They heard male voices yelling, heard them crashing through the trees. The Corolla screeched off in two seconds, Lissy leaning out the open window, dry-heaving, Victor’s empty .22 loose in her hand.
Victor looked in the rearview mirror, saw the men burst out of the trees, guns in their hands, one of them on a cell phone. They were a long way from their cars.
But they didn’t have much time. Lissy spotted an old black Trailblazer in the driveway of a house at the end of Miller Avenue, eight twisting blocks from Denver Lane. It took Victor three seconds to hot-wire it. Lissy stayed in the Corolla, Victor on her bumper in the Trailblazer, to the woods outside of Fort Pessel, then he drove it into the trees.
“We’re going to Winnett,” Victor said. “Maybe they don’t know about me yet, and I know that place, know where we can hang low. If they do know about me, it won’t matter. We’ll trade out this piece of junk in another fifty miles. We’ll stay there until it’s safe to come back here and get the money.”
“Okay, let’s do it,” Lissy said, her face tight with pain. He handed her a couple of pain pills, watched her pop them right down with half a bottle of water.
“I just wish we could have taken a couple of those jerks down.”
Victor said, “Who knows? Maybe you’ll have your chance. I’m going to see to it things turn out different in Winnett. You rest, Lissy; that was a crazy run through the woods. Hey, we’re okay, and that’s all that matters.”
RANDALL COUNTY HOSPITAL
FORT PESSEL, VIRGINIA
Special Agent Cawley James’s arm hurt bad. On the bright side, the bullet hadn’t hit an artery and he hadn’t bled to death. He stared at the morphine drip machine they’d hooked up just a minute ago, willing it to kick in. His arm was cleaned, stitched, and bandaged, and the anesthetic had worn off. Now his arm was screaming at him.
“It’s only been one single lonely minute since the nurse started the drip,” said Galen Markey, SAC of the Richmond field office. “She said it was faster than a shot. Stop whining, you’re going to live. You should be thankful, the doc said you won’t end up with any movement or rotation problems. No thanks to your pitiful brain.”
“Yeah, yeah, kick me while I’m down,” Cawley said between gritted teeth. “Listen, Galen, I’ve a bottle of twelve-year-old scotch for you if nobody calls my mom. She’ll fly here on her private jet, her doctor in tow, and demand you let her take me to her villa in Cancún. I can see you’re pissed, ready to tell me I’m a screwup. All right, so I should have waited for Ben and Tommy, but I stumbled over them, and she was just a teenager, after all.” He sighed. “Then she woke up and tried to shoot me. What was I supposed to do? I told you, she wasn’t the problem. I mean, she could have been if she’d been faster.”
“If she’d been faster, you’d be stone-cold dead.”
“Maybe. Look on the bright side. It was that damned guy, he faked me out. I’ll admit it. Why didn’t I just shoot him? But I thought the scrawny little dude was asleep. He was fast, Galen. Holy mother, my arm feels like it’s burning off.”
The ER nurse called out in a chipper voice as she hurried by his cubicle, “Another minute, tops. Suck it up, Agent.”
Sure enough, only a few more seconds passed before he felt the monster fangs pulling out of his arm.
Galen said, “I should cut off the morphine, you being such a Señor Nacho hot dog. Either or both of those lunatic kids could have killed you, Cawley. What didn’t you understand about ‘armed and dangerous’? And don’t forget crazy.”
Cawley said, “Don’t you mean Señor Macho hot dog?”
Galen stared him down.
“Okay, yeah, so you’re right, pull the morphine. I should suffer. Too late. Ah, I’m basking right now in the total absence of pain.”
Galen said, “I doubt it’ll blunt the pain you’re going to feel when our brothers from Washington show up. Ah, speaking of brothers, here he is right now. And we’ve got one sister.”
Galen stood up as Savich and Sherlock came into the room. “You might have lucked out, Cawley,” he said over his shoulder. “Look who it is.”
Cawley brightened when he saw Sherlock. He didn’t know the woman, had never seen her before, but she was something. His brain swam happily in the morphine, and he hummed looking at her.
Savich said, “No, he hasn’t lucked out. Hello, Galen.” He turned to Cawley. “Are you the brain-dead yahoo who let them get away?”