Don't Look Down Read online

  "Where's the cable?" Lucy went breathless as she reached him. "What happened? How-"

  "Stop yelling," he said as he brushed himself off and then waved to Althea. "Nothing went wrong. I didn't use the cable."

  Lucy stopped, her heart racing. "What do you mean, you didn't use the cable?"

  "We were losing the light," Wilder said, as if what he'd done was perfectly rational. "This way, we got it all in one take."

  "You didn't use the cable," Lucy said.

  "I saved you blade time." Wilder frowned at her. "What's the problem?"

  Well, I thought somebody had tried to kill you, you dumb-ass, only it turns out your worst enemy is you.

  "Besides," Wilder said, with a smile, "it's Miller time."

  Lucy turned and walked back to the monitors so he wouldn't see her shake, but after a couple of steps she thought, Oh, no, and walked back to him and slugged him as hard as she could on the shoulder.

  "Ouch," Wilder said, putting his hand up.

  "You didn't use the fucking cable," Lucy yelled. "What are you, a moron? You could have been killed!"

  "Oh, come on." Wilder looked insulted. "I know what I'm doing. We moved any slower, I'd have fallen asleep up there."

  " 'I know what I'm doing,' " Lucy mimicked. "Somebody's tried to kill you twice, but you know what you're doing. I don't think so."

  She walked away and then went back toward him. He stood his ground but he looked wary, hands out at his sides.

  She kept going until she was in his face, but he didn't step back. "You scared the hell out of me," she said, her voice low. "I thought you were hurt. When I didn't see that cable, I thought-"

  She broke off, torn between rage and relief, and she saw his face soften.

  "Lucy, I was trying to help-"

  "No," Lucy said, going for rage. "You were doing it your way. If you wanted to help me, you'd have asked me first."

  "Well, hell, I'm sorry then," he said, sounding mad, and she got closer.

  "When we were in the swamp looking for Pepper," she said, so furious she was almost spitting, "I thought it would be best to call for her, I really wanted to call for her, it killed me not to call for her, but I didn't because you were the one who knew best there. You knew the swamp, you were the expert. So, you think you know more about making movies than I do, hotshot?"

  "I might know more about falling out of helicopters than you do," Wilder said, exasperated.

  "This is a movie, not a mission. You the expert on that or am I? Or do you always have to be the boss, even when you don't know what the hell the consequences are?"

  "No," he said, his face closing down. "But-"

  "You did the same thing Bryce did," she said and watched him wince. "You were so sure you were right, so screw the experts. I've got a spy on this set, Wilder, and so far today he's seen my direction ignored completely twice. Bryce is an idiot, but you're not. So, thanks a lot."

  She turned and walked off and he said, "I'm sorry," sounding like he meant it.

  She stopped and went back, hearing Althea giggle behind her, too upset to care that she was making a fool of herself, that it was worse because he was still calling her Lucy. "Are you all right?" she said when she was close again. "Did you get hurt?"

  "Only when you punched me." He felt his shoulder. "I didn't see that one coming."

  "Oh, but you saw the ground coming," Lucy said, mad all over again. "So all you had to do was brace yourself and bounce, I suppose."

  "It's hard to miss the ground," Wilder said. "As they used to say in Airborne School, you can always count on gravity."

  "Rot and die," Lucy said and went back to the monitors.

  On the way, Doc intercepted her. "Lucy, I swear to God, he refused the harness and safety cable."

  "I know, Doc," Lucy said, not stopping.

  Doc stopped and fell behind, and Lucy sat down behind the monitors, still wanting to kill somebody.

  "So how was it for you?" Daisy asked, while Pepper looked at her, her eyes huge.

  "Completely unsatisfactory." Lucy settled into her seat, trying not to look at Wilder, now talking to Doc without any visible concern.

  "Are you mad at J.T.?" Pepper said.

  "Oh, yeah."

  "Don't fire him," Pepper said, looking stricken. "He has to come to my party."

  "He'll be there." Lucy stood up and called to the set, "Okay, let's do it again."

  The entire set froze, and Wilder looked up, startled.

  Lucy let the seconds tick by, and then said, "Kidding. We got it."

  The crew relaxed and laughed, and Wilder grinned at her, and she sat back, shaking her head at him. Dumb-ass.

  Then she realized Stephanie was looking at her with a great deal of interest. "What?"

  Stephanie smiled. "Nothing," she said, and walked away toward Nash.

  "I don't like it when she looks like that," Daisy said, watching her saunter off.

  "I don't care what she looks like." Lucy took a deep breath, trying to get her balance. It took a lot out of a woman to be furious, terrified, and sort of turned on at the same time. I'm going to have to kill him. Because otherwise-

  Stephanie opened the car door for Nash, and Nash looked back once at Lucy, his face dark with pain. Then he got in, and Stephanie smiled over at her, triumphant.

  Him, you can have, Lucy thought.

  Then she looked at J.T., on the edge of the set with a jubilant Bryce, infuriating and patronizing and too damn dumb to use a cable. Him, you can't, she thought, and went back to work.

  Wilder walked away from Bryce and the people still sucking up to him and stood on the edge of the berm, staring out over the swamp in the fading light. Now that he had time to think, what he was thinking wasn't good. Lucy said somebody had tried to kill him twice. He wasn't sure he was buying that, but when he put the bar fight together with the broken skid and Finnegan and the Russian mob… He sighed and took out his cell phone.

  Four rings, then: "Swamp Rat Airlines. You call, we haul."

  "Hey, Swamp Rat. It's J.T."

  "Shüüit, boy. How's it hanging? Any more helicopters break?"

  "I want to talk to you. Not on the phone."

  "Figured you would. Meet me at Maraschino's. I'll show you my investments."

  "The strip club in the shopping mall?" Wilder asked, although he knew that was exactly the kind of place where LaFavre would want to meet. The place probably had a seat with LaFavre's name on it. "See you there in fifteen."

  "Roger that."

  Wilder waved to Lucy, who missed it, deep in conversation with Gloom at the monitors, and then went down the dirt road to his Jeep and cranked it. As he drove toward the strip club, he mulled over what he knew and came up with not much of anything.

  There were a lot of cars parked in front of Maraschino's. Wilder drove around the lot and combat parked, front end facing out, underneath an old oak tree. He didn't see LaFavre's car so he went over to the front door. Glass, spray-painted black with little clear streaks, which Wilder assumed were fingernail marks made by guys getting dragged out by bouncers. Class)'.

  Wilder pulled open the door and almost walked right into a burly man who filled most of the narrow entranceway. " Ten bucks." The man's bare arms bulged with muscles festooned with tattoos.

  Wilder pulled out the bill and handed it over, but the man didn't move. "You packing?" He held up a metal detector.

  Not a good sign, Wilder thought. "Yeah."

  Tattoo Man frowned. "What are you carrying? Let me see."

  This was a major pain in the ass, Wilder thought as he drew out the Clock. Then he pulled off his belt with the garrote in it. Then the dagger strapped to his left calf. Tattoo Man eyed the growing pile of weaponry with a raised eyebrow. "Expecting trouble?"

  "It seems to follow me around," Wilder said.

  "Sure that's the way it works?"

  Wilder had to smile at that.

  "You can leave all that with me or take it back to your car, but you are not going