Authors: Lynn Raye Harris
“Twenty minutes approximately. Traffic could change that.”
Chase checked the GPS. “We’re ten minutes away. Should be able to get into position and wait.”
“I’ll stay on the line and give you updates.”
“Man, I wish you guys were here.”
“Me too. But we’ll get you through this. Soon as you send me the info from the flash drive, I’ll get to work cracking it. We’ll have Androv’s balls in a vise by tomorrow afternoon, promise.”
“Think I love you right now, man.”
“Course you do. I’m fucking awesome.”
Chase laughed. “Watch it, or Olivia will cut that ego down to size for you.”
“Dude, she’s my number one fan.”
“If this is successful, I’ll be your number one fan. Olivia’s going to have to move over and let me love you for a while.”
Billy snorted. “In your dreams, Fiddler. In your dreams. Now go get that fucking package and let’s bury Androv.”
you want me to do?” Sophie said when Chase finally slowed the car and slotted it into a spot on the divided boulevard where the office building was. A spot, she noted, that had a No Parking sign in front of it because it blocked a driveway.
The boulevard wasn’t very wide, but it was two lanes of traffic on each side that turned into one lane when people parked their cars. A landscaped median with benches divided the boulevard. There was a bus stop in the median and a Métro entrance across the street.
“I want you to stay in the car,” Chase said, glancing at her.
“That’s it? Shouldn’t I drive or something?”
He snorted. “You ever take a defensive driving course?”
She swallowed. “No.”
“I’ll do the driving.”
Her heart thumped. She didn’t like the idea of waiting in the car while he went and stole a package. She also didn’t like the idea that Sergei Turov was out there, watching and waiting. What if he had the same idea Chase had? What if his guys were planning to intercept the van before it reached Tyler’s building?
But why would they do that? They didn’t know she was here, or that Chase was with her—unless maybe they did. It was certainly possible by now, even if Turov hadn’t recognized her on the plane.
Sophie shuddered as she thought of the way his gaze had met hers. So cold. So cruel. She would hate to be at his mercy.
Sophie scanned the traffic, the people on the sidewalks, inside the cars that passed, and her blood rushed through her veins. She kept expecting to see something out of the ordinary, something that indicated they’d been found, but there was nothing. It was a normal day in a busy city, and everyone had somewhere to go.
There was also no sign of the delivery van as the minutes passed.
“Talk to me, Kid,” Chase said, the sudden growl of his voice making her jump. “Where’s the vehicle?”
His fingers curled around the wheel as he listened to whatever the man on the other end was saying. “Fuck, that’s not good. … Yeah, nothing to do but wait.”
“What?” she asked, her pulse throbbing.
He gave her a look. “Accident on the route. The van’s delayed.”
“Can we go find it?”
He shook his head. “Too risky. We could get caught in traffic and our escape route cut off. Not to mention I’d have to physically restrain the driver—that would get us noticed, and not in a good way. The reason we’re here is because this is the best stop to obtain the package undetected.”
Sophie nibbled her lip. “I hate this,” she said after another minute went by. “I hate being so close and not knowing if we’ll succeed. What if Sergei Turov has the same plan? He’ll be somewhere nearby, waiting like we are.”
“Yeah, he will. This is the best spot to take the package from before it gets delivered.” He tapped the steering wheel. “The vehicle’s ten minutes behind schedule. Shit, this is not good. Any sign that Open Sky is in the database, Kid?”
The man on the phone must have replied because Chase raked a hand through his hair. “Yeah, I understand. Let’s just hope that if they are, the script keeps them busy.”
A car suddenly appeared on the passenger side, headlights flashing as the driver warned them they were blocking his driveway. Sophie jumped and Chase swore, but he put the car in gear and moved out of the spot. The other car—a Peugeot—whipped into traffic and accelerated past them at a wide spot in the road, but not before the driver laid on the horn.
“Yeah, yeah, buddy. I get it.” Chase nodded toward a glass-and-steel structure as they passed. “That’s the office building.”
It was across from a block of residential buildings, but none of it was familiar. That was a good thing because it meant they weren’t too close to Tyler’s apartment. Chase went up the boulevard, then turned and circled back.
“Thanks, Kid,” he said to the guy on the phone. Then he glanced at her. “Van’s on the move again. Ten more minutes.”
It took a few more minutes, but Chase found another spot for the car, this time beyond the office building. He left the engine running and unclipped his seat belt as he turned to her.
“I’m going to walk back toward the office. The van will be here soon. I’ll get the package and be right back. Don’t do anything. Don’t move. Don’t scream. Don’t get out of the fucking car. If something goes wrong, climb over the seat and drive. Don’t stop until you reach the airport.”
He took another phone out of his pocket, a burner he’d picked up for France. “There’s a number programmed in here. Call it when you reach the airport and Hawk will answer. He’ll get you home.”
She suddenly wanted to kiss him, but she didn’t dare. Instead, she took the phone and squeezed his hand. “Be safe, Chase.”
It wasn’t quite what she wanted to say, but she was very aware of the man on the other end of the line.
He gave her a grin, then leaned forward and kissed her cheek. It was brief, but it sizzled into her like he’d touched her much more intimately.
