Peri looked up from landing the drone on the roof, her angular face going into shadow when the phone went dormant. Leaning forward, she peered at the code. “It’s the right code. I used the same one this morning. I bet they have an after-hours approval.”
Sure enough, the intercom on the door crackled. “Yes? Who is it?”
As one, they all dropped back out of the camera’s range. It was a night guard. Brow furrowed, Allen hit the RESPOND button, scraping his finger across the mic to simulate a bad connection.
“Hang on. I’ll be right up. Intercom is fuzzy,” a masculine voice said, then nothing.
Peri’s eyes went to Summer. “Someone is going to have to distract him.”
“I’ll do it,” Summer said immediately.
Starting, Silas pulled Summer deeper into the shadows. “No. You have no reason to be here. Peri was here this morning and can pretend to be looking for her phone. Peri can do it.”
“Me?” Peri’s lips parted in surprise. “Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I’m not a tall, sexy bombshell.”
Silas took the phone out of Peri’s hand and handed it to Summer. “No, you are petite, dark, and sexy as all hell. Don’t sell yourself short. Summer can work the drone.”
No one said anything, and he realized Summer and Allen were staring at him. “What?” he said, feeling his neck warm. “You don’t think she’s sexy enough to distract a night guard?”
“Well, yeah,” Allen said. “We’re just surprised you noticed.”
Flustered, Silas took Summer’s phone and gave it to Peri. “Tell him you forgot your phone this afternoon,” he said, using the DNA wipes to get the smut from her face. Her features were tiny, her small nose turned up at the end, and her dark lashes long and heavy. Nothing like Summer’s strong cheekbones and wispy lashes. “Jam the door when he opens it if nothing else. If he lets you in, I’ll text you when we’ve finished, and we’ll wait for you outside. Go. You’ve got this, and we’ve got you.”
Peri hesitated, and a tingle spread from Silas’s fingers through his entire body. He could see the moment she decided to trust him, and it was thrilling all by itself—that trust given not freely, but fully. “I can’t believe this,” she said. “You can work the drone?”
“Yes, we’re good.”
The lights flicked on within the long corridor inside. It was the guard, and everyone but Peri scattered, Allen to one side, Silas and Summer to the other. The excitement of the improv shivered through Silas. It would work. They had all understudied someone else’s part, and there was nothing to stumble over. The only thing he didn’t like was that the guard would remember Peri. If his phone didn’t reach the drone and piggyback the connection, they’d have to use the ground lines, which would lead any investigation here to Peri looking for her phone at midnight.
The rattle of the door sent a shock through him, and he froze, crouched awkwardly and feeling as big and obvious as a bus.
“Hi, can I help you?” the guard said as the open door buzzed a soft warning, and Silas relaxed. The man’s voice was heavy with interest. Peri had this, with sparkles and silver stars.
“I am so sorry,” she said with an apologetic lilt Silas never would’ve guessed she could manage. “I left my phone in the waiting room this afternoon. It was so weird. No one was calling me. I thought maybe I could just get it and no one would know how stupid I was. Has anyone turned it in?”
“No.” The door squeaked as he pushed it open even more, the alarm still buzzing. “You want to take a look?”
“Oh, thank you,” Peri gushed. “You are a lifesaver.”
Silas peeked around the building’s trash can, his smile widening as he saw the tall man completely taken by Peri as she touched his arm. “Kind of late to be making a call, isn’t it?” he said.
“I just transferred in. My boyfriend is on the West Coast and I told him I’d call around nine. It’s about nine there, isn’t it?”
The door shut, the alarm cutting off. Silas edged forward, watching as they turned a corner at the end of the corridor and were gone.
Summer came even with Silas, a wiry grin on her face as she brought up the drone app on Peri’s phone. “She’s really good for someone who thinks she’s a two on charisma. I just hope I’m a ten on tech.”
“It’s pretty standard,” Silas said, impressed as well, and becoming more so when he saw the lock pick Peri had jammed at the sensor pad, preventing the heavy door from locking even as the alarm circuit was closed.
Allen took a last look back toward the faint music drifting across campus, then followed them inside. “I’m guessing we have three minutes?”
Lip between her teeth as she studied the unfamiliar phone, Summer said, “She’s as cute as a bug and smart as a snake. We’ve got ten, easy.”
As Allen ran vanguard, Silas took her elbow, guiding her down the hall as she walked and worked the drone, watching the connection rise and fall as they moved. “You’re not jealous, are you?”
“No,” she said, and Silas gave her a sideways hug, the urge to hold and never let go heavy in him.
Tall and lanky, Allen stretched to spray another camera into a blurry, temporary mess. “Guys?” he said, exasperated at the cuddling, and Silas let his arms slip from Summer.
Thirty seconds and three cameras later, they were at the manager’s office. Silas’s brow furrowed at the locked door pad, and then he relaxed. It was last year’s technology. Easy.