His
feet flew up, and he landed on the back of his head with a thud. As he lay dazed
on the ground, the gun rested in his fingertips. Darting forward, I retrieved the
gun, twisting back to grab the one at my feet. With slack jaws, each man looked
blurry-eyed in my general direction, unable to visually track my fast movements.
Sensing movement from behind, I dropped the guns and spun around, catching Silver
Tooth by his outstretched arm as he went to grab me. Twirling him in a circle, I
let go, and he flew through the air, his airborne limbs resembling a rag doll’s.
Hitting the ground, he landed flat on his back with the wind knocked out of him
for a second time.
One of the thugs made a feeble attempt to get up, but I was on him like a fly on
stink. Grabbing him by the collar, I threw him against the van. As his body began
to slink down, I eagerly grabbed him up again, throwing him at the Explorer. A scream
tore from his throat as he flew sideways across the ten-foot gap. His body bounced
off the Explorer, falling into a heap on the ground. Excited, I sprung at him, gathering
him up by his collar and pulling him up so we were eye to eye.
Petrified, he didn’t struggle, only stared at me with terrified eyes. As I looked
into his dark, wide eyes, an image flashed before me: The black cat playfully tossing
the mouse in the air, toying with its prey before the kill. This image punched a
hole through the adrenaline-induced cloud in my head. Through this clarity, I recalled
John Merrick in the movie The Elephant Man crying out in anguish, “I am not an animal!”
Releasing the thug’s collar, I watched him sink to the ground at my feet.
I am not an animal.
Slowly, I reached down to the terrified man, grabbing his collar again. His body
was rigid as I dragged him across the dirt to the van, depositing him next to the
other thug. Both men stared at me, frozen with fear. I put up a single finger, warning
them to stay. They complied fully, reluctant to even take a breath. From the corner
of my eye, I noticed Silver Tooth inching across the ground, afraid to make any
sudden moves. Unarmed, he didn’t pose much of a threat.
In a heartbeat, I collected the scattered guns, placing them on the Explorer’s floor.
Closing the Explorer’s door, I turned around and assessed the men: the two thugs
hadn’t moved an inch, and Silver Tooth had inched a few more feet. Then I stepped
behind Ben, who had stood frozen during the entire altercation, and snapped the
cord from his wrists. Still, he didn’t move. I gave his back a reassuring pat. He
flinched, but otherwise stayed silent and still. I assumed he was in shock, and
then realized I, too, was in shock. Drawing in a ragged breath, I lowered my face
into trembling hands. It’s the adrenaline, I realized, my heart pounding like a
jackhammer in my ears.
The van’s engine started.
My head jerked up. The thugs were scrambling in through the side door. As I contemplated
what to do, it peeled away, Silver Tooth driving with his good hand. In a running
leap, I sailed through the air, grabbing the rack on the van’s roof. Pulling myself
up, I flattened my body out on top, hoping I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb
against the white.