“It’ll be okay, babe. This thing is almost over.”
of the pistol tucked into the shoulder holster was reassuring, as was the weight of the ankle holster and the knife at his belt. Chase didn’t want to use any of them, but he was prepared if he needed to. He picked up a freebie city paper from a stand near the office building entrance and continued down the street before taking a seat on a bench and opening the paper.
The van rolled up the street toward him, the carrier logo emblazoned on its sides. Chase scanned his surroundings, looking for anything out of the ordinary. There were people on the sidewalks, but no one seemed to be loitering. Cars moved along the road, brakes squealing and horns honking to signal the displeasure of the drivers.
Across the boulevard, a white car rolled two wheels up onto the median and parked, obviously too frustrated to find another—a legal—spot. The metal posts spaced at regular intervals meant that no car could get into the median, but there was clearly enough room for this guy to get out of traffic and piss off a whole lot of others while he did so.
The van passed Chase’s spot, gears grinding as the driver slowed to pull into the loading zone in front of the building. Across the street, the doors to the white car opened and two men got out.
One of them was Sergei Turov.
“Son of a bitch,” Chase said into his earpiece as he stood and started for the van. “Company’s here.”
“Goddammit,” Billy said. “The accident gave them time to defeat the script.”
Inside the van, Chase could hear the bulkhead door rolling up as the driver prepared to grab the packages he needed. Chase would have preferred to let the driver enter the building, but that wasn’t going to happen now. He had to get the package before Turov and his companion managed to cross the street.
Thankfully, traffic was zipping along because the light at the intersection up ahead was green. Turov and the other guy couldn’t just run across the street without risking being hit, so they hung at the edge of the median, waiting to sprint across as soon as possible.
Chase dropped the paper as he reached the open door of the vehicle. He put his hand on the inside of his jacket and took the steps up into the van. The driver was inside the cargo area with a dolly, putting packages on it and checking his handheld scanner. He looked up in surprise when Chase appeared.
There was no time to lose. The man broke into a stream of French, but Chase drew his weapon and the words ceased as the driver’s hands shot skyward.
“Sorry, dude,” Chase said. “I just need one thing. I’m not going to hurt you.”
He advanced into the cargo area. The 1000 shelf was to the left just like Billy had said. A quick scan along that shelf and he spotted a small padded envelope addressed to Tyler Nash. He grabbed it and sprinted off the van just as Turov and the other man came around the back.
The Audi wasn’t far, but he had to get to it, get onto the driver’s side, which was the traffic side, and get into his seat without getting hit by the cars rushing by. Then he had to whip the car into traffic. It was a lot to do before Turov and the other man caught up. His other choice was to keep running, to lead them away from Sophie and escape through the alleys and side streets.
But that would mean leaving Sophie vulnerable. Sending her to the airport to call Hawk was a last resort, not without risks of its own. It might be her best chance, however.
He had almost decided that was the best option when the Audi’s passenger door flew open. His heart nearly dropped to his toes. If she got out now—
But the car lurched suddenly, backing into the car behind it and then moving forward again, its nose inching out into traffic.
Chase put on a last burst of speed. He threw himself into the passenger seat, turning to fire behind him as Turov and the other man approached. He didn’t aim to kill, not here in the open with so many people, but he did intend to disable.
His shot must have winged the companion because he stumbled and fell to the ground, his palms coming out in an attempt to save himself. He rolled, screaming in pain, as Turov ducked into the protection of a doorway.
“Go!” Chase yelled at Sophie as she worked the car out of the slot.
“There’s too much traffic!”
“I don’t fucking care! Floor it!”
He yanked the passenger door closed just as something thunked into it. Turov peered around the corner and fired again. Chase ducked just in time as the bullet shattered the glass and then passed out through the windshield, leaving a round hole.
“Go!” he yelled again, firing back at Turov. The man on the sidewalk was crawling toward the door where Turov hid. Police sirens sounded in the distance and Chase’s blood chilled. They had to get out of there before the police arrived. Before Turov succeeded in hitting one of them.
Turov ducked out of the door again, raising his weapon. Chase took aim, intending to drop the son of a bitch—but he was thrown back into the seat when Sophie careened into traffic suddenly. Brakes squealed and horns sounded, but she hit the pedal and the car picked up speed, accelerating away from the scene.
Chase looked back to see Turov running out into the street. The bastard wanted a clear shot so he could take out the driver—
“Turn, now,” Chase ordered as Turov’s arm came up.
“It’s a one-way street—”
“Turn, goddammit it!”
ophie’s heart felt like it was going to burst from her chest, but she whipped the car into oncoming traffic and prayed they didn’t crash. Drivers laid on horns, but they swerved out of the way. She kept going down the street, saying, “Sorry, so sorry, oh my God,” the whole way.
“Turn here,” Chase ordered.
She cranked the wheel, turning the car to the right and onto a street where they were now going in the right direction. Her heart still hadn’t slowed, however. The window beside his head was shattered, a big gaping hole with jagged glass hanging from it.
And then there was the bullet hole in the windshield. It had come in at an angle and passed low, but it was almost perfectly in front of her. If that had hit her… Oh God.
“Are you crazy? We have to keep going.”