The Drafter

Page 97

Fine, she thought as she shoved two bottles and a handful of syringes into her pocket. If they were going to use it on her, she had no qualm about using it on them.

“Move,” she snarled as one tested the waters. “Both of you in the bathroom. Now!”

Howard looked peaked, but not as shaky as the man with the broken wrist when they shuffled into the bathroom. Sure, Howard was an agent, but if the alliance was anything like Opti, cleaners and tech guys seldom saw real action.

“Good. Lock yourselves to the piping.” Peri tossed in two pairs of cuffs from the counter.

Howard started to follow, and she pulled him back from a potential turnaround until the cuffs clinked. They’d put them on their ankles. That was fine. They’d be going to sleep shortly.

“Okay.” Peri took Howard’s pistol and handed him two syringes and a bottle. “Now you can sedate them.”

Howard’s eyes flicked to the bottle in his hand. “I’m not sure of the dosage.”

“Every field agent knows how to pick handcuffs given enough time. Our other option is to shoot them,” she said, and Howard winced, rolling the bottle to read what it was.

“I’ll, ah, use the dog dosage,” he said. “You’re, what, about two German shepherds?”

“Don’t get between me and them,” she said as she stood in the tub with her Glock pointed to make sure they stayed polite while Howard put them under. Not a twinge of guilt assailed her. The only reason the drugs were here was to use on her.

They went down slow, the one with the broken wrist fighting it until finally his shoulders eased and his breathing grew steady. “Nicely done,” Peri said as they stood over the fallen Opti agents, Howard a little wide-eyed, as if he still didn’t believe what they’d done. “How long until they wake up?”

“Few hours?” he guessed as he followed her out and shut the door.

It would be enough. Anticipation spiked as she helped herself to another pair of cuffs.

“Here.” Howard came forward with a wire. “Take this. I’ll do what I can.”

“Thanks,” she said. It was one-way, but she appreciated it nevertheless. “If things go wrong, promise me you’ll get Taf and go. I mean it.” His brow pinched, and Peri frowned. “Howard, please,” she said, feeling vulnerable for some reason. “I know you think I’m in over my head, but this is what I do. This is who I am. I need your help, but not at the expense of putting you and Taf where you’re going to find yourself somewhere you’re not prepared to be. I like you here,” she said, gesturing at the bank of equipment and sensing he felt at home there. “I like Taf behind the wheel, even if her driving scares the crap out of me. Promise me you’ll take her and leave if things go wrong. I don’t want you showing up at my apartment. Okay? If it goes bad, let it go bad and get yourself out.”

The door clicked open, and she spun, relaxing when it was only Jack. “We gotta go, babe,” he said, and she put a hand on Howard’s arm to convince him she wasn’t jumping at shadows, even if she was. The door snicked shut, never really having moved at all.

“Please?” she asked again, and Howard nodded, clearly not happy.

“We’ll do it your way,” he said wryly.

“Thanks.” Smiling, Peri felt the wire he’d given her, loosely coiled and tucked in a pocket. “They have Electronic Huts in Canada, don’t they?”

Finally his grim look eased, and he waved her off. She looked back to see Howard settle himself amid the switches and monitors, Allen’s old Glock within his easy reach. After checking to make sure the door would lock, she shut it gently behind her.

Jack paced beside her as she jogged to the stairway. “He looks right there.”

“He does, yes,” she said, trying not to imagine him dead as she wove her way downstairs and out through the back entrance to settle among the recycle bins. She desperately didn’t want to draft, even if it was becoming easier to work without the security of an anchor. What did anyone really need to know, anyway?

But if anything happened to Howard or Taf, she vowed she’d never forget.



What if I draft? Will the patch job hold?

Quashing her angst, Peri crept to the Opti van at the curb. Howard would handle any electronic fallout, and having the way plowed for her escape would be worth it, especially if it made Taf safer. Besides, she had the power of drugs now.

The clear spark of adrenaline pushed out the lingering worry as she paused in the black shadow of the building to fill three syringes, wedging them through the fabric of her shirt like pins to keep them handy and out of the way. Grabbing a rag from the Dumpster, she jogged to the back of the running van and, after wadding the cloth into a ball, jammed it into the tailpipe, holding it there with her foot.

Jack slid to a bright-eyed stop beside her, causing her to almost shriek in surprise.

“What are you doing here?” she whispered, feeling foolish talking to nothing.

He wrinkled his nose and crouched beside her. “I’ve got your back, Peri. I always will.”

That bothered her, but she wasn’t going to argue with herself. Finally the running engine choked into silence, and she touched the syringes lined up on her sleeve like soldiers. Her tension spiked when the passenger-side door opened. “I don’t know crap about cars, Tony,” the one inside said as his companion got out, and she smiled when the hood popped up. Perfect. “You look.”

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