“…nice and slow. Mr. Sorrell wants him alive and in one piece.”

Jason regained consciousness just in time to hear the troubling words. And despite the strangers' grudging care, pain tore through Jason's damaged body. His medical knowledge resurfaced and Jason easily diagnosed multiple broken ribs, a shattered collarbone and a probable broken hip, just for starters. His back and thighs burned relentlessly, no doubt from the loss of skin that occurred as he slid out of control along the asphalt surface.

By sheer will of effort, Jason rolled his head to one side. Small groups of Sorrell's men moved efficiently about the area. As Jason watched, they removed all traces of the motorcycle crash from the highway. The front tire of the big bike was twisted and bent, but in every other way the motorcycle seemed unharmed.

“Pretty nice, don't you think?” A young dark-haired Italian squatted down beside Jason. The black matte barrel of a high-powered rifle could be seen over his shoulder. He looked over at Jason's motorcycle. “I took your front tire out with a single bullet,” the stranger boasted. His faint accent gave the words a whimsical quality that was at direct odds with their meaning.

The sniper swung the rifle around to where Jason could see it. He raised the scope and imitated the pose he'd taken during the shot. “The Boss took a page from your own book. He was real impressed with how you and your guys took out our limousine.”

“What happens now?” Jason rasped. He found it difficult to speak through all the pain he felt.

“Now you belong to Mr. Sorrell.”

Jason wondered about the expression that flitted across the young sniper's face. It was fleeting, but Jason would have sworn his rival looked down upon him with compassion.

“Enough talk.” The obvious foreman of the group barked at the sniper. He stalked over to where Jason lay and glared at the injured man. “Say goodnight, punk,” he snarled.

White-hot lights exploded inside Jason's head as the man carefully placed his booted foot atop Jason's crushed collarbone and stepped down. The pain overloaded Jason's system and once again the world went black.


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