(To read from the beginning go Here.)
The trip out to East Orange was accomplished in near silence. Sandwiched between Erik and Tom, Anne tried once to start a conversation, but their caveman grunts indicated they weren’t in the mood for chitchat.
The car pulled to the curb around the corner from the gang’s hideout. Tom helped her from the car.
Erik stuck his head out of the car. “You’re both set. Anne, We have a car parked just down the street, and I’ll be on the wall with our bugs. If things get out of hand, holler and we’ll bust in. Better to get them for something than let them get away all together, or let them hurt you. Got it?”
“Okay.” He reached through the window and grasped her hand briefly. “You take care of her pal. She gets hurt and it’s coming out of your hide.”
“Yeah, you’ve made that much crystal clear.”
Tom took Anne’s elbow and she allowed herself to be guided around the corner and onto the street she’d fled down. Had it only been last night? It seemed eons ago. They walked slowly to give the secret service teams time to take up their places.
Tom leaned closer. “I’ll try not to hurt you, but we gotta make it look good for Rick. He won’t buy anything else. But I’ll try to keep him and the other from manhandling you.”
Anne licked her lips. Lord, she needed an extra dose of courage. Any more reassurances like that and she’d be running for the train station and a one-way ticket back to Ohio.
At least Erik was nearby. He wouldn’t let anything serious happen. He and his men would make sure things turned out happily ever after. It was their job.
“Which one is it?” She asked in the dry husk of what was left of her voice.
Tom indicated the right one with a thrust of his chin and she gazed at it. Even knowing it was the right place, she could discern nothing sinister about it. A light shown in one of the downstairs room and the curtains were drawn back. The window boxes were neatly trimmed and overflowing with pink and purple flowers. It even looked like the steps had been swept.
Maybe he’d meant one of the others. Her gaze searched the nearby houses but they looked no more ominous than the one he had indicated. It probably made good sense to blend into the neighborhood so thoroughly, but it didn’t seem fair somehow. Lacey Carew’s opponents always left the most obliging telltale signs that they were up to no good.
But then perhaps she shouldn’t base her expectations of real criminals on a series of children’s books.
“Okay get ready. Just look scared out of your wits and let me do the talking.” Tom’s attempt at bravado would have gone over better if his hand hadn’t turned clammy on her arm, and his adam’s apple hadn’t bobbed like it was trying to flag down a bartender.
Saliva flooded her own mouth and she swallowed hard. At least she had the easy part. Looking scared should not tax her acting skills a bit.
Tom’s fingers closed tighter on her arm and he thrust her in front of him. He barreled through the front door, the hall and into the living room. He kept her in front of him, propelling her forward so quickly that she stumbled, continuing on, only because of his hold on her.
Rick, aka Van Dyke emerged from the door at the far end of the room. “Tom, what can possibly—” One eyebrow hitched up a notch as he caught sight of Anne. “Oh.”
“I took matters into my own hands. She was stupid enough to go back to her own apartment and I just picked her up there.”
Tom scowled. “Well did you want her or not?”
“Of course we want her. She has seen too much. But I also need those documents.” He wagged a finger at her. “That was not a nice trick, Miss Leighton. I was most displeased.”
Anne said nothing, allowing her gaze to rove the room as if she was terrified and trying to find a likely escape route.What line should she take?