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As Paul was racing up to the pair, Carter was grabbing at Mark's forearm, yanking on it in vain. "Colonel," he croaked.

Thinking Carter deserved to sweat a little, Paul stood silent at Mark's side, watching the agent's body jerk about with its failed attempts to disengage the hold. Sixth Dan, huh? he gloated. Doesn't look all that deadly to—

Without warning, a hand sliced into Mark's throat. With his opponent's slight recoil, Carter managed to twist to the left, lift a leg, and ram a heel into Mark's knee. He was fast, nimble, amazingly so given his suspended position.

Mark held tight, his grunts the only sign he'd been hit. But Paul had been around martial arts long enough to know these were warning shots. And judging by the red face Carter was sporting, that was all about to change as his body's natural instinct for air took over and panic set in.

Things were about to get broken. Mark things.

Paul gave Mark's arm a few hard yanks, which were about as productive as tugging on a parked car—for every bit of give, there was an equal and opposite bounce back. After banging Carter's head against the wall a couple of times, Paul decided to use his words instead. "Let him go," he demanded.


Paul stepped back and lunged at Mark's waist, taking him into the wall. Carter's feet hit the ground, but the iron grip stayed locked on his throat. "Listen to your own advice, goddamn it," Paul shouted, keeping his shoulder pressed into Mark's rib cage.

"Okay," Mark exhaled.

Paul looked up in time to catch the man's nod.

"Okay," Mark repeated, releasing his grip as Paul eased off him.

Carter massaged the raw-looking handprint circling his neck. "Sorry, about the comment, Colonel. It was stupid and desperate."

Now you had to admire the little guy for that. Being dangled like a carrot in front of the staff would have had most men launching into a tirade of macho self-posturing. Maybe he isn't all that bad after all.

"You were a little slow on the assistance, Captain," Carter grouched with a scowl. "Colonel Spinelli could have been seriously hurt."

Nope, still an ass. "Well, I couldn't decide which I would enjoy more, watching you choke to death or letting my sister deal with you."

Mark bent to rub his knee and assess the damage. When he straightened, he turned to leave.

With Carter about to go on the offensive again, Paul stepped between them. "I'll go too. I'll make sure they don't see him."

Carter cursed as he looked from one to the other. "Okay, but keep your distance, Colonel. We haven't worked this hard to screw it up now."

The agent headed back to his subordinates still at a standstill across the room, rousing them with a yelled, "Get a team down to that courthouse for Christ's sake! Lieutenant Robins is an easy target down there." As they scurried into action, Carter shook his head with a muttered, "Women have a knack of picking the worst times to show up."

A fiery glare from the gum chewer had Carter eating his words. "Sorry, Westcott," he mumbled as he walked by her.

Bruce hadn't moved, seemingly transfixed by the screen in front of him, a fat grin plastered on his mug. To Paul, he looked like the cat that had swallowed the canary.

"You're not going anywhere, Major," Carter snapped, pointing at the guy's chest.

"Never said I was," Bruce shot back.

The Silent Ones [✔️] (#2 in the Chilvati Series)Where stories live. Discover now