Border Crossed - Cover

Border Crossed

Copyright© 2023 by Lumpy

Chapter 7

Hours later, Taylor and Whitaker made it back to El Paso, exhausted when they finally got to their hotel. Unfortunately for them, that didn’t mean an end to their evening.

They both wanted to go home, but they couldn’t until they found Sullivan’s leak. Taylor had spent most of the drive back trying to convince Whitaker he was right, but she was still skeptical. He got it. Like most career law enforcement, she had a blind spot when it came to their own. He would have thought she’d have given that up after seeing so many people from her side of the line go bad, but she hadn’t. At least she’d accepted that Taylor had a sense about these things and let him take the lead, no matter how skeptical she was.

“I think we should start by going through records and logs to see if any other agency made recordings or had inadvertent intercepts,” Whitaker said, pulling out her laptop and sitting down on one of the beds. “That will take a day or so, and yes, I know it’s less likely to turn up anything than just going at each of the task force members, questioning everyone, but you know how people get in these things. The moment any kind of internal investigation starts, the walls start going up, resentment starts to build, and everything becomes that much harder. Doubly for us, since we’re still outsiders in their group.”

“Fine,” Taylor said, almost grunting the reply. “We can spend a day seeing if we find anything. We can even go through and narrow the suspects down to the most likely two or three people and start with them. Happy?”

“Yes. I’m glad to see you’ve grown,” Whitaker teased.

She wasn’t wrong. Several years ago, when they’d started working together, he would have just charged in like a bull in a china shop. Although he still preferred a more direct approach, he’d learned as much from her as she had from him. He accepted there were times that maybe, just maybe, there was a benefit to being more diplomatic.

While Whitaker booted up her laptop, Taylor went to stand by the window, watching the city which was more or less asleep this late at night. D.C. was no New York, but it wasn’t this quiet after ten. He was just thinking about whether he’d somehow become a city boy after the last several years of living in the Capitol when something caught his attention. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he’d come to trust his subconscious over the years and knew it did a better job of picking up things that were out of place than his conscious mind did. He’d gotten into the habit of continually scanning the area around him, not exactly focusing on anything, but letting his unconscious mind do the heavy lifting.

After a moment he caught what had triggered him. In a parking lot across the street, a group of men were walking away from two old beat-up cars. That, in and of itself, might not have been notable, since groups of men and old beat-up cars were common in border towns, even large ones like El Paso. But there was something about their hurried pace and how bunched up they were that had really drawn his attention. For a moment, that was all that was notable, and Taylor settled for tracking them as they crossed the street into the motel parking lot. Then one of the men swept back his jacket, revealing the grip of a handgun tucked into his waistband. They could be criminals looking for a room or there to rob the place, but Taylor never assumed his luck was that good.

“Whitaker,” he said, stepping back from the window and flicking off the light. “Six men, armed and moving fast, heading this way through the parking lot.”

They’d been in this position before, and Whitaker was a professional. She slid her laptop aside and stood up, pulling her weapon and holster from the end table where she’d set them down.

“How long do we have?” she asked.

“Half a minute, tops. They are just splitting up, three heading to the east stairwell, three heading to the west,” Taylor said as he backpedaled, putting his shoulder into the dresser and pushing it until it was flush against the desk, giving him enough room to crouch behind it.

Whitaker looked around the room for a moment, realized there wasn’t really any other good cover, and backed up into the bathroom. She crouched down so she was below normal height and leaned out, aiming her weapon at the door.

Now, they could only wait. If the men were coming for them, they’d be there any moment. It didn’t take long.

The door exploded inward, wood splintering as it was kicked open. Two figures appeared in the doorway, the first a broad-shouldered man who had smashed through the door. Right behind him was a thinner, younger man, eyes wide in surprise at the sight of Taylor and Whitaker ready for them. Before either could react, Whitaker and Taylor opened fire from their positions. Whitaker’s shot caught the first man in the neck, blood spraying as he collapsed backward into his partner. Taylor put two rounds into the second man’s chest, knocking him to the ground on top of the first.

The other men must have been just outside the door and witnessed what happened to their friends, because instead of charging in like the first pair, a hand appeared for just a moment, followed by a small, round object bouncing across the room.


Taylor reacted on instinct, grabbing Whitaker and tackling her off her feet into the bathtub behind her, his weight smashing her into the hard porcelain. The grenade exploded just as they landed. There was a deafening boom and the door frame splintered sending shards of wood and shrapnel ripping through the main room.

Protected only by the partial cover of the tub and the tiled bathroom walls, debris rained down over them, their ears ringing from the blast.

“We can’t stay in here,” Taylor half-yelled into Whitaker’s ear.

Taylor pushed himself up and grabbed Whitaker’s arm, pulling her behind him. If these guys were smart, they’d follow up after the explosion, quickly and aggressively. If they were amateurs, they’d be hanging outside the room, waiting to see if anyone came out. Taylor was hoping for the second scenario, but he needed to move as if it was the first.

Just as they exited the bathroom, a third man appeared in the doorway, timidly leaning in. Amateurs it is, Taylor thought as he squeezed the trigger twice in rapid succession, dropping the assailant where he stood. Keeping low, Taylor hurried to the splintered door frame, pressing his back against the wall beside it.

Whitaker followed close behind, taking up position on the opposite side of the door. Peering through the gaping hole where the door once stood, Taylor spotted another armed man just a few steps down from their room. He angled his pistol through the opening and fired off a single shot, catching the man center mass.

Taylor glanced back at Whitaker with a nod and leaned out again, scanning for the last shooters, although he didn’t assume that more men hadn’t followed the first six. A barrage of gunfire erupted toward him as one of the men outside let loose. Taylor jerked back just in time, the bullets ricocheting off the door frame.

In response, Whitaker blindly fired several rounds out the broken window to provide cover. As soon as her gun clicked empty, Taylor popped back up, sighting in on the attacker as he exposed himself to return fire. Another shot, another assailant down.

Hearing someone running down the eastern stairwell, where he’d just shot the fifth gunman, Taylor moved forward to the railing, gesturing for Whitaker to watch his sides. Sure enough, the last shooter was sprinting across the parking lot back towards the beat-up cars the group had arrived in.

“Stop! FBI!” Taylor called out, aiming his weapon at the fleeing man.

It always felt weird to say that, like he was a character in the movies, but he didn’t particularly want to explain why he’d shot a guy in the back. He also didn’t want to let the guy get away, and the guy had too much of a head start for Taylor to catch him. Thankfully, the shooter made the decision for him.

The man spun around, raising his pistol towards the balcony. Taylor fired a single shot, catching him in the chest. The gunman crumpled to the pavement. Taylor scanned the parking lot, but it seemed like those six were the entirety of their attackers. Taylor had just started to turn to Whitaker when two black and white police cruisers came screeching into the lot, lights flashing.

Holstering his weapon and reaching for his credentials, Taylor said, “Locals.”

“This is going to be a mess,” Whitaker said, following his lead, and then calling out to the police officers, who were now pointing weapons at them. “We’re FBI.”

It took over an hour to get everything settled. Explanations, calls to supervisors, more explanations, and yet more phone calls were needed before they were finally allowed to look over their crime scene. Even in a city with El Paso’s crime rate, six dead in a motel shootout, which included a grenade, was enough to get people out of bed.

The source of this story is Finestories

To read the complete story you need to be logged in:
Log In or
Register for a Free account (Why register?)

Get No-Registration Temporary Access*

* Allows you 3 stories to read in 24 hours.