Don't Look Down Read online

  J. T. Damn, she thought. I had him right here and didn't ask him his first name. And there had been that one moment when she was pretty sure she could have gotten his name, his rank, his serial number, his sun sign, his baseball card collection, and his Jeep if she'd just asked.

  Of course, at that point she'd have given him anything he'd asked for, too. Actually, she had given him everything he'd asked for. She grinned to herself against the pillows and then started when somebody knocked on the door.

  Oh goody, he'd changed his mind and come back.

  She grabbed her shirt from the floor and buttoned it up as she went to the door. No sense in looking easy. No sense in putting underwear or pants on either, but definitely the shirt. To show that he was going to have to work at least five seconds to get her.

  She threw open the door and said, "Okay, what's your-"

  "Swear to me you didn't cancel that net," Nash said, his face pale.

  Lucy backed up a step. "I didn't cancel the net. I have no reason to cancel the net. Whatever you're doing, just do it and get out of my life without hurting anybody."

  "You-" He broke off, looking at her for the first time. "Where's Wilder?"

  "He's not here." Lucy tried to close the door but he blocked it with his shoulder.

  "He was here, though," Nash said, meeting her eyes. "I know you, Luce. I know what it takes to make you look like this."

  "Just go," Lucy said.

  "I don't get it," he said, and there was real hurt in his eyes. "That guy, he's just like me. You want that, why not come back to me? I'll give you everything you've ever wanted, Lucy. After tonight…"

  "He's not you," Lucy said, so sure now that she wondered how she could ever have thought they were the same. "He's not a liar. He's not a cheat. He cares about people. He's a real hero, not a Hollywood fast-draw fake."

  Nash shoved the door open and came in, slamming it behind him. "Of course he's a fake, Jesus, Lucy, you think he just happened to get this movie gig? He's working for somebody. He's conning you just-"

  "I know who he's working for," Lucy said, backing up. "Now get out."

  "Oh, no, I don't give up that easy." He came toward her and she scrambled to put the bed between them, ending up on the opposite side, facing him down.

  "Get out,'" she said.

  "Come on, Luce," he said, detouring around the bed. "Cut the crap. This is me. This is us. You know…"

  She yanked her bag open and took out the Beretta J.T. had given her, fumbling it out of the holster to point it at him. "I'll shoot you," she said, gripping the gun with both hands to keep it from shaking.

  Adrenaline was making her dizzy. "I will shoot you where you stand if you try to touch me."

  "No, you won't," he said, and she knew he was right, she couldn't shoot anybody. "But I love your spirit, babe. I always have." He sounded almost sad, and she relaxed a little. "God, Lucy, I wish it didn't have to be like this. If things were different-"

  "Things are like this because of you," she said, tensing again. "You're the one who set this all up, you're the one who talked Daisy into this and sabotaged that rope, you're the one who sent somebody after Stephanie, so don't even pretend this is some really sad twist of fate. You're getting exactly what you deserve."

  He drew back. "Okay, then. So who's your hero working for?"

  "Get out." She held the gun in one hand and reached for the phone. "Get out or I call security and have you arrested. You can't be on the bridge tonight if you're in jail, Nash."

  "Nash?" he said, trying to smile. "Hey, what happened to 'Connor'?"

  "I think he died," she said, phone in hand. "I think something awful happened to him because all that's left is you, and you're nothing."

  He flinched.

  "Just get out," she said, and let the gun drop. "Please, just go. Do whatever it is you have to do and don't ever come near me or Daisy or Pepper again."

  Nash looked at her, his eyes bleak. "Okay, then," he said, sounding defeated. "Stay out of my way tonight and tell your hero to do the same. Especially him. Tell him to keep his distance or he'll be a dead man."

  "Just go," Lucy said, suddenly tired.

  He went out, closing the door behind him, and she put the gun on the bedside table.

  I'm a mess in an emergency, she thought. Thank God J.T. knows how to do this stuff.

  She went to throw the deadbolt and then she went back to the phone.

  She trusted J.T., but it was time to call in her backup.


  Fast exits were good, Wilder thought as he checked the GPS tracker. If he'd hung around in Lucys room much longer, he'd never have left. And meanwhile, Finnegan was moving north, about three miles ahead of Wilder's position on Route 17. Wilder glanced at the MP-5 submachine gun resting on the passenger seat. He'd taken valuable time to recover it from the cache under the bridge. It was most definitely time for heavier firepower.

  The sun was about down, hanging just above the low-country vista. Wilder took his eyes from the road to absorb the beauty, wondering, not for the first time, if this would be his last sunset. He wasn't fatalistic, just realistic. He had loaded weapons in the Jeep, he was following a rogue moneyman, a Russian mobster with a very bad reputation was lurking around somewhere, and the CIA was trying to play the whole mess from the outside. Wilder's experiences were that the CIA wasn't good at playing anything. But if this was his last sunset, it was a great one, made all the better because of the past twenty-four hours with Lucy Armstrong.

  Lucy. If something happened to him… He pulled out his cell phone and punched in a number.

  LaFavre answered on the second ring. "Swamp Rat Air-"

  "Rene," Wilder said.

  LaFavre stopped cold. "Yeah?"

  "Need a favor if things don't go well tonight."

  "What are you talkin' about, boy?"

  "Lucy Armstrong. If something happens to me, you look out for her."

  "Right," LaFavre said. "Maybe better if I come join you, make sure nothing happens to you."

  "Nope," Wilder said. "Just take care of Lucy if I can't."

  "You got it."

  Wilder clicked off the phone and then snapped his eyes back to the road as an eighteen-wheeler roared toward him along the narrow two-lane highway and passed with a blast of wind. He glanced at the tracker. Finnegan's dot was curving around, which meant that once more, Wilder was driving along the route they had taken this morning looping back toward east Savannah and the airport. It seemed as if everything bad had happened in this area: the stunt going wrong, Stephanie's accident, the Finnegan meeting.

  "Fuck," Wilder said as he saw the dot turn left into the Wildlife Refuge. Who was Finnegan meeting? He pulled the Jeep over to the narrow strip of grass on the side of the road. It was getting dark now, night falling fast. He twisted in the seat and spun the combination on the lock securing the footlocker in the back of the Jeep, then reached in and pulled out a set of night-vision goggles. He put the NVGs on his head, but kept them resting on his forehead, not covering his eyes. Not yet.

  He watched the small screen and saw Finnegan's dot come to a halt. Looking at the terrain features on the map, Wilder realized Finnegan was in the exact same spot where he and Lucy had met him earlier in the day. He smiled grimly. First mistake. Violating one of Rogers' Rules of Rangering, formulated in 1759: Don't ever go back over the same trail.

  Wilder pulled back onto the road and headed south. Checking the GPS one last time, he pulled the goggles down over his eyes when he was about a half mile from the exit gate and turned them on at the same time he turned off the headlights of the Jeep.

  His world went green as the device amplified the ambient light. He drove to the exit gate at moderate speed. It was shut. Wilder went slightly past it, then pulled to the other side of the road. He parked the Jeep, grabbed the MP-5, and got out. Looking left and right, he didn't see the glow of oncoming headlights. He loped across the road, hopped the metal bar, and continued down the gravel road at a steady