If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.

Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

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Ebook "The Whole Truth"
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Tác giả: David Baldacci
Thể loại: Trinh Thám
Nguyên tác: The Whole Truth
Biên tập: Dieu Chau
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Language: English
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Chapter 23
ATIE JAMES ADJUSTED HER SMALL BINOCULARS at the same time she placed a hand on her chest to try and stop her heart from beating quite so violently. She’d followed the Mercedes from the Balmoral. Having heard the destination earlier on the Britannia, she’d even been able to pass the car a couple of times to avoid suspicion before falling back. When they’d turned onto the gravel road she’d driven on, then doubled back, counting on the fact that they would not have gone far. She’d parked her car behind a bend in the road, set out on foot, topped a knoll, slunk through some trees, and settled herself down behind a berm to watch.
She was close enough to catch snatches of what the men were saying. The tall man from the Balmoral was a drug buyer, that much was clear. This surprised her because of the man she had seen with him at the chapel. The fellow had sported a tattoo Katie had only known Delta Special Forces to have carved on their skin. Yet even such men can go bad, she thought. The other men were selling. The drugs were in the soccer balls and they had been discussing money when the machine guns came out.
Katie had contemplated using her cell phone to call the police, but now she’d decided to change her tactics. With the sudden appearance of the guns she was instead going to run. She’d started to back away when a sound froze her.
To her extreme far right it was like a wave of black moving through the forest. She dropped to the dirt and tried to burrow in. When the guns started firing she tried to dig in even deeper. Yet something, perhaps her journalistic instincts, made her look through her binoculars in time to see two of the dealers riddled with machine-gun fire, their bodies literally opening up with holes awash in blood. They dropped to the ground dead without having uttered a sound.
As she continued to watch, the tall man managed to wrestle the submachine gun from one of the giants and then, with a nimbleness that belied his size, he landed a kick to the gut and then the head of the larger man, felling him. He turned and held the gun up, as though in surrender, but as machine-gun fire hit all around him he seemed to think better of this.
The other drug dealers had taken up cover behind the truck. They were shooting at whatever was coming their way, while the wave that had passed Katie was laying down walls of intense fire. And the tall man was caught right in the middle.
“He’s dead,” Katie whispered fearfully to herself.
Shaw dodged behind the Mercedes as another blast of fire missed him by centimeters. The Tajiks were shooting at him from his rear flank and his own men were doing the same from the front. What, had Frank failed to mention to the strike team that they were supposed to leave at least one man standing? Him.
He got off a burst of submachine fire at the Tajiks and then slid into the front seat of the Benz. He cranked the engine and slammed it in gear. Another bullet blast from the rear took out his back window.
He crushed the accelerator and the S600 leaped forward, gravel firing off the tires and spraying the truck. Holding the MP5 out the window, he emptied his clip at the truck, catching one of the Tajiks flush in the face and ending his career in international drug dealing.
Shots pinged all over the car like hail, and water and oil started spraying from under the hood. He slid the car into reverse, burned down the gravel strip backwards, and spun the wheel, whipping the Benz into a J-turn. He came out of the one-eighty, slammed down the gas, and hurtled forward, hitting a hundred on the straightaway and getting almost clear of the trees when the engine started vomiting black smoke and the car died. His gaze swept over the car’s interior, before coming to rest on the SIG nine-millimeter partially stuck under the passenger floor mat. He grabbed it, kicked the door open, and ran.
And he wasn’t the only one.
He changed course, rounding the bend, his long legs eating up chunks of ground, and caught up to her right as she was climbing in the car, a black Mini Cooper.
“Let me go!” Katie screamed as he grabbed her arm.
“Give me the keys!” he yelled back.
He ripped them from her fingers and opened the car door, sliding his big body into the small space.
“Get in!” he cried out, because she was just standing there.
“No!”
“If they find you here, they’ll kill you.”
“You mean you’ll kill me.” She eyed his gun.
“If I were going to do that, you’d already be dead. I wouldn’t be offering you a ride.”
“A ride to a hostage, you mean.”
“These guys don’t give a shit about hostages. Now get in.”
In the near distance they could both hear something coming their way.
“Your last chance!” he said in a voice that clearly meant it.
The truck exploded out from the treeline fifty feet from their location. It was the cargo truck and it was being driven by one of the big Tajiks. The small man with the wicked grin who didn’t accept credit cards or checks was sitting next to him. His gaze suddenly found them and his smile widened as he rolled down the window and took careful aim.
“Look out!” Shaw exclaimed.
His eyes had seen what Katie’s hadn’t. He grabbed her arm, yanked her through the open window and into the car, and hit the gas all in seemingly the same motion. Seconds later the ground that Katie had been standing on was obliterated by an RPG.
Shaw pushed Katie to the floorboard and gunned the engine. He shifted gears and wound the engine way past the manufacturer’s maximum RPM range. And it still might not be enough.
Machine-gun fire came at their rear like a swarm of bees with fifty-caliber stingers. He pushed Katie down to the floor again as she tried to sit up. “Keep down!”
Shaw checked the mirror. He thought about veering off the road and taking his chances racing through the green fields. The only problem was the shoulders of the road were simply deep ruts the Cooper would never make it over. And even if it did, the land was so rough here that only a four-wheel drive could manage it.
The Cooper was far more agile than the truck, but on straightaways Shaw couldn’t get out of the range of another RPG strike. Any second now he expected one right up his ass. He thought he could see the big teeth of the little Tajik as he smiled, no doubt thinking he was in the driver’s seat. And he was, actually, but that was about to change.
“Hold on!” Shaw yelled to Katie. He whipped the wheel around, did another one-eighty, and mashed the gas to the floor. Now they were rocketing right at the truck.
Katie sat up in time to see this. “What the hell are you doing?” she screamed.
The game of chicken was five seconds from its conclusion as the big truck and little car bore down on each other. Katie closed her eyes and gripped the dash.
As the headlights drew closer, the Tajiks glanced at each other, apparently unable to believe what was happening. If they collided with the car it might disable the truck. And with the men in the woods coming for them they needed their wheels.
And that was exactly why Shaw had pointed his ride at them.
The big Tajik cut the wheel to the left. It would be his last evasive driving maneuver.
Shaw’s pistol fired and three bullet holes appeared in the windshield on the driver’s side of the truck. The little man’s smile disappeared along with his wheelman’s life. Shaw cut the car hard to the right and whipped around the truck, the Cooper’s wheels digging an inch-wide gouge in the top layer of the dirt shoulder before regaining firm traction and racing on.
The driverless truck kept going for another five hundred feet, slipped off the road, hit the rough shoulder, kicked up a wedge of dirt and grass, and slid over on its side.
Only then did Katie James open her eyes.
The Whole Truth The Whole Truth - David Baldacci The Whole Truth