A shadow in her rearview mirror caught her attention. Thoughts of Pete slipped to the back of Kat’s mind as her instincts jumped to alert. Slinking down in her seat, she reached up slowly and tipped the mirror so she had a better view behind her.
It was a man. Broad shoulders, long legs. Tall. Wearing a full-length dark coat. He glanced around the empty street several times before crossing the road and heading for the piranha’s building.
He stepped under a streetlight for a brief moment, then eased back into the shadows. But not before Kat saw his arm lift toward the sky. Metal glimmered in his hand. Seconds later, the light went out with a near silent pop.
But one second was all it took. In that moment he’d been in the light, Kat had a clear view of his face. Of his close-cropped hair. Of his beady eyes.
The hair stood up on her arms, but she didn’t avert her eyes. Not even when he slinked into the shadows along the building and then stopped. Slowly, she reached for the backpack she’d set on the passenger seat, flipped it open and pawed around until she found her 9 mm. Her fingers closed over the cold metal with stunning force. Though she was expertly trained in how to use the firearm, a rush of adrenaline swept through her. Would she be able to take a life after all?
She wasn’t sure. If she did, it would put her on the same level as the men who had killed Sawil and Shannon.
She knew only one thing for certain: Busir and his goons had come for Pete just like she’d predicted. Her conscience wouldn’t let her sit back and do nothing.
After slipping the Beretta into the pocket of her jacket, she searched the backpack again for the small stun gun her self defense instructor had suggested she buy. She’d much rather use that if she could. Gripping it and an extra cartridge in her hand, she climbed out of the car, careful to stay low and silent.
A quick glance back confirmed Busir wasn’t alone. He’d brought a friend, though not the same one she’d seen at the auction. This one looked American. Kat inched her way around parked cars, well out of both their view, until she got to the alley. Once there, she kicked up her feet and ran down the wet pavement, made a trip around the block until she came up from the south behind their car.
She was breathing heavy as she ducked out of sight and moved close to the vehicle. Busir was still waiting in the shadows. His counterpart sat in the driver’s seat, awaiting his signal.
Long seconds passed while she waited. Her breathing slowed, but the adrenaline rush sent the blood pounding in her ears in time with her heart. She let instinct and years of training finally sink in, tried to block the self doubt on the fringes of her subconscious. Logic told her she couldn’t take out both men on her own, but she had surprise on her side. And she’d make the most of it.
Pete suddenly emerged from the lobby, head down and arms crossed over his chest. A frown cut across his face when he looked up to where the limo had been. One quick glance around, and then he turned toward the car. Tucking his chin against his chest, he headed up the street, oblivious to what was about to go down around him.
Perspiration dampened Kat’s skin. It nearly killed her, but she waited until she saw Busir make his move.
Then she made hers.
As Busir slinked out of the shadows and followed Pete up the sidewalk, Kat gripped the driver’s door and pulled. The man in the front seat jolted around to face her.
She was sure she’d never seen him before, but that didn’t stop her. She gripped the stun gun and hit him hard, right in the neck to avoid his coat. He jerked and yelped, but she held her ground and counted to four.
The man seized, then fell over on the front seat. He wasn’t unconscious, but he was incapacitated. At least for the time being.
And for a moment, Kat’s eyes widened at what she’d just done. Images flickered through her mind like a silent movie. The tomb. The sounds. The struggle. And running.
She closed her eyes tight and took large breaths to calm her nerves. But two was all she could afford. She opened her eyes, ready to find Pete. And that’s when she noticed the empty vial on the console. She reached around the man’s body and lifted the small glass container.
Oh, dear God.
Now check out these other great excerpts!