Don't Look Down Read online

  LaFavre shook his head. "Probably on the speedboat. It's by the big ship."

  "That's where we're going. We head for the ship and we get J.T. Go."

  "Not the plan," LaFavre said.

  "Fuck the plan."

  He shook his head. "Trust J.T. We stand off, watch and wait for the call. This is about the little sweetie."

  Lucy swallowed. "But he's out there alone."

  "No, he's not," LaFavre said. "We're here." He nodded to a pair of binoculars hanging between them. "Take those. See if you can find him. It's light enough on that ship."

  Lucy picked them up and trained them on the brightly lit ship. "I don't see him."

  "Keep looking," LaFavre said, and Lucy leaned forward, her heart pounding as she searched.

  Wilder wished he had his night-vision goggles but the ship had its lights on and there was a lot of glow from the bridge overhead, thanks to the burning car. He was pissed. On top of kidnapping Pepper, Nash had been more than willing to blow up Althea, Bryce, and Lucy. What the hell was worth that?

  He moved across the top of the stacks of containers, finger on the trigger, wishing the goddamn SEALs would get there, knowing they wouldn't because they had goddamn orders and goddamn Crawford had them winging out toward goddamn Letsky while things were going to shit here.

  Over the throb of the ship's engines, he heard a splash off the starboard side and knew he was very close to Nash's position. Another splash. Nash was offloading the cargo, probably for pickup by Doc in the speedboat. Then the boat would go to the rendezvous with the chopper. As long as Nash kept moving and didn't stop to check that the jade was in the boxes, it would work out. Wilder realized the whole cargo-net-on-the-bridge thing had been bullshit. Misdirection by Nash. He wouldn't need the net until the rendezvous. No wonder he was pissed that LaFavre had pointed that out.

  Wilder gave a nervous glance to his rear, knowing the ghost might be keeping watch, ready to pick off anybody who interfered. He'd yet to play his hand, which was good since it upped the odds he was actually going to bring Pepper to the rendezvous. And somewhere ahead was Nash with his back pressed so hard against the wall, he was probably through it to the other side. And the other side was pure desperation. And desperate people were the most dangerous of all.

  Wilder heard a speedboat cut through the water and thought, Nash's pickup. He worked his way around the last container to see the boat, hearing its engine cut before he got a good look.

  It was a cigarette boat, the one favored by drug runners, sleek and fast, stopped now, and Bryce was on the fantail, picking up one of the boxes Nash had dropped. What the hell? Two more boxes were already in the boat, and while Wilder watched, Bryce reached for another one, working fast, faster than Wilder had ever seen him do anything.

  Bryce is working with Nash? Wilder thought, dumbfounded.

  The world really was screwed up. So much for wingmen.

  Then his sat phone vibrated in his pocket, making him jump. God damn. Wilder kept the MP-5 in one hand and pulled it out with the other.

  "Wilder," he hissed.

  "We got him."

  Wilder blinked. Despite the static, it had to be Crawford because no one else would send such a vague message. "Who?"

  "Letsky. He put up a fight and we blew his yacht right out of the water. Mission accomplished."

  "That's great but-" And then he heard the slightest of sounds behind him and he swung around, dropping the phone and bringing the MP-5 to bear on Nash and pulling the trigger.

  Nothing happened.

  He automatically began to clear and recock the gun but Nash slammed the stock of his own MP-5 against the side of Wilder's head, dropping him semiconscious to the deck.

  "Removed the firing pin the first night you were in the hotel," Nash said. "Before Althea distracted you for me. So busy checking her gear, you never checked your own." He kicked the sat phone overboard.

  Wilder blinked, trying to clear the fog, and looked up into Nash's crazed eyes. He could hear a helicopter coming close. Gotta move, he thought, but his body wouldn't obey.

  "Got a vest, don't you, mate?" Nash said it almost matter-of-factly, dropping his submachine gun to the end of its sling and drawing his big-ass pistol with one smooth motion, faster than he had in the parking lot. And Wilder knew that Nash was just like him-had hot loads that would cut right through his body armor like going through butter.

  "We've got your chopper," Wilder managed to croak out.

  "You're a damn liar," Nash said and pulled the trigger.

  "I've got Wilder," Lucy said, seeing him on the deck. "He's-" Then her glasses moved to take in Nash, who lifted his gun and fired a single shot, straight into J.T.'s chest. "NO!"

  "What?" LaFavre asked.

  "He shot him," Lucy screamed. "Get down there."

  LaFavre swore beside her. "Who shot him? He has a vest, what-"

  "Put me down on that ship. "

  They were two minutes out, two minutes that lasted a lifetime for Lucy, who kept her glasses trained on J.T. sprawled unmoving on the deck and fucking Nash, who jumped over the side of the ship and clambered on board the speedboat, which roared away.

  LaFavre brought the chopper in just above J.T., and Lucy jumped out, stumbling, her heart in her mouth. She ran to J.T., dropping down beside him when she reached him. "Damn it, you're not dead, you have your vest on." She tried to pull him upright and his head lolled back, but he was breathing, that was something, he was breathing. "Oh, God, don't die, I love you," she said, and held on to him, dragging him toward the chopper, not sure she was doing the right thing.

  He coughed, and she thought, If he's got internal injuries, I'm killing him, but then he coughed again and grabbed on to her.

  "Are you shot?" she said, supporting his weight. "Are you hurt?" Of course he's shot, you idiot, you saw it. "Can you make it to the chopper?"

  She supported him as they lurched together toward it. Way upriver, she could see the disappearing wake of the speedboat heading for the swamp, Nash and his damn jade aboard. Well, he could have it as long as J.T. was all right and they got Pepper back. That was all that mattered, J.T. and Pepper.

  She pulled J.T. over to the chopper and all but shoved him on, her adrenaline surging.

  "Where's he hit?" LaFavre yelled over the rotors.

  "He had his vest on," Lucy yelled back.

  LaFavre shook his head. "Nash had a pistol. Those were hot loads. He's hit."

  Lucy ripped off J.T.'s shirt and checked his vest as he tried to sit up. There was no sign of a bullet wound.

  "What the hell?" LaFavre said to him. "Why aren't you dead?"

  J.T. winced and tapped Bryce's knife. The leather sheath was split and the blade was bent to hell.

  "Bet that hurt," LaFavre said, grinning.

  "Bryce's stupid knife saved you?" Lucy said and swallowed back tears.

  J.T. blinked at her. "No crying in Special Ops, Lucy, he said, his breath coming better now. He patted her on the back.

  She nodded and swallowed again. Fucking Army asshole, you scared the hell out of me. "Nash got away." She blinked. "But we've got Doc and Karen."

  "Throw 'em off," J.T. said, sitting up with great care.

  "Into the water?" Lucy said, more than ready to.

  "Onto the ship," J.T. said. "By the time they get out of the cuffs and find their way back to land, it'll be over."

  LaFavre nodded and rolled a now semiconscious Doc out of the helicopter onto the deck of the ship. Doc hit the deck hard and swore, and Lucy thought, Good.

  Karen looked up at LaFavre and smiled. "You thought I was pretty sweet once."

  "That was before your buddies kidnapped a friend of mine." LaFavre dragged her to her feet and pushed her out, too, watching her stumble onto the deck, mad as hell. He turned to J.T. "I got the RV coordinates. I can drop you nearby, wait for your call for the trade."

  J.T. nodded. "Do it."

  Lucy strapped herself in beside him. "What's going on? I found Doc i