Don't Look Down Read online

  "My, my," LaFavre said, and Wilder followed his eyes as Nash turned and looked, too.

  A tall woman, her hair in a long dark braid over her shoulder, was coming down the bridge toward them, her blue shirt blowing back in the wind to reveal a well-filled-out white T-shirt that made Wilder rethink white T-shirts. Amazon, Wilder thought. If Nash hadn't been standing there, he'd have looked longer and possibly smiled, but the stunt coordinator was a wild card, mad as hell about something and not to be ignored. Mission first, women later.

  A tall, gangly man followed the Amazon, holding a little blond kid. He was grinning at Nash, but it wasn't a friendly grin. More a fuck-you grin. Wilder liked him.

  "She an actress?" LaFavre asked Bryce, dropping his voice as he nodded toward the Amazon.

  Bryce squinted and then dropped his voice, too. "No. I think that's the new director. Nash's ex-wife. She directs dog food commercials or something up in New York so he got her this gig. It's her big break."

  "Healthy-lookin' woman," LaFavre said with appreciation, and Nash evidently heard, because he turned his stare on LaFavre.

  Not so ex, then, Wilder thought and looked at the woman again as she came closer. She was tall, probably six foot, and she looked determined. Powerful. Hot. Yeah, she would be a hard woman to walk away from.

  Maybe she was the one who'd walked. That sounded better.

  Bryce added, still under his breath, "Nash'll still run things. It's mostly stunts this last four days. I think she's just here to make things look right."

  She's got her work cut out for her, Wilder thought, and put his eyes back on Nash.

  "Looks right to me," LaFavre said, still staring at the Amazon, and Nash's face darkened. "Does she like heroes? I could show her my medals. Women are usually real grateful to heroes."

  "Go away," Wilder said, seeing disaster loom. LaFavre would hit on her, and then Nash would kill him. Or try to. LaFavre was remarkably hard to kill.

  Right now he just looked wounded, or as wounded as anybody could look in aviator sunglasses. "What about my actresses?" he said.

  "I'll get you one later."

  "Let's go get a drink, then. Fly with me back to Hunter. There's a strip club-"

  "No. Go away."

  "Coin check."

  "Screw you." Wilder fished his Special Forces coin out of his pocket and held it up. "Now go away."

  LaFavre grinned, tipped his World War II flight hat to Bryce and then belatedly to Nash, smiled warmly up the bridge at the Amazon, and ambled off toward the chopper.

  "What's a coin check?" Bryce said, watching him go.

  "Special Forces thing," Wilder said, keeping an eye on LaFavre to make sure he kept on going.

  "Bunch of bullshit," Nash said.

  Bryce nodded at the Amazon as she reached them. Her dark eyes swept them all and, Wilder was pretty sure, missed nothing.

  "Lucy Armstrong?" Bryce said.

  She smiled and held out her hand to Bryce, walking between Wilder and Nash to reach him. Into the kill zone, Wilder thought. These people wouldn't last five seconds in a gun battle.

  "Bryce McKay." The Amazon shook his hand, her profile to Wilder. "Very pleased to meet you."

  "Welcome aboard." Bryce nodded at her once, looking oddly serious.

  "I cannot see," the little kid said, and Wilder looked down to see her holding up her binoculars, surrounded by adult legs, her face perturbed under its blond bowl-cut.

  The Amazon-Armstrong, Bryce had called her-stepped back to let the kid out of the circle as Bryce said, "I want you to meet Captain J.T. Wilder, my new military consultant."

  Armstrong turned those eyes on him and said, "Hello." She put her hand out and Wilder took it, still watching Nash, trying not to get distracted. Her grip was solid. And warm. He met her gaze and liked what he saw: Somebody was definitely at home in there. He'd been looking at Bryce for too long. Bryce's eyes said, "Back in a minute." Armstrong's eyes said, "Brace yourself, I'm coming at you."

  "J.T. is a real Green Beret, just like Rambo," Bryce was saying to Armstrong, and Wilder flinched as Nash laughed.

  Armstrong shot Nash a look that could have cut glass.

  Rambo, Wilder thought. Fuck.

  "Hey," the little kid said, but Armstrong had already turned back to Wilder.

  "A Green Beret," she said. "Very impressive." She sounded as if she meant it, and Nash lost his sneer.

  Wilder felt better.

  "This is my assistant director, Gleason Bloom," she said, and the smile she directed to the lanky guy was affectionate. "Gloom, you know our star, Bryce McKay-"

  Wilder watched while Bryce stood straighter when she said "star."

  "-And this is Captain J. T. Wilder, his… friend."

  "Military consultant," Bryce said, and Gloom shook first his hand and then Wilder's. Good strong grip with nothing to prove, Wilder thought. Armstrong had traded up if she'd gone from Nash to Gloom.

  The little kid was staring out at the swamp through her binoculars, staying very still, leaning forward, and he followed her eyes but couldn't see anything. "Hey," she said, looking up at Armstrong, reaching up to tug on her shirt.

  "Military consultant," Nash said, a little too loudly. "We don't need one."

  "Well, it's certainly something to talk about," Armstrong said cheerfully, with a note under her voice that made it clear that she'd be the one directing the conversation when it happened. She caught the little girl's hand and tried to hold it, but the kid pulled away.

  "I want J.T.," Bryce said, getting that mule look that Wilder had learned to avoid in the two days they'd been together. "I'm paying for him, he's my hire, and I want him."

  Armstrong nodded, still cheerful although her jaw was set now. "We will definitely discuss it. But now about your character…" She began to talk to Bryce about his role, which distracted him, and Wilder relaxed enough to let his eyes scan the set again. People standing or sitting, doing nothing, the lanky guy, Gloom, watching Connor with undisguised loathing, the little kid-

  The little kid had climbed onto the bridge rail, wobbling as she tried to straddle it and hold the binoculars to her eyes, and it was a damn long way down to the Savannah River. Wilder was moving even before he realized it.

  "Pepper!" Armstrong yelled a moment later and lunged for her, but Wilder was already scooping the kid off the rail and putting her on the ground. She looked up at him, blue-eyed and annoyed, and he said, "Please do not do that again," just as Nash reached them.

  The kid frowned up at him. "Why?"

  "Because I said so!" Nash exploded as Armstrong dropped to her knees and grabbed the little girl, hugging her close.

  Wilder kept his eyes on the kid, trying to figure out what would make sense to her but not scare her. "Because it's too far up. When you fell, you would hit the water too fast for the molecules to part for you, and you would die." Oh, that was good. Always smooth with the lines for women.

  Pepper blinked at him, squirming in Armstrong's arms. "Okay, but I was trying to tell you, I saw something." The little girl wriggled free and straightened her T-shirt. "Something in the swamp. Like a ghost. Or something." She sighed, exasperated, and looked up at Wilder. "So who are you?"

  Wilder was taken aback for a minute, but then he figured the kid had a point. He'd just moved her out of a place she wanted to be without asking her. The least he could do was tell her his name. He went down on one knee so he could look her in the eye and extended his hand. "I'm J. T. Wilder."

  "I'm P. L. Armstrong." The kid took his hand and shook it. Wilder almost smiled. Smart kid.

  "Jesus Christ," Nash said from behind them.

  Armstrong stood up. "Thank you very much, Captain Wilder." She met his eyes and held them for a moment too long, long enough to make Nash draw in his breath and Wilder straighten. "We're very grateful to you," she said.

  How grateful? he thought, and then got a grip. Get out of the kill zone, he told himself, and then she smiled at him, nodded at Bryce and said, "We'll talk