The Drafter

Page 58

“She just bought it. It was my idea,” he said, not sure why he felt the need to defend her, when Liz got an Oh my God! look on her face. “She hadn’t seen her closet in two days,” he added, and Liz’s expression darkened.

“Okay, two days is a long time,” Liz said as they wove their way through the crowd to the south entrance. “But she bought a suitcase. How much did you give her?”

“Stop.” Silas warmed. Two hundred would have sufficed, but six had made her happy.

“Howard says you need to start acting more like an anchor and less like a dumped boyfriend,” she said, voice tight. “Personally, I think you need to stop acting like her doormat.”

“I said, Stop,” he repeated, not liking the number of Opti people at the south entrance: three, and one was on the phone calling for reinforcements. “When it gets sticky, you’re to run.”

“I didn’t agree to this so I could run at the first sign of trouble.”

It was all he could do not to give her a shake to wake up. This wasn’t a game. “You will run,” he said tightly. “I can’t keep both of us free.”

“I can take care of myself,” she said, and his bad mood cracked. It was exactly what Peri would have said.

“Let me get the door,” he said as she quickened her pace. “Peri always waits.”

“She is such a princess.”

Liz rolled her eyes and dropped back, and Silas hesitated. “Yes. She is,” he said, and Liz’s expression went sour again.

He pushed the door open, and they walked out into the early dusk. Silas scanned the area, wondering if the chain-link-fenced area under construction might hold some promise. Liz was silent, her chin lifting as she picked out the agents one by one.

“I see three,” he said, the roller bag thumping on the rough pavement.

“Five,” she corrected. “And more coming. Shit, who do they think she is? Superwoman?”

“Yep,” he said, pulse quickening. “Incoming at two, five, and eight.”

“Huh.” Liz’s pace had shortened, and he gave up on trying to meet it. “I thought we would have gotten a little farther.”

“I’m surprised we got out the door.” Silas met the eyes of the closest three, warning them before the fight even started. “I’ll plow your road. They won’t shoot to kill.” Not her, anyway.

“Silas …”

“Watch out for darts.” The three closest agents were almost on them. “Run!” he shouted, shoving her forward.

Crying out in frustration, Liz went. Silas whipped Peri’s luggage around like a hammer throw, grinning madly as he winged it at the man Liz was headed for. It hit him square on, and the man fell, grunting as he fumbled for her foot and missed.

“Keep going!” Silas shouted, then spun, affronted when a dart hit the back of his leg.

“God bless it,” he muttered as he pulled it out. His leg was going numb, but he could still stand on it. At least they weren’t shooting bullets.

“I said no drugs!” Allen’s voice came over one of the agents’ radios, and they warily circled him as if he were a lion, waiting for more backup. “No drugs! I can’t interrogate an unconscious man. Good God! Isn’t there anyone out there higher than a brown belt?”

Allen, Silas thought, changing his plans. He’d let himself get caught. He wanted to talk to him. His smile grew as the three agents looked uneasily among themselves. Alive and undrugged? He didn’t have any such constraint, and he threw the dart away, flexing his hands in anticipation. “You heard the man,” he said, scuffing the pavement for purchase. “Who’s first?”

But no one volunteered, and finally Silas bellowed, rushing the smallest.

Silas hit his middle like a linebacker, stealing his air and sending him flying. He spun for the next, and they were on him, forcing him to the ground. He twisted, but someone had his arm, yanking it up and back in a submission hold. Two more landed on his legs.

“Cuff him!” someone shouted, and Silas grimaced at the feel of steel ratcheting about one wrist. Twisting, Silas flung the man away.

“Keep him down!” someone else demanded, and Silas’s air huffed out as two more men fell on him. One got a face full of elbow, but then they got his other arm, twisting it back with the first and fastening them together.

“Get off me!” he demanded, and in a breath, they seemed to vanish.

Shocked, he twisted, managing to get himself seated upright. Six men all in black suits ringed him. One had a bloody nose, another a red face as he still struggled to breathe. All of them were angry, their nice black suits mussed with dirt and oil.

His own nose was bleeding, and he wiped it on his shoulder, staying put when one of them shoved him to stay down. Silas followed their attention to Allen, who was hobbling forward between the parked cars, awkward and slow with his right hand bandaged and a crutch to ease the weight on his damaged left knee. Bound in cuffs, Silas’s hands clenched, and his skull began to throb.

“He’s got one dart in him,” the tallest man said, almost panting as Allen limped to a halt and looked Silas up and down. “Sorry, sir.”

Allen’s brow lifted in amusement as he took in the men trying to put themselves back together. “Don’t worry about it,” he said, while Silas seethed. “It hardly slowed him down.” Allen scanned the parking lot, other agents keeping the curious onlookers moving. “Can you stand?” he asked Silas.

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