“Fuck you,” Silas said softly, his chin hurting where it had hit the pavement.
Allen chuckled. “Get him up,” he said confidently, and two men yanked him, stumbling, to his feet. “I want his phone. Wallet. Everything. Where’s the van?”
Silas stood stoically while they searched him. If they were focusing on him, they were not looking for Peri, and a curious feeling of anxious satisfaction coursed through him as Allen step-scuffed on his crutch to a nearby agent to find out what was taking the pickup van so long.
“Booted?” Allen echoed, clearly peeved as a shopper tried to get it all on YouTube, complaining when an agent took the phone and snapped it. “We cleared it with the local cops!”
“Yes, sir,” someone said. “It’s got a VigilantVigilante sticker on it. I have a car coming.”
“Seriously?” Frowning, Allen shifted his gaze from the mall to the nearby construction trailer. “I don’t want this plastered on the Net. Someone open that up. Denier, move, or we’ll move you.”
Silas slowly started for the construction office, his hands bound behind him. The chain-link fence door rattled open, and Silas eyed the gun on Allen’s hip. He’d take that when he left, and he waited patiently as an agent darted up the metal steps and into the dirty single-wide.
“In,” Allen prompted when the agent stuck his head out and proclaimed it clear.
Silas went, his pace stiff, and he gave the agent at the steps a look to back off as he managed them himself. His mood darkened when he found the ceiling predictably low and the furnishings covered in the expected filth and grime—but his clothes were ruined already.
“Put him there,” Allen said, and two agents shoved Silas into the rolling chair before the messy desk, going farther to tether his cuffs to an immovable, fireproof file cabinet with a long, plastic-coated wire. Silas leaned back as much as he could, his hands fisted behind him.
“We’re tracking the woman,” one man said, and Allen sighed as he rested his rump against the top of the desk. “She’s heading east,” he added, showing him on the tablet. “Mobile, and moving fast.”
Allen glanced at it. “Don’t bother,” he said as he got his phone from a back pocket and started flicking through the apps. “It’s not Reed.”
“Sir?” the agent asked, his tablet drooping until Silas could see it was a map of the city.
“It’s not her,” Allen repeated, smug as he met Silas’s eyes. “Is it.”
Which means Peri is still free, but his elation quickly reverted to worry. How long would she wait? An hour? The trailer was only a short walk from the dealership.
“Out,” Allen demanded as the trailer shifted when two more men tried to come in, and they retreated. “You.” Allen handed one of the remaining three agents Silas’s phone and wallet. “Go thank the mall security. Tell them we have our suspects and we’ll be out of their hair in five minutes.” Brow creased in pain, he turned to the remaining agents. “You two go find the car and make sure it gets here in five minutes!” he shouted. “Not ten. Not six. Five!”
They headed for the open door, and Allen clicked open his radio. “I’m in the construction trailer on the south end,” he said sourly. “Give me a forty-foot perimeter around it. Now.”
Eyes fixed on Silas, he pulled his handgun from the holster and set it on the desk, sighing in relief. Still the agents hesitated, and Allen waved at them, shooing them out. “Go on,” he demanded. “He’s cuffed and tied to a five-hundred-pound cabinet.”
Slowly they retreated, talking even as they shut the door behind them.
“You slimy son of a bitch,” Silas intoned, not liking the changes in his old friend.
“Shut up,” Allen said as he turned off his radio.
“How could you do that to her?” Silas whispered, leaning as far forward as he could. He’d almost blown it when Allen had walked into Opti’s med building, posing as her anchor. He might look the part, with his lanky, athletic body, but Allen’s defrag techniques weren’t good enough. How he’d worked himself so high in Opti’s ranks so fast was more than suspicious.
“I said”—Allen set his phone where Silas could see the live, hijacked mall security video focused on the trailer—“shut up a moment.”
Silas was silent, his pulse throbbing against the new scrape on his face, and they watched the men surrounding the trailer fall back to a comfortable forty feet. The changes in Allen went deeper than the bandages. There was a little more maturity across the shoulders, and his black curls were cut shorter. Pain had made his long face even longer, but he was as fit and scar-marked as ever. The safety glasses were the same black plastic. Silas knew he used them to keep women away—birth-control frames, he called them. Not that Allen didn’t like women, but he treated them like his next big hill to be conquered—at his preference.
“Seriously, are you okay?” Allen said, shoulders slumping to show how much he hurt. Clearly he was avoiding the pain meds, a reasonable precaution seeing as they interfered with the ability to recognize drafts. “They didn’t hit you too hard, eh?”
Wet and filthy from the parking lot, Silas eyed Allen, gaze lingering on his Opti pin. “You are … a son of a bitch.”
Allen’s expression hardened. “We have five minutes. You want to spend it telling me how much of an ass I am, or do you want to figure out how we can fix this?”