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Knock Out

Knock Out

Page 41

Suddenly, Lissy grabbed Victor’s hand. “Stop!”

He braked smoothly and pulled over to the side of the street. “Why? What’s wrong? The Vicodin hasn’t kicked in? You still feel bad?”

“No, no. You said the cops might be watching our house, waiting for us to come home. You’re too close.”

He wanted to tell her not to be stupid, he knew exactly what he was doing. He wished she’d learn to trust him. He shrugged. “Look, we talked about this, Lissy. You said they’d never find the bank money Aunt Jennifer stashed in the house, and you know where it is, right? I wasn’t just going to drive up. I was going to go around the back.”

Lissy felt mildly nauseated from the McDonald’s hamburger and fries she’d eaten an hour before. She shouldn’t have eaten them, but they tasted wonderful. But the spike of energy was long gone. She felt weak and shaky. And that made her angry again, angry at that big FBI guy who’d kicked her and that ridiculous old security guard who was probably sipping a rum punch somewhere in the Caribbean by now. She wanted to sleep, but first things first, that’s what her mother always said, her mother who’d bled to death on the beautiful marble bank floor, hundred-dollar bills fluttering down beside her.

She got a look at Victor in the interior car light. He looked tired too, burned out to his toes, on edge. Well, after they got the money, they’d rest, take it easy for a couple of days, and she’d get well.

Victor pulled the Corolla off the road behind the house and into the trees. He helped Lissy through the woods to the far side of the house. It was nice and dark, clouds covering most of the stars, no moon to speak of, and it was still really warm. They slipped quietly from behind one oak tree to the next, studied the few cars parked on Denver Lane. Most looked familiar, and those that weren’t were empty—no federal agents with infrared glasses looking out, no movement of any kind.

“What do you think?” Victor whispered against her temple.

“Mama always said the cops were stupid, didn’t know their butts from their earlobes.”

“Yeah, but she’s dead, now, isn’t she, so maybe she wasn’t right all the time.”

“Mama was never wrong. Those guys just got lucky,” Lissy said. “I don’t see anything, do you?”

“No, nothing.”

“Maybe they’ve already been here, searched for the money, and left. You think it’s okay?”

He started to say yes when Lissy saw a tiny arc of light come from her bedroom, then disappear. She grabbed his arm to pull him back and it hurt so bad she sank down against a tree. She was gasping a little. “You see that? Someone’s in my bedroom with one of those little flashlights.” She cursed. “I knew they wouldn’t just leave, I knew it. Victor, let’s sit down and let me rest a minute.”

Victor saw she was in pain and said, “All right, Lissy, rest. When you’re ready, we’ll get out of here. We can hide someplace close by and come back for the money in a couple of days.”

Lissy jerked awake when a blade of sun slashed through the oak branches and splashed across her face. She blinked, tried to remember where she was.

“Good morning,” said Special Agent Cawley James, standing above her, his gun aimed at her heart. He was wearing black slacks, a white shirt, and loafers, as if he’d just been to church. Lissy jerked up her gun, but he kicked it out of her hand. “No, you’re not going to shoot me, little girl.” He took a step back and said, “Hey, Victor, time to rise and shine and let me escort you to jail.” Then he spoke into his radio. “Hey, Ben, Tommy, I’ve got them, a hundred yards southwest of the house. Get over here!”

Victor moaned where he lay and twitched. But didn’t move. He turned his body slightly away.

“Come on, let’s go,” Cawley said, and nudged him with his toe. He raised his head, shouted, “Tommy, Ben, get yourselves over here.”

Victor moaned again, turned fast, brought up his .22, and shot Cawley in his right arm. Cawley’s gun went flying. He yelled out and kicked at Victor, but Victor was already rolling, twisting around to shoot again. “Stay out of the way, Lissy! Do you see his gun?”

Cawley ducked behind a tree and kept yelling for Tommy and Ben.

“Victor, we’ve got to get out of here!” Lissy was scrambling around, looking at the ground. “He kicked my gun away, I can’t find it. I don’t see his either, it’s still too dark. We’ve got to go.”

Victor cursed, fired the rest of his clip toward where the cop was hiding, then jerked Lissy into the woods. They ran, branches cutting their arms and faces, not stopping until they drew up, panting, to jump into the Corolla he’d left sheltered beneath the full-leafed branches of an oak tree just off the two-lane road.

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