Don't Look Down Read online

  "I'll see what we have on Armstrong," the kid said, pulling out a pad and pencil from inside his jacket and exposing a shoulder holster with a small revolver in it.

  Who the hell carries that kind of revolver? Wilder thought. From here it looked like a.38, a peashooter, not a Dirty Harry blow-a-limb-off-with-a-near-miss revolver like Nash had in his quick-draw rig. Jesus. "Find out about the first director, too, the one who died."

  Crawford licked the end of his pencil and put it on the pad.

  "Don't write it down," Wilder suggested. "Let's make believe we're running a covert operation here and we have to like, you know, keep secrets?"

  "Right." Crawford scooped the pad off the table and jammed it back in his jacket.

  That was better than "what," at least. Wilder held up the empty mug, his eyes going past Crawford's shoulder.

  The kid frowned as the waitress came over with a fresh brew. "Do you think you should be drinking on duty?"

  Had the kid just said what he had? Wilder rewound his brain, replayed it, and yes, the kid had. "First, I didn't know I was on duty until a couple of minutes ago. I was on leave and I am assuming I am not going to get charged leave time now." Wilder did not want to bring up the money Bryce was paying him. Screw the CIA.

  "Second, I'm undercover. This is part of my cover." Wilder smiled, trying to be nice, but this nice shit was getting old. This kid was doing things as wrong as they were doing them on the movie, except this stuff was real. "Cover for action. You know, like they taught you at Langley."

  "What, being a drunk?"

  Was it the "what" or the sentence that pissed him off-or that he knew he'd been drinking too much since his last tour in Iraq? Wilder wasn't sure but his smile was gone.

  The kid pushed his chair back slightly, looking wary. "Listen, I got thrown into this job just-"

  "I don't give a fuck about your sob story," Wilder said, his voice flat. "You get me the intelligence I need to do my job. I want that picture of Finnegan and the files on Armstrong and the old director, along with anything else you have that ties anyone on that movie to Finnegan in any way. Yesterday."

  He got up and walked out, leaving the beer and the kid behind, and then remembered that in two days he'd be hanging out of a helicopter and pretending to be Bryce while Althea screamed in a car below and pretended to care. Iraq or not, this was no time to give up drinking.

  Should have finished that beer, he thought and headed back to the set to drop off the comic stuff at Armstrong's camper.

  And then he was going back to the hotel to get a real gun.

  The shoot wrapped at two a.m., and Lucy went down to base camp, exhausted by the chaos and worried sick about Daisy, who had sleepwalked through the rest of the night. An hour before, listening to Daisy slur her words, she'd thought, If it were anybody else but my sister, I'd think she was on something. Then she'd watched Daisy fumble with her notebook and stumble when she got off her chair.

  Hell, she thought now as she opened the door to the camper. She's on something.

  A big brown paper bag stamped jax comix was sitting on her table next to the script Stephanie had given her, with a Post-it note on the bag: "Captain Wilder left this for you." She sat down in one of the swivel chairs and pulled a big blue box from the bag and looked at the cartoon of a forties Wonder Woman on the front, something else inexplicable in her life, right up there with Daisy and Connor.

  Then she remembered.

  "Barbie," she said out loud and looked at the small print at the bottom of the box:exclusive wonder woman circa 1941 action figure. She'd told him Barbie and he'd thought "doll." And then he'd hunted this down. Poor guy.

  Nice guy.

  "I brought candy from Crafty," Pepper said, climbing up into the camper behind her, her hands full of Twizzlers and Hershey bars.

  "I thought your mom said you weren't allowed to eat sugar between meals," Lucy said. "And shouldn't you be asleep?"

  "I took a nap." Pepper dumped her loot on the dinette. "What's that?"

  "I told Captain Wilder you wanted a Wonder Woman Barbie and he got you this." Lucy pulled open the Velcro tab. Inside was a lurid comic book, a hardcover book with a picture of Wonder Woman in her pretty-baby phase, and a plastic doll.

  "That's not a Barbie." Pepper climbed into Lucy's lap, pried the plastic cover off, and took out the doll while Lucy snuggled her close and thought, Poor baby. What had it been like watching Daisy get vaguer and vaguer? "I am very quiet," she'd said. I'm sorry, honey, Lucy thought and kissed the top of her little blond head. I'll make it better, I swear.

  "What do you think?" Pepper said, sounding so much like Daisy had when she was little, superserious and asking for advice, that Lucy smiled as she looked at the doll. It had tightly curled plastic hair and an inscrutable expression, but it also had a brass eagle bustier and a blue skirt with stars.

  "I think she's… interesting," Lucy said.

  "Cool boots," Pepper said, doubt still in her voice, and turned the doll to look at the spike heeled red boots with the white stripes up the front.

  "She runs in those?"

  "She's Wonder Woman, she can do anything." Pepper put the doll on the table. "But she's too short to play with my Barbies."

  "Oh, please, even short, Wonder Woman can kick Barbie's butt," Lucy said, and then realized Pepper wasn't old enough to know why legions of women wanted Barbie's butt kicked.

  The door to the camper opened and Daisy climbed in. "Hey, guys." Her droopy eyes fell on the table and she shook her head, looking half asleep. "Pepper, no candy."

  "It's for tomorrow," Pepper said, still staring at the doll. "You can't change her outfit. It's like glued on."

  "It's an action figure," Lucy told her, keeping an eye on Daisy. "Not designed to play with, although I think you should anyway."

  "Love the rope." Daisy slid into the swivel chair across from Lucy and smiled at her, her eyes unfocused.

  Damn it, Lucy thought.

  Daisy nodded to the Wonder Woman box. "Spoiling your niece?"

  "Captain Wilder is spoiling my niece," Lucy said.

  "Captain Wilder?" Daisy blinked.

  "J.T. and me are friends," Pepper said. "Do we got any root beer?"

  Lucy leaned back, took three bottles of root beer from the tiny fridge under the kitchenette counter, and opened them while Pepper put the doll back in the box and hauled the whole deal across the table to a chair of her own, leaving the script Stephanie had dropped off exposed in the middle of the table.

  "Cheese sticks?" Lucy asked and took those out, too, while Pepper pulled the hardcover book out of the box and began to page through it.

  "What's this?" Daisy picked up the script with more energy than Lucy had seen in her since she'd come on set. "Why do you have this?"

  Lucy held out her hand for it, perplexed. "Why wouldn't I have that?"

  "You're just shooting the last scenes." Daisy held on to it. "You don't need to read all of it."

  Lucy reached over and took it from her. "Actually, since I'm the director, I do. In fact-"

  "I can't read this yet," Pepper said, closing the book. "It's too hard. What else is there?"

  Lucy dropped the script on the table. "Uh, a reproduction of the first Wonder Woman comic." Lucy handed her an opened root beer and then took the comic out of the box for her, watching Daisy to see if she'd try to take back the script.

  Daisy looked at it, but she kept her hands to herself.

  Pepper looked at the comic and sighed. "I can probably read this." She pushed the hardcover book back across the table and settled in with her root beer and cheese sticks to read.

  Lucy opened the hardcover as Daisy said, "Thank Captain Wilder tomorrow, Pepper. Without telling him it wasn't a Barbie." She picked up the figure.

  "Her clothes don't come off," Pepper said, frowning at the comic book.

  "Like your Aunt Lucy," Daisy said, picking up a cheese stick.

  "Hey." Lucy stared at the endpapers in the hardcover book wher