High Heat (Jack Reacher, #17.5) by Lee Child Read Online (FREE)
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The man was over thirty, Reacher thought, and solid, and hot, obviously. He had sweated through his suit. The woman face to face with him could have been younger, but not by much. She was hot too, and scared. Or tense, at least. That was clear. The man was too close to her. She didn’t like that. It was nearly half past eight in the evening, and going dark. But not cooling off. A hundred degrees, someone had said. A real heat wave. Wednesday, July 13th, 1977, New York City. Reacher would always remember the date. It was his second solo visit.
The man put the palm of his hand flat on the woman’s chest, pressing damp cotton against her skin, the ball of his thumb down in her cleavage. Not a tender gesture. But not an aggressive gesture, either. Neutral, like a doctor. The woman didn’t back off. She just froze in place and glanced around. Without seeing much. New York City, half past eight in the evening, but the street was deserted. It was too hot. Waverly Place, between Sixth Avenue and Washington Square. People would come out later, if at all.
Then the man took his hand off the woman’s chest, and he flicked it downward like he wanted to knock a bee off her hip, and then he whipped it back up in a big roundhouse swing and slapped her full in the face, hard, with enough power for a real crack, but his hand and her face were too damp for pistol-shot acoustics, so the sound came out exactly like the word: slap. The woman’s head was knocked sideways. The sound echoed off the scalding brick.
Reacher said, “Hey.”
The man turned around. He was dark haired, dark eyed, maybe five-ten, maybe two hundred pounds. His shirt was transparent with sweat.
He said, “Get lost, kid.”
On that night Reacher was three months and sixteen days shy of his seventeenth birthday, but physically he was pretty much all grown up. He was as tall as he was ever going to get, and no sane person would have called him skinny. He was six-five, two-twenty, all muscle. The finished article, more or less. But finished very recently. Brand new. His teeth were white and even, his eyes were a shade close to navy, his hair had wave and body, his skin was smooth and clear. The scars and the lines and the calluses were yet to come.
The man said, “Right now, kid.”
Reacher said, “Ma’am, you should step away from this guy.”
Which the woman did, backward, one step, two, out of range. The man said, “Do you know who I am?”
Reacher said, “What difference would it make?”
“You’re pissing off the wrong people.”
“People?” Reacher said. “That’s a plural word. Are there more than one of you?”
“You’ll find out.”
Reacher looked around. The street was still deserted.